Foliovision Making the web work for you 2018-04-23T21:17:46Z https://foliovision.com/feed/atom WordPress Alec Kinnear http://foliovision.com <![CDATA[Shooting for Likes: Instagram’s Influence on Photography]]> https://foliovision.com/?p=65388 2018-04-18T02:56:13Z 2018-04-18T02:37:02Z I'm looking for a camera to shoot video at home and at work quickly, simply and well lately (comparative review coming). It's taken me out to spend more time looking at gear sites. Horatio Tan runs a very unique site which primarily compares top of the line Leica gear (M9, M10, SL) with top tier Canon (5DR), Nikon (D850) and Sony (A7S, A73, A7R2, A7R3). His subjects are mainly very pretty Russian models out and about in Hong Kong. Gear cat nip.

Tan is a bit existential about his photography. In his post A Crisis of Purpose in the Age of Instagram, he wonders about how likes influence photography.

I am troubled by how photography has evolved. Simply put, photography has been commoditised. What this means is that the status of photography has devalued, largely because there is an oversupply of it.

“Photographing for likes. Has the world come to this?”

Tan then documents his own history with Instagram. He has some interesting rules: no more than 90 photos on his account, to add a photo he has to delete a photo. I've visited Tan's Instagram account and none of the photos discussed below are on it: he's a man of his word.

Tan worries that those without enough likes will not have credibility for their equipment reviews or blogs (like Tan's Street Silhouettes for instance).

[people] only seem to care if the source derived from someone popular – if not already famous. It didn’t matter if the image was ordinary or even substandard, given the photographic merits no longer became the metric of evaluation. What the world wanted to see was popularity. Those with more followers have more rights to have a say – given their following.

For Tan, followers is the equivalent of value:

for the crisis of purpose – there’s no crisis if one has an audience. As long as there is an audience, a photographer can share just about anything within reason, and thus find purpose along the way. It’s when the photographer is without an audience that purpose becomes elusive.

Tan's exposure to photo sites has made him cynical:

for all you street photographers trying to find meaning in documenting the pedestrian, the world has already seen it. To you fashion photographers seeking beauty, beautiful girls are a dime a dozen. And to you landscape photographers, if you’ve seen one sunset, you’ve seen it all.

Tan conducted an experiment where he documented the history of likes for some of his favourite photos. He attributed the success to luck rather than relative artistic merit. Having seen much of Tan's work while reviewing Sony A7III image quality vs Canon (primary goal), the issue is more that whikle Tan is technically fluent with his cameras, he does not see himself why individual photos are successful. Here are my notes to Tan on some of his random successes:

It seems to me your hits and misses are not entirely random. Let's start with a couple of hits.


Black Guy Leaning on Parking Meter

Tan wrote about this image:

This was a surprise post. At the time I was able to get 30 likes. I didn't expect it.

Black guy leaning on parking meter was successful as the subject is both intense and right at the center of the photography. You feel him. Your well drawn subject is also deeply integrated into a rich urban environment with deep perspective.


Girl at the Mall

Tan wrote about this image:

Of all my street photography, this was my first really successful post. At the time I posted it, two months ago, when I only had 300 followers, I received 70 likes. It has now grown to 85 likes. I don't think that this image is necessarily better than my other images.

Tan is wrong. Girl at the Mall was successful as there are a lot of things right with this photo.

  1. the subject is beautiful (that one can sense - they are not quite visible - the aureoles under her tank top doesn't hurt)
  2. she emotes a tangible emptiness
  3. the background of a shopping mall matches that emotional state perfectly
  4. the woman coming from behind engages directly with the camera
  5. there's an implicit relationship between the fundamentally attractive fortyish woman walking towards us and the lithesome young primary model: the main separation between them is twenty years
  6. there's incredible depth of field in the shot (shopping mall) with secondary detail to create a rich tableau (see Cranach paintings)

On the downside, the guy with the iPad (one of your photobombers effectively) distracts from the main story. The photography would be a work of art if you just crop him out. I'm divided about whether you should make the photo square and give up the lift or go 4/3 and keep the lift (which would mean cleaning up the iPad guy's bag, not such a problem when it's just bright floor there). You could consider moving the lift a bit to the right and giving up the distracting ribbon of shop. Pillar to silver lift would probably look better. Just cropping the guy out bag or lift or not would be 80% of the improvement though right there.

Sneer of Scepticism

Tan wrote about this couple:

On the first day, I was able to get 19 likes. I was so encouraged with the response that I posted fifteen images that first day. I was able to get 5 followers by the end of 24 hours.

It'a also not an accident. The first photo of the couple walking together did well as we feel a vapid arrogance from the man and can identify with his trophy girlfriend's sneer of scepticism. Again you have a deep background. The photo would be better if you had been just a tiny bit to the left and had captured less van behind the man and more deep street along with a more direct angle into the girlfriend's eyes. Still a very successful and well-composed street portrait with action, emotion and relationships.

Now for a colour image.


Badly dressed couple wander in Paris

Tan lamented its lack of success.

Another one of my early posts on Instagram. I only had 7 likes for this image….I thought it was a nice image. But I guess I was wrong.

Your black and white photos do better than colour as you have a better feel for tone than for colour. Your feeling for colour is not particularly deep. Meaningful colour is created in post-production, not in the camera. As a photographer you must take a stand and choose even create colour. This was true in the film days (dark room, choice of lab/process) and is true now (RAW development or choosing Fujifilm who offers strong jpeg presets).

So you ask if black and white is the solution why didn't Runners do better?


Hong Kong Harbour Runners

Runners was less successful for a few reasons.

  1. there are two subjects and no real engagement with either one.
  2. The background is mainly empty and does not give up its personality. If the camera were higher (worse for perspective on the runners), the water and ship would be more visible and it would be a more complete street photo.

