Archives for 2012

End-of-Year advice for small business owners


As the year comes to a close, entrepreneur and author Bill McBean offers eight items to do now “to set your business up for success in 2013 and beyond.”

“Too many owners and their senior staff just get so caught up in the daily whirlwind that they lose sight of the realities of business ownership,” he says. “When that happens, success may not evaporate overnight, but it will, inevitably, slip away. It doesn’t have to be this way. It pays to step back and reevaluate your market and your company’s place in it by making sure your practices are in line with ‘the facts.’”

Among the eight “must-dos” McBean says you should tackle are:

• Hold a 2012 post-mortem.
• Pinpoint your best customers.
• Review your marketing campaign.
• Meet with your accountant, your attorney, and other key advisors.
• Set realistic goals for next year. Then, dial up the “aggression factor” just a little bit more.

The full article is here.

Our interview with McBean is here.

McBean’s book, The Facts of Business Life: What Every Successful Business Owner Knows That You Don’t is available here.


Software-only App spins iPhone 5 for automated panorama


We’ve all taken plenty of panoramic pics by slowly spinning in place, or at least waving the camera across the scene. Good 360-degree panoramic photos require the camera be atop a tripod and turned by hand, or set on a turntable-like motor. But what about that motor already in a phone: the vibration motor that replaces or amplifies a ring tone? Believe it or not, that vibration can move a phone — not just across a table, but, when well controlled, in incremental degrees for a full rotation.

The Cycloramic app works only on the iPhone 5 — that device is balanced just right with the placement of the vibrator, says developer Egos Ventures.

“Cycloramic rotates your iPhone 5 automatically so that it can shoot videos handsfree!” the company says. The phone can’t have cover on it, and must be placed upright on a smooth, level surface. “It may not work perfectly everywhere,” they warn, so “practice a few times before you try to impress you friends.”

And it is impressive: NY Times writer David Pogue included it in his Brightest Ideas of 2012 column and said it’s “Great for winning bar bets.” Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak said it’s “Unexpected, fanciful, and useful all at the same time.”

My own review is a bit less effusive: “Worth a buck to play with it for a few minutes.” Nonetheless, pretty cool.

A minor downside: The app only creates a video, not a pannable still image or 360 format such as QTVR.


Toshiba to launch faster CompactFlash cards


Toshiba announced a new line of high-performance CompactFlash image storage cards “expressly targeting the digital single lens reflex camera market.”

The company says its Exceria Pro 2 series of 16, 32, and 64 gigabyte cards will come to market in spring of 2013, “and offer the world’s highest level read and write speeds,” and “meet the demands of the high-end DSLR market, including high resolution image capture, sustained continuous shooting, HD video recording, and high speed data transfers to other devices.”

With Toshiba’s NAND flash memory and dedicated firmware, the cards will achieve a read speed of 160MB per second, and write speeds of 150MB/s, the highest level yet reported, the company says.

The market for SLRs is expected to grow by 50 percent from now to 2015, Toshiba adds, “and demand for CF cards will grow with it. Toshiba aims to capture a 30% market share by 2015 by developing high performance memory cards.”

Not a kitten picture! – A story about taking photos

For your Saturday morning amusement and edification:
Photographer Mattias Klum presents images from his wild life photography — in particular, when a big cat got way, way too near! The close-up shot is priceless, as is the message he takes away from the experience.

The full picture-story is here.



Laser TV projects high-contrast 100-inch screen


A turned-off TV is a big dark display; a projector can light up an image on a generally bright white screen hat can be positioned anywhere; but a new laser projection system works only with a big black screen that’s permanently mounted on a nearby wall.

The new imaging system from LG Electronics combines a short-throw laser projector that can shine a 100-inch image from just 22 inches away from the complementary included pitch-black screen, resulting in a 1080p home theater with a 1,000,000 to 1 contrast ratio.

LG claims the Hecto laser system uses specialized lamps that will run for up to 25,000 hours without replacement, “roughly five times longer than mercury-based lamps.” The main projector is compact, and just 5.7 inches high. Pricing was not announced.
CNet has more here.


