MidEast Youth Launches Crowdvoice for Yemeni Day of Rage

first_imgEgypt casts a tall shadow and this last week’s protests have captured the world’s attention. But it is far from the only country to take heart from Tunisia’s revolution and go out into the streets. Yemen has called for tomorrow, February 3, to be its own “Day of Rage.” In conjunction with local online news site YemenPortal, polymath activist group MidEast Youth, probably best known for the Free Kareem campaign (they did, eventually), has launched an English and an Arabic version of its Crowdvoice software and website to capture information about tomorrow’s protests in Yemen. Tags:#Government#international#politics#user-generated content#web Related Posts A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… curt hopkins CrowdVoice allows readers to read, and contribute to, a user-generated, dynamic aggregation of information on a specific topic. Iranian-American activist and Daily Beast contributor Reza Aslan called it a “powerful tool for discovering voices of dissent.”Features include a blog widget to funnel contributions to a user’s site and the ability to subscribe. In Yemen, protests have been taking place almost daily since the middle of last month in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa. That on January 27th is said to have been attended by as many as 16,000 protesters. Like Tunisia and Egypt, a major demand of the protesters is an end to the 32-year rule of its president, Ali Abdullah Saleh. A constitutional amendment currently before the legislature would legalize Saleh’s lifetime occupation of that office. Unlike both Tunisia and Egypt, the strongest voice calling for this day of concerted protest doesbelong to the representative of an Islamist group. In addition to being a senior member of the Islamist-influenced opposition Al-Ishah party, Tawakel Karman, is also an activist and the founder of the non-governmental organization Women Journalists Without Chains. She was arrested on January 22nd and held for several days before being released. Esra’a Al-Shahei, founder of MidEast Youth, said the protests do not seem any more “Islamist-led” than those in Tunisia or Egypt. “My personal opinion (is) it isn’t being led by Islamists at all. Women’s rights defenders appear to be the forefront of many of these protests.”The day has generated its own hashtag, #feb3, a Yemeni version of Egypt’s #jan25.Disclosure: MidEast Youth provided server space for the Committee to Protect Bloggers, which I founded. I have also worked with them briefly on other projects. While the editor at CPB, I covered the travails of YemenPortal. Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Marketlast_img read more

Sprint Rolls Out Carrier Billing to Android Market

first_imgRole of Mobile App Analytics In-App Engagement On customer invoices, there will only be a line item with the total amount, but no taxes. The charges will typically show up on the next billing cycle.Because Sprint also allows customers to “opt out” of content purchases, those who have previously done so will still see the new payment option, but will not be able to complete the transaction. To change their opt-out status, the customer would need to call customer care or go online to Sprint’s website and make the change.Over at AndroidCentral, a tipster provided the blog with an early screenshot of what the new payment option will look like. Now, users will have a choice between using their credit card or an option that reads “bill my Sprint account.”With this rollout, the only major operator not offering direct carrier billing in the U.S. is Verizon. However, BilltoMobile, a Verizon partner, has agreements in place with mobile payment companies BOKU and Zong, in order to provide the carrier billing option to their customers.Google also notes via blog post that other networks in Japan – SoftBank, KDDI, and NTT DOCOMO – support carrier billing as well. Related Posts Tags:#Android#apps#mobile sarah perez What it Takes to Build a Highly Secure FinTech … Developers will soon have another way to charge Android users for apps, it appears. U.S. mobile operator Sprint is now joining T-Mobile and AT&T to support carrier billing in the Android Market. Carrier billing means that users can pay for apps on their next mobile phone bill, instead of using a credit card or some other third-party mobile payments service.According to reports, the rollout of this feature started on April 7 and will continue until April 14.From a Sprint memo, the carrier billing option will be available on Android devices, except for the HTC Hero and Samsung Moment. And the new option will not affect any of the other processes involved with purchasing apps. Says Sprint:There is no change to how customers access, manage or request refunds for Android Marketplace purchases. Customers will continue to contact Google or the 3rd party content provider for refunds and support of the application.Customers receive an email with each purchase providing the contact information for support of purchases. Why IoT Apps are Eating Device Interfaces The Rise and Rise of Mobile Payment Technologylast_img read more

2011 Solar Decathlon Resource Guide

first_imgThe 2011 Solar Decathlon teams: Appalachian State UniversityFlorida International UniversityMiddlebury CollegeNew Zealand: Victoria University of WellingtonOhio State UniversityParsons The New School for Design and Stevens Institute of TechnologyPurdue UniversityThe Southern California Institute of Architecture and California Institute of TechnologyTeam Belgium: Ghent UniversityTeam Canada: University of CalgaryTeam China: Tongji UniversityTeam Florida: The University of South Florida, Florida State University, The University of Central Florida, and The University of FloridaTeam Massachusetts: Massachusetts College of Art and Design and the University of Massachusetts at LowellTeam New Jersey: Rutgers – The State University of New Jersey and New Jersey Institute of TechnologyTeam New York: The City College of New YorkTeam Tidewater Virginia: Old Dominion University and Hampton UniversityUniversity of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignUniversity of MarylandThe University of TennesseeUniversity of Hawaii team has withdrawn from the competition Each of the 20 entries must provide between 600 and 1,000 sq. ft. of interior space, and will be judged in 10 contest categories: architecture, market viability, engineering, lighting design, communications, comfort zone (temperature and humidity), hot water, appliances, home entertainment, and net metering. Each team’s commitment of time and energy is enormous. The lot size for each project is 78 ft. by 60 ft., and there is an 18-ft. height limit.Most projects accepted into the competition undergo a year or more of development before they are presented to the DOE for possible inclusion in the Solar Decathlon. Once a project is accepted into the competition, the students involved have less than two years to complete its design, construction, and testing before they disassemble the structure and prepare it for transport to the competition site. Each team also is responsible for raising most of the funds that will be required to develop, construct, and transport their entry.Since the inaugural Solar Decathlon in 2002, the competition has been held in 2005, 2007, and 2009. In collaboration with the DOE, similar events also are held outside the U.S. The first Solar Decathlon Europe was held in 2010 in Madrid, and a follow-up European competition, featuring 20 teams, is scheduled for 2012. Also recently announced: the first Solar Decathlon China, which is scheduled for 2013. if (WIDGETBOX) WIDGETBOX.renderWidget(‘fa5060d7-2656-4891-b2b9-318aa6965225’); Get the Flickr: Dept of Energy Solar Decathlon’s Photostr widget and many other great free widgets at Widgetbox! Not seeing a widget? (More info)Click the image for a pop-up slide show. You can turn on and off the photo captions.It’s a world-wide eventIn addition to teams affiliated with schools in the U.S., Solar Decathlon 2011 will include teams from Canada, Belgium, New Zealand, and China. As were all previous U.S.-based Solar Decathlons, the 2011 contest will be presented in Washington, D.C.At the International Builders Show in Orlando, Fine Homebuilding senior editor Justin Fink and Web producer Daniel Morrison stumbled across the Solar Decathlon teams displaying scale models of their houses.Fortunately, they had a video camera, so they took a day to interview as many of the teams as could be located. (The Chinese team wasn’t present because they had visa problems, and the Belgian team apparently had difficulty navigating the time change from Europe to Florida.)At least that’s what they were told. The Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon, which launched in 2002 and will present its fifth competition in 2011, is one of the world’s most instructive and rigorous academic competitions. Twenty teams of college students design, build, and operate small solar-powered houses that they will transport, often as modules or collapsed panels, to the Decathlon site. There, they will reconstruct their houses and prepare them for visitors and judges. The principal aim of the Decathlon is to educate not only the students but the public about renewable-energy products and about buildings that are at once affordable, highly energy efficient, and attractive. A world of great ideas A competition for young architects, engineers, and construction managers that promotes sustainable thinking. We’ll add more Solar Decathlon teams to this map as we cover them. View 2011 Solar Decathlon Teams in a larger mapcenter_img MORE SOLAR DECATHLON ARTICLES ON GREEN BUILDING ADVISOR:Solar Decathlon Will Stay in DC Solar Decathlon Looks for a New LocationThe Solar Decathlon 2011 Lineup 2009 Decathlon Contender Is a House without a Home Solar Decathlon Winners Embrace Passivhaus Standard Aspiring Solar Decathlon Team Takes Aim at 2011 Contest Virginia Tech’s Lumenhaus Wins at Solar Decathlon EuropeA 2009 Solar Decathlon Sampler Solar Power’s Academic Champions Solar Decathlon’s European Cousin Virginia Tech Preps Lumenhaus for the 2009 Solar Decathlonlast_img read more

