Digital Content: Ad-based vs. Subscription-based business models

Broadly, there are two different types of business models for online content such as movies and apps.

Netflix uses a subscription-based model, where you have to pay in order to access their content. You won’t see any advertisements on Netflix.

Facebook, on the other end of the spectrum, has very successfully employed the ad-based model. You don’t have to pay to use the service, but you’ll be served many advertisements.

While it is certainly convenient to be able to use free services via the ad-based model, are there any significant drawbacks? This is the focus of my most recent blog post : Digital Content: To pay or not to pay.

Spoiler alert: Sometimes, you get what you pay for.

DuckDuckGo : A private alternative to Google search

With the recent revelation that Google services track your location, even if you have explicitly told them not to, it may be time to re-think certain aspects of your online privacy. This especially includes the search engine you use.

Every search query you enter into Google is recorded, even if you are in incognito mode. Regardless of whether or not you are signed into Google, your Internet Protocol (IP) address is logged with every single search, and Google can still associate searches to you.

If this makes you even a little uneasy, read my latest post about the philosophy behind DuckDuckGo, a very good alternative to Google. Your searches are never recorded, and you can truly search privately & anonymously. Read the full post here.

Navigating the Night Sky

Taking pictures after dark can create really powerful images. Have you ever wondered how they’re captured?

If you own a camera with some basic manual controls, my latest photography blog post can help you figure out how to take great long exposure shots. I detail all the equipment you’ll need, all the settings you’ll need to adjust, and how to determine the length of exposure. This can be a great way to enjoy the night sky with friends and family.

Earlier this month I was reading an article about how five planets – Mercury, Venus, Jupiter, Saturn and Mars – would be visible on a clear night, no telescope required.

The article provides a guide to how you could find the planets in the night sky without any other aids, but that can be tough sometimes. If there are scattered clouds in the sky, some of the markers in the sky will be hidden.

There are some great smartphone apps available to help figure out what you’re looking at. Sky Map is one example, and it’s free. It can help you find planets, stars, nebulae, and more. All you have to do is point the phone towards the region of sky you’re curious about, and the screen displays a labelled map. It’s a form of augmented reality.

You can also search for specific objects – such as a planet – and the phone will guide you where to look. The app uses a phone’s GPS, compass, and gyroscope to orient the screen. Try it out!

Adobe Photoshop Express – A free app worth downloading for your phone

Winter forest by Rick Sturch

Have you ever wished you could have greater control over your smartphone photos? This free app is worth downloading.

Other photo sharing applications such as Instagram let you apply generic filters with pre-set adjustments. Adobe Photoshop Express gives you all the manual settings you would expect from a top-of-the-line photo editing software, for free. Settings such as exposure, contrast, saturation, red-eye reduction, cropping, rotating, auto-adjustment, and so on.

You can also make collages (like the picture above), and colour-correct images from within the collage. It’s a great feature.

To read my latest photography blog post, click here.

The Wave-Particle Duality and the Double Slit experiment

Caution: This may make your head spin.

In my latest photography blog post, I explore the weird phenomenon of how light – and matter – will sometimes behave as a wave, and sometimes as a particle.

Think about that one for a minute.

Imagine the universe like a video game. When you’re playing a video game, things are happening in that virtual world, even when they’re not being displayed on the computer/tv monitor. For example, a character may move in the background when you’re not facing them. When you do turn, though, the character will be in a different place from where you last saw them. The question is, did that character “exist” when you weren’t facing them?

Click here to read the post.

by Rick Sturch.

Tethering your computer to your phone – how to avoid unwanted data consumption

Rick Sturch Mobile Hotspot Wifi Tethering

Have you ever wondered why your computer uses so much of your phone’s data when you tether it for internet access? Well, wonder no more.

Something that you probably don’t often think about is all the background apps running when you use your computer. Many of them check for updates, automatically download updates, use data to update information (ie weather apps). All of these processes consume data, which is an issue when you have a limited amount of it.

The heaviest consumer of data, however, is often your operating system’s automatic updates.

If you are using Windows, there are some really easy solutions to this. For one, you can designate the network connection that your phone creates as a “metered connection”. When this setting is enabled, Windows updates will not download until your computer returns to a connection that is not metered. For more detailed instructions, visit here.

Alternatively, you can use Windows Firewall. You are able to restrict which apps are able to access the internet so that the background updating is restricted. If data is really tight, you can restrict all background apps except for the apps you need to use (such as a web browser).

If you own a Mac, or simply want an easier, more comprehensive solution, there is an app for that. It’s called TripMode 2 , and it claims to be the answer. Essentially, it blocks all apps from accessing the internet when connected to designated network connections – except the ones you want accessing the internet.

Full disclosure, I haven’t tried it yet since my laptop is not a Macintosh. However, it seems to have all the functionality so that when you go on a vacation out of the city, you won’t be reeling from expensive data overages.

by Rick Sturch



Aperture: How to blur the background and make your subject stand out

Loon and Canoe by Rick Sturch

In my most recent photography blog post, I summarize what aperture is and how to use it to adjust depth of field. If you have a DLSR camera and you want to take amazing portrait pictures, this will be a great primer.

Conversely, if you want to take landscape pictures where everything is in crystal clear focus, make sure you change your f-stop to a larger number.

For the full article, click here.


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