MY BLOG & SOAPBOX

To help order and sort some of the things in my mind, it often helps me to write them down. And this is the place I do just that. Not always related to photography. Not always in English. Manchmal auch auf Deutsch.
I have recently switched blogging platforms. Here is my new blog:
I have recently switched blogging platforms. Here is my old blog:

MEIN BLOG & SEIFENKISTE

Die Dinge niederschreiben hilft mir, sie zu ordnen und einzuordnen. Hier ist der richtige Platz dafür. Nicht immer geht es um die Fotografie und nicht immer schreibe ich auf Deutsch. Manchmal auf Englisch.
Ich habe kürzlich die Blog-Plattform gewechselt. Hier ist mein neues Blog:
Ich habe kürzlich die Blog-Plattform gewechselt. Hier ist mein altes Blog:

How to organize the 2010 workshops

workshops.jpgWorkshops, workshops, workshops... 2009 was such an exciting year in so many respects and I am very grateful for being able to do the things I do.


With Brooklyn Cookin', the workshop that I held together with Chef Mark, this year's season is now over, and what a great final workshop that was. Both Mark and I found that we'll have to do a workshop along the same lines again next year. The concept is perfect: the target audience is couples where one half is into cooking and the other half is into photography, and here they have a way to learn and spend time together.


Even though this year is over from a workshop perspective, it actually isn't. At least not for me. I am going to spend most of November preparing everything for a smooth 2010 launch. My goal is to have everything ready by December. And there are a lot of things to be worked on. Luckily most of my workshop locations are already nailed down, some helpers need to be briefed, and then there's the whole registration process. I have looked into offers in the cloud, but there is no workshop/seminar management system that even remotely seems to fit the bill.


All I need is to manage the registration process and payments for about ten workshops. Internationally. With deposits. And limited number of seats. For a decent price. And no, in an economy where everyone needs to think twice before spending anything, I consider taking 10% of the workshop fees *not* decent, because that would eventually increase the workshop price by that same amount.


So in short, I haven't found a good and easy way to automate this yet. Which is why I've taken things to the cloud in a different way for 2009 and why I'm going to go even further in 2010. In short: I'm using online services and forms to handle the sign-ups, I have simplified the confirmation and registration process using Services on Mac OSX Snow Leopard, I use PayPal to handle the bulk of the payments, and I use my own time to keep it all together. Not ideal, but workable. The KISS principle applies. Keep it simple, stupid. I don't need a full-fledged database to handle a couple of hundred participants. Every participant ends up in a spreadsheet with a status field depending on where in the registration process they currently are, and if I need to send out a bulk mail to all participants of an individual workshop, a simple copy/paste of the email address column for that workshop will do just fine.


The biggest item are the workshop pages on the web site. This is where everything is supposed to come together in a nice and easy to navigate way. I have spent hours and hours to design something that ties together everything from basic information about the workshop ("why would I want to come to this workshop?"), the agenda ("what are the workshop details?"), timing ("when does the workshop start and end?"), accommodation ("what hotel is near by?"), navigation ("how do I find my way to the workshop?") and pricing.


Obviously I design this once and duplicate it for all the workshops, but the content will be different for each workshop. The overview, the detail description, the example images, the example video, the FAQ. And the language.


So I guess I better get busy and finally start tying all those lose ends together to bring you not only an excellent 2010 workshop season, but also a great experience when it comes to finding the right one for your needs and going through the registration process.


If you want to be notified as soon as the 2010 workshops are ready, please make sure you are on the newsletter (get the newsletter here).


Got a way to help me simplify the registration process? Leave a comment!

Comments

Making better content thanks to your vote!

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I've just found the solution! You can help me save a lot of time, which in turn will allow me to concentrate more on the production side of my shows instead of the planning side. And it's simple: all I need is the help of 94 of you clicking a vote button.

update: just one day later and 34 of you awesome individuals have already clicked. thanks!!

Okay, hear me out, my logic on this is impeccable, I'll just need a few sentences to explain.

If you've read this post about my new iPhone calendar app you know I've become a big fan of Pocket Informant on the iPhone. And you also know that I am still searching for an app to help me with year planning. Each year around this time I'm knee deep into planning next year's workshops. And each year I spend hours trying to find out if anyone has written an app that will help me doing that.