BuildingEnergy Conference in Boston This March

first_imgThe Northeast Sustainable Energy Association (NESEA) opens BuildingEnergy 14, the largest conference of its kind in the region, for a three-day run on March 4 at the Seaport World Trade Center in Boston.Last year’s conference attracted 3,000 professionals in the sustainable building industry. They represented 32 states and eight countries, according to NESEA, and included architects, builders, developers, building managers, installers and “anyone else who’s working toward a sustainable built environment.”Organizers also expect 150 exhibitors at the BE14 trade show on Wednesday and Thursday, March 5 and 6.Fine Homebuilding magazine and Green Building Advisor will have a booth and demonstration stage at the conference.On Tuesday, March 4, BE14 presents full- and half-day workshops on such topics as multi-family construction, the Living Building Challenge, Passivhaus design and construction, and the science behind high-performance buildings. Speakers include a number of familiar names, among them: Joseph Lstiburek of the Building Science Corp., architect Bruce Coldham, Peter Yost of BuildingGreen, Thomas O’Leary of the Passive House Academy, Marc Rosenbaum and John Abrams of the South Mountain Co. and Andy Shaprio of Energy Balance, Inc.Wednesday and Thursday are devoted to what NSEA calls “tracks,” which are presentations on particular topics related to renewable energy and high-performance buildings. Tracks cover broad topics such as “Homes,” “Multifamily” and “Awesome Mechanical Systems,” and are divided into a number of morning and afternoon sessions with different speakers. Most tracks span two days.The keynote speaker for the opening session on March 5 is Amanda Sturgeon, vice president and Living Building Challenge program director, from Seattle, Washington.On one of the trade show demo stages, Fine Homebuilding associate editor Patrick McCombe and GBA senior edtior Martin Holladay will once again match wits with the audience in a round of “Stump the Energy Nerd.”A full listing of workshops and tracks is available at the BE14 website. Win free tickets to the conferenceBoth Fine Homebuilding and Green Building Advisor are giving away tickets to the conference — two tickets at GBA’s website and two at FHB’s website.To enter, leave a comment at the end of this post (FHB readers will find a similar post at the magazine’s web site). Winners will be chosen at random.In order to be in the running, you’ll have to leave a comment no later than February 20. Student design competition and zero-net energy building awardTwo other highlights of the event are NESEA’s first-ever design competition for university and college students and the annual zero net energy building award.The design competition seeks student proposals for developing four different properties in Holyoke, Mass., an early industrial city on the Connecticut River. The competition covers new construction and renovation for both residential and commercial projects. NESEA said it expected between 10 and 25 submissions in each of the four divisions.The net-zero award winner, which is announced at the conference, takes home a $10,000 cash prize. There were 13 submissions for last year’s competition, won by the Borsarge Family Education Center at the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens in Boothbay, Maine.Admission fees depend on how much of the conference you plan on attending. NESEA has posted BE14 pricing at its website.last_img read more

Solar Prices Drop in 2014

first_imgCommercial and utility systems even cheaperCommercial installations were down by 6 percent in 2014, but prices also were lower, with an average medium-scale project at $2.25 per installed watt at the end of the year. In the first quarter of the year, the average price was $2.53 per installed watt, the report said.Utility-scale projects showed the biggest growth, representing 63 percent of all new capacity brought on line, and also the lowest pet-watt price: $1.55 per watt in the fourth quarter of 2014, down from an average of $1.77 per watt in the first quarter of the year.GTM Research Director M.J. Shiao said total installation costs for utility and large commercial systems are now below what the solar modules alone cost in 2011, “underscoring the magnitude of the falling module prices and incremental balance-of-system reductions.”Despite recent strides, PV accounts for a tiny fraction of total U.S. energy production. But PV accounted for 32 percent of new generating capacity in 2014, second only to natural gas, the report said. Last year was a good one for the photovoltaic (PV) industry and it customers. Prices continued to fall, and the amount of installed capacity was up.According to the latest U.S. Solar Market Insight Report from GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association, the cost of a residential PV system dropped to an average of $3.48 per installed watt, a drop of 9 percent from the previous year’s average of $3.83.The residential market also saw its best year of growth, with more than 1 gigawatt of capacity installed — the equivalent of 200,000 systems each with a capacity of 5 kW.“Soft costs,” which includes marketing, labor and permitting, still make up 60 percent of the cost of a retail system, the report notes, “and there is ample opportunity for improvements and efficiencies which will continue to lower system costs.”last_img read more

The Minergy House

first_imgRELATED ARTICLESThe History of Superinsulated Houses in North AmericaForgotten Pioneers of Energy EfficiencySolar Versus Superinsulation: A 30-Year-Old DebateA Superinsulated House from 1984 The late 1970s were a vibrant time in solar-driven, energy-efficient housing, full of passion and innovation. The Northeast Sustainable Energy Association (NESEA) was founded in 1974, and members were in the thick of this experimentation.Multiple approaches had their own devoted adherents. One approach was active solar heating, with a firm engineering basis emerging from the University of Wisconsin Solar Energy Lab. Another approach was sun-tempered, superinsulated housing, pioneered by Wayne Schick at the University of Illinois, Harold Orr of the Saskatchewan Research Council, and Gene Leger in northern Massachusetts. There also was passive solar heating, championed by Ed Mazria (of The Passive Solar Energy Book) and the group at Los Alamos Scientific Labs (led by Doug Balcomb) that resulted in the three-volume Passive Solar Design Handbook.This handbook included substantial contributions from Total Environmental Action in New Hampshire, including Peter Temple, Dan Lewis, Joe Kohler, Charles Michal, and Bruce Anderson. Finally, there was the double-envelope house approach, which was advocated by architect Lee Porter Butler, with similar work occurring in Norway.Double-envelope designA double-envelope house typically had a large greenhouse or sunspace covering the south façade, connected to a natural convection air loop formed by the roof and the north wall, and a crawl space below the house, often with bare earth. The air loop path in the frame portions of the house was between an interior insulated assembly and an outer insulated assembly. The concept was that during a sunny day, the heated air from the glazed space would circulate upward and into the roof loop, down the north wall loop, and into the crawl space before returning to the bottom of the solar space. The claim was that the bulk of the solar energy was stored in the earth below the crawl space, and that energy was re-supplied at night, keeping the solar space from freezing and also buffering the heat loss through the roof and north wall. The standard envelope house was a two-story box with an all-glass south façade – these houses wouldn’t be rated highly on their architecture.The NESEA community played a significant role in double-envelope development, with members hosting three gatherings in 1979 and 1980 to share experience. Two small books emerged in 1980 — Don Booth’s The Double Shell Solar House, and William Shurcliff’s Superinsulated Houses and Double Envelope Houses.Doug Clayton wrote the performance monitoring chapter (there’s a great photo of him with Norman Saunders and Bob Smith poring over reams of paper!). Brookhaven National Lab also did some detailed monitoring of a double-envelope house and found little evidence that this reverse nighttime cycle was operating as described or that much solar energy was actually being stored in the earth beneath the house.The Minergy House: A hybridAs a young engineer I conducted research on solar and wind renewable energy during college and graduate school. I was learning everything I could about these technologies. I was skeptical of Butler’s claims about how double-envelope houses worked.I heard about the Minergy House being built in Lexington, Mass. (“Minergy” stood for MINimum enERGY). The 2,240-square-foot house, built in 1980, was a thoughtful hybrid. It featured a double-envelope design that also incorporated some direct-gain passive solar features with added thermal mass. Designed by architect Bill Mead for Doug Holmes and his family, it was emphatically not a simple box. Pueblo Bonito and Wright’s Solar Hemicycle House are cited as design precedents for this south-facing, chevron-shaped house. Doug, a chemical engineer, had significant design input on the performance side. I went to visit Doug, then in his 80s, and catch up on how the house has performed over the last 35 years.The solar engine of the house is a greenhouse built by Mark Ward. It is a salvaged steel and cypress structure, glazed with double-insulated glass. It is cradled by symmetrical wings that reach out to the southeast and southwest. The center portion is double envelope, and the wings and the second floor are direct-gain passive solar. Doors on both levels of the house can be opened to admit solar heated air directly from the greenhouse.Thermal mass is everywhere: in the dyed concrete floor slabs in the wings and second level; in the exposed concrete half walls in the first-level wings; in a salvaged timber frame floor structure with wood decking supporting the second floor; and in the multiple layers of drywall. Much of this mass doesn’t receive direct solar gain, but the area exposed to the solar heated air is large, and as it absorbs and releases heat, it stabilizes temperatures significantly.A modest thermal envelopeThe thermal envelope is modest by today’s standards. The walls and roof in the portions without the double envelope are 2×6 with batts and 2×10 with batts, each with 3/4 inch of interior rigid foil-faced foam. The loop walls add a 2×4 wall with batts as an inner wall. The roof loop is built of an upper roof of 2x8s with batts and an inner roof of 2x6s with batts. Windows to the exterior are triple-glazed. There are a few windows into the loop, with a hinged glazed panel on the inside so the exterior window can be opened. The floor over the crawl space is insulated with R-11 batts, and the crawl space is bare earth. There are 2 inches of rigid foam on the exterior of the concrete foundation walls.Doug HolmesThere is a solar thermal collector for domestic hot water suspended in the greenhouse which protects it from freezing. There is no fresh air ventilation system. Two small wood stoves provide back-up heat.There used to be a saying, “Passive solar, active people” — and the Minergy House exemplifies this. At the end of the day, if the house hasn’t been warmed by the sun, the family will light a small fire, which will burn out overnight. In the morning, if the forecast predicted overcast skies, they might light a fire to take the chill off. Temperatures in the house range from the upper 50s to the 80s F, which is common in these early solar homes. The thermal storage dampened the temperature excursions, and also guaranteed that this house would never freeze if left unattended.Lessons learnedWhat did we learn from the Minergy House and other houses like it? After 35 years, everything works! Nothing is automated or digitally controlled, so there have been no equipment failures. We’ve learned that using earth buffering to keep highly glazed buffer spaces from getting too cold is a good strategy. Sadly, in some cases, we’ve learned the hard way that exposing wood-framed buildings to bare earth can cause mold and decay. (I helped fix a decaying, moldy double-envelope house a few years ago.)I think we’ve learned that we don’t need the double envelope; in fact, it was proposed that a retrofit for these houses could involve blowing the loop full of insulation. I think the most successful of the double- envelope houses were early superinsulated houses with the glazed buffer space not only providing some solar heating, but also reducing nighttime heat loss through the large south-facing glazed areas of the living space. That need has decreased with the highly-insulating glazing available to us today.We’ve learned that we want very airtight envelopes, and that we need fresh air ventilation. Internal gains still help us heat our houses, but the source of these gains has shifted from incandescent lighting and inefficient refrigeration to the gaggle of electronic devices that fill our homes. And finally, I think we’ve learned that our knowledge is only extended by pioneers, like Doug and his family, who were willing to take risks.Marc Rosenbaum is director of engineering at South Mountain Company and a lifetime member of NESEA. This article was originally published in the Spring 2017 edition of BuildingEnergy, the magazine of the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association. Doug Holmes passed away on Dec. 23, 2016.last_img read more

