25B Downloads And Google Play Is Still Growing Fast

first_imgWhat it Takes to Build a Highly Secure FinTech … The Rise and Rise of Mobile Payment Technology dan rowinski Related Posts Role of Mobile App Analytics In-App Engagementcenter_img This morning, Google announced that its Android Google Play store has surpassed 25 billion app installations. That is a big, round number but the surprise behind the announcement is the velocity at which the Android ecosystem is growing.Android’s 25 billion mark comes just 10 months after Google announced 10 billion app downloads. It had taken Google nearly three years to reach 10 billion downloads and less than a year to exceed that by 150%. Every day, nearly 1.3 million Android smartphones are activated somewhere on Earth. In September, Google said it’s mobile operating system was on 500 million smartphones. In contrast, Apple announced 400 million iPhone activations (not counting iPad and iPod Touch) at its iPhone 5 launch earlier this month. Apple is still ahead of Google in the app-volume race but Android has closed the gap. There were 700,000 apps in Apple’s App Store as of the iPhone 5 announcement. Android has 675,000, the closest that it has come to matching iOS app numbers. As of Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference in June, iOS users had downloaded nearly 30 billion apps, so, Android has some catching up to do. When Google announced 10 billion Android downloads, it celebrated with 10 days of apps for 10 cents. Google will do much the same this time around but expand the deals to all of the content found in Google Play, apps, movies, books and music. For the next five days, the number 25 is going to be found everywhere on Google Play. There will be apps and games from developers like Electronic Arts and Rovio for 25 cents. Book, movie and music collections such as “25 albums that changed the world” will abound. “Twenty-five billion is more than twice the distance, in miles, that the Voyager 1 spacecraft has travelled since its launch 35 years ago. It’s the amount of time, in minutes, that have passed since some of our earliest ancestors began to set foot in Europe. And now, thanks to all of you, it’s a Google Play milestone. We look forward to the next 25 billion,” wrote Jamie Rosenberg, Google’s director of digital content in a blog post this morning.Here are some quirky facts about Android’s 25 billion downloads.With a world population of 7 billion-plus, 25 billion apps amounts to 3.5 Android apps for every person alive. With 500 million Android activations, every Android phone ever activated has downloaded 50 apps.Between iOS and Android there are 1,375,000 published apps. That equates to one app for every 5,384 person on Earth, give or take. By last December, 15 billion apps had been downloaded on Google Play. That is 46,012,269 app downloads everyday for 326 days.  Why IoT Apps are Eating Device Interfaces Tags:#Android#apps#mobile last_img read more

Why Write Your Own Book When An Algorithm Can Do It For You?

first_imgTags:#Algorithm#artificial intelligence#books#play#writing adam popescu Phil Parker is unlike any writer you’ve ever met – or read for that matter. That’s because he doesn’t write most of his books. Instead, the trained economist uses sophisticated algorithms that can pen a whole book from start to finish in as little as a few minutes. The secret is sophisticated programming mimicking the thought process behind formulaic writing. It can take years to create these programs, but once completed, new books can be churned out in minutes. This method has led to Parker’s company – ICON Group International Inc – auto-writing more than a million titles, mostly nonfiction books on very specific subjects. But there’s poetry, too – see an example at right. (Parker says most poetry is governed by strict formulas.) He claims he’s basically applying 19th Century Taylorism to the publishing industry, emulating the famous auto manufacturer’s process.Parker’s work isn’t publishing’s first foray into auto-writing, but up until now, most, like companies like Chicago-based Narrative Science and North Carolina’s StatSheet, focused on short, formulaic sports and crime writing for newspapers, not full-length books.When ReadWrite spoke with Parker this week, he gushed about how much press he’s gotten of late – and how often they’d gotten his story wrong. Writing By The NumbersReadWrite: Tell me about the algorithm you created to auto-write books.  Phil Parker: The non-fiction algorithms and methodology are not original at all… The whole field is called econometrics. All the algorithms we did was mimic what economists have been doing for decades.In the 1990s I was working on reports where you had to do a lot of economic analyses and I realized that most of what an economist does is itself extremely formulaic in nature. With the advent of larger hard disks, Windows, RAM, a lot of that process could be reverse engineered and basically characterized by algorithms and be used in an automated fashion. The methodologies are extremely old, just like the methodologies of writing haiku poetry are very old. An Elizabethan sonnet is 14 lines – that is a line of code if you think of it that way. The code is constrained. So all genres, no matter what the genres are, are a form of constrained writing.ReadWrite: What kind of restraints?Phil Parker: There are constraints to the length of the book based on page formats and font sizes and the expectations of readers. There’s natural constraints that exist in all forms of writing. In the nonfiction area, the constraints are fairly understood by the people in that area. Small businesses doing import-export businesses, they do it for very narrowly defined products. They don’t do it for general products. That’s why for Amazon and elsewhere, all these titles we created, very arcane categories, and that’s because that’s what people actually do business in. Nobody does business in hardware parts, they do it in 6-inch copper screws. So for those businesses, to hire a consultant firm to say ‘Hey, can you give me a worldwide estimate of copper screws,’ the firm would go out and spend a month or two basically doing the job an economist and a couple of researchers do. Those people then pass off the editorial analysis to a group of people who do formatting and copy editing and graphic design, who then pass it off to another group of people who do metadata, covers, spines, all that. All we did is reverse engineer that. But the methodology to do that already existed before the books existed. ReadWrite: So it’s not a new form of writing?Phil Parker: I have not created any new way of writing. All I’m doing is writing computer programs that mimic the way people write. Going back to the Elizabethan sonnets, Shakespeare or one of his contemporaries created the 14-line iambic pentameter poem, where the rhyming pattern was ‘a-b, a-b, c-d, c-d, e-f, e-f g-g.’ G-g being a couplet at the end. By line 9 there has to be a turn in the poem, so there has to be a phrase like ‘yet’ or ‘but.’ The first line is typically a question, which acts as a title. All of them are 10 syllables in each line… they have to go in the rhythm of that pattern. If you do an analysis of sonnets, you’ll realize that about 10% of sonnets violate those rules. But they do it only in a very particular way. Even that formulation of violation is itself constrained… Once you have all of those rules you then write algorithms that mimic those rules. It’s a very different kind of philosophy from artificial intelligence.All About The AlgorithmReadWrite: Tell us about that algorithm.Phil Parker: We created a system which we think mimics the human mind… The truth is, if you step back far enough, all of literature is highly formulaic, not just romance novels. Some of the genres are so forumalic that the publishers of those genres tell the potential writers how to write the books themselves.ReadWrite: What do you mean by formulaic?Phil Parker: A genre is defined by formula. What’s interesting across genres, often you find the same formulas taking place in little twists, which throw them squarely in a different genre. But the twist is minute. A romance book can become a thriller by rearranging certain components of it. In essence, formulas of genres have patterns in them which overlap with each other. Think of a Venn diagram, and the intersection between them. The more genres intersect with each other, the more likely that recurring patterns can be observed. We started using this graph theoretic approach to write dictionary definitions. I have this thing called Webster’s Online Dictionary… I turned my algorithms on generating dictionaries… using cluster analysis and graph theory combined. It algorithmically mimicked what a lexicographer should do if they had access to such a large data base. The process involved first creating the linguistic graph that defines language and all of the relationships between words and the phonetics behind the language. ReadWrite: Does it really take 20 minutes to auto-write a book?Phil Parker: It could take 2-3 years to set up the algorithms, but once you’ve got it, the software has now been fully coded. Once you decide to write one on [a particular] topic, it only takes 20-30 minutes… I think the slowest one might take an hour or two, the fastest 4 to 10 minutes. ReadWrite: How much does it cost to produce?Phil Parker: The cost could be the equivalent of 2-3 man years of programmer time, and maybe an analyst or editors that might be required on that project… could be $200,000 to $500,000 to set up a genre. ReadWrite:  How many books have you written by hand versus with the algorithm? Phil Parker: The ones I wrote by hand were academic books – they were like MIT press – it wasn’t using algorithms. So 6 of them. And more than 1,000,050 titles using automation. It’s a moving target by the hour… we put a lot out of print because they’re dated after 2 or 3 years because they’re statistical analyses… You cull the catalogue so to speak.Humans Vs. MachinesReadWrite: What’s the big difference between human writing and machine writing?Phil Parker: There’s the classic turing test about a conversation with a robot: Can you tell the difference between a robot and a real human who’s conversing with you? Is there something different about these topics? I don’t think anybody would look at our crossword puzzle books and say, ‘Oh my gosh, a computer wrote this,’ because most crossword puzzles are so formulaic that you would expect it to be formulaic… If people find it useful to be in a formulaic format, so much the better. The goal isn’t to sound better than an author. The goal is to deliver something useful to people. That’s the end of it, no more. Otherwise, why bother doing it? ReadWrite: So are human authors replaceable?Phil Parker: Bloggers that we talked about earlier who read 3 different articles, read a Wikipedia page… those people can be replaced with computer algorithms, because they’re doing formulaic work. What you’re doing right now is not formulaic. Because you’re probing, you’re going to the depths of it.There’s been in the last 2 weeks about 10 articles written about what I’ve done and none of them talked to me about it. They’re all copy and pasting from each other. I think it’s very a interesting observation that they’re using a formulaic method to deliver content and put their name on a byline, when in fact they’ve done a formulaic cut-and-paste. I would call those kinds of articles low on the creativity front.  Lead image courtesy of Shutterstock. How to Write a Welcome Email to New Employees? Why You Love Online Quizzescenter_img Growing Phone Scams: 5 Tips To Avoid Related Posts 7 Types of Video that will Make a Massive Impac…last_img read more