I have very simple needs:
- a view that shows me the entire year with my workshops as time blocks
- a fast and simple way to move around these workshops
- calendar data linked/synced with my existing calendar (currently Google cal)

There is no such application for the Mac. Or the iPhone.

So every year I fall back to a stone-age year spreadsheet and changing cell background colors to indicate events. This takes time. Lots of it. And this is valuable time that I can't use to bring you exciting episodes of TFTTF, HS, Daily Photo Tips and so forth.

Here is where you come in.

If you're a fan of any of these shows, or the workshops, you want to help me finally get such a year planner, right? (See? I told you my logic was impeccable!)

But this is not just for me, it's useful for everyone. Plan out vacations, keep track of your kids school projects. Name it.

So you can imagine how happy I was to find the Pocket Informant feature request list. If anyone can pull off that year planner feature, it's these guys with their mad coding skillz! The feature request list is powered by Uservoice and you can vote for features. Three votes per person and feature. 280 votes to get to the top of the request list and a chance to be looked into. 280 / 3 = 94 people.

Please help vote this feature request up to the top of the list!

Instructions


  1. Go to the log in page of the voting site

  2. Click the login provider of your choice (Google, Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo, OpenID,...)

  3. Once logged in, enter "year planner" in the search box

  4. Click the vote button next to the "Year Planner" title and leave three votes.



Let's move it up to the top of the list!!
Comments

Textexpander and YOURLS

shot106.jpgHere's another post that's not about photography. I promise, I'll stop talking about geeky infastructure as soon as finished testing my latest acquisition: a sensor loupe and a Sensor Klean .. errr.. sensor cleaner.

This post is about some more recent infrastructure changes though that I put the finishing touches on over the weekend. Did I mention last weekend I was super productive with both, fixing my iPhone and switching my calendar infrastructure? Oh, I have? Never mind.

I recently installed my own URL shortener. It helps me paste short links into Twitter or other short form communication, it lets me get some basic stats on these links, and in general I get a lot of fun out of dabbling with these sorts of things. If I can find the time for it. Luckily I didn't have to write my own solution, as there is YOURLS. And as I happened to own the tfttf.com domain, which is reasonably short, I thought "why not?" and went ahead. It works flawlessly.

The other tool that I wouldn't want to miss is Textexpander. It runs on the Mac and what it does is simple: it replaces short strings with longer ones as you type. So if I send out an email to someone in Germany, instead of copying/pasting the signature for that, I type siggg and Textexpander automatically replaces that with my full German email signature block. For the English signature I use sigge. To insert the current date I defined the shortcut ddate and so forth. A big time saver and totally transparent. Works system wide.

Textexpander can execute scripts too. And this is where the magic starts. It comes with a script to shorten URLs using bit.ly. All you do is copy a long URL into the clipboard (CMD-C) and then type /bitly at the place where you want the short URL to be pasted.

/bitly is the trigger for Textexpander to execute an Apple Script that takes whatever is in the clipboard, hand it to the bit.ly API for shortening and returns this to wherever the cursor was.

If you are as keyboard-focused as I am, this is bliss. (And believe me, I am keyboard-focused. I even use the jkhl keys in vi so I won't have to move over to the cursor keys and leave the 10-finger base position on the keyboard)

Long story short, I have adapted said AppleScript to run in conjunction with YOURLS and it works like a charm.

» download the script here (instructions inside)

And that's it. If you have YOURLS installed and use Textexpander, this ought to make your life quite a bit easier. It sure does that for me.

And please note: I'm not an Apple Script developer, this script is part of the Textexpander distribution (I hope I'm not gonna get into any trouble by posting it here in its modified form) and I merely adapted it ever so slightly for use with YOURLS. I will not be able to provide you with any scripting support whatsoever. Believe me, you really don't want me to give you scripting advice...

Comments

Switching calendar apps

9A000290-80CD-4694-9534-0B869CAE160F.jpgWarning, this is another iPhone post. No photography here. Move along, nothing to see here...


Every year I reach the point where I need to start planning the workshop schedule for the next year. This usually takes place after summer. And every year I find myself trying to find an application that helps me do that. A simple year planner. One that allows me to see the entire year on one screen, and where I can define time blocks and move those around on a calendar. Preferably it integrates with the calendar on my Mac. Shouldn't be too hard to find, right?


Wrong!