Tan's notion that likes have very little to do with the merit of the individual snaps on his account doesn't ring quite true. Whether Instagram or 500px, these sites are not simply a popularity contest but legitimate ways to measure response. But success is relative. On account with 5000 followers, 50 likes would be a colossal failure. On an account with 50 followers, 50 likes would be a huge success. Of course, purely subject - a shot of Taylor Swift snorting cocaine kissing some new man - would go crazy viral - would have entirely different numbers than Girl at the Mall above. Even if Girl at the Mall is a much better photograph.

Looking to be liked is of course the first problem. Looking to be liked is the work of a promoter, not of an artist. An artist seeks the truth. Of course when one is artist and promoter, i.e. one man band, the line is blurred. But it's important to always seek that artistic truth first and not second. What did British Prime Minister Disraeli say about preparation: "“The secret of success in life is for a man to be ready for his opportunity when it comes.”

Before any promotion happens, a body of work should be ready, ideally with the ability to create more of it.

Shooting for Likes: Instagram’s Influence on Photography

Post from: Foliovision

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Dia Takacsova <![CDATA[Everest – A Time Lapse Film – II]]> https://foliovision.com/?p=65305 2018-04-15T23:14:26Z 2018-04-15T21:15:41Z Mount Everest, the tallest and most famous mountain in the world attracts an increasing number of climbers, some of them being highly experienced mountaineers. There are two main routes, from Nepal and from Tibet - and while these routes don't pose a substantial technical climbing challenge, not everyone reaches the summit. Harsh weather conditions, altitude sickness and avalanche hazards are some of the main reasons that stop climbers.

Award-winning filmmaker and photographer Elia Saikaly has been on seven Everest expeditions, failed twice just before the top, survived two avalanches and an earthquake and stood on the top of the world twice, in 2010 and 2013. He began his adventure filmmaking career on the slopes of Mt. Everest, where he set out to honour the life of his fallen mentor:

In 2005, I embarked on a journey to Mt. Everest basecamp as young aspiring adventure filmmaker. I’d never really traveled, I’d never visited a 3rd world country and I had never even slept in a tent. That first journey to Nepal changed everything. My friend Dr. Sean Egan, who was aspiring to become the oldest Canadian to climb to the highest point on Earth, who also happened to be the subject of the documentary I was shooting, tragically died of heart failure and never made it to the summit of Everest. It was shocking and devastating. In an attempt to honour his life I decided, never having climbed a mountain before, that I was going to climb Everest in his honour, carry his ashes to the summit and complete the documentary. 

The next five years were the most difficult, emotional and life altering time in Elia's life. In 2010, he decided it was time to make the plunge into the world of DSLR filmmaking, being quite nervous to change his technical equipment. His expeditions and filmmaking now create positive change in the lives of communities across the world. 

Everest - A Time Lapse Film - II is a tribute to the top of the world, a result of 108 total time-lapses and set ups over two years in the Himalayas - with 44,069 still images created. Some of the featured places include the Summit of Mt. Lobuche East, Camp 1 and 2 on Mt. Everest, Khumjung Village. Shooting is difficult in conditions this harsh: batteries, cameras and shutters freeze; the environment is challenging for the human body, too. And yet, for Elia, this is the perfect place where he feels the most alive, confessing that he has never seen the Milky Way so clear and vivid:

We slept at 6000m for three consecutive nights on the summit of Mt. Lobuche East waiting for a glimpse of Everest from that vantage point. Around 11pm on the 2nd night, the skies opened up and the top of the world revealed herself in all of her glory.

We all can now enjoy this breathtaking view. The time lapse features powerful images combining man-made structures, majestic landscapes, star trails and the re-emerging sun in a set of clear and sharp pictures underlined with string music, namely The Time To Run by Dexter Britain. All images were shot on Canon DSLR cameras with 24mm, 14mm, 16mm, 11-24mm and 70-200mm lenses. The material was edited with Adobe Lightroom, LR Time-Lapse and Adobe Premiere.

Another impressive fact was shared by the author: all of the images were processed on location while at Mt. Everest basecamp at night, under a headlamp, with a down-jacket on and in -25 °C temperatures. Enjoy the result of this project!

[This post contains video, click to play]

Follow Elia Saikaly on his Vimeo channel | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | website.

Do you have a video you think we should feature, or is one of your friends a talented filmmaker? Submit your work at marketing@foliovision.com for a chance to be featured in our Video of the Week series!

DT00SK

Everest – A Time Lapse Film – II

Post from: Foliovision

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Alec Kinnear http://foliovision.com <![CDATA[Netflix Valuation: A European Perspective]]> https://foliovision.com/?p=64918 2018-04-10T13:39:57Z 2018-04-04T14:33:38Z Netflix has just enjoyed an amazing price run from about $190/share to a high of $333/share. The share price has fallen to about $290 now. It's still wildly overpriced.

Chart source MarketWatch.com

Let me explain. Profit is $559 million. There are 432 million shares outstanding. Earnings per share is $1.25. That's a peak P/E (price to earnings) ratio of 264! As a comparison Walmart's P/E in 2017 was 20.7.

Leaving profit aside as Netflix is still building both content and its network, let's take a look at Netflix's price to gross sales. Netflix price to sales recently peaked at 12. This is very high. By way of comparison, Apple is at 3.5, Amazon at 3.7, Exxon Mobile is at 1.3, Roadrunner Transport (RRTS) is at 0.48. High flyers include Microsoft and Google both at about 6.9.

Charts from YCharts.com
(paid subscription, expensive)

Real World Growth Potential

But wait say the Netflix bulls:

There are 126m households in North America. There are only 56m Netflix subscribers. You assume that US penetration will saturate at only 62% of households? How can that be considered "saturation"? We're still in the early stages of "cord cutting".