Fantastical Fixes The iPhone’s Calendar

first_imgWhat it Takes to Build a Highly Secure FinTech … How Fantastical For iPhone Was Made“We’ve always been thinking about the iPhone,” says Michael Simmons of Flexibits. “We’ve always wanted to do an iPhone version, but we never had something that let us say, ‘This is right. This is going to solve the problem.’” Until May, that is, when Kent Sutherland, the other half of Flexibits, came up with the DayTicker concept.The Flexibits team was working on a new contacts app for the Mac at the time (teaser screenshots), and they actually put that on hold to build Fantastical for iPhone. It took less than six months.“For us, Fantastical as an application isn’t about whether it’s a Mac app or an iPhone app,” Simmons says. “It’s about solving a problem with calendaring.” You can enter the event as a single stream of words; it even interprets shortcut words like “lunch” as meaning Noon. The natural language input makes life much easier on screens both big and small.But phone typing is easier to fumble, so Simmons points to the built-in speech-to-text features of the iPhones 4S and 5 as an even easier way to add events. It’s faster than the interaction with Siri, since it doesn’t have to talk back to you, and having the rest of your calendar at a glance is a much more useful context.Fantastical for iPhone is available Thursday for $1.99. It will be $3.99 when the launch sale ends. Tags:#apps Why IoT Apps are Eating Device Interfaces Role of Mobile App Analytics In-App Engagement The Rise and Rise of Mobile Payment Technology Smartphones are still kind of dumb. Even for features as essential as the calendar, built-in apps usually deliver the bare minimum instead of nailing the experience. That’s why there’s Fantastical for iPhone from Flexibits, which came out Thursday. Fantastical is something I have used constantly since the Mac version debuted in 2011, and the iPhone app is superb. Its main feature is the ability to type in events in plain English (or French, German, Italian or Spanish), like “go to the thing at 6 on Thursday,” and have the app translate it into an event on your calendar with the right description, date, time and everything.There are no time spinners or drop-down menus or fiddly controls. Just describe the event the way it is in your head, and it shows up on your calendar.Fantastical for iPhone also has the best mobile calendar view that I’ve ever seen. The default view shows a ticker of the past and next two days with today in the center, and there are dots on days where you have events. Below, your upcoming events are listed in chronological order. You can scroll up and down in that list, and the ticker above ticks along accordingly. You can always tap the title bar to return to today.If you swipe down, it switches to a month calendar, with today’s events displayed below. Swipe down again to return to the ticker. I find that kind of confusing — seems like swiping back up should return to the first view — but it’s still very convenient. jon mitchell Related Posts last_img read more

Smartphone Maker BlackBerry Explores A Possible Sale

first_imgWhat it Takes to Build a Highly Secure FinTech … dan rowinski Tags:#BlackBerry#smartphones Why IoT Apps are Eating Device Interfaces Role of Mobile App Analytics In-App Engagementcenter_img Related Posts Canadian smartphone maker BlackBerry could soon have no choice: it may be time to sell the company or go under.BlackBerry admitted as such today by announcing a special committee “to explore strategic alternatives to enhance value and increase scale in order to accelerate BlackBerry 10 deployment. These alternatives could include, among others, possible joint ventures, strategic partnerships or alliances, a sale of the Company or other possible transactions.”The BlackBerry special committee will be comprised of CEO Thorsten Heins, Barbara Stymiest, Richard Lynch, Bert Nordberg and chaired by Timothy Dattels.“We continue to see compelling long-term opportunities for BlackBerry 10, we have exceptional technology that customers are embracing, we have a strong balance sheet and we are pleased with the progress that has been made in our transition,” Heins said in a press release. “As the Special Committee focuses on exploring alternatives, we will be continuing with our strategy of reducing cost, driving efficiency and accelerating the deployment of BES 10, as well as driving adoption of BlackBerry 10 smartphones, launching the multi-platform BBM social messaging service, and pursuing mobile computing opportunities by leveraging the secure and reliable BlackBerry Global Data Network.”BlackBerry has retained JP Morgan to serve as a financial advisor. The company also notes that there, “can be no assurance that this exploration process will result in any transaction.” In fact, we have seen this type of move from BlackBerry before under the stewardship of Heins. In May 2012, Heins sent a letter to shareholders saying that the company has retained JP Morgan and was exploring, “various financial strategies, including opportunities to leverage the BlackBerry platform through partnerships, licensing opportunities and strategic business model alternatives.” BlackBerry ultimately made no move last year after exploring alternatives such as licensing the BlackBerry product or other alternatives (such as third-party manufacturing or selling of its intellectual property). This time around may be a little different. In the May 2012 letter to shareholders, Heins and BlackBerry had made no mention of a sale of the company though everybody at the time inferred that’s what the purpose of the special committee was. In this letter, the BlackBerry board is essentially saying it is open to whatever is possible to keep BlackBerry going in any size, shape or form.BlackBerry has been struggling this year after the release of its BlackBerry 10 platform in January. The first financial quarter after the launch of 2013 was not abysmal (the company actually turned a small profit) but the next quarter was back to red on poor smartphone shipments. BlackBerry reportedly cut about 250 jobs in its research and development department in July and today’s note could lead to more layoffs as BlackBerry trims to the bare essentials needed to keep the company afloat and making smartphones. The Rise and Rise of Mobile Payment Technologylast_img read more

How cities can tap into $33B in private funds for innovation

first_imgWith public infrastructure funding in the U.S. nearly tapped out, a new study says smart city projects could tap into billions in private funds, according to a report by Siemens Financial Services into funding for smart cities.The report found that smaller “SmartStart” projects have the potential to access around $33 billion in private sector asset financing.See also: Smart city success requires roadmaps not free associationThe researchers defined SmartStart projects as initiatives that help cities digitalize their infrastructure that are characterized as low-risk and high return on investment.Siemens Financial calculated the total private funding amount available by looking at 13 countries and the potential accessible financing that the top 40% of these nations’ cities could raise privately for SmartStart projects.This report follows a similar study that found the U.K. could access nearly $7 billion in private capital for similarly small-scale smart projects.“Cities around the world are increasingly engaging in smart development to improve efficiency of local services, enhance sustainability, improve the lives of their citizens, and develop their competitiveness,” said Siemens Financial CEO of Commercial Finance Gary Amos. “Private sector asset finance allows cities to make the full range of SmartStart technology investments in a timely manner.”Siemens Financial chose to focus on private sources of capital as public sector budgets around the world are proving inadequate for properly funding the many smart city projects that are on the books.  With governments struggling to find the resources, private financing is becoming a top priority for smart city proponents who want to see these initiatives become reality.A $1 trillion infrastructure financing gapThis sentiment was reinforced by the U.S. Transportation Secretary who recently admitted there is not enough government funding to cover the nearly $1 trillion gap in infrastructure financing.“By diversifying their sources of funding for smart investments, cities can benefit from the resulting savings and improvements to citizens’ services without any delay,” said Amos.The report said that asset financing is a good fit for SmartStart projects because funding options are widely available, uncomplicated, cheap and quick to set up.Researchers concluded that nine types of early stage smart projects are ideal contenders for private funding because of their good record for delivering ROI and their history of having already attracted asset-financing deals.These projects include: low-energy street lighting, road pricing, parking systems, improved medical technology and online citizen self-service. For Self-Driving Systems, Infrastructure and In… Donal Power Tags:#financing#IoT#Siemens Financial#Smart Cities#smart street lighting How IoT Will Play an Important Role in Traffic …center_img How Connected Communities Can Bolster Your Busi… Surveillance at the Heart of Smart Cities Related Posts last_img read more

