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Friday, December 21, 2012

Take Control of The Light Workshop - The Nikon Guy - Toronto

Matt Granger The Nikon Guy  is leaving the kangaroo world of Australia and taking his lighting workshop tour worldwide.

He has included a Toronto date and is also welcoming non-Nikon shooters. Matt is lovingly followed by shockjock Howard Stern. I personally find Matt one of the friendliest, funny, and engaging teachers of photography out there!

You can always learn a thing or two from him to help improve your work but more importantly, I love how Matt professes the Get Your Gear Out and shoot photos. Its not about the gear its about shooting pictures and having fun!

Take control of the light (Full weekend)

 Please note - the course is NON BRAND SPECIFIC - all users welcome and supported in learning.

Toronto, 5 to 7 April 2013. Exact location sent to confirmed students.

Once you learn lighting from the ground up - your photography will change forever. The way you see everyday scenes will be transformed, and you will be equipped to make calculated choices to create the images you want.

Over two full days and a Friday evening, you will learn all the fundamentals needed to redefine your photography. How to read the light. How to work with available light, mix with your own light, or completely overhaul a shot and create amazing lighting results with simple equipment. This program focusses on portraiture and using portable strobe flashes, however the lessons on light apply to all photography and all forms of light - both artificial and natural.

The program is a mix of theory, demonstration and hands on play, feedback and encouragement. A model and assistant will be on hand throughout, and you will leave the weekend with a collection of amazing images, as well as a head full of knowledge.

YES - you will leave with a set of new tricks and techniques that you can pull out as needed. More importantly, you will understand the fundamentals and concepts which underpin them, so when you hit a new and challenging situation, you can find a solution that works.

- All the variables and dimensions of lighting - this applies to strobes, studio light, available light - all forms of light.
- How to balance daylight and artificial light - in terms of intensity and colour.
- The ins & outs of the equipment involved - cost effective & even home made alternatives.
- How to craft dramatic portraits using simple and inexpensive equipment.
- How to create beautiful and flattering light in ANY situation.
- How to troubleshoot and overcome difficult situations to get the image and save the day.
- & without even trying - you will walk away confident and sure in all the manual settings of your camera - ready to go off the auto modes when the situation demands it.
100% money back gaurantee - you will love this course.

FAQs - See here.

The program runs from 6-9pm Friday and 9am to 6pm Saturday and Sunday, includes refreshments. All you need to bring is your camera and an open mind.
Price $795pp.   A 10% early booking discount available. (Early bird closes 6 weeks prior). Student discount available - email for info.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Business Travelers need to practice safe Wi-Fi

Business travelers are accustomed to being “hyper-connected” to the internet. Use of Wi-Fi in coffee shops, libraries, airports, hotels, universities, and other public places pose major security risks. However, the problem with this Wi-Fi access method is that it is not safe and secure as one may think it is.

There are countless tools and programs available on the internet that will allow the hacking of secure Wi-Fi networks through WAP, WEP or even man-in-the-middle attacks. Business travellers need to be aware that their Wi-Fi transmissions may not be secure.

If the access point doesn't require a password, it’s not secure. If it asks for a password through your browser simply to grant access, or it asks for a Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) password, it’s best to treat it as unsecured. You can be confident that a hotspot is secure only if it asks for the Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA and WPA2) password. WPA2 is the most secure. Recent advances in hacking techniques may leave WPA2 methods to be unsecured as well.

