Oct 17, 2015

Remember to Check the Mic When Doing Video!

By | October 17th, 2015|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Remember to Check the Mic When Doing Video!

Man, nothing like doing a long recording and finding that there is a problem with the mic audio, I didn’t want to waste the video for this Mechanical Keyboard from Havit that I am reviewing for DragonBlogger.com so I just wound up using it as a blooper.  I will end up having to re-record the entire video anyway, but I do love this mechanical keyboard though my family complains how loud the keys are when I pound away on them at 95 Words Per Minute

In all seriousness, if you do any sort of video blogging (vlogging) or video it is a good idea to always take the time to do a quick 30 second check, stop (make sure your sound and levels are right) then proceed to start doing the official recording. A quick 30 second check could have spared me some time!

 

Silent Review of the HAVIT Mechanical Gaming Keyboard!

Oct 15, 2015

Heroes of the Storm with Starcraft Medic

By | October 15th, 2015|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Heroes of the Storm with Starcraft Medic

Had a bit of fun playing Lt. Morales with a skin pack last weekend!

Aug 30, 2015

Kid Friendly Minecraft Realms Server

By | August 30th, 2015|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Kid Friendly Minecraft Realms Server

Minecraft is an incredible game that brings out creativity, teamwork and simply exploration play that really engages kids in ways I haven’t seen with other online games.  One of the best things about this is that kids create their own world and literally can do whatever their imagination can come up with, this can be simply playing the game on Survival or Operators can do some amazingly complex rules and create Survivor Games or other type of PvP arenas.

However, I really need to find a more kid friendly server for my 8 year old Oliver to play and after playing on dozens of servers online the mix of bad language and older kids just didn’t bring him the experience playing with other kids around his age that we really wanted.  Hence I decided to purchase an official Minecraft Realms server and my son who is 8 is running it as OP.

This will be an application based Minecraft Realms server, that is only for kids between 6 and 12 who want to play, explore, create and not have to deal with older teenagers, trolls or harsh language.  Now, at 8 years old there still may be some PvP and battling as they tend to sometimes have competitions with friends, they have been friendly to younger players.   The other thing to help enforce only kids play is voice, my kids play via Skype so they can talk to each other while playing, this gives them real time communication and learning to talk and engage each other but also this helps ensure that they are actually all playing with kids instead of risking an adult impersonating a kid.

If you are looking for a Kid Friendly Minecraft Realms server and want your son or daughter to be invited to have some good times playing Minecraft in a friendly atmosphere with other kids who are between 7 and 12, then feel free to fill out an application.  If accepted you will receive an invite to the Minecraft Realms server, and be given the Skype username of Oliver who is the Moderator and Admin.

Apply for Access to Kid Friendly Minecraft Realms Server

Please select a valid form

 

I will personally overlook and audit all applications, this is a mission to keep things kid friendly and safe for the kids who just want to play and keep to a younger audience.

-Justin Germino

 

Aug 5, 2015

Windows 10 Upgrade and Dominance

By | August 5th, 2015|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Windows 10 Upgrade and Dominance

You probably have seen all the reports about the success of Windows 10 already having more installs than every other Linux distro just based on the free upgrades. With over 14 million installs and very few, though some problems report Microsoft is likely going to have an OS that will finally eat and expand upon a larger user base than Windows 7, Windows 8 and possibly even the former Windows XP.  There is however a caveat to everyone who gets their free upgrade and that is the fact that Microsoft isn’t making money by giving away free upgrades.  They are making money now on your data that is being shared as a result of the free upgrades.

Windows 10 more so than any previous OS and with Cortana ties into their Windows Online Services, to have the functions work fully you need to be connected to a Windows Live / Xbox Live account and this is where data gets stored, tracked, consumed and shared for the same purpose that one would see with any service including Google, Facebook or others and that is to serve you better and more targeted ads.  To build more information for the big data engines to make sure you are presented with the stuff more likely to get you to click and buy.

