Strategy Roundtable For Entrepreneurs: Indian Entrepreneurs Are Maturing

first_imgFor this week’s One Million by One Million roundtable, we partnered with the Indian Angel Network (IAN). India, as you all know, is a rising power in the entrepreneurship firmament, and the country’s entrepreneurs are making a long-awaited switch from pure outsourcing and labor arbitrage to now venturing into building Internet companies, cloud businesses, and, as you will see in today’s presenters, some very cool hybrid businesses that leverage India’s cheap labor pool and, when combined with sophisticated technology, deliver solutions to hairy and hardcore problem domains.It is particularly satisfying for me to work with these entrepreneurs because I have long believed that India needs to diversify out of pure labor arbitrage. I deliberately wrote a highly controversial series of articles in 2008 [Death Of Indian Outsourcing] to provoke a debate on the topic. Other discussions on India’s need for product companies have also been equally controversial. But in the end, I believe, we have arrived at a better place as an industry where Indian entrepreneurs are thinking beyond outsourcing.Meanwhile, outsourcing itself is absolutely booming. You can read more on the topic in Top 10 Outsourcing Trends Of The Decade, while I discuss some of the entrepreneur pitches we discussed today.IRTEX: Indian Road Transportation ExchangeFirst up today was Ankur Tripathi with IRTEX: Indian Road Transportation Exchange. Ankur has uncovered a very real and substantial problem in the transportation industry spanning road, rail, ship: very often vehicle capacity goes under utilized due to lack of information on cargo and its whereabouts, and lack of communication among shippers and their clients. I like this business very much, and believe it can be a large, and important company. It reminds me somewhat of RedBus, India’s largest online bus-ticketing company, that went into a very low-tech, inefficient industry and completely changed its dynamics.In today’s session, we primarily discussed Ankur’s scaling challenges and prioritization issues. We also discussed how to move this cash transaction-oriented business to a more efficient, electronic payment mode. The industry is extremely low-tech, but in today’s India, everyone uses mobile phones. I pointed Ankur to Obopay, a mobile payment solution, by which, conceivably, he can turn the cash-intensive nature of the business to a more efficient and accurate workflow. Delyver Retail NetworkThen Praful Thachery pitched Delyver Retail Network, a home delivery solution through which Praful is already delivering food, flowers and a variety of other products and services (like dry cleaning) to over 5,000 customers in Bangalore. The value proposition is sound. The Indian cities are incredibly crowded today and traffic is an absolute nightmare. Upwardly mobile consumers, I am sure, would welcome a service like Delyver. Praful is looking to scale his business, and needs cash to open additional hubs in Bangalore, as well as elsewhere. He also wants to build optimization technology to make the delivery process – today managed largely by hand – better optimized. For an investor, Praful needs to present a thorough financial analysis – based on his first 5,000 customers – on the margins and mechanics of the business he is trying to build, and also a clear articulation of the growth levers.Saagam.comNext Kiran Reddy presented Saagam.com. I learned that there are educational institutions in India that cater to non-resident Indians, and out-of-state students on a quota basis, but the information flow is extremely limited. Kiran is trying to bring transparency to the industry that currently has some awkward behavior like admission in exchange for donations! I detected a major flaw in Kiran’s business model assumption. He wants 8% commission off the admission fee for every student that he helps the institutes recruit, yet the institute wants to slap that fee on top of their regular fee, and pass the charge on to the student. This creates a pricing model disparity, whereby, the tuition fee on Kiran’s site is 8% higher than if the student goes directly to the institute. Well, guess what? The students will do all their research on Kiran’s site, and then go buy from the institute directly!Zuri Wine TastingUp last was Tuanni Price presenting Zuri Wine Tasting, a wine education service for African American women with a household income of $40,000 a year. Tuanni has come to realize that this segment has a somewhat specific palette; they like sweeter wines. And of course, at a $40,000 household income, they cannot afford to buy Opus One or Stag’s Leap. But in their price range, say $10-$25 a bottle, there are very nice wines from different parts of the world.I like the precision of the positioning in Tuanni’s business. I also think this is a perfect e-Commerce/Web 3.0 opportunity with a well-defined context. And she is also interested in doing a somewhat hybrid business with a physical tasting room in Los Angeles.Speaking of which, I like this trend of hybrid online businesses. I like the way Ankur is using physical resources to address the challenge that his clientele is low-tech, non computer-savvy (forget Internet savvy), and hence unable to provide data through electronic means. Over time, Ankur will be in a position to solve this with technology, but for now, human intervention is just fine.Similarly, Praful’s business is very much a hybrid business where, conceivably, consumers would order online (or by phone), and human beings do the actual delivery. I think, hybrid e-commerce will be a trend this decade. A very good case study to refer to is Fresh Diet, in this context.Overall, I’d like to suggest that entrepreneurs look at the trend more carefully, especially since these kinds of businesses also create a lot of jobs.You can listen to the recording of today’s roundtable here. Recordings of previous roundtables are all available here. You can register for the next roundtable here.Sramana Mitra is the founder of the One Million by One Million (1M/1M) initiative, an educational, business development and incubation program that aims to help one million entrepreneurs globally to reach $1 million in revenue and beyond, build $1 trillion in sustainable global GDP, and create 10 million jobs. She is a Silicon Valley serial entrepreneur and strategy consultant who writes the blog Sramana Mitra On Strategy, and is the author of the Entrepreneur Journeys book series and Vision India 2020. She has a master’s degree in electrical engineering and computer science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.Photo by barunpatro Related Posts Tags:#start#StartUp 101 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Market A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai…center_img Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… sramana mitra Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hostinglast_img read more

Every City Needs This: Mobile Public Art Finder

first_imgPortland, Oregon is known for many things but one of them is its availability of public data. When the local government included listings of 429 pieces of public art in the data it made available to independent developers, Matt Blair took the logical and admirable step of turning that data into an iPhone app. The Portland Public Art Finder makes it easy to discover and learn about murals, sculptures, installations and other instances of art that you can go and enjoy in public.It’s a great way to learn about those works of art you might see regularly but never know the story behind, or to discover new gems in your or a new neighborhood. Blair told Mike Rogoway of the Portland Oregonian, who wrote about the app first, that he had no idea how much art was around town before seeing the data made available. Talk about augmented reality! What city wouldn’t benefit from apps like this?The app makes it easy for users to submit suggestions for new listings to be included and Blair says he’ll be adding more over the coming months. While the map makes class and race differences all the more evident, it’s great to learn about the few murals where I live and I look forward to using this app on a walking tour downtown soon. It’s not hard to imagine integration of check-in apps, Wikipedia links, public commenting and shared discussion of works of art, their meaning and history. So much is made possible when geocoded data becomes programmatically available. The Rise and Rise of Mobile Payment Technology marshall kirkpatrick Role of Mobile App Analytics In-App Engagement Related Posts center_img What it Takes to Build a Highly Secure FinTech … Why IoT Apps are Eating Device Interfaces Tags:#mobile#web last_img read more

Build Video Chat Into Your Mobile Apps with OpenTok

first_imgTags:#APIs#hack 7 Types of Video that will Make a Massive Impac… Related Posts Today OpenTok, the Web-based group video from TokBox, announced new features for its API – notably the ability to use the OpenTok platform embed video chat into iOS and Android applications.OpenTok also added the ability to embed an OpenTok video stream on any website using a simple HTML widget.TokBox launched the OpenTok API last year, enabling Web developers to embed video streams into applications. Earlier this year, TokBox shuttered its consumer-facing video chat site to focus on providing the API.These new tools expand the capabilities to mobile, and makes it much easier for non-technical users to add a video chat features to sites. OpenTok lets up to 20 users at a time participate in a group video chat, but “thousands” can watch the stream without participating.TokBox competes with companies such as TinyChat and OoVoo/a>.TokBox was founded in 2007 and is funded by Sequoia Capital, Bain Capital Ventures,DAG Ventures and others. Growing Phone Scams: 5 Tips To Avoidcenter_img How to Write a Welcome Email to New Employees? klint finley Why You Love Online Quizzeslast_img read more

