How To Make Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) A Strategic Asset

first_imgGuest author Kevin Prendeville is a global managing director with Accenture’s Product Lifecycle Services practice.The tables have turned on many large high-tech companies – market leaders have become followers while followers have become leaders. What’s behind the seismic shift? The ability of those former followers to leverage investments in product development processes to deliver more innovative and successful products. These processes, known as Product Lifecycle Management (PLM), extend from idea gener¬ation through product launch to product retirement.An analysis by Accenture has found that large high-tech companies can spend $1 billion or more per year on Product Lifecycle Management in hopes of substantially boosting revenues and cutting costs. But Accenture also found that many C-suite executives view PLM as the engineering department’s black box – a critical enterprise business process poorly understood, measured or managed.Today’s competitive business environment requires that top management see PLM as a strategic corporate asset, a cross-functional, enterprise-wide business discipline that augments innovation, helps drive revenue growth, and reduces costs of everything from engineering rework to regulatory compliance.What Is Product Lifecycle Management (PLM)?PLM integrates a multitude of critical cross-functional activities, such as:product strategyportfolio managementproduct managementidea and requirements gatheringproduct designproduct engineeringproduct validation and complianceproduct costingproduct qualitydirect material sourcingmanufacturingafter-market services product retirementPLM capabilities support PLM activities to drive activities, decisions and data within the end-to-end PLM process. Examples includeintellectual property managementproduct structure and reuseengineering changesstage-gate approvalsideas and requirementssoftware configurationquality tests and defectsproduct costsdevelopment project statusFor global enterprises to maximize the business impact of PLM, they need to examine two dimensions: effectiveness and efficiency.Large high-tech companies are making substantial investments – often 5% to 25% or more of revenue – in PLM. But according to Accenture’s analysis, nearly half of PLM ends up wasted on products that do not meet market needs or timing. High-tech enterprises have thousands of highly skilled and well-paid designers, scientists and engineers working inside global PLM processes across hundreds of current and future products. But due to lack of central coordination, prioritization and integration of processes, systems and data, they’re often working on essentially useless or redundant tasks. That means there’s a huge opportunity for improvement.Technology can help improve PLM – if it’s implemented with an integrated plan focused on a distinct business process. Most global companies have deeply fragmented PLM systems comprising 20 or more applications. PLM software vendors provide powerful and field-tested applications – but not the kind of end-to-end business process coverage available in leading customer relationship management (CRM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) applications. Most high-tech companies use three or more PLM vendors to span the various PLM capability areas.Four Ways To Improve PLMTrue enterprise PLM requires building an end-to-end framework that spans multiple solutions and accom¬modates business processes and data from marketing, design, product portfolio management and more. A one-size-fits-all answer does not exist, but Accenture has identified four best practices to get the most out PLM:Step 1. Create an enterprise-wide framework to define PLM capabilities. Define what is and is not PLM, then formally break down and re-evaluate current PLM capabilities. Review all processes, applications, metrics, organization and data that underpin product development process flow from initial concept to product retirement. Then examine the performance and maturity of each as objectively as possible. High-performance businesses structure PLM as a hierarchy of capabilities that span the process, represent various organizations and competencies, and connect all corners of the PLM landscape with each another. Most companies that go through this exercise are surprised by how disjointed and fragmented their overall PLM approaches are and by how many gaps and redundancies they uncover. And they are often alarmed to find how few metrics and how little docu¬mentation supports their PLM activities.Step 2. Link the PLM framework’s capabilities to key corporate and product priorities. Settle on five-to-ten business metrics that track the effectiveness and efficiency of innovation and product development outputs, transcending any one department or function. They might relate to pipeline throughput, cost of engineering, reuse of platforms or components or resource use. For instance, if plans call for more new products to be developed in lower-cost countries, the PLM framework would link that objective to the corresponding capabilities and metrics.Step 3. Use the prioritized PLM framework As An investment planning tool. It is relatively straightforward to turn the results of these exercises into a powerful tool for ongoing planning activities. The organization’s varied constituents can more easily analyze trade-offs, guide investments in product development improvement projects, and measure the impact of those projects over time. For example, one high-technology company used this framework to concentrate its future PLM focus and investment to improve software product development processes rather than mechanical design. Basically, the firm chose to improve the productivity of its thousands of software designers instead of its hundreds of mechanical designers.Step 4. Establish a group to own and update the PLM framework and corporate roadmap. As with CRM, ERP and supply chain management, there has to be a single, formal organization to advance and support PLM. That organization should have visible, unambiguous sponsorship from a senior executive. This helps ensure PLM becomes part of the company’s innovation fabric rather than a one-time project.Three PLM Success StoriesUsing these best practices, several high-tech companies have made significant progress with their PLM strategies:1. One version of the truth. A provider of servers and storage equipment re-designed its business processes to better leverage PLM technologies. The firm created “one version of the truth” for a single engineering change process for all its hardware products including several from large acquisitions.2. Integrating hardware and software. A provider of electronic gaming equipment developed new processes, data models and a central application to manage the relationship between its hardware designs and corresponding software designs, as they evolved through development and change processes.3. Increasing re-use. A global consumer electronics company implemented a streamlined portal and graphic user interface – providing a fast and visual way for designers and engineers to search, find and re-use components, solutions and information stored in its PLM databases.The good news is there are many cross-industry cases proving the merits of improving PLM. The better news is that many industries have already blazed PLM trails, providing proven strategies, lessons learned and methodologies for high-tech companies to leverage.Image courtesy of Shutterstock. Tags:#business software#enterprise IT#Software Related Posts Cognitive Automation is the Immediate Future of… Massive Non-Desk Workforce is an Opportunity fo…center_img kevin prendeville IT + Project Management: A Love Affair 3 Areas of Your Business that Need Tech Nowlast_img read more