This is the third year where I've spent hours to try and track down this software. I would happily pay for such a software. But no luck. I've looked into project management software. Too bulky or too expensive, not elegant enough, or simply too big and complex for my purposes. I've looked into calendaring software. None that offers me a decent or usable year overview. Or if they do show the entire year, they really only show you the year but they don't populate it with any of the calendar information.


The situation is even worse on the iPhone. The built-in Calendar app is nice, but if you want to get more serious, it's pretty much useless. Look at the month screen for example. Just a dot on the days that have entries, and the day overview hidden away in a tiny portion of the window on the bottom. This would be a perfect opportunity for app developers to come up with great calendars, but Apple has put the kibosh on that by not providing a calendar API. That's right, no iPhone app can directly interface with the iPhone's calendar data, so all of them have to be isolated applications.


Google Calendar to the rescue!


And that's where my recent research weekend where I found the solution to unfreeze my iPhone 3G 3.1 helped in a way.


Apparently Apple doesn't mind iPhone apps to sync with Google apps, and that's true for Google Calendar too. So there are quite a few iPhone calendaring apps out there that work just fine using Google Calendar.


And as I have already moved my calendar subscriptions over onto Google Calendar and as it's working flawlessly so far, why not go he whole hog and move my main calendar over there too?


So my next steps were to a) find a great iPhone app that syncs with Google Calendar and b) move my main calendar over to Google.


Twitter to the rescue!


What a great community! Just a few tweets later, and @stke was there with a great app tip: Pocket Informant. Thanks for helping trigger one of the biggest calendar reconfigurations I've done in a long while.


Admittedly, it doesn't really solve my year-view issue, and it isn't necessarily a planner, but it solves a host of other problems that I've been having with the built-in Calendar app and it throws in some new and awesome todo features on top.


Introducing Pocket Informant


Where its previous versions seems to have had some issues, version 1.1.0 of Pocket Informant is one of the best mobile calendars I have seen in a while. It's not for everyone, it will require some level of configuration, but when it comes to my personal preferences, I believe I have found a keeper here. It will happily run in its own little sandbox, but if you are ready to switch to Google Calendar and set Informant up to sync that to your iPhone, you will unleash its full potential by enabling iCal sync functionality, albeit indirectly through Google. This way you can see and edit the same data on both the iPhone, iCal, and even online in the Google Calendar web interface while you're away from your beloved gadgets.


Pocket Informant gives you an agenda, a day view, and a month overview. Nothing special so far, until you see everything in action. Where the iPhone's Calendar app does its job .. well, in a doing-its-job kind of way, this one is on steroids. What I haven not mentioned yet is the week view, and for that view alone I would have made the switch. Why? Simple: Apple's Calendar app doesn't offer that. And for the way I work with calendars, a good week view is essential. In the month view, Informant will even give you tiny little time bars on every day that show you which portions of your days are booked. You can even opt for small text entries. And these are just a few of the cool things it does.


Generally Pocket Informant is highly configurable. Actually it might be even too configurable for some. Luckily there's a free light version of the app to find out.


But what really blew me away is its todo integration. It allows you to keep a todo list GTD style. With projects, contexts and the whole thing. Or do you prefer the Franklin Covey style, giving you the active, in progress, overdue and due items? It can do that too. If a todo item has a due date, you can see it on the calendar. And if that isn't enough, get this: this is not an isolated solution. It syncs with the cloud, or more specific with the Toodledo service. All you'll need is to get a free account there and you're set. Even better, Toodledo itself lets you integrate your todo lists with other things, such as Twitter. When I'm in Twitter and I all of a sudden I think of something I'll need to do, I can just send off a direct message to @toodledo and it'll end up as a new todo in my list. In Pocket Informant. On my iPhone. I have also added Toodledo to my iCal, so now I can even see (but not edit) the todo directly in iCal on the Mac.


There is a free version of Pocket Informant [App Store link]. The full version [App Store link] isn't cheap (€ 10.49 as of writing this), but after working with it for a day, I can say it's worth every cent.


Just for disclosure: I'm not affiliated with these guys.


Memory management


What's even more interesting: After I have moved my high-volume calendars to Google and now syncing my calendar(s) from Google back to the iPhone using Pocket Informant, I can all of a sudden use all of them again without running into the low memory issue that killed my iPhone experience since the upgrade to 3.1 - something that I believe has to do with how efficient this app manages its memory. And it has to do with the fact that the Apple Calendar app stays open in the background - something that only a few Apple apps are privileged to do - and thus permanently uses a lot of memory if you have a lot of calendar entries, while Pocket Informant doesn't run in the background and frees up the used memory once you leave the app.


