The Digital Photo Guy

Webcast 101 – A Gentle Introduction

by on Feb.06, 2009, under Articles, Webcast

If you’ve taken classes with me or read my Monday Morning Tips or sat in on a Webcast Tip, you know what I’m talking about but there are still many who think it is somehow related to boring CBTs (computer-based training) of yesteryear where you watched a canned presentation with no opportunity to ask questions or interact with the instructor or other students. If you think about it, the US education model is very much like CBT, the teacher lectures and the students listen. There’s very little interaction among the participants.

Webcast (web conference, webinar, etc) are completely interactive. Using the power of the Internet, a webcast combines slides, audio, video and, most importantly, direct communication with the instructor and other students so the power of the group helps accelerate the learning process. Think back on all your learning experiences. Didn’t you learn best when you interacted with others? While there’s something to be said for quiet time in the library, reading and contemplating complex material, it’s when you discuss and engage with others that information actually gels in your mind.

Here’s a link to a recording of a Webcast Tip from several months ago. Ignore the banding on the photo I’m retouching. This was caused by using a high resolution file. High rez files are compressed when transmitted over the Internet, causing this banding effect. I normally use low rez files so they transfer quicker and aren’t compressed as much. While watching the recording, you can use the Fit Screen/Actual Size control in the upper right corner to see the entire frame (first 2 screen shots, below). Fast Forward and Reverse is controlled by clicking and dragging the progress bar along the top (3rd screen shot). To read what comments by the audience, move the elevator bar up/down at the bottom right of the screen (last screen shot).

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Webcast Tips are free webcast lessons I conduct from time to time to demonstrate some aspect of digital photography. In the past, I announced these in my Monday Morning Tips. With this new blog-style website, I may just announce them here. If you want to be notified in a timely fashion, sign up for my Monday Morning Tips by sending a message from the Contact page with “OPT-IN” as the message. As soon as I figure out how to use the e-mail distribution manager at this new hosting service, I’ll add you to the list.

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You Can Take the Animal Out of the Swamp but…

by on Feb.06, 2009, under Articles, PayPal, WordPress

You can’t the swamp out of the animal. Just another way of saying a leopard never changes it’s spot or, in this case, once an engineer, always an engineer.

Earlier this week I was frustrated, annoyed, irritated, upset and generally mad about the complexity of modern software tools. Today, I am in harmony with my environment, my wa is at peace and the timbre about me is as still as Waldon Pond at midnight. For a brief, shining moment, I was transported back to those good old days of yesteryear when I was a 25 year old engineer on a mission! For just a few hours, I was that laser-focused, computer-for-a-brain engineer who could solve any problem created by another human! For half a day, I was once more an unstoppable force, powering my way through a problem on pure brain power!

I figured out how to put PayPal buttons directly on my workshop pages so a student only needs to click once to be taken directly to PayPal with all the infomation already in place and ready for his credit card. Over the past 20 years, I’d gotten rather lazy about solving technical problems. As a sales and marketing executive, my focus was strategy and tactics, not the minutia of bits and bytes. I was “The Big Picture Guy” and left the details to my staff to handle. But, deep down inside, I was still that geeky engineer who once told a customer, “This is what it will cost. If you want warm and fuzzy, it’ll cost you more!” as my manager sat in the back of the room and died a slow, agonizing death.

The point to all this is that, A) I feel great and B) Anyone can make this stuff work with a little patience and determination. Of course, all this effort has extracted a price. I feel like I just ran a marathon. I’m wiped out from the mental extertion and my brain will probably be mush for a few days. By next week, I’ll be back to my slug self and whining about dis ‘n dat.

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No Matter How Bad It Gets…

by on Feb.05, 2009, under Articles, Website

Years ago, I read a Wall Street Journal article about successful Vietnam vets. The reporter had been following all the stories about Vietnam vets who had fallen on hard times due to alcoholism, drugs, crime, divorce, mental illness and a host of other difficulties blamed largely on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). He decided to find and interview Vietnam vets who were successful and happy and learn what separated them from those who failed.