Why BlackBerry Will Beat Windows Phone: It’s Cool Again!

first_imgThat’s about three million units behind Nokia, which also still sells Symbian smartphones and the Asha series (which straddles the line between feature phone and smartphone). Granted, IDC’s numbers do not include Windows Phone sales from Samsung or HTC, but both of those are negligible according to earnings announcements from both companies. If you are rooting for Windows Phone to join Apple and Google on top of the smartphone heap, you might be a bit worried that a sleeping giant has just woken up. It may not be as big and bad as the Apple/Android giants, but its potential remains bigger than Microsoft’s on the global market.So let’s put aside the posturing and get to the nitty-gritty of why BlackBerry 10 will ultimately win out over Windows Phone:The Same, But DifferentBlackBerry 10 takes the things people like about the user experience on Android and iOS and makes them unique. The gesture-based control takes a while to figure out, but once you have it down, it is fairly intuitive. Windows Phone is a lot of scroll, scroll, go left to right and scroll some more. The BlackBerry 10 user experience is interesting and fluid, not stationary and flat like Windows Phone. What BlackBerry has done with its UI feels fundamentally different while also retaining certain similarities from the Android/iOS environment. This will help transition people to the operating system without the shell shock often felt when first encountering the Hubs & Tiles environment of Windows Phone. There is nothing wrong with Hubs & Tiles, but I have seen people on more than one occasion pick up the device, ask “What is this?” and then put it back down in bewilderment. Apps EcosystemsI am not going to spend a lot of time on this because, ultimately, it will be a non-factor between the two operating systems. Ultimately, the two app ecosystems will grow side by side with the winner (by volume, at least) determined by which devices sell better.In the meantime, essentially, it is a wash. Yes, 40% of BlackBerry apps are Android ports and BlackBerry encouraged developers to wrap their apps for its platform. Microsoft essentially did the same thing. There are very few mobile app developers that actively want to write in .NET and C# to build native apps for a platform that still has relatively few users. Most developers would rather write in a language where it can serve multiple purposes, and in that case the mobile-Web, HTML5/CSS and Javascript (through Android) support of BlackBerry 10 becomes a more viable alternative.The EnterpriseEnterprise mobility used to be synonymous with BlackBerry. That’s less true now, but very few large organizations have chosen Windows Phone as their primary mobile operating system. Government and enterprise users would either hang on to old BlackBerrys or go to the iPhone. You still see lots of people who carry two phones, one BlackBerry for work and one iPhone/Android for personal use.BlackBerry seeded BlackBerry 10 phones to large enterprises and federal government to rebuild the enterprise base that has to be the foundation of what it is built from. Enterprises still trust BlackBerry and are among some of the most relieved clients now that the company finally has some viable smartphone options coming down the pipe. DistributionDistribution is a critcal factor in the smartphone wars. One reason that Nokia and Windows Phone flounder in the U.S. is because of carrier exclusivity and the lack of cross-platform options. Nokia needs to be more like Samsung and use the shotgun approach to smartphone deployment. Instead, it dabbles with a Lumia 920 at AT&T, a Lumia 610 on T-Mobile. This approach is haphazard and ineffective.BlackBerry has tested BlackBerry 10 smartphones with 120 carriers worldwide. It has all four major U.S. carriers lined up to sell the Z10 (come mid-March) and likely the Q10 as well. BlackBerry did not get caught in the same distribution traps that Nokia did with Windows Phone. Why BlackBerry Will Beat Windows Phone 8The fact of the matter is that we are arguing over No. 3. Really, I could see either platform taking over the spot. Yet Windows Phone has been out since November 2011 and it still has not gained significant market share.Sorry Mark, BlackBerry has the upper hand in mobile over Microsoft. The device is unique but familiar, the distribution philosophy is better, it has an enterprise base and brand loyalty of millions of former users. What BlackBerry does not have that Microsoft does is money. BlackBerry cannot afford for BlackBerry 10 to fail, while Microsoft can do with Windows Phone what it did with Xbox and just keep pumping money into it until it is successful.But, if BlackBerry 10 does prove successful, the window for Windows Phone may just shut down.Photo by Dan Rowinski. Tags:#BlackBerry#BlackBerry 10#Windows Phone#Windows Phone vs. BlackBerry 10 Why IoT Apps are Eating Device Interfaces What it Takes to Build a Highly Secure FinTech … dan rowinski Related Posts Last week, in an attempt to get the contacts on my old Android transferred to the new BlackBerry Z10, I stopped at my local AT&T store to see if they could transfer them. It was like a rock star just walked into the room.The rock star wasn’t me. I am not that cool. It was the Z10. The AT&T employees (who couldn’t actually transfer the contacts since BlackBerry 10 is so new) fawned over the device like it was a favorite cousin come home after years lost at sea. They took pictures of it and sent them to a friend. They bet each other they could figure out how to use the gesture-based navigation. The reaction was a little surprising.BlackBerry Retains Brand LoyaltyI could have brought any number of unreleased smartphones in for the same purpose and not have elicited such a reaction. BlackBerry, as much or more than Android or iOS, still elicits excitement and loyalty. And here is the BlackBerry Z10, the prodigal son come back to the fold.People are so excited for the new BlackBerry smartphones that I found one selling on eBay for $1,500 last week. Outside of a pre-released iPhone, what other smartphone manufacturer can generate that kind of anticipation? Certainly not anyone building Windows Phone device. This brand loyalty, dormant for years while Research In Motion languished under its own ineptitude, is among the reasons that BlackBerry will firmly take the No. 3 spot behind the iPhone and Android in the smartphone wars. Despite the arguments of ReadWrite’s Mark Hachman, BlackBerry’s major competitor for that position, Windows Phone, can claim no such loyalty. (See also: Why Windows Phone Will Be No. 3: Apps & Microsoft.)In fact, BlackBerry has been keeping up with Nokia and Windows Phone in terms of global shipments even without BlackBerry 10.  Role of Mobile App Analytics In-App Engagement The Rise and Rise of Mobile Payment Technologylast_img read more