Position Yourself as an Expert Eco-Builder: Identify Your Ideal Customer

first_imgIntroductionBuilders and remodelers seem to be in the same category as attorneys and auto mechanics: necessary, tolerated, but not especially embraced by society. That may be because in most places, the bar is set pretty low to become a builder or remodeler. Unfortunately a lot of under-qualified folks get into the trades. Many backed into it because they couldn’t think of anything else to do and the home-building market was booming. The bad news is that we’re often painted with the same broad brush as the worst of the worst are painted. The result is that we spend a lot of time battling dumb pricing and dumber workmanship while pursuing smart building practices.The good news is that with such a low bar, it’s pretty easy to set yourself apart from the pack. But why be satisfied with positioning yourself away from the worst, and among the “good”? Why not position yourself as among the best? That’s what this series of posts is about. Green building is one way to deliver the next step in quality—because it comes with built-in advantages (like comfort and low utility bills) and quality assurances (in the form of green ratings). Most of these steps focus on what the best builders do anyway: communicate, differentiate, and manage projects in an organized manner. When you add best business practices to best building practices, you position yourself as the best.—_Daniel Morrison, Managing Editor_Part 1 of a 7-part seriesRapid changes in the residential construction industry are providing new profit and diversification opportunities for builders. Those who see and understand these opportunities can position themselves as experts in the field and provide exemplary service to gain an important edge in the marketplace. Knowing where you stand in relation to your competition is paramount. Educating and communicating that position to prospective customers is equally important.1. Identify your ideal customerDo you have your specific customer base identified? Do you have a particular label for your customers, such as “first-time homebuyers,” “baby boomers,” or “single moms”? If your marketing effort doesn’t speak directly to your ideal customer, it should, and it should stand apart from that of your competitors. Your message should leave customers hungry for more details, not be generic (and thus, boring). If your catchphrase is something like, “I’m a green quality builder,” you’re not alone—there are thousands of other builders saying the same thing. You are just one of the pack!Clearly defining your ideal customer will help you stand out from the pack. Not everyone is your customer; and it is impossible for you to be everyone’s builder. The clearer your message, the easier you make it for your ideal customers to find you in a crowded market. Be specific, and you will attract prospects who identify with your message.You want them to say, “Hey, that’s me!” or “That’s not me, but it sure sounds like my friend John!” This way, they may become your customer or refer you to others. The key is first to identify your market niche. Second, work up your message to express the essence of the value you offer to that ideal customer, such as “Helping first-time homebuyers build their dream home” or “Helping affluent professionals build their one-of-a-kind castle.” Use this message everywhere to capture the attention of ideal customers who are looking for their ideal builder—you!Next Week: Deliver great valuelast_img read more

What is Thermal Bridging?

first_img RELATED ARTICLES Thermal BridgingBuilding Science: Thermal BridgingThe Thermal Bridge to NowhereGBA Encyclopedia: Insulation OverviewUnderstanding R-ValueBuilding With Steel FramingHow to Install Rigid Foam Sheathing Erik North, the owner of Free Energy Maine, is an energy auditor and home performance specialist in Westbrook, Maine. He is also the author of the Energy Auditing Blog. A boring definition of thermal bridgingThermal bridging occurs when a more conductive (or poorly insulating) material allows an easy pathway for heat flow across a thermal barrier. The most common form is probably within the eyesight of every reader of this article: wall studs.Suppose your walls have 6″ fiberglass batts. (I’m sorry. We’re working to update the building code.) Every 16 inches on center in that wall is a 2×6 or 2×4 stud. The fiberglass has an R-value of around 3.5 per inch, and the stud is around R-1.2 per inch. The wood studs allow heat to flow through the wall assembly at a rate that is 3 times faster than the heat flow through the surrounding insulation.While the advertised R-value for a 6-inch fiberglass batt is R-19, the building assembly’s effective R-value is about R-3 lower. Bummer. Cures for the thermal bridging bluesThe question then becomes… What to do?Simple enough: you need to eliminate or reduce the thermal bridging. There are many approaches. In new construction, you can build the walls SIPs (structural insulated panels) or use advanced framing techniques which reduce the number of wall studs.A newer approach involves applying strips of insulation over the wood studs to provide a thermal break.In retrofit scenarios, sheets of polyisocyanurate foam, high-density rock wool, or Larsen trusses can be applied on the exterior side of the wall sheathing as a thermal break.If your home has aluminum-framed windows, the addition of insulated shades can help reduce the severity of the thermal bridging through the aluminum during the summer.Similarly, you can reduce the effect of thermal bridging through a metal-framed door if you install a storm door.Thermal bridging is one of the hidden heat-loss paths that a home energy audit can uncover. Keep it in mind when thinking about the heat loss (and the heating bills) at your home. BLOGS BY ERIC NORTH Is R-Value Dead as a Dodo?Blower Doors Have Become EssentialMajor Thermal BypassesFlash and Batt InsulationExterior Insulation Is Like Like A Sweater For Your HouseHeat Loss from Air Is No Big Deal, Right?Insulating Stud Cavities in Existing Homes The Difference Between Air Conditioners and DehumidifiersHow to Insulate and Air-Seal Pull-Down Attic StairsHow to Insulate and Air Seal an Attic HatchCan Switching to a Dual-Flush Toilet Save Heat?Essential Energy-Audit Equipmentcenter_img Like wind washing, thermal bridging is something folks mention all the time during audits (meaning they never ask about it). But what is thermal bridging, and why do I keep bringing it up when my customers just want new windows?To understand thermal bridging, you need to understand your home’s wall assembly and the various materials used in its construction. Thermal bridging is one reason you can’t blindly judge insulation based on its R-value. Standard wall assembly construction (at least in the Northeast) consists of drywall on 2×6 studs, 6-inch-thick fiberglass batts within the wall cavities, plywood or OSB sheathing, Tyvek building wrap as a water control plane, and siding. The R-value for any cross-section of the wall can be found by adding the material R-value of each layer. My house is well insulated, right?The exterior walls of your home are (hopefully) well insulated. The building shell of your home provides the structural barrier between your dream home’s interior and the rest of the world. It keeps out unwanted air infiltration (mostly), moisture (again, fingers crossed) and retards the flow of heat through the wall. If well insulated, your home ought to stay warmer during cold winter months and cooler in the summer.R-value is the measure of how well your insulation resists heat flow across the material in question. (For more information on R-value, see Understanding R-Value.) In theory (quite literally — a material’s theoretic R-value is tested under lab conditions), R-value is supposed to be an objective comparison of the thermal resistance of different materials.Unfortunately, this just isn’t so. As I explained in a previous post, we all wish there was a magic, universally applicable number like car gas mileage with which to compare various insulation. But there isn’t.last_img read more

Germany’s Energy Revolution

first_imgIn Germany, the cost of electricity is risingThe cover of a recent issue of Der Spiegel caught my eye: “Luxury Power — Why energy will become increasingly costly, and what politicians must do to prevent it.” Aha, I thought: Germany has generally been the poster-child for the broad implementation of renewable power, and this article will provide insights into the downside of this transformation.The article certainly does lambaste many aspects of the Energiewende, focusing particularly on the relatively high cost of electricity. But the sensational language employed and the apparent lack of context for some of the assertions had me wondering about the article’s balance.There’s no doubt that the German government’s support for the development of renewable energy — particularly wind turbines and photovoltaic systems — has been expensive. These costs appear as a surcharge in the monthly electricity bills that most Germans pay. The article contends that this surcharge disproportionately penalizes low- and fixed-income citizens, who are, according to the article, increasingly at risk of having their electricity cut off.The German government’s energy regulations were designed to exempt businesses and industries that compete internationally from having to pay the electricity surcharge. This exemption represents a potential loophole that some businesses have exploited. It also increases the cost of power for those businesses that do not qualify. Andrew Dey’s background includes carpentry, contracting, and project management. For the past six years he has provided construction consulting services to clients in New Hampshire, Vermont, and Massachusetts. He is passionate about retrofitting existing buildings — including his own house — for greater energy efficiency. His blog is called Snapshots from Berlin. Replacing fossil fuels with energy efficiencyThe Der Speigel article’s most significant omission, in my opinion, relates to efforts to reduce demand for energy. Energy efficiency is a cornerstone of the Energiewende, yet it is hardly mentioned in the article. Wind generators and solar panels lend themselves to simplistic critiques; insulating existing buildings and installing better building control systems are not attention-grabbing subjects. My understanding is that Germany is making steady progress in the arena of energy efficiency, but that there remains tremendous potential for additional gains.What was most striking to me about the article in Der Spiegel is that it does not fundamentally question the need for an Energy Transformation; rather, it argues that the current path is flawed, and that alternatives should be explored. Public opinion polls in Germany consistently show broad support for the goals of the Energiewende. Coming from the U.S., a country that lacks a comprehensive, coherent energy policy, I am inspired to see people here in Germany debating the “how,” rather than the “what” or the “why.” Renewable energy sources require grid improvementsThe article contends that the main driver of increased electricity costs is the “haphazard” expansion of wind and solar energy. It describes the difficulties in bringing off-shore wind parks cost-effectively into operation, the need to upgrade the grid to transport energy from where it is produced to where it is needed, and the challenges posed by providing reliable back-up power during periods of peak demand.The article points out the uncomfortable fact that Germany’s greenhouse gas emissions actually increased by 2% in 2012. This was presumably the result of the shut-down of eight aging nuclear power plants in 2011 following the Fukushima nuclear disaster, and the resultant need for Germany to use lignite coal-fired plants to pick up the slack.The article concludes that Germany might be better off with a system based on market-driven incentives, similar to that which has been enacted in Sweden, rather than relying so heavily on government support.These critiques all have some merit, but reasonable arguments can be made in defense of the Energiewende’s policies and their implementation. Cogent responses to the concerns raised in this article can be found in in various articles available on the web, including in the publication “Energy Transition — the German Energiewende,” produced by the Heinrich Boell Foundation. Chapter 6, Questions and Answers, addresses head-on many of the issues raised in the Der Spiegel article. RELATED ARTICLES An Energy-Efficiency Conference in GermanyA German Deep-Energy RetrofitGermany’s Plus-Energy TownGetting Off Fossil FuelsVäxjö, Sweden, is a Model of SustainabilityCombined Heat and Power in Swedencenter_img These goals include:Reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by 2020, and by 80 percent by 2050 (as compared to 1990 levels)Phasing out the use of nuclear power by 2022Reducing primary energy consumption by 20 percent by 2020, and 50 percent by 2050 (compared to 2008 levels)Expanding the use of electric vehicles: 1 million by 2020, and 5 million by 2030Increasing the percentage of energy from renewable sources to 18 percent by 2020 and 60 percent by 2050A serious attempt at achieving these goals will require increasing the energy efficiency of all market sectors (housing, transportation, industry, etc.), dramatically expanding the use of renewable energy, and shifting energy-related attitudes and behaviors to a new paradigm.One of my motivations for spending a year in Germany was to learn more about the Energiewende — to dig more deeply into the program specifics, and to find out how it is working. My wife and I decided several years ago to spend a year living in Germany. I wanted finally to become fluent in German, after having been married for many years to a German engineer.I was also interested in learning about the materials, methods, and systems being used to make buildings more energy-efficient in Germany. We knew it would be educational for our two daughters to be immersed in a foreign culture, and we looked forward to spending more time with my wife’s family in Germany.We are now about six weeks into what will likely be a year-long adventure. I’ve started a blog to share with family and friends some of the experiences we are having in Berlin. I have also been posting information related to construction and energy efficiency. A nation tries to lower its carbon emissionsI have seen numerous newspaper and magazine articles in the past few weeks focused on the allegedly high cost to the German people of the country’s ambitious plan to restructure its energy systems. These articles have not been confined to Germany; they have also appeared in outlets such as The Guardian and The New York Times.Der Spiegel is a weekly German news magazine whose gravitas I might have placed somewhere between Newsweek and The Economist. However, a recent cover story about Germany’s “Energiewende” — an article which exemplifies the strained tone of other recent articles — did not strike me as particularly impartial or objective.Energiewende translates literally as “energy turn,” but it is more typically expressed as “energy transition,” “energy transformation,” or “energy revolution.” This program has its roots in the environmental movement that formed during the 1970s in Germany. In 2011, the German government formalized the Energiewende in its current configuration with the goal of achieving specific energy-related and carbon-reduction goals within the next forty years.last_img read more

