When You Don’t Get What You Paid For

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Audible logoIt’s interesting how larger companies get away with not giving you what you paid for. Just a few quick recent examples that made me think about this.

When you are a paying Audible.com customer and accumulate credits with every monthly membership fee you pay, did you know that you’ll lose all your credits if you stop paying for your monthly membership? My card on file expired and I didn’t bother to update. I had several credits sitting in the account and figured that would be enough for a few books until I have time to update my payment details and become a paying member again. Or not become a  monthly Platinum member again. Either way, I paid for credits so I should be able to use them any time, right?

No, not according to Audible.com.  Let’s make this clear – the benefit of a paid membership there is to get credits. You get 1 or 2  or more credits with every monthly payment, depending on which plan you have.  With those credits you buy books. If you don’t use your credits to buy books that month, they’ll accumulate in your account,…AS LONG AS YOU KEEP PAYING EVERY MONTH.  Even if you stop paying and don’t buy any more credits, you should be able to use the credits you already paid for any time you want to.

To make it even worse, Audible only lets you accumulate up to 8 credits. So after that even if you keep paying every month, you don’t actually get any more credits. So naturally you want to cancel your payments and start using up the credits you already paid for. Well, Audible w0n’t let you do that.

 

Virgin mobile logoAnother example – let’s take Virgin Mobile. No contracts, no monthly fees, you just pay per minute. I used to buy Virgin Mobile phones to keep around for emergencies. You put money/credits in your account and it’ll get used up as you use your minutes.  You can automatically “top up” your account and buy minutes. If you don’t use them, they roll over. That’s great. Except if you stop topping up your account – maybe because you never used your minutes and all these regular automatic top-ups gave you a huge credit, or you just want to switch carriers – , you’ll lose everything. Again – you paid for the minutes. You should be able to use them any time. But Virgin Mobile makes you pay to extend the right to use something you’ve already paid for. Doesn’t make sense, does it?

 

This is terrible business and, frankly, in my eyes, akin to theft. I’ve been a customer of both companies for many years and given them my money on a regular basis. Obviously I’m no longer interested in doing business with either of them going forward. My lifetime value to them is probably several thousand dollars. They lost this now.  How many other customers are they pissing off with their shady dealings?

Many years ago, some adult sites would make their videos that a member downloaded unplayable if that member canceled his membership. Obviously paying customers didn’t like that and thankfully this practice died out. You pay for something, you get to keep it. That’s how it should be.

 

FOLLOW UP: Audible.com graciously reinstated my account and the credits that I had accumulated – provided that I update my credit card information and start paying my monthly membership fees again…and accumulate even more credits which I likely won’t use.

 

 

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Engadget reports that the new Metabones Speedbooster lens adapter lets you mount your Canon ES lenses to your Sony NEX system, but what’s really outstanding here is the fact that those $600 rings can also make your lens wider by a factor of 0.71x  (example: your 85 mmm prime now becomes a 59 mm lens) and best of all, it actually increases the max aperture (!) of your lens by one full stop.

So your pricey Canon 24-105 f4 now lets you open up all the way to f2.8.  Black Magic? Yes, or rather the lens adapter concentrates the extra light gathers onto the sensor, increasing light availability. Very clever.

The Speedboosters are set to ship this month along with support for Nikon and Leica lenses. For someone like me who loves his Canon gear but increasingly uses the NEX for its pocketability and outstanding ease of use, these rings sound like a good investment.

Read more about the Metabones Speedbooster and check out some example videos at Engadget.

 

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Imagine you’re on the road and all you have with you is your little Macbook Air. Your job is to edit a video in HD. Today. Another problem: all the source files are located at the producer’s studio – on the other side of the country. So you don’t have the source files with you and your notebook doesn’t have the horsepower to edit HD video anyway. This might not be a problem much longer, if Adobe Anywhere turns out to be as awesome as their demo video shows it to be.

I’m really quite excited about the prospects here. Adobe Anywhere will supposedly let us access shared media from practically anywhere in the world, and collaborate with others on the same project. All we need is a basic Internet connection. All the heavy lifting will be done by the server, not your editing machine. So maybe we can finally edit multiple HD streams on a notebook without wanting to jump off a bridge.

Imagine building a Adobe Anywhere server at your home base, having your clients dump their video source files on it, and you and your scattered team can go to town on it from wherever you are. At the same time. In full rez. On your laptops. You don’t have to download the source files, not even proxies. Nothing. You’ll use Premiere Pro and After Effects like you usually do. I envision cutting a multi stream feature on my Air while sitting on the beach (close to a hotel with decent WiFi, of course…), one hand on the keyboard and another on a mojito. Hmmm…

More good info on Adobe Anywhere can be found here , here, and here.

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color cast in videoAn easy to understand and simplified guide to controlling color casts in videos, courtesy of Red.com. The article offers interactive before/after examples so you get a better idea of what’s going on. It uses its own REDCINE-X software as an example for sliders and color tools, but all professional NLEs such as Adobe Premiere Pro, Avid Media Composer, and Final Cut Pro have similar tools.

White balancing, tints, color casts…if all this stuff is new to you (or you need a refresher, we all do), check it out.