LastPass’ Joe Siegrist: Protecting The Digital World, One Password At A Time

first_imgRW: You were very vocal when the Heartbleed news broke.See also: Exterminating Heartbleed: How To Clear It Out Of Your Data CenterJS: People needed to know what passwords to change and when, so we made an overall test page. People could find out if sites had updated their SSL certificates, if it was safe to change that password yet. That was a free tool for anyone, even if you didn’t have a LastPass account. We love making tools like that for everyone.And for LastPass users, we have a security check that looks for all sites known to be vulnerable. It tells you exactly which ones they are, how old your password is, if you should go change those passwords, and when it’s safe to do so.RW: For the Heartbleed checker, I heard that LastPass didn’t actually test sites for their vulnerabilities, but merely compiled info based on company announcements. Is that accurate? Or is it a checker with a real-time status updater?JS: That’s not the full picture. We had the exploit code that we could run ourselves, but we weren’t legally clear that that was allowed. I’ve since figured out how to do it, so we’ll be adding real-time current checks for sites currently vulnerable to Heartbleed on our page.Certain large sites fixed the major bug within a day. It was easy to do that. The harder part was reissuing and revoking certificates, and that was what we thought [was important], because that’s when you know its safe to go change your passwords.We focused on any sites that were known to be vulnerable. We checked the SSL certificates the sites were using, in multiple different ways—going to sites, grabbing the current certificates, seeing if they had been reissued and the date reported.RW: But didn’t LastPass itself use the Heartbleed-affected version of OpenSSL [the vulnerable security protocol used by many websites and cloud services]?JS: Fifty percent of sites were using the vulnerable version of SSL. You could say we had a 50/50 chance of being in that. We were also using it, but because we practice what’s known as “defense in depth,” we had another layer. So what could be revealed from LastPass is far less than just about any other website.Your data was encrypted on your device before it was sent to us, so it’s not very useful, compared to grabbing a password directly from memory from another site. We were also quick to shut it down, patch it and get it replaced, and quick to help people realize what they need to do to protect themselves.We have multiple layers of defense. Peeling back one layer of the onion exposes a little, but not enough that we felt it was necessary to take extraordinary steps. For sites that are fully reliant on SSL only, it’s a much more grave scenario for them.The ChallengesSee also: NSA Accused Of Exploiting Heartbleed For At Least Two Years; Agency Denies ItRW: You’ve had some challenges, even apart from being affected by Heartbleed. A few years ago, LastPass landed in the headlines for leaking passwords. JS: That harks back to May of 2011, when we saw some anomalous traffic. We couldn’t figure out if anything had been taken; we just didn’t have any real signs, except for a certain set of traffic graphs that indicated traffic had been passed. We were upfront about what we knew, what we didn’t, when we knew and when we didn’t. We definitely lost some people on the short term, but it made people respect how we view things and how we’re going to handle them. It was definitely a tough time—not just that it happened, and saying that mistakes were made, but also the ensuing time. Tons of additional people wanted to know more, wanted more support; it was a challenging experience, all the way around.[With Heartbleed,] we were out there, talking about how we were vulnerable hours after it happened. We think it’s important that people immediately know and have all the facts. I think that engenders a lot of trust. So many companies told us how great that was, because their company had run into something similar and basically passed it to their lawyers, who decided to sweep it under the rug. RW: With the password leak, and then Heartbleed, at each turn, you seem to be able to survive the issues and maintain your fanbase. What’s your secret? JS: From our perspective, we’re in the public trust. We have over 2 million people that use LastPass everyday, and over 4.8 million people total. We take our role protecting those people seriously. But we’re not perfect. There will be mistakes that we couldn’t have caught.If we see something wrong, we’re not going to brush it under the rug. We’re going to be open about it, so people can decide what’s best for them.Trust is built over time, and that’s something you earn. All we’re trying to do is keep earning that trust.RW: Trust is definitely an issue for consumers, particularly when it comes to passwords. That leads me to a blunt question: Online, some users wonder if the National Security Agency has ever approached you guys. Has it? If not, what would you do if it did?JS: The NSA has never come knocking on our door. If the NSA showed up, I would be availing ourselves of whatever legal resources we could to protect ourselves and our users. It hasn’t happened yet.But there are easier ways for them to peg attacks. If you’re interested in a particular site, going after that site is probably easier than trying to go after LastPass, where there are layers of defense that have to be peeled back, and a company that’s not going to be quiet about that.What you’re storing in LastPass is mostly passwords to other sites. If you’re the NSA, you’d rather attack the actual sites.Last LessonsRW: You’ve been doing this now for six years. What have been some of your biggest lessons?JS: There’s been a ton of highs and lows. Building something that people use everyday is incredibly intoxicating. It’s fun to come up with something that will save somebody time or delight them, and be able to roll it out relatively quickly, in front of a mass audience.Timing is always the hardest thing with companies. You can start too early; you can be too late. We might have still been a little early to the game, so we spent a lot of time educating, which is fine in retrospect. But it certainly would have been easier had we started later.RW: You think you were too early?JS: You can go back to our forums and blogs from 2009. There are epic, 50-post battles with people demanding every intricacy, and going from, “This is the stupidest idea in history” to “Oh my gosh, you have figured out how to do this!” There was a ton of that back and forth, and we had to slog through it and convince people, because there was so much “wisdom” that anything in the cloud was going to be taken by hackers.No one could do some of these things we could do in a secure manner. That kind of education is the battle we’ve been in from the get go—[and it’s] the battle right now that we’re fighting.Passwords aren’t a joke. It’s really important, and if you let your identity slip out because you’re reusing passwords everywhere, a lot of real damage can be done to you. That has been a drum that I’ve been beating for six years now. Heartbleed really helps with that education, but I’m hopeful that the media and others can help with educating consumers about it.RW: Strangely enough, I imagine Heartbleed must have been good for your business. Have you seen a surge in users since it surfaced?JS: We absolutely have. It was good exposure for the need of password managers. Heartbleed has been a wakeup call. Mobile photo by Anthony Myers for ReadWrite; All other images courtesy of LastPass adriana lee RW: For password managers in general, cross-app integration seems really tricky. On smartphones, particularly iOS, there’s still plenty of copying and pasting of passwords from LastPass into individual apps. How challenging has it been to deal with mobile versus desktop? JS: Sandboxing, if you are the person that is playing outside of the sandbox like we are, is something that drives you crazy [in mobile]. Basically, sandboxing means that apps are isolated and can only play within their own sandbox. LastPass is special, in that it needs to interact with other sandboxes. It needs to interact with other apps.We’ve been very happy lately to utilize the Accessibility API in later versions of Android to get in and do app filling directly. iOS continues to be a thorn in the side, since we can’t deliver the solution we and our customers want, because of the limitations Apple puts upon developers. RW: And there’s no way to get around that. JS: There are no very clean ways to get around it. If it’s jailbroken, you can do things, but none of that is easy for the mass market. Apple closed down and prevented developers from expressing and creating great software for its platform because of restrictions it ignores for itself, but restricts everyone else. If I sound a little bitter, I am. It’s not the way it should be. Nobody wants the future of computing to be completely isolated, wholly controlled by company-only type experiences. That will be bad for everyone.RW: You mentioned Android’s Accessibility API. How did you use it and which features ride on it?JS: With later versions of Android, it’s essentially the same technology that a screen reader would use for a blind person. We can utilize that to see what’s on the screen, and potentially fill in different fields using that Accessibility API. We can recognize what app is running, that a password field is there, and combine that. LastPass can present it to you and give you the option to fill this in for you.RW: All of it hinges on the master password, though. So what happens if a hacker manages to crack it? Is the user screwed?JS: There are a lot of protections. We have a ton of different multi-factor [authentication] options for your LastPass account, based on your phone, location, biometrics, etc. We support, by far, the most multi-factor type options, so that even if you screamed out your password at a bar, someone couldn’t use it without a secondary factor.We also have a lot of protections on the cloud side, like how many attempts you can make at guessing a password. This makes it difficult to break into an account that way; it gets locked down quickly.Staying Competitive Serverless Backups: Viable Data Protection for … Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting RW: Your pricing is really low. It’s 12 bucks per year, isn’t it?JS: We’re trying to help people as much as we possibly can. Like with pricing. My pricing isn’t sophisticated. It’s always been cheap. Everyone who contacts me thinks it should be [more]. We want to make a great product at a fair price, so it’s an easy decision for people. RW: You mentioned that you encrypt locally, on whatever device you’re using, and again in the cloud. At this point, others have come along that do that as well.JS: LastPass supports more platforms, more devices, more multi-factor [authentication] devices than anyone out there. We’re committed to ensuring that every device, platform is going to be supported. Because if that doesn’t happen, you’re going to fall back to your old habits of reusing passwords, or be terribly frustrated.I want people to use a password manager; it doesn’t need to be mine. There are others out there that are good. They don’t have the breadth we have, but they’re decent choices. The core thing is that people realize that it’s necessary to use something, because reusing the same password for every site just doesn’t make sense.We’re trying to cover all the bases, including covering you at work [with LastPass for enterprise]. We have a lot of big name companies that are using LastPass to make sure employees are practicing good password hygiene. We want people to stop emailing, texting and IMing passwords. You’re putting that password at risk, especially when you email, and it’ll sit there and be recorded forever. You should be sharing those passwords in the correct way, through LastPass, and it will help you when it updates—and magically everyone in your team has that update. Stopping The Heartbleed How Intelligent Data Addresses the Chasm in Cloudcenter_img ReadWriteBuilders is a series of interviews with developers, designers and other architects of the programmable future.The recent Heartbleed bug, which threatened to leak user passwords and other personal information like a sieve, had one unexpected consequence: It put password managers in the spotlight.Post-Heartbleed, security experts warned users to choose new, unique passwords for affected apps and websites. That’s a big chore for most people, and relatively few actually follow through on such recommendations, even among the security conscious. Password managers, which store passwords for your various online accounts—email, banking, social sites like Facebook and Twitter and so forth—in the cloud, offered one way of easing that burden.Password managers like LastPass have stepped up to help Heartbleed-fearing people lock down their accounts. The company, headed by CEO and founding developer Joe Siegrist, has been offering advice and online tools for concerned users since the bug was first reported last month. Siegrist, 37, has been a vocal evangelist for better password security for six years, and in a way it’s now paying off, given that Heartbleed has been sending lots of nervous users his way. Siegrist’s earnestness, however, doesn’t hurt. “I want people to use a password manager; it doesn’t need to be mine,” he told me. “The core thing is that people realize that it’s necessary to use something, because reusing the same password for every site just doesn’t make sense.”It’s the same drum he’s been banging since he started. Here’s how it all began.The First Pass For LastPassSee also: Heartbleed Defense: The 3-Step Password Strategy Everyone Should UseRW: You used to work in Internet telephony.Joe Siegrist: Yes, I was the CTO of Estara [which sold to ATG in 2006 for $50 million]. We did a lot of security there, because we were doing phone calls for people on their computers, Voice Over IP calls, back in 1999 or 2000. RW: You’re listed as inventor for 5 patents related to that. You also worked at an Internet service provider at one point. How does somebody with your background end up in password management?JS: Security was a big issue at Estara. We had to do encryption. We had to figure out how to do key exchange, how to do all this securely. We were running a “Software As A Service” business before it was called that. When we left, we couldn’t do anything in VoIP telephony, so we had to pick a new one. I and three of my best guys who worked with me there left at similar times. We started LastPass because we wanted to work together again.It was on my mind: How do people do this? It was painful, how I was handling passwords. I had them in a file that I was encrypting and decrypting manually every time I needed it, editing the files, searching for the site name, copying and pasting passwords. It was complicated. You start asking around, and other people handle it by using the same password for every site. I was shocked. It was akin to using the same key for every lock. I really wanted to let people do what they wanted—which was reuse the same password everywhere—but do it securely, where you could update that password and be secure, without revisiting all the sites and without all the pain involved. Tags:#Builders#cloud#encryption#Heartbleed#Joe Siegrist#LastPass#OpenSSL#password manager#passwords#security#web Related Posts Cloud Hosting for WordPress: Why Everyone is Mo… Building something that people use everyday is incredibly intoxicating. It’s fun to come up with something that will save somebody time or delight them.—Joe SiegristRW: So you got the core team together in April 2008 to get LastPass off the ground. And the beta launch followed in August that year.JS: Yes. It was a lot of time spent in the basement of my house, usually the three or four of us sitting at a long card table, banging away 10 to 12 hours a day.RW: What did you decide to focus on first?JS: On the core of the product: filling passwords in, remembering passwords automatically, grabbing passwords that are sitting unencrypted on your computer, getting it working for Internet Explorer and Firefox. Back in 2008, Chrome didn’t exist yet. So our core focus was showing people the data that was sitting on their PCs, that any malware or virus could pick up. We shocked tons of people when they saw all those passwords sitting here. We started from there, and that allowed us to see people’s accounts. It let them get started without an empty vault and without a lot of effort on their side.RW: Did you work on the encryption side in conjunction with user-facing features, or did that come later?JS: We first tried to prove the major concepts of grabbing the passwords, being able to capture and fill them. This was before we launched. As we approached the launch date, we wanted to utilize cloud-type techniques. We wanted the best of what the cloud gave you without the downsides.That was a tough decision back then, because we were the first cloud-based password manager. Everybody immediately said, “A cloud-based password manager is stupid.” They pre-judged it, because they assumed there was no simple, elegant way to protect your data while keeping it in the cloud. That was one of the core innovations we were proud of: We figured out a way to keep your data encrypted, locally, with a key that only you have—never passing that to LastPass—so that you can trust us.We are provably secure. We can prove that your password data is encrypted in a way that even we can’t decrypt before it’s sent from your computer. Now, in retrospect, it seems like an obvious thing. But it wasn’t back then. It took a lot of education, years before people started recognizing that this was a better mousetrap.Developing For Mobile Is Tricky Businesslast_img read more