Also, insecure laptops, tablets and smart phones make it easy for a hacker to intercept information including passwords and credit or debit card numbers. Make sure the device is locked away, placed in the hotel safe, or secured with a security cable. A hacked laptop or smart phone can also create a security risk for the user’s workplace if it contains a password to the corporate network. Wi-Fi users should take the following steps to reduce these risks:
  • Turn the Wi-Fi on your laptop, tablet, and smart phone off when you aren’t using the network. Otherwise your Wi-Fi card will broadcast your Service Set Identifier (SSID) looking for all networks it was previously connected to. This enables hackers to figure out the key that unscrambles the network password.
  • Use a known service instead of Free Public Wi-Fi or similar risky locations.
  • Check the Wi-Fi security policies of your service provider and install the protections they offer to ensure it’s a known network and not an “man-in-the middle” hacker site pretending to be the legitimate one.
  • Pay attention to warnings that a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate is not valid. Never accept an invalid certificate on a public wireless network. Log off and look for a trustworthy network.
  • Look for the padlock indicating an SSL connection.
  • Keep your firewall on. And keep your operating system updated.
  • Business users should use their Virtual Private Network (VPN). Encrypted VPN sessions offer the highest security for public wireless use.
  • Use the new WPA and WPA2 access moethods as they are much more resistant to attack.
  •  If your company does not supply a VPN connection, use an online service such as or to create a secure connection.
  • Use a different password for each account
  • When you’ve finished using an account, log out.
  • Remove all passwords and browsing history after using a shared computer. Never use the hotel lobby computer for anything requiring a password to access sensitive or important information.
  • Disable file-sharing on your laptop.
  • Only send important information over the internet if you are certain that the connection is secure. For browsing the web, make sure that the address in the address bar says “https://” rather than simply “http://”. The extra “s” means there is a “secure socket layer” between your computer and the website, meaning all information traveling over the network is encrypted. View the “lock icon” at the top or bottom of your browser window. You can click on this icon to display information about the website and help you verify that it’s not fraudulent.
  • If possible, set up your email client to allow you to send using secure sockets, also, as this will encrypt the email information and disable it from being sniffed by an intruder.
  • Put strong passwords on your wireless network. They should be more than eight characters in length, and contain both capital letters and at least one numeric character.
And corporate Information Technology (IT) managers should do the following to protect corporate data from hotspot dangers:
  • Establish and enforce strong authentication policies for devices trying to access corporate networks
  • Require employees to use a corporate VPN and encryption when making connections and exchanging data. Better still, set up computers so that devices automatically connect to the VPN and encrypt data after making sure that the computer or device hasn’t been lost or stolen.
  • Make sure all devices and software applications are configured properly and have the latest patches.
  • Ensure that corporate security policies prevent employees from transferring sensitive data to mobile devices or unauthorized computers.
  • Provide employees with broadcast air cards that require a service plan so they don’t have to use public hotspots for wireless connections.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

GATE GURU Traveler App

Operates on the iPhone, Android and Windows Phone.

This app provides the traveler with flight tracking information  push notifications of gate changes and includes  airport maps.

It also includes reviews of facilities and services at over 200 airports.

This app is a clear winner with a ton of reviews and includes user tips. The user tips I fond the most valuable is the one in which security lane moves faster. A time saver for me flying out of Orlando one time.

I love how it integrates with Tripit and Kayak.

We recommended and is currently the one of the goto apps when travelling.

FLYSMART Traveler App Review

This is a iPhone, Android and Blackberry app that enables users to track their flights, receive push notifications about delays, gate changes and cancellations.

It uses Bing maps and includes airport shops, restaurants and services.

I am not a big fan of Bing maps but it is more accurate than Apple maps. What I found to be annoying is the fact I get advertising information within the airport. I also found the entering of the flight information for tracking purposes to be clumsy. Its a stable app but I found that Tripit and Gate Guru is more useful for me.

This app is not available for the Blackberry Playbook. I have tested the iPhone version.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Unified Messaging – A Strategic Approach to Messaging that can Improve Business Process, Reduce Costs and Improve Customer Satisfaction

Unified Messaging – A Strategic Approach to Messaging that can Improve Business Process, Reduce Costs and Improve Customer Satisfaction

Today’s workers are becoming more mobile and more collaborative in their communication approach. They are also demanding to have access to their communication tools on their mobile or smartphone device.

IT departments need to provide their mobile workers  tools and infrastructure that will support email, instant messaging, video conferencing , voice and presence. The Unified messaging tool needs to combine these multi-model communication methods into a single application. Having multiple applications makes it difficult for the employee to manage their communications effectively, and drives the IT costs to manage many platforms upwards. The need to integrate business process applications like CRM into the UC tool is also of interest.

In 1996, the promise of Unified Communications was made in leveraging and combing the desktop with the telephone. The traditional TDM suppliers like Nortel, Avaya and Mitel have always tried to overlay complexity in order to try to offer a UC solution whereas the new IP based suppliers like NBX and ShoreTel offered a more simplistic approach.

How many business users have a UC tool on their PC, Tablet or Smartphone today?

Has your IT department kept the promise to offer a UC tool to you?

The ideal IP based telephony platform must be easy to manage, support multiple  PC operating systems, support multiple smartphone devices, easy to deploy and must be easy to use. The UC core voice appliance will provide call control and messaging applications and integrate with a Mobility platform while offering a brilliantly simple UC communication tool to manage all communications in one single application. The mobile worker now has the ability to effectively manage their communications, collaborate with their customers and have a strategic competitive advantage while dramatically lowering their cellular costs.

