Thinking of starting a blog? Here’s a step-by-step guide from coming up with a topic to making money. [Read more…] about How to Get Started with a Blog
Either everyone knows this or no one is thinking it: heavy smartphone and tech use by teenagers play a role in school violence.
I don’t mean to minimize the issues of gun control and mental illness but we are missing another contributing factor in what might lead a teenager to walk into a school and start taking out classmates. It’s those smartphones teenagers are glued to every minute of every day.
Teenagers today are nothing like their parents. You know it, I know it and the research proves it. They’re not dating much, they’re not going out as much, they’re getting their drivers license later, they live in their parents home longer, they play an unbelievable amount of video games online from their bedroom or basement. Many of their relationships exist only in apps and online. As a whole, the i-Generation is unhappy and depressed. While cyber-bullying is certainly a concern the very idea that teenagers will cyber-bully themselves is shocking but it happens and teenagers are more likely to lose their lives to suicide than homicide.
Those statistics are disturbing and should certainly illuminate the problems smartphones and broadband and LTE networks cause but to me, the most shocking statistic in how today’s teenagers are different from their parents is how the devices have changed what we were always told were the ‘bad things’. Teen pregnancy is at its lowest level and kids aren’t drinking alcohol like their parents did at their age.
Why? Because they’re holed up in their rooms by themselves with thumbs flying across a smartphone keyboard.
“We see students who are just more comfortable in the world of their device,” said counselor Randy Campbell who works at an after-school program with who some consider “at risk” teenagers. “They don’t know how to act one-on-one,” he said. “So they’re always in their phone and when they’re forced to put their phone down they don’t know how to act.”
“They don’t even go out as groups of friends, like go to a movie,” said church youth minister Payne Stockard who follows some students on SnapChat. “Very rarely do you see SnapChats of them out together. It’s almost always just them in their room,” he told me.
They also run across photos on Instagram or Twitter or SnapChat of other teenagers out having fun. Everyone knows people love to post when they’re having fun and their online profiles show a perfect life and family.
Holly Park, a 4th-grade teacher told the story of a 3rd-grade girl who was left out of a birthday party. “They face-timed one of the students in my class who wasn’t invited, to show her how much fun they were having at the party,” she said. “The little girl was devastated.”
Amazon is re-calling six styles of portable battery chargers after complaints they’ve caught fire and caused chemical burns.
The chargers are branded as “Amazon Basics” with that logo on the front of the unit.
In a release today Amazon states it has received 53 reports of the power banks overheating in the U.S, including one report of chemical burns due to “contact with battery acid” and four reports of property damage.
The recalled chargers were sold on Amazon.com from December 2014-July 2017 and cost between $9 and $40.
If you have one of these chargers Amazon urges you to unplug it and stop using them immediately and contact Amazon for instructions on how to return them. Amazon says you will receive a full-refund.
To claim your refund go to this site
Read Amazon’s announcement at the Consumer Product Safety Commission here
Last week I reported that MoviePass tracks its users on the way to the theater and on the way back home. That’s what CEO Mitch Lowe said at a conference in Hollywood during Oscar week, adding the popular movie ticket buying company collects “an enormous amount of data” from the folks who subscribe to the service.
This evening Lowe released a letter to members in which he apologized and said the app does not track and has never tracked the location of members at any point when the app is not active.
For the uninitiated, MoviePass is (right now) the best deal on the internet for people who like going to movie theaters. After downloading the free app, users subscribe to the service for $9.99/month. When you arrive at a participating theater (most) open the app, select the movie you want to see and check-in using the app. MoviePass then reserves a seat for you and deposits the cost of the ticket to a MasterCard debit card which is sent to you when you subscribe.
When you get to the ticket window you simply use the debit card to pay for your ticket.
I subscribed last September and I’ve more than gotten my money’s worth going to 1 or 2 movies a week. Most times I buy popcorn and a soda to support the theater since that’s how theater chains make revenue to keep the lights on (and off).
