My Blog and 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:

Yubby: another enabling tool

Video is wonderful. It lets you develop this quick feeling for something, usually much quicker than reading through paragraphs of copy or listening to lengthy audio. And social video is even cooler, as it lets the producer get his video out to so many more people, and collect inputs and get social linkage, and sometimes... very rarely, one might even go viral.


The flood of video sharing sites also has its drawbacks of course, as you might eventually end up with quite some fragmentation as to where your videos are. I sure experience that. Some videos are on Youtube, some are on Vimeo or Blip.tv, just to name a few. And pulling those together into a coherent user experience has been pretty difficult in the past.


Has been.


Because now there is yubby, a free online service that lets you quickly and easily create a channel with videos from all types of sources, that you can then embed in a web page as a widget.


I have just done that. Thanks to its great search capabilities and somewhat consistent tagging of my videos, it took me about five minutes to pull together a channel of the videos that I (and others) produced at various workshops, and place it on my main workshop page.


Yubby lets you then choose one of several ways to present your videos, from a grid down to a small player, which is the one I opted for. I should actually even be able to embed it here. Let's try.




See? It's that easy.


» The widget in action on the workshop page

» yubby.com


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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!

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Making better content thanks to your vote!

planner.png

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!!
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