The Points Guy’s OneWorld MegaDO Seatmate Contest

I love miles and points and my preferred airline is American, so when the OneWorld MegaDO came around you would think it would have been a no brainer for me to attend. The only thing was, I was at work when it launched and it sold out in just over 23 minutes. Apparently lots of other people use OneWorld carriers like I do. I was sad!

But then I remembered Brian Kelly aka The Points Guy was planning on giving away a seat on the trip. I patiently waited for the announcement and lo and behold, he decided to do a video contest! Something I love to have an excuse to have fun with.

I did all the work on the video myself…shooting, acting, and editing.

The idea behind the video was to create a video about the subject Brian requested, but I wanted it to be something more, something fun in the background. The video is littered with references to the miles and points game. I say things, there is product placement, intentionally obscured websites, pictures, etc that should look familiar to people in the miles and points hobby. I count 23 references, however I may have done a bit too good of a job obscuring them in shallow depth of field (thats what you get when you are the actor and the cameraman). Hope you all have fun!

For those techie people out there I shot this on a Canon 5D Mark II with a 50mm 1.4 lens. Its all natural light. I edited on Adobe Premiere CS5, and the teleportation effect is a combination of a Film Riot episode and a VideoCopilot tutorial edited on Adobe After Effects

Nequaquam Morte Moriemini

Nequaquam Morte MorieminiNequaquam Morte Moriemini by W. Brian Duncan ©


Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?

And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:

But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.

And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:

I recently discovered the artwork of Brooke Shaden. She is one of those artists that I hate to love…well…hate is WAY too strong. I actually love her work and think we would probably get along swimmingly (she seems awesome from her videos). What I believe is perhaps a more accurate descriptive may involve jealousy. Brooke is young, talented, intelligent and producing some absolutely stunning images that seem to flow effortlessly in some surreal and dream-like ether. The kind of thing I always think I should be capable of producing but never put in the effort or time.

There always seems to be a reason to distract me from the creative process. In the end I believe these to come from a place of fear…fear or failure, fear of discovering myself, fear of financial ruin, on and on. Regardless of the genesis, the culmination is a complete and utter paralysis to actually accomplish anything of merit.

Occasionally I get inspired to get myself down to my basement studio and take a few pictures. Some of Brooke’s work with apples actually inspired Nequaquam Morte Moriemini. After taking this series, I was struck by how much this image, in particular, made me think of The Fall of Man. I read through that section of the first book of the Old Testament and decided to work on a composite.

In the end I think I am actually somewhat pleased with the outcome. I have a long way to go in my personal work, but luckily I produce everything for myself. This allows me to be as creative, different, dark or inept as I find the desire. I hope you all enjoy this piece, and please take the time to take a look over Brooke’s work, it is quite beautiful.

Award Wallet Free Upgrade Codes

Award Wallet Free Upgrade Codesimage by lrargerich

If you have been around me for any period of time you have probably heard about my recent obsession with collecting frequent flyer miles, reward points and generating elite status within various programs. Managing all of these can be hard, but I have been using a great web based tool called Award Wallet. No this isn’t a spam post. I simply love this website and find it to be essential to keeping track of all my reward programs.

Some people might not like giving their account number and password to their reward programs to a third party, but there is an option to save your password on your local PC. I did this initially, but ended up converting to storing with Award Wallet for simplicity.

The free version does just about everything. Though there is a premium version with more perks. Normally it runs $5 every 6 months, but I have 10 free six month new users codes. Sign up for an account (click here) and simply enter free-awfctr into the Upgrade Using a Coupon button on the left side. This is only open to the first 10 people who use the code. There is no credit card required and if you don’t like the service at the end of the 6 month term you will automatically downgrade to a free account.

Give it a try, if you have more than one award program it really is a great tool!

Update: It looks like all the free codes are used up, but please feel free to signup, it is an awesome service!

What Would Jeremy Cowart Do?

I have to say I spend quite a bit of time these days consuming content on the interwebs. Between creativeLive Events, Revision3 and KelbyTV, I have my time so parceled up into small digestible web segments you would think I never have time for traditional media. Come to think of it, my DVR is pretty full.

One of the great things about new media, is it gives immensely talent people a great opportunity to share with others. Twitter is one of the most visible examples of this. We get to share in the day to day existence of people all over the world. Whether our Aunt Enda or Shaquille O’Neal, we in very small ways get to interact and be a part of these peoples lives.

Recently I came across Jeremy Cowart, a wonderful Nashville based photographer with quite a resume. Though I think he might downplay the celebrity of his photography, he has photographed some of the biggest names in the entertainment world. From Britney to Sting, Zachary Levi to Ron Artest, well, the images are quite frankly, stunning.

I started following Jeremy on Twitter and recently he released a personal project titled Eraser. It was a three hour project for him, a birthday present to himself, no Twitter, Facebook, email or the like, just time to create something.

Eraser got me to thinking about how I put things off. Things I want to do. Things for which I have a thousand excuses. Useless excuses.

How many years have I been going to work on improving my photography? How long have I put off traveling? Why am I so afraid to fail?

I sat on my couch and wondered to myself, as utterly ridiculous as it sounds…What Would Jeremy Cowart Do?

He would work to make something he could be proud of. He would already BE working.

Below is what came of all of this. I sat down and actually started working on a portrait of myself. I am not comparing my work with Eraser…I think that would be slightly foolish. It is, however an important step for me. Sure it’s over processed and in many ways that’s completely on purpose. The point was play…experimentation. I had fun making it and in many ways it expresses how I have been feeling lately.

If by chance Mr. Cowart should ever happen to read this, I would like to say…thank you for the example.