Lowe said then that the data collected was going to be used to help create and encourage a ‘movie night’ for its users, suggesting future updates might send relevant coupons and information based on location.
Some MoviePass subscribers were none too happy because MoviePass had not revealed this in its Terms of Service and Privacy agreements.
I agree but you know what? I wouldn’t have cared if MoviePass knew what restaurants I passed on the way to the theater. I would not care if MoviePass knew what I did after the credits rolled. Here’s why:
I expect I’m being followed by the apps on my phone. If I’m eating at McDonald’s I’m not surprised if I get a coupon for Buy 1 Get 1 Free Big Macs from GasBuddy or any of the other apps on my phone. I’m not surprised because that is the way of the digital world today. It’s why I get relevant coupons and discounts on my computer screen when I’m checking Gmail. It’s why I see an ad for DisneyWorld vacations after I searched for Orlando, Florida vacations on my phone or computer.
I realize that MoviePass does not care if Jamey Tucker is eating at Applebees after seeing “Black Panther”. It cares that the owner of this iPhone X is eating at Applebees.
Like other freebies on the internet like Yelp, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Google, MoviePass can watch my trip to the theater and back home again. I’m not that interesting. It is a bad move to not reveal that information before I sign up.
According to MoviePass CEO Mitch Lowe, it wasn’t included in the terms because it didn’t really happen.
I love my MoviePass. I subscribed last September and I’ve been going to the theater like crazy ever since.
I’ve seen “Lady Bird”, “Darkest Hour”, “Dunkirk”, “Mother”, “Star Wars” (part whatever it is now), “American Assassins”, “Wind River”, “Granite Mountain”, “Leap”, “American Made”, “Thor”, “Jumanji”, “The Greatest Showman”, “Game Night”, and I’m sure there are several others I can’t recall. That’s more that I’ve seen in theaters in the last 6 years.
I go to the movies more now because of MoviePass. For anyone who’s unfamiliar with MoviePass, you pay a subscription fee of $9.99/month which entitles you to see movies at the theater for now charge. Get this: you can see one movie a day. Crazy right? I asked last September about the business model and whether the company could stay afloat after dropping the price from $50 to $10 a month.
Most users assume for this kind of deal there’s got to be a catch and like many apps that we can use for free, MoviePass collects personal information and shares it with third-party companies. What we did not know was what information was being collected. Until now.
Last week MoviePass CEO Mitch Lowe told a crowd that MoviePass “collects an enormous amount of data” from users and can see how I get to the theater from my home, and “where they go afterwards.”
MoviePass uses the GPS data in our phones to know which theater we’re going to. The way it works is that you get within 100 yards of a theater, select the movie you want to see and check-in. When you go to the ticket window MoviePass has put just enough money on the debit card to pay for the movie.
So, now we find out that GPS information is being collected but why?
Apparently, MoviePass wants to know which route you take to get to the theater so it knows which restaurants you pass. Lowe said they hope to be able help create a ‘movie night’ experience by sharing the information about nearby restaurants. It’s hoping to make a revenue-sharing deal with those restaurants for a cut of the cost of dinner. A referral-fee I suppose.
That’s what the company is hoping to do with movie theaters. It claims about 6% of movie tickets are now purchased with a MoviePass card. I’m surprised it isn’t higher. Most people I speak to say they have a card and whenever I’ve asked at the ticket window, the guy behind the counter says “everyone” is using the card.
But doesn’t it creep you out that MoviePass is keeping track of where you go after the movie ends?
Nah. It’s too good of a deal. Besides, MoviePass doesn’t care that it’s “ME”, it just wants to know where their subscriber is going or eating. Could the information fall into the wrong hands of hackers?
There’s always that chance, but let me ask you: what information could a hacker find out about you from your movie-going-restaurant-eating habits that it doesn’t already know if they just check your public profile information on Facebook.
My guess is that MoviePass updates its Terms of Service and Privacy information. I also predict most loyal MoviePass users are just fine with being tracked as long as they can see all the movies that come out every month, for just $10.