Government Test House Hits Net-Zero Target

first_imgAn experimental house in Gaithersburg, Maryland, built by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) completed its first year of operation July 1 with a surplus of electricity. The house is equipped with a 10.2-kW photovoltaic (PV) array.According to the government agency, which completed the 2,700-square-foot house last year, the surplus amounted to 491 kWh of electricity, which a NIST news release said was enough to power an electric car for 1,440 miles.“We made it — and by a convincing margin,” said Hunter Fanney, who heads the project. Occupied by a “virtual family”GreenBuildingAdvisor has published several articles about the NIST test house, including:Testing… Testing… Homes as Net-Zero Laboratories,Is NIST Serious About Net-Zero-Energy Homes? andExperimental House on Track for Net-Zero Operation.The four-bedroom, three-bathroom house is jammed with hundreds of sensors, but it isn’t occupied by people. Instead, researchers are using sophisticated equipment to mimic the behavior of a family of four (nicknamed the “Nisters”). The object is to test materials and systems that increase energy efficiency.A NIST spokesman said the cost of the project was $2.9 million, but he added that because it was built as a “research testbed,” construction costs were higher than they would have been for a similar house in the Washington, D.C., suburbs. NIST is planning to release a report later detailing the cost of building a comparable net-zero house that meets Maryland codes.As to the future of the experimental house, Fanney said in a prepared statement:“The residential facility will become a testbed for developing measurement systems and protocols to measure the performance of the residence overall and its associated equipment, including new and experimental technologies, under actual field conditions, which will lead to improved test methods and standards. Research at the facility also will provide real world data that will be used to validate and improve computer models to predict the energy performance of homes.”last_img read more

Why Aren’t Entrepreneurs Developing Innovative Solutions For Renters?

first_imgThere are some 40 million rental units in America today. And that segment is growing fast as more Americans choose to rent instead of own in a tepid real estate market. While some technology providers have come to the rescue of landlords and prospective tenants, much opportunity remains.With home prices down 34% from their July 2006 peak, resulting in more than $16 trillion in vaporized household net worth, you can’t blame Americans for wanting to move on with their lives. That typically means renting a home or apartment, as fewer Americans now believe that owning a home is better than renting, 63% today, down from 89% in 1996:.That trend has fueled a rental market with the tightest demand in 10 years. Leading the U.S. rental market is the tech-heavy San Francisco Bay Area, with San Francisco rental prices up 15% and Oakland, Calif., up 11%, as of June 2012.But tenants and landlords know that finding and renting a home or apartment is not a simple process. The finding part has been made easier with the emergence of Craigslist as the default mother of all U.S. rental listings. Yet the procedure of applying for a rental and getting your application approved remains arduous. Thankfully it’s now being addressed by a few savvy technology providers.Online ApplicationsLandlords of multi-unit apartment buildings or home properties can now use a service from Santa Barbara-Calif.-based RentApp. As its name implies, this online service is designed to simplify the rental application process. Once a free account has been set up, a landlord can create a rental application by selecting from a menu of customary items, such as financial information, pets, etc. RentApp makes money by collecting fees from screening tenants, which start at $10 per “screen.”Once an application has been created, prospective tenants are sent a link to fill out the online application and RentApp can collect application fees, if a landlord has been set up with credit-card processing (a cumbersome process that screams for a Square-like solution). Landlords who have applied for background checking can then automatically screen each tenant. But background- and credit-checking require an on-site visit by an Experian representative, yet another tedious complication.The good news for prospective tenants is that there’s no paperwork involved and applicants do not directly divulge social security numbers to landlords – adding an extra layer of security protection. Welcome to the 21st century!Chicago-based startup RocketLease also offers online application creation, submission and screening, plus it lets landlords create an online property listing that applicants can use to review a rental offering and submit their application.But when I tested their service I discovered that not only did RocketLease not actually have the iPhone app portrayed on its home page, it also prominently displays a landlord’s email address on its listing pages, which could lead to spamming. RocketLease has assured me that it will begin cloaking email addresses this week.Digital LeasesMoreover, no existing service – and that includes other new-age outfits like E-Renter, which handles tenant screening but offers no online application submission service – lets one manage the entire rental process, in particular lease creation, submission and signing, plus rental payments. To create a lease, many National Association of Realtors NAR agents rely on services like zipLogix, which is able to generate PDFs that must be filled out by hand, i.e. non-fillable PDF forms. But this service is not available to individual parties. Popular legal services, such as Nolo or Rocket Lawyer, offer leases that can be tailored to each landlord’s state – but none offers online fillable lease services.Once a lease has been laboriously created, you can have it electronically signed by using Adobe’s EchoSign, which requires that each signatory field is manually specified. (Competitors to EchoSign include DocuSign and many others.) For rent payment collection, landlords have to rely on yet another service, like PayYourRent or RentPayment.Overwhelmed yet? Now you know why I agree with Sequoia Venture Capitalist Jim Goetz that it’s shocking to see how few entrepreneurs really focus on building products for businesses.Considering that there are 40 million rentals and 223 million computers users in the U.S. with no easy way of applying and qualifying for rentals, you can’t blame me for ranting against the lack of common-sense application development in America. While there are certainly outfits addressing the rental market with tech-based solutions, my experience suggests that the playing field falls far short of what’s needed.As a landlord you should not have to visit half a dozen sites to get a unit leased. Rental apps should be downloadable to a tenant’s mobile phone, filled in and signed directly from wherever they are. I know that day will come but it’s not here yet.Submit your ideas to help revolutionize our software industry at our ideation engine and here’s hoping that your next rental experience is a seamless one.Rental and lease images courtesy of Shutterstock. Massive Non-Desk Workforce is an Opportunity fo… Related Posts IT + Project Management: A Love Affair Cognitive Automation is the Immediate Future of…center_img michael tchong Tags:#e-commerce#enterprise 3 Areas of Your Business that Need Tech Nowlast_img read more