Distracted Driving: All Lip Service With No Legit Tech Solution

first_img8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Market Tags:#cellcontrol#Distracted Driving#distracted driving foundation#Drive#driving tech#Jeff Haley#Joe Breaux#National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Related Posts ReadWriteDrive is an ongoing series covering the future of transportation.April is the national commemorative month for all kinds of things, including poetry, welding and soy foods. But it’s also National Distracted Driving Awareness Month.Unfortunately, the recognition of this month for distracted driving is a hallow gesture—just like the half-hearted attempts at developing apps that prevent cell phone use while driving.After a week of trying to find an app that prevents me from all cell phone use from behind the wheel entirely, I’ve given up.Don’t get me wrong: I wholeheartedly believe that distracted driving is a menace. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, an estimated 421,000 people were injured in car crashes involving distracted driving in 2011—and the number has been steadily going up since then. More than 3,000 people are killed in those accidents each year. And yet, society is willing to pay that price in exchange for keeping our phones operational inside the car.Not Too Hard to Solve “The technology for sensing when a phone is moving is easy,” said Jeff Haley, acting director of Distracted Driving Foundation, a small non-profit based in Bellevue, Washington. Haley also believes it’s not hard to turn off the phone’s ringer, disable texting, or disallow apps when traveling in a car.“But if the driver can turn it off at anytime, it’s merely a reminder to reduce temptation,” he said.According to Haley, few people are willing to buy and install phone-blocking technology. After all, how often do we pay for services that actually limit functionality?Given the sorry state of distracted driving technology, you have to be extremely motivated to use these apps. The Distracted Driving Foundation lists about 25 apps on its website—there are a few more on Apple’s App Store—but I couldn’t find a single one that was easy to use. Most were either defunct, required onerous sign-up processes, asked for subscription plans, or simply didn’t work as advertised.Just look at the App Store ratings for the “STANDD – Stop Texting and Driving Distract” app (unfortunately, this was typical for most of distracted driving apps). There are only three reviews so far. One said, “Does Not Work.” Another more emphatically read, “Does Not Work At All.” And my favorite comment bluntly stated, “BS.”No Product, Because No Market DemandHaley hit the nail on the head when he told me, “Developers don’t have much incentive because people aren’t spending money on these apps.” That’s why he’s advocating for a government mandate to force all cell phone carriers to block usage when the phone is moving. But that would require technology that prohibits phone usage from behind the steering wheel, but doesn’t affect the passengers. It gets even more complicated when you try to expand this concept to buses and trains. bradley berman Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… Breaux blamed Cellcontrol’s shortcomings on the multiple versions, bugs and variations of different phone systems.“It can’t be 100%,” he said. “It might be out for a split second and then it comes back to block a few seconds later. Ninety percent of the time you’re phone is being blocked, and there’s no inappropriate usage. And when you’re in the passenger seat, 90% of the time you get most of the usage you expect. It beats doing nothing.”That’s only partially true. I got so frustrated with its idiosyncrasies—and one of its bugs that prevented me from Bluetooth-based streaming music—that I simply deleted the app entirely. I re-installed it the next day to give another try, but within a day, I deleted the app again.“The problem of distracted driving is created by technology, and it should be solved by technology,” Haley said. The acting director of the Distracted Driving Foundation is trying to raise money for academic research into foolproof technology that Congress and/or insurance companies could fully support and implement. Without massive public support, however, that’s going to be a tall order.For now, I’m going to take a low-tech approach, by throwing my phone in the glove box while driving. But I’m doubtful that society, hooked on ubiquitous 24/7 connectivity, is going to accept any restrictions to digital access—regardless of the cost. All photos courtesy of Cellcontrol Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting Cellcontrol, the most successful technology I’ve discovered, makes a noble attempt to differentiate drivers from passengers. A hardware device, roughly the size of a pack of cards, is mounted behind the rear view mirror (like those transponders one use for e-tolls on the highway). The device emits a high-frequency audio signal—beyond human hearing—that’s picked up by the cell phone’s microphone.“We send a key-press to the phone that says, ‘press the power button,’” said Joe Breaux, chief technology officer at CellControl. “We’re turning the screen off, and then we turn it right back on to say we’ve locked the phone.”It’s basically an Apple workaround. “Apple doesn’t offer any public APIs that would allow blocking applications,” said Breaux. (Android offers more visibility and access.)I installed the Cellcontrol hardware in my car, and the iPhone app on my phone. It worked okay some of the time, but I found it too unpredictable. The zones were not entirely accurate, and the system had issues figuring out the phone’s location, simply when I tried handing it off to a passenger. This might have to do with latency, a delay of sometimes four or five seconds, but it adds up to a user experience that was mediocre at best.Human Bugslast_img read more

Will vehicle-to-vehicle communication in new cars save lives?

first_imgThe National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is proposing a new rule which will require automakers to equip all light-duty vehicles to include vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication. V2V technologies enable cars to “talk” with each other, alerting their drivers to potential dangers as they arise in traffic.See also:In 2013, there were over 5.9 million crashes on US roadways. These collisions resulted in over 32,700 fatalities. According to the Department of Transportation, many of these accidents and fatalities could be avoided with a more widespread deployment of V2V technologies.See also: Instead of waiting around for the auto industry to phase in these features, or worse to make them a paid upgrade, the NHTSA is proposing a new rule that would make them a requirement on all new light-duty vehicles produced for sale in the US.From the official proposal:The agency believes that V2V has the potential to revolutionize motor vehicle safety. By providing drivers with timely warnings of impending crash situations, V2V-based safety applications could potentially reduce the number and severity of motor vehicle crashes, thereby reducing the losses and costs to society that would have resulted from these crashes.A unique standard to share informationThis new rule isn’t without some merit. Without a standard set of requirements, auto makers are at risk of creating their own proprietary communication systems, each sharing data that isn’t consistent between makes and/or models. This would greatly reduce the effectiveness of this technology as it would limit the number of vehicles that would be able to talk to one-another.By making a regulated standard, vehicles will share information that will enable them to alert each other when danger approaches. A driver would hear an alert in the vehicle when another vehicle is merging into them, and collisions that occur just on the other side of an obstructing truck would be detectable thanks to the information shared with other vehicles in the area.This new regulation will raise questions among privacy advocates. After all, if our vehicles are communicating with one-another, what’s to say that your behavior on the road won’t make its way to the authorities?The information shared between vehicles does not include personally identifiable information. The proposed rule includes privacy-protecting language that ensures that this information remains anonymous and untrackable to the individual. For Self-Driving Systems, Infrastructure and In… IT Trends of the Future That Are Worth Paying A… Related Posts Ryan Matthew Piersoncenter_img Tags:#autonomous vehicles#DOT#driverless cars#Internet of Things#IoT#NHTSA#self-driving vehicles#V2V#vehicle-to-vehicle 5 Ways IoT can Help to Reduce Automatic Vehicle… Break the Mold with Real-World Logistics AI and…last_img read more

1aim brings connected devices to workplace doors & beyond

first_imgIn the era of connected technology Berlin company 1aim are carving a niche for themselves in connected security for commercial buildings. I met with Torben Friehe, CEO of 1aim to find out more.1aim builds a complex array of hardware and software for a simple purpose: open any door by waving a smartphone in front of a retrofitted lock instead of needing a key, swipe card or access code. Administrators use a simple app interface to issue digital passes via email or SMS to anyone visiting including non-registered users like guests or contractors.Friehe likens them to “a central nervous system for buildings” explaining that 1aim  has created an enterprise-grade access control system that serves two functions – first, to allow professional access and identity management and, second, to gather large amounts of valuable data to enable companies to identify space usage patterns in their commercial space.Friehe explains that as the company ships more software, customers will be able to use the device to collect and analyze data and perform a suite of tasks to improve cost flows and efficiency, such as arm areas or turn off electricity to reduce utility expenses as employees leave their offices.Other features include allowing users to request conference rooms and automatically provide them with the ideal premises fitting their requirements.“Since our platform knows who is where and when, it will also be able to allocate the right space to every employee on an individual basis and offer strategic work-layout suggestions to optimize operations.”What are the cultural differences when it comes to smart locks in Germany compared to the US?As an expat myself living in Germany I was interested to know the differences in how Deutsch and American people view security and technology. Friehe noted that:“German homeowners would not trust doors that are seen as perfectly safe in America. In Germany, homeowners take enormous pride in the so-called “Resistance Class” that their door fulfills. But most U.S. doors would not even pass the lowest grade of such certification. The same goes for mechanical locks. Many German homeowners purchase high-quality lock cylinders that cost up to a few hundred euro per piece. Although there are security grades in America as well, German consumers have a much wider variety of choices and can select products offering more mechanical security. We have had meet extremely high-security standards in Germany as part of our partnership with the Hormann Group.”Connected security in a crowded space requires complex solutionsConnected security is becoming a crowded space with the involvement of industry stalwarts like Honeywell and Yale. However, the majority are focused on the consumer market and fewer are equipped to respond to the challenges of older commercial buildings. Friehe explains that:“In the building platform space, we see competitors attempting to build a “building operating system,” a software connecting all the hardware in a building. We don’t see this approach as working. Without a strong hardware foundation, there is just no way to connect legacy and modern systems. These companies might be able to supply middleware, but as long as they focus on software alone they will not be able to dominate this space. So our major differentiation point here is that we supply the hardware at the core of our system, providing quality ID-related data.”Friehe also compares questions companies that monitor space utilization using sensor boxes as their hardware, noting that“These companies cannot supply the same data quality that we can provide, as their data is not connected to the ID of users in any way and the number of potential data points is limited.”The company sees the opportunity in the future to team up with companies in the HVAC and energy optimization sector where “We can make good use of their data, and they might require some of ours.”How secure are connected locks?One need only read the agenda of the latest DEFCON or Black Hat conference to know that there will be security researchers showing their prowess in hacking connected home security devices.  Then over the last week, we’ve seen spirited discussion after Amazon revealed they are sealing smart door locks that enable Amazon to deliver packages inside your home with a smart lock and connected camera. Walmart recently offered to deliver groceries straight to people’s fridges with a similar system. When polled about the idea of Amazon in-home delivery three different surveys suggested strong opposition to the idea, perhaps in the spirit of ‘just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.’In regard to security, Friehe believes that:“As an industry, we must guarantee that companies are not developing software to a negligent degree. They need to implement accepted industry practices, which should be enhanced to demand more regular audits when it comes to how data is collected and stored. Companies need to have security in mind and be held accountable if they fail to observe best-practices. This is especially so with connected devices, where extremely personal life data is concerned.Ultimately, the free market will serve as the catalyst for ensuring that security in the IT sector catches pace, but there will be much more bloodshed and massive attacks.”Presently, 1aim’s access control product LightAccess Pro can be purchased on Amazon Germany, UK and France, or by contacting their offices directly. Cate Lawrence Why IoT Apps are Eating Device Interfaces Follow the Puck Internet of Things Makes it Easier to Steal You…center_img Tags:#Amazon#Connected Devices#connected security#smart lock Related Posts Small Business Cybersecurity Threats and How to…last_img read more

