Monthly Archives

August 2013

Testing Paypal Payments in WooCommerce

By | Client Work, Website, Wordpress | 2 Comments

I’ve been setting up an E-Commerce WordPress site for a client and learning the ropes of WooCommerce. First off, it’s great! But I’m definitely winging it on this one and one aspect is enabling Paypal payments for my client.

Fortunately, I ran into this great tutorial here to help get your sandbox account setup and running. Won’t take you more than 5 minutes to configure, but saved me some time of having to learn it on my own.

Tutorial: http://clickwp.com/blog/woocommerce-paypal-sandbox/

DIY Photo Booth

By | Photography | One Comment

This past weekend I had the fun task of putting together a photo booth for a fundraiser hosted by my sister-in-law. I had never done this before and did a little research, but was mostly just trying things out with what I had. We thought it would be a great element to add the party and were definitely right.

Photo booth shot
I’d like to share with you how I did this. Note: this was a 80s theme party which explains the strange outfits.

The Equipment

Here’s a list of the equipment I used to make this happen:

  • Camera
  • Wide Angle Lens
  • 2 Speedlights
  • 2 Flash stands
  • 2 Reflective Umbrellas
  • Tripod
  • Backdrop Support System
  • Backdrop
  • Mini HDMI to Full HDMI
  • LCD Display
  • Remote Flash Triggers
  • Photo Props

The Setup

SONY DSC
The Camera: Tripod is definitely a must here so you can set the focus once and shoot.  I had to place the camera a little farther away than I would have liked, but given the 35mm lens and the APS-C sized sensor it was where it needed to be.  This could have certainly been fixed by using my full frame D700 or using a wider angle lens.  I used a wired remote trigger so I could interact with everyone while taking the shots, but it’s not necessary.

The Flashes:  I have a Pocketwizard for each flash mounted on tripods, facing away from the scene into reflective umbrellas.  You could certainly use dedicated strobes, but since I already had the equipment this was great.  It was light-weight and the results were great.

The Backdrop: On the left you’ll see the backdrop support system and the backdrop we used. The key was getting this setup wide enough so a fairly large group could stand in the space.

The Monitor: Definitely want to show people their pictures.  I brought my Dell U2410, but found even at 24″ it was pretty small for the application.  Luckily the venue had a massive TV.  I hooked up the HDMI cable up and were all set.  Only issue was that the playback time was very short once a picture was taken.  I often had to hit play on my camera to show the last picture to everyone, but it worked ok.

Props:  My wife was awesome and made tons of props for people to hold up.  I highly recommend you have props for your photo booth as people loved using them.  Check out her blog Little Luvins (http://littleluvins.com/) to see her infinitely creative ways.

SONY DSC

What I Learned

Check your focus: Once I thought the camera was in focus I set the lens on manual focus. This ensures that the camera would not need to focus for every shot. Today I found out that the focus was slightly off. By no means did it ruin the results, but I’ll definitely double check for sharpness.

Always Shoot RAW: I always shoot RAW. It allows me to adjust white balance and recover over and underexposed shots. I ran into these two problems once I got these shots into my computer. Only problem is that I shot JPEG last night. Never again. I’m not a big fan of spending a bunch of time prior to shooting so RAW for me.

Backdrop: I like that the black brings out the subject, but the velvet brought out some strange light effects. I’ll look for something that is less reflective in the future.

Pocketwizard Sleep Time: There was significant time between shots so there were numerous times the flashes didn’t fire due to the Pocketwizards sleeping. I’ll definitely be adjusting the sleep time using the Pocketwizard utility next time around.

People don’t look at the camera:  I found that everyone was looking at the TV before I even took the picture.  Definitely need to make a sign so people know where to look as saying this to them wasn’t really working; no matter how many times I said it or pointed at the lens.

I definitely want to fine tune this for next time.  I want people to take their own pictures without me having to be there so I need to build a button for people to press that triggers the shutter (on a timer).  I need to work on the flashes so I don’t have so many shots where the Pocketwizards have gone to sleep.  I’d love for people to be able to walk away with a printed picture so I’ll need to work on getting the best results without post processing. Also, I want to try and move the monitor to below the camera. Saw the Vu Booth setup and really like it; maybe for next time.

The Results

DSC_2581-X2

DSC_2617-X2

DSC_2640-X2

DSC_2647-X2

Overall

I had a blast putting this together and the results speak for themselves. This added a whole new dimension to the party and everyone now has something to remember the party with.  I hope you are able to put together your own photo booth and let me know how it goes.

********

Here’s the actual equipment I used and links to the equipment. This is by no means what you need to make this happen so feel free to substitute as necessary
PBL 12ft Backdrop Background Support System
CowboyStudio Double Off-Camera Flash Shoe Mount
PocketWizard Mini TT1 & Flex TT5 Bundle
Nikon D7100
Sigma 35mm F/1.4

Creative Mornings

Creative Mornings Cincinnati w/ Thomas Dutton

By | Event | No Comments

Headed down to the CAC this morning for Cincinnati’s edition of Creative Mornings. This month’s theme is Urbanism (reflected in the image above). Thomas Dutton, from Miami University, came in to discuss his community involvement work in OTR through the DesignBuild Studio. As I continue to learn more about development in OTR I find myself enjoying hearing all of the different perspectives around the controversial topic of gentrification.