The cubicle worker also has the advantage of using the simple communicator desktop tool to manage their communications in the same effective manner as the mobile employee.

Don’t Focus on Closing the Sale on your First Appointment

Don’t Focus on Closing the Sale on your First Appointment

In my 6.5 Steps to Asking For the Order sales process the initial phase of the customer interaction is important.

In the initial customer meeting and in the discovery phase it is important to build a customer relationship, and to earn the customer trust, while asking a lot of questions and listening intently.

By being curious and engaging the customer in conversation is more important than trying to sell them something. 

How can you sell them stuff without knowing what they need?

Boost Your Sales by Telling a Compelling Story

Boost Your Sales by Telling a Compelling Story

Marketing is all about storytelling, but many fail as they lack an emotional connection with the audience.

When making a presentation to a customer make sure you include a compelling story that may be in how your solution solves their business problems.

I like to use the "Day in the Life" stories that allow my audience to completely understand how my solution can help their employees dramatically boost their productivity. You can find a similar story in your voice by taking the time to understand the customer’s business needs and how your solution will meet or exceed them.

Don't forget the last step in your presentation is a call to action or asking for the next step in the sales process.


If you sit in the customer seat during your presentation they may forget the slide content BUT they will remember any visuals or stories.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Think Tank Photo Airport Check In Review

Think Tank Photo Airport Check In Review

I am a Road warrior and my employment takes me out on the road frequently. I am always looking for better ways to manage my traveling and carrying the multitude of devices with me in an organized fashion. I have tried messenger bags, backpacks and computer roller bags. I was never quite pleased with any scenario and somehow always lost items among my travels.  

Being a semi-pro photographer as a hobby introduced me to the great minds at Think Tank. I have several of their products for photography use. They make a wonderful Laptop bag called the Photo Airport Check In. This unique bag also includes an organizer sleeve  to keep all things in place. 

Think Tank makes high quality, innovative products for the working photographer. They constantly improve their products by taking feedback from the field and its users. You make a critique and they listen. 

It also offers a rain cover, shoulder strap, and back pack carrying strap making this bag very multi-functional.  The straps are well padded and all hardware is strong and rugged. No skimping on parts at Think Tank. This is not really a camera bag , however it would allow smaller cameras and accessories to be carried along with a laptop. This bag would fit into the Think Tank Urban Disguise series but is not deemed part of that product family.

The front zippered section of the bag has slots for business cards, key ring strap, pen holder, 2 padded pockets for iPod, WD Pocket drive, or an iPhone . It has also has 3 see through zippered pockets. I usually put my money in one pocket before going through security, any medication, eye drops, or vitamins, and the lower pocket for other items. Everything zips up and nothing can fall out.

Did I mention all zippers are beefy and self – healing?

The next section is the middle with 2 narrow pockets for magazines or papers and a larger middle pocket that takes a Cable Management 50 organizer. This is an organizers dream come through. This see through case has 3 pockets and it holds all my items safely and neatly. I can put my Nikon P7000 camera with a SB400 flash in one side, the middle houses a Cable Management 10 bag that I use to hold earphones, charger, flashlight, cables, battery, and small items. I can slide this in and out while on the plane keeping everything neat and safe from falling out as it zips up. The other side usually holds my smartphone, a small pocket radio and my wallet. The pockets can also be used to carry a laptop power supply and mouse; however I usually carry these items in my carry-on luggage.
The back of the bag has a detachable padded computer sleeve insert and holds my laptop. I use a TSA friendly padded sleeve for my laptop and took the detachable insert out. I also will put my iPad and Blackberry Playbook and Kindle in there depending on what I am carrying or where I am going.
There is also a zippered section top allow the bag to be inserted into your roller bag handle. This bag was made for travelling in mind. No wonder they call it the Airport Check In

Also on either side of the bag there is a water bottle pouch and a zippered pouch for another water bottle (or rather a Starbucks coffee in a travel mug, or Tumi Umbrella).

This bag has made it through over 100 flights and keeps all my stuff safe and protected, fits easily underneath the airplane seat and is multifunctional. It is an excellent carry-on laptop bag, an office bag for commuting and can also be a hidden camera bag for those with smaller cameras.

Maybe they will release it as a V2.0 model with some changes. It’s an excellent bag.

I also have the Artificial Intelligence laptop bag which is slimmer and is more for the only purpose of having enough room for a laptop.

