Category Archives: Tech

WordPress Self Hosted vs WordPress.com Hosted Blog Pros Cons :: Review

Wordpress vs GoDaddy Self Hosted

I know many people will be reading this thinking about if they should switch between a WordPress.com site to a WordPress.org (self-hosted) site, not the other way around. It’s been about a week since I made the switch over from being a self hosted blog (almost 10 years on the WordPress.org codex) to now being a WordPress.com hosted blog, and the move, hopefully the last one I ever make in the hosting realm) has been great.

I had always sorta scoffed at the non-self-hosted WordPress blogs. After all, those were just blogs who couldn’t or didn’t know how to self-host, right? Well, my Rule #29 says I have had a change of heart. I am amazed, to say the least, at the difference between the two options, and while each has their own advantages and disadvantages, WordPress.com has built an enormous community of bloggers based on their hosted platform that a self-hosted blog is completely removed from. This is just the nature of self-hosting, you are on your own, you have full control over all the code, can make any change you want to the php files and so on, but you do give up an incredible community of bloggers.

Below is a list of the fifteen best and worst things about the hosting differences between WordPress.com and WordPress.org in no specific order. Which one is best for you would be the one that has fewer cons I would think, but I used a self-hosted (GoDaddy.com) blog for almost 10 years until I found the cons outweighed the pros of letting WordPress.com host my site. After one week on WordPress.com I am thrilled. So if you are trying to decide between a WordPress hosted blog or a self-hosted install of WordPress.org Codex, read through the list below first. Any question feel free to ask in the comment, not a problem.

Pros of Worpress.com and Cons of Self-Hosted Blog

  1. Price, free (this depends on if you pay for custom design, domain, and no ads, which I did, then it’s a wash $90/year)
  2. You do not have to handle any heavy coding
  3. Participation in and traffic from the WordPress.com community like, blogs of the daytags, their reader
  4. Possibility to get Freshly Pressed (Five Ways to Get Featured on Freshly Pressed) (happened here on October 2012 with this post)
  5. No SQL Database and tables to backup or mess with
  6. You will not get hacked, or you greatly lessen to possibility of getting hacked
  7. You will not lose your data, it won’t get corrupted, deleted, or all around messed up
  8. The UI (user interface) or dashboard is slightly better than .org version
  9. You do not have bandwidth limitations, sky is the limit if your blog gets hammered
  10. You don’t have to handle the upgrades to the WordPress.com platform (that is often a pain)
  11. Never any down time (even though GoDaddy says they never go down, “connection to database” comes up)
  12. Extremely fast server response times in loading the site and saving new posts
  13. You don’t have to deal with GoDaddy.com (exception see #8 below)
  14. Custom domain mapping available (this is a must for me, if this wasn’t here, I’m out)
  15. Customization of the CSS code (this one was also a huge deciding factor for me, but #14 and #15 are not free)

Cons of Worpress.com and Pros of Self-Hosted Blog

  1. You do not get as much control over your own site
  2. Only customization you can do is in the style.css file (that wasn’t as bad as I thought either)
  3. No control over the code, can’t customize php files
  4. No control over the robots.txt file (can’t set/change crawl rates)
  5. Seems to be harder to get Google to index your site (verdict is still out on this one)
  6. Can’t use plugins (I thought this would be a bigger deal than it is)
  7. Can’t upload a custom theme, only options are theme WordPress.com makes available to you
  8. You will still need a domain to host files if you want off-wordpress.com file storage
  9. Price, could possibly be cheaper than the “free” WordPress.com hosted if you only pay for Godaddy.com $5/mth host
  10. WordPress.com hosted pushes ads on your site unless you pay $30/year to take them off (this stinks)
  11. No ability to host your own advertising on the site from third party vendors
  12. You don’t have any type of FTP access to your files, can’t download the wp-content/uploads directory (this also stinks)
  13. Self-hosted is complete and total control over all php files, do as you like
  14. Self-hosted is a great learning tool for customizing php code, themes, design, etc
  15. Self-hosted you own everything that has to do with the content, the files are your files

How to Fix a WordPress Blog that Keeps Getting Hacked with Malware

I’ve been blogging for over 10 years now, and after a while you pretty much go through every hosting account, every possible theme, and eventually you will probably get hacked (if you run a self-hosted domain) at some point. Of course, my last theme, the one I have been using on this site now for over a year, specifically warns you about this, and for good reason. They even inserted this in a text note in the stylesheet.css file.