The main take away I had was that if you want to development an area/group of people/society, you better include the people who live in that area in the discussion. More eloquently stated through a quote Thomas shared:

“It is one thing to implement an [urban development] campaign in a society in which the subordinate classes begin to take their history into their own hands, with enthusiasm, with hope, and another to put into practice [urban development] campaigns in societies in which the subordinate classes find themselves removed from the possibility of exercising a greater participation in the transformation of their society.” -Paulo Freire, The Pedagogy of the City

Having spent a couple years of my life working in Africa and NGOs I can attest to the importance of avoiding doing what you think is right and what is actually right.

Manyatta Rent Logo

Manyatta Rent v. Safaricom

By | Startups, Technology | No Comments

Manyatta Rent is a startup in Nairobi, Kenya whose product helps people pay their rent via Safaricom’s M-Pesa system. This means you can pay rent using your mobile phone. I had a blast working with the co-founders Steve and Duncan during my time there. Helped them with their branding and their website. Now they’re battling the giant that is Safaricom that loves copying ideas.

Turns out that Safaricom is now coming out with their own mobile rent payment product roughly a year after Manyatta Rent. Problem is it sounds like they may have borrowed an idea or two from Steve.

Manyatta Rent is not the only startup who has had problems with Safaricom moving into their turf. M-Pepea offered instant loans via M-Pesa and Safaricom introduced a similar product a few months after M-Pepea was released. I also worked with M-Pepea on their product. It’s a tough situation and shows you need to innovate to win and sometimes watch who you partner with.

Original story at HumanIPO: http://www.humanipo.com/news/30253/safaricom-stole-my-idea-claims-manyattarent-founder/

Do you know yourself?

By | Insight | No Comments

Last year was a time in my life where I took the leap and left my corporate job behind in pursuit of something different, something new.  It’s not novel in the grand scheme of things, but it sure was novel in my life.  I had a taste in 2007 when I took a leave of absence to spend some time volunteering in Africa, but there was always the job waiting for me when I got back.  This time was different because there was no known future, no clear path; not exactly something I strive for in my existence.

I headed to Nairobi, Kenya to spend 3 months with 88mph to help startups.  Did I know anything about the startup world?  Not really.  I had some skills and I had some experience, but fundamentally I was for lack of a better phrase, winging it.  Turns out it’s exactly the sort of work I was looking for.

Not to get too far down that road, but this leads me to my point.  I had discovered that I never knew who I really was until I took off the blinders of my daily job.  Looked beyond the expected and the clarity.  I went off the deep end and it felt great.

When I returned home I met with a family friend whom I wish I had met years earlier.  He asked me a series of questions to help me discover more about who I am and had me complete an exercise of answering those questions for him.  Here they are:

1. What am I doing at the moment?

2. Why do I like doing what I’m doing at the moment?

3. What would I really love to do?

4. What are my greatest strengths?

Turns out I wasn’t really answering them for him.  I answered them for me and I’m hoping to use them to continue to make the right decisions as I walk this alternative path in my life.

Leap Motion Device

Leap Motion Initial Review

By | Review, Technology | No Comments

I recently received my brand new Leap Motion Controller in the mail.  I had a gift certificate from Best Buy so I figured why not give it a try.

I read about this project months ago where they were demonstrating a device that would bring ‘Minority Report-like’ controls to life.  Consider me interested.  I followed this device somewhat loosely as I wasn’t sold on motion controls, but with implementations like the Wii and Xbox Kinect, things have definitely been moving in the right direction.

Out of the box you have this tiny little device that’s about the size of a package of Watermelon Bubble Yum.  You plug it into an available USB port, download the software and you’re all set.

You are taken through a series of demos that show how the device tracks your hands and familiarizes you with the space you can work within.  It shows your hand tracking in 3D space.  Not a functional piece of software, but it gets you pretty excited to use this thing.  It’s amazingly accurate at tracking your movements.

Leap Motion Tracking My Hand

Leap Motion Tracking My Hand

Once you get past the Orientation you enter the Airspace store where, like the Apple App Store, are able to purchase additional software that can make use of the Leap Motion device. It’s a nice store, laid out well and easy to find new software. The selection is fairly limited for now, but in the past few weeks I’ve seen the selection almost double so there are obviously people developing for this.

What’s my take?

Now that it’s 2013 we’re starting to see some really great uses of touch controls on tablet and computing devices.  Remember when the iPhone first came out?  The touch felt more like a gimmick than an benefit and people complained that it would never be as fast as using their traditional keys on their Blackberry devices.  Now you never hear anyone complain about the touch screen and we’re seeing more and more UX/UI changes that really utilize the technology.  Swiping to access menus just makes sense.  Multiple fingers to access different functionality on the fly is efficient.

Why am I talking about touch screens when this thing requires you to touch nothing?  Growing pains.  Like every new innovate technology it takes years to be able to really truly make good use of it. Look at the Playstation.  It typically takes developers 2-3 years to able to make really stunning games that can use the full capability of the system.  It’s proven that that cycle is shorter now, but the analogy holds true.

Every day, more and more apps are added to the Airspace store by developers.  I give it a couple of months and we’ll start to see some original content that really takes advantage of this device.  It’s too early to say it’s not worth it; after all, I kind of said the same thing about the iPhone.

Brennan Electric Website

Brennan Electric Gets a New Home on the Web

By | Client Work, Website | No Comments

I’ve been working with Brennan Electric, LLC  to develop a new website over the past couple of months.  The issue they ran into was that their WordPress installation of their previous site was hacked.  This effectively left them with no presence on the web and they had no one supporting them.  Once I got into the system I discovered that malicious files were installed and ultimately we had to scrap the whole thing.

I chose the GoodWork theme for their use.  I generally will do a screen shot of the theme and enter client relevant images and content using Photoshop before I make the purchase.  The client loved it and after a couple of short weeks the site was done.