At MWC 2017, a cutting-edge, crazy showcase of IoT solutions

first_imgInternet of Things Makes it Easier to Steal You… Related Posts Tags:#featured#GSMA#Huawei#Intel#KopaGas#KT Corporation#MWC#MWC2017#NB-IoT#NBIoT#Nokia#Smart Cities#smart city#top#Veolia#Vodaphone#wearable tech#wearables Seal monitoringSeal numbers in the waters of Scotland are in decline. In response, The University of St Andrews Sea Mammal Research Unit (SMRU has developed smart telemetry tags using NB-IoT technology in a five-year study to track and monitor the movement of harbor seals and determine the causes of their population decline. The sensors are attached to 20 seals at present by strong glue to log detailed data on the animals’ behavior, such as location and dive depth, as well as temperature, salinity and, eventually, underwater sound.I spoke to Dr. Bernie McConnell of the Sea Mammal Research Unit, who explained that they were one year into their study and so far, had received rich data that enabled them to gain a greater understanding of what the harbor seals were eating. He also noted that “While this kind of project doesn’t result in big achievements for tech companies, it is important and it hs value.” He detailed that the NB-IoT could also prove beneficial in studies of marine life such as whales and sharks.Low power devices and networks in licensed spectrum vastly improve wildlife tracking by enabling more efficient tracking tags that are smaller and less intrusive. The seals molt their fur every three months upon which the trackers fall off meaning the sensors are harmless to the seals but vital in providing important information on their wellbeing and living conditions.Connected safety clothingKT (Korea Telecom) has partnered with clothing manufacturer Kolon to create a connected jacket designed for use in remote locations, where the wearer may become stranded and cannot request help. It comes equipped with sensors that detect movements of a person in distress, then transmits them via a small NB-IoT module. The jacket is also furnished with LEDs and acoustic sensors to assist rescue. The company additionally developed the “IoT Life-Tech Jacket Marine,” an upgrade to existing life jackets. It not only contains a floating tube but also sensors and telecom modules that collect the wearer’s information such as identity, heart rate, and location and send it to emergency control centers.Historically, one of the great challenges in developing such solutions is their viability in rural or mountainous areas, where network coverage can be unreliable. This problem is overcome by NB-IoT technology, which enables connectivity in hard to reach locations. Additionally, NB-IoT also uses very low amounts of data, which potentially allows batteries to last for many years. Why IoT Apps are Eating Device Interfaces Cate Lawrencecenter_img The GSMA’s Innovation City at MWC created a space to reveal some of the most cutting-edge mobile-enabled products and services in the world today. There was plenty of spectacle worthy tech including connected vehicles (even a rickshaw), a robot playing a drumkit and immersive VR experiences.  Yet some of the most interesting are those that solve social or environmental problems where other methods are inefficient or ineffective. Here’s a sample of those showcased:Urban wastesmart-city-gestion-dechets-urbains-conteneur-connecteVeolia received first prize for NB-IoT innovators in the Mobile IoT Innovators Showcase’ competition.The competition was designed to encourage the development of new and innovative Low Power, Wide Area (LPWA) solutions based on licensed Mobile IoT standards.Each entrant was supplied with an easy-to-use development kit which, although optional, helped with the development of new products and solutions that utilized licensed Mobile IoT technology.See also: Cisco brings digital know-how to smart buildingsOne of its innovations: connected containers that allow for smarter management of urban waste. The connected containers invented by Veolia are a major innovation in the field of smart waste management. Equipped with narrow-band (NB-IoT) sensors, they provide real-time visibility on their fill level and are also able to detect fires in the bins. It makes it possible to reduce the number of trucks needed for waste collection and consequently limit CO2 emissions.In partnership with the telephone operator Huawei, the data collected by sensors is transmitted via Vodafone Spain’s mobile network and then processed to optimize collection circuits. Connected gas metersCooking with charcoal and firewood is equivalent to being exposed to 400 cigarettes per hour, however in sub-Saharan Africa, while people want cleaner fuels, paying for gas up front is too expensive for most, exposing more than 80% of families harmful fumes every single day. African Gas provider KopaGas has created a solution to the problem through the use of smart meters and pay-as-you-go technology in Tanzania where customers pre-pay for small amounts of LPG gas for cooking through mobile payments. KopaGas was awarded a seed grant by GSMA through their Mobile for Development Utilities Program in 2015.The availability of commercial LPWA solutions is expected to take off this year and was a key theme as well as be a key theme at Mobile World Congress 2017. There are currently over 30 commercial pilots around the world across a number of sectors such as smart parking, smart water meters, smart grids and smart gas amongst others. This number is expected to grow dramatically over the coming months. By 2025 nearly 20% or 5 billion mobile connections will be cellular or LPWA (2bn cellular and 3bn LPWA.LPWA and NB-IoT seem to be the buzz words of MWC, surpassed only by the ubiquitous Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. But while the value of AI can be at times, limited to academic benefit, real-time, tangible real life results can be linked to NB-IoT advances. Follow the Puck Small Business Cybersecurity Threats and How to…last_img read more