YouTube Flushes Bot Views, Annoints VEVO Channels

first_imgT’is the end of the year and all across YouTube, videos – primarily music- are being scrubbed clean of fraudulent views. Except one set of channels. VEVO, the one with a special partnership with YouTube, has remained untouched. Obvious VEVO power-play much, YouTube?YouTube has long had issues with botting – the practice of paying for fake views, much in the same way people buy fake Facebook likes or fake Twitter followers. In a bold move before the Christmas holiday, the Google-owned site stripped billions of views from the channels belonging to Universal Music Group, Sony BMG and RCA Records. Hundreds of examples of music-related content were removed as well.  Tallying Up The Fake ViewsThe music channel with the most fraudulent views removed was Universal Music Group, with the tally coming out to just over 1 billion (1,015,813,000), according to third-party analytics site SocialBlade. Sony BMG lost a little over 850 million views, while the RCA channel dropped 159 million.As first reported by the Daily Dot, this year-end cleaning of fake views also hit hundreds of other non-musical YouTubers, which led many to wonder in related Google forums whether this was the work of a bug. In a forum post, YouTube confirmed users had violated the Terms of Service item 4 section H, which states: “You agree not to use or launch any automated system, including without limitation, “robots.”YouTube did not respond to the Daily Dot’s requests for comment on the removal of views and videos from Universal Music Group, Sony BMG, and RCA Records, nor did they respond to ReadWrite’s. Tech blog Tom’s Guide however, got a confirmation from Google that the music channels had indeed violated the ToS. Claims Of BiasNetherlands-based web celebrity and gamer Athene Wins – who is a bit of a YouTube watchdog – called the take-down of fake views from certain channels “biased”  in a vlog addressing Daily Dot’s article, given that he believes botting has also occurred on VEVO channels.  “They’re just making sure all big labels and artists are forced to go with VEVO,” says Athene Wins, who points out Chris Brown and Britney Spears VEVO channels were untouched as far as the removal of botted views.  “Don’t tell me that you are going to be botting views for Chris Brown TV” but you “stop botting” at Chris Brown’s VEVO,” he added. fruzsina eordogh 7 Types of Video that will Make a Massive Impac… How to Write a Welcome Email to New Employees? Growing Phone Scams: 5 Tips To Avoid Tags:#YouTube The removal of botted views on only certain music channels does look suspicious, but the comment the Daily Dot received from Universal confirmed they have been focusing on pushing content into their VEVO channel, instead of their original YouTube channel. VEVO, after all, charges very high ad rates.  It is also possible that the millions of fake views on Universal Music Group, Sony BMG and RCA Records was done to make channels appear more popular than they were, since they were created in 2006, before the music video conglomerate VEVO (which includes Universal, Sony BMG and RCA Records talent) launched in 2009. Reddit, for example, relied on fake users to make the site appear more popular than it was, when it first started out.  YouTube’s funneling music into one central distributing network, VEVO, also makes sense for simplicity, as all music on the site can then be under one umbrella. This re-organizing of music content also means VEVO is staying on YouTube; back in July VEVO threatened to leave the Google-owned video sharing site unless they lowered their fees.Keeping the botted views on VEVO (if they do in fact, exist), then, makes sense from a business investment standpoint. Inflating the VEVO traffic keeps a nice justification going for those VEVO channels’ high ad rates, all the better for everyone’s bottom line. Why You Love Online Quizzes Related Posts last_img read more

Samsung’s Galaxy S4 Gets The Bratty Jeremy Maxwell Tease. Again

first_imgSay what you will about Samsung, it sticks to its guns. Even if that means once again inflicting a whiny, snobby little brat on an unsuspecting world as its mascot and “secret messenger” for the upcoming Galaxy S4 smartphone.Yes, Jeremy Maxwell is back — and annoying as ever — in Samsung’s latest Galaxy S4 teaser video. Almost as bad as that is the fact that very little about the S4 is actually teased here, except for the fact that a product with that name is on its way.Samsung is releasing a series of videos starring Little Jeremy, some suburbanite preppy who gets early access to the Galaxy S4. The first video showed him signing a non-disclosure agreement and getting a peek in the box that, presumably, holds the Galaxy S4 (though all we can really tell is that the damn thing glows). We are left with Jeremy getting harassed by a girl neighbor demanding to know what his secret is.Samsung has now treated us to the next installment of this imp’s journey. We see Jeremy poking his head into the (still glowing) box, getting yelled at by the neighbor girl and marveling at the thing inside. (“It’s my favorite color,” Jeremy coos. I hope he likes pearl grey.) Jeremy then goes to bed with his faithful dog, all alight with excitement.In the morning, Jeremy’s mother calls out, “I’ve put out your power ties for your big day!” Jeremy, in a fit of pure Zen, chants, “big day, big day.”The video is embedded below. Tell us in the comments what you think of Jeremy Maxwell. More importantly, what do you think of this hype-machine marketing campaign from Samsung? Is it helpful in any way, shape or form? What about the demographic choice of a kid with a butler and power ties?Samsung will debut the Galaxy S4 at Radio City Music Hall in New York City this Thursday, March 14th. We’ll be there to bring you all the action. With any luck, Jeremy Maxwell won’t be invited.  dan rowinski Role of Mobile App Analytics In-App Engagement Lead image courtesy of the Samsung teaser video The Rise and Rise of Mobile Payment Technology Tags:#Android#Galaxy S4#Samsung Related Posts What it Takes to Build a Highly Secure FinTech … Why IoT Apps are Eating Device Interfaceslast_img read more

Scan this leaders’ list from the growing world of LiDAR startups

first_imgBreak the Mold with Real-World Logistics AI and… For Self-Driving Systems, Infrastructure and In… Tags:#autonomous vehicles#Internet of Things#IoT#lidar#Luminar Technologies#Oryx Vision#self-driving cars#Velodyne Related Posts IT Trends of the Future That Are Worth Paying A…center_img Ryan Matthew Pierson LiDAR — yes, it sounds like a tool that any professional journalist covering politicians should carry with them. Unfortunately for political reporters everywhere, LiDAR doesn’t detect fibs. Instead, it stands for Light Detection and Ranging, and it’s a critical technology for self-driving cars.That makes it a particularly appealing product category for startups looking to make their mark in the emerging market of autonomous technologies.A new crop of startups, complete with plenty of venture capital and each boasting to have an excellent solution for any autonomous vehicle manufacturer looking to add LiDAR to their offerings.Among these businesses is Quanergy, a startup founded in 2012 that has spent much of this time developing what it hopes will be a value-based solution. While some LiDAR systems run thousands of dollars, Quanergy plans to eventually make its mass-market solution available for around $100.One of the ways Quanergy is able to bring its system price down so far is its use of a solid state design. With no moving parts, these systems can be manufactured more easily. This means a smaller field of view for each sensor, however.Some unique tech out thereAnother company working on solid state LiDAR is Velodyne. This company, which also produces 360-degree LiDAR systems, is working on a solid-state option to complement them. With a 35-degree vertical and 120-degree horizontal field of view, these smaller, less pricey systems still offer plenty of range to work with.Oryx Vision out of Israel has a unique take on LiDAR. Using special lasers that have a longer-wave infrared laser that enables the system to “see” through fog. It can also work in the face of direct sunlight. This answers some of the more common issues current LiDAR technology faces.Luminar Technologies is also worth mention because not only does it produce LiDAR systems, but it does so entirely from scratch. Some companies get by combining multiple third-party components into their hardware, but not Luminar. This startup builds everything in-house.These companies are each approaching the same problem in a different way. This is a very good thing for the autonomous vehicle industry as it applies pressure in the direction of innovation. Whether the system is solid state or 360-degree, 3D modeling or low power, the real victor in this competitive market is the consumer. 5 Ways IoT can Help to Reduce Automatic Vehicle…last_img read more

Fitbit’s new smartwatch to open its own app store

first_imgWhy IoT Apps are Eating Device Interfaces Related Posts David Curry Fitbit has confirmed the company’s next smartwatch will come with a software development kit (SDK) for developers, and users will be able to download apps from a dedicated store.Fitbit CEO, James Park, told The Verge that it would launch the smartwatch with a select few apps, before opening the SDK to all third-party developers. Custom-made apps can be shared for friends, family or created specifically for an organization.See Also: Study hints that wearables are terrible at counting calories, just like their usersPark has discussed third-party app support in past interviews, but this is the first time we’ve heard specifics of the SDK platform. To get on the app store, developers need to support iOS and Android devices, then Fitbit runs a light screening to see if the app is suitable.Fitbit did not announce any of the launch partners for the next smartwatch, believed to be the Blaze 2. According to Yahoo News, Pandora will be one of the launch partners, although Fitbit originally tried to collaborate with Spotify.A timeline in flux?The smartwatch has been covered quite extensively, for a product that has no launch date. Most of the reports have been of delays, both hardware and software, alongside rumors of multiple changes to the launch timeline. Park has refuted the reports, saying that the smartwatch has not faced delays.Even so, Fitbit is starting to feel the heat from all angles. The Apple Watch and Xiaomi’s cheap wearables surpassed the company’s lead in total wearable sales for the first quarter of 2017 and its share price has dropped by more than 50 percent.Apart from Apple and Xiaomi, results in the wearable industry have been depressed, as customer demand fades and the expectations from Wall Street are trimmed. Fitbit is looking to defeat this with the new smartwatch, said to be waterproof, more accurate, smarter, and an aim to become the device for the health community. How Myia Health’s Partnership with Mercy Virtua…center_img Tags:#App Store#apps#Blaze 2#featured#Fitbit#Pebble#SDK#smartwatch#Software#top#wearable Follow the Puck Internet of Things Makes it Easier to Steal You…last_img read more