***** IMPORTANT *****
Don’t pirate this theme. Themes are typically hacked and injected with spam files and scripts that will get you ‘black-listed’ from search engines and create security risks on your server.
FYI – http://wpmu.org/why-you-should-never-search-for-free-wordpress-themes-in-google-or-anywhere-else/

I had never been hacked before I started using this theme a year ago, but because I loved the design I kept trying to fight the hackers and keep my site clean. Today I finally gave up, or gave in, and for the first time in 5 years, I have switched to letting wordpress.com host my blog. There are of course advantages and disadvantages to each hosting choice, if you are interested, check out WordPress.com, WordPress, and WordPress.org.

Once your wordpress blog is hacked, you almost have to completely start all over again to make sure all the backdoor files and logins are completely removed. I managed to stay ahead of them for a year, but just got tired of fighting it. At that point, I either delete all the database tables in my SQL database, rebuild and reinstall everything, or just move over here. If you site has been hacked, check out my top five most helpful sites below.

The first thing you want to do is check your .htaccess file, then go through each directory looking for files that don’t belong there. They can even be files that look like they do belong there, like common.php and the like, which usually contain some big source code. Run the site checker (link below), and change the passwords on your SQL database, ftp host/username, and your WordPress user login as well.

  1. FAQ My site was hacked
  2. Free website malware & blacklist scan
  3. Cleaning Your Site from Google Webmaster Tools
  4. How To Completely Clean Your Hacked WordPress Installation
  5. The best way to remove malware from a WordPress blog using GoDaddy

I think most people who have a self hosted site would probably just keep the self hosted site since there are several disadvantages to using wordpress.com, or blogger, etc., one being it will take Google forever to start indexing my site again, but in the long run this will ensure no malware ever gets back on this site again, ever.

Hope you like the new design too, I’m always on the look out for the design with the cleanest look, best typography, and easiest to view, to “chunk” is it for now. If you are looking for all my photography that currently isn’t showing up, I’m having to change the url’s so hopefully they will all be back up in the next few days.

Earth’s Year is 365.2422 Making Today Leap Year Day Since Creation

So today is Leap Year Day, caused by the fact that it takes the Earth 365.2422 days to rotate around the sun, not 365 days of the Gregorian Calendar we use today. There have been a bunch of different people and organizations all over the world that have attempted to created the perfect calendar (Changing Times, Is It Time to Overhaul the Calendar?), but for all of our earthly existence we as humans have never been able to create the “perfect” calendar. This sounds like such a simple thing, especially with all of our computer power and mathematical knowledge, how in the world can we not be able to figure out how to create the mathematically perfect calendar?

The reason why we can’t create the perfect calendar is much easier to answer. God’s creation is so complex, so complicated (to us), that God just didn’t make our solar system divisible evenly. Our calendar is so directly tied to creation that our calendar has actually always been in place since Genesis.

Genesis 1.14 :: 14 And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons,t and for days and years,15 and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. 16 And God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars. 17 And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth,18 to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.

This God did on the 4th day of the creation, yes this was just the 4th day. Man was not created till the 6th day. So we can safely say that the calendar, the mechanism for determining seasons, days, and years has ALWAYS existed, since it existed before man. It was a gift of God. A gift to the man he had not yet even created.

Now look at Genesis 3:17-19. 17 And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; 18 thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. 19 By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

Then, go to look at verse 24: “So he drove the man out….”, that is, out of the garden and into the unprepared fields. Then, we move over to chapter 5 verse 5: “In all, Adam lived 930 years, and then he died” (see also God’s Calendar and the Seven Day Week).

So that is how, one the Gregorian Calendar was wrong, but since creation’s foundation, we have always had the perfect calendar in place, God’s calendar, which takes 365.2422 days to rotate around the sun. Since this day only happens, approximately, once every four years I hope you enjoy it, though in reality it has always been in place, so we should enjoy every day God has made, and rejoice in in, right?

I love the photo above, it reminds me of God’s promise, and his creation, and I took it from my back porch. Happy February 29th everyone.

Reasons Why Google+ is Already Better than Facebook

So I almost felt obligated at this point to do a post about Google+ just because it really wasn’t what I was expecting from Google. What I was expecting from Google was another failed attempt at doing something social (they do have a good long history of trying social networking and missing big time), but this time I think they created something that just might work long term. Of course, it works, because basically they finally developed a format stream that is just like Facebook except without much of the garbage that is Facebook. When (not if) Google adds an iPhone AND an iPad app they will have surpassed Facebook, at least in functionality.