Why Your Bank Hates You For Loving Bitcoin

first_imgBanks no longer worry about other banks being competitors.  What banks do worry about now is the “Bank of One” — the next generation of a banking network that’s decentralized and resident on a phone.  A digital asset that’s not issued by a bank or a government or anyone else.On its surface bitcoin’s potential can create all these different opportunities, not necessarily benefiting traditional enterprises and governments, but instead, helps unlock societies.  Because smartphones can be had for under $5 in the near future, most people living in poverty will finally have access and be connected to a network.When you have digital wallets on these phones and you have the ability to trade cryptocurrencies fundamental questions emerge, such as “What happens when everyone has money?” or “What happens when no one no longer depends on a bank or a government to handle a transaction?”.  That, in and of itself, is revolutionary.  Nothing scares the financial sector and governments more than something it can’t control.The financial services industry is like a Rube Goldberg machine; it incessantly yearns to make something more complicated than it needs to be.  You process a transaction, it goes through various convoluted (and unnecessary) system machines, and in 3 business days a settlement occurs.  The more elaborate and esoteric this framework becomes the bigger their opportunity to profit from it unchallenged.In contrast, the system is dramatically simplified when dealing with cryptocurrencies — the payment and settlement is the same process.  It’s just a change in the ledger — an addition to the blockchain. Tags:#bailout#Banking#bitcoin#Blockchain#Financial Services#new currency#traditional bank Related Posts “The best way to rob a bank is to own one.” — William K. Black For those unfamiliar, bitcoin was created in 2008 and released in 2009 as the world’s first decentralized (peer-to-peer) cryptocurrency and digital payment system.  But before we can explain why they’re against it you need to understand how they’ve always operated.Business As Usual What it Takes to Build a Highly Secure FinTech … As such, banks underlying fear of bitcoin boils down to this irrefutable truth: They fear they can be replaced.  Bitcoin can potentially make central banks obsolete.A Devil’s Choice? Bitcoin’s white paper was the first to provide an extraordinary solution to this double-spending problem by outlining a clever method so all transactions, without exception, is included in a publicly verifiable transaction log called the blockchain.  A blockchain is an immutable ledger of records organized in “blocks” that are linked together by cryptographic validation. It is a digital storage of consensus truth, via peer-to-peer, ensuring that those who spend bitcoins really do own them — thus, solving double-counting and other fraudulent concerns, including hacking.Bitcoin’s emergence in 2009 was no coincidence.  Growing rumblings during that time period, which eventually coalesced into what eventually became Occupy Wall Street, accused big banks of rigging the system, duping clients, misusing borrower’s money, and unabashedly charging unjustified (and in some cases, illegal) fees.  As such, bitcoin’s pioneers wanted to put the buyer/seller in charge, eliminate the middleman, cancel interest, and make transactions transparent.  In other words,  to hack corruption and cut fees. In traditional payment systems a middleman, an intermediary, is required to settle transactions.  This middleman is someone that is trusted.  That trust is usually bestowed upon banks.  Typically, we rely on banks in a monopolistic environment to create all the financial innovations because they have access within the system to clear money.  These stewards of trust are required to ensure transactions successfully go through — money/goods exchange hands with no shenanigans.  Unfortunately, within a fiat currency world this privilege also carries exorbitant transaction fees.The 2008 financial crisis — you know, that time when stock markets collapsed and some countries went bankrupt because banks defrauded the system — revealed this trust is always open to abuse because many in such elevated positions have easy access to rob the system with prosecutorial immunity.  When banks do something illegal against its nation’s people governments are typically unwilling to seek jail time against these bankers.  You see, private banks and public governments are typically bed buddies.  That is why people like United States Senator Dick Durbin famously said, “Banks, frankly own this place”.Banks get greedy and so fraud, by these “trusted” institutions, inevitably happen.  And guess what?  We, not those banks, are the ones who get punished for it through higher fees, government bailouts (which is taxpayer’s money), and inflation.  So what happened in 2008 was not the first time, it was just the most recent retelling of yet another legalized heist.  And it will happen again in the near future.What if one could remove this intermediary and replace it with a digital system that was infallible; one that was not open to corruption nor greed?  Sound impossible?  It was impossible before bitcoin. When bitcoin was introduced governments and banks simply ignored it.  In the following years they laughed and derided it: “A fool and his money are soon parted”.  We’re now at that stage where they’re fighting it.Remember, from their current perspective it’s best to eliminate bitcoin.  However, they can’t kill it because it’s decentralized.  This is why you’re starting to hear them, in collaboration with their respective governments, talk about regulating it.  But because bitcoin is also inherently anonymous, regulating it is also difficult.  But that doesn’t matter.  Their goal is to just prevent mass adoption by the general public.  To maintain business as usual.  To maintain control.And so this is really a story about the fear of change.  But let’s surmise that maybe this isn’t merely a choice between kill or be killed; that bitcoin must die for banks to live, irrespective of how egregiously unrestrained for hundreds of more years that may entail.Instead, maybe banks should focus their energy on fully understanding the underlying blockchain technology which fuels bitcoin, and how its impact could positively reshape their existing services to improve customer experiences.Ironically, if bitcoin is allowed to grow to its fullest potential, without slander nor interference, banks could have access to new markets on an unparallelled scale.Ethereum, another decentralized blockchain-based platform that goes beyond being a tradeable cryptocurrency, holds even more promise by expanding bitcoin’s foundation, allowing service providers to embed uniquely executable distributed apps within the blockchain.Stock brokerages, another arm of the financial sector, are now slowly showing signs of interest in cryptocurrency, as discussed in this Questrade review.And so, unless these banks learn to embrace, instead of fighting, this technology it’s only a matter of time before their customers wake up and realize these institutions have long been irrelevant. Nonetheless, this double-spending problem had always been one of the biggest hurdles for why truly decentralized digital money had a difficult time in becoming mainstream.  But that was then.A Birth Is Built Not Born Liam Adelson Blockchain – Impending Revolution in Glob… The Rise and Rise of Mobile Payment Technology Bitcoin has been around since 2009, but it really wasn’t until recently that it finally hit the mainstream consciousness of investors and the general public.  As of this writing 1 bitcoin is now worth over $5,600 USD.  And its meteoric rise doesn’t look to be abating any time soon.  Its potential to reshape how we understand and use money is real.  But the big question is why are banks and governments so steadfastly against it?Jamie Dimon, CEO of J.P. Morgan Bank, was recently in the news.  He brazenly proclaimed that people who buy bitcoin are “stupid” and “governments will crush it one day”. See Also: The future of tokenization and blockchain is not just ICOsThe Digital Dilemma When you deposit your money at a traditional bank you actually no longer own it, the bank does.  There’s lots of transactions happening in the background where banks are essentially spending your money to earn more for themselves, and charge you for that “privilege”.  Whether it is to pay for a fund manager, or it goes out as collateral to a mortgage, there’s layers and layers of complexity where people don’t realize their money is being spent to benefit those financial institutions alone.Digital currency had always been open to the risk of being spent twice because it consists of a digital file that can be duplicated or falsified.  This is known as the double-spending problem.  Physical currency does not have this issue because it can’t be easily replicated and parties can better verify the currency.  Middlemen like banks are there to establish trust — to resolve the double-spending problem.  So, for example, when I pay for something then someone else keeps track in a ledger on who spends and who is owed what.However, as mentioned earlier, banks thirstily charge excessive fees — even for just holding your money.  Interesting side note, because banks are also centralized they are more uniquely susceptible to hacking efforts, which is what happened to JPMorgan, TD Bank, Citigroup, and even recently with Equifax — twice. Why is Bitcoin Soaring? The result was a decentralized system where you could control your funds and know what was going on.  If I transfer bitcoins from my phone to yours there is no intermediary in that process.  It’s just my money to you.  We own it.  We spend it.A Paradigm Shiftlast_img read more

The Biggest Challenges of Building a Custom Chat App and How to Overcome Them

first_imgThe fact that users are always seeking more and more social connectivity has caused a boom in the creation of messaging applications – some, of course, more engaging than others. If you’re thinking about taking a shot at this ever-growing market, here’s a heads up: as everything worthwhile in life, building a custom chat app will pose a few challenges. From the get-go, you’ll want to settle on one big decision: accessibility. Whether it is to send a quick message or share a file, users will want to access the application any time, anywhere. You’ll want to make sure your use is fully accessible both on mobile and desktop. Taking on a deep dive into these challenges in 3, 2, 1. The Challenge: Picking Core Real-Time FeaturesFact: chat apps like WhatsApp, WeChat and Facebook Messenger have raised the bar. Users expect a core set of functionalities to be available on the cloud communication services they choose. From voice calling to live streaming, it’s essential to address all their requirements of today’s tech-savvy users. Overcoming the Mysterious World of Real-Time FeaturesMake sure you don’t only stick to the minimum viable product for your chat app, the core set of real-time features you enable have to work – and work well! Here’s a list of the functionalities we suggest keeping on your radar:Give instant messaging priority. Basic. Users should be able to send one-to-one and group messages instantly, efficiently and in real time. Host custom fonts, stickers, and emojis. This adds a bit of spark on conversations and keeps them lively.Allow users to mute chats. Group chats are especially active and some of the buzz may be a bit much, so allow users to be able to mute them altogether.Enable statuses such as “read, sent, and seen” for the messages. Everyone wants to see whether their message was received or not. Enable video and voice calls. Your users will expect to be able to make individual and group calls as well as video chats.Allow file transfers in several different formats like voice notes, videos, images and documents.The Challenge: Choosing the Right Tool Stack for Your Messaging ServiceThe right anything will significantly depend on what you’re looking for. All the variables you’ll have to take into account to choose the right technical tools can be daunting. So choose wisely, this will make all the difference when it comes to the security and functionality parameters you’ll need to make a successful chat app. Overcoming the Paralysis-by-Analysis of Tech RequirementsThe server architecture becomes a significant part of your chat app. From the single point of entry (load balancer) through the application logic, all the way to its database and back. Make sure your database can scale correctly. As far as databases go, you’ll need it to scale horizontally. There are some solutions in today’s market (like Amazon’s DynamoDB) that make this more accessible to a certain extent. Don’t reinvent the wheel with the architecture. We suggest using services that already offer the basics of this architecture. Twilio, for example,  is a programmable cloud communications platform that works as building blocks to add messaging, voice, and video in web and mobile applications. When using this type of service, you won’t have to spend all your resources designing extremely complex server clusters and architectures, but rather, you can just put the pieces together and choose the features you want.Use a front-end framework like React or Angular. These are probably the two most popular JavaScript-based web app frameworks. We suggest using them because they make creating a modern web client easier.The Challenge: Making Your Chat App Stand OutBuilding a “normal,” message-sending app is no longer going to cut it. Users and their ever-growing needs will expect your custom text messaging service to have some type of differentiator. Why should they switch from the mainstream applications to yours? You’ll have to give them something to get excited about. Overcoming The “Normal” App SyndromeWith such high expectations and users always looking for an infinite source of everything in a single place, think about having one of these unique features built as a core functionality of your application:Send push notifications to keep users active within the app and inform them when new messages have arrived.Provide the ability to sync reminders and events to their calendars.Enable message broadcasting so that users can send a single text to different contacts regardless of them being in a group or not.The Challenge: Providing Top Security on Cloud Communication ServicesMessaging apps can host sensitive and confidential data. If yours is not secure enough, users will be wary about using it, and this could result in low product adoption. While building your text messaging service, keep in mind the level of security you want (hint: high, very high). Encryption is not only desired but expected by most users nowadays; no one wants their proprietary information transmitted over the internet in the clear. Overcoming Security ConcernsSecurity is not taken lightly when it comes to the cloud communication services out there. Most (successful) messaging apps have applied one of the following tactics: Make it so that the private key is stored on the device itself and therefore inaccessible without the device.Allow the ability to time a message so that it disappears from both the sender’s and the receiver’s devices a certain amount of time after it’s read.Build an always-on, reliable, genuinely end-to-end encryption where no one can decipher the content of the messages.Here’s a snapshot of end-to-end encryption when using a cloud communications platform like  Twilio: The Challenge: Getting Actual Users and Having Them StayEngage. Such an overrated word and yet… so much riding on it. If your users are not engaging with your product, it will undoubtedly, be difficult for your app to be successful. By building a rocking text messaging service with all the right real-time features, implementing additional functionalities, securing the personal content transferred within and securing the technological stack you’re on the right track but, that alone, won’t make your app a success.Overcoming the Product Adoption HurdleWhen it comes to product adoption, think “how, when and what will my audience actually use?” That’s the basis of everything. Now, to break that down into actionable pieces of information:Create a good onboarding experience for your chat app. By simply pointing out where everything is within the app, creating tooltips and/or messages for users, you can increase the amount of features they are using and, therefore, make sure they stick around.Personalize their experience. Was your app built for different segments? Create different screens and tooltips making their experience unique. Aligning the experience with each of the user’s needs will increase the chances of them continuing to use the app. Help them spread the word. By creating easy ways to share the application and providing incentives, you can encourage early adopters to spread the word.Keep them updated. Whenever you launch a new release, change a functionality or implement a new feature, let the users know. Whether it is through a blog post, a newsletter or an in-app notification, they’ll appreciate you keeping them in the loop.  Check Yourself. To recap on all the ways to make your messaging app a success, we’ve created this checklist to help you go step by step on every point. Diana GonzalezMarketing Specialist at Scopic Software Marketing specialist at Scopic Software where we craft and execute marketing strategies for companies in over 10 different industries. Related Posts 4 Ways You Can Make Your Workplace an Engine of… CEOs in Troubled Waters (with Myriam Joire from… A Review of Instagram Marketing by Matthew Lucas Uber vs Lyft: Battling for Supremacylast_img read more

