Taking Advantage Of Photo Opps When You Are Not Behind The Lens

If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? Experts say, “If no one is around to hear the tree fall, then it didn’t make a sound. The definition of sound is “something that you hear.”

You can ask the same thing about photography. If a photo opp presents itself, and a photographer is not around to shoot it, does that mean it never happened?

OMG Life, a British tech firm, is addressing that question with a new groundbreaking camera that will never allow the perfect picture to be missed again. The new automatic camera, called the Autographer, is going to “change the way we think about photography.” It takes the photographer out of the process.

I first heard about this game changer a few months ago when an English friend of mine showed me pictures he took at a party he attended. I asked him who took the pictures because there was something special about what was captured. I was looking at free-spirited, candid shots that I just felt my friend had no ability to take. I didn’t tell him that but he could sense it from me. I am not saying that my friend is not a good photographer, but his photos are always very staged. The photos before me were a slice of life that only a voyeur or a risk-taker would snap. They were very interesting and made me feel that these kind of candids were a new twist to his usual photo stories.

He then told me about the Autographer and I just had to share it with you. The camera is a hands-free, digital unit that automatically takes thousands of photographs a day and stores them for review on a smartphone app. The software was developed by Microsoft. You can hang the camera on a wall but it was really designed to be worn constantly. The camera repeatedly takes pictures as the owner/user goes through his or her daily life.

Here is what the company says about Autographer.

“Housed in a relatively small, discreet black case, the camera is designed to be worn on a necklace lanyard, or on the strap of a bag. It has five on-board sensors to detect changes in temperature, light, motion, direction and color, and uses those cues to take shots with its wide-angle lens. The camera has a 136-degree field of view, meaning it can capture more of a scene than a typical camera phone. It also features 8GB of memory and takes 5-megapixel images, allowing it to store many days’ worth of pictures. Thanks to a Bluetooth chip on board the device can interact with your smartphone via a bespoke app, letting users manage their photos, export video files and GIFs and delete specific images if an unwitting subject objects.”

The Autographer is being formally debuted in the UK next month. It will cost around $300. It should arrive in the United States a few weeks or months later depending on OMG distribution deals.

The big question for Americans will be if they want to be in the company of someone wearing the Autographer camera that is forever shooting? It could present a new “take” on the world.

(Eliot just previewed my blog post. He said “no one will buy this camera. No one wants to go through thousands of photographs.” I couldn’t disagree with him more. He is a photographer that likes to carefully examine each photo. Not me. I can flip through hundreds, thousands of photos and pick something that appeals to me pretty quickly. I am looking for something different. He is looking for something perfect).

Your Smart TV Is Only Smart For A Short Period Of Time

Years ago, I used to get questions about which TV brand to buy. Today, I get questions about the capabilities of the TV, Smart Vs. Not So Smart. There is a big debate going on in the hardware TV business. There are manufacturers who want to sell you $6,000 TV sets with all of the bells and whistles built-in and then there are others who just want to offer affordable priced flat panels that accept software attachments.

The one thing I know for sure, is that most of the expensive Smart TV’s that have been built so far are only good for a few years, in some cases only two. Software developments are accelerating so fast that the hardware manufacturers can’t possibly keep up. I have friends who claim that the pricey TV sets that they bought two or three years ago are not up-to-date with Netflix. Hulu Plus, or Vudu. It is driving them crazy!

To complicate matters, many more seniors want to watch content from the web. All they really need is a simple flat TV panel that accepts an Internet connection. Even more exciting, are the new gizmos called streaming sticks. They look like cigarette lighters or jump drives if you know what that means. All of your programming will be built-into these sticks so you don’t need the intelligence to be built into the TV. The streaming sticks will easily plug in to your flat panel TV’s. Not more complicated than plugging a USB thumb drive in to your computer.

Now when you have to upgrade, it will only cost you a $100 for a new stick as opposed to thousands of dollars for a so called Smart TV.

I suggest you read the following two stories to get an idea of your future choices.

This is what a streaming stick looks like. Click here.