Alerts


Calendar alerts are provided by making use of the push notification feature. Or you can opt to use Google Calendar notifications via text message, web alert, and so forth. Or in my case, I have added my main Google Mail/Calendar to the iPhone as an Exchange account, which syncs the calendar entries of my main calendar (and only those) with the iPhone's Calendar app and therefore gives me the alerts this way. I know I know, things could be a bit easier, but this way works just fine for me.


Shake to sync


The app is pretty smart about how and when it syncs with Google Calendar and Toodledo, but if you want to force a sync, you can enable the shake to sync feature, something that I initially thought was just a gimmick, but that I have come to like quite a bit during testing of the app. I'll probably disable it though after the honeymoon is over and I go on to use the app as a simple every-day work-horse.


Conclusion

No, this isn't the year planner that I was hoping for. If you know an app for the iPhone or for the Mac that provides that in an elegant way, please please please let me know about it.


What it is though is a really powerful calendaring and productivity application that - used correctly - will put a lot of oomph at your fingertips.


Integrating it with Google Calendar and Toodledo allows me a lot of flexibility about how and where I use calendars and todos, and keeping that data in the cloud makes it much easier for me to access everything.


And using the pretty well integrated GTD part of Informant, I will probably stop using Things, which I sill love, which I think looks much nicer, but which simply isn't as fast and integrated as Pocket Informant is.


Wishlist


Here's my very short one-item wishlist for Pocket Informant:


Please think about year planning, if anyone can pull it off, it's you guys. I'd love to be your guinea pig! But whatever you change in the future, please don't sacrifice speed and integration.


Do you use an alternative calendar on the iPhone? Let me know in the comments!

Comments

Unfreezing the iPhone 3G 3.1

6071EECF-1336-43A3-8CDB-44E2626D7D11.jpgA warning upfront: if you came here for a photography article, this one's not for you. This is about the iPhone and a little odyssey that eventually lead me to solving all my iPhone 3.1 issues. Wall, almost all of them...

I love my iPhone 3G. I'm doing more and more with it, from emailing, stats checking, podcast recording (Daily Photo Tips is entirely produced on my iPhone), calendaring, checking my bank accounts, .. you name it. It has become so important to me that I have even started to use an iPhone case to protect it. And if you know me, you know that I've NEVER used a case on any of my phones before.

I'm still on the 3G, because my German T-Mobile plan ("1st generation plan") wouldn't allow me to early upgrade the phone without having to also upgrade to the next higher plan ("2nd gen") which for reasons that most Germans on the 1st-gen plan who use the MultiSIM option know is a pretty much no-go. But I digress.

Let's start at the beginning:

The update to 3.1 and what it broke

When I updated the iPhone to 3.1, all hell broke loose. Or rather the opposite. My iPhone came to a screeching halt. All of a sudden it wouldn't react for a minute right after a reboot. Or scrolling in a podcast list would be super jerky. Or flipping the home screen sideways would stop for 5 seconds before it would resume. Or the calendar app would try very hard to open but fail and return to the home screen. I could go on and on and on. I tried a lot of things, lots of detective work, but couldn't really piece it together. When I twittered about it, I received a note from someone who seems to work at Apple letting me know that it's not 3.1 being the problem but that iTunes 9 was buggy. Well, the iTunes 9.0.1 update came along and nothing really changed on my iPhone. Still the same lack of response to so many things.

What I found out early was that it was likely to be a memory issue. Using the iStat app I could see that the amount of free memory was pretty low. Usually in the 1MB range.

The other thing I noticed was that when I hooked up the iPhone to iTunes, the bars that show you how much of its capacity is filled with music, videos and apps, had changed. The usually very small orange-colored "other" portion was much bigger all of a sudden. At this point I still didn't have enough information to piece it together.

The phone call with Apple Care

So with my out-of-warranty phone I finally gave in and called Apple Care. Got a nice lady on the phone who couldn't really help me. I managed to talk her into letting me talk with a 2nd-tier engineer and from him I finally found out one crucial piece of information: the orange bar contains calendars and contacts. I probably could've found this information online, had I know what to search for.