One story stuck in my mind and has been my mantra for the past 30 years. I suppose I’ve known this ever since I returned from Vietnam but this fellow cut to the chase in one sentence. He said, “No matter how bad things get (in life), I just remind myself that it’s better than getting shot at.” That pretty much sums up how I try to stay focused on the task at hand.

Why am I babbling about this? Standing up my new WordPress blog has been an exercise in frustration and, at times, despair. Sometimes, I feel like web developers and business people speak totally different languages. In fact, I probably would have had the same results if I had hired a web developer who spoke Farsi. He’s interested in the techie, geeky side. I’m interested in the business side. He wants to take hours to understand how a piece of code works, I just want it as cost-effective as possible. Sometimes, I feel like he’s the Viet Cong on the other side of the wire. I just want to get the concertina wire strung and he wants to blow holes in it!

Currently, all I want is to get PayPal integrated with my Workshops page so a visitor can simply click on a PayPal button and be taken to a page to enter their credit card info and register for the class. On one level, this is pretty trivial stuff but, on another level, it’s like using pieces from Erector sets, Lincoln Logs and Legos to building an airplane. Now, where the heck did I leave my screwdriver so I can attach plastic blocks to wooden struts?

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Registration?!? What Steenkin’ Registration?

by on Feb.02, 2009, under Articles

A reader reported she visited this new website and registered. I didn’t even know the site had a registration system. Visitors to the site must see a different interface than me because I don’t see a registration form anywhere. To make things even funnier, I don’t know how to access the registration forms and files so I don’t know who’s registered.

Actually, I might use the registration system (if I can find it) to replace my e-mail Opt-In system. As the list of e-mails grows longer, it gets harder to manage. ‘m sure there are people on the list who have long forgotten why they receive my MMTs.

Speaking of MMTs, I plan to put them in a password protected area so anyone who is registered can access them at any time. I’m also trying to figure out how the YouTube viewer works so I can upload my videos to YouTube and have them display here.

My primary task right now is trying to get all my workshops on the Workshops page with separate icons. As it is right now, they would all be listed in a long document that would be difficult to read. I want viewers to click on a photo from Joshua Tree and be taken to a separate page with JTNP information. Also, PayPal has to be integrated so I can get rid of that weird dp-guy(asperand)thedigital… notation.

For those of you who are here because you read about the new site in my latest MMT, the major boo-boo I committed during the WAP Photoshoot this weekend was telling students that exposure compensation (EC) only worked in Av and Tv modes. It works in P as well. I was so fixated on the fact that the exposure program (aperture/shutter speed combination) could be changed that I got all turned around in my (tiny) brain. That’s why the recent MMT was written to clearly describe P Mode features and benefits.

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Nothing is as Simple as it Seems

by on Jan.31, 2009, under Articles

For the past 3 days I’ve been dinking (that’s a technical term) with my new blog-style web site. The intent is 3-fold (in keeping with Lee’s Rule of Threes).

  • First, I want a site I can maintain myself instead of relying on others to make minor changes.
  • Second, I want more interactivity so readers can communicate more easily with me.
  • Third, I want better security and PayPal integration to make it easier to pay for classes.

I didn’t think that was asking too much since my misspent youth was wasted in an engineering lab, poring over schematics and software code. Geez Louise, was I ever mistaken. The level of sophistication in today’s software is lightyears removed from 1983, the last time I was in an engineering lab. This stuff is all supposed to be WYSIWYG but you could have fooled me.

My site has 2 different photo gallery plug-ins, appliances if you will, that are supposed to help me manage my photos. Ben installed two so I could compare them and decide which worked better for me. In the first place, the 2 are so completely dissimilar that I couldn’t keep straight which was handling what photos. Next, I couldn’t repeat tasks I’d stumbled across but wouldn’t work when I tried to do the same thing a second time. Finally, I can’t figure out the relationships between photos, galleries and posts. A photo should be a single image while a gallery is a collection of photos which I should be able to embed in a post (such as this rant)! Sometimes it works and other times the wheels fall off with no rhyme or reason.

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