More Are Watching Internet Video on Actual TVs, Research Shows. Click here to read more on this.

The Other Side Of Twitter

Most older folks often question the validity of Twitter. Many of my friends think it is a place where everyone goes to post what they ate for dinner, what movie they saw, and who their favorite rock star is. Au contraire! Twitter continues to be a social media platform where users report information as it develops and voice their opinions on current events

I want to show you what I mean. Crimson Hexagon, a social media research company, recently surveyed Twitter to see what Americans thought of Apple Maps Vs Google. Their results really give you the nitty gritty. Crimson Hexagon grabbed more than 50,000 tweets that mentioned the Maps app, which comes standard on the iPhone 5, over the last six days. Just 10% of those expressed interest, approval or excitement, such as this review from pastor Charlie Campbell: “I was a little nervous about losing Google maps but I must say I like Apple’s maps even better.”

Then Crimson Hexagon dug up 22% of the tweets expressing an outright hatred of the Apple app. But another 30% cracked jokes at the expense of Maps, such as this from entrepreneur Chris Eh Young: “If you ordered an iPhone 5, shipments are being delayed. Apple is forcing the delivery guys to use Apple Maps.”

Click on the Mashable story here written by Chris Taylor to learn more. It is quite fascinating.

Saving Private Brian, Part Two

Mother Lois to the rescue. No time for caressing and soft-peddling. My friend Brian needs to grow some “Brass” as Bill Clinton coined it in his recent speech at the Democratic National Convention. He needs to grow them fast, before he sinks into that self-pity hole that could beome his comfort zone.

I quickly reversed his thinking, because I have been down this road before with many clients over the years. Brian was not capable of seeing his great achievement. This lawsuit was filed a while ago, but the agency he worked for didn’t acknowledge it. His lawyer, who he has great faith in, couldn’t get the opposing lawyer to respond.

Within an hour of the story appearing, the ad agency’s counsel called Brian’s lawyer to apologize for the delay. They claim they had a hectic workload. They set up a meeting to discuss the suit. No one knows for sure, but there is a good possibility that the suit will be settled for a big chunk of change.

Brian was ignoring all of that in our midnight conversation. The article humiliated him and he was embarrassed to go to work. Everyone now knows he was dismissed. People will now look at him as a loser.

“No Brian,” I answered. “Just the opposite. Smart and accomplished people will understand that you had the constitution to stand up for what is right. The story just stated the facts. You couldn’t have asked for a better outcome. The agency didn’t offer any quotes that were disparaging to you. They are not going to play a legal matter out in the press. This article brought them to the table. They are probably going to offer you a settlement that is going to make this problem go away for them. They deal with matters like this all the time.”

The truth is that high profile personalities pay people like me, to get stories like this, in the press so their opponents fold quickly. I have done this kind of work for big Hollywood names. My friend Brian was clueless about his big score.

All he was concerned about was his privacy and what others would think. In the age of the Internet (and even before which is another discussion) nothing is private. If you are going to play in the big league, you have to be prepared to be thick-skinned.

Do you think that Mark Zuckerberg or Tim Cook, Google their names several times a day to see what people are saying about them? They both are confident about their work and rest their reputations on that.

Which is exactly what I told my pal Brian to do. “Hold your head high and continue to focus on your work. If anyone says anything negative to you, just say you are not allowed to comment on legal matters. That speaks volumes to the dummies who will start to understand that you are a strong, self-confidant business person, smart enough to make all the right moves.”

Brian was amazed. He never looked at his situation that way. He was influenced earlier by others who probably wanted him to suffer. I made him promise that he would not talk to the press or even to his friends, because one wrong word could hurt his case.

I heard from Brian the next morning. He sounded like a new man. It takes a while to understand the ruboff that you get from Internet.

Saving Private Brian

There is no secret that I am an image maker by day and Digidame by night. In time, I hope that being Digidame will help pay the bills. Till then, I still work helping companies and people understand who they are.

