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By Lou Washington

Recently I received a message from LinkedIn about the image I use for my profile picture within the LinkedIn application. They told me they had removed the image because it violated their standards for personal images.

Ouch! No one has ever accused me of being a shimmering paragon of human beauty, but I never dreamt I was actually violating standards. I’m glad I didn’t know this in high school, I would have never developed any self-confidence. I would have dutifully worn my paper bag to assure people didn’t have to experience the pain of looking at me.

Actually until then, I had used a cartoon drawn by my friend Tom Hortel. Tom is a super creative fellow who runs an innovation company, called Zenovate, They serve business people looking for someone with a real imagination. I was very fond of my avatar image and it was with great regret that I submitted to the demands of Linked In and replaced it with a regular photograph.

This was just a few days before Linked In announced their new iPad app. If you have an iPad, you know there are two kinds of apps available. First are those written to exploit the iPad and take advantage of the many wonderful features that make it such a useful tool. The second type is apps written for the iPhone or iPod Touch then ported to conform to the minimal compatibility requirements of the Pad.

Apps written for iPhone that also run on iPad are typically not as striking visually. Blowing up the standard size iPhone image with the “x2” button usually results in a fuzzy, grainy image. Forget about rotating the image to landscape orientation, the screen will stubbornly remain in portrait mode.

You can understand why I was a bit skeptical when I read that they were finally going to finally have an iPad only version of their app. Since these guys don’t like cartoons, I figured they probably were not going to please me with their revamped interface.

Before I go further with this, let me say, I’m a huge Linked In fan. It was really my first use of social media. I could see the utility of Linked In almost immediately. I’m not talking about the self promotion aspect of the product in a job seeking context, although I understand why that is important.

I like the idea of being able to talk to people knowledgeable in almost any given area or discipline by simply running a search or looking for a group. For someone involved in market analysis or industry trends, (like me) this is an invaluable tool.

Of all the social tools available, Linked In is the one I would be least likely to give up if I had to make a choice.

I’m happy to find that Linked In got it right. The new iPad app is a vast improvement. I might even say that I like it better than the desk top version.

The Updates page is fantastic. It is served up in a beautiful framed eMagazine type format with sections listing real-time updated data such as markets and weather. Personal events are maintained and displayed in a “day at a time”calendar like format that allows the user to scroll forward and back to see past and future events.

News of interest is also displayed via attractive graphics and headlines.  The other stuff, whose viewed your profile, co-worker activities and connection updates are all listed with those now required photos. So maybe a cartoon wasn’t such a great idea after all?

Navigation is now horizontal, using swiping page turns instead of scrolling up and down.

Moving over to the profile page, your profile is presented initially in a clean resume type format. Swiping to the next page reveals your connections, recent viewers, people you may know and your own update activity.This is navigated via up and down scrolling.

The inbox section is set up very much like an Outlook mailbox.. The highlighted piece is displayed on the right side of the screen, the assorted messages are listed in date order on the left. Again, picture images are included with each message.

Throughout the app, the ribbon like tool bar extends across the top of the screen. You can easily jump back and forth between the primary functions by simply touching the IN logo on upper left side of the screen.

If you are an iPad user and you haven’t made the jump to the new version I think you will be pleasantly surprised. If you have an iPad and haven’t added the Linked In app, you are missing out. Take the plunge, I think you will be pleased.

Good job Linked In!!

By Lou Washington

Today is the big day; the day that has been anticipated for months. Today is the day the iPad 3 finally hits the market. If you believe the various news outlets, people are in one of two camps on this. First is the panting, drooling, tail wagging group who is speechless with excitement. Or, second, you are in the wake me when it’s over group.

In reality, most people are somewhere in between.  I certainly am.

The 3rd iteration of the iPad is exciting. A greatly improved camera and an upgraded display will make for an improved product. But, I’m not ready to turn in my iPad 2. I have not actually seen the new improved display or used the upgraded camera, but, I just don’t see those features driving me to abandon the 2 just yet.

The iPad is revolutionary. It has changed lives. But, why is this true. What is there about this device that causes so much hoopla?  As a dedicated user, I’ll try to answer that.

First off, what makes any device a better alternative than not having the device?

1)      It must deliver a decided advantage to the user

2)      It must be convenient

3)      It must allow the user to do more by doing less

4)      It must be consistent

Okay, so the iPad bats 1000 on these four categories. But, the thing that makes it transcend the merely great and cross over into the territory of world-changing is the fact that it does all four of these things on multiple levels. It touches and benefits so many processes within our daily lives.

Here’s what I mean.

Let’s take the going to a presentation meeting experience.   In the pre iPad world you would go to the meeting with a pad and pen. Throughout the meeting you would jot down little notes and quotes that might be useful in the future. Finally, you go back to your office, lose your notes and that’s the end of things.

With the iPad you sit down at the meeting. You open a notes app and as the speaker talks you enter your notes into a named retrievable document. Perhaps the power-point presentation has some interesting graphics; you shoot a picture of the screen to capture the graphics. Perhaps, the presenter has a special verbal presentation that sums up his message. You can click on your recorder and capture the guy making the key points.

When you are done, you have an illustrated, multimedia presentation of the entire meeting. You can send it to others via email, you can store it, you can let it rest and review it later. That’s very powerful for people who attend trade shows or must sit through multiple meeting over the course of a day.

