Happy New Year!

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I want to take this moment to wish you and yours a very Happy New Year!

Comcast It’s Time To Rethink Your 300GB Data Cap

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Hey Comcast, it’s almost 2015! We’re deep into the Netflix and online gaming age. While I appreciate my high speed Xfinity service and the relatively low down time, the 300GB per month data cap seems to be a bit archaic. I moved at the beginning of September and when I did I signed up for your fastest (and most expensive) consumer internet plan. I get a nice 105Mbps download speed and a good 20Mbps upload speed. Once it was finally installed properly (that’s another post), the service has been very speedy and stable. No complaints there. However, in about 2 weeks after I got connected I started getting the emails and automated phone calls alerting me that I was nearing my 300GB data cap and then eventually that I had passed it. Many of my readers here probably don’t realize that most internet providers have a data cap. Whether it’s enforced or not is another story. In the case of Comcast Xfinity it’s 300GB per month for years, but not really enforced until 2012. That sounds like a lot! However, in today’s world of streaming media, cloud storage, online gaming and cloud backups it’s really not a lot at all. I would imagine that there is a need for data caps. If they let everyone do anything they wanted there would likely be some abuse that would slow down other customers. The fact that there’s a data cap is not my issue. My issue is that Comcast has one data cap for ALL customers (except Comcast Business customers). So if you’re on their cheapest plan or their most expensive plan the data cap is the same. That’s the part that I have an issue with. It’s like punishing your best customers who chose your fastest speed because they’ll be more than likely to hit the cap sooner!

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What happens when you go over?

A few years ago I hit the cap and I got a very threatening call from Comcast. They actually gave me a warning that If I went over 2 more times they would actually cancel my service. Back then I thought “how stupid is that?” You have a customer that’s using a lot of your service. Find a way to give them what they need and charge them for it. Well it seems that Comcast realized they were missing out and now they give you 3 overage grace months before they start charging you $10 for 50GB units. As you near your 300GB limit you get the warning emails/phone calls. Once you use 300GBs of bandwidth they add on another 50GB of data for $10. Go over 350GB and they add on another $10/50GB unit (this time without warning).

Actually the extra $10 charges (while annoying) aren’t the real issue. It gives us the ability to either stick to the 300GB limit or a way to pay extra for the extra bandwidth that we need. There is one problem though. Let’s say it’s the last day of the month and you hit the 300GB limit. No problem Comcast doesn’t interrupt your service, they just tack on another $10/50GB unit. However, chances are you won’t use that 50GB in one day. Let’s say you only use 5GB of the 50GB unit and you technically have 45GB left. On the first of the month the meter starts over again and you lose that extra bandwidth that you paid extra for. At a minimum you should at least get to carry any extra bandwidth that you paid for over to the next month.

Let’s get back to the main issue though. Not only is 300GB really too small in today’s high speed world, it’s also just not reasonable to have one limit for ALL consumer customers. Comcast I ask that you either raise the cap for all or offer higher caps for those of us on your higher plans. My average appears to be under 500GB so let’s start there!

A little Q&A

Q. Terry can’t you just go with Comcast Business since you use more data than the average person?

A. Sure and as a matter of fact I had it in my studio. However, there are some other limits like NO premium channels and you have to sign a contract with steep penalties for early termination (which is why I’m still on the hook for paying for it until March 2015).

Q. Terry can’t you just pay for the overages? That way you only pay for the amount you use over the cap?

A. Yes and I do. However, since I’m already paying for their most expensive/fastest plan it would seem that their should be a larger cap. Also the unused portion of the overage units is lost at the end of the month.

Q. Why not go with a different provider?

A. When it comes to high speed internet I need the fast available and in my area it’s Comcast. If there was a competitor that offered comparable speeds I’d consider a switch.

 

Gadget of the Year 2014: WD 1TB MyPassport Wireless

WD-MyPassport_Wireless

I come across a lot of really cool gadgets all year long. Some are cool just from a technology perspective and others are cool because they’re really really useful. However, when I look back at 2014 there is one gadget that really stands out as cool technology AND really useful. External hard drives are a dime a dozen and pretty much a commodity these days. The cost of storage has really dropped. The capacities have gone up. So what would make an external portable hard drive so special that it’s my pick for Gadget of the Year 2014?

