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Camera Popularity Wars in a Vlogger-Dominated World — Annoying

Camera and product “suitability” questions are increasingly often decided by Spartan-style popular outcry instead of reasonable consideration of actual product features and strengths. I find this quite annoying.

The former is now common in a world dominated by vloggers, full-time YouTubers and similar self-proclaimed “experts” who, upon closer scrutiny, are often using and operating their equipment more like Silly Sally than a tech-savvy photography or video specialist.

A recent (infamous) example can be seen on YouTube here: an actually promising review of an even more promising camera (the excellent Nikon D850, already called “camera of the year 2017″ by many!) turniong out to be an idiotic time-waster full of user error, useless anecdotes about what the camera does or doesn’t compared to a smartphone and resulting failed conclusions.

On the positive side, here’s also a Steve Perry Nikon D850 camera review to make things up to you. This one’s by someone who’s a real pro and actually knows the stuff he’s talking abou!

While it may be true that Nikon, indeed, still continue to overly focus on the photography segment of the market (where they came from, you might want to note), neglecting large amounts of features needed for DSLR filming on many occasions, that would not be a very smart strategy on the part of a camera manufacturer. I normally love and do prefer Nikon over Canon all the time, but quite clearly their way of thinking needs to be modernised back home at Nikon HQ. It is not a smart approach in the day and age of “video is king” to still stick with slow autofocus technologies, excessive shutter roll, lack of selfie-mode displays etc on a camera as that will give your excellent products a bad name as a result. Nikon should keep in mind that nowadays vloggers are all over the place, and thanks to YouTube and similar platforms they are the most vocal group (as in Spartan popular outcry)…

Maybe I would not go as far as saying, it’s not even meant for video (or designed) because, if so, they should say so on the packaging or other sales materials :) Also, maybe the entire concept of DSLR-video is overrated as “real” as in “good video” is still done on VIDEO cameras, not DSLRs.

Panasonic might possibly come to the rescue here, single-handedly topping even the shrewdest and most “popular among vloggers” Canon features by orders of magnitude in a single product update :) Actually, Panasonic are doing that with a mirrorless camera though (not strictly a DSLR then).

YouTube Monetization: Revealing the Real Profit Source for Online Video

YouTube monetization may be a nice feature — but it’s also a big smokescreen (or at least distracting most everyone from what posting a video online is all about, and where the real money can be made with it)!

People are barred from seeing the real deal as a result. They are fooled into believing that those measly pennies make much sense earning. So everyone and their grandmother are out to lecture us about Casey Neistat and the likes and what they supposedly “make on YouTube”. Then these smart [ones] come up with all these educated-looking calculations about what a View is “worth” and oh-so expertly do the simple math multiplying the stuff, whereas the lion’s share of income is made NOT from measly AdSense-style or ‘monetization’ payments but Affiliate links — a totally different thing! Many of the true experts in the field confirm that the ratio is roughly 9:1 in favour or the latter.

The real YouTube benefit for “real YouTubers” or full-time video shooters on there is the site’s characteristics of also being used for “search” (albeit a bit ridiculous when actual search-quality really matters — not the way to go) and by posing as a “social platform” at the same time. YouTubes objective here is attracting and retaining people spending their time on there which, in turn, plays into the hands of savvy video producers and online marketers. All this combined together into one big package deal — also including those 11% or so in monetization income if you insist — is what makes YouTube successful, and also useful from a business point of view. Visit an Experienced Online Marketing Consultant to let them guide you to business growth and success with internet marketing and online video.

If you want to go it alone and already have a really neatly working YouTube channel plus everything else in place and are sure you’re not overlooking any of the crucial ingredients, the next thing you may want to set up would be a number of affiliate opportunities. These can either be found on affiliate portal sites or, sometimes the better choice, individual websites onboarding affiliates. (It’s usually at the bottom of the page or in ‘about’ sections, not too easy to find but not too hard either.) It’s always an option to go it alone if you already are sufficiently well-versed in this area, but remember that we’re here to show you how to get farther, faster, so any consultation cost may be money well spent.