How Brexit Will Affect Self-Employment

first_imgWhy IoT Apps are Eating Device Interfaces Tags:#Brexit#Freelancers#How to prepare/UK Brexit#US?UK Brexit#WTO tariffs Xenios is the founder and CEO of PeoplePerHour and TalentDesk. He is also a passionate PPHer, an avid blogger and a lover of art, design and all things quirky and minimal words in particular. What it Takes to Build a Highly Secure FinTech … Related Posts Follow the Puck Xenios ThrasyvoulouFounder and CEO of PeoplePerHour Many of the self-employed workers are employed in sectors such as tech and finance — two industries that could potentially see a drain in people and investment if the UK’s economy takes a nosedive in the wake of the country leaving the EU. Interestingly, 63 percent of the UK’s five million who call themselves self-employed think that Brexit won’t directly impact their business.However, the self-employed contribute almost £300 billion a year to the UK economy and will be hugely affected by Brexit.The UK government has focused mainly on securing the free-flowing provision of goods once the UK leaves the EU, consulting large companies in traditional industries with complex supply chains. However, the self-employed and freelancers have not been at the forefront of negotiations or media discussions — despite their growing importance to the UK economy.IPSE has undertaken research that has shown that the self-employed want a non-disruptive Brexit, which includes access to the single market and customs union, and freedom of movement for people. We’ve highlighted below some of the issues the self-employed might face post-Brexit, and what can be done to mitigate some of the negative consequences.World Trade Organisation (WTO) tariffs.If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, this means that the buying and selling of goods and services could become more expensive, due to the addition of WTO tariffs. Ultimately, this means that for those self-employed having some form of trade with the EU, this could make the provision of their services less competitive than those based on the continent.Even if your client isn’t based in the EU, they might be EU-owned but based in the UK, and export your services to another EU nation. Before the EU referendum, the Treasury undertook research and modeling which suggested that the addition of WTO tariffs would result in unemployment increasing to 820,000.How to prepare: If you’re concerned about a no-deal Brexit, research whether the goods or services you or your clients provide would be subject to WTO tariffs, and how this would impact your work.Regulations.The Prime Minister indicated in January 2017 that the UK will be leaving the EU single market. Currently, 60% of UK legislation comes from the EU and allows the ease of trade across industries from chemicals to data and finance. Ultimately, Brexit means that companies based in the UK who trade with the EU will potentially have to grapple with two different sets of regulations.These regulations could have significant implications for the self-employed. The government has published technical guides, which outline its plan for lots of different regulations.How to prepare: If you work with regulations that are derived from EU law, it’s recommended that you check on the government website and see what you will need to do to comply with UK legislation post-Brexit.Employment and tax.Tax and employment regulations are mostly an issue for national governments. However, the UK pays into the EU’s contributory benefits system for pensions and sickness. If the UK leaves the EU with no deal, those self-employed in the UK who are EU citizens may have to pay two sets of national insurance. Right now, EU citizens have the right to live and work in the UK. The UK government has assured EU workers that they will retain these rights post-Brexit, but there could be requirements in the future for work visas or sponsorship.In the event of a no-deal Brexit, the UK may change legislation in this area long term, and diverge from the other EU member states. Also, other areas of taxation might be indirectly affected, such as the UK lowering corporation tax. If you are an EU citizen, check with your home country and the status of social security contributions when living in a non-EU country.VAT exemption thresholds could also change, regardless of whether or not there is a deal with the EU. At the moment, the UK has a VAT exemption at £85,000. However, leaving the single market could mean that the exemption drops to £76,000. This additional cost could cause thousands of SMEs (Europeans define this acronym as a small and medium-sized business enterprise). Meaning, the self-employed my have to add VAT to their services and products. If you are near the lower threshold, you will be legally required to charge VAT.How to prepare: Check your annual numbers and revenue with your accountant, in order to be able to quantify the loss if the worst-case scenario comes true and the threshold changes post-Brexit. Then, using the scenario planning approach, prepare a plan with the expected income and outcome of the upcoming year, in order to see how it will affect your quality of living.Freedom of movement. Skilled and unskilled workers in the EU 28 have benefited from freedom of movement, one of the key pillars of the EU. The freedom to move and work where a person chooses has proved a controversial aspect of the EU referendum, and Prime Minister Theresa May has confirmed that after Brexit, this will end. Having a freelancers dream marketplace has enabled a market of 28 countries for the self-employed, having equal access to work in all these nations.Tourist travel will still probably be straightforward, but businesses have expressed concern about moving their workers around the continent with ease. The self-employed could face challenges post-Brexit if they have clients based in the other 27 countries. A work visa may be needed, or possibly sponsorship. These processes could be expensive and cumbersome for clients, making self-employed contractors and freelancers based in the UK less appealing to work with than under current conditions.Under a no-deal Brexit, all UK passport-holders must have a passport valid for six months or over if they are entering the EU. EU freelancers based in the UK must apply through the EU Settlement Scheme to remain in the UK beyond June 2021.How to prepare: If you have clients based in the EU or who would require you to travel to the EU, check what plans they have in place to allow for self-employed contractors or their employees to move between the UK and the EU.With uncertainty, comes opportunity.If a no-deal Brexit does go ahead, it’s been predicted that specific industries will face chaos. Organizations will need to deal with prolonged uncertainty and adapt quickly to change. Companies might bring in more temporary workers to help manage their workload.Moreover, for self-employed consultants and contracts in specific industries, Brexit-related jobs have increased. A study has shown that the financial services industry has created nearly 3,000 jobs in the EU because of Brexit, and 500 of these jobs are in London.Another opportunity that could come from Brexit is the renegotiation of trade deals with countries outside of the EU. As a member of the EU, Britain is unable to have an independent seat at the WTO; this will no longer be the case once terms with the EU have been agreed upon. It will remain to be seen whether Britain could provide a higher level of freedom for the self-employed and could present an opportunity to work closely with major economies such as Japan, India and the UAE.Brexit has created a lot of uncertainty, but there might be more opportunities for the self-employed. Look out for the opportunities that present themselves; your flexibility means you can gain a step ahead of your larger competitors. Indeed, if your smaller competitors are not as prepared as you for the upcoming changes, then you can also get a headstart on them.How to prepare: Ask your clients if they have any Brexit-related roles, or if they foresee a requirement post-Brexit for temporary workers. Some companies might be seeking experts on customs procedures and trade, two areas which will drastically change.The future of the self-employed.Business does not like uncertainty – regardless of company size or industry, whether you’re self-employed or part of a multinational corporation. The media have zoned in on the adverse effects Brexit will have on large businesses, with little coverage given to the self-employed.Use your flexibility to your advantage, bring in skilled freelancers if you need to enable your business offering to become more diverse. Look out for opportunities that you feel could be relevant to your clients. If you don’t currently have the people in your business to deliver the business that you are requiring — use your freelancers is a simple way of bridging that gap in the short term.If you think that these services will be useful for your clients long term, then you can look to bring in someone on a permanent basis in the future. The UK is home to many companies across the world, who use the country as their European hub.Many have indicated that if the UK does not secure a favorable deal with the EU, then they will move their operations elsewhere. The lack of regulatory equivalence, WTO tariffs, barriers to moving people and more, makes the UK a less attractive place to do business.However, this might be a chance to hone in on your skills and an opportunity to expand your client base. Is it possible that Brexit will create jobs with your expertise? Will there suddenly be a demand for your products or services? These are just some of the questions you should ask when building a long term strategy around Brexit.If you prepare as best you can to suit your business, the adverse effects of Brexit could be limited.PeoplePerHour, the leading freelance marketplace in the UK, has released a dedicated microsite with series of Brexit guides for freelancers and small-business owners. Additionally, you may find other useful Brexit resources and news that will help you stay on top of the topic and get properly prepared. Trends Driving the Loyalty Marketing Industrylast_img read more

