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28 Ways to Take Better Smartphone Photos

28 Ways to Take Better Smartphone Photos


… Smartphones have made us all photographers, but they didn’t come with instruction manuals. Sure, I can recommend ways to drop bags of money on amazing new gear. But there are things you can do right now, at no cost, to improve your photo game—and some warnings you should note before you buy anything new.

Does someone you love take terrible photos? Please share these 28 simple rules.

1. When all your shots have the glossy blur of a sitcom daydream, that means your lens is dirty. Wipe away the goo every once in a while, OK?

2. There’s no slowing the little ones, but if you want to snap them mid-leap, you’ll need plenty of light. Open the blinds, turn on more lights or switch on your flash.

3. Sunset is actually the worst time to photograph a sunset. Hang around half an hour before or after, hopefully at happy hour, to catch more-colorful drama.

4. True story: Enough people have died while using selfie sticks that the phenomenon has its own Wikipedia page. Don’t be selfie-stupid.

5. Using a flash at an aquarium (all reflection, no fish!) or a rock concert (stage too far!) is an offense punishable by having your phone dropped in the toilet.A tourist takes a photograph of a shark swimming toward him at Australia’s Sydney Aquarium in 2014. Use a flash to photograph at an aquarium and you’ll risk getting lots of reflection and no fish. Photo: David Gray/Reuters

6. If I could hand out camera-phone licenses, this would be the test: Tap the object you want in focus, then look for a little box to pop up. Slide your finger up and down to make the shot brighter or darker. 

7. Taking photos for fellow tourists is a sacred duty. Don’t back up; you’ll turn smiling strangers into stick figures. Instead, step forward, to get as much of their faces as possible.

8. I’m pretty sure giving someone a double chin by shooting from below the face is a form of cyberbullying.

9. The surefire way to ruin a lovely photo is to put the light behind your subjects’ heads. Next time, turn the scene around or use HDR mode, which balances light and dark areas.

10. I have no objection if you take pictures of your dinner, but limit it to very special dishes. I’m thinking a birthday cake with sparklers and your name written in blue frosting.

11. Turn on Live Photos on newer iPhones. Children, pets and, yes, even grandparents are 10 times more delightful with a little motion—and you can share them to Facebook and iMessage.

12. You aren’t snapping enough photos. Take multiple shots of each scene. It isn’t like you’ll run out of film, and Mom’s eyes will be open in at least one of them. The above shot of me was from a burst of 21.

13. Boring photos have everything dead center, so think askew. Loved ones, castles and rainbows belong slightly off to the side.

14. When you’re ready to take a photo, exhale and shoot when your lungs are empty—that’s when you’re most steady. Or lean the camera against a rock. My dad carries a monopod, but tells everyone it’s a cane.

15. Pray for clouds. They’re like a giant version of those silver umbrellas you see at fashion shoots: Everything comes out evenly lighted, especially portraits.Experiment with shooting the most interesting thing in your photo slightly askew, not dead center, as in this photo taken in Cuba. Photo: Geoffrey Fowler/The Wall Street Journal

16. At night, flash makes humans look ghoulish. But on a sunny day, using flash makes shadows on faces less harsh.

17. Photo-app filters are the plastic surgery of photography. We can tell.

18. If you’ve gotten 50 hearts on an Instagram, you spend way too much time on your phone. Also: You’re ready to upgrade to a real camera and lenses.

19. Landscapes without people can be dull. If you are enraptured by a sweeping vista, learn from the old masters and anchor your shot with something about 10 feet away to bring the viewer in.

20. The best reason to buy a nice camera: Bigger sensors and lenses can take photos in bad lighting, where fun stuff happens. They also let you play with depth, artfully blurring the background.Sunset is actually a pretty bad time to take a good sunset photo. Aim for a half-hour before or after. Here's an example of a bad sunset photo. Photo: The Wall Street Journal

21. A GoPro is for adventure vacationing, and for accidentally dropping into the ocean. I’ve lost four GoPros. Attach a flotation device to yours, and download your footage every night via Wi-Fi to GoPro’s cloud service.