How AI Can Cut Costs and Help You Keep Your Competitive Edge

first_imgThe conversation around artificial intelligence tends to focus on how it can make companies more efficient and productive. And that stands to reason — implemented effectively, such automation really does lead to greater output in less time at a lower cost.Of course, AI customized for your business doesn’t grow on trees. One software development firm, for instance, estimates that a simple chatbot could cost between $6,000 to $12,240, while a more complex bot’s price tag could be closer to six figures. But even with AI’s short-term costs, the tech could be a worthwhile investment that lowers your business’s long-term expenditures.As marketplaces become more crowded and competitive, companies will need to look for every advantage to remain relevant and appealing. AI plays a big part in that, cementing a company’s reputation as an innovator in the process. Here are four ways you can use AI to cut costs for your business:Use Automation to Improve Efficiency and Reduce ErrorsErrors aren’t just disruptive; they’re wasteful. In healthcare, for example, unnecessary tests and procedures cost U.S. consumers an astounding $210 billion a year. Part of the problem is that each patient is likely receiving medical treatment from multiple service providers, making it difficult to effectively organize a treatment schedule. AI, however, can spot duplicate procedures in the scheduling process and reduce scheduling errors as well.CHRISTUS Health, for instance, worked with Experian Health to automate up to 80 percent of its preregistration-related tasks, such as inputting new patients’ health history. As a result, productivity increased by 60 percent while errors plummeted. Staffers reallocated the time that was being spent on menial tasks to helping out with more important needs. Increasing efficiency and decreasing errors benefits both patients and providers.Improve Your Production Output With Stronger WorkflowsThe cumulative effects of inefficiency can cause end-to-end production processes to lag and accrue extra costs. Automating workflows ensures that they run automatically, consistently, and with less oversight. AI can replace human inputs while helping to manage the inputs humans still make, improving every aspect of production in the process.For example, a major paper packaging manufacturer was looking to reduce its scrap rate, so it implemented Sight Machine’s sensor-enabled, AI-driven application suite to track the production process in depth. This enabled the company to monitor every instance when a machine came into contact with paper and analyze the resulting production data in real time, eliminating many inefficiencies and QA issues in the process.Free Up Your Employees’ Time for Higher-Level TasksPeople are your biggest asset, so save their valuable time by automating some of their menial duties. For example, Botkeeper uses human-assisted AI to handle bill paying, accounts receivable, financial reporting, and myriad other accounting tasks. To date, the solution has automated more than 1,200,000 hours of bookkeeping for its 1,000 clients. With the time saved, companies can either reduce the number of accountants they employ or repurpose the existing ones to work on more strategic accounting efforts.Once AI has time- and labor-intensive processes running on autopilot, remaining employees can redirect their focus to more important things. By one estimate, employees who saved 240 hours due to automation return $9,240 in value to their employers. The numbers are even higher when it’s executives’ time that’s being repurposed.  Automate the Sticking Points of Customer ServiceAutomation in the form of chatbots and digital assistants leads to better customer service overall because customers can reach these AI helpers 24/7. This technology is so beneficial for all involved that Gartner predicts that 85 percent of customer service interactions will take place between humans and AI by 2020.That prediction’s believable when you consider an example like Autodesk Virtual Assistant. AVA is able to handle 30,000 interactions a month, speeding up response times from 1.5 days to 5 minutes. Call centers are quickly becoming obsolete as automation learns to answer the same queries as human representatives in less time. In turn, companies can offer customers superior service.AI can optimize companies’ operations in ways that both improve their bottom line and enhance the customer experience. AI-driven automation is an advantage now, but moving forward, companies will consider it a critical asset for remaining competitive. China and America want the AI Prize Title: Who … Tags:#AI#artificial intelligence#business expenses#chatbot#cost reduction#customer service#operations#productivity Brad AndersonEditor In Chief at ReadWrite How OKR’s Completely Transformed Our Culture AI: How it’s Impacting Surveillance Data Storage Related Posts A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… Brad is the editor overseeing contributed content at ReadWrite.com. He previously worked as an editor at PayPal and Crunchbase. You can reach him at brad at readwrite.com. last_img read more

Alexa, Where’s My Data?

first_imgThe Internet of Things market is forecasted to hit $520 billion in the next two years. According to International Data Corporation (IDC), IoT will account for at least 10 percent of the total digital universe — which will explode to 40 trillion GB of data by 2020. We’re talking 40 trillion GB of IoT data in the foreseeable future.Connected devices, particularly those designed for the smart home and health/wellness, are always listening, always recording data.Once data is on a device, it becomes part of a spiderweb of information that is stored in a variety of places, and it is shared among third parties and interacts with data from other sources. What information lives within all that data? Where is it stored? Who has access to it? How is it protected? How is all of this data tested?The range of implications and opportunities that have arisen with this market are far-reaching and complicated.Consumers around the world, are eager to embrace the convenience and innovation that the IoT brings to daily life. Most are unaware of what is happening in the background with the vast amount of data the devices collect. But we’re already seeing a flurry of news reports about data privacy violations relating to IoT data.Malicious actors are leveraging these devices for their own gain, and information from connected devices are now entering courtrooms as evidence.As a society, we must begin to think about the individual and corporate risks that we’ll face as IoT adoption proliferates, escalates, and breeds. To that end, our team conducted a series of tests and research to look deeper into connected devices and issues that are emerging with their widespread use.Our research studied where and how data resides on these devices, how they transfer it to the cloud and amongst other devices, and recent legal matters involving IoT data. The examination uncovered the following five findings, which many people may find surprising:Intersecting corporate and personal worlds will raise challenges. IoT data and the ways in which data and information are collected, stored, and secured — is colliding with the blending of corporate and personal worlds.This linking of worlds is raising important questions about the future of data privilege, privacy, and compliance.An employee working from home in the proximity of a smart device may unknowingly record sensitive conversations. That data is then sitting on a server somewhere indefinitely. With more and more people working remotely and using these devices in their home offices, corporations must be aware of the implications. The ways in which IoT information can impact both legal matters and compliance initiatives are far-reaching.The discoverable cloud databases for IoT accounts are expansive.access is easily attainable to find all of the users’ credentialscloud data can be collected and stored from APIsall smartphone appsany account paired with the devicesWhen testing on the Alexa, data available included:device informationadditional devices the user has associated with their accountthird-party apps added to the deviceuser activitycredit cards, your library card, and any other cardaudio files of every command givennetwork configurationsall groups the user has associated with the accountthe last 50 activities performed by Alexa on any deviceactivities that have Alexa enabled hearing within hearing rangespecific voice recordingsExample on Google Home:further correlates commandsrecords for third-party apps such as Nestinvestigators can identify and pull related Nest SQLite databasesinvestigators can identify and use .plist filesdata is found and can be used from a user’s iPhone backupThese artifacts can be dug-up and harvested — the saved data reveals day-to-day lifestyle habits.SQLite can enter a subquery and then an inner query (called a Nest query) within another SQLite and embed that query within the WHERE clause. The WHERE clause is then used to extract other records.These devices “helps” will then report when someone has left the premises or arrived home — and any other home changes. Data will be kept, preserved and saved forever; showing when your lights turned on and off — and any temperature changes. What information will this reveal about you?All of these devices are always listening.These home devices are the only absolute true constant in our lives. Alexa has a configurable feature called “drop-in.” This feature acts like an intercom between different Alexa enabled devices. The devices are always listening.Two devices can be connected if allowed access to one another. Once connected, a user has the ability to drop-in and listens without the end user’s ability to accept or deny the connection. Have you ever connected your information in someone’s office? Hum.Alexa also actively records conversations that are preceded with what the device interprets as a command word.Our testing found .wav files of the test subjects having a casual conversation, following any word that sounded enough like “Alexa” to wake the device. (How surprising. What a shocker…oh my).Yes, these types of recordings may be relevant during an investigation — but their storage also introduces privacy considerations. How long is the data kept? Answer: forever. What will the data say about you?IoT data is actively being used as evidence in litigation: When tested on Google Home and the Echo Dot, even when data was deleted from the app’s “activity” section — it remained in the device history. (again: How surprising. What a shocker. Oh my).All of this collected data and information will be a boon for investigators. We’ve seen information and data from these devices already appearing as evidence in criminal cases.In one murder case, the defendant’s smart speaker audio recordings were subject to a search warrant — and ultimately the files were turned over to prosecutors.In a home arson case, the homeowner told police that he did a series of things when he discovered the fire. However, a search of his pacemaker showed that the man’s heart rate barely changed throughout the incident.Testimony from a cardiologist, that it was “highly improbable” that a man in his condition could do the things claimed, ultimately supported a guilty conviction for charges of arson and insurance fraud.Privacy breaches have already occurred:In one report, audio and other files from an individual’s smart assistant were inadvertently released by the company storing the data to an unrelated individual.When the files were later handed over to a media outlet, the staff was able to easily piece together the identity, relationships, and daily habits of the subject.This incident corroborates mainstream worries.In a study from EIU, 74 percent of respondents said they are concerned that small privacy invasions from IoT devices may eventually lead to a loss of civil rights.The considerations above are only a snapshot of the more significant issues connected devices will continue to introduce. The type of information available through a user’s IoT account is only a small fraction of the larger pool of data that resides with the companies that make these devices.The broader implications are extensive. As the IoT space evolves — it will be crucial for individuals and businesses to remain vigilant over the way all of their information is handled. Follow the Puck AI: How it’s Impacting Surveillance Data Storage Megan Danilek is a consultant in FTI Consulting’s Technology Segment. She assists with digital forensics and investigations, including the forensic collection and analysis of digital evidence sources including computers, email servers, mobile devices and social media platforms. She provides computer forensic expertise to corporations and law firms involved in legal matters regarding theft of intellectual property and trade secrets, and second requests. How Data Analytics Can Save Lives Why IoT Apps are Eating Device Interfaces Related Posts Tags:#Alexa#Google Voice#Privacy Breach Megan Danileklast_img read more