When Zuckerberg made the statement that the iPad was not a mobile device, and therefore Facebook would not be developing an app for the iPad, he pretty much told everyone using Facebook that Facebook is whatever Zuckerberg says it is. Google, even though they seem to have the biggest rival with Apple, can no doubt see beyond this and will very quickly release apps for the iPhone and iPad. Once Google+ hits the iPhone/iPad users they will grow at an alarming rate. It’s the “mobile” users that will feed Google+ and the easier Google makes it to use on ANY mobile device the faster they will grow Google+. The misses right now with Google+ remain the lack of an iPhone app and some other minor functionality issues like being able to hide comments in a stream, being able to view several circle streams at the same time, and at the moment people. The people thing is a plus and a minus at the same time. The millions and millions of masses on Facebook are what makes Facebook work. Google+ has a different genre of people right now and I don’t see that as a bad thing, but they do need more buy in.

Why is Google+ better than Facebook already?

  • No Ads
    so far (who knows how long this will last) there are no ads, anywhere. This is top on my list, and key. This is why I like twitter, this is why the experience on Google+ is better right from the start. All that junk on Facebook’s sidebars is the worst. You never know what’s going to come up but you know you don’t want to look at it.
  • No Spam
    Facebook and spam go together like spam in a can, or something like that. Spam is not the telemarketer calling you at dinner anymore. Spam is ANYTHING sent to you unsolicited. Facebook is full of this stuff from Mafia Wars to stupid games and poll questions, event invites, and all the other stuff that clutters up your feed stream with stuff you don’t want to look at. The stuff you do want to read is so buried in the mess of Facebook I often just give up trying to find actual real high quality content.
  • Design is Cleaner
    everything is cleaner, but making a cleaner design makes it easier to read, has less clutter, call it whatever you want but Google+ is just flat out easier on the eyes. Google has long since prided itself on simplicity of design, and in this case it works so much better than Facebook
  • Messaging System
    while Facebook has been vastly improving their messaging system, trying to overtake email, the message system on Facebook has always been one of their weakest points, and until recently, no one wanted to look at that inbox, it was just annoying. Google+ has made sending a message to a single person, or a select group, extremely easy. I would expect this since Google has built it’s non-search business around Gmail, but Google+ has the potential to be able to do away with email all together.
  • Integrates with Google Everything
    this is a no-brainer but it’s worth pointing out. There are some things I like better off Google, like their photo system Picasa (Flickr still has better functionality) but overall everything you do throughout the day is basically run on Google’s cloud anyway, you are already there, so adding Google+ isn’t too much of a burden.
  • People Who Don’t Like Social Networking Will Like Google+
    there are still some people that are not attached to a social network at all (really, I know this for a fact). For those people, Google+ is a way into that social networking circle without being in Facebook or Twitter. For many (or most) of these people they are already on Google. They use Google, they use Gmail, they are familiar with Google and in some ways have a trust built with them as a company. If you aren’t on Facebook or Twitter or anything else, you are probably already on Google, and Google will make trying Google+ a breeze for the non-adopters.
  • It isn’t Facebook
    there are many people who just hate Facebook, for them, this isn’t Facebook and that is good enough for them.
  • It is Google
    this is just like the Apple vs Android thing. Some people think Apple is straight from the devil himself and think Android is not. Facebook has a lot of “you are the devil” fans so being anything but Facebook is a plus.
  • It’s New and Has a Lot of Potential
    everyone doesn’t necessarily like change but new is always a big seller. Since every company puts out products or services today that are a work in progress (beta) and not a final completed entity, Google will continue to develop and improve Google+. Yes I know Facebook does this too, but they seem to take 2 steps forward and one step back and make everyone mad in the process.
  • Facebook still Doesn’t Give you Ownership of Your Data
    some will say Google doesn’t either, but they have made far more progress in this realm than Facebook has, and Facebook has no intention of ever letting go of your data. Every time you put content on Facebook instead of your own blog or somewhere that you have access to your own data you are building up the mother ship, not your own history. Google+ has a really cool download data set functionality that will probably improve over time. Facebook has nothing. Facebook owns everything you put on there and you own nothing.
So there you have it. I am sure there are plenty of other points I could make but those are my first and initial observations after using Google+ for about a week now. What has your Google+ experience been so far? If you need an invite just send me an email and I will send one over.