22. Many people with DSLRs don’t really need them. For the same money, you can get a pocket-size camera like Sony’s $1,000 RX-100 V, which takes amazing photos without need for a neck brace. 

23. Vacation photos are like Disneyland Goofy hats: The farther away you are from their origin, the lamer they get. So sort, edit and share while you’re still having a bon voyage.

24. For a serious photo vacation, get an SD card reader to transfer photos from your stand-alone to a tablet or phone, then edit with Adobe’s mobile Photoshop Lightroom, sold with its desktop version for $10 per month. Bonus: It backs up full-size files to the cloud.

25. Want your friends to think you’re from the future? Get a virtual-reality cam like Samsung’s Gear 360, which captures everything around it. You can share pics on Facebook—no VR visor necessary.

26. Most photo drones aren’t worth buying; the $1,000 DJI Mavic Pro is. Just know that, despite its collision-avoidance system, you will probably crash it.

27. Going for the drone? Don't terrorize people at the beach with your flying lawn mower camera.

28. If money is no object, my current favorite camera indulgence is Canon’s $3,500 5D Mark IV, and a lovely $900 fixed 35mm Sigma lens. If that isn’t luxe enough, the sensibly compact Leica Q costs $4,250.

Write to Geoffrey A. Fowler at


Newspaper Ads Woes Accelerate

Newspaper Ads Woes Accelerate


With global newspaper print advertising on pace for worst decline since recession, publishers cut costs and restructure

Global spending on newspaper print ads is expected to decline 8.7% to $52.6 billion in 2016. Photo: Alan Berner/The Seattle Times/Associated Press

Newspapers are suffering an accelerating drop in print advertising, a market that already was under stress, forcing some publishers to consider significant cost cuts and dramatic changes to their print and digital products. 

Global spending on newspaper print ads is expected to decline 8.7% to $52.6 billion in 2016, according to estimates from GroupM, the ad-buying firm owned by WPP PLC. That would be the biggest drop since the recession, when world-wide spending plummeted 13.7% in 2009.

That decline is hitting every major publisher, increasing pressure on them to boost digital-revenue streams even faster to make up for lost revenue and, in some cases, even reconsider the format of their print products and the types of content they publish.

Many newspapers have trimmed costs to cope with the worse-than-expected revenue decline. The New York Times Co. and Wall Street Journal-owner News Corp, likely have further head-count reductions on the way, and the Guardian and the U.K.’s Daily Mail recently eliminated jobs. Analysts such as Jefferies & Co. have pared back their third-quarter estimates for publishers including the Times and Gannett Co.

“We operate in a time of rapidly changing market conditions, especially in the world of print advertising,” Gerard Baker, editor in chief of The Wall Street Journal, wrote Wednesday in a memo to employees. “These are days of accelerating change in the newspaper business.”

In light of the steep downturn, the Journal this week announced a coming revamp of its print editions that will include the consolidation of sections and other cost reductions, moves designed to make the print newspaper more sustainable for the long haul and help accelerate the newsroom’s digital transformation. Meanwhile, the Times has been working on a strategy to significantly boost digital revenue by 2020, including shifting more resources into digital initiatives and looking at ways to revamp things such as its Metro section.


New Drone Outsmarts Bad Pilots

 Phantom 4 Review: DJI’s New Drone Outsmarts Bad Pilots


The new Phantom 4 drone from DJI keeps pilots from getting into crashes with computer vision that can sense and avoid obstacles including trees, buildings and people. WSJ Personal Tech columnist Geoffrey A. Fowler takes it for a test flight, including a head-on game of chicken.

Geoffrey A. Fowler
Updated March 1, 2016 11:30 a.m. ET

The first thing I did with DJI’s new Phantom 4 drone was fly straight toward a tree.

Not the best way to treat a $1,400 flying camera, sure. But this quadcopter can do something other drones can’t: keep you and me from being idiot pilots.

My Phantom 4 made a beeline toward a cypress, then screeched to a halt a few feet before it. A spider-like array of cameras built into its body can see obstacles in 3-D and make split-second decisions to pause or veer to a new flight path.