If someone would have built a little box that did all of that in 1995, and called it the Meeting Pro, that person would have appeared on the cover of Fortune Magazine by the end of the year.

So, how much greater is a device that also stores your music, facilitates access to the always open music store, movie store and book store and gives you access to these things anywhere you go?

How much greater is a device that replaces your telephone and email with VOIP and video phone functionality?

What would the worth be of a device that allowed you to carry around not only pictures of your family, but also all the pictures you’ve ever taken in your lifetime?

How about a device that does all of the above and also helps you tune your guitar and then record the latest song you’ve written playing your guitar?

Not musical, no problem, what about photo-shopping your pictures? Image editing software abounds for the iPad.

May be you want to try out a new route to your Aunt Zelda’s house. Fire up your iPad GPS system and you’re there in no time.

When you buy one of these things you have no idea how much it will impact your life. The more you use it, the more ways you find to use it.

So, pardon me if I’m not all over the iPad 3 just yet.  I’m still just blown away by my iPad 2.

By Lou Washington

One of things I learned early on in the world of amateur photography is that size does matter. The bigger the camera, the better. The bigger the lens, well Dr. Freud that’s even more important.

So, with those two rules in mind, you’ll have no problem understanding why my camera of choice is the Digital Single Lens Reflex or DSLR. The DSLR offers all the shooting flexibility of a regular film based SLR. That flexibility is made possible by equipping the camera body with a variety of selection dials and toggle switches.

All of those dials and switches mean the camera itself has to be fairly large to start with. There are some camera makers that try to pack all of that functionality into a compact camera body. It just doesn’t work for guys like me who struggle to find their glasses each morning. Small has no advantage for me in this area.

Bigger controls make it easier for other folks to see how great your camera is and also easier for me to make sure that the camera is properly set on Full Auto Mode.

The other great feature of DSLR cameras is the interchangeable lens. Lens are typically sold separately in the world of DSLRs. Most amateur photographers can get by with two lens, one for shooting people shots and snap shot type photography. For shooting at sporting events or out-door scenery type shooting you will want to invest in a telephoto lens. Telephotos are also handy for shooting close-ups of plants and insects.

Keeping all that in mind you may not be surprised to find that I am not particularly interested in the newest generation of cameras that are commonly referred to as compact system cameras. These are smallish body cameras that offer several proprietary interchangeable lens. For me they combine the high price of DSLRs with the inconvenience of micro sized camera bodies.

I’m sure they take fine pictures and for little people with fat wallets and 20/20 vision they may be a good alternative to the bulkier DSLR choices.

The main problem I find with these cameras is that they get no respect in the competitive, tough world of amateur photography. Let me explain what I mean.

Photo by Lou Washington

I live in the Cincinnati area and every year the Krohn Conservatory holds a fantastic butterfly show. It’s a great photo op for anyone who likes to shoot bugs and flowers.

It was during my first butterfly show that I learned just how much camera size matters.

Upon entering the show area, the first thing I noticed was there were just a ton of people clamoring around trying to get that special shot. I think there may have been more people than butterflies.

I was using my little Pentax point and shoot film camera. It was an okay camera with an optical zoom that improved the range for this type of shooting. But, every time I’d get a great shot lined up, some idiot would push in front of me or bump my arm or somehow terrorize the little bug causing it to fly away.

It was the most frustrating photographic day of my life. I didn’t get any shots worth a damn and worst of all, I felt totally disrespected. That’s when I realized it wasn’t me that was disrespected, it was my camera.

As we walked out of the conservatory, I told Barb, I‘m coming back next year and things are going to be different!

By golly, next year things were different.

First, I went out to Dick’s sporting goods and picked up one of those khaki colored fishing vests with all the little pockets and nifty hangers for stowing fishing gadgets. I found that fishing vests were virtually identical to professional photography vests but they cost about a quarter of what you’d pay for the photo vest. Plus, I fish occasionally, so what the heck.

Next, was my camera. Canon had recently introduced the Digital Rebel. This was one of the first DSLRs on the market. It was a great camera and best of all, virtually all of Canon’s huge catalogue of autofocus lenses would fit the Digital Rebel.

For my butterfly safari, I picked a 300mm telephoto lens.

When next year rolled around I was ready to go. We got up extra early that morning. I put on my vest and loaded it up with a wide variety of photo paraphernalia. I put on my favorite ball cap, with the bill pointed to the back like real photographers do and loaded a fresh power cell into my Rebel.

This time, when I entered the butterfly room it was a totally different experience. I slapped my ginormous 300 mm telephoto lens on my camera and powered up. The effect was almost immediate.

People gave me a wide berth, no one bumped me or even tried to get in my shots.

One guy who started to cross in front of me, stopped and apologized. I nodded and told him it was okay this time, but not to do it again.

A child who was threatening to grab one of my subjects was hauled back by his mom who harshly reprimanded the little guy.

It was easy to tell where the butterfly action was. People would gather around three deep trying to shoot over each other’s shoulders and heads. I would only have to walk up, clear my throat and busy myself with the dials on my camera and focus on the lens.

The whole crowd would just kind of stand back to make way for me, the guy with big camera, the fellow with the giant lens, the dude with the special vest.

Yep, just as I suspected, no one messes with a pro photographer packing a giant camera.

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