Our Life of Multitasking and Skimming in Search of Productivity

Maybe its photography over the past 20 years that has made me over sensitive to our cultural demands for productivity, which in turn has given way to our two worst developed habits in search of better productivity, multi-tasking and skimming text. I am probably the worst at putting aside distractions but photography is one of those art forms that takes time, sometimes, a lot of time, and has helped me immensely over the years. Photography takes time just sitting there doing nothing, waiting, waiting on the right moment (hunters will appreciate this too). This one shot of the bird above took me at least an hour to capture last night, and it wasn’t a multitasking hour, it was a setup and wait hour, something almost unheard of anymore outside of photography, hunting, and maybe a few other tasks like actual Christian meditation or prayer.

I am trying to walk (not run) my way through Tim Challies new book, “The Next Story: Life and Faith After the Digital Explosion” where he talks about these very issues. In one section on learning to live without distractions (because we live in a world of constant and continuous distractions) Challies points out that when we turn to the bible we see very little demand for constant productivity, especially in ways we measure today. What we do see is a constant effort by Jesus to slow the pace of life, making time for meditation, prayer, and communion with the Father and His friends. Challies puts it like this:

What is unique in our time is that skimming has now become the dominant form of reading… The danger for Christians is apparent. If we grow so accustomed to skimming words, to passing quickly over texts, we will eventually impose this practice on the words of God… The danger today, in an era of skimming and fragmentation, is that we will fragment the Bible into small bits and have no time or ability to craft unity from the parts.

Being Productive is Not Our Higher Calling in Life

Productivity is one of those things that came out of our big factories decades ago, something that has never diminished, and has only gotten more and more intense as the years go by. Brought on by an insatiable need for being productive (in anything) we multitask and skim. In fact, if you have actually read this far, you are a rare breed among readers today. Most of us just skim text, especially text on the Internet, in approximately 2-3 seconds, and then move on.

According to Challies research, when we “multitask” we really aren’t multitasking as much as we are just jumping from task to task, paying little attention to either. In fact his research showed that it takes us 50% longer to complete each task than if we had done the one task and then moved on, and when we have completed each task the overall quality was greatly reduced as well. It forces us to give partial attention to the task or person right in front of us.

We Can No Longer Give People Our Full Attention

One of the most annoying traits I run across today is that very few people are actually capable of giving me their full attention. I rarely have a conversation with someone without them constantly looking at their cell phone, checking their email, sending text messages, or whatever. Face to face may be more rare today, but even when we do give someone our time, we don’t get but a part of that person in return. I will often just stop talking and wait for them to finish what they are doing, but many times the person won’t notice at all (something Deborah has done to me for years as well).

The point to all this is that, at least in part, is that we as Christians are in a faith that requires us to learn. And one of God’s biggest chosen methods is text, completed paragraphs of thought, made into full letters and books. Thoughts that flow from one book to another and are all connected from Genesis to Revelation. The Bible isn’t full of bullet points, it’s full of completed thoughts. The more we multitask, the more we demand productivity, the less ability we have to sit and read full blocks of text.

It’s like a drug. The less we sit in one place working on one single task, whether that’s reading, photography, or work, without regards to productivity, the less we can. Over two years ago I wrote a blog post called The Internet is The Church’s New Drug of Choice and it’s quite fascinating to see how much father down the road of distraction, multitasking, and skimming text, we have come in only two years.

Thoughts About the Constant Search for Productivity

Because I know for a fact that almost no one is going to read the above 775 words, I give you the bulleted version. In case you didn’t guess by now, I am far less concerned with the productivity factor in life than I am in developing a history of quality. I personally want to be able to do a few things well, never a lot of things in a mediocre fashion.

Photography has been one of those grounding things for me, because it takes time to perfect. There are no shortcuts to learning how to be a good photographer, it takes time no matter what equipment you buy (even if it’s a cell phone). As the time I spent shooting went down in 2009 and 2010 I had forgotten the value of time spent doing just one task at a time, until I got to this point. Since then I have taken more shots (spent more time) in the first 4 months of 2011 than I did all last year, and it’s a good reminder that productivity isn’t the most important thing in life.

