Mophie Power Reserve – More smartphone juice in your pocket

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Since more and more people are using power hungry smartphones more and more each day it’s not uncommon to think about portable batteries to charge your smartphone on the go. If you’re always at your desk or in your car, this is probably less of a concern. However, if you’re a frequent traveler or simply spend several hours a day away from an outlet you can start to get nervous around 3pm as you see that you have less than 30-40% battery remaining. I seem to be amassing a collection of these batteries in all shapes and sizes. Recently the Mophie Power Reserve caught my attention. What stood out to me was the relatively small size, the fact that it attaches to your keys with a supplied keyring and it has a built-in Lightning (or Micro USB) connector. All my other batteries with the exception of the Mophie Juice Air require that I also carry a charging cable. However, the Power Reserve has the cable built right onto the side of it.

What I like about it

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I’ve already pretty much covered  the things I like about it above, but a couple more things make this a nice battery to have. Although it attaches to my keys with a built-in keyring, they were smart enough to build in a “quick release” button. Just press and hold down the button and the battery detaches from the keyring and exposes the charging cable. Very nice design. Also it’s nice having the small LED (not too bright) status lights to let you know how much juice you have left. Lastly it’s really light weight. My car key weighs more than this battery. It’s also nice to have a choice of colors: black, Product RED and white. It charges via a Micro USB port and comes with a charging cable. You have to supply the charger though (like the one you use for your phone).

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What I’m not too crazy about

Like I said, I’ve got a collection of different batteries now and even my smallest one is 3,000 mAh. That means that it has enough battery in it to charge my iPhone 5s all the way up to 100% from dead/near dead. The Mophie Power Reserve only has a 1350 mAh battery in it which they claim will get you about 60% more battery. This is fine in those emergency situations where you need a charge just to get you through the rest of the day or to make that call home or emergency Facebook status update ;-). However, Mophie is charging top dollar for this battery! It’s $49.95. That’s a LOT for a battery this small (in capacity). At first I thought well maybe they have to charge more for the Lightning connector. That was until I checked and saw that the Micro USB version is the exact same price. I normally don’t complain about price in my reviews, but when I look at batteries like this one and this one, that give you a lot more juice for less than/almost half the price, I realize that with the Power Reserve you’re paying a premium for the “design” and integrated cable. The other thing is that the Power Reserve only has a 5V 1 Amp output, which means that it’s really only good for your smartphone and not your tablet. Again, not a big deal since it’s designed to be a smartphone charger, except for when you look at the price.

 

The Bottom Line

Overall I really like this product. I normally just carry my car key in my pocket, but now it’s a car key plus Mophie Power Reserve. I would love to see Mophie upgrade this product with a higher capacity battery even if it means adding a little more weight to it. I would want 3000 mAh minimum. If not an upgrade then simply cut the price to $24.95 and they won’t be able to make enough of them.

You can get the Power Reserve from Mophie here.


Memorial Day 2014 – A Day We Pay Tribute

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the men and women that currently serve or have served in our US Military Service! Your continued sacrifices to protect our freedoms are greatly appreciated. We are able to spend this day with our friends and families because of what you do!

As we observe this solemn day, we must remember all the brave men and women in uniform who gave their lives in the service of our great country.

Again, Thank You!

Terry White


Yes, you can still get the Photoshop Photography Program for $9.99/month

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I still run into photographers that don’t know about this great deal. Adobe is still offering Photoshop CC, Lightroom 5, a Behance Prosite (customizable website like mine) and 20GB of cloud storage for only $9.99/month! Yes, this also includes access to Lightroom Mobile. You can sign up for this plan here. I’ve also included three videos below to help you get started:

 

 

 





An AWESOME Microphone for your Mac, iPad and iPhone – Apogee Mic 96k

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I’m on the road and I realized that I’m going to be doing more tutorials for my YouTube channel and Creative Cloud TV.  While I have a great microphone in my studio, I really didn’t have a good one that’s small enough to travel with. I was in the Apple Store in San Francisco and decided to check out their selection. I was with my colleague and musician Jason Levine. I picked up a small microphone by Apogee and Jason immediately recognized the name and said “you can’t go wrong with them.” Apparently they are well known for professional audio equipment. He saw that it was 24-bit and was again very impressed. Since I trust Jason’s opinion when it comes to audio gear I knew I was holding the best one. I was also intrigued to see that this particular microphone not only had GREAT specs, but it was designed to work with a Mac, iPad, or iPhone! That made this a win-win purchase. I could have a great quality mic for recording on any of my devices.