Report: Apple Wants To Make The iPhone The Hub For Your Smart Home

first_imgServerless Backups: Viable Data Protection for … lauren orsini Related Posts Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting Tags:#Apple#connected home#Google#home#Internet of Things#Nest#smart home center_img The Internet is invading our homes, and Apple doesn’t want to miss the trend.Sources tell the Financial Times that Apple will unveil new technologies for controlling smart, connected devices like thermostats, lights, door locks, and more at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference, which takes place in San Francisco next week.According to the report, Apple is not preparing a new hardware device to serve as a “hub” for the smart home. Instead, Apple will make it easy for hardware makers to link their devices to iPhones, iPads, and Apple TVs. As a result, an iPhone owner could have lights turn on at home when she walks in the door, or start playing music when she moves from room to room.See also: How The iPhone 5S Could Be The Universal Remote For Your LifeApplications already exist to turn your iPhone and iPad into smart home controllers. Apple sells Philips Hue light bulbs in its stores, for example, and they come with a companion app. Apple would formalize such efforts with a certification program that would, among other things, guarantee the safety and security of connected home devices. That’s a real concern, given the growing trend of virtual home invasions by malicious hackers.See also: Google: Your Nest Will Not Turn Into A BillboardEver since Apple secured a smart home patent in November 2013, it’s been expected that the company would eventually announce a smart home platform. WWDC, Apple’s annual week-long effort to woo developers and show off new technologies they can incorporate into their software and hardware, is the natural place to do so.By entering the smart home market in this way, Apple could significantly expand its presence in users’ lives while boosting sales of its existing hardware lines. There’s also the potential to sell Apple-approved home devices like thermostats and light bulbs in Apple’s own chain of retail stores.See also: 3 Reasons Apple Should Have Bought NestApple already sells Nest thermostats as well as wireless audio gear, so it has some insight into consumer appetite for smart-home devices. It may also have an advantage over other players in the smart-home market—a reputation for protecting privacy. Already, people worry that Google will start using data from its users’ smart homes to target advertising. (Google’s recently acquired Nest subsidiary has denied having such plans, but a recent filing by Google suggests other Google-powered devices might do so.) We’ll be watching Apple’s announcements next week closely to see how it plans to reassure consumers while it woos developers. How Intelligent Data Addresses the Chasm in Cloud Cloud Hosting for WordPress: Why Everyone is Mo…last_img read more

Why Small Businesses Need to Be Vigilant About IoT Security Too

first_imgHow Blockchain Changes Nowadays Business Security Related Posts Why is Bitcoin Soaring? ToyBox and PlayTable Partner Together For Block… Blockchain – Impending Revolution in Glob…center_img The Internet-of-Things (IoT) is revolutionizing markets and businesses today. Manufacturers are reaping the benefits of having interconnected devices. According to McKinsey, use of IoT in factories can create as much as $3.7 trillion in value by 2025.But IoT isn’t just for large industries. Small businesses also stand to gain much from looking into the developments in IoT. They should be exploring how smart devices can help them become more effective and competitive. Developments in smart devices already cover plenty of use cases for retail, offices, and homes.It doesn’t take much investment to be part of this IoT revolution. It’s now common for any hardware or appliance to support some form of internet connectivity. Many may not realize it but the use of wireless printers and radio frequency IDs can already qualify as IoT adoption. The “cooler” technologies like those offered by Nest and SmartThings are now available to the mass market.Installing smart thermostats, light bulbs, and locks can give businesses a sense of progress. Who wouldn’t want to be part of organizations that keep up with the times? This can be good for staff morale and good for their image. Besides, these things do help save on energy costs and keep premises physically secure. However, small businesses must also consider the possible vulnerabilities that these devices can introduce even to small office networks. The threat of cyberattacks are real and rampant and these devices are yet another avenue that malicious actors can exploit. It would pay for these businesses to be vigilant when using IoT devices in their workplaces.No Such Thing as Too SmallEven without IoT, cybersecurity is already a major concern for small businesses. Malware typically target small businesses since they are easy prey. Most fall victim to attacks. 58% of malware victims are classified as small businesses. It’s understandable why this is the case. Smaller operations typically don’t have access to enterprise-level security. Such protection can be costly and requires technical know-how. They also tend to use lower-spec devices which may not have the proper security features. They also don’t have full-time IT departments or personnel to manage security. Their staff may not also be trained to apply the best practices in technology use. Untrained end users are likely to commit errors or cause incidences like inadvertently downloading and installing malware from their office devices. Small businesses are also likely to pay the ransom from ransomware attacks (malware that locks legitimate users out of their devices for extortion).What’s worse is that 87% of small business owners don’t feel that they’re even at risk of being attacked. Yet, they stand the most to lose when attacks do happen. Small to medium enterprises in the US lose $75 billion a year to ransomware. 1 in 5 businesses also shutter its doors after getting hacked.This, however, shouldn’t discourage small businesses from adopting IoT adoption entirely. All technology projects carry some form of risk. This should just serve as a reminder to be extra vigilant.Beefing Up SecurityThere are ways for businesses to still enjoy the benefits of IoT devices while minimizing security risks. It doesn’t take much investment or effort to cover the essential security concerns. Here are measures businesses can take to secure their networks:Invest in good devices. Don’t skimp on the quality of devices. There are plenty of low-cost devices flooding the market these days. But these off-brand devices may lack the essential security features to thwart attacks. They may also not have active development that would ensure support over the lifetime of the device. Stick to those that have features like access control, firmware upgrades, and data protection and offer guaranteed support. Nest, for example, keeps devices updated automatically as long as they’re online.Change the default administrator access. Many devices come out of the box with easy-to-access administrator credentials. For example, they often have username and password combinations like “admin/1234.” Even popular network devices like routers are wont to have such default settings. This is among the most common ways attackers and malware gain access to devices. Change the credentials to hard-to-guess passphrases and keep these credentials secure.Keep devices up-to-date. Another way attacker tries to gain access is by exploiting known vulnerabilities in the device’s code. It’s critical to keep devices running on their latest firmware and software. Managing multiple devices can be made easier by using remote management services. Not only could such tools help companies become more efficient in managing numerous devices but these also ensure that device vulnerabilities are always patched properly.Train staff on proper use. Educate staff on proper use of devices and general cybersecurity best practices. Even ensuring that they don’t just write down account credentials on Post-It notes is a positive step towards securing the workplace. The US Small Business Administration has a free online course that business owners and staff could take to orient themselves on ways to keep workplaces’ networks secure.Benefits Outweigh the EffortIoT adoption can bring many benefits for a small business. Energy management devices do help save on energy costs. Security cameras and smart locks help owners have a watchful eye on their offices and stores. Retailers could even automate their supply management and stock keeping through point-of-sale scanners and RF trackers. These make businesses run more efficiently and effectively. Making an effort to have security measures in place is all but a small price to pay when adopting any form of technology including IoT. “Marketer to Watch” (Forbes). “Industry leader” (SAP). “Top 100 FinTech Influencer” . Tech blogger with exposure to millions. Advising startups across Europe, NYC, and Tel Aviv. Yoav Vilnerlast_img read more

Smart Speakers Are Useful and Fun, but Don’t Let Them Reign as the Queen of All Knowledge

first_imgVince Lynch is CEO of IV.AI, a global AI company that helps businesses better connect with their customers. It processes 150 languages so all customers can be heard regardless of their origin. Clients include SMBs and larger companies such as Netflix, Toyota, Estée Lauder, Telefonica, and Capital One. When we were asked to help promote the “Resident Evil” film franchise for Sony Pictures a couple of years ago, we came up with the idea of altering the fictional artificial intelligence character (The Red Queen) into a real AI character — for which the fans could interact. It was a fun concept that was quite successful, but it created some serious challenges and reminded us how hard it is to build truly meaningful AI.Creating AI, including smart speakers like Alexa and smartphone assistants like Siri, is challenging. These devices offer a helpful utility function and are good for amusement, but they are created and trained by humans, which can introduce biases and a power dynamic that should be addressed.The Red Queen AIEngagement was what we were aiming for when we started on the Red Queen AI. We began by collecting all the scripts that had been created by the writers of the films in the series. We trained the AI to learn the character using natural language processing techniques and then generated new dialogue written entirely by the AI to see how it would work.The first few AI outputs were a nightmare. There wasn’t enough training data in the model, so the new AI version of the character was overly aggressive. We needed more data to soften the harsh villain character and enable it to work for a wider audience.The film character’s catchphrase was “You’re all going to die down here,” but the first version of the AI couldn’t quite get it right. It gave us some pretty funny results, including “You must die” and “Your death is here.” As you might imagine, it could be a bit heavy out of context and could have hindered our ability to reach a new audience that hadn’t seen the previous films.To add more training data and to make the AI smarter, we decided to tap into literature by authors like Charles Dickens and Shakespeare so the AI could learn from the more gentle communication styles of classic villains. Then, we added real conversations from police engagements with criminals to provide more realism and modern communication, as well as examples of people on psychoactive drugs recounting the things they saw, which ended up providing some rather creative dialogue.We trained and retrained, and finally settled on the AI’s output: “I’m not sure I’m done playing with you yet.” This statement would then appear more playful and not as murderous. Plus it worked for the context of the engagement, which allowed people back into the game.Everyone was happy with the end result, and the game was a hit. But it’s important to note that our decisions about which training data to use had biases. The decisions of the writers as to what made a good villain had biases. All of those biased slants can be OK when the aim is entertainment — but they should be approached with caution for more serious conversations managed by voice assistants, such as for healthcare, finances, and nutrition.The Challenges of AI AssistantsThe creators of AI assistants are often a small, homogenized group of people behind the curtain who decide what answers are true (or the most accurate) for billions of people. These arbitrary statements create a distorted view of reality that users of AI assistants might take as gospel.For instance, more than a year ago, Alexa was accused of a liberal bias. And last January, a video went viral when someone asked Google Home who Jesus was and the device couldn’t answer but could tell users who Buddha was. The company explained that it didn’t allow the device to answer the question because some answers come from the web, which might prompt a response a Christian would find disrespectful.As the use of smart speakers continues to climb, so do expectations. The number of smart speakers in U.S. homes increased 78% from December 2017 to December 2018 to a whopping 118.5 million, according to “The Smart Audio Report.” But users need to be mindful of the way the AI platforms work.Digital assistants have the potential to limit the scope of what products and platforms we use.After all, when one device (and, therefore, one company) owns the road to external knowledge, that company can act unethically in its own interest.For example, if I ask Siri to play a song by The Beatles, the device might automatically play the song from Apple Music instead of my Spotify library. Or I might ask Alexa to order AA batteries, and Alexa could happily order Amazon’s own brand.Combatting the Limited Scope of AI DevicesIn free markets, where competition is supposed to benefit consumers, these flaws can present significant obstacles. The companies that own the speakers could conceivably gain even more control over commerce than they already have.To combat this, users should be as transparent as possible with their requests to AI devices. “Play The Beatles on Spotify” or “Order the cheapest AA batteries,” for instance, are more thorough instructions. The more aware users are of how companies engage with them, the more they can enjoy the benefits of AI assistants while maintaining control of their environment.You can also ask an AI device to communicate with a specific company when you are buying items. For instance, Best Buy offers exclusive deals that you can only get when ordering through your smart speaker. You can also get updates on your orders, help with customer service needs, and updates on new releases.Users should remember that AI assistants are tools, and they need to think about how they manage them in order to have a good experience.And users should report responses if assistants make them feel uncomfortable so the makers of these devices and skills can improve the experience for everyone. Natural language processing requires a considered focus, as the potential benefits are just as significant as the liability of things going wrong.As for our natural language processing and the Red Queen, we discovered that some users were signing off at night with “Good night, Red Queen,” which means she clearly wasn’t too aggressive in the end. Follow the Puck A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… Related Posts Why IoT Apps are Eating Device Interfaces Vince LynchCEO of IV.AI Tags:#AI#artificial intelligence#digital assistant#smart speakers AI: How it’s Impacting Surveillance Data Storagelast_img read more