The other night while I was watching the 11 o’clock news, I received a desperate email from my friend Brian who just nailed major financing from the venture capital community for his tech startup. He invented a new gadget that will stop us all from over eating. That is all I am allowed to say.

Before he became an inventor, he worked in the advertising business for most of his career and is well known in that business. His last job was with a major ad agency.

“I’m ruined,” he wrote. “I will probably lose my financing. The VC’s will think I am a risk and pull their money. This is the worse day of my life. I feel like I am going to have a heart attack. I don’t know how I made it through the day.”

Brian went on to say that some reporter for an online advertising journal discovered the lawsuit against his former employer and ran the entire legal complaint. The whole world now knows he is suing one of the top ad agencies for wrongful termination, including age discrimination. Brian is one of us, 58.

The story detailed the several million dollar lawsuit without any comment from Brian or the agency being sued. Other founders of startups, who Brian had recently been hanging out with, told him this was the worse possible situation for him at this time and that he should just disappear for a few weeks.

I was aghast at this advice and told Brian to call me immediately despite the hour. He was so hysterical on the phone I could hardly hear him. I couldn’t believe this was the same guy who created major campaigns for Fortune 500 companies and pounded on the desks of clients when they wouldn’t listen to him.

My friend Brian was suffering from Internet humiliation. At least that is what he thought it was. To find out how I brought him back to being whole again, maybe even a little cocky, you are going to have to read tomorrow’s Digidame. Blog posts are suppose to be short. I exceeded today’s word count.

Be Prepared To Lose Your Apps If You Expose Your iPhone, iPod or iPad

It was all over the news yesterday. Apple products are the most desired items to steal in The Big Apple. No more grabbing chains, purses and boobs, now thieves want an Apple. Bloomberg News reported that many of the stolen Apple products are being shipped overseas where they are securing double, triple the price. iPhones, iPods and iPads actually outpaced overall crime with a 40 percent increase over the exact same period last year (Jan 1, 2012 to September 23, 2012). Apple beat out seven major crimes, including murder, rape and robbery which had a four percent rise. This trend is expected to spread to other cities as well, so watch out!

Did this warning scare New Yorkers who travel the subway? Not at all! From what I can see, on my daily trips to work, most people under 50 are still using their smartphones right out in the open. The folks closer to my age however, hold briefcases and handbags close to their chests with their arms wrapped around them. Pretty obvious what is inside. It is funny to see the separation between the younger and older riders.

The most dangerous thing on the subways as far as I’m concerned, are the people who hop on overly-crowded cars with their coffee. Do you know how lethal that is? What are they thinking? The liquids are sloshing around like tidal waves and one day soon they are going to land on someone, or me. Just this morning, I had to duck as one gal slipped when the train suddenly stopped. I could see the liquid through the paper cup just edging to the top ready to spread its wings. Luckily, the gal regained her balance quickly and saved me from screaming at her.

No more coffee on the subways please.

When I learned about the high theft in Apple products, I immediately thought of all those industry analysts on TV yesterday who wanted to make a name for themselves by questioning the health of Apple. Did you hear about the scratches on some of the backs of the iPhone 5’s? Must have been the two year olds they hire for the assembly lines. Did you hear that iPhone 5 owners are unhappy with the new Apple maps? Wrong streets, addresses and tavern locations. I can’t remember a time that Google Maps didn’t take me one or two miles out of the way to get to my destination.

Of course there are going to be glitches. That is what technology is all about. In the last two months, Eliot and I had to lay out $1,200 to repair our Sub Zero Refrigerators in Miami and New York. I think they both agreed to break down at the same time. One had a compressor problem, the other had a fan control malfunction. Service free and parts, about $600 each. Now our Décor gas range in Manhattan is tick, tick, ticking away. We called repair and they told Eliot to clean the ignition flint. I have no idea what a flint is and I don’t want to know.

Yesterday, I had to spend time at the Apple store on 59th and Fifth Avenue in Manhattan because the wireless stopped working on my iPhone 4S. 3G to the rescue. I have been to many Apple stores since their inception. Yesterday was no different. All I could think of was that Best Buy, Circuit City and Sharper Image never had one hour of the masses that are drawn to each and every Apple store, 24/7, 365 days a year.