Real world (I'm right in the middle of Netflix's early market as someone who likes new technology and worked in film): we're sharing a Netflix jumbo account between six or seven households (all in the family, we're not violating terms) across three countries. I pay half the bill. We're sick of Netflix (in our household) and already dropped our own subscription due to the poverty of the international library in most countries.

When we had access to international Netflix across all countries we liked and used the library in Canada (lots of indie and European films featured) and the Netherlands and Scandinavia. France was always awful. Due to Netflix's poor library and inconsistent pricing and availability of Blu-rays (tip in Europe: Amazon.co.uk has the best selection, prices and delivery costs to the contintent), our household has had to investigate alternative content sourcing (despite a wish to be 100% legal and paying for several services) to consistently enjoy quality films.

[This post contains video, click to play]

We've enjoyed a couple of Netflix Originals (Marseille, a tale of civic corruption shot beautifully in the port city of Marseille with Gerard Depardieu, Jessica Jones, season one for instance) but not to the point we'd subscribe. Netflix Originals are still TV quality. Despite not suffering the restriction of regular commercial breaks, the density is pretty low. Boring.

Frankly I'd like Netflix out of the house to stop wasting time browsing the crappy offerings which float trashy American TV to the top, even though we prefer film (density) and European and independent films. We only continue to pay for Netflix to keep my partner's brothers happy and I'd originally pushed my sister-in-law to upgrade the account.

If Netflix did crack down on sharing, we would not subscribe. Post-crackdown, if we ever did subscribe to Netflix in the future it would be for two months in winter. If Netflix made subscriptions annual only we wouldn't subscribe and would obtain copies elsewhere of the one or two films or shows we really, really wanted to see.

I.e. so I'd say that the maximum market penetration of Netflix on that 126m US households is more like mid-sixties based on account sharing. There is not that much room for growth before Netflix starts cable/telecom like strangling of its own customers. That kind of behaviour will drive away as many users as it will attract users.

If Netflix doesn't keep its content and distribution costs under control, Netflix will never be profitable. Netflix will exist for a long time as a company. Its valuation however is madness. Would you buy a film studio on those value ratios? Of course not. Buying Netflix at those ratios is just as silly.

International Markets

Internationally, yes there's a lot of room for growth. But only if the product substantially improves. Otherwise, Netflix will become a hop-on, hop-off service. I'm fine with that. Netflix shareholders probably are not.

Netflix's product internationally is truly awful (we have direct access to Austria, Slovakia and I have regular access to France as well). The content library is second rate and highly limited. Improving the content library internationally would be very expensive.

Here are three large expenses involved in improving the international content:

  • making local shows
  • managing rights across all these territories (big bureaucracy) for smaller acquisitions
  • rights payments to majors for rights in these territories

To improve internationally, Netflix really had to do all three. Yes, it's viable. It's even a good business. But will it be inexpensive enough to justify these price to earnings ratios? No. Expenses will go up as sales go up. There is no free lunch here for Netflix.

Not the only game in town

And Netflix is not the only game in town. Any independent producer can take his or her film and put it on his or her own website and sell it directly as either a download or rent it as a stream. I'm partial to buying downloads of work I like (I know I have a copy for future reference).

"That's too much work for filmmakers," you object.
There's no way they either know how to or want to go through that hassle."

It's not true. There's two easy ways to sell your video online.

One: FV Player Pro

FV Player Pro allows both paid downloads via PPV plugin (ideal for a filmmaker or small studio), site membership (overkill for a single film or a small studio) or streaming.

Two: Vimeo On Demand

Any content creator can just use Vimeo's pre-built infrastructure (Vimeo works great with FV Player Pro for more attractive custom branding). Filmmakers or small studios keep 86% of the revenue (including transaction costs).

I'd argue that most indie filmmakers would be making a big mistake to sell Netflix any kind of exclusivity or long term rights to their intellectual property. If the price was right of course, some kind of deal might make sense. If not, you are giving away your hard earned long term inheritance.

Once content creators and small studios wise up to Netflix's game and their own possibilities on the PPV market/direct distribution market, acquisition costs will go way up for Netflix. Again, that suggest that Netflix shouldn't really be trading at a premium.

Investors feeling that Netflix is closing in on a profitable monopoly is an illusion.

Hidden Technical Costs

As well as negotiating the regulatory framework in each country (percentage of domestic content, adequate re-investment in each country's production, fines, lawsuits and liabilities for breaking the rules which will inevitably happen), Netflix is facing a huge hidden cost which could be lowered on its neck like a boom.

Netflix has been living on net neutrality. Carriers are required to carry Netflix at no extra cost (well Netflix does pay something and does have its own CDN). At some point, since Netflix accounts for more than 30% of internet traffic (online video is about 80% of total traffic), Netflix may be forced to pay for its full share of international internet piping. In the US alone, carrier investment in broadband is over $75 billion/year.

That $4 billion of revenue doesn't look so impressive after all, when one calculates that if Netflix were paying for its use of broadband with an infrastructure investment, the sum would be at least $10 billion/year (estimating on the low end, allowing for split costs with the providers who are also paid by the end users).

The more successful and more profitable Netflix becomes the greater will become the pressure at both a domestic and an international level.

Macroeconomic context

The Buffett indicator for the stock market (named for famous Berkshire Hathaway founder and investment guru Warren Buffett) is stock market capitalization as a percentage of GNP. Buffett voiced a target of 70% or 80% in 2001. At the time of the dot com crash the Buffett indicator was at 137% in 2000. Before the 2008 crash, the Buffett indicator was at 105%. The Buffett indicator peaked at 140% at the start of January 2018.