  • Productivity is not what we are called to achieve in life
  • Multitasking is just doing several things at once, poorly
  • Multitasking leads us to ignore people standing in front of us
  • Skimming leads us away from thinking and ultimately knowledge
  • Skimming text is detrimental to our ability to read completed thoughts
  • The bible rarely calls us to hurry up and be more productive
  • The bible is not a book we can skim, we have to actually read it
  • There is a difference between taking your time and being lazy
  • The more we live a distracted life the more we need it
  • Embrace tasks that can only be done by themselves

There you have it, my ten bullet point thoughts from this post. Better stop now, 1,138 words is certainly WAY longer than any successful blog post is supposed to be, next time I’ll try to shoot for the standard 250 words… but don’t count on it.

Best Cloud Apps to Keep Your Life Organized in a Digital World

Just like the screen shot above says, I just love this snapshot. I was looking for a good example of a cluttered and unorganized desktop but knowing who’s screenshot this is I actually know, unlike how it seems to the eye, this is a very organized desktop. This is usually not the case though, she is the exception to the rule. I have never quite understood why some of the most organized individuals in real life are the most digitally unorganized on the planet? There is obviously a digital gap or digital divide between the two, and actually having an organized life has no correlation what-so-ever with being organized in the digital world.

I know several people who would never even leave a single tiny scrap of paper on the floor or anything out of place in their house, yet their computer desktop is strewn with random files all over the place, and if you were to venture inside the main halls of the computer, you’ve got boxes thrown here and there, furniture in the wrong places, and pieces of data everywhere… and they never ever clean house. It just keeps piling up and piling up like digitized version of Hoarders on A&E TV. Being digitally organized really is a beautiful thing to a techie geek, but it actually does serve some function and purpose as well, just like keeping your house clean serves a purpose. I realize some people just don’t care and don’t have the time to mess with it, but just because you can close the lid to your laptop and not have to look at it like a bunch of papers on your living room floor doesn’t mean it’s beneficial?

When those two organizational sides of life come together it’s pretty cool to see, but for those of us who need a little help from the digital side of organization practices, here are two of the very best apps that might help keep both sides organized and looking nice. There are some alternatives to these below, like pen and paper or other digital note-taking apps, but in terms of keeping it simple and very organized, these two are the best.

The best part about both of these apps is they function in the cloud. Things that don’t function in the cloud today are more than just slightly annoying, they are becoming obsolete (great current example would be the difference between Apple’s iBooks and Amazon’s Kindle App), especially when you need to access the information somewhere other than a computer locked to an actual desk. I know for those techies that read my blog these two apps are old news but there are still some people I run into each day that don’t know the value of these two apps. There are many more, if you have a favorite just let us know in the comments.

Evernote :: Remember Everything

Evernote is the very best note-keeping, paper-storage, sticky note, program out there. I have tried to not like Evernote but it has almost no rival in functionality, price, and features. Evernote will allow you to capture just about anything on the Internet you want and store it away in a folder (or notebook) to be accessed late via website app, desktop app, iPhone, iPad, just about any mobile device, from just about anywhere. It’s main use for me has been for scanning papers into pdf then uploading them to a notebook called receipts or something of the sort. They have a great free desktop version, perfect for just drag and dropping files, and you can share notebooks with coworkers or friends. There is a paid version but it’s cheap and offers a higher sync volume per month. Well worth the money if you use Evernote a lot.

DropBox :: Simple Online Cloud File Management

For extremely simple file management away from your desktop Dropbox is the only cloud based file solution that works seamlessly with your existing file management system. They also have a free and paid version and the paid is also well worth the money if you use more than their allotted free 2GB of space. Dropbox works just like another file folder on your computer but resides in the cloud, allowing you to access the files from anywhere, anytime. The only drawback I have found to Dropbox is it’s limited storage (2GB use to be a lot of data storage but today is almost nothing). Because they allow you to share folders with other people this 2GB’s of space can be used up almost immediately unless your shared folder peeps police their files well. Dropbox is the perfect solution for moving large files to other people without really getting into the world of Bit Torrents.

What’s your favorite organization app?

5 Reasons Why You Can't Ignore Facebook Anymore

I have always loved this clip from Friends where Chandler goes in and tries to “quit the gym” Everyone who has ever joined a gym like Gold’s Gym or President’s knows… it’s impossible to quit the gym, but today, it’s even harder to ignore Facebook than it is to quit the gym.