Yep, write a few blog posts and the sponsors and advertisers will be beating down your door with wheelbarrows filled with money.
If only it were that easy. Blogging takes time, patience, time, persistence, time and some luck. Maybe a long string of luck or just one big break. Many people do make a living writing a blog as they travel the world. Michelle, author of Making Sense of Cents is open about how much she makes each month, and it’s mindblowing.
Blogging is a way to make money in your spare time but it can also be a great outlet for sharing your thoughts and ideas with other people who might not want to listen to you going on and on at a cocktail party.
And, best of all, anyone with a computer or smartphone can do it. That’s you (and everyone else these days).
Back around 2004 I launched my first blog at JameyTucker.blogspot.com Those were the days not many people even knew the difference between a blog and a website (many still don’t). I was recently unemployed having left a gig with the CBS station in Memphis, Tennessee. I was a little ticked off the way that went down and vented through the blog which also covered the news about TV news.
When I took a job with WKRN in Nashville, TN as the religion reporter I started blogging again for the station on its “Nashville is Talking” blog and stopped writing my personal blog.
When the plug was pulled on that site I stopped blogging altogether. I never made money with my blogs and never tried but if you know what to do, what to blog about and how to attract readers (subscribers) and sponsors (advertisers) you will make some money. How much depends on how good you are.
If you’re thinking of blogging, here are a few things to think about before publishing the first entry:
What Will You Blog About?
The obvious answer is blog about your passion. Is it art? Is it music? Is it trivia? Is it knitting? Whatever you have some knowledge to share, THAT’s what you should blog about. Is there an audience for it? Are there enough people who are also interested in the subject? Niche blogs with a narrow focus are often more popular than blogs that cover too much. Rather than blog about music, blog about country music or music from the 1980s or hairbands. You get the point. It’s easier to find an audience for a niche subject than getting lost in all the other blogs about music in general.
Don’t blog for the money because that won’t happen right away. A successful blog is one the author is passionate about to the point they’ll blog even if no one is reading it. The more you blog excellent content, the faster your blog will grow.
How Often Should You Blog?
This is entirely up to you. How much time do you have to prepare? If this is a side-hustle, you may only be able to blog once a week. That’s fine. There are many successful bloggers who post new content only once every week or two. The key here is to make the posts compelling enough for the reader to come back for more. With that said, you shouldn’t go too long between posts or your audience will forget you.
Try to publish a new blog post a few times each week.
Where to Start?
There are free blogging platforms that are easy to use. WordPress.com and Blogger are two of the most popular. Don’t go there. While they’re both simple to start and there are lots of free themes (what your blog will look like) these have practically no wiggle-room in how your blog is designed. Plus, readers will need to enter your blog name plus .wordpress.com, or .blogger.com. That just screams to readers that you’re not devoted to growing your blog. Plus you don’t have much control over adding sponsors and advertisers and how those ads will appear on your site.
Go to www.wordpress.org and sign up for a blog there. Your readers will be able to find your blog by typing in www.yourblog.com which is more professional. You’ll find free themes there too that are totally fine to use in terms of appearance.
Get Your Own Domain
To use a self-hosted domain such as www.yourblog.com, you’ll need a domain name and hosting. If it’s your first domain to purchase you may only pay a few bucks for the name for a year. www.GoDaddy.com is the web host I use and they frequently have .com domains for $2-$4.
But…good luck finding the domain name you want as a .com. All the good common word domain names are taken in the .com extension. You may be able to find the domain you’d like by searching for a .biz, .net, .tv, .rocks, .xyz (look it up, it really is an address extension). Don’t be surprised if you have trouble finding what you want in those extensions but web hosts such as GoDaddy and BlueHost (another great service) will let you search the name through every extension that’s available.
If you still can’t find the domain name you want to consider another spelling or even a made-up word. Think Google was a word before it launched? Don’t make it too hard on your readers. Google is spelled like it sounds so there was no confusion but you don’t want to have to spell out your domain everytime you tell someone about it.