Expert Advice Series: TRICARE® ECHO – Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA)

first_imgAdvice: The ACD policy requires that prior to coverage of ABA, the beneficiary must be diagnosed with ASD using DSM-5 criteria and issued a referral for ABA by a TRICARE-authorized Physician-Primary Care Manager (P-PCM) or by a specialized ASD diagnosing provider whether they work in the purchased care or direct care system.  The medical record and the referral must contain documentation of the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) diagnosis and documentation of co-morbid psychiatric and medical disorders.  We also require that ASD symptom severity be documented on the referral, but plan to delete this requirement from the referral itself in the next policy update which we expect sometime in FY 2017.Referrals made for TRICARE Prime beneficiaries from the Direct Care system (the MTF) providers are made electronically in Composite Health Care System (CHCS). These electronic referrals are sent to the regional managed care support contractor for processing. The regional contractor then sends an authorization letter specifying the ABA provider/practice information and the authorization number to each beneficiary.  The Active Duty Family Member (ADFM) parent/caregiver is to call the phone number of the ABA practice on the authorization letter to schedule the appointment for ABA. If the provider cannot see the patient within 28 days, then the ADFM parent/caregiver should directly telephone the regional contractor at the phone number specified in the authorization letter for help getting an appointment with another ABA provider able to see the beneficiary within the 28 day access standard.For Purchased Care under TRICARE Prime, each regional contractor, in this case UHC, defines their referral requirements. If UHC requires the referral be written on a paper prescription pad, then this is the process that must be followed.  Under TRICARE Standard plans, referrals per se are not used, but rather a prior authorization process if followed. Each regional contractor specifies the process per contractual requirement.  The process may involve filling out a regional contractor online form requesting authorization, faxing in this information on a form or telephoning the regional contractor to request for authorization.  Regardless of each regional contractor’s process, prior authorization is required for ABA services under the ACD. Each authorization is for six months.I hope this answers your question.  Each regional contractor is available per the phone numbers provided in the presentation to assist family members with the referrals and authorizations. Please encourage the families you assist to call the regional contractor whenever there are problems or challenges accessing ABA through the ACD as we do not want beneficiaries to wait to access ABA services. This MFLN-Military Caregiving concentration blog post was published on September 16, 2016. In a recent webinar entitled “TRICARE® Extended Care Health Option (ECHO)” participants were able to gather more information about the supplemental services for active duty family members with qualifying mental and physical disabilities provided through TRICARE® ECHO.Question: I had a couple questions regarding the Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) referral process and what type of medical equipment is covered by ECHO and what is not. There seems to be a lack of communication between the child’s Primary Care Manager (PCM) and United Health Care (UHC) when sending in a referral for ABA therapy.  Does the ECHO Case Manager have the correct verbiage and time line to share with the families on what the PCM needs to state on the referral prior to sending to UHC to begin the process for ABA services?  A lot of my clients have shared with me that if the PCM does not write the referral on a prescription pad and if the correct verbiage is not written on the referral  that UHC will kick the referral back.  This causes a lot of confusion for the clients and the process to begin the services for their child with Autism takes longer.Also, is there a list of medical equipment that ECHO does cover when Tri-care does not?  Such as hearing aids, wheel chairs etc.center_img Expert: Theresa A. Hart, RNC MS, Nurse Consultant/Program Manager, Perinatal, Pediatrics and Special Medical Programs Defense Health Agency Clinical Support DivisionFor more advice from Ms. Hart, watch and listen to the professional development training on TRICARE® Extended Care Health Option (ECHO) to learn about the ECHO program.The new blog series provides monthly advice from subject matter experts on issues surrounding military caregiving for service providers and families. We take questions and concerns from military helping professionals and families and provide the necessary feedback from credible experts in the field of study. Whether you are a provider or a caregiver, what questions do you have? We want to hear from you.last_img read more

Smoke ConnectFX: Deal, Deinterlace, Difference Matte

first_imgWe continue our breakdown of the ConnectFX Nodes in Autodesk Smoke with a look at Deal, Deinterlace and Difference Matte.Not all of the nodes inside Smoke’s ConnectFX workflow are sexy. Many of them are simple utility nodes for various clip processing. However, tools like Deal, Deinterlace and Difference Matte are just as powerful as any flash and glitz effect node when you need to manipulate your clip.Smoke’s Deal Node:The Deal Node is a bit of an ‘old-timers’ node. Back in the day, when video was transferred around on video tape, there was no such thing as an embedded alpha. For clips that had an associated matte or alpha, that Matte would get laid down on tape after the Fill version.  For example, at 1:00:00 your animated logo fill is output to tape and at 1:01:00 the corresponding matte would be output as a black & white hi-con clip.  But organizing these clips when you had various pieces and parts was difficult as you had to keep the Fill and Matte clips together while you were working.If you had all of the fills in one bin and the mattes in another, you would often have to search around to get the matching clip.  So in order to make this easier on the editor or effect artist, the animated logo and its matte would get laid down to tape in alternating frames. So, frame 1 would contain frame 1 of the Fill video and frame 2 would be the matching Matte frame. When you watched the clip play on video tape, you would see a flashing of Fill Video and Matte, back and forth, every frame.  When you digitized this clip from tape, the Fill Video and the Matte for your animating logo would always be together.  This type of recording is know as an Interleave Frame Clip.Interleaving clips was popular when images were transferred from machine to machine via video tape like D1, D5, or DigiBeta. When you digitized the clip, you would use the Deal Node to split the clip apart and create 2 separate clips. One clip would be the fill video and the other would be the matte. You could then use these clips as needed in creating your composition.Today we’re are almost 100% file based for this type of workflow. We are working with video files that can contain embedded alphas that we can use to maintain the relationship to the fill video.  As this is the case, you may never need to use the Deal Node inside of Smoke. But, there are some benefits of using it as a creative tool.The Deal Node in Smoke will split a clip into a user defined number of clips, frame by frame, until all frames are distributed. Essentially, the frames of a clip are dealt out like playing cards in a deck to players at a poker game. The controls for the Deal Node are pretty simple.  The First Rendered Frame is the frame that is output from the node. Setting the start frame to 30 will not display any frames until frame 30. The Clips setting is the amount of clips that the original clip is split.  The Start Frame setting will output which “clip” is output.In the example of fill video and matte, you would create 2 clips.  Then to output the matte you would set the Start Frame to 2:You can use the Deal Node as a creative tool to create a clip that is 200 or 300% faster, if you set the clip setting to 2 or 3. The resulting output would be every 2nd or 3rd frame.  You can also deal a clip out and then treat each segment differently. You could color or blur each dealt clip differently. You would then need to recombine the clips back into a frames clip, with your own interleave effect. You can also create an interesting effect by interleaving the frames in a different order than the original, thereby creating a very studdery-strobe effect. There is no interleave node in CFX, but there is one in the Tools Tab of Smoke 2013. There is also the same deal tool, so you can split your clips on the desktop if you desire.Smoke’s Deinterlace Node:Deinterlacing inside of ConnectFX is different from the deinterlacing you might be familiar with during exporting – where you are taking an interlaced source and making it progressive for web delivery.  The Deinterlace Node will split the fields of a frame, interpolate them, and then place them one ofter the other.  So, Frame 1 would be Field 1 and Frame 2 would be Field 2 (this assumes a field 1 dominate source).  The resulting clip is then doubled in time. A 90 frame interlaced clip becomes a 180 progressive frame result clip. In theory, you could then use the Deal Node to separate the clip into 2 clips, being 1 clip for field 1 and 1 clip for field 2. But this would also give you half of the resolution of the original.Why would you want to deinterlace a clip?  One main reason would be for keying.  Although the keyers in Smoke are excellent, you can still get some edge issues with interlaced clips, especially clips with lots of motion and natural motion blur.  By deinterlacing the clip prior to keying it, you can achieve a cleaner result for your key.  If you were comping this key over a background, you would also deinterlace the background. Once the deinterlaced clip is keyed, you would then use the Interlace Node to reassemble the clip back into it’s original field order.[Click for larger image]A second reason you may want to deinterlace a clip is for tracking.  Tracking can sometimes not be as accurate on moving interlaced images as the fields change.  Although Smoke’s trackers do have a setting for interlaced video and it performs quite well, if you do have a problem track you can try deinterlacing.The Deinterlace UI is very simple as well. The First Fame setting will process the deinterlace at the frame.  No output will happen until that frame. The Field Dominance Box would be set to the clips field order. If you don’t know the clips field order, you can set it to Auto.  By activating the INTERP button, you can eliminate interlace artifacts, as Smoke will interpolate the differences in the fields.  This will create a cleaner full frame.Smoke’s Difference Matte Node:In Smoke you can perform a comparison between two clips on different video tracks on the timeline with the Difference Tools in the viewer overlays.  Inside ConnectFX you can use the Difference Matte Node to perform a comparison between 2 clips and produce a Hi-Con Matte of that difference.  A difference comparison will perform a pixel by pixel comparison between the 2 clips. Exact pixels will return a black pixel result and non-exact matches will result in a white or grey pixel.[Click for larger image]Often times in compositing, you can create a matte for an object by taking a clean background and the same background clip with an object over it by inputting them into the Difference Matte Node. you can often achieve a cleaner matte from difference keying than from luminance keying.The adjustments in the Difference Matte Node are simple.  You can adjust in RGB or YUV color space. and you can adjust the Tolerance and the Softness of the individual RGB or YUV Channels.  There is also a master Gain and Lift adjustment for the result, if you need to enhance the white levels or crush the blacks.I personally get a lot of print logos or images which are composited over white.  By performing a difference matte between a white frame and the logo/image over white, I can pull a matte for the logo/image that I can use further in my CFX schematic. Sometimes you also need to clean up the matte with a Gmask or Paint.[Click for larger image]There are some nodes that are flashy and sexy and are used for creative effects. And then there are nodes like these, that are Smoke’s workhorse nodes and utility nodes. That’s one of the great things about Smoke.  All of the video utility tools you need to technically work with your video clips are provided for you, as are many of the flashy effects tools.As you can see over this series of blog posts highlighting the Nodes in ConnectFX, Smoke is an all-in-one solution, where you don’t need to export your clips out to another application.  If you have any questions or comments on this blog series please feel free to respond in the comment area below.last_img read more

