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NEWS: SVA to add MPS in Digital Photography beginning Fall 2007

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The School of Visual Arts in New York City will offer a Master of Professional Studies (MPS) in Digital Photography beginning in the fall of 2007. The new one-year degree program will become the fourth program in photography at SVA and looks to be an excellent option for those who want a program focused on the core subjects of photography and imaging, from capture to print.

The program will be chaired by Katrin Eismann, who I’ve known personally for about 10 years, and who I greatly respect for her knowledge and straighforward teaching style (whether in print, on video, or live). The program will consist of nine 3-credit courses and a 6-credit summer thesis project, including: Digital Materials and Processes; Digital Asset Management and Workflow; Personal Vision, Storytelling and the Art of Editorial Photography; Color Management and Output; Advanced Image Processing; Photo Illustration; Large Format Printing; Studio Management and Practices; and Scripting and Automation.

Katrin’s books (authored and co-authored in some cases) on digital photography and digital imaging techniques are some of the best available in my opinion. They include Real World Digital Photography (Peachpit Press, 2003), Photoshop Masking & Compositing (New Riders Press, 2004) and Adobe Photoshop Restoration & Retouching, Third Edition (New Riders Press, 2005). All of the books metioned, as well as some of Katrin’s DVD’s can be found here. Katrin is also a featured columnist in American Photo and Photoshop User magazines. I have been reading both magazines for years and highly recommend them.

I look forward to seeing the full list of classes, which will be available approximately Oct 1, 2006 on this page.

Here is a direct link to the press release, which contains a lot more info about the program.

-Andrew Darlow

REVIEW: “Very Funny Ads” TV show and online website

About a week ago, I saw a program on TV highlighting funny TV ads from around the world. There are a lot of lessons to be learned from these with regard to how ads are made for products across the globe, and how products are marketed in different countries. Only a handful of these select ads really made me laugh, but the cinematography and overall production value of the spots is fantastic. If nothing else, the site is worth a look as an example of how major networks are putting video content online. In this case, with little to no advertising. (Oh yes, of course, it’s all advertising, but you know what I mean.)

The show is hosted by Kevin Nealon, who many will know from his 9 seasons on Saturday Night Live (1986-1995).

Here’s the link to the site: https://veryfunnyads.com

My favorites are the videos for Hansaplast, Leo’s Sports Club, and Comviq mobile. K-Fee is very unique too.

Click on the index link on the bottom right of the very funny ads site to see a complete index of all the ads. If you have a chance, please let me know which are your favorites, and how they might have had an effect on your work as an audio, photo or video pro. You can drop me a line at imaging@andrewdarlow.com . I love hearing the sound quality in these commercials (try watching with and without sound to see the difference). For the most part, the audio is cinematic and crystal clear.

For some reason, Geico.com was absent. In my opinion they have had the best TV and radio spots for the last few years in the USA. Everyone knows the gecko (I love the employee of the month one with the gecko driving a convertible). One of their radio commercials has soothing classical music with a guy speaking in a raspy voice about motorcycle insurance. Throughout the commercial, he basically says, I don’t think this music is quite right. Pure genius. Here is a direct link to some of Geico’s videos. A Google search will find others which I believe are “not authorized.” Even Berkshire Hathaway’s Warren Buffett is featured in some of the videos.

The funniest ads of the year will air on TBS in December, so feel free to vote for the little Gecko, or your favorite ad. The ads made for markets outside of the US are often much more liberal than those made for the USA. I think you’ll see what I mean very quickly.

Here’s the link again: https://www.veryfunnyads.com/

All the best,

Andrew Darlow

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Review: my VoIP switch and experience with ViaTalk

Hello:

I thought I should post this review now because I’ve been very happy with the VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) service that I’ve been getting from a New York State-based company named ViaTalk. I noticed a few days ago that they have a significant discount for their VT_unlimited service. It works out to about $8/month($199) for two years of unlimited phone calls to the US and Canada.