The privacy settings by default, Wi-Sense and more are simply ways to subsidize and offset the fact that they are giving away the OS.  Do I see at some point in the future targeted popups on your Windows 10 OS like the free editions of Office applications or a Ad supported Kindle Fire?  Maybe, Maybe not.

Of course it makes a lot of sense to have a single OS, Microsoft says Windows 10 will be the last Windows Upgrade and version, meaning all future updates will just continue to update the existing Windows 10 adding features, functions, bug fixes…etc.  Though you still can use an offline user account in Windows 10 you lose access to many of the features like Cortana that depend on the Windows Live account.

So far the biggest issue that I have with Windows 10 is the removal of Recent Places from the Save As menu, it makes it harder if you frequently like to put files in your recent folders to do this.  Frequent Folders isn’t the same and not as good, and I can’t find a permanent work around to this so is just something to get used to unless Microsoft fixes it.

Overall though I do like Windows 10, disabled a lot of security features, including the Wi-Sense which is where Windows would automatically connect to common public trusted networks (trusted) being the key word here as in it isn’t you trusting it, it was a partnership deal where Microsoft says it’s trusted.  So this is worth disabling and this video tutorial shows you how to do that.

Have you upgraded to Windows 10 yet?  What are your favorite things so far, or what do you hate about it? Share your story!

 

Jul 17, 2015

WordPress Issue Due to htaccess Misconfiguration

By | July 17th, 2015|Uncategorized|Comments Off on WordPress Issue Due to htaccess Misconfiguration

Had several issues on this site and most of my smaller sites that were traced back to a misconfiguration of my .htaccess file which most likely was caused by a WordPress plugin that updated it.

The error I saw in my errors file for Apache was Either all Options must start with + or -, or no Option may [closed]

In digging through my .htaccess file I found this line:

Options ExecCGI Includes IncludesNOEXEC SymLinksIfOwnerMatch -Indexes

And this was the line barfing, it said basically every OPTIONS has to have +, – in front or none of them can.

This must be something different with later Apache release or something as this file was untouched for months, but either way it was a simple fix.  Just moving Options -Indexes to a separate line without it being part of the same line resolved the problem and I was able to have the issue resolved.

Meanwhile, I had some issues with PHP and ION Cube Loader which is required for my Author hReview plugin so I had to have that setup which require a support ticket to InMotion hosting as they don’t allow you to check the module in PHP Configuration, but they were fairly quick to just load the Option and get this site back up and running again.

Overall I haven’t found the reason for the change, but suspect it may be related to Wordfence Security plugin which occasionally can update the .htaccess file I think, this seems like something the plugin would do and it was recently updated though I can’t prove it caused the issue.

Jul 3, 2015

Off to Visit Temecula

By | July 3rd, 2015|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Off to Visit Temecula

Having lived in San Diego County now since January, my wife and I decided to take a short Anniversary vacation up to Temecula to celebrate the July 4th weekend.  We had such fond memories of our Napa trip a few years back and wanted to see how Temecula was which happens to only be about an hour and a half drive from our house compared to the 11 hour distance of Napa.

Looking forward to some relaxing days with just my wife and I exploring the Wine country and enjoying fine dining and alone time without the kids for a few days.  Meanwhile, I hope everyone who follows me has a Happy July 4th!

We are staying at South Coast Winery Resort & Spa and are enjoying a package deal.

Jun 10, 2015

How Gaming Can Translate into Real World Skills and Lessons

By | June 10th, 2015|Uncategorized|Comments Off on How Gaming Can Translate into Real World Skills and Lessons

So I run into a situation very similar to many parents out there of children who are even more consumed by gaming than when I was a kid, and trust me when I was a kid I had NES, Atari, Commodore 64 and gaming was very much a part of my everyday life but it pales to the access of amazing gaming opportunities that they have now.  My kids have taken gaming to the next level with wanting to broadcast, record and establish online personalities for their video game play which I encourage and will grow during summer vacations but there are some things I help them implement to lay down the foundation of getting some skills and knowledge that will help them other areas of professional life later on as well.