Web User Experience: Browser Issues Solved with Opera

Website interaction has become an ever increasing part of overall computer use for most of us. This means that web browsers have even more importance as one of the most widely used application programs on your box. This is true for PCs, be it as a desktop or laptop variant, tablets, and all sorts of mobile devices used for accessing the Worldwide web.

The Google-dominated Firefox browser, derived from the original “Mosaic Netscape” flavors of the olden days, has been the web browser of choice for the majority of web users for some time now. Frequent updates of this browsers mean frequent improvements, but sometimes they may spell trouble or are less popular. This is one of the reasons many users disable auto-updates and try staying with a tested and proven browser version for as long as possible. (It is never a very good idea to auto-update blindly into everything some developer or other forces down your throat without thorough real-life testing by other users.)

The recent Firefox update which introduced a new browser layout (among many other less visible updates) is a good example of a version update many would rather do without. Not only is the new layout not popular with everyone, but the fact that Firefox is becoming more and more bloated and demanding on system resources alone is sufficient reason to be not happy with this. That this version update has been forced upon users even where auto-update had been disabled does not help the measure’s popularity either.

Reason enough for many users to start looking into better solutions than Firefox again.

This is precisely the time when attention turns to the Opera browser which has been well-known for many years now and is always a good option when it comes to solving problems caused by the “big two”, Firefox and Safari (or Internet Explorer, for those who still believe in or for some other reason are stuck with some flavor of MS-Windows).

The Opera browser has a long-running reputation for gentleness on overall system resources as well as “running on all platforms”, i e versions available for all operating systems (which even included Atari, BeOS and IBM’s old OS/2 systems earlier). It is not only worth a try, but Opera is definitely a good — if not better — solution for everyone concerned about general performance and system speed. Opera also includes a highly functional and slick-looking e-mail client. Dissatisfaction with recent Firefox updates — or general Mozilla products, if their dumbed-down attempt of an e-mail client called Thunderbird is included in our considerations here — may serve as a good reason for finally solving the problem with that browser named after a rock on the Svalbard Islands off northern Norway.

Bitcoin, Crypto coins: Breaking All-Time High after High

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Bitcoin and other Cryptocoins have been drawing a lot of my attention again with a truly breathtaking series of price high after price high (measured in dollar and other paper-currency terms). The latest high is $9771 so far, happening last night. Most of the recent highs did not hold for long but were rep[laced by even higher ones, often within hours. Altcoins are doing similarly exciting things. The overall coinmarketcap is now up more than 300% in just six months.

This might be a good time for more businesses to consider accepting Bitcoin as payment for their products or services. Overstock have been the first to do so, introducing Bitcoin payments in 2014 or so. My own images are available for download for Bitcoin and Altcoin payments as well. Current rumors are, that eBay, Amazon and other large online sellers are considering accepting Bitcoin payments, too. The time might be right, as U. S. tax regulations are about to be amended and include a tax-free threshold of $600 for Bitcoin payments, giving Crypto payments the same status as any foreign (paper) currency from an income-tax point of view. (In fact, the amendment might have been brought up by lobbying by Amazon and similar interests in order to give them an easy way to open up additional customer interest by accepting coin payments without having to worry about resulting income-tax implications.)

It should not only be me selling images for Bitcoin and Altcoins but the time for large stock image agencies accepting Bitcoin may be right around the corner. Wouldn’t it be nice if Dreamstime, Videoblocks, Nimia or Shutterstock, for example, started selling stock image downloads for Crypto coins?

On top of opening up new markets, it would also benefit contributors and image buyers alike by reducing payment processing fees as well as sizeable allowances for losses due to credit-card charge-backs priced in to prices these days.

WordPress Basics: Useful Modifications (1)

WP, the popular WordPress CMS (or Content management System), is an enormous powerful tool for every small business, private individual running a Weblog, or even larger E-Commerce Websites.

Out of the box, WordPress is ready to be used for any of the above purposes — and then some.

This is a great thing. The CMS comes with the famous 5-minute installation feature, you basically just download the WP version you want (not necessarily always the latest but at least one of the more recent ones), punch in a few basic settings, and you’re good to go. A video showing this process as an easy-to-follow tutorial will be posted here soon. This will even help total newbies to be all set in no time!