Viscosity VPN Client on Mountain Lion

  • at July 29, 2012
  • by Kroy
  • in apple
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Viscosity for Mountain LionMan, the issues with Apple’s Mountain Lion just keep coming. After  Windows Media video files not playing properly with Flip4Mac , here’s another issue, although not nearly as many folks will be affected by this: OpenVPN client Viscosity (my favorite thus far) needs to be upgraded to the newest version (1.4.1) if you want it to work on Mountain Lion.

I suspect other VPN clients might be affected as well so check for an available update for whatever VPN app you’re using.

Personally I’ve been having lots of email issues, a slower browsing experience, and a few other annoyances. I’m little disappointed in Mountain Lion but I’m sure  developers of third party apps are on top of it.

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So you got the new Mac OS X Mountain Lion installed…and Windows Media video (.wmv) files aren’t playing – or the videos are playing but there is no sound – even though you have Flip4Mac installed.

Here’s the problem: the older version of Flip4Mac doesn’t play well with Mountain Lion. But there is a new public beta of Flip4Mac version 3. Install that and your WMVs will work again. The new player interface is much better too. The beta expires September 1st, and like with all beta software, expect a bug or crash here and there.

Apple’s Dictation Feature and Privacy

  • at July 26, 2012
  • by Kroy
  • in apple
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Apple Voice DictationBefore you use the Dictation feature on Apple’s new Mountain Lion OS, be sure to read the Privacy notice:

“When you use the keyboard dictation feature on your computer, the things you dictate will be recorded and sent to Apple to convert what you say into text. Your computer will also send Apple other information, such as your first name and nickname; and the names, nicknames, and relationship with you (for example, “my dad”) of your address book contacts.  All of this data is used to help the dictation feature understand you better and recognize what you say. Your User Data is not linked to other data that Apple may have from your use of other Apple services.” 

(Emphasis mine). So it’s similar as with Siri, Apple’s voice guided assistant on iPhone 4S and soon iPad 3. I think that’s creepy. Who knows what Apple can and might do with your data. Sure, most people think they have “nothing to hide”, but that’s not what it’s about. To a smart marketer, there’s always a way your data can be used. Always.

Paranoid? Yes. You should be too.

The information Apple and its partners can glean from disclosing so much personal information could be misused in many ways. It’s the way this privacy notice is worded that leaves a lot of doors open. “Sent to Apple” could mean anything from sending your voice to automated, unattended data centers owned by Apple, or it could mean it’s sent to third party data centers  (that Apple contracts out to, but doesn’t entirely control) other people can manipulate and access at will. Apple says your user data is not linked to other data Apple may have from your use of other Apple devices. But it doesn’t say it’s not being linked to any other data from any other devices you may use. Just not ones from Apple.

The NSA is building the country’s largest spy center in Utah, and its purpose is to store and filter domestic communications – emails, texts, phone calls, and so forth. Maybe your Siri or Dictation Feature musings will end up there too, who knows. Unless Apple can ensure that your data is absolutely anonymous, there’s always a chance someone figures out a way to use what you say against you. Might be creepy marketers who know the most intimate details about you, or it might be a rogue Apple employee with nothing better to do than to play around with user data. The point is, know what you’re getting in to before you open your mouth. Literally.

 

 

Canon EOS 7D Firmware Update

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Canon 7D Firmware UpgradeRumor has it…well, it’s actually confirmed: Canon will release firmware upgrade 2.0.x for the EOS 7D.

Details on the actual release date are sparse, but August seems to be the most likely candidate. Click here for more details on the firmware upgrade.

You can check out this short movie from Canon listing the stuff you’ll get with the free firmware upgrade, including higher maximum burst rates, manual audio level adjustment for video (finally!), in-camera RAW image processing, and more.

Here’s a comparison chart so you know what new goodies your 7D will have after the upgrade.

 

Apple iMessages for OS X Download

  • at June 15, 2012
  • by Kroy
  • in apple
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Apple just pulled the Messages Beta app for Mac OS X from its site. But fear not, you can download Messages Beta here.

Just a warning though: Apple is rumored to be actively disabling existing iMessage beta installs for current Mac OS  users. Launch day for Apple’s newest OS X version, Mountain Lion, is still a few weeks out though, so why not enjoy free iMessages between iPhones, iPads and fellow beta app users on the desktop until then?

Personal notes: not the prettiest app in the arsenal, but sending iMessages to iPhones/iPads for free, and being able to pick up a conversation from your other Apple devices at any time is sweet. Good job, Apple!

 

Download the iMessage Beta .dmg file here

or

Download the .zip file here

 

Image borrowed from CultofMac.com

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Blackmagic Cinema CameraThe wizards at Blackmagic Design, largely known for making video post production hardware (capture cards and stuff like that), as well as its famous color correction tool DaVinci Resolve,  today introduced the Blackmagic Cinema Camera. With a 13 stop dynamic range and the ability to use  EF and ZF mount lenses, integrated SSD recorder, ability to add metadata right from the LCD screen, RAW uncompressed and compressed recording formats, and a host of other goodies, The Cinema Camera looks to be a great contender for the Digital Cinema camera crowd. When Blackmagic sent out their email announcement this morning I was impressed with the specs. But what surprised me so much that I spit out my coffee is something they chose to only mention in passing: the thing only costs about three grand. Yeah, I had to do a double take on the price too. Oh, and they throw in DaVinci Resolve at no cost for good measure.

This one really came out of left field. Very impressive offering and I hope the Blackmagic Cinema Camera can live up to its promises. If so, RED might just want to start shaking in their boots a little…

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