I.e. Netflix's astonishingly high price ratio is in the context of an already overpriced market. When the price starts to fall, there's a long way to go fast. We're in dot com territory.

Netflix as speculation

While the fundamentals clearly indicate Netflix is way overpriced as costs are poised to outrun revenue growth and the market is overpriced, a bunch of smart and a bunch of lucky people bought Netflix at less than $190 last fall (any time from August 2017) and took their profits at $330 at the start of March 2018 enjoyed a 70% increase in their investment in three to eight months.

Indeed, anyone who bought at the low of $82 on 31 January 2016 forward did very well despite periods of long inaction.

Following Netflix and jumping in at the right time and out at the right time offers great speculative returns. Unlike many other stocks, it's possible to follow Netflix's product closely and in an informed way. There are measures like show success, negotiations with studios, availability of content, cost of content, success of competitive products (Disney is the current big menace: overrated in my opinion), international regulatory issues, general stock market sentiment which are visible before the quarterly and annual reports are released.

One's chances of success gambling on Netflix are much higher than gambling on sports, the horses or the casino. But at current prices, Netflix is not a viable long term investment.

Netflix Valuation: A European Perspective

Post from: Foliovision

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Dia Takacsova <![CDATA[Hikari]]> https://foliovision.com/?p=64837 2018-04-03T12:28:11Z 2018-04-03T12:10:07Z Casey Warren and Danielle Krieger, the duo behind the award winning Mindcastle studio, builds its films on powerful emotional storytelling. Passionate about photography and design, they both developed their cinematic eye and specific style, which can be seen in their work for Canon, Elle Magazine, Microsoft, The New York Rangers or Patrón, among others. Mindcastle has also received numerous awards, including the One Club’s Young Guns award, Cannes’ Young Director’s Award, One Screen Festival’s Emerging Writers Award, and a Sports Emmy.

Krieger and Warren are known for creating a “world” for their films where they build scenes and hand-create elements: they made more than 100 basketball team branded mixtapes for their film Mixtape for ESPN as well as did complex location scouting with detailed planning for their film The Journey.

Their recent short Hikari was created in memory of a young woman named Hikari-san, who took her own life after struggling with depression. Hikari-san was a vlogger who made videos reading and speaking in a quiet whisper voice, Japanese ASMR. ASMR stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, an experience which creates a calming sensation in listeners. Her aim was to help others who shared her struggles with depression and anxiety. She lost her battle with her own internal struggle February 2016.

We wanted to let her know that people out there are affected by her in a positive way, and also let other people out there struggling know that they are not alone.

The duo also revealed more about the concept and narrative of their film in an interview for NOWNESS

When written in Kanji, her name Hikari-san (ひかりさん) means ‘light' (光). The film incorporates light as a subtle yet present visual motif, from candles lit in a shrine to the omnipresent florescent lights seen throughout Kyoto streets at night.

In Hikari, Mindcastle merged cinematic visuals, dramatic music and powerful words. The short begins with the words "Nothing stays forever", a real tribute to the fragility of life. The base of it lies in the message, transferred by poetry: in the film, Natsuko Kure reads Shuntaro Tanikawa's "Epitaph For a Poet's Tomb". The entire film was shot in Kyoto, Japan.

Hikari-san's presence is really felt within the piece, every aspect of it being harmonious while moving at the same time. Watch the beautiful visual epitaph!

[This post contains video, click to play]

Follow Mindcastle on their Vimeo channel | Facebook | Instagram | website.

Do you have a video you think we should feature, or is one of your friends a talented filmmaker? Submit your work at marketing@foliovision.com for a chance to be featured in our Video of the Week series!

DT00SK

Hikari

Post from: Foliovision

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Alec Kinnear http://foliovision.com <![CDATA[Apple OS X shortcomings got you down? Read some Windows 10 blog posts to cheer up]]> https://foliovision.com/?p=64665 2018-03-27T13:14:32Z 2018-03-27T10:30:41Z Often lately I think about how evil Apple is. Here's a short list:

  • Apple doesn't pay their taxes. And Tim Cook is proud of it (secret, illegal tax deals hidden from the Irish taxpayer and the EU). 
  • Apple puts fake humidity paper triggers in both iPhones and MacBook Pros to attempt to avoid responsibility for repairs. (Actually happened to us, I have photos of a MBP 13" with no internal water damage but with the humidity papers changed colour on which Apple tried to get away without doing the repairs under the $300 Apple Care we purchased for the MBP.)
  • Apple releases beta software which creates endless trouble for naive end users who update to the latest version of the OS without thinking. The Yosemite discoveryd networking replacement wasn't pulled until 10.10.4 when good old mDNSresponder was reinstalled. Six months of hell for nothing.
  • Apple prevents developers from creating backwards compatible versions of their programs (if you use any of the recent Xcode tools, you have to create completely different versions for older versions of OSX, maintaining a completely separate development environment). This basically harasses developers into doing the wrong thing.
  • Apple prevents established long term app developers from releasing good products (their products require some tiny permission to function) while making it attractive for copycat Chinese developers to flood the app store with really second rate programs you wouldn't want to see on Windows 2000 let alone Mac OS 10.11. This makes life hell for long term Macintosh developers and confusing for Mac users (the Mac App Store is a horrible place to search for software as there are so many crappy duplicate titles).
  • Moving back to all proprietary ports. MagSafe 1 was brilliant. I guess Apple didn't have enough patents on it so MagSafe 2 had to be released with more encumbrances on third parties. Or maybe Apple just thought it would be really fun to screw over its long time users and make them buy all new chargers (we have about seven chargers in this family: two at work and five around the house). Thunderbolt is pretty Apple specific and goes through iterations absurdly fast, outdating expensive hardware add-on.
  • Removing all ports from the latest products, making people buy all new devices or travel with a ridiculous set of dongles. This is taking computing back to the era of the Apple PowerBook Duo (I had one of these, I know about this first hand).