OVERVIEW

The company also has an excellent referral program, and the links to the offer I mention will use my referral link. The pricing will be the same whether or not you use the link, but if you’d prefer not to use the link, just visit the company directly at viatalk.com.

For the last year, I have been paying about $55 each month for unlimited calling from my home and studio based in New Jersey. When I called Canada for 3 minutes a few months ago, my charges were over $10! Now I can call the US and Canada for under $15/month. I paid $175 for a year using a recent promotional offer, and I’ve had the service for about a month.

I have Optimum Online as my Broadband cable provider, and their service and bandwidth is excellent where I live, so that may have something to do with the quality.

Before the number was ported, I was given a phone number so that I could call out and receive calls as soon as the VoIP phone adapter arrived.

POSITIVE FEATURES
Apart from the pricing, here is what I really like about ViaTalk:

-Quality: I always get a dial tone and I rarely detect any difference in quality from my standard phone line. Occasionally, I will hear a word drop out, but I detect no other real difference, which is very important to me because I do a lot of consulting via phone.

-Customer Service: I have called the company three times and never waited for more than 5 minutes for a well-spoken customer service rep. The system actually tells you what number you are in line, and it counts down until you are caller number one. I have also used the live “chat” online and my questions were answered quickly. They have a “priority” customer service option, but I don’t see any real reason to pay for it.

-Number Porting: After signing up, I filled out a short form to have my home number ported, faxed it to them and received an e-mail that it would take up to 20 days to be ported. About 10 business days later, it was ported over (I knew because my traditional service just stopped) and I then called to have the number set for ViaTalk’s system. I then powered on and off the router, and I was done.

(Make sure you then cancel your other phone service to avoid future charges and get a name and phone number/id from the customer service agent in case you keep getting billed.)

-My VoIP telephone adapter has a phone jack port (actually 2, but only one is activated), and I am using a 3-handset cordless phone system, which is working very well. From the time I signed up online, I had the telephone adapter in about 2 business days. I decided to purchase it, but the current 2 year special being advertised now (two years of unlimited calling to the US and Canada for $199) allows you to receive the equipment for free. However, you need to keep the box and materials in case you want to return it in the future.

-Features: There are many features, which you can read on the company’s site, and the most important one to my family is caller ID. The caller ID works just like my caller ID did before, and when I asked the customer service rep how to make my built-in answering machine take calls instead of their answering service, she told me I could log in to my account and set the rings to a high number, such as 99. She then set it to 99 for me.

NEGATIVES/ADDITIONAL SUGGESTIONS
The main negatives to having this system are that I can not easily use the existing jacks in my house without going through a somewhat involved procedure. That means that my wife’s beloved 1970’s era rotary phones may be on their way to EBay or a dumpster soon. Also, if power, or broadband service goes down, so does the phone service. I recommend keeping a cell phone charged and nearby as a backup at all times.

I also recommend programming your local fire and police station numbers into your home and cell phones, even if the 911 service works fine, which it seems to be. You can ask the company about how the 911 service works.

CONCLUSION

That’s all for now. I believe that ViaTalk, as well as the fax service I reviewed in the right-hand sidebar from Trustfax, are both excellent ways to save money on important home and business communication tools.

Two of my relatives have VoIP service from another VoIP provider, and they pay about $25/month. They will both probably be switching this week to ViaTalk.

To find out more about ViaTalk, visit them here. Feel free to send me an e-mail at imaging@andrewdarlow.com to let me know what you think of ViaTalk’s quality if you decide to start using their service.

UPDATE: 9/6/2006: After I posted about not being able to use our existing lines and my wife’s treasured rotary phones, I checked the web and found step-by-step instructions to do it. https://michigantelephone.mi.org/distribute.html Now even our rotaries work (well, we can’t dial out). Plus, we removed the ringers just to be safe. Now I also don’t notice as many dropouts so I’m a happy camper.   -AD