After a rash of drone crashes and injuries, these flying lawn mowers needed a breakthrough. It’s computer vision. The Phantom 4, arriving in Apple stores March 15, is the first consumer drone that can sense and avoid trees, buildings and moving objects. A novice can tap on an app and have it trail someone like a flying paparazzo. To put it to the test, I even challenged it to a game of chicken.

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The Future for Wearable Devices Like Apple Watch - UP

How To Fix Excessive Battery Drain of iPhone / iPad After Upgrading to IOS 8

Do you have excessive battery drain of your iPhone / iPad after upgrading to IOS8?  

Here is a solution?

Backup you device to your computer using iTunes and then restore your device from this backup.

Here are Directions:

1. Connect your iPhone / iPad to your computer via the syncing cable that came with your device and open iTunes.
(iTunes may automatically open if your iTunes settings are to open iTunes when device is connected to your computer)
2. Click on the icon of the iPhone / iPad on the top left of the screen to display the settings for your device
3. Select the Summary tab
4. Select "Back Up Now" button to backup your device to your computer
After backup is complete,
5. Select Restore Backup button - this will take about 3-5 minutes. Follow directions on screen.
After restore, your battery drainage problems should be fixed.

The Heartbleed Security Bug Effects 66% Of Internet including Yahoo, Flickr, and Tumbler

 Heartbleed, the New Security Bug Scaring the Internet

You need to change your passwords if you used a comprised site like Yahoo, Flickr, Tumbler and 66% of the internet.

So what is it? 

Heartbleed is a security vulnerability in OpenSSL, a popular, open-source protocol used to encrypt vast portions of the web.

It's used to protect your usernames, passwords, and sensitive information set on secure websites. Lifehacker, who published a great, plain-language guide to the flaw earlier today, notes that about 66 percent of the web probably uses OpenSSL to encrypt data. Security company Codenomicon  set up an entire website to handle questions about the vulnerability, although their explanation might be too in the weeds for some readers. 

Go to HEARTBLEED.COM to read about this.

Happily our iMaxWebSolutions system is safe - we do NOT use OpenSSL



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What College Will Be Like In 10 years - Technology and Costs

What College Will Be Like in 2023 - Technology Will Change Delivery But Costs Will Not Go Down

Ten years from now college might not look too different from the outside—the manicured quads, the football games, the parties—but the learning experience students receive will probably be fundamentally different from the one they get today.

Textbooks. Lecture halls. September-to-spring calendars. Over the next decade, technology may sweep away some of the most basic aspects of a university education and usher in a flood of innovations and changes. Look for online classes that let students learn at their own pace, drawing on materials from schools across the country—not just a single professor and a hefty textbook.

All those changes probably won't make a university education cheaper—alas—but they will likely upend our perceptions about how we value it. Traditionally, schools have been judged by how many prospective students they turn away, not by how many competent graduates they churn out.

"Those are status rankings, driven by exclusivity and preservation of an old model," says Michael Crow, the president of Arizona State University. But as new technologies seep into the classroom, it will be easier to measure what students actually learn. That will "make universities more accountable for what they produce," Dr. Crow says.

Here are four areas where you can expect to see major changes and one area where you probably won't:

Read More »

How's The Post Office Doing?

USPO is a $65 Billion government entity that would rank 45 on the Fortune 500.  

Revenues have fallen 25% over the past 10 years (13% in the past 5 years) and lost $15.9 Billion in 2012.  
Bright Spots: Advertising (junk mail) is stable but vulnerable and package deliveriies are rising.

Time for a major makeover.




DropBox VS Evernote (Both have a place in your digital world)

Dropbox vs Evernote –

The Differences Explained, and How to Use Them Both Effectively


I’m writing this article while listening to the new EP by Jason Newsted’s new band, so I will apologize in advance in the event things go sideways at some point – I normally write in total silence. I think it’s fair to say this evening’s soundtrack is about as far away from silence as one can get, but I digress…

So back to the topic at hand; Evernote and Dropbox. Both services are based in thecloud, and both services can be a huge asset to your backup strategy and workflow. Unfortunately, they’re often lumped together or painted with the same brush when in fact, they are actually quite different. If you’re using one of the services exclusively, you may not realize how the other service can help you. Similarly, you may actually be “rocking” both services concurrently with no clear dividing line that tells you definitively “this goes into Dropbox” and “this goes into Evernote”.

