Monthly Archives: March 2013

Master the Mobile App for Productivity

Just Google “app” and infinite options come up to make the hardware of our lives more productive and entertaining.  There are some very good apps out there to be sure. I love my DuoLingo app for learning Spanish and the flashlight in the Over 40 app has lit a path for me more than once.  But sometimes the app can add more complexity where the device has everything you need, as is, to lead a productive and fulfilling life until the next upgrade. Here are a few useful things I use my iPhone for with the apps that came pre-installed.

Alarm

Yeah, I use it for the standard morning wake-up call because it is more reliable than my alarm clock but, the alarm has also come in useful for making sure I meet deadlines the rest of the day.  I started setting my phone to go off 30 minutes before a deadline, appointment or even closing time.  This lets me just loose myself in a project without obsessively checking the clock every 10 minutes.  When the alarm sounds I know I have 30 minutes to reassess and wrap things up or make arrangements to work longer.

Timer

Along the same lines as the alarm, I set timer to help me manage file transfers and DVD copies.  If the computer tells me something will be done in 47 minutes, I set the timer to go off just before then so I can check on it and, if it is ready, move it along to the next phase or start the process again with a different item.  In a busy studio there are a lot of these background processes that take very little time to setup but can easily get thrown on the back burner in favor of more labor intensive tasks.  Timer is a great way to make sure these tasks stay in the forefront of your mind and move along efficiently.

Camera

I use it to take pictures of things before I go shopping.  I am redecorating a room in my house right now and photographed the room with my smartphone so I had the visuals with me when I went shopping. There is a lamp I want to get a duplicate of and some random little nooks I may want to fill with décor.  I don’t have to go on memory with the lamp and I can easily transpose the image of an item into the space in a photo and decide if I like it there.

I’ve done this with clothes shopping too where I need to match colors.  It is so much easier than bringing the article of clothing with me.  The key here is to shoot in bright enough light so you do get accurate coloring.  You can then zoom in on the photo to match it with what you have your hands on in the store.

Notes

I use this for time sheets.  Working freelance, I am coming and going all the time.  If I am in the field I just note the job, the start and end time and any other relevant information to the event.  Then I get home and update my master Excel sheet.  When I sync my phone a backup is made on my mac and time machine backups let me retain that backup a bit longer.  I used to be the post-it note queen before I went digital.  Notes allows infinite pages, multiple backups and I do not have to decipher my own handwriting at the end of a long day!

What are some of your favorite uses for mobile Apps?

Copyright Digital Design Digest 2013

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Filed under Getting the Right Gear

This is a great post by Jumsetstrategies. Thank you Audrey! I laughed because this kind of how I came to Twitter too. The truth about the Social Media Soap Opera is that no one network can always meet your every need! So have a fling every now and then to see if there is something that better meets your needs.

Jumpset Strategies

Dear Facebook,

We need to talk. I have a confession. This is hard for  me to say, so I’ll just spit it out. I’ve been seeing another social network on the side. Its name is Twitter. I didn’t plan to stray. It just sort of happened.

I will tell you everything, but please, hear me out before jumping to conclusions.

Our relationship started out innocently enough. I met Twitter many years ago, about the same time I met you. I opened an account to see what it was all about. I was not an instant fan. I only visited a couple of times a month. It seemed very random. Few of my friends and acquaintances used it. People followed until I followed back, then unfollowed. There was no commitment as there was on Facebook. This wasn’t the place I wanted to settle down in at that time in my life. I spent the early years of…

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Social Media – Prior Post Planning

I am not a spur of the moment person.  I take my time, think things over, have a cup of coffee and think it over again.  My process would seem contrary to the live stream, immediate gratification model of social media.  Social media thrives on the think it post it model where posting occurs while the thought is still in progress and not fully fleshed out.  I sit down most days with the intention of coming up with something witty to post on these global broadcast streams always to come up short.  The question I always ask myself is…”Why would anyone care about this?” The answer most of the time is, “They wouldn’t care.  It’s just digital noise.”

“Why would anyone care?” is a good question to ask before posting.  Just like in video production, social media has an audience, and you need to know who your audience is and what they care about in order for your posting efforts to mean something. Embedding meaning in anything requires some thought, which requires time, which results in seemingly less spontaneity.

To start, take an information inventory of items your audience could be interested in.

  • Upcoming events
  • News articles
  • Videos
  • Pictures
  • Tips

Open up a Word document and write out each item as its own paragraph.   Each paragraph could easily be it’s own Facebook post.  Pared down, most could also be posted on Twitter with an accompanying link.  As a consumer of information I find posts with links most gratifying since Twitter posts in general do not relay much info. With only 140 characters available you have to love your links.