This week I started reading Tim Challies new book called The Next Story: Life and Faith after the Digital Explosion, which talks about how to balance our faith with the explosion of technology. Challies makes a great point to say right off, completely removing ourselves from all forms of technology is not what we are called to do, or as Challies puts it “there is no biblical reason to utterly separate ourselves from them“, but we must be disciplined and discerning.

We cannot run away from digital technology—mobile phones and computers and the Internet and television are likely to be with us in one form or another for some time. Nor would we necessarily want to run away from them. Certainly, not all technology is harmful or dangerous. Is there a way, then, to live virtuously, immersed in this strange new digital reality?

Today, Facebook has made it far more difficult to get away from than it ever was years ago, and I have tried for years to stay far far away from Facebook. The short of it is, if you are in business, work for a non-profit organization, or are part of any organized group at all, it’s almost impossible for you not to have a presence on Facebook. And if you don’t, your organization, peers, co-workers, and friends, do, and they will be exchanging ideas, planing meetings, and discussing the overall day to day business of the “group” whether you are there or not.

It’s not that you personally have to be in the know on every single piece of information that goes on in your organization, but where meetings and information use to be exchanged face to face, they now can (and are) easily take place between private Facebook groups and even the new Facebook messaging system. If you are not on Facebook, you are out of the loop at this point. They may not be a big deal to you at all, but it’s more than finding out who went where on vacation, it’s impacting the world within your sphere of influence.

Reasons You Can’t Ignore Facebook Anymore

  1. Facebook is Where EVERYONE Connects Now
  2. This is basically everything Facebook has going for them in a nut shell, with 600 million people on Facebook, there is no other single organization that has more people connected and has a bigger area of influence. Yes there are far more than 600 million people in the world, but that is the single largest collection of people in one single organized area, and Facebook really hasn’t scratched the surface yet of what they can do, especially in China.

    Facebook has been embraced collectively by people and groups all across the world that never agree about anything, everyone from churches to commercial organizations, to government entities, to even the Vatican.

  3. You’re Kids Are or Will Be on Facebook
  4. Even if you don’t let your kids on Facebook yet, eventually they are going to go to college or get a job, and chances are they will end on Facebook, mainly because that’s where all their friends are. You don’t have to use Facebook to spy on your children but not knowing how it works or what Facebook is all about leaves you on the outside looking in. There are a thousand other things that go along with this but I’ll leave those points to someone who knows more about the subject at hand.

  5. It’s a Buy-in Method for Group Communications
  6. Your church, non-profit, charity, company, softball team, any group of like minded people can and will meet on Facebook. I have spent several years trying to find a better communications method that didn’t include Facebook and, while there were many great options, buy in was difficult outside of Facebook. No one wants to learn a new system and keep up with something new when they are already on Facebook.

  7. Someone Else Will Speak For Your Organization
  8. This is one of the biggest reasons to me. If you are not on Facebook as a company or organization, you are leaving a huge void that is going to be filled by someone, and probably not someone your organization has invested hours and hours in, like yourself, developing that organizational DNA. Eventually someone will make the “abc group” that represents your organization, and everyone on Facebook will join in and develop your presence for you. This is never a good idea. Your organizations has probably spent an enormous amount of time and energy into developing a specific marketing and organizational plan, why leave your business to the untrained masses where they can run wild with your image or passions, especially when it’s free?

  9. There Will Never Again Be a World Without Facebook
  10. We are not going to wake up one day in a world before Facebook. It is best to learn and understand how Facebook functions and use it to our advantage than to ignore the single largest organization of people on the planet. This is an organization that started in February of 2004. It isn’t even 10 years old yet and it has 600 million users! It’s not a fad, it’s not a passing gimmick, it’s a privately held company, estimated to be worth over $50 billion.

    I spent years trying to just ignore the Facebook monster, but in the end, it goes back to my first point, it’s where everyone is. I have thought about pulling the Facebook plug and deleting my account many times but there are many people I communicate with on a weekly basis that only communicate through Facebook. Some people are ok with just not communicating, but if part of your job includes “communication” of any kind, I don’t see how you operate without Facebook, even if it’s just a user ID.

So there it is, my Facebook rundown. This really only scratches the surface of what is Facebook. I can’t imagine the influence Facebook with have in another 5 years when they have 2-3 billion users. As with all technology, there are things about Facebook that aren’t cool, and aspects that enable great connectivity with other people. Learn how to use Facebook, understand the privacy issues that go along with being on Facebook, but don’t ignore Facebook because you don’t understand it.

