Media

Bridging the Gap: Classical Art Designed for Photographers (Video)

Adam Marelli:

I do that because I believe it’s possible. I don’t really… I don’t like to rest on the idea that people are just born artists, and that’s it. They wake up in the morning and they make brilliant work, I think it’s nonsense. If we look at every artist, every photographer, at their beginning stages, they stumbled. They made mistakes. Some of the learned a little more quickly than others, but there is a lot of information that can be absorbed and applied, regardless of what your subject matter is.

A bit of a lengthy watch, and I’m still making my way through it, but this quote from very early on in the video lets me know that I am in for some valuable information.

Happy Sunday!

Thoughts on Ubiquitous Photography

Photography is Fun!

If you follow my blog (hello, all five of you!), you’ll have seen a post I made in October talking about scaling back in social media. Funny enough, there was something else that I subconsciously scaled back: capturing moments with my camera.

I like to think I’m a photographer. I bust out the camera, whether it is my phone or my SLR, at every opportunity and I enjoy snapping a few photos. Perhaps capturing a video while I’m at it.

But lately?

I couldn’t put my finger on my hesitation to use my camera as of late. I enjoy capturing moments, especially with friends, that I don’t get to regularly enjoy. Even when I eat meals that I don’t normally eat, I used to take photos.

So… what’s happened?

I could make excuses like some abject sadness that’s taken over my life, or that my iPhone’s camera no longer wishes to operate without heavy persuasion, or even the very unlikely scenario of extraterrestrial life showing up on Earth to steal my camera.

None of these are true, but I think I finally figured out what’s happened: I’ve shifted my priorities from “capturing moments” to simply “experiencing moments.”

It’s one thing to be able to look back on all the great photos I’ve taken of really unique experiences, but it’s completely different to be entirely immersed in your experience and simply enjoying it. My guess is that ever since Instagram blew up, was bought, and everyone started posting photos of their food and some random brick wall they found (which I was also guilty of), I’ve grown an aversion to wasting valuable experiences by being focused on taking photos of it rather than actually participating.

Sure, I can take photos of food that I am eating, but I will immediately put my camera away after the shutter snaps and pay complete attention to my meal and my eating companions.

I’d rather enjoy what little time I devote to my friends, my family, and the experiences that we share, over being able to show strangers on the internet what I am currently doing.

I raise my glass to you life bloggers and sharers, but it is definitely not for me.

Stop using social channels to push, start pulling.

It feels incredibly weird that I still have to say this near the end of 2012, but stop using your social channels to solely push content.

Yes, you have a captive audience. Yes, they want to hear what you say. Yes, they will retweet and like and re-pin every trivial thing you push out there.

But why aren’t you listening to them?

If you follow me on twitter, and actually manage to catch me tweeting, you might know that I’ve been disappointed with GoPro and their lack of responsiveness.

Now, I’m a huge fan of GoPro. I have loved their products since the very start, and finally bought one with the announcement of the HERO3, simply because it could shoot 720p video at 120fps. Seriously, that’s all I wanted.

Well, I received my GoPro HERO3 Black Edition on Wednesday, November 14, 2012, and I spent the better part of that night playing with it. Learning the ins-and-outs, I quickly became accustomed to it and so I started to connect it to my accessories – no problems with the wi-fi remote that came with my HERO3, but any and all instructions on connecting to the GoPro iPhone app, which was pimped out on my packaging and all over their website, were for the HERO2 + Wi-Fi BacPac, and even a manual firmware update didn’t do a thing.

What?

So I tweeted GoPro, thinking I’d get a quick response (they were tweeting at least once an hour at that point) but it never came. I tweeted again the next morning, thinking business hours would catch them, but… nothing.

It turns out, GoPro doesn’t respond to anyone. At all. Not on Twitter, not on Facebook, nothing. Hell, right now, I’ve been intercepting messages to their Facebook page and answering the questions that pop up about the HERO3 Black Edition and connecting to the GoPro app.

NOTE: The solution, if you were wondering, is that there is none. The HERO3 Black Edition won’t be getting a firmware update until December 14, 2012. That bit was buried in their features page for the HERO3, so I can’t complain about not being told. However, it still sucks that the packaging lead me to believe otherwise, but I can’t be mad about it.

I sent them an email to plead with them to engage with their audience. They may ignore it, and that’s most likely going to happen.

