Apple iCloud Features

This fall is going to be a big deal for Apple. Not only will they likely be releasing the iPhone 5, but they are officially launching iOS 5 and another nifty little software suite called iCloud. That’s right folks, MobileMe is out and iCloud is in! Cloud computing has been taking off in the last year or so with what seems to be Facebook leading the pack when it comes to networking your social media presence.

Using Facebook as an example, anyone who has an account can see just how easy it is to connect EVERYTHING about our personal lives to just about almost anything on the Internet. Remember the days when you used to have to create new user accounts at every site you wanted to sign up for? Now, it seems just about every website allows you to sign in using your Facebook account. This is a slight example of cloud computing—being able to connect to everything wherever you’re located. However, even the almighty Facebook has its limitations.

Cloud computing as a whole is much more than connecting your wall to Twitter. It involves the centralized storage of your documents, emails, pictures, videos, etc. while connecting (or syncing) these items to all of your devices. In the old days, you had a computer at home and some sort of sync software that you would use to send documents to each one of your devices one at a time. The problem was that whenever you wanted to update something or make other changes, you had to wait until you got home to re-sync everything again.

While Apple iCloud does not purport itself to be an all-inclusive solution to address everything cloud computing can offer, it does provide a very simple and intuitive way for iOS users to wirelessly sync information to smartphones, laptops, computers and Internet storage. I’m hesitant to use the term “sync” because iCloud actually performs this process live, which means you don’t actually have to do anything for your stuff to appear across all of your toys—except to provide a wi-fi connection to the Internet.

iCloud Features

Likely the biggest feature of iCloud will be the free 5GB of online storage you have alongside the free iCloud software itself. However, this is a far cry from the two MobileMe plans that were available: a 20GB individual plan and a 40GB family plan. But as with any online storage service, this is just the basic offering and we can be sure that for some money, you can add more features and storage to your account.

  • Photo StreamPhoto Stream CloudPhoto Stream is probably the second biggest feature to come from iCloud. To explain it simply, I’ll quote Apple: “With iCloud, when you take a photo on one device, it automatically appears on all your other devices. No syncing. No sending. Your photos are just there. Everywhere you want them.” The best part is that all of this works with PCs as well! If you add an AppleTV to the mix, you can create visual slideshows to display on your tv for all to enjoy!
  • iTunesiTunes CloudiTunes in iCloud allows you to purchase anything you want from the store and have them appear on all registered devices. So imagine you’re at work and you buy a new song on your iPad. This song gets stored on iCloud and then gets synced automatically to your iPhone, which will come in hand for your ride home when you want to plug the phone into your car.
  • Wi Fi Backup – Now you don’t even have to connect your device to a computer to do your backups! When you go to sleep at night, your device will automatically back itself up over your home wireless network.

My two cents

I love the concept of cloud computing because it’s less hardware for me to own and that means less trouble when it comes to connecting devices and making sure that every computer has all of my updated files. I’m happy to know that iCloud still has many of the features I wanted to use when MobileMe came out, but didn’t want to pay for. We have yet to see what kind of “premium” services iCloud will bring to the table, but as it stands now, I think the free, basic service will be just enough for my usage.

Find yourself on

It’s Friday again, so here’s another less-than-ledfrog style article. I was romping around the Internet taking care of some much needed things like bills, eBay auctions, etc. and I decided to see my Google rankings when I typed in my name, Brandon Hann. Under normal circumstances, I usually hold all of the top 10 spots on the first page, but today I found something interesting.

After typing in my own name into Google, this was the link I found:
Google name search
First, I was amazed that there was such a website that allows you to research police bookings, but what’s worse is that it shows up right on the first page of Google! Now on the surface of things, this site seems like a great idea. I mean, you can look up people that might be in your neighborhood or check up on employees at work or find people that might be working with your children. But I wonder if there might be some type of privacy concerns that come out of this site.

After reading the FAQ on the site, it clearly states that ArrestCentral’s goal is to provide the public with a level of transparency so law-abiding citizens can keep tabs on people in their area who have committed some law, but may have not necessarily be convicted of such a crime.

My two cents

There is of course a way to have your name removed from the database, but naturally, it costs $100. I’m not a criminal myself, but it does perturb me that my name is associated with another individual who is. So now, if someone happens to be searching for me, they’ll see my name and it’s possible that a huge misunderstanding could take place.

Google's New +1 Button

Google has launched a new feature for search results called the +1 Button. It works like a recommendation button where you can click +1 on a particular website or webpage to help others know that it’s been recommended. If you’ve used sites like, you know how this process works. Basically, after you’ve read some content on a website and decided you liked it, you click the +1 Button and it helps other web users by ranking your site/content like a score card. In turn, websites and web pages with higher “votes” can potentially gain higher rankings on Google search results pages (SERPs).

Adding the +1 Button to your site

After logging into my AdSense account, I was greeted with this lovely message:
Google +1 Button AdSense message
From there, I clicked on the link that took me to the code page where I had a choice of 4 different sizes for the icon as well as some other advanced settings. I didn’t spend too much time on this page as I wanted to get the button on my site ASAP! I simply chose the standard size and left everything else the same.
Google +1 Button
The code was easy to implement. In WordPress:

  1. Open your theme editor and begin editing header.php
  2. Find the </head> tag and place the code: <script type=”text/javascript” src=””></script> right above it.
  3. Save header.php
  4. Begin editing single.php (if you want the button to appear on each post)
  5. Find the area you want the button to show up. On my site, I placed it right before the content starts so it’s at the beginning of every post.
  6. Place this code: <g:plusone></g:plusone> before <?php the_content();
  7. Save single.php

Now that you have all the code in place, go to one of your blog posts and verify that it’s showing up.