What Would Jeremy Cowart Do? (WWJCD?)End of a Beginning by W. Brian Duncan ©

SXSWi a Practical First Timers Survival Guide

We just returned from Austin for our first SXSW Interactive (SXSWi) experience and we are ready to book our trip for next year. Along the way I learned quite a few things I will use on my trip next year and I thought I would share it with all of you.

SXSWi a Practical First Timers Survival Guideimage by IPBrian ©

Be Prepared for SXSARS

I got sick on day three. Really sick. I felt miserable. Sore throat, minor fever, ache, sniffles, etc. I figured I had the standard conference cold and Pamela would be short to follow, only she never got sick. I apparently fell victim to the overwhelming force that is Austin, TX pollen.

Checking the forecast, I found that tree pollen was High, specifically, elm, oak, pecan and ash which apparently kill my system. If I had been prepared I would have checked the allergen forecast from weather.com and found a suitable anti-histamine. Next trip, I will prepare better.

Moreover, anytime you pack 19,000 people (from the world over) into a convention center, there is bound to be germs spread. Wash your hands regularly and use the hand sanitizer stations setup in all the venues.

Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate

This goes almost without saying, but at any conference where colds, long days (nights) and free alcohol abound, you need to stay hydrated. The conference has coolers strategically placed around the venues. Buy one expensive bottle of water in the morning and refill it multiple times. Our hotel would fill grocery lists for us so we ordered a case of water from the local big box store for only a few dollars. One case of H2O cost us what you might usually pay for a few bottles at the conference so we had a clean bottle every day.

SXSWi a Practical First Timers Survival Guideimage by IPBrian ©

Keep Your Feet Dry!

About the same time I got sick, I got blisters on my feet. This was a result of not having the proper socks. Bring twice as many socks as you reasonably need for a week and change you socks half-way trough the day if needed. An extra pair of shoes are advisable as well, but can add bulk so see the travel light section.

Travel Light

I brought my 5D Mark II with a 50mm lens. I carried it everywhere. It weighs less than 3lbs, but it sucked beyond belief. In the end I took 91 pictures which, in retrospect, was not worth the hassle. The 50mm was too short to really get close to anything I wasn’t already in close proximity to. Further a big lens like a 70-200 would be a nightmare. If you have a specific reason to bring a DSLR or a laptop, by all means bring it along. I brought the laptop as well, but it stayed in the hotel and didn’t get used much. Next year, I will likely be relying on my iPhone almost exclusively.

SXSWi a Practical First Timers Survival Guideimage by IPBrian ©

Bring ID

I forgot business cards. Old media right? WRONG! Unless you are Gary Vaynerchuk people need a way to remember your contact info and business cards are still king. I have varied interest so I ended up handing out Pamela’s card which I think probably had less impact. Prepare beforehand by having something unique and special printed specifically for the conference.

Some Sessions Are More Equal that Others

Some sessions fill up fast. If you really want to attend a particular session be sure to get there early. For some reason Monday seemed more busy than any other day. I made the mistake of getting lulled into believing I would always be able to get into the sessions I wanted, then Monday hit and I got turned away again and again. There were queues outside full sessions and as people leave new people are allowed in. People leaving for the bathroom don’t get back in.

Some of the complaints I heard most were how the titles of sessions didn’t really match up with the content. Further, my selection process was based entirely on the online description. I found the pocket guide to enhance my understanding of the content, but didn’t get that info till the start of the conference.

Try, as best as you can to explore the history of the speaker and what they are going to be speaking on. Make sure you have two or three possibilities if you decide 10 minutes in this isn’t the for you, move on. Many of the sessions I attended were not as billed and I ended up staying too long.

SXSWi a Practical First Timers Survival Guideimage by IPBrian ©

Plan Downtime

There are about 30 things to do at any given time. Multiple, sessions, parties, lounges, meet-ups, etc are all vying for your attention. If you try to do all of them you will run yourself ragged. You are going to need to pick and choose what you are going to do. Sometimes this is not a problem, others it is almost painful. Build in downtime during the day to hit a coffee shop or just hang out in one of the lounges. Make sure you find time to eat lunch and dinner.

Home Away From Home

Your choice of hotel has a strong impact on your options. Price was one of our chief concerns so we ended up staying closer to the airport than the convention center. This move probably saved us $400 a night (we paid $119/night), but it comes with the inconvenience of not being able to easily access your room. The conference shuttle usually only took about 15 minutes one way, but you also had to wait for pickup. A round trip to the hotel could take an hour and while sometimes this was not a problem, other times it made the trip impossible. One of the first nights I ended up carrying my swag bag and camera around the after parties (very cool).

In the end I think the networking opportunities of the conference easily outweighed the information I gained from the sessions. We spent quite a bit of time in the blogger’s lounge and met quite a number of good people. This conference is all about making connections, and in the end I think the free books and t-shirts may have all but paid for the price of our admission.

Change this Facebook Setting NOW!

Back at the end of January, Facebook added secure browsing (https) to the list of security features and you should make the change now.

Up until the addition of https your Facebook credentials were passed as clear text to Facebook. This is especially troublesome if you are surfing on an open wireless network at say a coffee shop, because it allows people sniffing the wifi traffic access to your Facebook credentials.

Changing Facebook to use https adds a layer of encryption to your web communications that makes it much harder to crack your account. Luckily the changes are easy (though in normal Facebook fashion buried in menus) and will be largely transparent to the user.

From your home screen Click:

Account

Account Settings

From the Main Settings Tab, Click Change on Account Security

Place a check in the box under Secure Browsing (https), Browse Facebook on a secure connection (https) whenever possible

Click Save