A Compressed Explanation of Video Compression

first_imgThis video was first shared by Techquickie. If you want to learn more technical terms check out the rest of the videos in their ‘As Fast As Possible’ series.If you want to learn more about compression or any other post-production term check out the PremiumBeat.com Blog. We have hundreds of articles and tutorials dedicated to helping you be a better film/video pro.Have any other tips for compressing? Share in the comments below. Trying to wrap your head around video compression? This tutorial explains compression in easy-to-understand language.Video compression is admittedly confusing. We all know that uploading a video to YouTube or Vimeo is going to make the quality go down, but what does that all mean? Why exactly is shooting in RAW files better than shooting in a compressed format? All these questions are valid and they will be answered in just a second, but first, a backstory…Do you remember when you had to create codecs by hand? Now of course I don’t mean actually having to go into the code, but having to choose bit rates, quality sliders, and compression codecs. It was incredibly confusing and it wasted a lot of time. Over time compressing videos has gotten a lot easier, but can still be confusing…especially to beginners.The following video created by Techquickie explains compression in a quick and easy-to-understand video. The video covers:MacroblocksSpacial vs. Temporal CompressionRedundancylast_img read more

Everything You Need to Know About Codecs

first_imgHaving trouble wrapping your head around the different types of video codecs? Learn how they work in this helpful masterclass.While it may not be entirely necessary to understand exactly how codecs work to use them, it certainly helps when trying to figure out the best way to shoot and share your film. Codecs are a program or software used to code and decode a video signal. They come in a variety of flavors.If you’re new to post production, codecs can be rather confusing. Instead of reading through overly technical articles on Wikipedia, check out this video created by David Kong. The video above explains codecs at a fundamental level, including:Types of CodecsBit DepthChroma SubsamplingTemporal CompressionBit RateIf you feel inspired to learn more about codecs or if you don’t have 45 extra minutes to watch this masterclass check out our “Compressed Explanation of Video Compression”, where we skim the surface of compression and codecs.Anything you’ve learned about codecs that you would like to share? Let us know in the comments below.last_img read more

The 3 Ingredients Every Great Movie Trailer Needs

first_imgYour film’s trailer is arguably the most important element when it comes to the commercial success of your project. No matter what style or genre your film may be, there are certain universal rules that you should be following to ensure your trailer is as strong as possible.Low budget independent films are notorious for having poor trailers. On the bigger budget side of things, large film trailers are most often cut by a dedicated trailer house who literally have the art of editing movie trailers down to a science. Some of these guys are so talented that they can take a very mediocre (or even poor) film and cut a mind blowing trailer from it. Unfortunately though, on the independent end of the spectrum trailers are often cut in house by the same editor that has just finished editing the entire film. This might not seem so bad on the surface, but in reality it can lead to the trailer falling flat in many ways, seeing as its editor may have little to no experience with trailers.The good news is you don’t need to spend a lot of money or hire a dedicated trailer editor just to get a half decent product, you just need to focus your efforts in the right places. There are a lot of considerations to make when cutting your own movie trailer: length, pacing, tone, story, etc. and this post will focus on several key elements that all successful trailers share.Lead with your film’s best moments.Your trailer is essentially a highly condensed version of your feature, and in order to whet your audience’s appetite you need to start your edit by including some of your film’s best moments (with the exception of 3rd act material or any other spoiler moments). This point may seem obvious, but the truth of the matter is that many filmmakers are so afraid to give away important plot points in their trailers than they end up only leaving in some of the flatter or less important scenes to be used.Don’t worry too much about what you’re giving away plot wise right off the bat (within reason of course) as you can always fine tune things later, but rather try to focus more on simply selecting the best content that you can. Great trailer material can consist of anything from punchy dialogue in a particular scene, to an outstanding performance moment, or a montage of beautiful imagery. Every film should be showcased differently, so you need to identify what it is that makes your film stand out and highlight those moments as much as you can.The first step in editing your trailer should involve going through your master timeline and pulling together different types of material into their own individual sequences. For example, you might make a sequence of your film’s best imagery, and then a separate sequence of your film’s best dialogue. From there, you can cut things down even further by including only those moments that convey the essence of the story you’re trying to tell. By using multiple sequences to break down your story, you will effectively force yourself to rebuild your trailer in a way that is truly geared towards the trailer format, as opposed to just cutting down a 90 minute film into 2 minutes. It’s also extremely important to remember that your teaser may tell a slightly different story from your film and that’s perfectly fine. Your trailer, more than anything is a marketing piece designed to attract audiences, so if you are able to connect with your viewers and get them wanting to see your movie, then you have done your job.Rhythm is everything.Perhaps more importantly than anything else when it comes to trailers, is the rhythm of the edit. Even though your trailer’s rhythm might not fully come together until you’ve gone through multiple edits, the general rhythm and tone is something that you really need to have a sense of before you even start cutting.The best starting point (especially for editors that are new to this) is to give your trailer a three-act structure. Just like your movie, your first act should showcase your characters and their setting, the second act must illustrate the complications and obstacles the characters experience in their world, and for act three you want to show how these issues become intensified. Don’t make the mistake though of literally using material from act 1, 2 and 3 from your film, but rather create new acts that are primarily pulled from act 1 and 2A of your feature. You want to build excitement and it’s primarily through rhythm and pacing that you can achieve this. If the trailer has no rhythm to it, it doesn’t matter how great it looks and how many awesome scenes were cut into it, audiences won’t respond well.Be extremely picky with your music choices.Selecting the right music for your trailer is arguably the most important factor with regards to overall audience perception. Music is integral to the cinematic experience across the board and picking the wrong music will not only clash with the true nature of your film, but may leave your audience feeling disengaged and uninspired. It’s often tempting to hear a track, cue, or score and want to cut your trailer to that music – even if it isn’t the right choice. Music is subjective and one of the most common mistakes that editors/filmmakers make when choosing music (for their trailers or otherwise) is basing their choice purely on personal preference. Obviously as an artist you want to put your stamp on things and use music that is true to who you are as a filmmaker, but there is a very thin line between staying true to your vision and dropping in music that you simply like, but that isn’t actually right for your film.Always put your film first, and understand that trailer music needs to be able to lead an audience through a variety of emotions in order to truly make an impact. If you have a great track in mind for the trailer, but it doesn’t have enough peaks and valleys, or the lyrics contradict the imagery, or there are any other number of potential red flags – stop right there and look for something else. I can’t stress enough how important it is to find the right score (or cues) for your trailer, so always give yourself enough time to make the right choice.last_img read more