However, if you run any sort of consumer-facing company and you still don’t get it: PLEASE engage with people on your social channels.

I’m not asking you to respond to trolls and haters (though it’s an opportunity to swing them into your favour with your great responses) but I am simply asking you to fully utilize these channels that people come to have their questions answered and even just tell you how awesome you are. Plenty of companies are doing this correctly, and even if you’re the market leader in the industry (looking at you, GoPro) you should do everything in your power to build walls against any eventual competitors that come your way.

Stop just pushing, start pulling.

Kindle Paperwhite vs Kobo Glo

Both Amazon and Kobo made some announcements today, revealing new versions of the Kindle and Kobo e-readers.

Introducing the Kindle Paperwhite and the Kobo Glo. (Note: Affiliate links!)

As an avid reader and user of my Kindle Keyboard, I wanted to take a look at these two side-by-side to make my purchasing decision easier and I figure I would share.

Kindle Paperwhite Kobo Glo
Display 6″ Paperwhite display with patented built-in light, 212 ppi, 16-level gray scale 6” E Ink XGA Pearl screen; 1024×768 resolution; 16-level grey scale
Size 6.7″ x 4.6″ x 0.36″ (169mm x 117mm x 9.1mm) 6.2″ x 4.5″ x 0.39″ (157mm x 114mm x 10mm)
Weight 7.5 ounces (213 grams) 6.5 ounces (185 grams)
Storage 2GB (approximately 1.25GB available for user content) 2GB (approximately 1GB available for user content)
Battery Life 28 hours of continuous use with light on 55 hours of continuous use with light on
Connectivity Wi Fi 802.11 b/g/n Wi Fi 802.11 b/g/n
Warranty 1 year limited warranty 1 year limited warranty
Return Policy Within 30 days of delivery Within 30 days of delivery

NOTE: I calculated the Kindle Paperwhite’s 28 hour battery life by taking 30 minutes per day with light on, multiplying it with 8 weeks and finding the number of hours from that. Not sure if entirely accurate, but I wanted a comparable number with Kobo Glo’s numbers.

It’s a pretty even race, from my point of view.

Personally, the most important factors are the size and weight. The Kindle Paperwhite is taller and wider than the Kobo Glo, but also a hair thinner.

I think I’m going to give both a purchase and figure out which one I like using the most. I’m a little more entrenched into the Amazon ecosystem (with plenty of books and a lot of store credit to use up) but I would be happy to switch if I received a significantly better reading experience from the Kobo Glo.

If you’re purchasing one of the new Kindle or Kobo models, please do share in the comments which one you will be buying and why. I’m very curious!

EDIT: I forgot to mention that the Kobo internal storage can be expanded by 32GB using a micro SD card. Personally, not a factor for me, but people should know.

The CTV Olympics App and AirPlay Mirroring

If you’re like me, you want to watch very specific sports and events at the Olympics, and what they play on the television channels isn’t always what you want to watch.

Well thank goodness CTV made an app for that, called CTV Olympics London 2012. You can watch any event that is currently playing, and I was thrilled. I immediately went to the men’s basketball game that was going on (USA vs France) and the video loaded up and started playing.

CTV Olympics London 2012

Awesome.

Then I tapped the video to AirPlay it onto my Apple TV so I could enjoy it on a larger screen while I went about my day.

Oh, what’s that? CTV built a custom video player UI that blocks any sort of volume control and AirPlay options? Trying to force AirPlay (via the iPad task bar controller) doesn’t work?

CTV Olympics London 2012 Video Player

Well that’s not nice.

Thankfully, there’s a way around that.

CTV Olympics London 2012 iPad AirPlay Mirroring

  1. Double tap the Home button on your iPad to bring up the task bar.
  2. Swipe left on the task bar until you get to the controls section.
  3. Tap the AirPlay button, and put it on your Apple TV or AirPlay-enabled devices.
  4. Turn ‘Mirroring’ on.

And ta-da, the 2012 Olympics are now playing on my TV!

Remember CTV, restricting my ability to improve my experience with your apps is not a great way to go about doing business. People will rebroadcast your streams regardless of having access to AirPlay, the only people you are making it harder for are legit viewers like myself. Don’t think I didn’t catch the fact that you let an ad play over AirPlay before causing an error.

Be nice to your viewers, content holders.