In a nutshell, the differences between the two services can be summed up as follows:

Evernote stores the data you send it in an Evernote “note”, or .enex file. This file type is proprietary and gives all of your notes the same look and feel. It doesn’t matter what kind of file you have in Evernote (.pdf, .docx, .xlsx or text within Evernote itself), all of your data appears as a “note”. Using this method of storage, Evernote gives you the ability to quickly scroll through your notes in a visual fashion. It also gives you the ability to search for text within your notes – even in files or even in a note that you’ve written by hand. It’s true, Evernote can recognize handwriting – even mine, which means it will certainly recognize yours!

Dropbox stores files, and files only. Unlike Evernote, you can’t open a Dropbox window and type a few lines of text. In order to place a to-do list or reminder in Dropbox, you would have to save your text as a text file or Word document for example. Dropbox is basically just a folder on your computer that you can use to house files of any type. While it doesn’t have the search functionality of Evernote, it does let you store larger files (Evernote caps out at 50MB) in addition to merging your data in a fashion more consistent with the data on your computer.

Okay, I see the difference – so how should I use the services together to stay organized?

The answer to this question is really up to you. Given my explanation above, you may already have a good idea of how the two services can live together in harmony. There’s no right or wrong way to view things here – it’s important to keep that in mind. However, if you’d like to see how I view things as a guideline to getting yourself more “digitally prepared”, here is what I’d recommend.

Evernote is a note taking app by design. It’s absolutely amazing at a lot of things which I’ve summarized on this site before. It’s great for keeping track of relatively small tidbits of information such as receipts and instruction manuals. It’s also quite useful for writing down or scanning meeting notes, car repairs, information from websites (research), and important documentation that may accompany your home or finances – just to scratch the surface. The reason it’s so powerful can be found in the fact it stores your information in a uniform fashion – as notes. You can categorize your data into different notebooks, tag your data, and even just scroll through your notes almost as though you were flipping the pages in a book. These features, in addition to the powerful search function, give you the ability to quickly view your data and find exactly what it is your looking for.

Dropbox is geared more towards file storage. You could scan receipts or meeting notes into Dropbox as a text or Word file I suppose, but creating a system that makes finding your data quickly becomes far more difficult. What Dropbox excels at (pardon the pun?), is storing larger, more conventional files that you would typically see sitting around your computer. Spreadsheets, Word documents, PDF files, Photos, Videos – they’re all perfect for the world of Dropbox.

As I mentioned before, there are no hard and fast rules here – it really is up to you. For me though, I’ve come up with my own solution that works pretty well. Evernote is for all of the scraps in my life, while Dropbox is there to house the larger files. I guess you could say Evernote is the stack of Post-It notes on my desk, while Dropbox is my Volkswagon-sized filing cabinet. 

The only other thing I’d like to point out before closing is the fact that both of these services store your data in the “cloud”. This makes your data accessible from anywhere you can find an internet connection. Great for convenience, but a little scary when it comes to security. As a general rule of thumb, I try to keep all of my personal data on my home computer, away from these two services. If you’re security-conscious, files such as mortgage documents, bank statements, and tax return data should stay off the cloud.

Are you using Evernote and Dropbox together? If so, where do YOU draw the line between the two services?

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51% of Households Rely on Wireless Phones

Half of Americans leave landline behind


Cord cutters hit 50 percent.

A new study indicates that fully half of Americans are living in a household that uses only or mostly mobile phones — but the remainder is slow to convert.

Of the more than 20,000 households interviewed, just over half used wireless (i.e. cellular) phones for all or nearly all phone calls — 35.9 percent were wireless-only, and 15.9 percent had a landline but rarely used it. That adds up to 51.8 percent of all households, which is less than 2 percent more than for the same period last year.

Full Article