Leadership

All it takes to realize about a MOBA or MMO game where you run a guild or league is to realize that this requires coordination and teamwork.  You have your gamer be in charge of a group or lead and tell them that they set the strategy and issue commands, take advice and help run it and they are going to start establishing themselves as a leader able to give orders, re-assign team members to other responsibilities, call out mistakes and help showcase or assist where needed.  As long as done in a friendly and helpful fashion without raging or disrespect this can help deal with disappointment when a team fails, lack of coordination from lack of trust, and allows different personalities to help mesh or determine what works and what doesn’t.  Encourage your kids who are gamers to speak to their ‘group’ on teamspeak or another chat group so they can do more careful coordination of strategy and this works particularly well for League of Legends, Smite, DoTA2 or Heroes of the Storm for example.  The same thing was applied for WoW Guild Raids and GW2 Dungeon runs as well however.

Public Presentation

Here I admit is something that some people abuse and turn to disrespect or childish behavior on camera, but if you encourage and provide proper encouragement your child may use the webcam and live streaming to be comfortable talking to an audience they can’t see, being able to issue instruction, call out what you are doing as you are doing it, thinking ahead and getting into the mindset of explaining things can help them become better presenters, be better on conference calls and may assist with public speaking later on (though doesn’t address the in-person anxiety).  This also helps kids who don’t like their own voice, appearance, or are generally uncomfortable on camera get more comfortable with being on camera or having a presence but be cognizant of the risks and how they handle it.  My kids were so riddled with embarassement when making mistakes on camera video doing unboxings and used to have trouble talking when the camera record light was on, but they with practice became so much more comfortable on camera and relaxing.  I don’t encourage people to just become screamers, ragers or disrespectful swearing for the sake of attention grabbing.  It is important they find a personality or persona they like being or presenting while recording but try to encourage they keep it more PG rather than R rated, particularly if they are already under age and their target audience is under 18.

Think About Your Audience

Asking your gamers who want to record or showcase their triumphs and gamecast about who they want to watch and see, how they should react what reaction or response do they want from viewers gets them thinking about “customers” and the viewer is a consumer of their entertainment offering, put these ideas in their head to treat themselves as a source of entertainment or a service with consumers and these terminologies will help them later on as well.  They should also consider if they want to potentially find a way to monetize their service in the future, subscriptions like a TV show, do you want to try and sell the games you are showcasing, or merchandising like T-Shirt, branding…etc.  Or is it purely for fun and no intention on doing anything further.

Identity

Consider using a fake identity or a “Hollywood Name” for your gamecasting so that should you ever want to stop or even have someone else take over, you can offload that entertainment offering.  Tying it into your real name has permanency online long after you quit and want to stop people will find that you used to do this, so consider where you want this to be in your history.  Though if you use a webcam and not just a voice it is likely friends and people you know will find out so don’t ever assume you can do any casting or streaming anonymously forever if you are using a webcam, they need to know that exposing who you are is leaving yourself open to anything and this is where parents should take an active involvement too.  Encourage them to come to you if they get any comments, concerns or feedback that is trolling, flaming or may even fall under hate speech.  It is important you don’t flip out as parents and know some of the people who comment on YouTube and Twitch can say the most childish and hurtful things but you shouldn’t penalize the kid, use it as a learning experience to point out the lack of manners, etiquette and help teach them how to block and report offensive comments showing them how to handle these things and not dignify with a response, never get into a flame war with a commenter.  This will teach them patience as well as the ability on how to handle a difficult personality provided it isn’t physically hostile in person but something done via email or online later on too.
Software

Have your kid experiment with OBS (Open Broadcast Software) and they get familiar with creating inputs, channels, output, codecs, bitrate and other terminology to help learn how to take feeds from multiple sources and combine them into a broadcast whether it is to Twitch or to an output file they can upload to YouTube.  Encourage them with other video editing software to create titles, transitions, video intro/logo’s and teach them how to create YouTube thumbnails, do some editing and they can develop skills that delve into video authoring and editing later on.  There are a variety of free and paid tools that help and are worth learning here and it all leads to learning something new and software to help support the gaming as well.