  • A full featured briefcase designed specifically for photographers using rolling luggage
  • Features:
  • Fits 15" - 17" laptops
  • Fits easily under airline seats
  • Slides onto handle of rollers
  • Lock on bottom of roller pocket
  • Incredible front organizer
  • FREE Cable Management 50 included
  • Business card holder
  • Expandable/compressible side pocket
  • Mesh pocket on side
  • Pixel Eclipse fits in rear pocket
  • Product Includes - Seam-sealed raincover, Removable shoulder harness, Curved Comfort shoulder strap
  • Internal Dimensions (Front Compartment) - 15.5" W x 13" H x 2" D (39.5 cm x 33 cm x 5 cm)
  • Internal Dimensions (Computer Area) - 15.5" W x 12.75" H x 2" D (39.5 cm x 32.5 cm x 5 cm)
  • External Dimensions - 16" W x 13.375" H x 6.25" D (41 cm x 34 cm x 16 cm)
  • Weight - 2 lbs. / 930 g - 3 lbs. 15 oz./ 1800 g (depending on accessories used)

Rise & Hang Travel Gear Luggage Insert Review

I love Canadian innovation so when I came across what Lee and Sean Renshaw created in a luggage system, I was excited. Also, this is a product being made in Canada and its providing local jobs. Now that is the definition of innovation at its best:  A quality product, at a fair price, made locally.

Being a busy Road Warrior, I am always on the lookout for items that can simplify my life when travelling. I have found a perfect product for me and it is the Rise & Hang Luggage Insert and Carry On bag.
This luggage insert can be used with any of your existing luggage or duffel bags. This fits inside any one of my roller bags, my North Face duffel bag, or you can use it as a stand-alone bag  (using its built in shoulder strap). It is extremely versatile for the way I travel.

The way it works is that it has two hanger hooks that allow you to quickly hang this up in a closet allowing you to unpack in less than 60 seconds. The insert has 3 shelves and a bottom compartment. This allows you to also pack quickly. Top shelf for socks and underwear, middle shelf for shirts and lower shelf for pants or sweaters and put your dirty clothes in a large zip lock bag in the bottom.

When you arrive at your hotel room, you pull the insert out, unzip it and hang it up in the closet and you’re done. No time wasted taking clothes out and putting them in dirty hotel drawers. If you keep everything organized in the shelves, when it’s time to pack it is a simple matter of zipping it shut and placing it in your carry-on bag and out the door your go.

It is fast and easy, clean and simple. This is a wonderful product and the brothers also have a duffel bag system with a built in shelving system and other innovative products on the way.
The Rise & Hang system is a high quality product, at a fair price that’s made in Canada that can simplify your busy travelling life.

Check out the YouTube video at

Monday, November 26, 2012

Field Notes 1

Apple iPhone 4S

Apple just released massive earnings last quarter showing the dominance of their smartphone in the market. My wife just had to have one and is thrilled in how much better it is over her previous 3G. She had no problems selling her old iPhone on Kijiji. Too bad Siri is limited in its use in Canada

Amazon Kindle Fire

Canadians beware. The Kindle Fire is crippled and has no access to US content at this time. Canada is not on the Amazon strategy road map right now so be patient, the kindle took 2 years to be Canadian friendly. Maybe a Kobo Vox is a better choice but does lack the joys of the Amazon ecosystem.

Nintendo Suffering

Well no kidding! iPad users play games on their tablet and don’t need a separate Nintendo DS game system. It makes great sense having both devices due to its game specific benefits but many are trying to simplify the amount of stuff they need to carry. The need to charge multiple batteries is an issue I find a real treat. If Nintendo doesn’t jump on IPad gaming fast they will suffer like RIM's arrogance in the marketplace. Let’s see how well the new Sony Vita game system copes but with its $250 price point it does seem too high for mass acceptance.


Looks like the markets have no trust in the new leadership structure. It’s hilarious how the perception is that Thorsten Heins seems to bring no background to propelling these guys forward. I guess he has 90 days to demonstrate the leadership required to move them forward and provide the trust was a smart decision.

RIM should pay me for a better press release like this one

" RIM :  we have focussed entirely on providing  secure solutions in the business marketplace with management tools for IT departments. Our playbook is an excellent adjunct to the blackberry for business users. We are actively working night and day to bring an excellent blackberry smartphone consumers device to the market place. The Playbook at this time will be a business tool ensuring security and privacy in the web and emailing experience.”

RIM is a trusted business tool and the keyboard and BBM features are key. Many business users don’t care about Angry Birds, they care about sensitive emails being secure in their transport. That is where RIM wins
Let LG make $10 disposable cell phones for the prepaid market.