The ease of installation is one of the reasons — if not the chief reason — for WordPress’ popularity all over the internet. WP websites make up a huge chunk of all Weblogs on the internet (between 40% to 70%, depending on how you count). WordPress’ ease of installation is a good thing — on one hand. It comes with a few disadvantages though, on the other.

For example, when a total Noob (or newbie) starts out with WordPress, all these nice “Get WordPress Now” helpers point to the very latest version of WordPress (that would be WP Ver4.4, as of this writing — and possibly 4.4.1 or something as soon as later this week). The “current” is usually the “best” version for most purposes, security-wise or when it comes to certain bugfixes or similar. As soon as you start adding something more specific for your purposes, maybe a special WP Plugin to do specific tasks, you may soon find out that not all the great Plugins there are will support the very latest of WordPress versions. It may well be, that your favourite (or most-needed) Plugin “only” supports WordPress’ previous version (which may have been top-of-the heap as recently as this morning but is kind of “old crap” in the afternoon).

Even worse, since WordPress 3.7 there is an “auto-update” feature activated by default. Pretty much as the name implies, this auto-update forces your website to automatically update to the latest version of WordPress once such a new version becomes available (maybe over lunchtime, in order to stick to the example above). This means that a somewhat modified or specialised website running some we–maintained and useful Plugin for specific extra tasks you may like or absolutely require for your purposes may or may not be incompatible — and, in more severe cases, possibly even causing your website to crash — from, well, lunchtime or whenever that next WP update happens to be. Not good.

Some plugin aren’t completely compatible with WordPress updates as soon as the updates come out.

So one of the more useful “modifications” you might want to make to your installation is disabling this somewhat questionable WP auto-update function. This is easy to do. It only requires adding one line of code as described below:

  • Go to your WordPress server.
  • Go to the subdirectory of …/yourwebsite/
  • Find the wp-config.php file”
  • Open the file in an editor
  • To completely disable all automatic updates (of any type), add the following line to your wp-config.php file:
define( 'AUTOMATIC_UPDATER_DISABLED', true );

This will save you from waking up one morning and finding that some auto-update has broken your installation.

Still, you may want to manually update to a fairly recent version in order to eliminate vulnerabilities or exploits that may come up over time as attackers try to find ways into websites. Once you know that a more recent version is not doing any harm to your configuration and Plugins used, do a manual update to a later version (or the latest one, if you are reasonably sure that it will work with your Plugins).

There are also Plugins of their own to more comfortably control WP updates in a Graphical environment. Disable Automatic Updater https://wordpress.org/plugins/wp-disable-automatic-updates/ and Update Control http://wordpress.org/plugins/update-control/ are two Plugins doing just that.

 

Basic Website Security — Part 1: Why You Might Want to Change Settings

Attackers use certain exploits in software. This is a well-known fact that everyone knows throughout both the multi-media and IT-security industries.

Standard software or at least popular pieces of software everyone and their grandmother use are particularly vulnerable — think allocation of resources, the bigger the target the more attractive it seems from an attacker’s point of view.

This doesn’t mean that you needed to avoid popular software like WordPress for content management, nor avoid any other widely-used solutions. (“Security by Obscurity” does not usually cut it, anyway.) All this just explains why you might want to stay informed about existing vulnerabilities (or, if you don’t have the time or expertise for that, trust the developers to fix any security holes and simply update to the latest and “best” version).

Beyond this, you might add some common-sense measures though:

  • do not use trivial passwords (no need for overly fancy ones either)
  • watch your server logfiles for latest goings-on on your website
  • respond accordingly, if you detect any irregularities
  • these usually include login attempts to “standard user IDs” (such as admin)
  • change your Administrator account to a different user ID
  • avoid your own domain name as a user ID (script kiddies try to brute-force that name regularly)
  • deploy some security features (most CMS-es have special security add-ons, “plugins”, or packages)
  • set those packages correctly (a fire extinguisher is of no use, unless you know how to handle it)!
  • make frequent backups so you can recover in case of an attack

With just a handful of common-sense procedures or reasonably easy-to-use add-ons, your website should be safe and run for years without any successful attacks or even serious-enough incidents (almost-successful attempts) whatsoever. Attackers aren’t that smart, and just stopping their most stupid attempts usually leaves them clueless and moving on to easier targets.