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This one has so many uses that I sometimes lose track. The WD 1TB MyPassport Wireless hard drive is a portable hard drive that has built-in WiFi connectivity. This means that not only can you connect to it via USB 3.0, but you can also connect to it from any computer or mobile device even if there is no WiFi hotspot nearby.

Use it wirelessly from your computer(s)

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The MyPassport shows up as a shared volume in Mac OS X.

 

Once the drive has been configured all you have to do is turn the drive on and it can either create its own adhoc wireless network or join an existing one. In either case you can see the drive as a “network volume” directly from your desktop/laptop OS without any special software. You can copy files to it or from it. Up to 8 devices can connect to the WD MyPassport Wireless at one time.

Use it from your iPad, iPhone or Android mobile devices

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Download the WD My Cloud app for your mobile platform (iOS or Android). Join the network that the drive creates or see it on your existing network. Now you have 1TB of extra storage to use on your mobile devices. Want to take a bunch of movies with you on a trip and stream them to your iPad? No problem. Just load up the drive before you leave your home/office and view any compatible videos on the drive. Yes it also works for music and pictures too. No need to copy this media to your mobile device because you can just stream it. Wondering what you’ll do for power on say a plane? No problem the drive has a built-in rechargeable battery so stream away… The iOS App even has AirPlay built-in so that you can stream from the drive and play to an Apple TV or speaker system.

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The Killer Feature: A Built-In SD Card Reader with Auto Import

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While the above features alone make this a pretty cool device, there is one feature that takes it over the top. I get this question all the time: “I’m going on vacation and I don’t want to take my laptop. Is there a device that allows me to backup my photos while I’m out of town?” Until now the options were few and expensive. By putting an SD card reader on this drive it just got a whole lot easier to backup those precious memories on the go. You can either manually import the pictures via the web interface or the App or you can configure the drive to do an “auto import” each time you stick a memory card in. It will copy the entire card (yes even the RAW files and movies) to the hard drive. The drive doesn’t have a display. However, there’s nothing stopping you from viewing your shots on your nice big iPad display or your phablet – WIRELESSLY!

The Bottom Line

This gadget has uses for everyone that I know. If you’re just a regular user needing more storage on the go, you’ve got it. If you’re a photographer this becomes an indispensable tool in your mobile workflow. Western Digital thought of everything on this one. It does everything I would expect it to do as if I had designed it myself.

You can get the WD 1TB MyPassport Wireless drive here.

Better yet, you can get the WD 2TB MyPassport Wireless drive here. <-it’s a better deal!



So What’d You Get?

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photo compliments of iStockphoto.com

It’s that time of year again. My annual “So what’d you get?” I’ve been reviewing my favorite gadgets, services and photo gear all year long. Now it’s your turn! Tell us what you got this holiday season (tech wise) that you’re excited about? Use the comments section below. Tell us what it is, why you like it and provide links if you can? Did you get or give anything from my holiday gadget gift guide?

 

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Merry Christmas to All of my Fans and Followers

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just wanted to take this opportunity to not only wish you and your loved ones a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday Season, but also to thank you for all your support and encouragement throughout the year! I wish you the best for 2015!

May all your tech, design and photographic Christmas wishes come true!

Terry

Last Minute Gift Ideas Without Leaving the House

Last minute gifts

Welcome to my annual reminder: You forgot _______________. It happens. That relative or friend walks through the door that you totally forgot to get a gift for and you feel bad. Yep, it happens. Personally, I wouldn’t sweat it. However, for those of you who do (you know who you are) here are a couple of things you can do to save the day.