Both GoDaddy and Bluehost will install WordPress for you but you’ll still want to learn how to do some things yourself such as uploading images, spacing, installing plug-ins to make the blog run smoothly. WordPress has some excellent tutorials on its site so take a few evenings or a weekend to familiarize yourself with the language of WordPress and how to do what you want to do.
This is the time to get the design of your blog just the way you want it. Since you haven’t told anyone about it or shared it on Twitter or Facebook no one knows it exists so play around and experiment. If you break something at this point you can start again without losing any readers.
Finally the fun part. Welcome your readers. Spend some time on your About Me page so when someone visits for the first time it’s clear who you are and what you’ll be writing. Don’t neglect the About section at this point. Include a photo of yourself. Dedicate the first post to introducing yourself and the blog. Not only will readers want to see that first, it should be the easiest post you’ll write because it truly is ‘about you’.
Write Some More
The death of a blog is when the blogger writes a great first post or two then falls off the face of the earth. Many promising blogs fail because after the first few posts the author stops writing for a week or more. You don’t want people going to your blog several times in those early days and seeing no new posts. So write some more. I suggest writing a half-dozen or more posts before you even tell anyone about your blog. Always have a few blog posts in reserve so when you sit in front of the blank screen with nothing to say in those first few weeks, you’ll have one in your pocket. You’re guaranteed people will quickly lose interest in going to your blog if they don’t see anything new.
Lights, gadgets, camera, action:
Do you have someone on your wish list this year who has an interest in filmmaking or YouTube videos? Today’s smartphone cameras are so good at taking photos and video some Hollywood directors are shooting feature films with iPhones. Famed director Steven Soderbergh, who’s biggest hits are “Logan Lucky”, “Oceans Eleven” and “Erin Brockovich” is reportedly releasing a new thriller to the big screen in the spring of 2018 that was shot entirely on an iPhone 7. If that isn’t proof that smartphone cameras are ready for the big screen I don’t know what is.
That doesn’t necessarily mean you can just run out and start recording video that looks like a big production; you need gadgets and several camera gadgets are a big step forward toward making smartphone videos look like something out of a big picture studio.
A stabilizer removes any shakiness the camera would capture when you’re shooting by hand. There are dozens of stabilizers on the market such as the DJI Phone Camera Gimbal OSMO MOBILE, Black which gives the filmmaker steadiness and control of the smartphone camera.
A different perspective gives video shot with an iPhone or smartphone camera a much more Hollywood look. Wide angle lens adapters are a must-have to create the big-picture look.
The OlloClip lens kits are built for specific smartphones and devices and you’ll need to make sure you get the correct one for your phone. The OlloClip is the go-to for professional smartphone videographers as they provide both wide-angle lenses along with fish-eye, macro and telephoto.
olloclip – ACTIVE LENS SET for iPhone 8/8 Plus & iPhone 7/7 Plus – TELEPHOTO & ULTRA-WIDE Premium Glass Lenses
The Sandmarc wide-angle lens comes with snap-on case. I’m using the SANDMARC Wide Lens Edition for iPhone X – Wide angle lens, case and clip-on kit for iPhone – 2X Wider Capture with my new iPhone X and found it captures a higher quality image.
When the invitation came in my inbox a few weeks ago, I didn’t understand what it was all about. An interactive and immersive dining experience involving projectors and 3D mapping technology. I Googled it, and watched YouTube videos and when it came time for the show to begin, my mind still couldn’t understand what I was about to see.
Dinner Time Stories: In the Footsteps of Marco Polo is dinner theater like you’ve never seen before. Seriously. Never because it hasn’t been in the United States before. I was among a lucky few who got to see it first.
“What this is is a fully immersive 6-course dinner experience that takes the audience on a journey from France to Arabia to India to the Himalayas to China and back to France, all through 3D projection mapping,” David Fischette of Go West Creative, the producers of the show in the United States. He also tried to explain what it was going to be like in the moments leading up to the first course.