Target Date Fund Basics for Financial Counselors

first_imgBy Barbara O’Neill, Ph.D., CFP®The May 26, 2015 MFLN Personal Finance webinar is about target date funds (TDFs), including the L fund investment option available in the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) for federal government employees and service members. Also known as lifecycle funds (that’s what the “L” stands for), target date funds are “all in one” portfolios that typically include three types of investment categories known as asset classes: stocks, bonds, and cash equivalents (e.g., money market funds). Their asset allocation weightings (e.g., 50% stock, 30% bonds, 20% cash) automatically adjust and become more conservative (i.e., lower stock percentage) over time.By viZZZual.comTarget date funds typically have a date in their name such as the “2050 fund” and investors chose a fund with a date that is close to their expected year of retirement. Dates are spaced out at 5- or 10-year intervals (e.g., 2030, 2035, etc.). Most TDFs are “funds of funds” with underlying funds from the same fund family. Examples include Fidelity Freedom Funds, Vanguard Target Retirement Funds, and T.Rowe Price Retirement Funds.TDFs were created in 1994 and have gained popularity in the last decade as a qualified default investment alternative (QDIA) for tax-deferred retirement savings plans such as 401(k)s and, starting in October 2015, TSP accounts for new federal employees. Some employees who are enrolled in employer investment plans fail to provide instructions for investing their deposits. In these cases, employers invest their plan contributions in the default investment. Investors also like TDF’s “low maintenance” style for savings outside of workplace plans.Below are key facts about target date (lifecycle) funds that investors and those who counsel them need to know:TDFs generally only make sense if they include the bulk of someone’s retirement savings. Otherwise, their asset allocation is altered by “outside” investments, which contradicts the whole premise of using them.A defining characteristic of TDFs is their glide path, which determines the asset allocation mix over time. Pictured as a descending staircase, the glide path indicates how the stock percentage decreases over time.Glide paths are a critical factor in TDF performance and investment companies use several types of glide path methods. Glide paths are used in both TDFs and age-adjusted portfolios in 529 college savings plans.“To” glide path TDFs assume that retirement age is the target date and, at that point, the portfolio’s stock % weighting and investment mix remains static. “Through” glide path TDFs continue to decrease the stock percentage for a designated number of years after the target date before leveling off.The “landing point” is the point in the glide path where a TDF reaches its lowest stock % allocation. Not surprisingly, TDFs with different glide paths and landing points have very different risk profiles.TDFs are not without controversy. Performance issues during the financial crisis brought to light the fact that many TDFs were not as conservatively positioned as their names implied. This led to new disclosure rules by the Securities and Exchange Commission in 2010, including better disclosure of TDF glide paths.To this webinar on May 26  at 11 a.m. ET or to view the recording, visit the event page.This post was published on the Military Families Learning Network blog on May 12, 2015.last_img read more

Evaluating Military Family Programs to Achieve Better Results

first_imgFor access to the podcast as well as related resources, check out the links below.–Doing Translational Research: Evaluating Military Family Programs–The Military Projects, Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research Today we’d like to feature the podcast, Doing Translational Research: Evaluating Military Family Programs from Cornell University’s Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research (BCTR). The research at BCTR works to address the most pressing human problems and translate their research into practice. The purpose of the Doing Translational Research podcast is to feature conversations from researchers, practitioners and others involved in translational research and explore their work in a way that connects to the professionals in the field.Dr. Brian Leidy – Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research – Director of The Military ProjectsIn episode 8, Evaluating Military Family Programs¸ Karl Pillemer interviews Dr. Brian Leidy, Director of The Military Projects at BCTR. The Military Projects program has been doing research and evaluation of military programs for 25 years. The program develops outreach, public awareness materials, training and education for professional development, as well as offering evaluation expertise and technical assistance to a variety of family support programs in all branches of the U.S. Military. The results of their projects have influenced practice and policies that continue to improve the quality of life for military service members and their families by building resiliency and preventing/reducing risky behaviors.According to Dr. Leidy, military communities have a very specific set of problems and issues that they face, because they are the most racially, ethnically, culturally and socio-economically diverse community that exists in today’s world. In the last 25 years, the family support programs that have developed are responding to the challenges facing this community which,“…changed dramatically in 2003 with the 2 major Gulf Wars, Iraq & Afghanistan, the level of troop involvement and the way they returned. Roughly 2 million service members were deployed and roughly 300,000 returned with traumatic brain injuries, PTSD, physical injuries. This changed family support programs in the military.” (Leidy)Dr. Leidy states that there are programs to address these problems but the issues that now have a higher focus are the secondary effects on families of service members who have experienced these problems, such as financial issues, family separations, or child/spouse abuse.If you think back to the post-Vietnam War era and the challenges those soldiers returned to, then compare them to the soldiers of today, the needs of military communities have  become clearer in recent decades, resulting in the a whole new range of support programs.Dr. Leidy says that most of the evaluations run by The Military Projects are for family support programs. These programs are effective and meet the needs of those that they work with, their biggest challenge is engaging their target audience. The Military Projects focus on what the barriers are for those that need access to family support programs. When evaluating these programs “the focus should not be on outcome evaluation – but process evaluation. You can be 100% successful with everyone that goes through your program, but if you are only engaging 40% of your target audience – you are only 40% successful.”We had the pleasure of speaking with Dr. Leidy and asked if there any advice he can provide for professionals that are challenged with accessing their target audience. He stated that “the biggest obstacle to success is the inability to engage the right individuals – they may not identify with the goals of your program, or there is a stigma attached to your services.” He suggested strategizing to determine how to best reach the individuals that are disengaged. “One way to get to the target audience is not to focus on the deficit but to go the route of asset building. For example, 4-H is a gateway to get families into the system – [the educators that work with 4-H] recognize when families need help with finances, substance abuse, etc.” Communicating your mission to local 4-H educators (or any organization) may help you to use that organization as an asset, which will help to fill your deficit. Of course not everyone has children so 4-H may not work for those individuals – in which case your strategy may require a varied approach to building capacity.The ultimate message here is that the evaluation process can strengthen the impact of programs for military families and add value that can lead to further support and resources in the future, but the strategy lies in evaluating the process before the outcomes.last_img read more