First off it may not be too late to give an I.O.U.! Be sure to check out my¬†Holiday Gadget Gift Guide here. Let them know it’s on the way and just won’t arrive in time. I’d be happy with a cool gift that’s coming!

iTunes Printable Gift Certificates

iTunes

When you go to hang up their coat, head to your computer and fire up iTunes. Then go to the iTunes Store and buy a “Printable” gift certificate. You can print it (quietly) on your printer, fold it and stick it in one of those emergency cards that you keep around. Oh yeah, you forgot those too. OK, a handwritten envelope will do. You can then explain to them that with this they can download music, books, movies, apps and more. Whew!

 

Amazon Printable Gift Certificates

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OK, so the person that just walked in is not into digital entertainment. I get it! No problem. Head over to Amazon.com (here’s the link to get you directly to the gift certificates. This way you won’t be out of the room any longer than you have to be) and buy a gift certificate and print it out. Now they can go order whatever they want since Amazon sells just about everything.

Lastly pride yourself on avoiding the mall today :)

Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas and get back to your guests :)

Review: Nikon D750 and Nikon 20mm Wide Angle Lens

D750

I must admit that when I first saw the specs for the Nikon D750 I wasn’t really too excited. It fits between the Nikon D610 and D810 both spec wise and price wise. However, I decided to go ahead and take it for a spin if for no other reason than to give my opinion about it to my readers. What I didn’t expect to happen was that I would fall in love with shooting with it.

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The Nikon D750 functions pretty much just like my Nikon D600. A few of the controls have been moved around, but certainly nothing you couldn’t get used to very quickly. There is definitely a difference in dynamic range or at least to my eye the D750 does a better job as it should.

 

Thrilled with the built-in WiFi

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I’ve been complaining for years that DSLRs should have both WiFi and GPS built-in. You can find these features on lower end cameras all day long, but why not the higher end models? My Nikon reps tell me it’s because the alloys used in the pro bodies and I say BS. There has to be a way to have WiFi/GPS AND a metal/weather secure body. It’s not rocket science (we communicate millions of miles with a probe on an asteroid). The D750 answers one of my two wishes. It has built-in WiFi. No need for a small external module. It’s in the camera! Finally! This means that I have a native workflow that I can use to shoot RAW to the 1st card slot and basic JPG to the 2nd card slot. Those small JPGs can be sent to my iPhone or iPad FASTER as I shoot them for review.

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While this feature works just fine with Nikon’s App, I much prefer ShutterSnitch for iPad and iPhone when I just want to shoot wirelessly to my mobile devices.

Get ShutterSnitch here from the .

Get the Nikon WiFi app here from the .

 

The camera does a great job with skin tones

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I shoot a wide range of skin tones in my portrait sessions and I’ve always been happy with the results from my Nikon DSLRs. The D750 continues this tradition giving me great results. The EXPEED 4 sensor is a nice improvement over the EXPEED 3 found in my D600.

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The colors thus far have been spot on with the D750.

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The Nikon 20mm f/1.8 Wide Angle Lens

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ATL-Hartsfield

I’m sorry that I don’t have a better subject to show off this lens than the airport at night, but the weather here has been kind of sucky for the past few days. Nonetheless, this is a great lens. I already have the Nikon 14-24mm lens, but this one covers the sweet spot for a lot less money. If I didn’t already have a great wide angle lens, I’d get this one in a heart beat!

It’s a fast f/1.8 lens with no distortion that I can see. No fisheye effect, just great wide angle results and great low light performance.

 

The Bottom Line

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This camera is a solid upgrade for those looking to step into a 24.3MP full-frame DSLR or those looking for something a little better than the D610. It lists for $1,000 less than the D810. It also has improved video specs now doing 1080p video at 60fps (yes 4K would have been even better, but I’ll take the faster 1080p video for now. My only complaint with this model is that for some reason it seems slow when going into the menu. Normally on all my other Nikon DSLRs the menu comes up the moment you press the button, but for some reason the D750 hesitates for a couple of seconds. I’ve debated going to the Nikon D810 and moving up from my D600, but I think I’ll be taking this intermediate step instead. While I love the more “pro” feel of the D810 and the higher dynamic range, I’m still not thrilled with the 36MP RAW files (or smaller sRAW) file sizes that it produces. For my workflow and the way I shoot the D750 is (as much as I hate to admit it) simply a better fit. Of course that doesn’t mean that I ultimately won’t end up with both bodies :-)

Get the Nikon D750 Body here.