In Summary

Done right and encouraged, your gamers can be developing skills that will help them outside of the field of gaming and this is even if they don’t end up being the next big YouTube Star!  One thing I like to do is help my kids use an Amazon affiliate tag on all their videos and donation buttons on their Twitch as just ways to encourage them to build a business model around their creation of media content as well.

Jun 4, 2015

The Price for Alpha or Exclusive Access and Leaks

By | June 4th, 2015|Uncategorized|Comments Off on The Price for Alpha or Exclusive Access and Leaks

It could have been worse when I had my YouTube account penalized for violations and am now suspended from both setting unlisted videos and no longer can host videos 15 minutes and longer until the penalty is lifted in July.  It all started with a poor decision on my part that spiraled out of control when I failed to act in a timely matter as I considered making a decision.

I was in the market to bring more game play video to the Dragon Blogger YouTube channel, and had an offer to hire some freelance people to play and record themselves playing game play footage for our channel.  This was innocent, you simply record the play of the game you are playing and enjoying anyway in a series for the channel on that game.  As a sample to see how their recordings turn out, they could get a new game I would buy if they covered some game footage of games they already had first.

It worked out sort of at first, I got some game footage and some limited view interest and increase, but when one person I hired offered early access footage from the World of Warships game that he was part of the Alpha too I thought an Alpha would get some notice so I accepted some vids and uploaded them to the channel.

I failed take note that the game was under a non-disclosure agreement but a comment was left after the videos had started really reaching combinations of thousands of views and I was trying to dig up information on how an NDA applies to leaked information when my properties and myself didn’t actually sign an NDA we just received the game footage.  In the end I had made the decision to take down the content and immediately marked it all for deletion on my YouTube channel less than 1 week after it was hosted.

By that time it was too late, claims had been filed and went through after the vids were already deleted and slapped the penalties on the channel.  This was a lesson learned, in an effort to try and host early or first access content I had stepped into something without thinking of the consequences.  As a result being in a race to be the first to publish anything about any game isn’t something to really seek after anymore, a small site has very little chance to legally get early access to content as game developers provide snapshots and vids and access (with permission to share) only to the bigger companies.  Fortunately most games that go Beta aren’t under NDA like Alpha versions are, but be very careful when reading those NDA’s that you sign when doing any gaming, some NDA’s will forbid you from Twitch streaming, recording, uploading or even taking screenshots to put in a blog post or forum.

Lesson learned.

May 28, 2015

French Corner Cafe in Encinitas Review

By | May 28th, 2015|Uncategorized|Comments Off on French Corner Cafe in Encinitas Review

Having a Parisian French Cafe within walking distance of my house over in Encinitas is a wonderful treat and especially one that has the best crêpes that I have tasted out of all of the restaurants I have ever been to save one in Las Vegas.

You have many options for breakfast, lunch or just for sweet treats over at the French Corner which is located at 1200 N Coast Hwy 101 on the corner of Phoebe street, just North of Leucadia blvd and across the street from the Post Office and Seaweed and Gravel.

In the last two weeks I probably have been in and out about 6 times sampling various breakfast items with the Spinach and Arugula Quiche being a personal favorite as well as the L’Orange Crêpes, my wife even said the Vanilla Latte is the best she had and comparable to her favorite that she enjoyed while we were in Rome a few years back.

This little cafe has limited sitting space but it is quite charming and seating outdoors with your dog at your side while enjoying some breakfast is such a nice little treat on the weekend or weekdays.  They are open 6 days a week being closed on Monday.

As a bakery they have a fairly wide selection of pastries and treats but purchasing Baguettes whole requires you be one of the lucky first few to request one as they have a limited supply that they use for lunch sandwiches and only sell a few loaves per day due to them not being able to bake enough to meet all of the demand for them.  I had at least 2 other customers comment how lucky I was to get a baguette from them whole one day when I managed to scoop one up.