Lifecycle Fund Basics

first_imgGlide paths are a critical factor in fund performance and investment companies use many types of glide path strategies to determine the percentage of stock in the fund portfolio at different points in time. By Barbara O’Neill, Ph.D., CFP®, Rutgers Cooperative Extension, oneill@aesop.rutgers.eduThe Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) L (Lifecycle) Fund is a popular investment choice among service members. Also known as target date funds or TDFs, lifecycle 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 weights (e.g., 50% stock, 30% bonds, 20% cash) automatically adjust and get more conservative (i.e., lower stock percentage) over time without any need for investors to take action.Lifecycle funds typically have a date in their name such as the “2040 Fund” or “2050 Fund” and investors chose a fund with a date that matches, or is close to, their expected year of retirement. Dates are typically spaced out at 5- or 10-year intervals (e.g., 2030, 2035, etc.), depending on the lifecycle mutual fund provider. The TSP currently has five available lifecycle fund options: L2020, L2030, L2040, L2050, and L income.Lifecycle funds, as an investment category, 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, more recently, TSP accounts for new federal employees. Some employees who are enrolled in employer retirement savings plans fail to provide instructions for investing their deposits. In these situations, employers invest their plan contributions in the default investment.Below are some key facts about lifecycle funds:They 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. “To” glide paths assume that retirement age is the target date and, at that point, the portfolio’s stock percentage weighting and investment mix remains static. “Through” glide paths continue to decrease the stock percentage for a designated number of years after the target date before leveling off. A defining characteristic 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.center_img The “landing point” is the point in the glide path where a lifecycle fund reaches its lowest stock percentage allocation. Not surprisingly, funds with different glide paths and landing points have very different risk profiles. When a TSP L fund reaches its target date, it is automatically rolled into the L income fund, which is the most conservative L fund with a focus on capital preservation. Lifecycle funds are not without controversy. Performance issues during the 2007-2009 financial crisis brought to light the fact that many were not as conservatively positioned as their names implied. This led to new disclosure rules by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in 2010, including better disclosure of glide paths and portfolio composition.Do you want to know more about lifecycle funds and the TSP Lifecycle (L) Fund? The eXtension Military Families Learning Network held a 90-minute webinar on target date funds in 2015. To view the webinar video archive, visit the event page.last_img read more

5 Essential Video Editing Plugins for $200 or Less

first_img$199  |  Red Giant Software  |  Mac & Windows Works with Premiere Pro, Final Cut Pro 7-X, Avid Media Composer $200  |  CoreMelt  |  Mac Only It is common these days to record audio to a separate recorder (dual system sound) with DSLR’s and other camera that don’t have great on camera mics. Say, you are doing a multicam shoot and and you have cameras that are turned on and off and you need to sync them up.  Plural Eyes automates the process of syncing audio, replacing manually lining up audio and video in your editing app (which can be VERY tedious and time consuming).If you have a bunch of footage this is a massive time saver so you can spend more time on creative editing work.  Plural Eyes It is a one tricky pony but it does this one trick of quickly syncing audio very well.  It is a stand alone app that works with Premiere Pro, Media Composer, & FCP 7/X , and you only pay one price for all hosts.  Check out video tutorials, the manual, and a FAQ here.Beauty Box Often times there’s no budget for a motion designer, so editors are expected to create good looking titles. Most editing apps aren’t great, so I prefer to use After Effects for title creation.Element 3D extends what AE can do, giving you the ability to create “big budget looking animations” that generally would require a 3D app (with a moderately high learning curve).  Element 3D lets you extrude text/stills, import 3d Models, and add materials and lights. It also works with a wide range of GPU’s and uses Open Gl so it is fast and responsive to use.  Further, you can extend what Element 3D can do with $40 Model packs from Pixel Lab and the Element 3DBundles.Which plugins do you rely on?Share in the comments below! $130  |  NewBlueFX  |  Mac & Windows Beauty Box is a skin smoothing plugin that reduces blemishes and wrinkles. You might think that it is only suited for fashion/glamour projects, but it is also handy for documentary and interview work as well.  No matter what kind of projects you are working on having your talent look their best is always a plus.  Beauty Box gives you a lot of control in fine tuning your look, and you can even mask out certain areas you don’t want effected.  Check out their Gallery page to see more examples and the Digital Anarchy Training page on how to use it.NewBlueFX Video Essentials 1 We’ve rounded up 5 plugins that give you a lot of bang for your buck!  From general video editing plugins to specialized functions, each of these editing tools is $200 or less! Sometimes you need more tools than your video editing or motion graphics application has to offer.  This is where plugins become a necessity.  Plugins usually perform a task that you cannot do with the app’s default tools or they do the task quicker and better.Many video editors are on a budget, so in this post I decided to focus on the most powerful plugins you can get for $200 or less.  These plugins can speed up your editing workflow and give you powerful post production tools.  They may save you from pulling your hair out as well!Plural Eyes Hosts: Premiere Pro, After Effects, FCP 7/X, Media Composer, Vegascenter_img Video Essentials by NewBlueFX is a collection of 10 plugins (100 presets) to fix common production problems and improve the quality of your video.  I would consider these utility filters, as you will often reach for these to improve issues you couldn’t control on set.  3 tools in this pack that I find really useful are the Flash Remover for event video, Detail to quickly “pop” footage and Color Fixer Plus to fix white balance or create unique looks.  Check out their Showcase and Tutorial pages on using Video Essentials 1.CoreMelt Complete Hosts: Premiere Pro, After Effects, FCP 7/X Hosts: Premiere Pro, After Effects, FCP 7/X, Motion CoreMelt Complete is a bundle of 8 plugin packs that contains 220 + video editing effects.  It includes 2 packs of Transitions (Filmic & Grunge) that are particularly useful as clients often want modern looking transitions beyond what the stock transitions can do.For those editors that work with a lot of photos, ImageFlow let’s you import a folder of photos and quickly add an animation style to all the photos.  I like Witness Protection for hiding people’s faces, and the Filmic Look quickly punches up flat footage.  Another neat feature is the “Click here for Help” button, which launches a web browser and shows what the video effect does.Element 3D $199  |  Digital Anarchy  |  Mac & Windows Hosts: Premiere Pro, After Effects, FCP 7/X, Media Composer, Vegas $150  |  Video Copilot  |  Mac & Windowslast_img read more

DSLR Video Shooting in Low Light & Nighttime Conditions

first_imgNighttime Shooting with a DSLRDirector of photography and popular online educator Philip Bloom shares his tips for Vimeo’s Video School. For nighttime DSLR shooting he uses lenses with low F stops and raises his ISO. A few good takeaways here:DSLR: Low Light Shooting StrategiesRich Harrington and Robbie Carmen team up for CreativeCow.net to share their thoughts on low light DSLR shooting. Good info on camera/lens settings and lighting: DSLR cameras shoot better in low light than traditional video cameras. So, how can you get the best nighttime shots from your DSLR?Having the right equipment, and most importantly knowing the right camera settings and shooting techniques, is key to getting high quality night time and low light video footage with your DSLR.In the following video tutorials, 3 industry pros explain their process and optimal settings for getting the best DSLR low light shots.Low Light: DSLR Filmmaking TutorialIn this video tutorial by Moritz Janisch, he shares his top rules for getting noise-free nighttime shots. His guide for shooting in low light:To avoid noise never go higher than ISO 1600Keep your shutter speed between 1/30s and 1/50sAperture should be between F/1.2 and F/5.6Use your camera’s native picture style and turn contrast downlast_img read more

How to Weather and Age Props

first_imgWeathering your props adds character and history to your scene and makes your created world look lived-in. Here’s how to go about it.Top image via TestedWe’ve previously covered the power of props and a few great resources for making your own. In this piece, we’re going to look at a few advanced tutorials for adding character to your props. These tricks can really add depth to period pieces and futuristic films, when props need to look much older than they really are.Weathering Tips and TricksIn this video from Tested, Adam Savage talks about many of his techniques for weathering his prop builds. This includes his research both online and in garage sales. His goal is to add a story to each prop. What type of labels would be appropriate? How would it have been shipped?Image via TestedAdam Savage is a real master prop builder. Most know him for his work on Mythbusters, but he actually spent time building props and models for ILM, working on films like the Star Wars prequels and Galaxy Quest.Some of his suggestions include adding stickers and removing them, leaving behind the residue. He uses yellow, sienna, and black paint to age pieces — but he first mists the prop down to keep the paint from adhering properly.Savage also uses plenty of sand paper to add authenticity, and throws in fuller’s earth powder to look like dust. He uses chains and wood to beat objects, adding years of wear and tear. Finally, he adds a touch of coffee. The goal is to dirty a prop too much, and then try to clean it as best as you can. The result gives you a realistic looking prop. What are your best prop builds? Have anymore more tips to share? Sound off in the comments below. Adding RustImage from Classic Wrecks via EtsyJohn Findra is a model-car maker who approaches his craft differently than most of his peers. Rather than building perfect replicas, he ages and rusts his vehicles. His Etsy shop, Classic Wrecks, is full of amazing model cars.In this video from Etsy, you’ll see how Findra visits junkyards to research the effects of rust on cars and learn how glass shatters from a break. Using paint pens and markers, Findra adds the subtle irregularities associated with distressed metal.To add layers of rust, you’ll need a paint brush or sponge, as well as some black, orange, and brown paint. Check out this simple tutorial from Dave Lowe Design to see the easiest way to layer the colors and pull off a rusted look.center_img Creating Aged Paper Image via Lewis McGregorSay you’re shooting a film that involves the discovery of an ancient map or letter. Maybe you’re planning to steal the Declaration of Independence. In either case, you’ll want to know how to age paper props. In this tutorial from Lewis McGregor, you’ll learn how to distress and age your prop paper without having to use a lighter. Not every old prop has barely managed to survive a fire, you know.Tools and Supplies:Parchment PaperInstant CoffeeSpoonRolling PinPaper TowelGlass of WaterHair DryerPaper Distresserlast_img read more