MFLN “Network News” – November 2017

first_imgWelcome to the November edition of MFLN Network News! It has been a busy fall in the world of the MFLN. Check out some of the highlights …Military family service providers and Cooperative Extension professionals joined the Personal Finance concentration area throughout the month of September for the 30 Days of Savings Challenge. Over the course of the challenge, participants received weekly savings messages and joined Facebook Live check-in sessions while working towards a savings goal of $100. On October 10, Dr. Michael Gutter hosted a discussion session to recap savings strategies and lessons learned. Missed it? Check out the recording.The MFLN also hosted its inaugural virtual conference September 26-29. This free four-day virtual learning and networking experience brought together professionals working with military service members and their families to discuss “Learning through Change”. The keynote and session recordings are now available on the conference homepage.There was significant interest throughout the week in opportunities to continue the conference conversation. If you are interested in additional discussion and activities around the theme of professional and organizational change, please share your thoughts and ideas with us at a planning meeting scheduled for November 16 at 1:00 pm Eastern in our APAN Connect system. Initial ideas include working out loud groups and virtual networking activities to support professionals grappling with change in their workplaces. To register for the session, visit the event page.You can check out all upcoming and archived progressional development sessions as well as subscribe to our monthly programming update here.last_img read more

Intro to Total Force Fitness

first_imgUnder the coordination and leadership of the Samueli Institute, the December 2010 “Military Medicine” magazine dedicated its entire issue to a new health paradigm that was then emerging for the U.S. military known as Total Force Fitness (TFF). Samueli Institute CEO Wayne B. Jonas served as a co-editor and as an author with military health colleagues.TFF has evolved in response to the nature of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts and the expectation that the U.S. Armed Forces will be similarly engaged in the years ahead. In an “era of persistent conflict,” successful execution of the military mission will require “…continuous optimal performance, resilience and recovery.”As issue co-editor Col. Beverly C. Land wrote, not only are “Physical injury patterns from blast and (IEDs) clearly different … Not so easily identified and treated are the so-called ‘hidden’ injuries—hearing, vision, and now the more often diagnosed concussions, post-traumatic stress disorder, and anxiety. The personal and professional burden they create for our returning warriors is potentially overwhelming.”Download the complete 132 page issue at www.samueliinstitute.org.The TFF initiative grew from the U.S. Army’s efforts to address these conditions so prevalent in today’s modern conflicts by consolidating a group of “strengths” for continuous evaluation: physical, social, emotional, family, and spiritual. In 2009 then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff AdmiralMichael Mullen broadened the focus to expand upon those domains and to create a framework that encompassed all branches of the service and incorporated the well-being of Service member families affected by deployments and the resulting consequences. In November 2009, Adm. Mullen tasked the Consortium for Human and Military Performance at the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences in Bethesda, Md. to host a workshop of leading health specialists. Samueli Institute coordinated the event and contributed significantly to the establishment of TFF principles that were subsequently outlined in the special issue of Military Medicine.The results of the workshop expanded the number of fitness domains that constitute Total Force Fitness to include each of the following:PhysicalPsychologicalBehavioral and OccupationalMedical and EnvironmentalNutritionalSpiritualSocialFamilyIn her comments Col. Land writes, “This program would be prevention-focused, individual-centric and the family would be recognized as central to the total force fitness equation.” She notes that TFF is part of the broader Department of Defense (DoD) emphasis, “to create a culture within DoD that values health and fitness and empowers individuals and organizations to actualize those values and achieve optimal health.”The issue chapter “Why Total Force Fitness” sets out the rationale for adopting the holistic approach to armed services health requirements.“ The answer is that the current paradigm is failing.The demands on current warfighters and their families are overwhelming the resilience capacity of our service members. The military services are experiencing rampant post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), scores of injuries, family casualties, and increasing suicide rates. The burden is high and the framework of the current response does not match the circumstance or need.Subsequent chapters  describe the potential within the primary domains to redress these conditions and to provide a coherent framework for enhancing the health of service members and their families. Samueli Institute, through its Military Medical Research program, has helped explore a number of these domains in partnership with military health leaders and unit commanders.From the standpoint of the Military Families Learning Network and our continuing efforts to leverage the Cooperative Extension System (CES) as a force-multiplier for family readiness, the Total Force Fitness program offers an excellent opportunity to showcase how  CES programs and expertise, derived from the Land Grant Universities that CES resides within, can supplement, enhance, and catalyze resilience and health in each of the TFF domains.Friday Field Notes will continue to feature evidence-based best management practices from across the Cooperative Extension System, linking them explicitly to specific TFF domains.  It is our hope that this effort will make it clearer how the CES is a fundamental part of the Total Force Fitness equation.Adm. Mullen (Ret) writes in the introduction to the special issue:Total force fitness is more than a physical fitness; it is the sum total of the many facets of individuals, their families, and the organization in which they serve. It is a state of being.He encouraged the military health and military families communities to: “Keep your minds open to creative new concepts and possibilities. Critically evaluate the role of complementary and alternative medicine. Explore the anecdotal evidence regarding total force fitness and then develop scientific protocols to put these observations to objective tests… ” The Military Families Learning Network is taking up his challenge.last_img read more

Creative Inspiration: Learning from Filmmaking Masters

first_imgIf you’re creative and technical – you’re unstoppable.– Robert RodriguezIn this ‘original and best’ (hence the VHS quality!) 10 minute filmschool, director Robert Rodriguez outlines his philosophy for making movies, especially your first films. The less stuff you have the better, the worse your equipment the better, the less money you have the better, the more mistakes you make the better and oh, make sure you throw away your tripod.Martin Scorcese on Reading The Language of CinemaIn this Jefferson lecture from the National Endownment for the Humanities director Martin Scorcese delivers a lecture entitled ‘The Persistence of Vision: Reading the Language of Cinema‘. Its a great ode to the magic and power of cinema and it’s lasting legacy in the lives and imagination of those who love it as much as Scorcese does. An inspiring hour with a master filmmaker.You can watch the full lecture here.Masters on CinematographyIn this fantastic two part interview from The Craft Truck – Gordon Willis talks about his career, the craft, shooting The Godfather and much more. Gordon Willis was director of photography on The Godfather Trilogy, Annie Hall, Manhattan and many other great movies. A great lesson in cinema. All filmmakers are students of the craft. Discover these valuable lessons from filmmaking legends. Master’s on Film EditingOrson Welles packs plenty of food for thought into under two short minutes in this clip on the craft of film editing. Watching it will make you proud to be an editor! Double dose of Hitchcock: For a more robust analysis of what editing really is, you can’t do much better than these 7 minutes from the master filmmaker.last_img read more

How To Get Ahead In Your Creative Career

first_imgYou can’t always control your creative career…but you can be ready to make the most of career building opportunities.These summer months are a time of great turmoil for many young graduates, emerging from the comfort of 20 years of systematic education, now faced with the wide blue yonder of the uncertain future and wrestling with ‘what they’re going to do with their lives’ and exactly how they are going to ‘make it.’If there is one thing that seems pretty certain about a creative career, it is that you can’t really control it’s trajectory, but you can be ready (or not) to take advantage of the opportunities that come your way. Here a few thoughts on how to get ahead in your own creative career – advice for current and future video editors, photographers, producers and other creative professionals.Faith, Hope and ReasonAs a creative entering into the marketplace for the first time there are a few things that you need to come to grips with. First of all you cannot always control your career trajectory, but you can be smart, prepared and ‘lucky’ in your career.Why do I think you can’t control your career?One job leads to another, or not. One connection leads to another, or not. A phone call out of the blue can change everything. Months of pounding the pavement on a project can lead nowhere. Life is more random than we give it credit for so we should be prepared for everything not to go according to plan, or at least not our plan. And that’s totally ok. If you go with the flow, instead of fighting it, you’ll have a much better time and not be so worried when its not all working out quite how you hoped.So what can you do to best prepare yourself for opportunities?I think its important to set goals, some audacious goals, but be flexible with the time and method of getting there. You and you alone are the forward thrust in your career and it won’t be handed to you on a platter. Be active in pursuing your goals, knowing that you are moving forward but in a zig zag fashion. One thing can add to another in unexpected ways but you probably won’t get there by a direct route.Secondly there tends to be two ways of engaging with the world. One way is that the world is a scary place and you should live cautiously. This thinking means you should shore up for yourself securities of money and always make job safety your first priority. Conversely, you can live your life more openly, viewing the world as a place to be engaged with and a place to make your mark in. If you can start thinking more like the second camp you’ll have more fun and be less afraid. All you need to have starting out is a bit of faith in yourself and your abilities, hope that everything will work out against the odds and a reasonable, yet flexible plan of attack.Making Your Own Luck“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” – SenecaHave you ever noticed how some people (other people) tend to get lucky more than you? They always seem to be in the right place at the right time, getting to work on the best jobs and with the coolest creatives.You can make your own luck. If you’re prepared to take advantage of the opportunities that randomly come your way you can get ‘lucky’ much more often. So what’s the best way to prepare?First of all, having an open mind as to what an opportunity looks like, means you’re more prepared to spot them. As Thomas Edison said ”Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”. Being prepared to put in the hours of hard and humble work and doing it all with a sense of humor and not entitlement, makes for 90 percent of having the right attitude. Your attitude matters more than your aptitude. As an example, I was working recently at a post production house that had two interns. One had been there a while and carried herself with an air of over confidence, she acted like every task was a little bit of a burden and she came across as a bit annoying. The other was always hard at work, happy to do any job no matter how mundane and in any spare moment that she had, asked if she could sit in to watch what I was doing, asked questions and seemed generally hungry to learn. Now which one of those two interns do you think I’m likely to recommend to someone else as an assistant? How you conduct yourself as a person is far more influential on your career trajectory than what you know. People work with people they like, and they can train those people to learn new things far more easily than they can train someone to have a whole new personality.Nobody knows anything – but everyone knows someone.In every single sphere of life, what really matters is people. Get good with people and you’ll get ahead in your career. Talent will get you there in the long run but its over rated in the short term. The production manager’s nephew is more likely to be hired as a runner than your CV in a stack of CVs.  You need to get out there and make your own connections.  Attend user groups, join professional organizations, be bold and reach out to other creatives in your community that have the type of career you aspire to.Community, networking (in the nicest sense of the term) and being good with people are what matters.“Nobody knows anything…… Not one person in the entire motion picture field knows for a certainty what’s going to work. Every time out it’s a guess and, if you’re lucky, an educated one.” -William GoldmanTo, circle back round to the beginning of this post…If you’re fresh from university and looking to find your way in the world remember what screenwriter William Goldman said:  “Nobody knows anything.”At this point in your life, people will start weighing in, telling you what to do, how important making money is, that you need to think about career etc, etc, etc. Of course you should listen to their advice and take it for what it’s worth, but be concerned about your chances of achieving the career you want if you only make ‘the safe choices’.There is no one way to make it in life. You can break the rules others think are set in stone. Cut your own path, make your own luck and be ready for and open to the opportunities that come your way.Have advice to share for creative professionals?Share your thoughts in the comments below!last_img read more

