Time Lapse Journey Through Japan

Brad Kremer is known as one of the most highly regarded and influential snowboard movie filmers/directors in the industry. In fact, he heads the cinematography division at Burton Snowboards, where he directs and produces Burton’s films and commercials, and directs film crews worldwide.

Kremer’s considered a pioneer and innovator in the industry, and has recently branched out into the world of time-lapse photography, with typically stunning results.  It seems his favorite subject at the moment is the country of Japan.  See more of Brad’s work here.

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What Motivates Top Performance?

We’re not as predictable as you might think.

The RSA has put together a great animation explaining motivation, incentives, and top performance.

Daniel Pink, author of Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, shows that many traditional motivational schemes, especially bonuses and financial incentive, don’t really work.  In fact, study after study shows that pay-for-performance often does more harm than good.

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Simple Websites = Best for Small Business

When we’re talking about small business websites, it’s useful to remember that usually, less is more.

Customers aren’t coming to your website for any other reason than to find the things that they want.  It’s really that simple.

Whether they want directions to your shop, a printable lunch menu, or the monthly calendar of company events, it’s important that they can find it without hassle or confusion.  Customers will look elsewhere if they can’t find what they are looking for, and they will also remember that it took 15 clicks to find the lunch menu and 3 more clicks to download the pdf file.

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Science & Symphony

José Francisco Salgado is an astronomer, experimental photographer, and visual artist who uses art as a vehicle to communicate science.  He is also an award-winning director and producer, an astronomy professor, and executive director of KV 265, a non-profit organization with the mission of communicating science.

He’s also one of the few astronomers that’s been nominated for an Emmy Award.

Now Salgado is teaming up with Tom Bailey (of the Thompson Twins) to form the Bailey-Salgado Project, an audiovisual ensemble started in 2010 with the goal of communicating science through art and inspiring audiences to learn more about Earth and the Universe.

The duo seeks to combine Bailey’s music with Salgado’s high dynamic range (HDR) imaging, time-lapse, infrared, fisheye, and stereoscopic photography.

Their first project,  Sidereal Motion, a film about the night sky as seen from five observatories around the world, is scheduled to open at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago on May 19.   The film was shot over 15 nights and boasts a cast of billions of stars.

Salgado, who is well-known for his photography and for setting his works to music, is the director and producer of several award-winning films that are unique in their breath-taking imagery and inspirational orchestral suites.

His works are often accompanied by world-renowned orchestras, including the Boston Pops, the National Symphony Orchestra, and the Czech National Symphony Orchestra.  Perhaps best known are two of  Salgado’s award-winning astronomy films, Gustav Holst’s The Planets, and Astronomical Pictures at an Exhibition.

Sidereal Motion opens May 19th at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago.

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BREAKING NEWS: The Internet Isn’t A Fad

Business websites, small business blogs, web hosting, domain name registration and social media all see big gains in 2010.

According to the numbers reported by Pingdom, the Internet isn’t a fad.  In fact, it’s becoming ubiquitous.

The number of people using the Internet increased 14% in 2010, to 1.97 billion.  The vast majority of users are in Asia, with 825.1 million, followed by Europe, with 475.1 million, and North America with 266.2 million users.

Those Internet users have been busy, too.  According to Pingdom’s numbers, 107 trillion emails were sent in 2010.  That’s an average of 294 billion emails per day.  Of course, 89.1% of those were spam.

The photo-sharing site Flickr now hosts over 5 billion images, with 3,000 photos uploaded every minute.  In that same 60 seconds, there are over 35 hours of video uploaded to youtube.  The average Internet user in America watches 186 youtube videos each month.

Twitter has over 175 million users (as of Sept 2010,) and Lady Gaga has 7.7 million Twitter followers.  @ten60six doesn’t have quite that many.  The social networking site Facebook now has over 600 million users, according to their own report.

And it isn’t just social media and photo sites that are seeing the growth.  Small businesses are leveling the playing field with their new forays into the web:

These numbers and statistics show that the Internet isn’t a fad, its a fundamental shift in how we communicate.

The question now isn’t whether we bring our small business online with a professional website or whether we augment our web presence with social media and search optimization.  The question now is how well we do it.

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JC Penney’s Busted for “Black Hat” SEO

Today’s New York Times has a fantastic piece about search engine optimization, especially “black hat” SEO and an excellent explaination of JC Penney’s alleged attempts at manipulating search engine rankings.