UPDATE: It appears that you also cannot scan through a video replay of an event. Attempting to scan through the video causes it to start from the beginning. Don’t cripple our experiences, CTV.

The Price Difference Between Book and Kindle Prices on Amazon

Price Difference Between Book and Kindle Prices on Amazon

Since my last post about Amazon, where I found a price disparity between two versions of the same Kindle book, my interest in e-book pricing and publishing has been rekindled (no pun intended) and I spent a bit of time putting together a few numbers to illustrate the instability of pricing models in the world of e-books.

My method was simple: take a look at the top 10 books in specific genres, curated by Amazon, and record the book price and the e-book price of each book on the list.

Here are a few notes I should mention:

  • Price selection: I decided to grab the cheapest Amazon price I could find for the physical copy of the book, as well as the cheapest Kindle price I could find for the e-books. This ensured that the prices were fair, making sure they were being sold by Amazon, and it would be consistent throughout.
  • Book selection: I went with the Amazon list because they were the most convenient to find, I will be spending time later on for the other e-reader platforms to ensure that I have a complete look of the landscape throughout ALL providers. Amazon is just the largest and most influential, so it was the best place to start.
  • Price difference: The “Price Difference” column is the Kindle Price minus the Book Price. This number gives us an idea of how much more expensive the Kindle prices are compared to the physical book prices, with red signifying the Kindle version is more expensive than the physical version.

Now that’s out of the way, let’s dive into the lists by genre as provided by Amazon.

Science Fiction & Fantasy

Title Author Book Price Kindle Price Difference
Ready Player One Ernest Cline $10.99 $12.02 $1.03
The Magician King: A Novel Lev Grossman $10.88 $12.28 $1.40
Inheritance (Inheritance Cycle, Book 4) Christopher Paolini $18.47 $16.39 -$2.08
A Dance with Dragons (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 5) George R.R. Martin $9.99 $17.48 $7.49
Embassytown China Miéville $10.88 $15.30 $4.42
Among Others Jo Walton $10.19 $12.62 $2.43
Akata Witch Nnedi Okorafor $12.23 $17.99 $5.76
Leviathan Wakes (The Expanse) James S. A. Corey $10.87 $9.99 -$0.88
The Wise Man’s Fear (Kingkiller Chronicles, Day 2) Patrick Rothfuss $11.49 $12.37 $0.88
Vortex Robert Charles Wilson $10.40 $7.39 -$3.01
Quick Stats: Science Fiction & Fantasy
Average Book Price: $11.64
Average Kindle Price: $13.38
Average Price Difference: $1.74
Largest Price Difference: $7.49

Literature & Fiction

Title Author Book Price Kindle Price Difference
The Art of Fielding: A Novel Chad Harbach $10.99 $9.99 -$0.20
1Q84 Haruki Murakami $16.62 $18.58 $1.96
The Marriage Plot: A Novel Jeffrey Eugenides $10.88 $10.92 $0.04
The Tiger’s Wife: A Novel Tea Obreht $10.20 $14.20 $4.00
The Night Circus Erin Morgenstern $9.00 $13.11 $4.11
The Lover’s Dictionary: A Novel David Levithan $10.40 $12.62 $2.22
Lost Memory of Skin Russell Banks $10.19 $9.99 -$0.20
The Sisters Brothers Patrick deWitt $10.19 $9.68 -$0.51
The Cat’s Table Michael Ondaatje $10.20 $11.99 $1.79
Please Look After Mom Kyung-Sook Shin $10.17 $15.30 $5.13
Quick Stats: Literature & Fiction
Average Book Price: $10.80
Average Kindle Price: $12.64
Average Price Difference: $1.83
Largest Price Difference: $5.13

Mystery & Thrillers

Title Author Book Price Kindle Price Difference
Before I Go To Sleep: A Novel S. J. Watson $10.19 $13.47 $3.28
Reamde: A Novel Neal Stephenson $12.91 $14.96 $2.05
Feast Day of Fools (Hackberry Holland) James Lee Burke $9.99 $13.64 $3.65
11/22/1963 Stephen King $13.59 $16.99 $3.40
Sister: A Novel Rosamund Lupton $10.99 $12.02 $1.03
A Trick of the Light: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel Louise Penny $13.70 $12.68 -$1.02
The Most Dangerous Thing (P.S.) Laura Lippman $10.19 $11.97 $1.78
The Night Strangers Chris Bohjalian $10.20 $15.30 $5.10
Turn of Mind Alice LaPlante $10.20 $17.48 $7.28
The Affair: A Jack Reacher Novel Lee Child $9.99 $12.02 $2.03
Quick Stats: Mystery & Thrillers
Average Book Price: $11.20
Average Kindle Price: $14.05
Average Price Difference: $2.86
Largest Price Difference: $7.28

