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June 2015 Archives

June 20, 2015

Ballistic Explorer Protective Cases

Do you use a case for your smartphone? There are lots of options to personalize your device with fun designs, colors, styles, and materials. Or maybe you want a seriously protective case like the LifeProof line, to fully encase your device for rough use like climbing up mountains or canoeing down rapids (see earlier post).

But for normal life, I've been using the Ballistic line of protective cases. These offer a range of wrap-around protection with options for screen protection, and drop test certification to 6 feet or more, with models ranging from slim pocketable colors to the fully sealed Hard Core design.

The sweet spot for me, however, is designs like the older Every1 case for iPhone 5 and the Explorer case for iPhone 6 and Samsung Galaxy S 6, which offer reinforced ballistic corners for drops, raised lips and corners to offset the screen, and a built-in screen protector.

The result is protection from everyday issues -- from keys in the pocket scratching the screen to exposure to sand and salt at the beach -- but in a design that still feels thin in the hand and fits easily in the pocket.

Unlike fully sealed models, these cases are still fully accessible -- You can open the rubber flaps to quickly plug in the power cable and/or a headset jack, and the sound and mic are open and clear.

The trade-off for the openings, of course, is that small particles of dust and dirt and even hairs can find their way into the case, so you'll need to open it up every month or so to wipe off the screen cover. Conveniently, the edge latches are easy to pop open and snap back closed.

The Ballistic line of protective cases includes models for Apple, Samsung, LG, Motorola, Sony, and HTC devices, including phones and tablets. The Explorer case for iPhone 6 and Samsung Galaxy S 6 is priced around $25 to $30, respectively.

These provide the right amount of protection for the knocks of everyday life.

Find the Ballistic Explorer case on Amazon.com

June 28, 2015

Be a Webcam Pro -- Jan Ozer's Mastering Webcam and Smartphone Video

We're definitely in the age of video, where you can set up a smartphone and start communicating across the globe -- participating in web conferences and producing your own webinars. But these are not amateur activities, not just point and shoot in the kitchen -- you need to look and sound professional to better represent yourself and your company.

Luckily, it's not that hard to look good in videoconferences and webinars -- just follow the guidance in Jan Ozer's great new book, Mastering Webcam and Smartphone Video, which offers practical advice and explanations for setting up for the shoot, optimizing the video and audio, and using various web video applications.

You may know Ozer as the go-to authority for understanding the gory details of video compression and formats, especially for producing streaming video.

He also kindly shares his knowledge and real-world experience through articles, conference presentations (see earlier post), and in his over 25 books (see earlier post) -- See his Streaming Learning Center site for (much!) more information.

Ozer's new Webcam book is focused on practical experience. The first Quick Start chapter is a wonderful summary of the advice throughout the book, with a series of photos clearly showing the differences between good and bad setups ("Do This, Don't Do That"), including positioning, lighting, background, clothing, and webcam settings. The next chapters then elaborate on each of these issues, with more examples, some technical details in sidebars, and each chapter summarized in Key Takeaways.

The middle of the book then focuses on setting up your webcam and microphone, positioning the mic and adjusting the audio, and then has individual chapters on working with desktop Windows and Mac systems as well as iOS and Android devices.

This Webinar Edition of the Webcam book also includes chapters with application-specific information on optimizing audio and video in conferencing applications (FaceTime, Google Hangouts, and Skype), plus mainstream webinar programs (WebEx, GoToWebinar, On24 Webcast Elite, Onstream Webinars, and Talkpoint Convey).

The final chapter, "Getting it Right on Game Day," wraps up by providing helpful checklists as a sanity check to avoid errors for a video conference -- a week before, day before, one hour, and 15 minutes before the event.

The result is a book that takes advantage of Ozer's deep experience to help you understand the best ways to set up and execute a video shoot, like avoiding distracting backgrounds and shadows and tweaking the video and audio to look and sound their best. Take advantage of this practical advice -- "Do This, Don't Do That" -- and you can be a webcam pro too.

Mastering Webcam and Smartphone Video, the Webinar edition, is available as a Kindle e-book for $9.99, or in paperback for $24.95.

[Review of prerelease edition before final editing.]

Mastering Webcam and Smartphone Video:
How to Look and Sound Great in Webinars and Videoconferences: Webinar Edition
Doceo Publishing (May 15, 2015), 302 pages
ISBN-10: 0976259567

Find Mastering Webcam and Smartphone Video
on Amazon.com

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