What is this phenomenon and will it last forever? Can it last forever? It has never happened before. Will it ever happen again?

Please watch the video and catch the circular staircase where people come and go.

You Have To Learn To Stretch Yourself

Part Two Of My Interview With David Carnoy Just Weeks Before His Book, “The Big Exit,” Debuts Nationwide

I know David Carnoy as a tech editor at CNET. I also know that he writes mystery books, but I never quite figured out how he does both. When does he find the time? I finally got around to asking him and then I got the biggest shock of all. David told me he has four kids under the age of eight, two of them twins. His wife works full time as a major executive for one of the country’s largest banks. They have an active social life and split their time between Manhattan and a country home.

I was amazed! I have friends who have been trying to write non-fiction and/or fiction books for years. Their excuse for not completing them, is that they just don’t have the time. What they really mean is that they are too afraid to tackle the project, afraid of rejection, or just too lazy. I loved the words that David used when I asked him a few times how he manages. “You just have to learn to stretch yourself.” Wow, how powerful are those words? When I told David that I was overwhelmed by his answer, he didn’t seem to understand why I was so amazed.

“When you are born to write, you write,” he further articulated. “John Grisham said you have to be dedicated to write at least four hours a day. Michael Crichton wrote every day till noon and then quit.” David believes writers have to build up their stamina just like runners. You get to a point where you are writing five to seven hours a day. This is a good lesson to all of us who are quick to lay blame on not having enough time to write. “I get up at 4am every day and I write till my other responsibilities kick in. I try to get three pages written each day. I also write at night after the kids go to sleep. I have been known to lock myself in a closet to get work done. I have been doing this since high school. While ‘Knife Music’ and ‘The Big Exit’ are the two books that everyone knows me by, I have been writing novels for more than 25 years.”

I also asked David if he could see himself as a full time novelist. He was quick to answer that CNET is very important to him. “This is something I have been doing for a long time. The demands of the job keep me involved in the tech business and keep me disciplined. I also learn a lot each day and that is a very important foundation to everything else I do. My goal is not to become a full time writer but rather a bestselling author.”

One of the greatest challenges most self-published authors have is being self-disciplined. “I even have trouble. I sometimes think to myself that I should have written more by now. You can never be too disciplined. That is where the biggest struggle comes in. When you publish digitally and you don’t have someone looking over your shoulder reminding you of deadlines, then you really have to be extraordinary to make it work. Other than that, this is a time in our lives where everyone is in control of their own destiny. Let’s see who makes it.”

The Tech Industry Is Getting A Murder Mystery

David Carnoy

Scoop! You are reading about this long before anyone in the tech industry finds out that one of their own is about to debut a Silicon Valley murder mystery that almost sounds all too real. That’s what makes it so perfect. David Carnoy, Executive Editor at CBS Interactive (he oversees reviews of home entertainment products at CNET), is less than a month away from telling the rest of the world that his next crime novel takes place in Menlo Park, CA, headquarters of Facebook. While there is no connection to Facebook, “The Big Exit” does involve a start-up with many twists and turns that make you feel like you are a member of this innovative and creative industry.

Carnoy admits that he was drawn to the tech industry for his second thriller because of his day job. “I just couldn’t ignore it. I grew up in Menlo Park and I write about tech every day of the week. It was just a natural.” One of the reasons I wanted to write about Carnoy’s second novel, is because his journey to become a successful author is one that teaches all of us about the powers of the Internet.

Carnoy’s first novel, “Knife Music” (about the medical field), was a self published e-book generating about $500.00 a month when an agent spotted the sales activity. He pitched the digital book to The Overlook Press who was impressed that an unknown, first time author was creating such a buzz. The tech writer admitted that unbeknownst to Steve Jobs, Apple helped create the PR attention he needed to get the word out. In addition to selling it online through Amazon’s Booksurge, which is now Createspace, and in print, Carnoy tried to offer the book as an app. It got rejected by Apple because the mystery contained curse words. When the media heard about the rejection, a number of reporters wrote stories about Apple’s publishing criteria, which was hot news back in 2009. The book finally made it into the app store after Carnoy removed the profanity.