Video Tutorials: Cinema 4D and After Effects Integration

first_imgExcited for the upcoming integration of Cinema 4D into After Effects?  In this post we share 3 video tutorials that show you how the new Cineware feature will work in future versions of AE.Adobe has announced future integration of Maxon’s Cinema 4D into Adobe’s After Effects, via Cineware and Cinema 4D Lite. The motion design community couldn’t be happier.The current process of prerendering your Cinema 4D files and then bringing them into After Effects is clumsy and time consuming. The integration of Cinema 4D into AE will provide a live 3D pipeline that won’t require any rerendering. Instead you’ll be able to create and modify Cinema 4D files through After Effects.  If a full version of Cinema 4D is installed on your system, AE would open that. Otherwise, Cinema 4D Lite (that will come included in future After Effects versions) will open. Anything you change in Cinema 4D will automatically be updated in After Effects.Ok, so you want to see it in action? Two of the most popular motion graphics gurus online have released their take on the new Cineware/After Effects Integration.The first video tutorial is from our friend, John Dickinson at Motionworks. He gives a 10 minute rundown on how Cinema 4D Lite will work in upcoming versions of After Effects. Tons of good info here, whether you’re a Cinema 4D veteran or are just curious on what it can add to your exisiting After Effects work.Below that we’ve got two video tutrials from the great Nick Campbell from Grayscale Gorilla. One of the tutorials is geared for existing AE users interested in Cinema 4D. The other is targeted for existing Cinema 4D users interested in AE. Take your pick.No doubt the C4D to AE feature will open up 3D motion design to a new legion of video professionals – a great move by both Maxon and Adobe! No details yet when this new release will be available for public purchase.After Effects: Cineware & Cinema 4D Lite by MotionworksCineware and Cinema 4D Lite For After Effects Users by Greyscale GorillaCineware and Cinema 4D Lite For Cinema 4D Users by Greyscale Gorillalast_img read more

Launching A Video Product The Right Way – 5 Tips from NAB

first_imgIf you’re launching a new product, service or gizmo pick up some tips from the big players at the 2013 National Association of Broadcasters Show.Watching the new product launches from Adobe, Avid, Blackmagic Design and many of the other big players in the world of production and post happening this week, here are 5 thoughts on how to launch a product well.#1 – Get out ahead of the packAdobe’s move this year was to get out ahead of the NAB scrum by launching their products in the run up to NAB. On April 4th Adobe hit the web with plenty of videos and bloggers announcing the new features to Adobe Premiere, After Effects and the other core programs. Being first means you get the spotlight all to yourself for a while, and then plenty of interested buyers and users follow up at the show.  The downside however is that being first also means you become the “old news” sooner. What Adobe have done well is provided the online post community with plenty of fodder to fill their blogs, helping spread the word.#2 – Arrive, ready to sellMichael Kammes was helpfully tweeting away images during the AJA presentation and one slide in particular stood out to me. By emphasising that they are ready to ship their announced products, and in fact you can buy them at the show, AJA are setting themselves apart for a lot of the rest of the NAB crowd – especially after all of Blackmagic’s delivery problems last year. Being ready to sell is a valuable way to make a quick sale, rather than giving excited post-production people too long to evaluate their potential purchases, and if you offer a ‘NAB show only’ discounted price the ‘must buy now’ feeling will only increase.#3 – Tweet it up – join in the communityAvid has smartly joined forces with the #postchat community to have a ‘live tweet-up’ fresh off the back of their NAB announcements, ready to answer any questions about the new features and generally expand the launch pad. Live social media engagement is a simple and cost-effective way to build on established relationships, and make an impression on newer members of that community, to be known as an ‘interactive’ business who are committed to hearing from their professional users. As opposed to an entirely secretive company like Apple.#4 – Invest in great videosThe newcomers who are generating the greatest amount of online buzz are FreeFly with the MoVi rig. They’ve timed everything to perfection; setting the anticipation growing with a teaser blog post from Vincent Laforet ahead of NAB, then launching their product videos a few days before, so that (presumably) people can get their hands on one for themselves at the show. There’s no point launching a new product in a crowded hall if no one knows its there. With their excellent behind the scenes videos they’ve ensured that many production people will be beating a path to their booth. Taking the time (and the money) to invest in great online product videos with suitably high production value should hopefully pay off in spades for this new company.#5 – Steal everyone else’s thunderBlackmagic Design I feel have been the smartest marketers so far at this years NAB. On the very same day (April 4th) that Adobe launches their online presence, this photo ‘leaking’ the new DaVinci Resolve 10 turns up online. Then 3 days later on Sunday 7th, when Avid is having its product launches, this next ‘leaked’ photo hits twitter.Even though the online post world are keeping tabs on what Adobe or Avid are offering, a whole lot of excitement is building around what Blackmagic are going to be offering in their continual effort to be as disruptive as possible. This is another valuable business initiative. Continually disrupt the market before your competitors disrupt yours.Are you at the NAB Show?  Share your thoughts in the comments below!last_img read more

Key Differences Between DaVinci Resolve and Magic Bullet

first_imgMost small to medium post companies doing ad work want me to color in the NLE, while filmmakers working on shorts and features want a Resolve session after picture lock.It’s only going to get more polarized now that Premiere Pro CC 2015 includes in-timeline color grading. Plus, next month Resolve 12 will drop and include more “edit-y” features. The choice of which one to use will get more interesting. As we move toward this future, my only advice is to avoid the temptation to decide on a “best.” Feature films with famous actors have been colored in the Magic Bullet Suite and no-budget webisode videos have been graded in Resolve. That’s just the world we live in now.Why You Should Love ResolveIf you have ever spent time in any of the Resolve wannabes or the more esoteric apps like SpeedGrade, then you will instantly fall in love with the grandmother of all digital grading platforms. Resolve used to cost as much as a small apartment, ran on proprietary hardware, and was reserved for the highest-end projects for high-paying clients.There was a not-so-subtle schadenfreude among starving filmmakers when BlackMagic did the the unthinkable and gave the rabble the keys to the Ferrari. It wasn’t enough that we had a free DaVinci now, it was that the former high-end suites and artists knew we had a free DaVinci. Once again that tension thrived between the “barbarians at the gates” and the “elitists in the towers.” Resolve sets the standard for professional color grading apps, and the free version is more than most people will ever need. What’s not to love?Why You Should Love Magic BulletMagic Bullet is not a Resolve knock-off. The tool set included in the suite is unique and intuitively designed for anyone that’s ever spent an hour working with video on a computer. There’s a balance between quick, easy-to-use presets and infinitely tweakable settings that allow for customization and complex grading effects. MBL can be as simple as a two-second drag and drop effect, or one could spend an hour noodling a shot until it’s “perfect.”There is no easier way to start creating powerful, compelling looks if you know next to nothing about color grading. The development team at RedGiant is made up of filmmakers, DV Rebels, and techies that understand the workflows and hardware most low-budget filmmakers are using. They have created a constellation of applications that sit right on top of After Effects, Premiere, and FCPX. And there is an amazing community of dedicated users that share looks, tips and techniques, not just for color correction but for high-end image creation on a no-dollar budget.When you get on board with Magic Bullet, you are joining a community of creators connected by a company dedicated to being a creative partner. It’s amazing. I have been involved with Magic Bullet, as a beta tester, advisor, and plug-ins packs developer since its creation nearly 15 years ago. There are very few software developers that are so integrated into a community of users than the folks at RedGiant.The Big DifferencesBoth packages can be used for basic primary color correction (lift, gamma, gain), doing shot to shot matching, as well as secondary color correction using mattes and keys to target skin tones and specific regions of the image. Either package can be used to create stylized looks and both allow users to save and create presets. There’s really no limit.Where the packages differ is in two areas, in my opinion: speed and ease-of-use. Here’s an experiment: get a stop watch and set up a tracking mask on a person’s face in Premiere/ Colorista and one in Resolve 11. This is probably the tool that I use the most once I’m done with primary color correction.A secondary correction applied to a tracked mask on a face is used for “relighting” subjects, erasing wrinkles, and drawing attention to part of the frame. As a colorist, you’re going to use this endlessly, all day long.Grab the stop watch and time how long each program takes to track that person’s face. Do it on the exact same hardware, make it apples to apples (so to speak).Premiere Pro, even with a nice GPU on a fast machine, will clunk through a frame at a time, at a rate far below realtime. Frustratingly so. On the exact same machine, with the exact same clip, Resolve will blaze through the shot, tracking accurately and steady in realtime. This is, to me, the crucial difference. The ability to interact with masks that track in realtime enables a far more iterative and creative workflow. When using Premiere Pro’s built-in track, you, the user, are sidelined while the software plays catch up and figures out the track. Is it a deal breaker?No, but it does require a lot of working around… and I am less likely to want to do all the nice relighting touches that can really make a shot pop off the screen. Keep in mind, this is not a problem inherent to Magic Bullet. This is the limitation of the Premiere Pro CC 2015 tracking tool. The end result is a limited kind of secondary workflow. Is one color grading tool that much better than the other? Let’s look at the differences between DaVinci Resolve and Magic Bullet.I’ve spent the last few months bouncing back and forth between DaVinci Resolve 11 and Magic Bullet Suite 12 for color jobs, trying to determine how best to offer color grading services on a wide variety of projects. The journey started out as “What’s better, MBL or the Resolve?” and I’ve landed confusingly on “both.” You can grade in your edit, or you can edit in your grade.These are the two options that we all face now when it comes to the question of DaVinci Resolve versus Magic Bullet. Both methods yield incredible results in a timely fashion, and the difference is philosophical as much as technical. The flipside of this is ease-of-use. Quite simply, Magic Bullet is easy to use and Resolve is complicated. Magic Bullet’s tool sets live inside Premiere Pro’s effect window and you never leave your comfortable NLE. A decision to use Resolve, in all its powerful glory, is a decision to tackle a very, very steep learning curve.If you’re inexperienced as a colorist, and a job falls in your lap that needs a color pass by the end of the day, you’re probably not going to hop into a Resolve session.  However, Resolve is far easier to use and way less arcane that it used to be. As the product evolves, it is becoming way more “rabble friendly”.Want to learn more about color grading? Check out a few of the following resources:5 Reasons to Get a Color Grading Control SurfaceKey Workflow Tips For A Smooth Color Grading Process3 Free Color Grading ToolsWhich do your prefer, Magic Bullet or DaVinci Resolve? Share in the comments below.last_img read more