Cinematography Technique: Cutting Light and Creating Shadow

first_imgSometimes perfect scene lighting is accomplished by preventing your lights from doing their job. Step into the shadows and explore techniques for cutting light.Top image via ShutterstockRemember the two things that define cinematography — light and shadow — where you place the light and how you create the shadows, also known as contrast. — Shane Hurlbut, ASCIn literature, it can sometimes be important to read what the text is not saying, rather than what it is. This can be the same with lighting — shadows can give a scene extra depth. There are several tools you can use to help cut and stop light from reaching your subject. But first, why do you need to cut light? Why would you bring in a set of lights and then stop them doing their job? Well, take the following location for example.Image via Tresde — Architectural Visualization StudioHousehold light enters through the doorway and illuminates the room in a particular fashion. If you were to film in this location, the household lighting likely would not sufficiently and properly illuminate an actor sitting on the couch.You would need to replicate the lighting in a manner that mimics the household lighting, but also illuminates your talent. Placing a 650w Fresnel in the hallway and pointing it through the door isn’t going to have the same effect. The light would spill onto the floors and the ceiling in an unnatural fashion. To stop this from happening, the light would need to be cut/shaped through the use of flags.Contrast is one of the most important tools a cinematographer can employ. By having light spill everywhere, it will lower the contrast ratio and make the image appear flat.The EquipmentImage via B&HA flag is a flag. They come in all shapes and sizes. Some can be as small as a few feet. Some can be as large as a vehicle. A flag will, however, inherit a different name depending on what it is being used for.Topper: This a flag that is used to stop (or more appropriately, cut) the top of a light. You will find that toppers are primarily used to stop light spilling onto the ceiling and sometimes onto the background. You might have a 2K sweeping down onto your subject, but to keep the focus on your actor, your background needs to be darkened. Using a topper would isolate that light spill from the background. It’s also helpful to remove excess background light in which the boom operator is casting a shadow.Bottomer: This is a flag positioned to cut the bottom of a light in order to stop the light spilling onto the floor.Sider: A sider, as you might have guessed, is a flag positioned to cut the light from entering the side of a composition.Image via Lights Film SchoolOf course, these will be used in combination with each other. It’s common to see a behind-the-scenes photograph of a set clustered with flags. As a side note, a flag which has been specifically set up to stop lens flare is called a lenser.You might ask, what about barn doors — do they not direct and cut light? It’s an excellent point. However, because barn doors are close to the light source, they create a very soft cut; you wouldn’t be able to have a razor sharp cut in the light by just using barn doors. They are, though, perfect for when you need to feather the light across a subject and control the direction of a beam. (They also provide an extra security measure with protecting the lens if the light were to fall.)There is also a courtesy flag. This is a flag that has been specifically set up to remove the light glare from a crew member on set.Flags can come in all shapes and sizes with a variety of different names.You can acquire flags, fingers, dots, etc. Within different regions, there may be different names for the equipment. For example, a finger, which is a linear piece of fabric rather than rectangular, can also be called a blade or a cutter.Image via B&HYou can also cut light with the use of breakup patterns — the cucoloris and branchaloris. I know they sound like dinosaurs, but I’m sure you know the cucoloris by its more common name: a cookie. This tool simply cuts the light into a pattern formed by the design of the cookie. It will help create contrast within the light falloff, and also stop the light from looking like an artificial source. Here’s a cucoloris being used on the set of National Treasure.Image via DisneyBelow is the shot within the film.Image via DisneyCould you imagine the same shot without the actors being painted by shadows? It wouldn’t look natural; it would look artificial. You will find that the illusion of a breakup pattern will fall apart if you start to move the cookie. If you do want a moving breakup pattern, such as a tree branch, then you need a branchaloris, which is nothing more than a leafy branch placed in front of your light source. It can be manmade or a real branch taken (with permission) from a tree outside.Image: Setting up a branchaloris via Stephen David SmithAs long as it results in the light breaking up to form the shadow of foliage, you’ve succeeded in using a branchaloris. In the National Treasure example, the shadow cut is quite feathered. If you would prefer your pattern to be very distinct and sharp, move your cookie closer to the subject.Tips For Using FlagsWhen cutting light, you will get a cleaner shadow if your light source is hard rather than soft.Light from a Fresnel lamp will be easier to shape than light from a 1×1 LED panel.Try to align the flag with the center of the light fixture rather than the edge.For a sharper cut, move the flag farther away from the light source. For a graduated cut, move the flag closer to the light.The video below shows great use of flags in action. Be warned — although the video gives solid information, it does look like someone has accidentally applied a Warp Stabilizer to the timeline and not an individual shot!Got any additional tips for working with flags? Share them in the comments below!last_img read more

Creative Uses for Bokeh Overlays + Free Prism Bokeh Pack

first_imgBlending ModesYou can use various blending modes to overlay these bokeh effects over your footage. First, add your footage to a sequence, then add one of the bokeh overlays above your footage. Select the bokeh overlay, and then navigate to the Effect Controls for that clip. Under the Opacity section, you will see Blend Mode. You can experiment with different blending modes, but the two most common are Screen and Linear Dodge (Add).Good Uses for Bokeh OverlaysTraditionally, you will see bokeh overlays associated with luxury products, such as jewelry, high-end cars, or beauty products. (They work really well over product shots with a shallow depth of field.) The bokeh overlays will show up best on footage with a darker background, but you can also use them on daylight exterior footage. This works similar to a lens flare effect.Other great uses would be overlaying them on motion graphics to add some realism, or over slideshow images for some secondary movement.Changing the ColorYou can easily change the color of the bokeh overlays using the Lumetri Color effect. Apply Lumetri Color, then navigate to the Curves options, and find Hue vs. Hue. Move the Hue vs. Hue curve up and down to offset the hue color for the bokeh overlay.Create Light Leak EffectsYou can blur the bokeh overlays with a Gaussian Blur effect to simulate the look of light leaks on your footage. After you apply Gaussian Blur to a bokeh overlay, set the blurriness to 1,000 and set the blending mode to Linear Dodge (Add). Next, add a Noise effect and set the Amount of Noise to 4%. This will help break up any unwanted color banding.Simulate a Rack Focus EffectIn order to simulate a rack focus effect, first apply the Camera Blur effect to your footage and to a bokeh overlay above your footage. Reset the Camera Blur values to 0 for both clips. Next, on the bokeh clip, keyframe the Camera Blur from 0 to 40, over a few seconds. Now, on the footage clip, add keyframes at the exact same time-locations as the bokeh overlay. Invert the values on the footage clip, so the Camera Blur starts at 40 and stops at 0. You can then set all of the keyframes to Bezier to smooth them out.Track Matte Text EffectsYou can track matte the bokeh overlays over text for some unique looks. Add a bokeh overlay to your sequence on video track 1. Next, add your text to video track 2 — directly above the bokeh overlay. Apply the effect Track Matte Key to the bokeh overlay clip. In the Effect Controls panel, find the Track Matte Key effect on the bokeh overlay, and set the Matte to Video 2.Track Matte Footage for Double Exposure EffectsYou can also use the Track Matte Key effect to create some cool “double exposure” bokeh looks. Add different footage clips to video track 1 and video track 2 (one directly above the other.) Next, add a bokeh overlay onto video track 3, above the other clips. Apply the Track Matte Key effect to the clip on video track 2. In the Effect Controls panel, find the Track Matte Key effect and set the Matte to Video 3. Finally, change the Composite Using option to Matte Luma.Interested in the tracks we used to make this video?“Dark Swag” by Tiny Music“Playful Groove” by Cymatix“Summer Midnight” by Ethan Rank“State of Flux” by Ethan RankLooking for more video production tutorials? Check these out.Getting Creative: Five Cool Video Edits that Genuinely WorkTips for Making High-Quality Small-Budget Video TutorialsHow to Properly Film Windows for Daytime Interior ScenesLearn to Create Your Own 8-Bit Art in Adobe After EffectsHow to Alter the Color of Your Video Using Lumetri Curves In this video tutorial, learn some creative new ways to use RocketStock’s FREE Prism Bokeh Overlays pack in Premiere Pro!RocketStock recently released a new freebie pack — 35 Free Prism Bokeh Overlay Effects. In this tutorial, we’ll look at all the different creative ways we can use these bokeh overlays in Premiere Pro. (Don’t have Premiere Pro? Don’t worry, you can use any video editor.) All of the bokeh overlays are 4K, filmed in-camera, using real glass prisms for natural results.Ready to check it all out? Let’s get started!last_img read more

