A Free Year of CrashPlan – We Have a WINNER!

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Last week I started a contest to give away a FREE Year of CrashPlan.com Family Plan for offsite cloud backups. Last night I picked a winner at random from the comments left on the original post.

That winner is:

Cynthia Blanton

Congratulations to Cynthia!

 

Get the iPhone/iPad app that I used to pick the random number here:

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3 Connected Devices That Monitor My Health

The older I get the more reminded I am about the importance of taking better care of myself. As with most things, the easier the task the more likely you are to do it. That’s why I use these three devices on a very regular basis to keep me in check. The first one is the Nike+ Fuelband. I originally got one as a gift, but have since upgraded to the current model

 

The Nike+ Fuelband SE Rose Gold Edition

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I can not only see the time at a glance, but also the dots going across the top show me where I stand towards my daily goal

The Fuelband is my choice for wearable “motivator”. The idea behind the Fuelband is that you wear it throughout the day or 24/7 and it monitors your “activity” such as walking, running, and sleeping. It can track the number of steps you take and convert them into Nike Fuel Points. It will also show you calories burned. Not to mention that the built-in display can also show you the time, making it a watch as well. The reason I like the Fuelband over other such gadgets like the Jawbone UP and Fitbit is that besides having a better display to show you information even if you don’t sync with your smartphone, it simply has a more stylish, less cheap look to it. If the idea is to wear it all day everyday, then I want something that looks as good as it functions. When Nike introduced the SE versions and added a “Silver” and “Rose Gold” model I was sold! Although the Rose Gold version was $20 more than the standard Fuelband SE colors, I wanted it because it matched my other gold accessories. The SE is also a huge improvement over the original model when it comes to battery life. With the old one I used to get about 2-3 days of battery life before needing to charge it. Now I easily go a week without thinking about it. It also incorporates Bluetooth 4.0 which means that it can stay connected continuously to your smartphone while using less juice. The iPhone App is also updated on a regular basis with new features and now you can even track your sleep.

You can get the Nike+ Fuelband SE here

You can get the Nike+ Fuelband SE Silver or Rose Gold here.

 

Next up is my Withings Smart Body Analyzer Scale

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This is the device that I love some mornings and hate on other  mornings. In any case it gives me a weight measurement that is automatically and wirelessly sync’d to my Withings.com account. I can either track my progress from their website or easily from their free iPhone/Android App. I also love this device because it’s supported by my favorite health app, “LoseIt”. The scale monitors your weight, fat mass, and BMI.

You can get the Withings WS-50 Smart Body Analyzer here

They also sell a less expensive model that only tracks Weight and BMI here.

 

Lastly I use the Withings Blood Pressure Monitor

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This one is cool because the device is completely controlled by the Withings App running on your smartphone. Wrap the cuff around your arm, fire up the app and tap the start button. Once you get your reading you can even email it to your doctor right from within the app. I have the older model pictured above and it works fine with the Apple Lightning Adapter. However, if you get the current model you don’t have to worry about the cable because the new model uses Bluetooth and is therefore wireless.

You can get the Withings Wireless Blood Pressure Monitor here.

 

The Bottom Line

I can certainly use non-connected devices and enter everything into my apps manually and still keep track of my progress. However, because these devices are connected and wireless it’s a no-brainer. I step on the scale in the morning, step off and go on about my day and getting ready. I fire up the the Lose It app over breakfast and see how I’m doing. My Fuelband alerts me when I need to MOVE MORE because I’ve been sitting too long and lets me chart my progress as well as see how I’m doing compared to my other Nike+ friends. I’ve lost 35lbs since January 6, 2014. So something is working! More to lose and these devices will help me with my goals. Also see the “3 Apps That Monitor My Health



How To Get Started With Adobe Premiere Pro CC – 10 Things Beginners Want To Know How To Do

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In this episode of Adobe Creative Cloud TV, I’ll show you How to Get Started With Adobe Premiere Pro CC – 10 Things Beginners Want To Know How To Do. Video editing is actually fun and with Premiere Pro CC it’s not as hard as it may look. Almost every new camera and mobile device can shoot video today. You might as well put that video to good use and edit it to be more compelling!

Are you missing out on my Bonus Content?

See more of my Adobe Creative Cloud Videos on my Adobe Creative Cloud TV and get the App below. It features EXCLUSIVE CONTENT that no one else gets to see. This episode has a BONUS CLIP that is available only in the App! My iOS App is a Universal App for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. I also have an Android version on the Amazon App Store:

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My First Session at HOW Design Live Rocked!

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There’s nothing like showing up to do a session at a conference and seeing 400+ empty chairs. Your first thought is “Oh my God, I hope people attend this thing!” Well I must say that not only did have close to 400 people in my session yesterday at HOW Design Live, but it was the right 400 people. Like most presenters I draw my energy from the crowd. The better the crowd responds the more it will help me to do a better presentation. I had an hour to show: “Create Cutting Edge Websites. No Code. No Kidding”. Of course this session was all about Adobe Muse CC.