Top iPhone Camera Apps for Mobile Photography

Every since the very first iPhone came out I have been trying to find ways to make the camera on the iPhone a viable photography choice when a DSLR was just too big, bulky, and basically unavailable. Most photographers would have scoffed at the thought of using a cell phone for any kind of serious photography, but as has happened with the field of photography over the years, things change.

I took my first photo with an iPhone on December 15th, 2008 at 9:23am, and from that point I have since taken a little more than 7,000 images with an iPhone in one version or another. With the release of the iPhone 4 Apple made realistic photography an option. The screen resolution and the over abundance of really cool camera and photography apps has made mobile photography legit (most posts on this blog that have iPhone photos are tagged iPhone).

Being a photographer that actually was around when we were shooting 35mm and transparency film, I have been a little slow to jump totally on the mobile photography platform, but with so many great apps out now it’s made iPhone photography fun. My top three of all those apps on the app store are listed below. You can click the image just below to see a full size screen shot of all three apps in an example progression.

With all these apps I would highly recommend shooting an original and working with a copy to preserve the original image. Many if not most of these apps will completely alter the image forever and you can’t go back, so be sure to have that original image saved.

Best iPhone Camera Apps

  1. Camera+ – Great all around photography editing app
  2. Camera+ is probably the most versatile app available. It has been around quite a while and has a very large number of adjustment-post editing possibilities. It has several shooting options for focus, a grid (standard on DSLR’s), a better zoom than the basic iPhone app has, and several ways to adjust the image before you shoot. The image editing features are more flexible than any app I have tried. It allows for the most filters, and gives you a large number of “effects” which are basically overlays on the image.

    One of the best features of this app has nothing to do with the way it edits photos but with the fact that it doesn’t “require” a square crop to be taken. That allows the full 5mp camera depth to be used. It allows for sharing on Twitter, Facebook, and Flickr. Cost $.99 (at this posting it’s on sale). Download Camera+ on iTunes

  3. PicFx – Best app for filters, and textures
  4. The PicFx app is basically an app you can apply cool filters and textures to your images. The biggest drawback to this app is the fact that you must use a square crop on the image which reduces the image size significantly. The best part about this app is the textures. It has a large number of choices and it gives you an easy to use opacity meter allowing for even more unique looks. Will allow you to share on Twitter and Facebook. Cost $.99. Download PicFx on iTunes

  5. Instagram – Best social networking photo sharing app
  6. This app has exploded in popularity like many things that have an element of social networking attached to it. The cool thing about Instagram is it’s quick and easy ability to share quick and quirky edits with friends. The negative aspects of this app is that it’s limited to basically people with an iPhone.

    It has no web application, which means it has no way to see a full stream of photos, no url to give to someone, no profile, no rss feed, or any of the things we take for granted with most other applications (like Flickr). It is also quirky to add new friends, but all info and sharing take place within the app. You can share to Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Foursquare, or email.

    This app would be fantastic if it had an app available for Android and a web presence. I have read that both are on the way but with the main focus of this app being a social networking app it needs to be available outside the iPhone. Cost: Free. Download Instagram on iTunes

Printed Books vs iPad or Kindle eBooks and the Future of Books

I love having this conversation with my paper book loving friends, maybe because I am always in the minority when it comes to eBooks over paper books with the IRL friends. Even if you don’t read my post below, go read this comical view of the debate from TheNextWeb called Product Review: Will ‘Paper’ Replace E-Readers?. This is a great look at the debate, which is sure to rage on for years, but digital is gaining ground every day. Amazon even announced last year that Kindle eBooks started outselling paper books, but that’s old news now (see also What Amazon Didn’t Say About eBooks by CNET). I even wrote this: Amazon Kindle 2 iPhone App and the Future of Books? almost two years ago now when the Kindle 2 came out, it’s interesting to see how eBooks have changed since that post.

I do think that the physical paper printing of books will always be with us as long as we have trees left to use. There is value in each platform, but it is hard to deny the future of books is in a digital form, just like analog LP’s made way for MP3’s. There are many today who still swear by vinyl records, saying the sound quality surpasses a Compact Disc (which from what I understand, it does), but LP’s are now a niche in the digital world of music.