But when the show began, I still didn’t know what to expect.
There was what appeared to be a menu book on the table before us. We were told to open the book to the center page but there was nothing on it. Both pages, all pages were blank but seconds later words began appearing in my book as if it was printed there.
The page turned and a figure appeared. A tiny man with a French accent who introduced himself as Le Petit Chef. “You have a funny look on your face” he said pointing at me. I’m sure I did.
So did everyone in the room of about 35 diners seated at two very long tables. Each person had the same menu book in front of them with Le Petit Chef. It was amazing to see.
“Each diner, each person has their own setting,” explained Fischette. “Completely 3D projection mapped and animated from the perspective of, it looks like the chef is right there on the table making the food for them.”
The chef moved around the table, flipped more pages in the book and picked up a spoon (a virtual spoon) on my plate. I didn’t need special glasses to see him.
With each course, Le Petit Chef told a story “In the Footsteps of Marco Polo”. As he took us through each part of the story a wait staff brought the meal one course at a time. One course, a delicious serving of couscous, muscles, and tabbouleh came in a small leather suitcase. Another came in a box with a secret door. The palate cleansing sorbet was brought in a dish and I was instructed to pour from a teapot of water which created steam. Through the projection, it appeared that the steam from everyone’s dish left their plate and carried over to the table.
Kendall Gilfillan was like everyone else. She’d never seen anything like this.
“I think it made you interact with the people sitting across from you but each new journey was a different flavor,” she said. “Sailing through the seas and going through these storms on a little piece of paper. I loved it. I’d describe it as a completely immersive experience that really gets you involved.”
This Dinner Time Story has played in restaurants in Dubai, London, Cairo and Stockholm but opened for the first time at The Standard, a premium restaurant in Nashville, Tennessee. Fischette told me it is their home and plan to take Dinner Time Stories: In the Footsteps of Marco Polo, featuring Le Petit Chef” to other fine restaurants around the country.
Other stories will follow this one. Fischette said the shows will be similar to theater productions in that different stories will be presented for a limited time before another show takes it place.
This show runs on certain days of the week through March 17th at The Standard in Nashville. For ticket information go to www.dinnertimestoriesusa.com
It is rare when there’s a security flaw that affects virtually every desktop and laptop computer, smartphone and other mobile device. The latest, discovered just a few days ago, is that risk.
Dubbed “Meltdown” and “Spectre”, the risk is not a cyber-threat but rather a flaw or security hole affecting computer chips. Processing chips are the brains of the computer and are made by Intel, AMD and ARM. In this case there is an apparent risk that hackers could gain access to a remote computer or device as the computer processes information.
The Department of Homeland Security issued this warning on the vulnerabilities Wednesday.
For most of us, understanding what’s happening is less important than understanding what to do with out computers and devices.
Windows, Apple, Google and the chip makers quickly issued security updates in hopes of fixing the flaw.
For Windows PC users, go to the Microsoft support page (linked at the bottom of this story) which will guide you through the update process.
Mac and Apple users will see a prompt that they should update their device. Google Chromebooks and Android devices generally automatically update.
If your are a Windows user and haven’t gotten a prompt to update, re-boot your computer when you go to bed tonight. As it restarts Windows will check for any updates and install them. If you still don’t see a prompt to update, check the website of your anti-virus program.
Some anti-virus programs have issued updates but some still have not. Microsoft will not install the security update on any computer running 3rd party anti-virus software that has not been updated itself. Initially there were reports that the update was causing the dreaded “Blue Screen of Death” on computers running anti-virus software that wasn’t updated to handle the latest Windows update.
In short, this is not a security concern to ignore. While there’s been no confirmation of the flaw being used by hackers to gain access to a computer, those hackers just learning of it are surely trying to take advantage of the vulnerability.
Microsoft support site
Microsoft update page https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/4056892/windows-10-update-kb4056892