JC Penney’s was, until last week, consistently ranked #1 in Google’s search results for highly lucrative and competitive terms like “dresses,” “bedding,” and “area rugs,” and ranked consistently at or near the top for terms like “skinny jeans,” “home decor,” “comforter sets,” “furniture” and dozens of other search terms.

According to Google, which has strict guidelines about search optimization, JC Penney’s has been using a shady practice, known in SEO circles as black hat seo.

Google’s guidelines are quite clear when it comes to cheaters, spammers, and disreputable outfits that try to manipulate search engine rankings in deceptive or “non-organic” ways.

Google has pulled the plug and “removed” JC Penney’s listings from the front page of listings and is looking into the matter further. JC Penney’s has fired back, and claims that they had no idea of the practice.

Our advice to JC Penney’s?  Use proven, reputable methods to achieve search engine ranking success. Don’t use spammers or scammers to manipulate search engine results.  Google is very attached to it’s business model and will go to great lengths to keep its search engine listings as pure and organic as possible.

Posted in SEO, Tips & Advice | 6 Comments

Discovery Prepares for Final Flight

The space shuttle Discovery has orbited the earth more than 5000 times.  It has spent over a year in space, and has been launched and returned to earth 38 times.  It carried the Hubble Space Telescope into orbit and was the first space vehicle piloted by a woman, Colonel Eileen Collins.  It’s illustrious history in space travel is now coming to an end.

On Thursday, February 24, Discovery is scheduled to launch for the last time and the “mother of the fleet” will be retired and begin her new career as a very well-traveled museum piece.

You can watch Discovery’s final launch live on February 24.  The remaining space shuttles, Endeavour and Atlantis, are scheduled for their final launches April 19th and June 28th, respectively.

Below is a video from inside the space shuttle orbiter during launch and during the first few minutes of weightlessness.

Wow.

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Happy Belated Birthday, Thomas Edison

Yesterday, February 11th, Google’s homepage featured a Google Doodle commemorating the birth of one of America’s greatest inventors, Thomas Alva Edison. It got us thinking about his legacy, and about many of the things we use today (and take for granted) that are thanks to his curiosity and inventive spirit.

Besides holding 1,093 patents, The Wizard of Menlo Park is also known as a scientist and  businessman.  Edison’s works, including the first phonograph, the first practical electric light, and the first motion picture  camera, are inventions that many of us couldn’t imagine life without.

Born in 1847, Edison is today commemorated throughout the world on stamps and school buildings, and has many towns, cities and businesses named for him, including Edison, New Jersey, home of the Thomas Edison Center at Menlo Park.

To commemorate his birth, we present one of the earliest motion pictures ever made, “Brooklyn to New York via the Brooklyn Bridge” which was made by the Edison Manufacturing Company in 1899.

“Showing the entire trip from Brooklyn to New York. The immense towers stand out clear and distinct against the sky. The best picture of the Brooklyn Bridge yet secured.”

Enjoy.

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I’ll Take “Ratings Bonanza” for $1000, Alex

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Does Brad look nervous?

On Monday, February 14, IBM’s newest supercomputer, Watson, will challenge (and undoubtedly destroy) Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter, Jeopardy’s biggest money winners and power players in the world of general knowledge trivia.

Ken and Brad definitely know their stuff, but Watson, with it’s (his?) 15 terabytes of RAM (that’s 15,728,640 MB of RAM), is about to prove once and for all that humans will soon kneel and cower before their awesome metal overlords.

This battle for global trivia supremacy will answer some important questions about computers. Can they understand the complexities and subtleties of human language?  Can they decipher nuance and answer questions that are asked in less-than-straightforward ways?  Can they understand wordplay?  Puns?  Can they remember to answer in the form of a question?

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AgileZen for Productivity Bliss


Right this instant, my personal kanboard board’s “Now” column says I need to write a blog post about AgileZen.

Since I’ve begun mind mapping my personal and professional goals, I’ve started adding them to my backlog of tasks and visually prioritizing them using AgileZen.  It has transformed my productivity.

I’ve used personal kanban for the past year or so to prioritize projects that I’m working on, especially ones that involve my small business web design company.  I’ve also begun using it to prioritize my daily tasks.

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