Working with Illustrator Files in Adobe After Effects

first_imgThe ProjectI’m working on a motion graphics project that consists of animating a map of the United States. My client has provided me with a layered EPS vector graphic file of the United States that they want me to use in the animation. They’ve asked me to take this map and create a variety of animations, including an animation for each individual state. Let’s take a look at the file and see how I can work with this file in Adobe After Effects. Prep the Illustrator FileFirst, I will save my EPS file as an .ai or Adobe Illustrator file since After Effects provides more support for this file format. To ensure that Illustrator files appear correctly in After Effects, I’ll select Create PDF Compatible File in the Illustrator Options dialog box. Another issue I have with this file is the fact that everything is located in one layer. Since AE only displays AI layers, I need to put all of the individual states in their own layer. To do this, I’ll select all of the states in layer 1 and select Release to Layers. Now my AI file is prepped for import.Import into After EffectsI have several options when bringing an AI file into After Effects. When I import an Illustrator file, I get the import dialogue box, which provides me with two options: Footage and Composition. If I import my file as Footage, I can choose to merge all of the layers into one, or I can import a specific layer on its own. I can further specify if I want the layers to retain their size or scale up to be the size of the document. If I choose Composition, a new composition will appear in my AE project that will include all of the imported layers from the file.Create Shapes from LayersOnce I have my Illustrator files in After Effects, I can make further adjustments. To provide myself with more versatility when animating, I can turn all of my Illustrator layers into shapes. To do this, I’ll select my layers in the comp I imported and go to Layer > Create Shapes From Layers. Using shape layers opens up a number possibilities, including quickly changing the fill and stroke options, adding a gradient, changing the path, adding a wiggle effect, and a handful of other features.Looking for more tips and tricks? Check out these resources.“Workflow Tip: Storyboard Your Animations in Adobe Illustrator”“Pro Tip: How to Create After Effects Assets in Adobe Illustrator”“Use a Phone App to Create Vectors for After Effects” Use your Adobe Illustrator files to create stunning motion graphics for your next project in After Effects.Cover image via Shutterstock.Adobe software applications work quite well together; you just need to know the ins and out of each program. In this tutorial, we’re going to take a look at how to work with Illustrator files in Adobe After Effects. Specifically, we’ll look at how to bring AI layers into AE and prepare them for animation. I’m going to show you how to prep your file in Illustrator, and I’ll also teach you all of the ways to import your file in After Effects. Finally, I will go over a few methods of manipulating the AI file further once it’s in After Effects. Let’s get started!last_img read more

How to Write an Effective Logline for Your Next Film or Video

first_imgIdentify Your Characters and Their Goals Let’s take a look at some loglines from popular shows and movies.Nine noble families fight for control over the mythical lands of Westeros, while a forgotten race returns after being dormant for thousands of years.Marty McFly, a 17-year-old high school student, is accidentally sent 30 years into the past in a time-traveling DeLorean invented by his close friend, the maverick scientist Doc Brown.After being coerced into working for a crime boss, a young getaway driver finds himself taking part in a heist doomed to fail.To craft your logline, begin by identifying your main character. Let’s take the Netflix show Ozark for example.A Chicago-based financial advisor secretly relocates his family to the Missouri Ozarks when his dealings with a drug cartel go awry.We can see here that we begin with a description of our main character. Are there many other characteristics or traits about Marty that we find out later in the series? Yes. However, a logline is a condensed version of only the most essential information.Next, we identify Marty’s main objective: to relocate his family. Again, although he has many goals, this is the foundation of them all: to keep his family out of harm’s way.Lastly, we introduce the main conflict of the story: the drug cartels. By introducing the main conflict into your logline, you tell the audience what stands in the protagonist’s way. If our main character simply moved his family to Missouri and everything was fine, the logline wouldn’t be very tempting.Questions and ConversationLoglines aren’t meant to answer all of the audience’s questions. If it’s an effective logline, it should leave the audience with questions about intrigue. It should open up a line of dialogue that inspires more questions about the plot of your story. If your logline piques the interest of the audience, you know it’s effective. A good logline can relay the message and plot of your film or video during its early stages and on into its release. Cover image via Shutterstock.Brevity We’ve all made that long-winded three-minute spiel about the plot of our next film. And most of the time, we still feel like we’ve left out important aspects of the story. This is where a logline comes in.A logline is essentially a one-to-two sentence summary of the plot of your film. It’s a sentence, or two, that identifies your main character, their motive, and the conflict they face. Yes, that is a lot to squeeze into one or two sentences. However, a logline should be dense and packed with information. No fluff.Loglines will become your elevator pitch. You will recite this time and time again. So crafting a good one is essential.last_img read more

Master Resolve’s Built-In Film Grain with This Rundown

first_imgLooking for more control over your film grain effects? DaVinci Resolve 14 Studio gives you fully customizable options to mimic film stock.With the rise in accessibility of HD cameras, there’s one digital asset that has grown tremendously in popularity over the last decade, and that is film grain. From websites that supply grain overlays (like RocketStock) to companies that provide plugins that can help emulate film stock down to the color properties (such as Film Convert), the options for filmmakers are plentiful. To some, it’s somewhat paradoxical to layer a clean HD image with film grain, but for many, it’s a creative necessity.In the studio version of DaVinci Resolve, there’s a ResolveFX Texture Film Grain effect. You can change the film type, the grain opacity, the composite mode, and plenty more. Given that Resolve 14 Studio now costs just slightly more than most grain plugins, let’s see if it would be worth it to pay a little extra and bag the studio version of Resolve — or if this grain effect is something completely different.(It’s important to note that in Resolve, the grain is a procedurally generated layer of simulated grain. So we’re not receiving a scan of actual film stock. It’s a digital interpretation.)You can add the grain either on the edit page or the color page. However, note that if you add the grain on the edit page, you cannot adjust the settings on the color page — the control settings do not follow through. This goes for all effects applied on the edit page. Therefore, for this insight, we are going to apply our grain effect on the color page.Another important factor is that if you do decide to apply grain, or any effect, on the edit page, your nodes won’t have the FX logo to notify you that there is an effect present. However, if you display the thumbnails of each clip, you’ll be able to see which clips have effects applied to them on the edit page.What effects exactly? That, it doesn’t tell you. Therefore, again, I would suggest applying effects that will affect the color and image quality in the color page.To apply the film grain, first, create a new node, and open the OpenFX panel in the top right corner. With the panel open, scroll down until you find ResolveFX Texture — Film Grain. As the grain is quite far down the list, you can make it easier to find by either searching for the effect with the search tool or setting the grain as a favorite and selecting show favorites only.With the node selected, your effects panel should automatically jump to the settings control of the recently added effect. This is the control panel for adjusting all of the customizable elements of the applied grain. The menu controls are broken into three different categories: main controls, grain params, and advanced controls.The main controls are going to be where you choose which film grain preset you want to work with, and how you want to apply that to your footage. If you open the film menu type, you’ll notice that along with the film size, there are also numbers and letters that appear alongside the size. These represent specific film stocks — different brands will have slightly different grain structures. We’re going to come back to this submenu later because it represents an important distinction over other grain plugins.The param controls will be the settings panel that gives you creative control over the grain elements. For example, in this shot below, I think the grain is a little too strong and too colorful. It resembles ’90s television noise more than 35mm film grain.Therefore by adjusting the strength and saturation, I can adjust this preset to feel more organic. It’s a fantastic feature, and certainly, it’s something that you cannot achieve with a grain overlay.The advanced controls may be the best part of this built-in effect. The panel has three sliders: shadows, midtones, and highlights. These sliders will control the amount of grain that applies to these tonal regions. As a confirmed grain addict, one of the most significant issues I often face is applying a grain texture on a clip where there is already visible noise in the shadows. In this case, the noise becomes more prominent with the added boost from the grain. In Resolve, with these advanced controls, you can control the amount of grain that composites into these regions.To wrap up, let’s jump back to the main controls. When you switch film types, you may notice the lack of artistic difference in the image, especially if you’ve come from using the FilmConvert plugin. As in FilmConvert, a simple switch from 5207 Vis3 to Portra 400 would drastically alter the color, the grain, and even the exposure intensity. And I think this is an important thing to highlight with ResolveFX grain, as it’s not an effect that is going to magically convert your HD media to footage that looks like it was shot with Kodak T200. It’s more of a tool that will help blend digital footage with celluloid footage — a tool that lets you add grain back to a denoised shot. At the very least, it will give you a basic starting point to work on building the 35mm film look. However, this isn’t a FilmConvert-like plugin. You will still need to correctly color the footage and adjust it to mimic a film stock.On that note, for those who seek a method that will help convert their footage into celluloid-like media, this isn’t it, I would suggest looking at the various plugins on the market.Lewis McGregor is a certified BlackMagic Design DaVinci Resolve Trainer.last_img read more