Many of these information nuggets can be reposted in the course of the month.  Why?  Most social media is a news-feed model.  Post it and in no time it moves down the feed, out of site and is replaced by newer information.  Not everyone will see the post the first time you post it.  For timeless information or events that are further out on the calendar you can re-post.

Participating in this inventory exercise at least once a month will get you in the habit of regularly putting your marketing hat on. The exercise need only take an hour or two total to come up with your inventory sheet of posts, complete with relevant links where appropriate.

With list in hand, set a schedule for yourself of what you will post and where.  The rest is just a matter of copy and paste, rinse, repeat.

Copyright Digital Design Digest 2013

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Filed under Project Planning, Social Media

The Field Shoot Backup Plan

Part of planning for any production is identifying your vulnerabilities and having a backup plan should something go wrong.  The last thing you want is to waste a client’s time and money because something did not come together the day of the shoot.  You cannot reasonably afford the overhead of purchasing doubles of all your equipment.  There are, however, some key pieces that are worth the investment of owning multiples and traveling with them during every shoot.

Audio Cords

An item that connects your microphone to your camera or audio mixer.  You would not get sound without it, and it is likely one of the least expensive items you will own in a field setup.  This cord is made of wire and pins that will age over time or is subject to damage from being bent or stepped on.  When it fails you will get static, intermittent sound until you get nothing at all.

On a field shoot bring one cord for each microphone you will use and at least one extra in case there is a failure.  If you can afford it, bring additional cords.  Audio cords can be daisy chained together to provide extra length.

Microphones

If well cared for microphones will last a long time.  You will replace audio cords more frequently.  If your budget allows for it, an extra microphone or two will not only assure you are covered if there is a failure but it will also add a great deal of flexibility to what you can shoot.  There are different microphones for different purposes.  As you add the number of people for whom you need to capture audio you eventually need to add microphones to assure the highest quality sound.  A few extra microphones in the field kit will have you prepared if people are added to a shoot last minute.

Power Supplies

Identify all the gear that requires batteries.  Make sure you travel with extra batteries for each item and that they are fully charged. Don’t use battery power unless you have to.

Always travel with the power cords to your gear and use that as your first option.  Battery power should be reserved for the times when power cords are not an option such as:

  • Tight, crowded spaces where cording is too hazardous.
  • Outdoor footage.
  • Other locations where there is no easy access to an outlet.

Go into each event fully loaded with all of your power options.  Shoots sometime go longer than expected, accidents happen and things get dropped and sometimes atmosphere can drain a battery down more quickly than at other times.  You may have been told outlets were going to be available to you, but then the location changes last minute or it turns out the plug does not work.  Stay flexible by building options into your gear.

Blank Media

Tapes, DVDs, and SD cards. They will fill up quick if a shoot goes longer than planned or there is just more great footage to capture than anticipated.  Sometimes you end up with a lemon that won’t record anything.  You can’t make lemonade out of that.  If you don’t have a backup you don’t have a show.

Tripod Shoes

It is the thing that attaches the camera to the tripod. They are just so small that it is easy to misplace one.  Your backup plan without a tripod would be to film handheld, which would produce shaky video or try to construct a make-shift support last minute which would limit your ability to pan and tilt for shot adjustment.  Better to purchase a second shoe as backup.

In general, it is a good idea to test your gear out once a month and again before every shoot.  You can still address issues the day before a shoot, even if it is to reschedule it because there was a major failure, like your camera.  This is not something you want to discover as you set up for the shoot, if you can avoid it.

Copyright 2013 Digital Design Digest

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Filed under Getting the Right Gear, Project Planning, Video Production

Social Media Literacy for Parents and Kids Part 1

Hey kids (and parents too)!  Social media is here to stay, with new sites popping up every day.  It’s overwhelming to try to keep up with it all but you can’t ignore it.  Social Media is a fun and useful tool, but because it is so easy to use we take too many liberties online and throw all social etiquette out the window.  Whether you are a card carrying member of social media or not, it’s in your best interest to keep your finger on the pulse of its evolution and maintain a dialog with friends and family about responsible use.

Friends Redefined

The first social norm to be turned on its head through social media is the concept of friends.  A friend is a confidant whose trust is earned over time.  It is very true, that if you can count your real friends on one hand you are a wealthy person.  They celebrate the good times with you, stand with you during the bad and do not pass judgment on you during your lowest moments.

If you belong to Facebook all contacts are labeled “friends”.  Even if you set it up for business, contacts are friends.  It is so easy to be liked on Facebook and to connect with others on other social networks that before you know it you have 300+ friends or contacts from different areas of your life all melded into one pot.  It becomes too easy to forget yourself and post something for all to see that you would only share in certain circles.