Back to the Crêpes what makes them so special is the batter, it is very fluffy and delicious and plain they are just the right combination of sweet and savory without the many varieties they come in.  For lunch sandwiches they use a delicious pesto sauce on most of the sandwiches and my wife just adored the Le Caprese one day which is simply tomato, mozzarella with that special sauce on a baguette.

The one thing I haven’t tried yet that I see ordered by so many is the breakfast sandwich, and every time I go I keep getting a Quiche or a Crêpe so the next time I will have to get the breakfast sandwich.  If you live in Encinitas or are in the area and in the mood for a lovely breakfast or lunch at a French cafe, then The French Corner is highly recommended.  I would think this delightful cafe is quite the temptation for all the people coming out of the Physical Culture 101 Gym across the street too.

You can visit their website for more information as well http://frenchcorner101.com/

 

French Corner

1200 N Coast Hwy 101

Tuesday-Sunday:7:30am – 3:30pm

Phone: 760-809-9120

Email: frenchcorner101@gmail.com

May 13, 2015

Why I Still Use Gleam for Giveaways and Patterns of Behavior

By | May 13th, 2015|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Why I Still Use Gleam for Giveaways and Patterns of Behavior

I still love the Gleam.io giveaway platform and generally the flexibility makes it work for all types of giveaway situations.  But giveaways in and of themselves and how successful they are can greatly depend on the product being given away honestly. Tablets for my site still have a pretty good ROI but in general numbers are lower than with Punchtab and others due to better spam filtering and sheer saturation of the giveaway market as every company. Generally still able to get a .10 CPF (cost per follower) or better for most brands, but more important than Twitter/FB fans is getting those emails to add to a newsletter/marketing mailing list, which is part of my entry options. So getting 1,000 emails that you can send emails to is more advantageous to most brands than 1,000 FB followers. The other thing is it establishes brand partnership, I sell 10-20 Dragon Touch Tablets on Amazon from Tablet Express per month now due to their consistent 2 tablet a month giveaways, it helps connect people with the brand, establish patterns, recognition. I have had great success with them, and Anker and some others, but less with Havit who makes keyboards, headsets and mice, yet their counterpart UtechSmart I sell more mice, keyboards, tablets. I find it hard to predict why a user would buy one mouse/keyboard over another when both brands are same class/price range, so I can’t ever predict sales only raise awareness with my channels.

Facebook is sucking big time on pages lately, with the average post only getting seen by 1% of followers, I am really jumping in YouTube exposure and other methods of exposure besides Facebook. Our YouTube for example gets more traffic than the blog site now directly and some videos are just growing constantly.

For example with over 700 videos, some may get hundreds, and others tens of thousands of views, for some reason 1 Tablet model stood out and excelled against all other tablet models and not sure why really.

These are the 3 most successful videos related to a product on our YouTube Channel.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1uwJ8dZaJQ8

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TwNyIzCBQmw

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kdqh4qq0_eI

So what we do is try to do more than 1 video of a product if it’s value is over $100 to increase chance of videos being noticed (usually unboxing and a review) and then a blog post as well with both videos. I also leverage Gleam to add unique entry actions for users.

Such as adding a product in Amazon to wish list, promoting an advertisement message for product on social media (not just enter to giveaway message), viral share of course is the standard, but reaching into other methods too, like watching a video as entry method (usually keep video short, and award 3 entries per minute of video).

The bottom line is unless you already have a ginormous following and your existing following 1-5% added as followers to your brand or emails for them to market to is enough to provide ROI, you are going to have to get creative to make sure you both reward your fans with a giveaway but provide enough of an ROI to your partner brand so that they want to keep coming back to give you more stuff to giveaway.

In addition pay attention to your Impress/Actions to User ratio, too many entry options and you could inflate a giveaway with thousands of entries, but only have a few hundred unique users, it is far more important to get unique entrants than high numbers of actions, this may make brand a bit crazy, as they want to see big numbers, but it is important to educate brands that actions is not necessarily the value if you have many entries per entrant, it is unique entrants.  Gleam does let not display entries publicly in the widget, and you may want to take advantage of this if you want to hide and only keep that info with you and your brand partner.

There my advice in a nutshell!