Cinematography Tutorial: Dramatic Camera Slider Moves

first_imgIn this video production tutorial we’ll share a few must-know tips for creating engaging shots using a camera slider!Awesome Cinematography is a series where we talk about creating cinematography that will take your production value to the next level. In this episode, we talk about creating unique camera moves using a slider. A slider is a great way to add production value to any shoot.The two techniques that we will talk about were used in a short that I recently released.  You can view it here.The first shot we will talk about is a dutch angle dolly. Adding a dutch angle to your dolly creates a very dramatic perspective change for the viewers. The second shot we will demonstrate is an angled dolly.For all you gear-heads here’s a list of equipment used in the video:Manfrotto 501 tripod (discontinued)Additional Manfrotto headCinevate Atlas 10 sliderCanon 5D mk3 – 24-105mmLowel light standsAs you can see a slider or camera dolly, coupled with these techniques, will add drama and help convey emotion in your story.What other cool camera moves can you accomplish with these techniques? Do you have any tips or tricks to create Awesome Cinematography? Let us know in the comments below.last_img read more

5 Awesome Stop Motion Lego Videos

first_imgWe’re blown away by these stop motion Lego videos!With the recent success of The Lego Movie we thought it would be cool to take a look at the process of making stop-motion Lego videos. Lego animation, like claymation, takes a lot of time and patience. Just like making a regular movie, you will need to do a good amount of pre-production before you start. The following are 5 great examples of what can be achieved with good planning and a whole lot of patience.1. Battle of the BrickA Lego recreation of the Zanzibar map of the Halo franchise follows the epic battle between red and blue. Video from GameTrailers.com.2. Lego ThrillerThis video uses Legos as pixels, rather than stop motion characters, to create an awesome effect. Video from Berlin, Germany’s Talking Animals Animation Studio.3. Adventure Time Title in LEGOWith it’s stunning detail and complexity this amazing video is a Lego recreation of the cartoon series Adventure Time. Video by Screen Novelties.4. Lego Cl!ck Integrating both human and non-human elements together, this stop-motion video shows what happens when ideas just “click”. Video by visual effects studio a52.5. Lego ArcadeA Lego recreation of classic arcade games. Video by Michael Hickox.Do It Yourself!Feel inspired to make your own stop-motion Lego movie now? If so, the following video will demonstrate you how you can make your own Lego stop-motion video. All you need is a camera, Legos (or Megablocks if you can’t afford Legos) and a lot of patience. Video by Ffrangconator’s Animation.If you feel like making a Lego video but don’t have access to Legos you could always animate one using a 3D modeling software like the Lego Movie. C4DZone’s BrickGen can take your 3D models and make them “Lego-fied” in Cinema 4D. BrickGen is currently avaliable for about $12. The following video shows how it works.Have you ever made a Lego stop-motion video? Do you know of any other awesome Lego centered films? Share in the comments below.last_img read more

Final Cut Pro X Video Tutorial: Compound Clips for Music

first_imgWorking with music in FCPX? In this exclusive Final Cut Pro X video tutorial we share a trick for quickly replacing temp tracks with final versions.Often editors will cut up a single piece of temp music into different parts to create their own custom edit of the track. When using production music (like tracks from Premiumbeat.com) you can use temp (watermarked) versions of the tracks in your project to try out before licensing a high resolution version. So, if you’re working in Final Cut Pro X you may be wondering what the easiest way to swap these temp track for a final version – so that it replaces every instance of the track in your timeline.In the following video tutorial we show you how using compound clips in FCPX is an easy way to swap out any track:When cutting a piece of music into your FCPX timeline there is TWO things you will want to do first:Place the cut of music in a secondary storyline(using the shortcut Command + G)Make the cut of music a compound clip(using the shortcut Option + G)Then, when you’ve decided to use the track for your project, swap it out in FCPX with the temp by opening up the compound clip, overlaying the full/final version and mute the temp version. It’s as simple as that. The compound clip is the key to swapping out the temp music for the full resolution track.Got more Final Cut Pro X tips to share or questions about this tutorial? Let us know in the comments below.last_img read more

8 Cinematographers to Follow on Instagram

first_img2. Phedon Papamichael – @papa2Papamichael earned an Oscar Nomination for the 2013 film Nebraska. His credits as Director of Photography span several genres and decades. He worked on films like Cool Runnings, Bio-Dome, Patch Adams, Sideways, Walk the Line, The Pursuit of Happyness, 3:10 to Yuma, and This is 40.His Instagram account is absolutely stunning. From sets to landscapes to portraits of his children, each photo is expertly framed. The account is a true treasure trove of inspiration. 8. Rodrigo Prieto – @rpstamPrieto received an Oscar Nomination for his work on Brokeback Mountain. He is also well known for his “trilogy” with Alejandro González Iñárritu composed of Amores Perros, 21 Grams, and Babel. He served as Director of Photography on 8 Mile, Argo, and The Wolf of Wall Street. He and Reed Morano are working as DPs on multiple episodes of Martin Scorsese and Mick Jagger‘s upcoming Rock ‘n’ Roll project for HBO.His Instagram account is full of landscapes from his travels. No matter what part of the world he is in, he will blow you away with his photos. 6. Shane Hurlbut – @hurlbutvisualsHurlbut is widely known for his work on Act of Valor, the first major motion picture shot almost entirely on the Canon 5Dii. He also served as the Director of Photography on films like Drumline, We Are Marshall, Semi-Pro, Terminator Salvation, and Need for Speed.His Instagram account mostly focuses on his personal life and his set life. You are bound to see some awesome camera rigs mixed in with photos of his crew. 3. Matthew Libatique – @libatiqueLibatique received a Oscar Nomination for Black Swan in 2010. You can also thank him for the look of the Marvel cinematic universe, as he served as Director of Photography on Iron Man and Iron Man 2. He frequently collaborates with Darren Aronofsky, dating back to Pi, Requiem for a Dream, The Fountain, and recently Noah. He just completed work on the N.W.A. biopic, Straight Outta Compton.His instagram account is fairly balanced. Not only do you get a glimpse at his daily life, but also a look behind the scenes of films and some funny photoshops. 4. Larry Fong – @unclewowSince we credited the look of the Marvel universe to Libatique, then Fong is the new look of DC. A frequent collaborator with Zach Snyder, Larry Fong was the Director of Photography on 300, Watchmen, and is currently working on the upcoming Batman v Superman. He was also behind Super 8, Now You See Me, and nine episodes of Lost.His account frequently features great set and cast photos. Like many other Instagram users, he is a big fan of showing off his espresso. Embeds aren’t allowed from his account, so be sure to check him out at instagram.com/unclewow.5. Rachel Morrison – @rmorrisonMorrison is an Emmy Nominated cinematographer who is quickly moving up in the filmmaking world. She has worked on many television shows and documentaries, but is now mostly praised for her work on Fruitvale Station, Cake, and Dope.Her account is full of solid set photos, impressive camera rigs, surreal landscapes, and her adorable newborn.center_img Instagram is full of talented photographers, but some of the world’s best cinematographers are also just a follow away. Here are 8 great accounts from awesome Directors of Photography.Cover image from IMDb via Getty ImagesSome of the most talented photographers have huge followings on Instagram, but don’t forget that several masters of the cinema camera are online too. In fact, these cinematographers all have photos that will blow you away.1. Emmanuel Lubezki – @chivexpIt’s almost unfair to start the list with this current film icon. Lubeski (featured above) won the Oscar for Best Achievement in Cinematography back-to-back with Gravity in 2014 and Birdman in 2015. He also received Oscar Nominations for The Tree of Life, Children of Men, The New World, Sleepy Hollow, and A Little Princess. Don’t be surprised to see him go for three in a row with this year’s The Revenant.His Instagram account is full of incredible photos. Not only does he share some great set photos, but his portraits and landscapes are breathtaking. 7. Reed Morano – @reedmoranoMorano has over 45 credits to her name and is most recently known for her work on Frozen River, Kill Your Darlings, and The Skeleton Twins. This year she made her directorial debut with Meadowland. In 2013, she joined the American Society of Cinematographers and was the ASC’s youngest member.Morano is a wizard with light, as is showcased throughout her Instagram account. Her account is mostly personal, and the portraits of her children are always fantastic. Want more on cinematography? Check out these awesome posts:7 Iconic Hollywood Cinematography TechniquesThe Art of Perspective and Symmetry in Cinematography5 Ways to Improve Your Cinematography Right Now!Have other filmmaking Instagram users you love to follow? Did we leave someone off the list? Let us know in the comments below.last_img read more