Get the Nikon 20mm f/1.8 lens here.

 



6 Last Minute Gift Ideas for the Photographer On Your List

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I haven’t met a photographer yet that has everything they want. It’s getting down to the wire, but there’s still time. If you have a photographer on your holiday gift list, I’ve hand picked 5 gifts that he or she will love. Best of all they are all under $500 (some below $200). So in no particular order let’s get to it:

 

CamRanger

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CamRanger is a wireless/WiFi control system for the most popular Nikon and Canon DSLRs out there. Once your photographer has CamRanger setup they can wirelessly control their camera from a mobile device such as an iPad as well as see the images their taking as they take them wirelessly on the same mobile device.

Get it here.

 

Westcott 6-in-1 42″ Illuminator Set

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This is definitely my favorite reflector and diffuser kit and I take it on all my portrait location shoots.

You can get it here.

 

Adobe Creative Cloud Photography Plan Card

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If you have a photographer on your list then they will certainly appreciate always having the latest versions of Photoshop CC and Lightroom. Even if they are already Creative Cloud Photography Plan members, this card will give them another full year of membership.

You can get it here.

 

Scott Kelby’s Digital Photography Book Box Set

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Get the photographer on your list a wealth of knowledge from the world’s best selling photography book author, Scott Kelby.

You get all 5 books for one low price here. Also don’t forget to check out his NEW Photoshop CC Book for Digital Photographers here.

 

Wacom Intuos Pro Medium Tablet

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I can’t imagine retouching a photo without a Wacom tablet. I just would rather wait until I got home or back to the office. This is why there’s one on my desk and one in my bag.

You can get the medium version here.

 

Westcott Rapid Box Octa 26″

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This is hands down my favorite on location softbox for speedlights. Quick and easy to setup and a great quality of light output.

You can get it here.

Don’t forget to check out the rest of the items in my 2014 gift guide

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here.



Towel Hub: A USB Charging Station for your Kitchen

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Here’s a clever idea for a gadget that looks cool and serves multiple purposes. The Towel Hub is a standard paper towel dispenser. However, at the base you’ll find 4 USB ports to charge your devices. The kitchen seems to be the hub in many homes and now you have a cool way to charge your mobile devices while you hang out at the bar, kitchen table or breakfast nook. You probably have already guessed how this product works. just plug in the AC adapter to a wall outlet, put your roll of paper towel on it and you’re done. You can now plug in up to 4 mobile devices and they will charge. There’s enough juice to charge your smartphone and your tablet. If this was all it did I would be happy. However, there’s more. The decorative top also servers as a topper for your wine bottles. If you want to take things up a notch you can opt for the model that also has a built-in bluetooth speaker for music playback.

I’m really happy with this addition to my kitchen and it would also make a great gift for the holidays.

You can get the standard model here.

You can get the model that includes a built-in bluetooth speaker here.

You can also get SHORT Lightning cables here.

The Moleskine Smart “Creative Cloud Connected” Notebook

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As much as I love technology, for many artists nothing beats good ole pen/pencil and paper. Sure we can now sketch right on our iPads or draw with a Wacom tablet right on our computers. However, if you just love the feel of paper then you’ll really like the NEW Moleskine Smart Notebook, which is now Creative Cloud connected. The idea is simple, draw with whatever tools you like to draw with in your notebook. Once you have your analog masterpiece on the page, fire up the companion app on your smartphone and capture your drawing. Once you capture it the app will automatically detect the alignment points on the page and align as well as fix the perspective of your drawing in the app. Next you can process the image and convert it to vectors. Lastly with one tap you can upload both the original capture as a JPG and the vector conversion as .SVG which you can open in Adobe Illustrator and edit the vectors.

Rather than continue to describe it, here’s a video from start to finish:

 

You can get the Moleskine Smart Notebook here.

You can get the companion App here:

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