The Only Question You Need for an Accurate Forecast

first_imgThere is only one way to ensure that you have an accurate sales forecast. You don’t need software, and you don’t need dozens and dozens of questions. A single question will suffice to provide you with all you need to know about the accuracy of your forecast. That question is this:“What date did the prospective customer select for their ‘go live’ date and why?”Close Dates Mean LittleClosed dates are relatively meaningless. Anything with a month ending date should be discounted on principle. Your prospective clients don’t select a “go live” date or a “deal ink” date by looking at the last day of the month.If the last day of the month is bad, then the last day of the quarter is even worse. The last day of the quarter is a day only sales organizations care about. Your prospective client did not choose that date, and the one thing you can predict with absolute certainty is that they have no idea that the last day of the quarter is the forecasted close date in your CRM.Stages Mean Even LessThe stages in your sales force automation software are meaningless. It doesn’t matter whether the stage is negotiation or acquisition or some other stage deep in the sales process. Regardless of what the stage is indicated in your CRM, the customer is still controlling the date the deal closes. You can’t close without them.The percentages attached to your stage are also meaningless. First of all, they probably do not reflect an accurate percentage based on stage if you were to look at your past wins and losses. Second, an opportunity with two competitors has only a 50 percent chance of winning; it can’t be 90 percent. The stage of your sales process is not a particularly accurate indicator.The Only Date That MattersIf you expect the customer to close on a certain date, shouldn’t they be aware of that date? Are they going to be surprised when you ask them for their business and show up with a contract and a pen? Should they not have something on their calendar indicating that they are signing a deal or going live with your solution?Could you acquire and agree on a date and still not have an opportunity close on time? Absolutely. But if you want forecast accuracy, you ask for the date to which the customer has agreed.last_img read more

Don’t Be an Order Taker

first_imgDon’t believe that because your bottom-feeder competitor sells by having the lowest (or a lower) price means being competitive requires you to match or beat their price. This is not selling; it is the opposite of selling. Selling is the creation of value worth paying for, not helping your prospective clients take money out of their solution and underinvest (if the investment they are making now could produce the result they needed, it would already be doing so).Don’t believe that your product is the sum total of the value you create, believing that it needs to be so good as to eliminate all competition. This is the approach of someone who struggles to sell because they don’t create enough value to be a large part of the value proposition. Avoiding being a value creator and hoping the product does the work of selling is also the opposite selling.Don’t believe or behave as if marketing is supposed to generate your leads and that those leads are supposed to be “ready-to-buy.” The idea that marketing is going to cause your dream clients to beat a path to your door is expecting too much from their effort, and it is completely unrealistic. There is no reason to suspect that you should succeed in sales by sitting back and waiting for deals to come to you through someone else’s efforts.There is a difference between being likable and the need to be liked. Your dream client needs someone with the chops to help them produce better results, and that means candor and the willingness to engage with the difficult parts of helping people change. The need to be liked manifests as fear and avoidance of difficult issues. This too is the behavior of an order-taker.You cannot be both an order-taker and value creator. You must pick a lane here. The decision to engage in what is difficult makes selling easier. A decision to avoid it means you are irrelevant. Essential Reading! Get my 3rd book: Eat Their Lunch “The first ever playbook for B2B salespeople on how to win clients and customers who are already being serviced by your competition.” Buy Nowlast_img read more

Jay Baer on How Talk Triggers Can Revolutionize Your Word of Mouth Marketing, Episode #117

first_img Get the Free eBook! Want to master cold calling? Download my free eBook! Many would have you believe that cold calling is dead, but the successful have no fear of the phone; they use it to outproduce their competitors. Download Now Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 42:16 — 33.9MB)Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Android | Email | Google Podcasts | RSSWord of mouth marketing is essential to the success of any business. Why is it then, that so many marketers don’t have a specific word of mouth marketing strategy? Jay Baer, the author of the new book “Talk Triggers,” joins Anthony on this episode of In The Arena to answer that exact question. He’ll walk you through 4 criteria to keep in mind when creating a talk trigger for your business, as well as share stories of how talk triggers have led to immense success for some of the top businesses in the United States. It’s an episode not to be missed – listen now!The persuasive power of offline #WordOfMouth #marketing is 43% higher than stand-alone posts on social media. Learn how to leverage WOM through #TalkTriggers on this episode of #InTheArena with @JayBaer, hosted by @iannarino.Click To TweetWhat are talk triggers and why are they important in word of mouth marketing?Jay explains talk triggers as, “something that you choose to do differently that creates conversation.” They’re not to be confused with marketing tactics. Rather, they’re operational choices that are designed to specifically generate discussions about your business. The single greatest way to grow any business is for your customers to do the growing for you through storytelling. You story arises from your talk trigger – are you giving your audience a story to tell?There is persuasive power in both online and offline conversations about your organizationRecent studies have shown that verbal marketing occurs equally online and offline. However, the persuasive power of offline word of mouth marketing is 43% higher than stand-alone posts on social media. The conversations that occur online and offline typically remain separate, and they are triggered by different things. Jay explains how a stellar talk trigger can be powerful both online and in person on this episode, and you don’t want to miss his insights.Creating a great #TalkTrigger to incorporate in your word of mouth #marketing strategy isn’t easy. Luckily, @JayBaer shares his top 4 criteria to follow when brainstorming ideas on this episode of #InTheArena hosted by @iannarino. Listen now!Click To TweetFollow these 4 criteria to craft a great talk triggerCreating a great talk trigger to incorporate into your word of mouth marketing strategy isn’t easy. Luckily, Jay shares his top 4 criteria to follow when brainstorming trigger ideas, and they’re all featured on this episode of In The Arena. But don’t miss the full story – be sure to check out his book on Amazon and wherever you buy books.Remarkable – it needs to be worthy of remarks – people don’t share mediocre storiesRelevant – it cannot simply be about gathering attention, because chatter only lasts for a short period of timeReasonable – different enough to attract attention, but not so “out there” that people are wary of the offerRepeatable – a talk trigger isn’t just a one-time stuntLearn from their success – both The Cheesecake Factory and Doubletree have stellar talk triggersTwo of the best examples of profitable talk triggers come from The Cheesecake Factory and Doubletree. At 5,940 words, the Factory’s menu is impressively long. But the menu is so much more than an expansive offering of entrees – it’s a specific marketing strategy. Their menu has become so infamous that when Jay and his team polled hundreds of Cheesecake Factory customers, they discovered that 38% had told someone else about the menu in the past 30 days, without being asked or prompted. This allows the Factory to spend $276 million less per year on marketing than the Olive Garden or Outback Steakhouse.Consider also Doubletree’s goal to give hotel guests the warmest welcome in the hotel industry, complete with a fresh, warm chocolate chip cookie upon arrival. Their cookies fit within the context of what they do, and they’ve been doing it for over 30 years. They sustainably delight their customers time after time, and that’s the truest sign of a successful talk trigger.“The single greatest way to grow any #business is for your customers to do the growing for you through #storytelling.” Hear more from #marketing expert @JayBaer on this episode of #InTheArena, hosted by @iannarino. Listen here! Click To TweetOutline of this great episode Jay Baer, digital marketing guru, on why he wrote a book on word of mouth marketing The persuasive power of online and in-person word of mouth marketing What are talk triggers and why are they important? Your talk triggers don’t have to be huge gestures – follow these 4 criteria to craft a great talk trigger Why is being relevant important in your talk trigger? Reasonability is just as important when designing a talk trigger Talk trigger success comes from repeatable strategiesResources & Links mentioned in this episodeTalk Triggers websiteConvince and Convert websiteJay’s websiteBOOK: “Hug Your Haters: How to Embrace Complaints and Keep Your Customers”BOOK: “Talk Triggers: The Complete Guide to Creating Customers with Word of Mouth”BOOK: “Contagious: Why Things Catch On”Ep 53, “Jay Baer on Hugging Your Haters and the Real Value of Stellar Customer Service”SPONSOR: MailTag.IODufl brandConnect with Jay on LinkedInFollow Jay on TwitterFollow Jay on FacebookThe theme song “Into the Arena” is written and produced by Chris Sernel. You can find it on SoundcloudConnect with AnthonyWebsite: www.TheSalesBlog.comYoutube: www.Youtube.com/IannarinoFacebook: https://www.facebook.com/iannarinoTwitter: https://twitter.com/iannarinoGoogle Plus: https://plus.google.com/+SAnthonyIannarinoLinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/iannarino Tweets you can use to share this episodeAuthor & #marketing expert @JayBaer explains how a stellar #TalkTrigger can be powerful both online & in person on this ep of #InTheArena, and you don’t want to miss his insights. Listen now – your word of mouth marketing strategy will thank you. @iannarinoClick To Tweet#TalkTriggers aren’t #marketing tactics. Rather, they’re operational choices that are designed to specifically generate discussions about your business. Learn more from expert @JayBaer on #InTheArena, hosted by @iannarino.Click To TweetSubscribe toIn the ArenaApple PodcastsGoogle PodcastsAndroidby EmailRSSOr subscribe with your favorite app by using the address belowlast_img read more