 

Setting up the Mic 96k

One concern I had before leaving the store was that it was unclear if it included the stand that was pictured on the box. It stated that it included a “mic adapter” (which it does). The Apple Store rep didn’t know either. I was pleasantly surprised to see that once I opened the box it not only included the little tabletop stand, but also three cables. I expected to have a USB cable for the Mac and one for the Lightning connector on the iPad/iPhone, but it even included the older cable with the 30pin connector for older iOS devices. Setting up the Mic 96 is really easy. Just attach the appropriate cable for your device and plug it in. That’s it. No software to install. The light will go on blue at first. This lets you know that it’s on but not ready. It will then turn green when it’s ready and red if your gain is too high.

I screwed up my first recording

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I mistakenly positioned the capsule up instead of facing me.

OK sometimes I’m an idiot when it comes to things like this. I didn’t pay attention to the capsule location so I had the mic pointing at me like a singer would hold a mic instead of straight up and down. It worked, but boy what a difference it made once I put it in the proper orientation. I did a quick test into Screenflow and the sound quality was outstanding. Sadly it was too late to re-record my latest episode as it was already posted.

Testing on the iPad Air

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Since I blew my chance to get a real world recording for this week’s episode, I decided to do a quick test on the iPad using Adobe Voice. You can hear the results below or here:

The Bottom Line

Overall I’m very happy with the quality of the hardware itself as well as the audio quality. My only complaint is that for the price I feel it should have come with a carrying case, especially since they tout it as a solution for iPad/iPhone. This means that they expect people to carry it. Other than that I love it!

You can get the Apogee Mic 96k here or here

You can get the Apogee Mic carrying case here.

You can get Adobe Voice for iPad here and tell your story for free:

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How To Take Advantage of Linked Smart Objects in Photoshop CC

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In this episode of Adobe Creative Cloud TV, I’ll show you how to take advantage of linked smart objects in Photoshop CC. Not only can we place files as links in Photoshop now, but they can even be RAW files. See a workflow from Lightroom to Photoshop to InDesign and Muse.

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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Photographers: Why DNG?

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A few days ago one of my readers left a comment on one of my posts and he was basically asking why I convert my camera’s RAW files into DNG (Digital Negative) format? He asked if I had a post that I could refer him to about my reasons. I realized that while I’ve talked about converting RAW files into DNG format for years at seminars, training classes and on my videos, I’ve never really done a blog post on it. So here it is – Why DNG?:

What is DNG?

DNG stands for Digital Negative format. The problem with the RAW files that your camera produces is that they are proprietary. Also since every camera manufacturer makes their own RAW format (Nikon .NEF, Canon .CR2, etc.) there is no real standard. Each camera manufacturer does whatever they feel like in their format. This also means that not all software can read every RAW format because with each camera manufacturer and each new camera the software companies have to update their software to be compatible with the slight changes in each RAW format. Notice how your software never has to be upgraded to read JPEG files. That’s because JPEG is a universal, non-proprietary standard. You never have to worry about a company going out of business and therefore not being able to access your JPEG files. Like JPEG, DNG is an open standard. Although it was created by Adobe, it’s an open standard with a published specification. If Adobe did nothing else with DNG the standard would still live on. Some cameras even shoot natively in DNG format now.

Why I convert my Nikon .NEF files into DNG

I’ve been converting my Nikon, Sony, and Canon RAW files into DNG format for several years now. However, as usual the question comes up – why? Why go through the extra step to convert your files to DNG. Here are a few reasons for me:

  1. My images are my memories and can’t be replaced. I never want to worry about a day when I can’t open them up because of a company going out of business or deciding to stop support of a format. With DNG I have that extra peace of mind.
  2. DNG saves me space. On average my DNG files take up about 1MB less space than my original .NEF files. Since there’s no loss of quality I’ll happily take the storage savings.
  3. No XMP Sidecar Files! Since software programs can’t really edit RAW files (it’s the non-destructive benefit of working in RAW), any changes you make are made to a small text file that accompanies the RAW file. These small text files are called sidecar files and it becomes one more thing you have to keep track of. Now instead of a folder of images, you have a folder of images and sidecar files. With DNG the changes you make are written non-destructively right into the DNG file.
  4. Backwards compatibility.  DNG format has been supported since Photoshop 7, so I can hand off a DNG file from a camera that just came out to someone with an older version of Adobe Camera RAW or Lightroom and they’d be able to open it up and work on it.

How To Convert Your RAW files to DNG format

Like I said, I’ve been converting my RAW files into DNG for years now. I do it upon import into Adobe Lightroom. However, if you’ve already got images in Lightroom that are in your camera’s RAW format, you can convert them after the fact by selecting the ones you want to convert and choosing “Convert Photos to DNG” from the Library menu.

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If you’re not using Lightroom, Adobe actually makes a FREE stand alone DNG converter. It’s always updated anytime there is a new version of Adobe Camera RAW or Lightroom so that it has support for the latest digital cameras and their RAW formats. You can learn more about DNG and grab the FREE DNG converter for Mac or Win here.

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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:




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