Image © Stephen Hackett
  • Refusing to make a modular anything. Every Apple computer you buy now is a complete throwaway if it breaks outside of Apple care. Just replacing the battery in that MBP 13" meant replacing the entire top of the computer including battery, keyboard, trackpad, housing. The replacement trackpad still doesn't work properly. This whole policy of throwaway computers is extremely green unfriendly from a company who is historically popular with the granola crowd (I'm in that crowd).
  • No Mac Pro since 2012. The trash can/Darth Vader circular portable is not a pro desktop. You can't change the video card or add any internal storage. When anything dies (and the video cards fail all the time as there is not adequate ventilation if you run both processors and video cards hard for an extended period of time, doing say video rendering), it's Sayonara in most cases.
  • Removing valuable pro features like software RAID.
  • Preventing local sync of applications like Contacts. All your data has to go back to the mothership into iCloud if you want sync (Apple actively had to remove the local syncing options). iCloud is hosted in the United States where as a non-American citizen (and even as an American citizen if you've ever telephoned or emailed outside the United States) you have almost no privacy rights. Not only is this wrong, it's basically illegal in Germany but Apple does it anyway.
  • Phoning home without permission. If you install OS X from scratch, denying Apple any communication with Apple and add Little Snitch, you'll see that all your user data is sent back to Apple right away after install. 
  • Killing important pro apps like FCP Studio, Aperture, Shake on which creators and whole studios had built businesses.

I could go on but I promised a short list. In any case, just when you thought a computer OS company couldn't get any worse, you might happen across some posts of a photography expert who uses Windows 10. What was Jim Kasson (it's not his first rodeo) thinking when he installed Windows 10 on his new Lenovo portable? He agreed to Windows 10 updates, here's what happened:

The machine reboooted several times and the whole operation took about 15 minutes. When I finally got the logon screen back, I couldn’t log onto the domain. I got this message:

“The security database on the server does not have a computer account for this workstation trust relationship.”

This is astonishing. Kasson was locked out of his own computer for doing an update!

I couldn’t log on to a local account, either. I got a message saying that the user name and password were wrong.

I did a little web research. Microsoft is admitting that this is sometimes a problem, and their recommended solution is to boot the computer with Win 10 installation media, and select repair.

This didn't work either. Kasson had to do a full reinstall and if he didn't follow the fine print he would have erased his whole disk.

When I finally got the computer booted off the Win 10 installation image, I didn’t see a menu. Instead, I get a window that said: “It looks like you started an upgrade and booted from the installation media. If you want to continue with the upgrade, remove the media from your PC, and click Yes. If you want to perform a clean installation instead, click No.”

Well, that was revolting. Two choices, and neither of them what I wanted. I tried saying Yes to see if there were any choices down the line, but there weren’t. I took the media out and clicked Yes, and the computer booted from the SSD into the same logon screen that led nowhere.

I went back to the screen with the two bad choices and told it to do a clean install, hoping there would be a chance to rescind that decision down the line. Turns out that there is. You get a screen with a big Install Now and a little tiny Repair label down in the lower left corner. Breathing a sigh of relief, I clicked on it.

On the next screen, I clicked on Troubleshoot. On the Next screen, I picked Command Prompt. That is supposed to activate the hidden admin account. I then booted Win 10 off the SSD and attempted to sign in as the Administrator. I got the message: Your account has been disabled, Please contact your system administrator.

Seven months later, the Windows updates were still broken. Months later Kasson discovered what the issue really is. Labelle who seems to work at or with Microsoft but is a kind soul left Kasson the required tips in a comment:

As explained in the first post, yes, just wipe your computer.
Put all your files in OneDrive if not already (this one is really a no brainer honestly).

Wipe it, log in with your credentials, install first applications of the Store for what you need. And only then, install what you cannot find in the Store so maybe special photo / video editing software and that’s it....

In less than 2 hours, you will have a working computer.

The price of a working computer on the "free" Windows 10? Two hours out of your life and storing all of your files on Microsoft's servers (OneDrive).

I feel better about our five Macs at home and ten Macs at work now. Installing Mac OS X doesn't yet require a license key or being online. You can move your whole startup drive between desktops and portables with no issues (lots of third party software like Adobe will go crazy of course and require re-authorisation).

AK00SK

Apple OS X shortcomings got you down? Read some Windows 10 blog posts to cheer up

Post from: Foliovision

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Sanela Kurtek http://foliovision.com <![CDATA[Kazakhstan – Kyrgyzstan]]> https://foliovision.com/?p=64416 2018-04-09T13:18:55Z 2018-03-19T11:09:16Z Guillaume Juin is a French filmmaker, with a pretty incredible portfolio - he does everything rom commercials, events, drone photography, to motion design and narrative. But his most prominent videos are the ones from his travels. He's always on the road and on his Vimeo channel you can find videos from Argentina, Peru, Turkey and most recently Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. 

For our next video of the week, we've chosen the short film he created during his trip to Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. On this trip Guillaume visited the most important natural sights in both countries. First on the list was the Ustyurt Plateau in Kazakhstan. This area of around 200,000 square kilometres is also called an "island", because of its edge cliffs of over 300 metres high. The colour of the cliffs ranges from white to pink, with no green in the sight.  

Next they visited the Altyn-Emel National Park, which is about 4 times the size of Hong Kong. Located approximately 260 km from Almaty, this is the perfect place to experience the Kazakh wilds.

200 km east of Almaty, close to the Chinese border is the Charyn Canyon, a canyon on the Sharyn River. The canyon consists of colourful formations of varying shapes and sizes.