The Comprehensive Guide To Building Your Own Video Editing PC

first_imgCPU CoolerCooler Master — Hyper 212 EVO 82.9 CFM Sleeve Bearing CPU Cooler$28.49 @ OutletPC MotherboardMSI — Z370 GAMING PLUS ATX LGA1151 Motherboard$111.98 @ Newegg Total$1,501.49 CPUIntel — Core i5-8600K 3.6GHz 6-Core Processor$256.79 @ OutletPC Total (before mail-in rebates)$3399.62 What You Need To KnowThere are three main components to your PC: the CPU (Central Processing Unit), the GPU (Graphics Processing Unit), and the RAM (Random Access Memory). These three pieces of hardware are going to determine the speed and processing power of your computer. To know what kind of computer build will best suit your needs, you need to know which piece of hardware does what.The CPUImage via Iaroslav Neliubov.The CPU is the brain of the entire operation. Think of it as part crazy-fast calculator and part director: it performs all of the logic and binary calculations to execute a task, as well as dictating which piece of hardware will complete each task. Typically, CPUs adhere to a pretty uniform price-to-quality scale: the more you spend on your CPU, the faster it will be. Be wary about this, though: you shouldn’t cough up over $2k for a processor. Those are usually reserved for large servers, and they probably wouldn’t even fit inside a conventional PC.When it comes to editing video, your CPU is going to be your biggest asset when trying to edit high-quality, full-size video. Many people think that the GPU will perform this task, but it’s really the CPU that is running your non-linear editing program and creating the video previews. If you are tired of viewing your pre-rendered footage in an edit at 1/4 or 1/8 quality, expect to spend the most on a high-performance CPU.The GPUImage via nikkytok.The GPU is basically a second computer attached to your main computer, and its only task is to render 3D images. It’s also going to be the biggest item inside your PC, since it has to house everything that a normal PC has inside a smaller tray.When building a gaming PC or an animation PC like this one, this is usually your big-ticket item. In terms of PC gaming, the better the graphics processor, the better graphics and frame rate you’ll get out of your machine. But for this build, we are mainly talking about a conventional video editing PC. You are going to want a quality GPU in case you want to handle any 3D animations for your videos, but don’t spend more than $400 on it. Save most of your money for a top-of-the-line CPU.Note: if you edit in DaVinci Resolve, than you need to completely reverse my recommendation and spend the big bucks on a high-end GPU. Resolve is the only major NLE that primarily uses the GPU for its rendering and image processing. It’s just how the designers built the program. If you want to build a GPU-based computer, check out this RocketStock article on how to assemble a graphics-based PC.MemoryImage via Danylo Samiylenko.Your RAM (Random Access Memory) processes information in active programs. This description from RocketStock says it best:Think of it like short-term memory for your computer — it will handle processing in the current instance, but when you shift programs or reset your computer, your RAM resets as well. Your RAM drives can get overwhelmed if there are too many programs open, so the more RAM you have, the more programs you can run at high speeds at the same time.Now, a lot of people associate RAM with a fast PC. The notion that more RAM = more speed is only half true. Computer programs only require a certain amount of RAM. For example, say that Adobe Premiere requires 9GB of memory to operate at top speeds, and you have 8GB of memory in your PC. Of course, when you upgrade your memory to 16GB, the program will run faster since it was limited before. But if you upgrade to 64GB of memory, the program is not going to run any faster than it was with a 16GB set up.What you have to think about with memory is how many active programs you’re going to run at a time. Say you’re editing a video in Premiere, but you also have Photoshop and After Effects open to create title graphics. That’s going to add up to a significant amount of active memory usage. So to be safe, you’re going to want at least 32GB of memory in this PC. Nothing is worse than building a computer that can’t live up to its full capabilities because it doesn’t have enough memory.I will warn you, though: any more than 64GB of RAM in your computer will only yield diminishing returns on your investment since you won’t be using enough programs at a time to justify all that memory. (Unless you like playing Skyrim at 120fps on one keyboard while you’re rendering liquid animations on a second keyboard. If so, go ahead and get 128GB of memory. If not, you’ll be fine with 32GB-64GB.) Hardware Tip: HDDs vs. SSDsImage via Patrik Slezak.In recent years, SSDs, or Solid State Drives, have become massively popular. They are the next generation of data storage, and they are insanely better than HDDs (Hard Disk Drives). The difference between the two is that SSDs solve a speed problem that has daunted HDDs since their inception: HDDs have to scan a spinning disk to access data, while SSDs instantaneously access data. SSDs use the same principle as a flash drive — there are no moving parts. They can access data at the speed of light, while HDDs have to scan a spinning disc to find the data you’re searching for. When it comes to starting up your computer, an SSD will start in about three seconds, while an HDD will take about 30 seconds. Seems like a simple choice, right?Well, since SSDs still have not overcome the price barrier that keeps them out of every computer, a smart choice for video editors is to buy two drives: an SSD as your start-up drive (and to house all of your programs) and a large HDD to house all of your media (photos, videos, etc.). As you will see under “budgeting” below, HDDs are really cheap — you can get about 3TB of storage for under $150. All you need for your SSD is about 250GB to store all of your programs.Assessing Your BudgetImage via DedMityay.Your budget is the biggest factor that will affect your build. In my opinion, a custom-built PC is an investment. The better your PC for editing videos, the faster you can work, and it creates a platform from which you can start a freelance editing business. I built my first PC for about $1,500, and I’ve made that money back and much more.For this article, we’re going to explore three different builds at three different price points: $1,000, $1,500, and over $3,000. $1,000 may sound like a lot for the low-end build, but when you’re investing in something that will potentially earn you money, it’s worth spending a little more.Quick note: I will not include the prices of any operating systems in these builds. Typical Microsoft software is going to run you about $80. If you choose to go the Hackintosh route, feel free to explore that option on your own.Double note: As of the publication of this article, prices for GPUs are seriously inflated. Since the rise of cryptocurrencies, people have been building computer rigs to mine Bitcoin, Ripple, etc. through connections to a block-chain. These computers rely heavily on GPUs to complete block chains, so the world’s supply of GPUs has dropped significantly. If you know basic economics, when the supply is low and the demand is high, prices will skyrocket. So when building your PC, don’t be afraid to buy your GPU used. Especially when the crypto market crashes and people sell off their GPUs at crazy-low rates. But when you are dealing with a market as volatile as this, who knows when that will be?The Tight Budget Build — $1,000If your budget is tight, and you really can’t spend more than $1,000, this is the build for you.PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant Total (before mail-in rebates)$1,014.20 Generated by PCPartPicker 2018-01-24 16:25 EST-0500 CaseDeepcool — TESSERACT SW ATX Mid Tower Case$36.99 @ SuperBiiz MotherboardMSI — Z270 GAMING PLUS ATX LGA1151 Motherboard$86.98 @ Newegg Prices include shipping, taxes, rebates, and discounts StorageSeagate — Barracuda 2TB 3.5″ 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive$54.99 @ Amazon Building your own PC can dramatically increase your editing performance for a fraction of the cost of buying a pre-built machine.Cover image via EKKAPHAN CHIMPALEE.I know it’s intimidating. The idea of building a PC, to someone who has barely researched the topic, conjures images of soldering wires and furiously coding in a BIOS system just to launch the desktop. Well, here’s the good news: building a PC is almost like putting together an expensive Lego set. You put a piece of hardware where it belongs, screw it in, rinse and repeat, and bam! You’re done. All right, it may not be as simple as that, but if you have ever put a Lego set together, you’ll be fine.Why You Should Build Your Own PCYou will save a heap of money compared to buying a stock PC from a big-box electronics store. Computers on the shelves have all of the same components but at a huge markup.You get way more bang for your buck. A $1,500 computer that you built yourself will be remarkably faster than a stock computer at the same price.Customization. If you have specific needs, you can build your computer to suit and skirt any extras that you don’t need.Upgrading your computer is incredibly simple. Just replace the part that needs replacing without the hassle of sending it off somewhere or scrapping it entirely for a brand-new computer. You could keep a custom computer that runs at high speeds for up to 7-10 years with routine upgrades until it’s a full-blown Ship of Theseus.It’s crazy fun. Getting to know how a computer works from the inside out can bring you loads of helpful knowledge that will come in handy when you need to know what exactly is making your computer run. MemoryG.Skill — Ripjaws V Series 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR4-2400 Memory$169.99 @ Newegg Mail-in rebates-$40.00 CPUAMD — Threadripper 1950X 3.4GHz 16-Core Processor$839.99 @ Amazon Video CardMSI — GeForce GTX 1050 Ti 4GB Video Card$201.99 @ SuperBiiz Now this thing is the perfect build in my eyes. You’ve got the processing power of the industry-standard Intel i7 CPU combined with the reliability of a GTX 1060 GB GPU. This will handle 4K footage like it was compressed 480p SD footage. LOG footage will be easy to edit and manipulate. Simply put, if you are an editor looking for the perfect fit at a reasonable price, this is your build.We’ve included a 500GB SSD, which will be plenty to handle your OS and just about all of your programs, plus some project files if you want to access them faster. You’ve also got a 2TB HDD to store all of your media.The GPU is a 6GB monster, and it will solidly execute most of your GPU-heavy tasks. With this GPU, you’ve also got an amazing gaming computer on your hands. This will play any game you’ve got, at a reasonably high frame rate.This build has plenty of room to expand, too. If you want to add more memory, there are four slots if you decide to invest in more in the future.The Baller Build — $3,300All right, if you have money to burn, or if you want a PC that will last you for years and years, this monster is for you.PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant CaseNZXT — S340 (Black/Red) ATX Mid Tower Case$49.99 @ Newegg CaseCorsair — 750D ATX Full Tower Case$139.99 @ Newegg Video CardPNY — GeForce GTX 1060 6GB 6GB Video Card$499.89 @ OutletPC CPU CoolerCooler Master — Hyper 212 EVO 82.9 CFM Sleeve Bearing CPU Cooler$28.49 @ OutletPC Mail-in rebates-$40.00 StorageKingston — A400 120GB 2.5″ Solid State Drive$49.99 @ Amazon Mail-in rebates-$60.00 MemoryCrucial — Ballistix Sport LT 8GB (1 x 8GB) DDR4-2400 Memory$87.89 @ OutletPC This configuration can crank out quality 1080p videos in your edits without a hitch. You may have some trouble with 4K and/or LOG footage, however. You will most likely have to edit those at a 1/4 or 1/8th quality in your preview window to get continuous play. We were also able to squeeze 16GB of RAM into this budget build, which is going to handle just about all of your editing programs.The GPU is on the lower-quality end, so if you are building a rig to handle DaVinci Resolve, this might not be the one for you. It does have 4GB of memory, which will meet most of your needs, and if you’re planning on gaming with this machine, it will handle most of what you throw at it.You will notice that there is a 120GB SSD in this build. It’s the lowest amount of storage you can get, and at 50 bucks, it’s not a bad deal. Honestly, at this point, an SSD is a must-use as a startup disk. 120 will be plenty for your OS and a few essential programs. The 2TB HDD will be large enough to host all of your videos, and if not, you can buy an external drive for the rest.The Mid-Tier Build — $1,500Here’s the Goldilocks build: right in the middle to meet all of your needs.PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant StorageSeagate — Barracuda 2TB 3.5″ 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive$54.99 @ Amazon Total$974.20 TypeItemPrice Power SupplySeaSonic — 520W 80+ Bronze Certified Fully-Modular ATX Power Supply$49.99 @ SuperBiiz StorageSamsung — 850 EVO-Series 500GB 2.5″ Solid State Drive$139.99 @ B&H TypeItemPrice CPUIntel — Core i7-7700K 4.2GHz Quad-Core Processor$326.29 @ OutletPC MemoryG.Skill — Ripjaws V Series 32GB (2 x 16GB) DDR4-3200 Memory$359.99 @ Newegg Video CardAsus — GeForce GTX 1070 8GB Dual Series Video Card$899.00 @ Newegg Marketplace MotherboardAsus — ROG ZENITH EXTREME EATX TR4 Motherboard$479.89 @ OutletPC Generated by PCPartPicker 2018-01-24 17:10 EST-0500 My God, this thing is a beast. This tank will handle absolutely anything you put in it like it’s nothing. Want to run a VR simulator while editing 4K video? Check. How about rendering liquid animations to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool? Double check. You could honestly run any video game in the world at its highest settings, and this PC would laugh in your face. To be honest, the first computer to become sentient will probably be this Cyborg Cthulhu. We might as well pledge our allegiance to it now before it thinks we’re its enemies. WE BUILT YOU! WE MEAN NO HARM!All jokes aside, if you are truly looking to master your destiny while editing 3D footage or compiling 6K cinema footage for a full-length film, this build can handle it. Maybe you win the lottery, or your employer gives you the company card to buy supplies that you “need” for your job, or you just flat-out have they money to spend. However you go about it, enjoy your dream machine.How to Put the Pieces TogetherNow we could sit here and tell you how to build your PC step by step, but that would take an extraordinary amount of time. For this step, we’re gonna leave you to the experts. BitWit is a pro in the PC-building world, and the tutorial above will guide you through everything you need to know about assembling your first computer.Final ThoughtsThis may seem like a lot of information, but trust me: when you build your first PC, you will create so many opportunities for your very own editing station. You can finally start that editing freelance business you’ve always talked about, or even venture into animation now that your PC can handle it. It’s a seriously fun hobby to take up, but be careful: it’s easy to get lost in the sauce and blow your paycheck on a new GPU because it has 2GB more memory than your old one. $1,500 may sound like a lot, but if you use the PC to your advantage, you can make that money back easily. I assembled my PC for about $1,300, and so far, I’ve made that back plus some in just the last year.So go forth, my friends, and start building! CPU CoolerCorsair — H100i v2 70.7 CFM Liquid CPU Cooler$103.99 @ Amazon StorageSamsung — 850 EVO-Series 1TB 2.5″ Solid State Drive$299.99 @ Best Buy StorageSeagate — Barracuda 3TB 3.5″ 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive$79.89 @ OutletPC Generated by PCPartPicker 2018-01-24 15:57 EST-0500 Total (before mail-in rebates)$1,561.49 MemoryG.Skill — Ripjaws V Series 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR4-2400 Memory$169.99 @ Newegg Power SupplyEVGA — SuperNOVA G2 850W 80+ Gold Certified Fully-Modular ATX Power Supply$156.89 @ OutletPC TypeItemPrice Prices include shipping, taxes, rebates, and discounts Total$3359.62 Prices include shipping, taxes, rebates, and discounts Power SupplyCorsair — CSM 750W 80+ Gold Certified Semi-Modular ATX Power Supply$69.99 @ Newegglast_img read more