Stabilizing Your Camera Movement: Gimbals vs. Steadicams

first_imgEvery cinematographer knows the quest for smooth footage. Let’s take a look at two of the primary options for stabilizing footage during production.Both the Steadicam and Gimbal (like the Movi or the Ronin) will eliminate the shake from your camera shots. They do so in very different ways, and at different costs. So, let’s take a look at the differences between them and how best to use each type of stabilizer.The Steadicam was invented in 1975 to free the 35mm film camera from a dolly or a tripod. It quickly won an Oscar for technical innovation, and it still shows up on film sets 45 years later. It’s a mechanical solution, and because it relies on inertia, it needs a heavy payload for smooth motion. The part that holds the camera — the sled — also holds the monitor and batteries.An operator wears a vest to distribute the weight to his or her shoulders and hips, and connects the camera sled to an Iso-elastic arm (with a series of springs) that isolate his movements from the camera.Enter the GimbalThe gimbal, first popularized by Movi in 2013, is an electronic solution. The technology appeared years before in helicopter mounts and crane arms. However, it wasn’t until digital cinema cameras under 10 pounds appeared that a handheld gimbal became viable. The camera gimbal works by measuring the camera’s position hundreds of times per second, and when it detects a movement, it engages motors to move an equal degree in the opposite direction, thereby negating the shake.Image via Movi.Like a lot of gear that relies on computers, brushless gimbals have lots of points of failure, but they also have a quick improvement curve. Gimbals get lighter, stronger, and more capable every year, whereas the Steadicam is still basically the same four decades later. So, what are the relative strengths and weaknesses of each one?Gimbals are cheaper, quicker to set up, and easier to use. You’ll notice I said, quicker and easier, not quick and easy. They still have a learning curve. It takes time and practice to become proficient with one, especially with heavier cameras. A Movi Pro or Ronin 2 will cost you around $6,500. You might also need a few other accessories, like batteries and mounts, but you’ll probably spend less than $8,000. A full Steadicam setup will set you back $45,000, but you can hire an operator with their own rig (in most cities) for $1,000/day.One thing a Steadicam compensates for — and a gimbal does not — is the up-and-down movement of walking. When walking with a gimbal, you need to bend your knees and do what’s commonly referred to as the “duck walk” — a shuffle that limits vertical bobbing. This limits just how fast you can move, while keeping the motion smooth.The Right Tool for the JobA Steadicam — despite being more expensive, taking longer to set up, and requiring more skill to operate — has advantages over the gimbal. Because the Steadicam isn’t supported entirely by the operator’s arms, the shots can be longer, and the operator can do more takes in a row before their performance starts to suffer. Famous Steadicam takes are minutes long, and a trained operator can do take after take without needing a break.Image via Steadicam.The Steadicam, being mechanical, doesn’t need batteries, and it doesn’t have electronic issues, like firmware updates. Many a gimbal shoot has ended in tears when the gimbal software crashed and couldn’t be restarted.A Hybrid FutureI should mention that hybrid systems have appeared in recent years that try to combine elements from both stabilizers — a gimbal on a Steadicam like an arm. These give you the best of both worlds, but also the worst of both worlds. They are more expensive and need much longer to set up than either system alone. But once they do work, they can deliver shots that were once thought impossible. ARRI has a system called the Trinity that can do amazing things. The price: $65,000.Both systems have different strengths and weaknesses. Thus, the more you pre-plan your shots and know what kind of motion you’re after, the better. If you want to fly a heavy camera or use long take times, you’re looking at hiring a Steadicam operator. If your camera is smaller and lighter, and you can plan to shoot for a minute or less, you can save money by renting a gimbal and learning to use it yourself — or hiring one that comes with an operator.Cover image via United Artists.Looking for more cinematography and filmmaking articles? Check these out.The History and Power of Sound Design in the Film Industry6 Slow Motion Cameras You Can AffordProduction Tips: Working With a Color Checker on Your Next ShootAdd Flavor to Your Footage by Implementing Color ScienceFilmmaking Fads and Trends: Don’t Let Them Bother Youlast_img read more

Find Your New Favorite Tool: Five NLE Alternatives to Premiere

first_imgFrustrated with Premiere? Tired of the subscription model? Today, we’re taking a peek at some of the alternative NLEs available to editors.Many editors have a love-hate relationship with Premiere Pro. Whether it’s a bug that deletes all of the footage on your hard drive, being limited to only the most recent versions of the subscription-based software, unstable releases, or any of the other host of issues users have been dealing with for years — many users feel let down by Adobe’s flagship editing software.If you’ve found yourself frustrated with Premiere, know that you’re not alone.Today, we’re taking a look at five alternative NLEs to Adobe’s. Best of all, these are all affordable, and users can purchase and use them without the reviled subscription-based model pushed by Adobe since 2015.LightworksVia EditShare.Professional editors have used Lightworks for twenty-five years. With credits like The Wolf of Wall Street, Pulp Fiction, LA Confidential, and The King’s Speech (among many others), Lightworks has a well-established place in the NLE game.The most recent version of the software has all of the essential tools for modern projects. Lightworks supports 4K timelines with integrated Proxy workflows to speed up the editing process, and can reconnect and export videos to a variety of formats up to 4K.The timeline can take a bit of getting used to when coming from Premiere. As you resize clips, the timeline automatically adjusts. However, with a bit of practice, it’s actually a pretty nice feature.Lightworks is a simple editing system for mastering video. Image via Lightworks.Lightworks feels nice and lightweight. The editing process breaks down into four main sections: Log, Edit, VFX, and Audio. Simply work through each tab to finish your video.There’s a free version that allows for very basic video assembly, and a really flexible licensing path if you decide you like it. Users can purchase Lightworks outright for about $500, license annually for $175, or monthly for $25. The only real features you’ll miss out on by using the free version is the ability to export to a desired codec and access to bundled plugin packages.The Lightworks Tutorial playlist has a pretty comprehensive guide for anyone wanting to give full projects a shot. For users creating simple videos, Lightworks isn’t half bad.ShotcutVia Teacher’s Tech.Shotcut is a free, open-source NLE originally developed in 2004. It’s since been completely re-written based on MLT Multi-Media Framework. MLT authors, manages, and runs multi-track video in all sorts of applications beyond just NLEs, which makes Shotcut a very interesting NLE for developers of web and mobile apps.Shotcut uses FFmpeg to natively support nearly every video and audio codec ever created. Because of this, Shotcut natively supports pretty much any video codec you can throw at it, just like any other paid editing program does, including 4K flavors of ProRes and DNxHD.Shotcut is a free, open-source NLE made for developers of web and mobile apps. Image via Shotcut.Because Shotcut is open source, it supports user and community-developed plugins. There are a plethora of useful and niche plugins for video stabilization, noise reduction, video glitching, and many other image and audio mastering effects available for free download and integration into Shotcut.However, Shotcut has a fairly comprehensive set of video filters, color wheels, text generators, opacity tools, and audio mastering effects available to use out of the box. Shotcut also expands its functionality through hardware support of Blackmagic and Leap motion tools.Overall, Shotcut seems like a great tool for hardcore computer techies and developers creating content for web or mobile apps. Meanwhile, some of the other NLEs in this list will better serve the needs of straightforward video editors and content creators.HitFilm ProVia FXhome.More than just a replacement for Premiere, HitFilm brings some really cool features to the table not found in any other NLE on the market. HitFilm boasts that it’s the only editing software you’ll need to finish your film. This may well be true, with a comprehensive audio suite, full 3D compositing, modeling, an animating environment with Ray Tracing support, motion tracking tools, comprehensive text tools, particle engine, motion graphics, Academy Award-winning tracking, support for resolutions up to 8K, and the “largest VFX toolkit in the industry,” just to name a few of the features HitFilm Pro is packing under the hood.Beyond marketing, HitFilm is a super solid NLE with extremely intuitive controls and functionality. For users familiar with Premiere, the transition couldn’t be simpler. All of the essential tools are pretty much where you expect them to be. Cutting, adding effects, and transitions are all extremely simple.HitFilm is a comprehensive and unique NLE with intuitive controls and functionality. Image via FXhome.Despite the massive set of tools at hand, HitFilm looks to be one of the simplest NLEs for beginners. Its tutorial and guide splash page place the full features of the program within immediate reach when you launch the program. The team at FXHome regularly put out masterclasses on how to emulate looks from Hollywood films within their flagship editing system.HitFilm Pro is a really unique piece of software, offering far more to editors than most of the other entries on this list. For those looking to move away from Premiere who worry about replacing the workflows of the extended creative suite, HitFilm could be the ticket. Head over to the Learning HitFilm page to explore on your own.Via Teacher’s Tech.HitFilm Pro is available for $300 — the same price as six months of an Adobe subscription. HitFilm Express has many of the essential features found in the Pro version, and is also completely free.Vegas ProSony Vegas is a tried and tested industry staple with a twenty year history. It’s a fully-featured NLE with all of the tools and functionality an editor would expect out of their software.Vegas has support for all modern video codecs and formats, multi-cam editing, proxy workflows, and compositing and opacity tools. This NLE also offers support for S-Log, ACES, LUTs, Boris FX plugins, and makes use of hardware acceleration for supported machines and graphics cards.Vegas was initially a sound-only tool. This remains in its DNA with a robust sound-sweetening and mastering toolkit, including a full multi-track DAW and the tools that go with it, right inside the NLE.A solid NLE, Vegas Pro comes with all the tools and functionality an editor could want. Image via Sony.The most recent version (16) brings some significant improvements to the user interface and usability, bringing it pretty much up to speed with Premiere. Vegas 16 also supports HDR and 360 degree video, as well as beefed-up motion tracking and video stabilization tools.Overall, Vegas is a solid NLE. It lacks some of the polish of Premiere and other high-end editing systems, but you won’t hurt for the tools you need if you go with Vegas. At $300, however, I would personally give HitFilm a go before Vegas. Apologies to Sony fans everywhere.DaVinci ResolveVia BlackMagic Design.No list of NLEs in 2019 is complete without DaVinci Resolve. Over the past five years or so, DaVinci took aim at the likes of Premiere and Avid by putting some real muscle into the editing side of its color grading suite.Resolve is built from the ground up to support multi-user collaboration on projects. So, single clicks will switch users between its media ingest, editing, audio, color, VFX, and export functionality.Resolve has a fully-featured editing suite built-in with intuitive controls and workflows. Version 16 supports any video codec and format up to 8K resolution, new adjustment layers (called “Adjustment Clips”), as well as facial recognition to simplify sorting clips. It also offers overhauled speed retiming and image stabilization tools, along with a host of other features.With a fully-featured editing suite built-in, DaVinci Resolve’s controls and workflows are intuitive. Image via DaVinci Resolve 16.The newest version also brings a new “Cut” page to the software. This page functions as a hyper-streamlined NLE for rapidly assembling footage, with a simplified interface designed to help you get those fast turn-around jobs out the door.Resolve costs $300, but if you aren’t going to be fully finishing your projects, or don’t need Resolve’s industry-leading premium tools, the free version has almost the exact same functionality.There’s really no better free software on the market than Resolve. If you haven’t tried it, download it and start learning it. It may well become the new industry standard NLE in a few years’ time.There are more legitimate options than ever before for editors. So, take some time to familiarize yourself with the NLE’s available to you. You might just find a new favorite tool.Top image via ImageBySutipond.Looking for more on NLEs and video production? Check these out.The Best Video Editing Programs: Final Cut Pro vs. Premiere ProTop Alternatives to Premiere Pro in 2019 — Free and PaidWhy Adobe Doesn’t Want You Using Older Versions of CCGlowing Results: Grading Skin Tones in DaVinci ResolveWhy You Should Wait to Download Your NLE’s Beta Releaselast_img read more