Toshiba announces speedy sensor, develops Lytro-like module


Perhaps you like the idea of post-capture focus as provided by Lytro’s light field camera, but don’t want another single-function device? You might be in luck if rumors of a small sensor from Toshiba that emulates that ability prove true early next year.

But first the company officially announced a new 20-megapixel CMOS sensor it says “offers the industry’s highest resolution in the 1/2.3 inch optical format, using backside illumination technology to improve sensitivity and imaging performance.” Also, the TCM5115CL achieves a 15 percent improvement in full well capacity — the amount of charge an individual pixel can hold before saturating — over Toshiba’s previous generation. And it’s “designed to meet the demands of high quality, fast frame rate image capture and HD video recording supporting smooth, slow motion playback,” with fast capture at 60 frames per second at 1080p, or 100fps at 720p. The sensor is set for mass production in August 2013.

The new post-capture module will reportedly house an array of 500,000 tiny lenses. It’s aimed at phones, and so it’s smaller than Lytro’s system — just one centimeter thick. Also, it even captures video with selectable focal planes. However, it’s not likely to come out until the end of next year.

The Asahi Shimbun has a full report here.


Aptina 8-Megapixel sensor speeds shots for sports


Aptina announced an “ultra-fast” 8-megapixel sensor it says “takes on the challenging sports camera markets for very fast, high performing cameras with still and video capabilities.”

A similar chip is aimed at mobile phones. They capture 16:9 HD video at 60 frames per second without pixel binning or cropping the field-of-view, the company says. “This 6-megapixel data stream oversamples the target image by 3x resulting in video as sharp as that of the high-end multi-sensor video cameras used in television studios,” Aptina claims. “Camera designers can take advantage of this speed to enable the capture of 6-megapixel still images without interrupting the video stream and with zero shutter lag.”

The AR0835 for mobiles is in mass production now; The AR0835HS is sampling and will be in Q1 2013.

Smartphone-caused camera crash continues?


Slowing seasonal sales in your camera shop? You’re right to suppose the likely suspect continues to be smartphones: ABI Research says the ubiquitous devices “continue to steal market share” from both cameras and handheld game players.

In the digital camera market, shipments are expected to decline more than 11 percent year-over-year worldwide, and nearly 20 percent in North America, the firm reports.

Picture quality and lens attributes might still be the best way to differentiate dedicated point-and-shoot cameras, ABI adds. “While the auditory and visual quality of content in many ways is less important today than in the past, some consumers still look for these features. A subset of customers still look to higher end single-purpose cameras for higher image quality …over smartphone feature sets.”


Madbits makes moments


Your customer’s smartphone shots might be too small or incidental to often warrant hardcopy — but perhaps a collage might better tempt them to hit the print button.

A new app called Momentsia creates “Mondrian”-style photo collages — colorful layouts with two to 20 tiles — and even lets users compose those collages live, snapping shots into onscreen arrangements (as well as working with previously captured shots).

“The essence of one special moment can’t be captured in a single image,” says developer Madbits, “and photos lose their effect when you have to flip through too many of them. With Momentsia, iPhoneographers can better express their experience by combining photos instantly into a single, fully enriched collage, using an app that operates the same way their mind does.”

Foxconn stakes $200 million in GoPro


Is it time to make a fox-in-a-henhouse joke? Hon Hai Precision Industry, the world’s largest electronics manufacturing company also known as Foxconn, acquired an 8.88 percent stake in GoPro for $200 million, the wearable camera maker announced. The investment values the company at $2.25 billion.

“Foxconn and GoPro see a future where personal content capture and enjoyment will play an increasingly important role in our lives and we’re excited to combine efforts to strengthen GoPro’s position in that future,” the company says.

Foxconn founder and CEO Terry Gou will join GoPro’s board. Foxconn manufactures Apple’s iPhone and iPad, as well as the Sony PlayStation and Microsoft Xbox.

GoPro says its versatile cameras enable people “to capture and share immersive and engaging footage of themselves during their favorite activities.”