A completely different scenery awaited at the Kolsay Lakes  in the southeast Kazakhstan, which are often referred to as "Pearl of Tien Shan", seeing how they're located on the north slope of the Tian Shan Mountains.

In Kyrgyzstan, they spent a lot of time horse trekking around the Song Kul Lake and its surroundings. They also visited the breathtaking Ala-Kul lake in Kyrgyzstan, as well as the Altyn Arashan Valley.

All of these awe-inspiring images can be found in the beatiful timelapse/drone video by Guillaume. The video follows Guillame's journey through these two Central Asian countries, showing their nature in its full beauty, but also the life of the locals. It's a wonderful ode to Central Asia and an invitation to travel. Enjoy the video and fingers crossed for some affordable tickets to Central Asia some time soon!

[This post contains video, click to play]

 

Follow Guillaume Juin on his website or his Vimeo Channel

Kazakhstan – Kyrgyzstan

Post from: Foliovision

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Eduard <![CDATA[New FV Player Features: Position Saving and Custom Video Fields]]> https://foliovision.com/?p=64237 2018-03-15T16:15:46Z 2018-03-15T16:13:48Z FV Player's newest update to version 6.5 brings some bug fixes, an updated MPEG-DASH library and two brand new features - video position saving and custom video fields.

Video Position Saving

This new feature is available for all users of FV Player. It will allow viewers to continue watching the video from the exact point they left it at. That doesn't require any viewer input, they can just leave the page and when they return and play the video again, it will automatically continue from the point at which they closed it. 

The best part is that this works both for users that are logged in and also for guest users. Logged in users' video position information is stored in the usermeta and guest users' position information is in a localStorage or in a browser cookie. Logged in users will therefore be able to start watching a video on desktop, and then continue on mobile. This is especially good for websites with longer videos, like movies or lessons.

Activating the feature is easy, just go to Settings > FV Player > Setup tab > Sitewide FV Player Defaults and check the box Remember video position (beta). You can try the video position saving in this example:

[This post contains video, click to play]

Custom Video Fields

If you feel limited by the area of the article content of your posts in WP editor and you would like to place videos outside it, you can use this new option. It will allow you to create a custom field right under the content, where you can upload videos through the shortcode editor.


Click for a preview of the full posting interface

To activate this, you will first have to check the box Enable profile videos in Settings > FV Player > Setup tab > Integrations/Compatibility and then insert this code into your theme's functions.php file:

/**
 * FV Player Video Custom Fields
 */
if( class_exists('FV_Player_MetaBox') ) {
  new FV_Player_MetaBox('Film Videos', 'film_videos','post',true);
}

You can read more about what you can do with the video fields in our guide Setting up Video Custom Fields.

Bugfixes

Iframe Embedding - Code Missed Closing Tag

There were reports of issues with iframe embedding - it just didn't work for some of our users. We did some testing and it turned out that the body closing tag in the embed code was misplaced, so we fixed this and now everything should work fine.

AMP Pages - Generating PHP Warnings

Some of our users were reporting a string of PHP errors in their server console. It turned out that the issue was in the AMP integration with FV Player. We fixed that immediately and the PHP errors have not appeared since.

Shortcode Editor - Generating Duplicate Subtitles

As with most of FV Player's features, there are two ways to add them to a video. You can either manually write the respective parameter directly to the shortcode, or you can use our shortcode editor. The latter option was, unfortunately, causing a minor issue when subtitles were added.  After selecting the subtitle language the subtitle file was added twice to the shortcode. This is fixed now, and the subtitles appear only once, as they are supposed to.

Don't forget:

New FV Player Features: Position Saving and Custom Video Fields

Post from: Foliovision

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Alec Kinnear http://foliovision.com <![CDATA[A billion reasons never to buy IBM services]]> https://foliovision.com/?p=64290 2018-03-16T17:48:33Z 2018-03-15T13:47:53Z The situation is more serious than I initially thought when I wrote this article. IBM has repeatedly savaged governments around the world for sums up and over $1 billion dollars for systems which don't work and have to simply be discarded.

Winning megaprojects with low initial bids and then turning a $20 million project into a billion dollar con of the client appears to be an artform at IBM. Governments all over the world have suffered, tax payers have paid for senior IBM bonuses. Ordinary citizens have gone six months or more without their paycheques.

This behaviour appears to be IBM policy and not an accident. This very grave situation cries out for a deep investigative long form feature. Together the governments of Canada and Australia and Pennsylvania (just the ones I've found so far) likely have a case of deliberately malicious business practices.

Apparently IBM has made USD $780 million building a payroll system for the Canadian Government which does not work.

Potential Savings on Payroll

The idea was to save money by eliminating jobs. Canada has about 260,000 public servants. Over 1200 people were working on payroll (accountants, bookkeepers and managers mainly with some IT guys thrown in to make it work). This is about half of one percent on payroll. Payroll is about one third the cost of accounting in our company. I'm unable to bring our accounting costs much below 3% of turnover on a sub-million dollar turnover despite strong efforts and automated software like Freshbooks.

I'm using headcount as a symbol of dollar figures for the Canadian government as in a service business like government or a software/IT company salary makes up over 70% of costs. It's not exact, but it provides pretty good reference numbers. Projecting these ratios onto Canada's federal government this would mean it's about twice as efficient as we've been able to become as a small business paying attention (we'd be at 1%). This is a ludicrously high on this kind of economy of scale. So the idea to reduce the head count was a good one. The target was 500 staff instead of 1200.

The mistake which was made was to try to stuff all the very diverse payment systems into a single system. It would have made more sense to categorise the type of payment systems and put like together with like. There would be a master reporting system on top of all the modules to deliver combined reports. The reporting system would be relatively easy to write if the ten or fifteen payment systems were well and simply made and storing data in an accessible way. You'd start by categorising the kinds of payroll, choosing one category, building one good payment system and then clone it out to the others.