 

Top Five Tips for Marketing with Video

It is not a secret that Video is one of the best tools there is for both internet and traditional marketing campaigns. Video is quickly gaining popularity among businesses. Statistics show significantly higher levels of visitor engagement, significant increases in conversion rates, and improved search engine optimisation results when video is used in marketing activities.

Companies both large and small have a huge need for quality content. Content was king since the very beginning of commercial internet use, now it’s not “just content” anymore but Video Is King, meaning that content with related video scores the highest.

A well-produced video can be just the thing to catch the attention of your website visitors or prospective customers in a brick-and-mortar setting .

The following five tips explain how to use video to improve SEO for internet selling and draw in more customers both online and off:

1. Pre-Production: Draft an actionable plan containing a list of reasonable and achievable goals for your video before you start shooting it. When working with a pro, ask them to incorporate these marketing goals at the pre-production stage and shoot in accordance with them. Time is money (for both yourselves and your video producer), and this greatly saves on unnecessary footage before it is even produced. Targeted content with a solid call-to-action does the trick. You want to take viewers to the next step of the sales funnel.

2. Create high-quality videos: not necessarily hiring a big-time production firm (expensive), but have your video shot with a few simple techniques in mind in order to not have it bounce (viewers leaving after a few seconds, bad for SEO rankings) and, that way, do more harm than good. Only start after solid pre-production (your own goals written down, properly transferred to video pro’s shooting plan), avoid long-windedness and slow-moving storylines. Make sure that state-of-the-art equipment is used (you want a production pro knowing their job, using the right lighting and other equipment to come up with well-produced HD video footage to be made into a brief clip, ideally less than one minute in total length.

3. Host your videos on your own domain: while YouTube or Vimeo and similar hosting sites may seem convenient for hosting videos, they will not let you have the benefit of increased web traffic to your own website. To tap into YouTube’s high visitor traffic, consider having your video pro extract an introductory video and post this with a brief text description and a link to the full video on your own domain (or have your video or marketing specialist do it for you). This will increase your visibility and drive visitors to your own site, and that’s where you want them to be (not YouTube)! On top, include share buttons for your videos, blog posts, and other content to give others the opportunity to amplify your reach.

4. Optimise your videos by adding meta descriptions: search engines cannot see but need to get an accurate picture of what’s in your video. Be sure to only use terms of what is actually in your video to avoid viewers quickly moving on (counted as bounces and damaging your rankings).

5. Use social media to get more traction from your video by distributing it across social media channels: when the above is done, don’t stop here but get more bang for the buck by also posting the video on all of your social media sites for your audience to re-share and enjoy.

We can help you to effectively use video marketing for both your online or traditional business and increase website traffic and customer conversion rates. Our business-friendly priced packages cost significantly less than the benefit they provide. Check out our video production services or get in touch with us for a free quote.

EU Bureaucrats Having to Admit Failure — Again

European Union bureaucrats are slowly waking up to the reality of the damage done by their 2015 “Digital Goods” directive. A meeting with small business representatives has been scheduled for early September 2015 to “listen” to their concerns and “address the problem”. Another meeting with EU officials themselves will take place later that month.

Hear, hear.

They were unable to see this obvious set of problems coming though, while taking control of our lives all the time. Considering the fat salaries they make off EU taxpayers’ money, this is even more appauling.

Although it is expected that those “forgotten” minimum thresholds will finally introduced, exempting the smallest and micro businesses from cumbersome consequences of bureaucratic overreach, they should not have been “overlooked” in the first place if anyone in Brussels knew anything about real life, let alone their area of “expertise”, at all. Also, the general problems raised by the “Digital Goods” directive remain: a violation of Public International Law principles on Extraterritoriality on one hand and a gross violation of the Presumption of Innocence on the other. Affected businesses operating in EU member countries will be required to answer to 28 foreign tax offices, potential audits, and other requests; also these businesses will have to prove when doing normal worldwide business that those transactions are not subject to VAT extortion in Europe. Both show utter disregard for basic principles of democracy and good governance and are a result from the arrogance with which bureaucrats on the EU level are operating.