The calendar and its "new and improved" broken behavior

Around the same time I started noticing that all my subscribed calendars were now being synced to the iPhone. This is new behavior in 3.1 and it only happens if you sync them via mobileme. If you sync via iTunes, you can make a choice which calendars to sync.

This is especially interesting as I am subscribed to some high-volume calendars, such as Leo Laporte's TWiT Live production calendar (I'm a guest on his Tech Guy radio show and this calendar is my main way to know if I'm on his recording schedule or not), and Twistory, which is my twitter history as calendar entries. This last one is really high volume depending on how much I tweet, but I've found it really valuable at times and don't want to miss it.

The epiphany (or: what needs to come together to break things)

Here is my root cause analysis, mixed in with a good portion of guesswork:


  1. Calendar entries and contacts obviously take up working memory on the iPhone. To be able to sync and fire off alarms at the right time, I assume the iPhone calendar reads all calendar entires into memory on startup.

  2. mobileme syncs all calendars to the iPhone, even the subscribed ones. With mobileme there is no way to select which calendars to sync and which to not sync.

  3. I have 596 conctacts in my address book. Some with pictures. Most likely another memory eater.

  4. I have a bunch of high-volume calendars subscribed in iCal.

  5. Disabling mobileme or even just disabling the calendar on the iPhone brings it back to life.



This would explain why only 3G users see the issues (the 3G has less memory than the 3GS) and then only some of them (who is crazy enough to have 596 contacts and god knows how many calendar entries in about 7 different calendars?)

The solution

I spent good portions of the last weekend on finding a solution. And thanks to Monika's just recently re-ignited love to sock knitting (a lovely cherry-cream-colored pattern emerges as I type this post), this has even still been a weekend in sweet harmony ;)

1. Find a way to not sync the high-volume calendars to the iPhone

The best solution was to use Google Calendar™ to help with this:

a) Dump the subscribed calendars from iCal
b) Instead subscribe to them in Google Calendar
c) Now add your Google account to iCal and enable the subscribed calendars in the delegation tab of the account settings

Voila! The subscribed calendars don't sync to the iPhone anymore, but you still have them in iCal.

2. Move everything to Google Calendar

I could have stopped here, the above solution already does the trick for me to speed up the iPhone, but - alas - I'm on another calendar-related quest, so I continued to do my research: The search for a better calendar that helps me with my workshop planning.

But that's a story for the next blog entry.

Got similar iPhone 3.1 experiences? Share them in the comments!
Comments

Are things completely out of whack?

iStock_000009113695XSmall.jpg

I just got an unhappy (or even upset) email from a fan. I won't user her real name here, so let's call her "Liz". She was complaining about the amount of promotion vs. content on my show. I assume she meant Tips from the Top Floor.


"It takes 30 to 40 minutes to download and listen to your podcast and read your website. Unfortunately for me, I have found that about 75% of your content is advertising for donations and workshops and less than 25% provides information about photography... therefore, I waste a lot of time to get little content. Also, I hear the same promotions over and over about your workshops when I am sure that I am not going to them. I try to skip through them on my ipod, but usually, I just lose interest and shut it off. Even though I have learned from you, I am coming close to cancelling your podcast."


Getting feedback like this always slightly gets to me. On the one hand it's great to hear from the audience, and this kind of feedback is worth more than any "great job" type of mail (please keep those coming too though, as my ego likes them ;)) because it almost always comes from a person who is passionate about what I do and who has the guts to speak up and voice their opinion.


I hear you, Liz, and believe me, I don't like promoting stuff on my shows. I listen to a lot of podcasts, and one reason I do is that I get more than enough advertising on the old media. If I listen to podcasts I want them to be clutter-free too, unless the clutter is a part of the show that I like.


There is one exception where I truly love talking about things: An example would be the Everest Trek. Things that I am personally involved in, things that are a part of me, things that I'm very very (very!!) proud of.


Then there are sponsors. Apart from the current Squarespace campaign I haven't had a sponsor worth mentioning in almost a year. I'm not sure how you get to 75%, I can only assume that's what it felt like to you as opposed to that's the actual amount of time you've measured. I am über super cautious in who I allow on the show as a sponsor. The only way I believe I can make this work for both sides is to only advertise things that are of interest to my audience. Only then will it be perceived as being more of a value than a burden. Believe me, I have been offered quite a few campaigns in the past year, and I have turned down almost all of them because of this very reason: they just weren't relevant to my audience.