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Judging by the number of mentions on Twitter, the crowd LOVED IT!

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Thanks again to all who attended and I’ll see you again today same time for “Adobe Creative Cloud Time Saving Tips and Tricks.” If you didn’t get a chance to attend my session here at HOW Design Live 2014 in Boston, you can check out my getting started video on Adobe Muse CC here:





The Westcott Illuminator Reflector 6-in-1 Kit

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Photographers use reflectors to add light and defusers to soften light all the time. I was in need of a new reflector kit that I could take on the road. There are lots of reflector kits out there that come with reversible covers. Usually you’ll get white, silver, gold and perhaps black. The one thing that intrigued me the most about the Westcott Illuminator Reflector 6-in-1 Kit is that unlike most kits, they actually include TWO collapsible diffusers. One is a full-stop of diffusion and the other one is a two-stop diffuser. They include a reversible cover that has silver, gold, sunlight and black.

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With this one kit you can either have two separate diffusers or one diffuser and one reflector or one diffuser and one black/flag. That pretty much gives you everything you could want in the field.

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The nice big 42″ size is also a bonus because it can either diffuse a large area or bounce a larger amount of light therefore make it softer.

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You can get the Westcott Illuminator Reflector 6-in-1 Kit 42″ size here.

If you want one with an arm and stand, check out this kit.

 



I’m Giving Away A Year of CrashPlan

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As many of you know I’ve been a fan of CrashPlan.com for a few years now. It’s a major part of my backup strategy and gives me an offsite backup in addition to my onsite Time Machine backups. Recently I had Code 42 (the company behind CrashPlan) speak at my local user’s group and I learned even more about how cool their services are. Thanks to the good folks at Code 42 I’m able to give away a full year of the CrashPlan Family Plan (up to 10 computers) to one of my lucky readers.

It’s easy to enter this contest. All you have to do is write a comment below about why you think backups and offsite backups are important to you. The deadline for comments is Sunday, May 18, 2014 at 9PM ET.

I’ll select a winner from the comments below at random and announce the winner one week from today (Monday, May 19th, 2014).



Yes, you can buy prints of my work

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I’ve been shooting seriously/professionally since late 2006. Throughout the years people have occasionally asked me if they could buy particular images that I have captured. I never really had an answer to that question because I was never really set up to make it happen. Although I’ve owned Epson photo printers in the past, I’ve always found that the maintenance and upkeep of the printer was not worth it. It seemed that every time I wanted to make a print it would take more time than it was worth to get the printer “going again”. This meant unclogging the heads or discovering that I had run out of a particular color right at that crucial moment. Because of this and simply not having the time to deal with it, I have avoided making my work available for sale. Well, that was until recently. The question came up again and during Photoshop World, I was inspired by the various works being displayed by many of my fellow instructors. That fueled my passion once again and I decided that it was time to figure out a way to do this. I settled on smugmug.com for now to be the back end for my print sales. As a pro member they allowed me to easily set up a gallery and make my prints available in the sizes that I wanted to sell them at as well as the prices I wanted to sell them for. The beauty of it is that they do the printing and shipping.

You can check out the gallery here.

See more of my photography here.



5 Hidden Gems in Adobe Illustrator CC

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In this episode of Adobe Creative Cloud TV, I’ll show you 5 or more hidden gems in Adobe Illustrator CC. See these little known features and tips and tricks that will speed up your Illustrator workflow.

Are you missing out on my Bonus Content?

See more of my Adobe Creative Cloud Videos on my Adobe Creative Cloud TV and get the App below. It features EXCLUSIVE CONTENT that no one else gets to see. This episode has a BONUS CLIP that is available only in the App! My iOS App is a Universal App for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. I also have an Android version on the Amazon App Store:

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The 3rd Generation Drobo is Here

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Drobo recently introduced their third generation 4-bay enclosure and I thought I’d take a look. I’ve been using Drobo storage units since 2008 (see my first review here). As a matter of fact that first unit is still in use today. Now I have five of them in total between home and my studio. So far to date I haven’t had any hardware issues with my Drobo units. They have actually performed quite well. I did have a directory corruption problem early on that required me to reformat and restore from a backup, but that could have happened on any drive. Other than that one incident my five Drobo enclosures have worked just fine. I know that some, including my buddy Scott Kelby have not been so lucky. As a matter of fact Drobo has gone through some major changes (for the better) as a company as a result. With that said and since I’ve not had any real issues I continue to use their products.

What’s New?

The new third generation 4-bay enclosure gets back to the basics. It reminds me of my first Drobo, only it’s cheaper and faster with a more solid design. With this new model you can put anywhere from 1 to 4 drives in it of any capacity. Of course you’re going to want to put at least two drives in it to get the data protection features. It has one interface on the back: USB 3. Aside from the USB 3 connection it looks and feels just like any other Drobo, but there are a couple of other things under the hood. It has a Power Fail Protection feature that protects the data you were transferring in the middle of a power outage. It also now sports a new Time Machine feature that lets you create a backup-specific volume. This is handy when you don’t want Time Machine to eat up all the available space.