IBM instead sold the Canadian government someone else's software (Oracle's Peoplesoft) on a sweetheart contract which did not require delivery of a working solution. Then IBM failed to successfully implement while taking payment all the way along.

A History of Public Contract Fraud

Like a military contractor in the United States who is paying kickbacks (campaign contributions above board, foreign bank accounts below board) to the congressmen and women and senators who vote on their programs, IBM gets paid more for their failure.

It's not an accident or a one-off. IBM did something similar to Australia:

The Australian state of Queensland scrapped a similar project after an initial contract went off the rails and ended up costing the government around A$1 billion ($772 million) to fix. A public inquiry mostly blamed government officials, but determined IBM shouldn’t have been chosen for the job.

It shouldn't be this difficult for governments to resolve failed contracts. There is no reason for private enterprise to profit from failed public projects or inadequate estimates.

In cases like this in the past, the Canadian Government would just be able to tell IBM to deliver the goods as promised or IBM would be banned from doing business in Canada - effectively frozen. Under NAFTA and similar trade pacts, governments have lost all leverage and these sweetheart deals continue to be pushed through.

Why should the Canadian taxpayer foot the bills for corrupt contracts with devious suppliers? The answer is we should not. Companies should know that when they contract to provide public services they will be held accountable.

Some more history of IBM at home and abroad

IBM is a hollow shell of what it once was. IBM treated its own workers horribly, when in 1993 they initially off-shored what was the world's most capable software and engineering workforce. One of IBM's major destinations after blowing up their US workforce was Bratislava. Some of IBM's business has moved on from Bratislava now as the environment is not sufficiently low cost any more. From insiders here, I had the chance to learn how IBM's service business really works.

An IBM team in Bratislava is an account manager who is an a group of ten with an account director above them. I.e. there are only two people with whom you would have contact. Slovaks are very talented at mid-level service jobs: responsible and polite if not particularly fast-moving. The general level of foreign language learning is high as as in addition to reasonable natural talent, Slovaks are forced to communicate with the outside world in any other language except their own. So far, so good.

The tech credentials of these software "experts" were pretty low. Language skills was the bigger issue along with basic computer literacy (ability to send emails and manage a CRM). An HR recruiter who worked for IBM and I had a running joke about what it took to get hired at IBM Slovakia. It was just three yeses to the following questions.

  1. "Can you say your name in English?"
  2. "Can you sit at a desk politely?"
  3. "Can you turn on a computer?"

Yet if these people or their friends were the only ones who had contact with your data, no issues at all. Slovaks, particularly in the service industry, are astonishingly honest.1

Who really implements software at IBM

The technical work was not kept within Slovakia at all. It was sent out to boiler rooms in India with extremely low skilled specialists and very high turnover. Your little service job might have to be done three or four times before it passed quality control and your "team leader" reported back to you. The teams were always rotating and there was no continuity on the work on any given project. If I were an IBM customer, I'd be very worried about my data transferred between so many jurisdictions and experts. It only takes one weak in the chain for your private business data to leak into the wrong hands.

In exchange, companies were paying premium development rates - hundreds of dollars an hour. IBM were effectively selling you $4/hour developers at premium prices. A company could hire software customisation engineers on hourly remuneration with ten times the soft skills and five times the hard skills for one third the hourly rate IBM charges.


IBM Bangalore, where software is made © CC/Amol Gaitonde

Now Canada is paying for IBM's irresponsibility as an employer, a supplier and a corporate citizen.

IBM vs Local Developers or Local Experts 

Canada would have done far better to hire Canadian Mike McDerment to build their payroll system from scratch. Mike has built two accounting systems which work more or less flawlessly: Freshbooks One (what we use) and Freshbooks Two (what Freshbooks are selling now). Freshbooks practices accountability. Once when Freshbooks servers went down for about eight hours, Mike gave everyone affected (about half their customers) a free month of service. I thought that was crazy over-compensation (and that's from someone who refunded $6000 to a single client for a project which didn't go according to plan).

My only recommendation to someone thinking of buying the IBM brand. Just don't. IBM doesn't produce what they are selling, offer low quality services at high prices and seek to sign customers up to dishonest contracts. In addition, IBM treats its employees very poorly (as contractors where possible), has hollowed out its home economies (North America). As coup de grace, IBM has stolen nearly a billion dollars from both Canada and Australia on failed payroll projects.

If this is how IBM treats its staff and governments, why would IBM treat your small business any differently?


  1. Historically Slovakia gets lumped with Eastern Europe in popular perception - Slovakia is nothing like Romania, the Ukraine, Albania or even Poland in turning out petty criminals or promiscuous online fraudsters. Not to forget Western Europe, France has a far more unhealthy work culture and fraud at work and as a way of living is far more acceptable than in Slovakia. Germany and Austria tend to value probity far more highly than the Mediterranean countries. Hundreds of years of late Roman Empire corruption left an undying footprint. ↩︎

A billion reasons never to buy IBM services

Post from: Foliovision

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Dia Takacsova <![CDATA[Second Hand Lovers]]> https://foliovision.com/?p=64122 2018-03-11T13:07:09Z 2018-03-11T12:46:37Z

A modern day bachelor shares his apartment with the memory of all his past lovers put together. In his fantasy they all share a harmonious loving relationship, synced into one being. The fantasy falls apart when he meets a real woman and has to choose between the safety of daydreaming and the challenges of real love.

The description of Second Hand Lovers by Oren Lavie promises an unusual story that will convince you that an artist's imagination can result in surprising pieces of art. This short film carries a unique style which is underlined with stunning visual imagery, splendid performances and a bit of melancholy.