In light of this continuous intrusion into citizens rights, lives, and livelihoods, a thorough change in European politics is due — rather long overdue — altogether. It remains to be seen how exactly this will be brought about and materialise.

Stock Photography: An Art, a Craft, a Technology, or a Business?

One of the frequently asked questions around Photography and Stock Photography in particular is, whether someone working in this field is an artist, a craftsperson, a technolgist, or a business owner. For arguments sake, let us pretend that we do not know that tax authorities believe this is a commercial endeavour, hence a “business”, and let us approach the question without the bias of tax laws.

Stock photography, let alone photography in general, is very much at home in the Arts field. It is quite evident that without some artsy approach, there is little chance of producing good and salesworthy results. Even for repro, infrared, or engineering photography, one might argue that there is still some degree of an “artistic eye” necessary.

Equally many ingredients in stock photography are derived from the crafts area: not only is your camera and other equipment a tool, but lighting, creating a set, and shooting a technically usable photo are undoubtedly what a craftsperson does.

In the day and age of photography as well as video production going increasingly digital, technology aspects are getting increasingly important in all these fields. Even in the age of film, there were lots of technical aspects to keep in mind, from film speed to mixing the right baths in the darkroom to using the correct set of brushes and scissors if you happened to be retouching. Little can you do as an aspiring photographer today, if you don’t know about computer storage media, USB standards, computer file systems on one hand or ISO settings or sensor noise, and many more — ideally on a sound basis of “old-style” knowledge, above –, on the other in order to make good use of these aspects and produce results that have all the features you want to influence using these aspects and settings.

The business aspect: it is present in everything you do as a photographer, particularly as a stock photographer where you primarily want to sell your work, and to the maximum number of prospective buyers at that. In order to succeed with that part, a thorough understanding of both artistic trends as well as marketing, particularly internet and social media marketing, are essential.

So, in summary, Stock Photography is All of the Above. Working as a stock photographer includes myriad ingredients from Arts, Crafts, Technology, and Business aspects.

Depending on the scale ow one’s own stock photography endeavours, one or the other may have a bigger share in the overall equation. From renting significant floor space in a business park to pursuing a micro-scale commercial and object photography business literally from the kitchen table, everything is included in the broader meaning of Stock Photograph — and don’t forget, the cost-reward-ratios can even be a lot better for smaller-scale operators. It all depends on one’s personal style and also on finding a niche and how to work it, from Yuri Arcurs Photography, Aarhus, Denmark or Joshua Hodge right down to the little guy.

Beating Adobe’s Stock Photo Prices: marquixHD Site Announcement

We are excited to announce an entirely new set of prices. From 4th of July onward, we will charge a simple flat price of just $9.97 per download. This flat price applies to all image sizes available in the marquixHD shop section of the http://www.marquix.net website and includes all download options (“Small JPEG”, “Medium JPEG”, and “Large JPEG). This new pricing structure includes a significant savings for the “Large JPEG” format. (Buyers will also be refunded manually in case the old and higher prices are automatically charged by the e-shop during an interim period while these new prices are implemented in the online store system.)

Our new prices are designed to match — or rather beat — Adobe’s price model. Prices for stock photos at Adobe have been set to $9.99 per download for single images. It should also be noted, that Adobe, Inc. are earning most of their money by selling proprietary software packages, by profiting from software patents, and by showing utter contempt against anything Open Source and ultimately their customers’ vital interests in order to improve their own bottom line. Following their acquisition of microstock image agency Fotolia, Adobe have announced new prices in order to break into the market — and eventually dominate the stock photography business. To achieve this, they would have to do away with Dreamstime, Shutterstock, Depositphotos, Canstockphoto, Getty Images’ iStock, and a whole bunch of other suppliers, and it will be interesting to watch whether they can manage doing so or how long it will take them. Although a tiny independent site, here at marquixHD we value independence and want to maintain a good image collection and reasonable prices — while offering even better prices than Adobe themselves! While these are admittedly only a tad cheaper, we believe the simplicity of introducing a flat price for all image sizes might appeal to photo buyers. We would also like to stress the ability of coupons for significant rebates and even lower prices. We will also introduce a special line of coupons for “Small JPEG” and “Medium JPEG” images in order to continue offering them at extremely low prices (in the area of a cup of U. S. brand name restaurant coffee). Where the new flat price turns out higher than previous “Small JPEG” or “Medium JPEG” downloads, a coupon should be used to continue buying at these extra-low prices for smaller formats. Buyers are welcome to request coupons from us direct. We will be happy to hear from you and e-mail your coupons for your purchases at marquixHD.