On Champs and Chumps

first_img Essential Reading! Get my 3rd book: Eat Their Lunch “The first ever playbook for B2B salespeople on how to win clients and customers who are already being serviced by your competition.” Buy Now Champs pick up the telephone, call their dream clients, and book their calls. Chumps send an email, avoid the call, and hope their dream client emails or calls them for an appointment.Champs ask their clients for the commitments that will help their dream client get the outcomes they need, no matter how big that commitment. Chumps don’t ask for commitments because they fear they will offend their client and lose the opportunity.Champs don’t fear price negotiations because they know that they have created value, and they know they need to help their clients make the investment necessary to deliver the results. Chumps offer to sharpen their pencil without pushing back on the value they create.Champs aren’t afraid of losing an opportunity because they keep their funnel topped off, always purusing enough opportunities to be able to walk away from bad business or lose an opportunity. Chumps sit on one deal hoping that by spending all of their time on that deal that they ensure a win.Champs are hustlers. Chumps are non-hustlers.Champs see themselves as their client’s peer, their trusted advisor, and they have the business acumen to hold their own. Chumps see themselves as inferior to their client, hoping that their dream client will allow them to be a “vendor.”Champs work on developing their chops. Chumps look for shortcuts.Champs work the process, creating value at every stage, never trying to rush the close, confident that they will close the deal. Chumps try to close before they’ve created enough value to have earned the deal, losing the deal and alienating their dream client.Champs are the client’s advocate within their own company, always working inside their own organization to deliver for them. Chumps blame every challenge in execution on their own company instead of working to make things better.Champs do the work. Chumps are easily distracted by the trivial and unimportant.To be a champ, be a non-chump.last_img read more

Plagiarism Isn’t a Content Marketing Strategy

first_img Essential Reading! Get my 2nd book: The Lost Art of Closing “In The Lost Art of Closing, Anthony proves that the final commitment can actually be one of the easiest parts of the sales process—if you’ve set it up properly with other commitments that have to happen long before the close. The key is to lead customers through a series of necessary steps designed to prevent a purchase stall.” Buy Now A few weeks ago I received an email from an employee whose Executive Vice President was publishing my work on their company blog under his name. A half a dozen of his inside salespeople subscribed to this blog and brought this to my attention. I had a tough time convincing this gentleman to attribute the posts to me or take them down. He relented when I told him his people were questioning his leadership.Three days ago I received another email outlining exactly the same scenario. Another executive leader was “borrowing” my writing and passing it off as his own. He suggested that a “ghost writer” provides him the material and that he didn’t know where the ghost writer acquired the content. Once again, this gentleman’s people emailed me to question his leadership.Tonight I received a tweet pointing me to an individual on LinkedIn, who has been posting my blog posts every day for months, passing them off as his own. In this case, the person plagiarizing my work added his contact information to the bottom of each post, asking people to contact him for help with their sales results. He was forced to remove the posts when people in the small sales community left a dozen comments under one of his posts.The people who are plagiarizing my work and the work of others who regularly produce content are creating a serious problem for themselves. They are very publicly showing a lack of character. And they are leaving a long trail behind them, one that their employees or customers can easily follow. Anyone could capture screenshots of the plagiarized work and provide evidence to others or publish it themselves.None of this is necessary.There are people who do a very nice job synthesizing content on the web. Many of them don’t write much content. Instead, they curate content for their audiences. Their audiences find that curation is valuable because these curators are doing the work of pulling together content worth reading or viewing. Curation is a good strategy for a lot of folks.There are no shortcuts to building your brand and your reputation. You have to do good work. You have to do that work consistently. You need a unique point of view, and you need your own voice. But none of this matters if you don’t have character.Plagiarism isn’t a content marketing strategy.last_img read more

Farmers slam Sena for double standards on expressway

first_imgEven as the Maharashtra government begins direct purchase of land from farmers for the proposed 800-km Mumbai–Nagpur super expressway, farmer organisations are unhappy with, what they are calling, Shiv Sena’s “double standards”. This follows Sena minister Eknath Shinde’s direct involvement in the sale process, months after the party voiced its opposition to the project.On Thursday, Ram Sahu – a farmer in Nagpur district became the first to sell 1.25 hectare for the project for around ₹59 lakh. Mr. Shinde signed on the sale deed as a witness in an effort to encourage more farmers to sell their land to the government for this project. Ironically, Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray had not only met farmer organisations which are agitating against the proposed project assuring absolute support but its leaders in Thane, and Nashik have joined the farmers’ protests.“Shiv Sena and Eknath Shinde have back-stabbed farmers. Uddhav Thackeray has said that the road will not be constructed without taking farmers into confidence but his minister is promoting the road. Whom should we believe? Whose interests are being served by the minister” asked Baban Harne, convener, Shetkari Sangharsh Samiti – a farmer body protesting against the project.Mr. Shinde said he is taking note of all reservations raised against the project by farmers. “I have been informing all these issues to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and working towards solving it,” We stand with development, but at the same time we believe that not a single farmers should face injustice,” he said, adding that the government will complete the project only after every farmer is satisfied.Meanwhile, Mr. Fadnavis has cancelled a special meeting called on Friday with Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar and agitation farmers to discuss issues raised by farmers. The CM’s office In a message conveyed to farmers, CM office said in a statement that the meeting will now be held after the presidential poll. Sources in the CMO said that the National Democratic Alliance’s candidate Ram Nath Kovind will be visiting Mumbai on Saturday and Mr Fadnavis would be busy on Friday.“It just shows the casual attitude of this government regarding farmer issues. Date of presidential poll was announced much before, but still the meeting was scheduled on Friday. What was so pressing for the CM that he had to cancel it? This is not only our insult but also of senior leader like Sharad Pawar,” said Mr Harnelast_img read more

RJD leader shot dead in Bihar

first_imgA Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader was shot dead on Saturday by unidentified assailants in Bihar’s Siwan district, police said.“A group of armed unidentified assailants shot five bullets into Minhaj Khan’s head while he was sleeping in his house in Sheikhpura village,” district police officer Sanjit Kumar said.According to the police, Khan was a popular leader among youths and he had nearly 5,000 followers on social media.He is also said to be close to former Siwan MP Mohammad Shahabuddin who is currently in prison.last_img read more

75-year-old patient knifes Pune doctor

first_imgA 75-year-old patient knifed a doctor at Sinhagad Speciality Hospital Monday evening following suspicions that his medical bill had been inflated. A case has been lodged against the patient at Abhiruchi police station.Maruti Shirwale, who was admitted last week following a severe bout of asthma, attacked Dr. Santosh Awari when he came to check on him during his evening rounds. The doctor sustained injuries in his abdomen. Shirwale was reportedly recovering from alcoholism and exhibiting withdrawal symptoms.Hospital authorities said that the patient’s relatives allegedly told him that the doctor had inflated his bill. Dr. Awari said the bill had not been prepared as the patient required further hospitalisation.Dr. Awari said, “This is a startling and rather bizarre incident. No mention of any bill has been made to his kin. Following the assault, I have told them that the patient can be shifted to Navle Hospital if they have any apprehensions about the expenditure.”Footage of the incident retrieved from CCTV cameras went viral. It shows the doctor attending to another patient before approaching Shirwale’s bed. Shirwale is seen grabbing a knife hidden under his pillow and attacking Dr. Awari. The patient starts uttering expletives at teh hospital staff attempting to restrain him after the doctor escapes.Dr. Sangeeta Waghmode, secretary, Sinhagad Road Doctors’ Association, said: “It appears that the patient was lying in wait for the doctor. The incident is alarming and shows that the medical fraternity is vulnerable to caprice of patients.”last_img read more