The history of an LP is far far less in time than the historical life span of the printed book by some two thousand years or so, so it may take a long long time before we see paper books reduced to the level of vinyl records. Good or bad though, it seems inevitable at some future date that eBooks will far outsell and be the preferred platform to read a book. This two lists below is an extremely small snapshot, it could easily have been a list of 20 plus, but for sake of being long-winded, here are a few.

The Pros About eBook and eReaders

  1. Price :: It’s almost always cheaper
  2. It is almost always the case that eBooks are cheaper than paper copies, sometimes drastically cheaper. This is just the realities of the manufacturing process. Paper is expensive, uses natural resources, and you are taking a digital original (I am guessing no author writes by hand, but all use a computer to write) making it into paper. An eBook you don’t have that conversion.

    There are still publishers that just don’t get it, or are overly greedy. I would love to see one give a side by side comparison of profit margins for an eBook over a paper copy that has to make its way into the distribution network. An eBook is overwhelmingly cheaper to produce and distribute than a paper copy, so “most” publishers pass that savings along to their customers. If the eBook is close to the same price, it shouldn’t be. DRM is always trying to rear its ugly head as well.

  3. Weight :: No matter how many books, they all weigh the same
  4. I can carry 10 books, or 100 books on my iPad 2 and their combined weight is still going to be 1.33 pounds (601 g). This is a bigger deal, at least to me, than it sounds. If I am going on a trip, especially on a plane, I can literally take as many books as I can possibly read, that just isn’t physically possible with paper.

  5. Features :: instant searching, highlights, bookmarks, notes, and more
  6. This in an incredible feature of owning an eBook. You have instant access to search all aspects of the book, your notes, highlights, and you even have instant access to a dictionary, Wikipedia search, or even a google search on a selected area (try searching the bible for one single word or phrase by paper). Amazon takes this one step farther and offers all highlights, notes, and bookmarks for each book on your Amazon account at http://kindle.amazon.com/. From there you can access everything associated with each kindle book.

The Pros About Paper Books

  1. The Physical Smell and Feel of Paper?
  2. This seems to be the biggest hang up with those who love paper books, you can’t get that musty smell of the paper and ink with an iPad. I know this smell well. Deb and I owned our own book business for several years (see We are No Longer Selling Books as Amazon Marketplace Sellers) and we had a house filled to the brim with tens of thousands of books. It is a smell that lingers with you for a long time. Personally, I love the smell of solder and computer boards in the morning, but it’s true, you don’t get that connection with nature without the paper.

  3. Paper is Art :: it is created only when reading is complete
  4. I understand this one too, but I would think a hand written copy by a scribe would be more art than a bulk made printing press, but yes, you the reader make the book into art as you read the book. If you highlight, underline, scribble, you are free range on the book and when the book is finished, you have a new “work of art” unlike anyone else. Of course if you are one who never highlights or makes notes (and if you are, I don’t get that either), then the book is not art, but just the same book that still sits on a Barnes & Noble shelf.

  5. Comfort Factor
  6. For some it’s just the comfort, like that of an old slipper. A book, by definition, is paper. If it’s digital, call it an eBook, not a book. Some say it just isn’t the same to curl up with your iPad eBook in front of a warm fire and drift off into the greater beyond of reading. I will say on this point that there is a distraction factor with a digital device that is totally removed by a paper book. Your paper book won’t pop up with a Tweet  or news alert while you are in the middle of a deep chapter, and this adds to the comfort level.

Processing Life in a Digital Age of iPads and Tablets :: Friday Feet

I remember when we use to marvel at the power we had at the tip of our fingers on those big clunky desktop computers. You always use to hear things like this computer is more powerful than the one that was used to launch the Apollo rockets, and it was, but today, in the world of tablets (Android or iPad), it truly is amazing how much power we have at our fingertips. Combine an iPad with a wireless bluetooth keyboard and you have something that is mightier than both the sword and the pen.

I understand, realize, and recognize, this isn’t for everyone. I know some don’t even have Internet access and don’t miss it, which is perfectly fine. Those who have chosen to use the technology that comes with being alive in 2011 know that what you are starting to be able to do with tablets is amazing. The lines between being tied to even a laptop have diminished with every passing month, and I equate it to what it must have been like when the car was invented and suddenly people could travel far greater distances than they ever could before.

This is not an Apple thing or an Android thing, this is a means to communicate, to reach and connect with other people, and in many cases a means to change the world. Some may think that is a stretch, so, ok, today, it is a means to read Paul’s words in the book of Acts, and my Friday Feet.