Insights From the World’s Best Sound Designers and Mixers

first_imgLearn from filmmaking’s best mixers and sound designers with these interviews from Dolby Insider.Top Image: Ben Burtt via Editors Guild MagazineNever heard of Dolby Insider before? Neither had I, but I was glad to stumble across it. It’s a treasure trove of insights from some of the film industry’s best mixers, sound designers, and other creative artists.In this first video, from the 30th Anniversary Blu-ray edition of The Right Stuff, sound re-recording mixer Randy Thom shares his memories of the early days of mixing the epic movie. You can watch the video above.We didn’t have access to a big library of jets or explosions, and there were going to lots of jets and lots of explosions in the movie, and so I started going to… various military bases around the U.S. collecting sounds. So among other things, I would go out with these bomb disposal teams who would find these under exploded bombs in the middle of a firing range in the desert. And either diffuse them or blow them up… they’d attached explosive devices to these thousand bombs and then we’d march a hundred yards or so away and we’d hide behind a rock. I’d have my microphone set up and they’d blow it up and I would record it. I think the effort to capture as much original sound as we did, is probably a hallmark of The Right Stuff.Insights from Light Iron Digital’s Colorist Ian VertovecOne of director David Fincher’s favorite things to do is to perfect his films with split-comps or split-screens of the very best performances per person. In The Social Network colorist Ian Vertovec had to manage these shots through the final stages of post-production.I think the most wedges that a single frame is split into I think is 5 or 6 individual elements that were all incorporated into a single frame… and we really had to do our work throughout the DI, just to make sure that all those visual effect shots were coming through and they were stabilised correctly and the splits were sown together properly… we were dropping in visual effects shots all the way up until the final deliverable.Here are a few more interesting tidbits from Ian on color grading The Social Network, working with David Fincher, and what it’s like to get to work with the final sound mix. Sound Advice From Legendary Sound Designer Ben BurttThe work of Sound Designer Ben Burtt (Star Wars, the new Star Trek films, Raiders of the Lost Ark and many other blockbusters) will be instantly familiar to generations of cinema-goers. In these videos you can gain real insights into his creative process, industry experience, and hear his advice for would-be sound designers.I’ve always felt that, no matter what you do in the movie industry, your best preparation is to maybe learn many others things that may be have nothing to do with film… learn to write, learn some things about history, maybe some electrical engineering… the performing arts, especially motion pictures uses every discipline and you find that if you become knowledgable about something to the point that you develop a unique view point as an artist, then you can bring that to your film work.In these videos you can hear from Burtt about his work on Super 8, including working with new technology, collaborating with a composer, and delivering to a very tight schedule.We had to really act on instinct, there wasn’t a lot of chance to try something, and then the next day polish it and then come back two days later to listen to it and polish it again. You only had a few shots at something…. but that can be a good thing, because you trust at that point the taste of everyone in the crew… but also you act on your own gut feelings about things, and that can sometimes be more exciting. What do you think of all this awesome insider information? Did you see anything on Dolby Insider that you’d like to share? Do so in the comments below!last_img read more

Roundup: 5 Budget Zoom Lenses for Beginning Filmmakers

first_imgWhen you’re just starting out as a filmmaker, an affordable zoom lens can be your best friend. Here are our picks for the best lenses for beginners.For those just diving into the world of filmmaking and video production, a solid zoom lens can be a powerful tool with your digital camera of choice. Unlike fixed, or prime, lenses, a zoom lets you change focal length while remaining stationary. It’s a great choice for documentary and run-and-gun projects when you need to get shots quickly.There are, of course, some high-end options that would be better for professionals looking to make a long term investment. For those just starting off, however, an affordable zoom as your main lens is a great way to go. Let’s look at five options that will help get you started.1. Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 — $299This is a personal favorite of mine, but only for the right cameras. The Tamron 17-50mm was an ideal choice for my Canon 7D for years, as the crop factor basically pushed the lens to a 26-78mm range. Like many of the options on this list, it’s light, with a lot of plastic, but with powerful results. Its f/2.8 maximum aperture was ideal for run-and-gun filmmaking when I wanted to keep things fast with a beautifully shallow depth of field. (Note: this lens is not compatible with full-frame (35mm size) sensor cameras.)2. Canon 55-250mm f/4-5.6 — $299One of Canon’s most versatile offerings, the EF-S 55-250mm IS STM telephoto lens has a ridiculous focal length, which is great for photography and documentary filmmaking. Its maximum aperture ranges from f/4 to f/5.6, with 3.5 equivalent stops of shake correction in its optical image stabilization technology. The lens, while long, is surprisingly compact and lightweight for run-and-gun filmmaking.3. Nikon 70-300mm f/4-5.6 — $172Similar to Canon’s fantastic offering, Nikon has its own affordable ultra-zoom option with focal length ranges from 70-300mm (or 105-450mm on DX-format cameras). While this lens is mostly marketed at photographers, it is a powerful tool for beginner filmmakers looking to shoot weddings and events or capture footage from afar. It’s a much more affordable option than the industry-standard macro-zooms by Canon (which you can read more about here).4. Panasonic 45-150mm f/4.0-5.6 — $249A strong compatible option for Panasonic’s Lumix GH4, GH5, and GH5s, the Lumix G Vario 45-150mm ASPH is a great zoom lens for any micro four-thirds mirrorless camera. Built as a 45-150mm, the crop equivalent is roughly 90-300mm of focal length range — with its maximum aperture moving from the f/4 to f/5.6 (which is pretty much standard for these budget price points). The lens utilizes Panasonic’s MEGA OIS — optical image stabilization — for sharper imagery when operating handheld or on other run-and-gun rigs.5. Sigma 18-250mm f/3.5-6.3 — $549One of the best options for smaller-sized sensor filmmaking (in this case, designed with Canon’s APS-C sensor and EF mount in mind), Sigma’s 18-250mm lens has got you covered from wide to telephoto. With such a long focal length range (18-250mm), the Sigma stays at four inches long with a maximum aperture that opens up as wide as f/3.5 to f/6.3 at full zoom. Like many offerings on the list, Sigma uses its own image stabilization technology to help with shake when adding movement and motion to your camera.Cover image by lOvE lOvE.For more lenses and gear roundups, check out some of these articles.Understanding Zoom Lenses and How to Use Them ProperlyBuyer’s Guide: The Best Macro Lenses on the MarketDIY Tutorials and Gear Hacks for Filmmakers5 Reasons You Should Purchase a “Nifty Fifty” 50mm LensThe Best Mirrorless Cameras for Filmmakers and Videographerslast_img read more