RIM still makes a lot of money and is growing in the emerging markets and is not a dud like Kodak but it has to act very very fast to figure out where it wants to be in the US market. The silly DJ commercial for the Blackberry Bold is a joke. Everyone I ask in the 15-25 age group wants an iPhone not a Bold. So maybe they need a stronger ad campaign to keep the business user and grow into the consumer market. BYOD will decide and currently that is top of mind everywhere in the Fortune 100.

QNX software will be very good for RIM as its software that doesn’t need rebooting.

RIM employees have a lot to be proud of for their amazing innovative accomplishments over the years and are a top pick as new hires in the new start-ups happening right now.


I just picked up an AT&T Thrive as my stateside telephone to help combat the huge roaming fees the carriers charge. I got to say the Android is a great experience. It’s a little rough around the edges but I can see why Android is gaining market share. There is only one place to get an Apple but many manufacturers support the Android OS. This is the greatness of its popularity. I do prefer a gated software process that Apple offers but we do need competition in the OS to ensure everyone is being innovative. Guess what Android 2.1 isnt really that stable.


What’s there to say? Senior management have destroyed this company and overexposed the film greatly. I cannot fathom how they have blown every single opportunity to become relevant in each market segment and have decent market share. Of course Nikon and Canon own the SLR business but Kodak let HP take the printer and point and shoot business. There should have been a shareholders occupy Rochester event years ago. I still have kodachromes from 30 years ago and they colours are as rich as ever. Too bad they didn’t really grab the digital frame market and really social media it to the hilt. It’s still a cool thought to send photo updates to grandma’s picture frame using the internet since she has no laptop or flickr access.

Apple Jobs

President Obama asked Steve Jobs as to why Apple products cannot be built in America thus providing jobs. Steve replied that he couldn’t find 20,000 American workers to live in a dormitory with suicide nets and enjoy cafeteria food 3 times a day.  The fact that Foxomm can add 3000 workers to a shift instantly demonstrates on the efficiency of an off-shore labour.

I am glad that ShoreTel makes their excellent purpose built IP Shoregear appliances in the USA. Canadians should take note that we need to keep jobs in Canada (thanks to Roots and Canada Goose for that)


There have been various high schools and ham radio operators launching balloons into space and finally a couple of teenage locals took an innovative spirit plus $400 to do this.

Two teens from Toronto, Canada have launched “Lego Man in Space” using a helium filled weather balloon and captured stunning video of the miniature toy figure back dropped by the beautiful curvature of Earth and the desolate blackness of space that’s become a worldwide YouTube sensation.

17 year olds Mathew Ho and Asad Muhammad lofted the tiny 2 inch tall Lego figure from a local Toronto soccer field up to a height of about 85,000 feet, or 16 miles (25 kilometers), where the 22 foot (7 m) diameter helium balloon burst in what is technically known as the stratosphere. The homemade styrofoam capsule – equipped with two video cameras and four digital cameras – then parachuted back to Earth.

AT&T Cellular Data Usage

80 per cent of their sales were for Apple iPhones and I can only assume the bulk of the rest is Android. Actually I am one of them who bought an Android and while spending 45 minutes in the store saw no activity at the Blackberry kiosk. The average data usage is almost 700MB. I guess that explains Fido changing their data plans from 6GB for $30 a month to 500MB for $30 a month. Canadians continue to get squeezed with 200 minute plans the norm. The USA offers unlimited plans without worry. Good thing I can beat the cellular charges using my ShoreTel Mobility client on my iPhone and iPad using wifi anywhere I travel. I figure I saved over $300 in roaming and long distance charges on my recent trip to Chicago.

USA Roaming Charges

USA cellular carriers love Canadians. They love to charge $2-$3 a minute for cellular calls plus long distance. Sure you can buy a Canadian travel pack and pay 60 cents a minute for calls but that is still excessive when traditional land line long distance is anywhere from 1-5 cents a minute. Does it really cost $3 to transport a call on cellular?  No it does not


Gotta love these guys from Montreal taking a chance at making millions of tablets for India. They are selling them for less than $60 so if they can make a buck or two at it...then they will make millions. The poor in India will get access to the internet through this tablet and it will really help transform them. So why does a Kobo Vox or Kindle Fire cost $199...?

Columbian Roses

How is that we I import over $25 million dollars of roses from Columbia?  Can we not hot house these locally and keep the Ontario farmers working instead of going bankrupt? 

Chinese Garlic

Can we not buy Garlic bulbs from Ontario farmers anymore?

Don’t forget to live local - eat local - be local….support your local community