Social media makes it very easy for users to broadcast their every thought, feeling and action of the day.   Things are no longer private once they leave the confines of your brain as a thought and pass through your lips as words or your fingers as you type a post.  Anything you broadcast out through social media is there to be seen, shared and maybe judged by audiences both intended, and potentially unintended.

Social Media is The Digital Diary That Follows You Forever

Why should you care who sees your posts?

A picture is worth a thousand words, and although it may not tell the whole story it may be just enough to cast the wrong impression of you in the eyes of someone considering your college admissions, job application or internship placement.

Don’t think you are “friends” with that teacher who gave you too much homework or work colleague you just ranted about?   You don’t have to be.  Depending on privacy settings, if you share a mutual connection they may be able to see some of your posts depending on what area of a site you post on.  Connections may be able to share your comments on their own area of the site…..and you don’t have control over who sees that.  The person you rant about today may be the person you need a recommendation from tomorrow.  Don’t take a chance with your future by burning bridges you have yet to cross. Work out your frustrations somewhere else….bowling maybe?

Let’s talk about those photos you posted from that crazy homecoming party…or any crazy photos you posted.  I am sure you thought you took those down after you thought things through.  Once introduced to the internet, content is not so easily removed.  You may think you removed photos and posts from your page but if it was copied and shared by others before it was removed it is still out there and may resurface without warning.  Even if you employ the strictest security settings allowed through a site, never under estimate technology.  All someone has to do is take a snap shot of your post from their computer screen and post it as a picture or even email it directly to someone.

Respect Is a Two Way Street

You have boundaries, whether you think so or not, and you want them to be honored in life and in social media. Just because you can post anything and everything on social media does not mean you should. Before you post, ask yourself…

Is it really my news to share?

We all are interconnected in the ways we celebrate the good and grieve over the bad, but there is an etiquette in doing so.  If it did not happen to you directly, don’t share it.  Don’t talk about other people’s plans for school, jobs, relationships or life in general, unless they are posting it themselves.  Post about only those things that pertain to you and will not break a confidence or privacy barrier of someone else.  You would not want to spoil a surprise that was not yours to tell, or worse, have someone read about bad news that they were supposed to hear in person from someone else.

Will It Hurt Someone Else?

Sadly, inflicting pain is a goal of cyber bullying.  The goal is to embarrass and humiliate the other person.  It is easy to do because often the interaction between bully and victim is indirect. The bully writes their posts when they feel like it.  Posts can run the gamut of extremely viscous to “death by a thousand paper cuts” – pun intended. I’m not trying to be cute or funny here.  Do a search on cyber bullying and you will see that, yes, death can be a serious and permanent outcome. Cyber bullying in any form blind-sides the victim when they least expect it in a very public, yet indirect way that is hard to respond to without inviting more ridicule.

You know viscous cyber bullying when you see it.  “Death by a thousand paper cuts” is a little harder to identify because it comes in the form of little insults that are meaningless on their own merit but can have a big, negative impact if they build up over time, in frequency and with the intent to cause discomfort.  This is why it is just as easy to cause embarrassment and humiliation to others without meaning too.

A lot of communication is lost in writing when tone cannot be heard and facial expressions not seen. Given it is so easy for one to acquire contacts you also do not know the strength of relationships.  You could be “liking” or commenting in a communication string that has much deeper meaning for someone than you are aware.  You can never be too sure where other people’s sensitivities lie or how something you write may be interpreted.  You won’t always know you hit a nerve until it’s too late.  It may be days until you see some of the people who saw your post.  Not everyone will tell you directly how they feel but they may distance themselves from you in certain ways. Your post + someone else’s like = not a real conversation.  Social media is not a replacement for real interpersonal interaction with others. Be careful what communication strings you join, what you post about others and even how you joke.

Am I Willing to Live with the Consequences of My Posts?

At some point you have to be you.  Every time we crack a joke or share an opinion we reveal a little something of our values.  People will either like it or they won’t and, where there may be a void of information, people may also fill in the blanks with their own assumptions.  That may not amount to anything or it could generate conflict in your personal, work and school relationships. Fair? No, but it happens and you need to be prepared to deal with other people’s feelings about what you broadcast.  In other words, be prepared for a real conversation.

Social media is a great way to share interests and ideas, stay connected with classmates and colleagues and even see other parts of the world.  Some of my favorite posts are pictures my connections post of their travels.  I share crochet tips with some of my other connections.  I have a page I use for work related updates to the community.  Social media has purpose and when used appropriately can be a very effective and fun tool.  When misused, social media can also be effective in creating some real problems for you and others.  Just because you can post it, does not mean you should post it.  Respect yourself and others and think before you post.

Copyright 2013 Digital Design Digest

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