A Bad Buying Process Beats a Good Salesperson

first_imgA good salesperson doesn’t often beat a bad buying process.A bad buying process stacks the odds against you. They buyer believes they already know what they need, that they don’t need any additional information, that there is no insight a salesperson could have that would benefit them (at least no insight that makes it worth meeting with a salesperson before they begin their process on their own). When this is true, the buyer believes all they need to do is send out their specifications, take quotes, enter them on a spreadsheet, interview a couple of the most responsive, lowest priced providers, and decide who to buy from.The buying process is bad because the buyer really needs to explore their needs with someone who has a wider set of experiences and the insights that can only be gained through those experiences. The buying process is also bad when the buyer refuses to meet with salespeople who could show them a new product, a new service, or a new solution that they haven’t seen but that would totally reshape their thinking. They don’t say yes to meeting requests because they don’t hear this in your request for a meeting.As soon as you engage in this buying process, you’ve mostly already lost the opportunity. You’ve done nothing to create value through the buyer’s process. You haven’t shared your best ideas and your experiences. You haven’t helped your dream client understand their real options or the trade offs that they are going to need to make. And you haven’t differentiated yourself or your offering. You’ve also done very little to engender trust.Once you engage transactionally, you have committed to a bad buying process. And that bad buying process is going to beat you.If you enter into an opportunity this late, there is only one thing you can do to give yourself a fighting chance: sell your dream client on a better buying process. This means you have to ask your prospective client to go back to the discovery phase, allow you to share your insights and ideas, and reshape their idea about what the right solution needs to look like.Otherwise, a bad buying process beats a good salesperson.last_img read more

The Hustler’s Playbook: Progress Over Perfection

first_imgSome people wait to start until everything is perfect. Because they are waiting for perfection, they continue to wait, not recognizing that perfection is not obtainable. More still, it isn’t necessary.You—and your thing, whatever that is—are not perfect. Instead, you are a work in progress. Whatever version you are, and whatever version your thing is, it is an interaction. It is something that exists now in one state, and something that will exist in another state later, once you have seen how you might improve it. If you are a work in progress, then progress is what is necessary, not perfection.I am right now, Iannarino 3.0, working on Iannarino 3.1, an upgrade to make a few improvements and eliminate a few areas of the operating system. You are some version of you right now, and starting is how you figure out what needs to go in your incremental upgrade, you X.1 release. Or maybe you learn what goes into the next major release.This same process is true for your thing. If you are an artist, your early work is what is going to shape your later work. You see an artist’s growth by looking at their early work, where it’s easy to see their influences, easier to see what they were trying to do before their skills caught up to their vision. If you are an entrepreneur, the business you start may not end up resembling what the business does at the end of twelve months. By putting something into the world, the world responds, and that response can change the business by helping you give people what they want or need in some better fashion.The number 1 always comes before the number 2. You can’t get to 3 without passing through 2. If you want to speed the time it takes to produce better work, start producing work now. Waiting only pushes the results you want further into the future.There is no choice to make here. If it is progress or perfection, go with progress. 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 Nowlast_img read more