Oren Lavie is a talented songwriter, author, theatre and video director with many projects and accomplishments. His debut album The Opposite Side of the Sea has been successful worldwide, while the stop motion style music video for Her Morning Elegance was screened on festivals such as Cannes Lion and Vienna Shorts, nominated for a Grammy and also became a YouTube hit receiving over 30 million views.

Oren also won the prestigious ASCAP award presented by the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers and he is also an author of a children's book titled The Bear Who Wasn’t There, which has been published throughout the world.

Another notable success is his video for the track Did You Really Say No, a story of a "man and a woman who live in a house that is too big for the size of their own relationship", on which he has collaborated with Vanessa Paradis.

Second Hand Lovers, a track from the second album Bedroom Crimes, builds on the author's previous work, creating an even clearer picture of Oren's world, which could be described as melancholic, minimalist and rich in shades and layers. The film is the second installment in the Bedroom Trilogy, a visual series based on the album.

The elegantly cut piece expresses the struggle between safety and reality, between memory, hopes and expectations. A group of women follows the actor, accompanying him during the morning coffee and wave him out the door. They are there when he is watching a movie, he is taking a bath or working. They remain there as a distant memory, possibly something he got used to, reminding him of the disputes, memorable moments or mistakes. And while everything seems to be going well, the story is moving towards its fatal closing.

I have tried to examine how difficult it is for us to open up to new emotional experiences as our memories of the past haunt us, still,

the author said about the concept in an interview for JustMusic.fr. We can conclude that he was successful: the result is emotive and tender at the same time. 

Second Hand Lovers was written and directed by Oren, produced by Rachel Vaserman and Gal Nae and edited by Amichy Bikovsky. The choreography is Maya Brinner's work. Watch this short, in which each scene is an artwork itself!

[This post contains video, click to play]

Follow Oren Lavie on his Vimeo channel | Facebook | Instagram | website.

Do you have a video you think we should feature, or is one of your friends a talented filmmaker? Submit your work at marketing@foliovision.com for a chance to be featured in our Video of the Week series!

DT00SK

Second Hand Lovers

Post from: Foliovision

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Eduard <![CDATA[FV Player: New Settings for DRM Text, Vimeo and Playlists]]> https://foliovision.com/?p=63794 2018-03-15T16:11:13Z 2018-03-02T15:03:53Z There has been a bit of a radio silence on new FV Player features. The reason for this is that we are still working on the major upgrade to version 7 of the Flowplayer core. It was meant to be released around the beginning of January, but we unfortunately ran into some obstacles and core Flowplayer issues (on which we worked together with the Flowplayer team) that were preventing us from releasing this faster. 

FV Player 7 is currently in the phase of closed beta, so the public release should not take too long. In the meanwhile, we added some new features to the current version of FV Player and also fixed some bugs. 

New Playlist Style: Slider

We added a new way to show your playlists - slider is a horizontally oriented style that will show video thumbnails in a similar way as classic horizontal playlist. The main difference is that the thumbnails will be aligned only in one row and viewers can browse through them by using a slider.

You can check it in this example playlist:

[This post contains video, click to play]

You can select the slider playlist style the usual way, which is explained in our guide How to Create Playlists.

DRM Text Interval Setting

FV Player Pro users who are using the DRM Text feature for protecting their videos from screen capturing can now change the frequency of the text appearance. There are two available options right now:

  • 5 seconds
  • 20 seconds

We have also changed the position of the button that activates this feature globally for all videos and incorporated both to their own box called DRM Text, which can be found in Settings > FV Player Pro > Setup tab.

DRM Text in FV Player Pro settings
DRM Text in FV Player Pro settings

Check our guide Protecting Videos With DRM Text to learn more.

JW Player Shortcodes Conversion

Since version 6.2.6, FV Player was able to convert JW Player's shortcodes to our own. The conversion only worked with older versions of JW Player, but as one of our users suggested in our support forum, the newer format was not supported. The newer format looks like this:

[jwplayer player=”3″ mediaid=”538527″]

We decided to quickly improve the conversion function (which can be found in Settings > FV Player > Setup tab > Conversion > Convert JWPlayer shortcodes) and help our users with switching seamlessly to FV Player.

Vimeo - Adding Preferred API Location Setting

Some of our users located in Asia have reported issues with Vimeo videos failing. It turned out the videos for these users were loading from servers in North America which was not fast enough in Asia. Therefore, we added a new option that will allow you to manually select which set of servers should the player prefer based on their location. You can pick from four options:

Preferred API location drop-down in FV Player Pro settings
Preferred API location drop-down in FV Player Pro settings

The Pick fastest automatically is the default setting, other three will help you to focus on one region and prevent possible drops in video loading speed. You can find this option in Settings > FV Player Pro > Hosting tab > Vimeo (Pro), although at this moment, it is only available in Beta.

If you want to learn more about how to integrate Vimeo with FV Player, read our guide How to Use Vimeo with WordPress.

Bug Fixes

HLS.js – picking the initial quality automatically

Until now, videos served via HLS.js always started in lower quality, because the stream prioritized quick start over showing the best possible quality. We improved this so FV Player will now check what streams are available and picks the one that is most suitable automatically.

That means that on a slower connection (for instance on mobile data), the player will pick the low quality stream, and on fast connection it will start with the HD right away.

Vimeo - making Android play HLS instead MP4

Android devices support HLS natively for a long time and Vimeo offers this streaming format natively. Also, a couple of times we ran into problems with Vimeo's MP4s. It turned out that MP4 videos use different CDNs than streaming formats (HLS and MPEG-DASH) and they sometimes caused trouble. Therefore we have decided that FV Player will automatically pick HLS on all Android devices, which will prevent any future problems with Vimeo network. 

Don't forget:

FV Player: New Settings for DRM Text, Vimeo and Playlists

Post from: Foliovision

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