That helped spread the word. There is an important lesson to learn here. It doesn’t matter if you self-publish online or get picked up by a traditional publisher, you have to have a hook in order to sell books.

Currently, “Knife Music” has sold 50,000 e-book copies and 5,000 hard copies. Carnoy also believes that more and more agents are scouting online, self-published bookshelves, for the next best sellers. He encourages all to take those manuscripts out of the closets, brush them off and convert them to self-published books.

The next installment of my report on Carnoy talks about the discipline needed to be a first time online novelist.

Be Your Own Doctor

I can never remember the name Micardis, one of the meds I take for high blood pressure . Why does that one escape me? I remember all the others, but the name Micardis doesn’t quite gel in my brain. Many times when I have to fill out a form, I always forget to list it.

I am told that is extremely dangerous, because certain meds don’t mix well with others. I could get an allergic reaction or it could even be deadly. I tried carrying around a piece of paper or even filing the names on my iPhone. I can’t remember where I put it or filed it months later. I find myself panicking while looking for the info when visiting a new doctor.

Now there is an app in your smartphone that becomes your own personal medical library. It not only records all the meds you take, but let’s you know the potentially harmful reactions between up to 30 drugs at a time including brand, generic and OTC (over-the-counter drugs).

The app is called Epocrates and it is the same exact reference material most doctors use. Now you have it at your finger tips. Epocrates also helps you review prescriptions and safety information for thousands of brand, generic and OTC drugs.

The two other features I like, and will be using more of, are ordering free drug samples and literature, and identifying a pill based on characteristics, color, shape or imprint code.

Pills always drop to the bottom of my handbag and I can’t remember if they are my antacids or my birth controls. If you are still reading this and laughing yourself silly, let me know.

The Insanity Of The iPhone 5

First person in line for the iPhone 5 talking to a neighborhood diva

I think everyone has lost their marbles. Eliot and I went to the Apple store on 59th Street and Fifth Avenue last night to see how many people were in line for the iPhone 5 that was set to go on sale this morning at 8am. We were walking home from Broadway where we saw the play “Grace” starring Paul Rudd, Michael Shannon and Ed Asner. Excellent, go see it. The story unfolds backwards. Anyway, we had the opportunity to witness all of the commotion first hand.

At first we thought no one showed up. There were rows of barricades that looked empty. Not so. When we got closer we saw that everyone was lying down on the floor with their pillows, blankets, folding chairs, knapsacks, and of course, electronic paraphernalia. Everyone was under 40. No one over 50 would ever be insane enough to camp out for nine days to buy a piece of tech equipment. I know a few women who would stand in line that long if Hermes was discounting some of their handbags, but that’s about it.

Apple had the entire glass cube draped in black you couldn’t see inside. I can really understand why many Apple customers enjoyed the wait because it like a Woodstock happening. They get to tell everyone from now on that they were the first of a few hundred to buy the iPhone 5 and recount all of the experiences they had, and who they met. The entire concourse of the Apple store was crowded with print and broadcast press. Everyone who was camped out got interviewed at one point.

When we arrived, a bunch of ladies who lunch were talking to the first few guys on line. I thought that was a bit peculiar but I guess they were as curious as we were. Both 59th Street and Fifth Avenue had FOX, NBC, CBS and ABC satellite TV trucks lined up ready to do interviews for the 11PM news and then again when the doors opened at 8am. I overheard one of the women asking the first few in line what they were going to do with the iPhone 5’s once they got them and the best answer they had was, “show it off to others.”

I took a video of the scene but it was very dark, so you are going to have to focus to see what was going on. I have to admit the backdrop of the lights from the Plaza Hotel and Bergdorf Goodman did provide for an exciting and energized ambiance. I hope the iPhone 5 was worth the wait.