Given my small sample of data, it’s hard to draw any real conclusions. What was apparent from this small sample is that Kindle e-books are priced significantly higher than physical books on Amazon, but the reason for that is difficult to figure out. I am sure publishers could blame piracy, or immaturity of the e-book market, or antiquated supply chains that haven’t become accustomed to publishing and promoting digital content.

Regardless, I hope that prices for digital books come down to reasonable levels. While “reasonable” can be subjective, I personally think that it’s reasonable for e-books to be priced below the price of the mass market paperback.

For my next research project, I’m going to run the same books through the Nook and Kobo stores and compare their prices, so we can get an idea if this problem is just for Amazon or accross the board.

Thanks for reading, please feel free to give feedback or ask questions in the comments!

WTF, Amazon. What The (Price) Fix?

Hi Amazon,

I love to read, and so it should come as no surprise that I am a huge fan of your Kindle. It’s wonderful: it’s portable, I can load it with thousands of books, and the battery life is amazing. It’s the device that every reader should seriously consider.

However, here’s what I am not in love with: the ridiculousness of e-books in your store.

I understand that e-books may or may not be cheaper than the paper versions, for whatever reason, but people have to feed their families. I understand.

What I don’t understand is, what the heck are you trying to pull with us loyal customers?

Background: I am in the middle of reading this amazing series, The Malazan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson, and I just finished book seven: Reaper’s Gale. Despite being the longest series I have ever read, the books have managed to keep me captivated thus far and I was very excited to start the next in the series, Toll the Hounds.

There was a link, at the end of the Kindle version of Reaper’s Gale, to go buy Toll the Hounds in the store, so I clicked on it and noted the price for the book was $12.65. Wanting to make sure that the price was correct, I go to my computer and look at the listing, and I can confirm that it is the same price.

Oh okay, everything checked out.

However, I am a rather cautious fellow. I opened up Incognito mode in Chrome and Googled ‘amazon toll the hounds kindle’ and… what’s this?

Hold on, why was there an option that I was never shown? Why was it significantly cheaper than the one shown to me, someone who has bought 48 e-books in the past year and a half that I have owned my Kindle?

Here are the key differences between the two listings:

  • Cover Image
  • Publication Date

They are virtually the same otherwise. Just to prove it, I sent myself a sample of the more expensive version after I bought the cheaper, older version. Older version on the left, newer version on the right.

Can you spot the actual difference? Yup, the font.

So Amazon, please answer me this: as a loyal customer, why would you want to sour my experience with this practice?

UPDATE: It was pointed out on Reddit that, in the area that shows all of the different types of mediums that the book is purchasable on (Kindle, Hardcover, Mass Market, etc), you can click on the plus sign next to the medium type to get an expanded list for that particular medium.

As I responded on Reddit, I consider myself rather technically capable and observant, and I still had no idea that existed. Now you know!

Canadian Streaming TV Apps: Report Cards!

Television watchers in Canada usually get the short end of the stick when it comes to watching shows, on-demand, online. If we aren’t being restricted because we don’t live on American soil, then we’re being restricted for not having a specific type of account.

To give you an idea of what we’re dealing with, I spent a bit of time with four of the only streaming TV apps that work well for *any* Canadian who has an iOS device or a computer. In addition, I’ve tested out how each of the apps handles AirPlay and what happens to the quality of the video upon doing so; a useful metric for those of us who own an Apple TV.

NOTE: If you want to see the combined report cards, go directly to the Canadian TV Streaming App Report Card page!