And let's be honest, being self-employed and spending well over 20 hours a week (probably much closer to 30 actually) producing free content in various forms doesn't really pay the bills, so I don't always have choice in that matter.


But let's get back to Liz and her email:


"Regarding your last blog about "geeks," what does that have to do with photography? My career was in Information Technology and I get a lot of content about IT from many sources. Why would I want your opinion about who is a geek? I want to learn about photography from you!!!"


In the header of this blog it used to read "This is the place where I post my thoughts on photography" but I'm not only about photography. I'm a geek, I'm a musician (I'm actually in the middle of producing a CD for a local band), I'm a podcaster, and I've chosen this place to be my personal blog where I talk about anything that interests me, anything that comes to mind and that I think it worth sharing with you: my soapbox. Tips from the Top Floor is the photography place and the photography posts here usually get linked from there.


To better reflect this, I have now changed the copy in the header of this blog to "This is the place where I post my thoughts. Usually on photography."


And this is where I open this discussion up to you, the readership. Do you think this blog should be exclusively about photography? And has my show content really gone down the drain in favor of promoting stuff?


Let me hear your thoughts in the comments!

Comments

The Geek Index

screenshot_01.jpgI love to keep an eye on my web sites and see how they're doing traffic-wise. I also like to have a look at the more geeky stats, such as how many of the visitors have JavaScript enabled, what screen resolutions do they use and what their choice of operating systems is.

One of the web sites that I host (and that Monika did a wonderful job putting together) is the Everest Trek 2010 web site.

I think the web browser that you use says a lot about you and your geekiness. That's why I call that browser overview my "Geek Index".


Now higher on that list doesn't mean more geeky, but there's something to be read from that chart.

Let me got through the top three individual browsers on that list and tell you my thoughts about them:

1. Safari - the Mac browser. What this chart doesn't say is that the Windows portion of these 48.93% is only a minor fraction. So I guess it's fair to assume that this part of the audience are mainly the podcast listeners, as that also still seems a little Mac-centric.

Are Mac users especially geeky? Yes and no. There are those who want the ease-of-use and the "it just works" thing, but then there are people like me who also love it for the fact that it's a Unix system that has all the important tools, scripting languages, terminals, process control etc. available, that I just need in my every-day life. The split between these two groups eludes me, but I'm sure there's at least some geekyness here.

By the way, I'm one of these Mac Safari users and I'm proud of it.

2. Firefox - the customizer's browser. Tons of add-ons, themes, extensions, plug-ins, name them whatever you like. I guess the most customizable browser on the market. It also managed to become the de-facto alternative to Internet Explorer.

Is it geeky? Sure, but again, I don't know the percentage of users who use it just to not have to use IE, and the users who use it because it allows this extreme level of customization.

As with Safari, it comes on both Windows and the Mac. In case of the Everest Trek website, Windows makes three quarters of the Firefox traffic, the Mac stays well behind here.

3. Internet Explorer - the Windows browser. This is interesting. Only 15%? On the one hand I would've expected a higher number, just because IE is still the market leader. On the other hand, the average podcast consumer is more likely to be a Mac user and IE doesn't have any relevance on the Mac. Or is it because I'm a geek and I attract other geeks, and IE is just almost by definition a non-geek browser?

I guess we'll never find out, but maybe you have an opinion? Let me know in the comments!
Comments

Feeling the iTunes Love

itunes.jpgThere are a lot of different ways for listeners to get to podcasts. There are a lot of different podcatchers out there, the Zune platform is getting a bit more traction, but iTunes is still the most important distribution vehicle by far. So whenever a show gets featured in one of the more prominent listings on the iTunes store, the producer gets to feel it.

Yesterday I received an automated email from my web hoster, telling me that the traffic for the server that my shows reside on was above the hourly threshold. Nothing to worry about, just slightly over.

An hour later I received another automated mail telling me the same, and this kept going on for the rest of the day.

I know out of experience that there can be many possible reasons for something like that, including the possibility that my server was hacked and used as a relay for vast amounts of spam or as a file server for porn movies.

So I started to go through the log files and reports and tried to find the reason why all of a sudden there was such an interest in my server. But nothing looked totally out of the ordinary, email traffic looked alright, there wasn't an unusual amount of traffic on the two big shows (Tips from the Top Floor and Happy Shooting).