You can configure it up to 24 TB

 

Why Drobo?

I get this question all the time. Certainly there are less expensive RAID systems out there that are not proprietary. I went with Drobo for the following reasons:

Beyond RAID (their technology) means that I can mix the drive capacities. As the price of 4TB drives continue to drop, for example, I can replace my 2 and 3 TB drives without doing them all at once.

I can swap out a drive without having to stop the work or reformat. If I need to replace a bad drive or increase the total storage capacity, I can just eject a drive and replace it with another (potentially larger) one.

I don’t have to be an IT expert to manage it. It sits in my server closet and just runs 24/7. If anything goes wrong it sends me an email.

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My messy, but functional server closet with a Drobo 5D up top connected to a Mac mini server and the Drobo FS below backing up stuff

What if it fails?

I’ve heard the horror stories. As a matter of fact you’d be hard pressed to find ANY product that someone doesn’t have a horror story about. However, I don’t rely on or totally trust ANY single solution when it comes to my data. No matter who makes my storage units or how great their reputation is, I’m going to have my data backed up in multiple places including an offsite backup via crashplan.com. So if it failed tomorrow, I’d probably replace it with another one as nothing lasts forever and it will die someday. My favorite model is the Drobo 5D. This baby is fast and is connected via Thunderbolt to my Mac mini server. Again, I haven’t had a moment’s problem out of it since the day I turned it on. It’s been running 24/7 since day one.

Although my Drobo units haven’t failed, my hard drives have! Here’s what Drobo does when a drive fails:

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I got an email that the 5th drive was failing. I ordered a new one. It arrived in a couple of days. I ejected the bad one and put the new one in. I kept working the whole time. If you’re super paranoid you can set it to protect you against TWO drive failures. This will reduce your total available capacity, but two drives could die at the same time and your data would still be protected.

 

You can get the NEW 3rd Generation Drobo here for $349 or less. Drobo increased their warranty period from one year to two years.






G-Drive 1TB Thunderbolt / USB 3 Portable Drive Review

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Last month while out of town on business I had an urgent need for more storage. One of my colleagues wanted to give me some new demo material and in total it was going to take up almost 1 terabyte of space. I had no where near that much available space on my laptop drive or either of the other two external drives I had with me. There was an Apple Store nearby so I headed over to buy a drive. I had no particular drive in mind although another colleague showed me his new LaCie 1TB Thunderbolt/USB3 drive. At least I had that one in the back of my mind as a starting point. I also had no idea which drives Apple would actually have in stock. I was going to be at the mercy of whatever was on the shelves as I needed the drive that day. I got to the store and found that they did in fact have the LaCie Rugged 1TB drive, but upon a quick glance at the specs I was stopped in my tracks to see that it had only a 5,400 rpm drive inside. What a waste! After all you’re paying extra for a Thunderbolt port and the drive would be pretty much crippled by the relatively slow spinning drive. I kept looking. For a moment I was tempted by a 2TB external drive (can’t even remember the manufacturer), but again saw that it was a 5,400 rpm drive. However, the 2TB capacity did sound nice since I knew that I was going to be getting almost 1TB of files to start with.
Then I saw the G-Drive 1TB Thunderbolt/USB3 Drive and since I knew the G-Drives were usually good performers I wasn’t surprised to see that it had a 7,200rpm mechanism inside. Now my debate was a fast drive but at only 1TB or a slow drive at 2TBs. Decisions, decisions. I ended up going with two of the 1TB G-Drives. The price worked out to be only $100 more than the 2TB drive and I was getting the same total capacity, but with much better performance.

About the performance

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I knew the drives would be fast, but I was actually a little blown away by how fast they actually were. They came with both USB 3 and Thunderbolt cables and since I have a Thunderbolt port on my MacBook Pro, I plugged it in via Thunderbolt. I was floored by how fast the data copied. I even handed one to my colleague Jason and said “here, choose a fairly large file on your computer and copy it to this drive.” As luck would have it he had a 4GB file that was handy and it copied in under a minute.
Having both a Thunderbolt Port and USB 3 port means that I have the option of connecting it to pretty much any modern computer and I’ll get good performance. Even if I have to connect it to an older computer I’ll get USB 2 speeds. I didn’t really expect to like this drive as much as I do. I was just running out to get a drive to fill an immediate need. However, it’s now my favorite portable drive.

You can get the G-Drive 1TB Thunderbolt / USB 3 Portable Drive here.

SAVE MONEY! If you don’t have a Thunderbolt port or simply don’t need the Thunderbolt connectivity then you can actually get the same drive in a USB 3 ONLY configuration for about half the price here. I’ve used the drive above connected via USB 3 and it was still plenty fast.



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