 



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I visualized the data into a “report card” of sorts to give you a side-by-side comparison of features and offerings. Here’s how to read the report cards:

Canadian Streaming TV App Report Card Reading Instructions

  1. App Info
    The name of the app and who it is published by. This is also an indicator of which of the major media companies in Canada happens to own this channel and app.
  2. Device Availability
    From left to right: iPhone, iPad, Web, and Airplay. Certain apps are only available on certain platforms. If it is not available, that given platform will be greyed out, such as AirPlay in this instance.
  3. Measurement Minimum
    For the given section, in this case the “Number of Shows,” this is the minimum number for the measurement. For both instances, it will be zero.
  4. Measurement Maximum
    For the given section, in this case the “Number of Shows,” this is the maximum number for the measurement. This is determined by the highest number I encounter while measuring.
  5. Measurement Average
    For the given section, in this case the “Number of Shows,” this is the average number measured across the board.
  6. Video Quality Indicator
    For a given device, I took a look at the video quality available for a user across multiple shows and made my judgment. This is rather subjective, but if it is passable quality (not full of artifacts and jaggies) then it is given a checkmark. An ‘X’ will only be given if it is not available in the first place, and/or it is of very poor quality.
    NOTE: Quality, for most of these apps, was great on iOS devices and so-so on the web at full screen.
  7. Advertisement Usage
    An indicator of when and where advertisements show up, in relation to watching a television episode. Some apps, such as the CTV app, will actually interrupt you as you are using the app and looking for a show to watch.

General Comments

While using these apps, it became increasingly apparent that “on-demand” was a term that could only be loosely used by these apps. There seems to be a general trend, with web content from large media companies, where they will only store a handful of the most recent episodes (if that) and the rest are nowhere to be found. In fact, CTV had the highest show count of the four apps, but had the lowest “average number of episodes available” count because they just had so many shows that had zero video content.

In addition, there can be some misleading content in these apps. For example, I don’t believe a collection of your season finale episodes count as a “show,” CBC. And 245 videos labeled “Season X, Episode Y,” but are actually just 2 minute clips, do not count as episodes, CTV. Not to mention, certain platforms do not show all content actually available; CBC had a handful of shows only available on their website but not on the CBC TV app.

With “on-demand” apps like this, it would be a great way to reduce piracy of your shows while receiving some advertising revenue. However, you are forcing consumers to either purchase DVDs (which I assume is the reason to not put full catalogues online) or to pirate shows. I would suggest a re-evaluation of how content is provided to consumers, because you are only making it more difficult for us.

Additional Notes

As I mentioned in the opening paragraphs, I only spent time with these four apps. For the sake of full disclosure, you should know that there should have been a fourth: Rogers Anyplace TV. There were two reasons, on my part, to exclude a valid television streaming service: 1) you need a working Rogers account to access the site, which not all Canadians have. 2) even if you have a Rogers account, the tablet app is restricted from you if you are on a monthly plan.

Rogers Anyplace TV

That made no sense, so they were not included.

In addition, I do not hold any of the copyrights for the app icons used in the report card, they are owned by their respective media companies.

You can also find the data I collected here. It contains all of the shows that can be found in the apps themselves, along with episode numbers, and any notes I may have made along the way.

I am happy to answer any questions that might come up, as well as add analyses of any apps that I may have missed.

Thanks for reading!

NOTE: If you want to see the combined report cards, go directly to the Canadian TV Streaming App Report Card page!

 

Friday Indie Feature / Vacationer

Like Now, Now, I saw Vacationer open for The Naked and Famous in Toronto. They seemed to have a ton of fans in the crowd and I could see why: their music sounds great and they put on a great show.

From their Facebook page:

The eastern seaboard’s foremost relaxation specialists have teamed up to compile this unique collection of serenity-inducing sonic arrangements. The audio program you are about to experience was designed with the sole purpose of relaxing the listener and sending their mind on a well-deserved trip. No airfare needed, no reservations. Simply settle in, relax and enjoy; Vacation from anywhere at anytime.

Here’s my favourite song from their album, Gone: Be With You

Friday Indie Feature / Now, Now

I saw Now, Now perform live when they opened for The Naked and Famous in Toronto. Tons of energy, great sound, and their album, Threads, is fantastic from start to finish.

From their Wikipedia:

Now, Now, formerly known as Now, Now Every Children and abbreviated NNEC, is an American indie rock band formed in Blaine, Minnesota and based in Minneapolis. The band is composed of Cacie Dalager (vocals, guitar, keyboard); Bradley Hale (drums, backing vocals); Jess Abbott (guitar, vocals), with occasional touring members Britty Hale (keyboard) and Christine Sako (bass).

Here’s my favourite song off of their album, Threads: Wolf