By the end of the day the amount of used bandwidth was about four times as high as it should've been for a regular Tuesday and I went to bed knowing that if things weren't back to normal in the morning I had to spend some time doing some deep digging today.

What I hadn't checked for was one of the more obvious things, and when I opened my email box this morning I found a mail from Jon Miller saying "Did you see that you're being highlighted on the front page of the US iTunes Podcast Directory?"

That's what happens when you produce a small little show (that would be my Daily Photo Tips) that sort of flies under the radar and doesn't get much exposure, just to be discovered by someone at Apple who likes it enough to put it up on their podcast directory home page.

I guess getting traffic warnings from your web hoster isn't always a bad sign...
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On the horizon...

Melon and Wall

I can't say no. At least not often enough. The result is that too many things all of a sudden tend to happen at the same time for me. But then in times like these with the economy looking grimmer than it should, I guess doing lots is not the worst strategy to follow.

The biggest thing that's occupying me right now is the workshop planning and organization for 2010. Before I started doing the workshops, I couldn't imagine to plan a year and more in advance. This is normality now. And it also at times gives me that childish joy of "I know something you don't know". Until it's time to reveal it all. So let's lift the veil a bit.

Workshops reloaded

Some of the best of the past workshops will see a re-issue in 2010. San Francisco Street Safari for example was really awesome thanks to Gary's great ideas and help, and I want to do something along those lines again. And Gary is up for it too. Then the Everest Trek. It was a life-changing adventure for me as well as everyone else who participated, and we've just opened the registrations for next year's tour to the Himalayas. The German-language abbey workshop around the Happy Shooting podcast was great fun too and therefore will most likely also happen again. And thanks to the support from Thomas, Berlin is very likely to happen again too. Then there's the beginner's workshops that I held in Tübingen during summer. This was very special, as it really helped me to not forget the importance of the basics and that there is an important foundation that is so easy to forget when teaching more advanced seminars. So all of those are very likely to resurface in one form or the other.

New things on the horizon

Panorama BerlinAnd then there are new workshops on the horizon. I love putting new things on the map. It's fun, it's creative, but of course it also is a lot of work. New locations need to be found, new workshop concepts need to be evaluated and tested, and in general a lot of communication has to happen to make sure these new workshops will be a great experience for all the participants.

So what are the new workshops coming up in 2010?

First, I am looking into doing a bit more around post processing. The digital darkroom and the digital photographer's workflow are an integral part of photography these days. Most of the past workshops included some post processing, but it's impossible to do more than scratch the surface unless you dedicated several days to this topic. But it's clear that this is important. The question "when will you do a workshop just about post processing?" is among the most asked ones.

futureThen I always wanted to do a workshop in the area of Urban Exploration. The biggest issue here is the fact that a lot of locations that lead themselves to this type of photography aren't readily accessible to the public. So I'm still looking into this.

On the German-language side Happy Shooting will bring us one or two workshops in the Dresden area, the details of those aren't fully spec'd out, but we'll get there.

And as if that wasn't enough, I'm currently working on a series of highly targeted workshops for professionals of a totally different field. But that's kinda under wraps for now.

So things are moving, and my goal is to have the majority of the workshops ready for booking by December 1st. That's only two more months...

Have you been on a previous workshop? Interested in any of the future seminars? Got a suggestion or anything else to say about the workshops? Leave a comment!

Interested in any of the progress?

» Keep an eye on the workshop list
» Videos of the previous workshops
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Abbey I

Happy Shooting Klostergeister-Workshop 2009 Gruppenbild

Just returned from a four-day workshop that I held at the Inzigkofen Abbey together with Boris. This abbey is one of my most favorite places. I've spent a lot of time there over the last 15 years, having been a participant on their annual jazz workshop for over 12 times. So it was a really special treat for me to finally hold a workshop there myself.

The team at the abbey has been great, the meals were awesome as usual and we had a wonderful workshop group with really fun participants (click the image above).

Pictures taken at the workshop should start popping up on Flickr over the next few days tagged kgw09. See all pictures on flickr tagged kgw09.

Next month I will hold another workshop at the abbey, and that one will be in English and with participants from the United States, the UK and from Switzerland. Want to add another nationality to the list? There are still openings at the Abbey Adventure!
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