 

More Rules, More Regulation. All the Time

We used to think that running a small business, particularly an online one, was easier than operating a large bank, a licensed pub, or a commercial passenger transport enterprise. With the advent of sales tax (in America) and “value-added taxes” in European countries starting in the 1960s, all this began to change. Gradually at first, then more rapidly.

The European Union’s latest foolishness has resulted in a situation and consequences that even EU bureaucrats themselves, as per their own admissions, failed to understand at first and only fully got in the weeks and months after the new rules went into effect. Although they are now at least beginning to understand that the extent of the damage caused goes far beyond their original idea of further increasing tax revenue on the back of e-commerce businesses, they are now unwilling to rectify the situation they caused.

Beginning on 1 January 2015, each and every business (not only in Europe but also overseas where Eurocrats have even less business messing with the livelihoods of ordinary, law-abiding people) has to pay European local taxes when selling digital goods to anyone happening to reside in a European country. The precise tax rate depends on the location of the buyer and usually ranges from 17% to 25% or even a whopping 27% (in the case of EU member country Hungary).

Not a small sum of “protection money” to be paid, particularly if you’re a non-European person and do not have to expect protection (nor tyranny or rip-offs) from European governments. Plus, even the Cosa Nostra of Sicily always limited itself to operating locally — not worldwide. (The latter would usually be called an international crime cartel or organized crime but it is apparently “okay” when governments do it.)

In order to stay compliant, even the smallest businesses today need to comply with tax rules of a total of 31 countries throughout the wider EU and EFTA areas on top of their own domestic ones. This is a wholly unacceptable burden caused by out-of-control bureaucrats who have become all-to used to being fed fat salaries and pensions funded by taxpayer money instead of going out and earn their own incomes and take care of themselves.

Not surprisingly, a pressure group protesting these abuses of power on the part of unelected bureaucrats has been set up in order to have these onerous rules reversed and small businesses freed to do what they do best: finding a need, filling it, and earning a legitimate profit in the process providing for their owners, families (and even tax collectors) along the way.

It appears that governments and their finance “experts” have all of a sudden forgotten that that’s the way it works and that they themselves would have to close shop in a matter of weeks if neglecting this reality.

As a result, large e-commerce corporations like eBay or Amazon were initially set to be the only ones able to handle the compliance load required. Offering their users or “Marketplace” sub-sellers a turn-key fix to the mess caused be regulators, they were first set to profit massively by luring even more small online sellers into their “attractive solutions” to a problem that should have been wholly unnecessary in the first place. A few weeks later, a number of smaller and more independent services have sprung up though, offering small businesses mom-and-pop operations, and individual websites the same level of service with Plugin solutions for widely-used CMS and e-commerce engines such as WordPress and Woo Commerce and similarly popular solutions. Like it or not, Eurocrats have created an entire new market for accountancy, legal, and similar services supporting small and independent online sellers with their — entirely not asked-for — compliance needs. Their Plugin solutions may or may not carry a price tag for installation and use, or the actual services rendered will, but one way or other the overall cost of doing business and staying “compliant” has increased again — a cost of doing business that, like any other, will sure be passed on to buyers and increase overall prices again. All that during times of “economic crisis” when any economy needs relief rather than further hindrances. We will all see one day if this is going to end well, but one might be forgiven for doubting it.

 

For Payment card “security cost” refer to: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Payment_Card_Industry_Data_Security_Standard