What’s Next?

Well as with any traffic-related feature on your site, all that you really can do now is wait. If the users want to vote up your content, they now have the option to do so within Google directly. If you find that you’re not getting a lot of response from this feature, try moving the button around your site to see where it works best.

The purpose of this feature is to help web users find valuable content as ranked by other web users that have already seen what you have to offer. This helps Google in their never-ending quest to filter out junk sites and sites with little to no content while pushing more valuable sites up to the top of the SERPs. Let’s just hope that this feature doesn’t get abused like so many other Google features have been in the past!

Create a custom store with Zazzle

How long have you been creating works of art or taking great photographs or how long have you had all those funny t-shirt ideas locked up in your brain? At some point, you probably wondered about the best way to get those items out to potential customers. There are quite a few websites out there that can help you accomplish this goal, but the one I want to discuss today is Zazzle.

I liked Zazzle after watching a CNN news report that interviewed the company’s co-founder, Jeff beaver. He talked about the company’s sales figures and how popular the site had become, but what I really got from it was just how easy it is to launch your own slew of products branded with your custom designs. Watch CNN’s Zazzle video to see what I mean.

What is Zazzle?

Simply put, Zazzle offers you a selection of over 50 customizable products that you can place into your own custom store using your own custom designs. From there, your products are instantly searchable through Zazzle’s main website as well as 15 other domains around the world. They claim to have over 20 million unique visitors across their websites, so there’s plenty of buying potential out there.

The selection of products include all the usual suspects such as tshirts and many other types of clothing, cards, stationary, postage stamps, coffee mugs and stickers, but Zazzle also offers a few of the obscure like phone cases, skateboards, guitar cases, speakers and canvas art prints.

Once you create a store, you start adding products into it by uploading all of your artwork, resizing it to fit on whatever you’re creating and then publish it to potential customers. The process is super easy and literally takes a few minutes.

Get paid!

Zazzle has preset prices for all of their products, but you have control over how much your royalty rate is. For example, if you have a poster print that you want to sell, the standard price for a glossy print starts at $24.95. You can then apply on top of that, a percentage you’d like to make ranging from 0% to 99%. This will be your profit. Note, any percentage after 20% carries with it a service fee.

Anyway, so you list your $24.95 product with a 10% royalty fee and your new sales price is $27.45 with you making about $2.50 in profit. Now in the case of posters, depending on how large of an image file you’ve uploaded, you could easily have prints available for your customers in very large sizes. The pricing can be further customized by a customer given the paper type selected and whether they want it framed or not.

All that for just one product! As I mentioned before, you can choose how many products you want and customize their look to infinity.

My two cents

This post is just a very light view of what Zazzle can offer to you and your products. Personally, I am not much of an artist, but I’m discovering that I do have some photographic talent that I plan to utilize with Zazzle. My goal is to take some of my photos and turn them into high-quality prints and sell them from my own website. With Zazzle, I don’t have have to go out to a print shop and have 50 posters made, keep them on hand and hope I can sell them to people.

This way, I just create the products I want to offer and let the world have what they want. Zazzle doesn’t make anything until it’s actually ordered. Of course, there are costs to be had, but that’s business. I’d rather pay a small premium to not have to deal with inventory. Plus, this could just be a small stepping stone…if my products got big and well-known, I could easily carry inventory later, knowing that I’ll sell everything and make even more money!

Check out the DigitizingLife Print Store to see the store I created and the products I have. At the time of this writing, I only have one. As a follow-up to this post, I have ordered a copy of my own product to see what the quality will be.

The Power of Flickr

Happy Memorial Day! Consider yourself autoblogged because like you probably are, I’m relaxing and enjoying my day off from work. With that said, today I wanted to write up a simple post regarding my newfound love, Flickr.

I’m fairly sure at this point in time, every single person that has ever searched for an image online has seen one or more Flickr accounts out there! So what’s so special about it? Let me tell you.

The Power of Flickr

If you’re a photographer or just someone who likes to take pictures and video of life, consider Flickr to be the equivalent of Facebook for you. The premise is simple: you upload photos, tag them, describe them, organize them and let the world have them.

There are two types of memberships, free and pro. The pro costs $24.95 per year and gives you some added benefits, which I’ll go over below. Once you setup your account, you’ve just created your Photostream. This is where all of your photos show up in the order they were uploaded, new ones first. It is basically your homepage:
Flickr Homepage

The best part of Flickr is how well it integrates with all of your existing social media sites and/or blogs. You can link it to Facebook, Twitter, Blogger, Tumblr, LiveJournal and any WordPress-enabled site. By linking everything together, you can now take your photos to a worldwide stage and bring the visitors to you. From there, if they like what you have, you will likely start receiving new visitors to your site(s).

A perfect example of this would be if you’re already running a photography website, but you’re not getting many hits. That’s because you have to market that site on its own using all the SEO tricks you can find, but even that might not be enough. Instead, move (or copy) your portfolio(s) over to Flickr and you’re basically dumping your pictures into a digital world full of people searching and browsing for images!

Free vs Pro

As with everything free, there’s always a catch! Free accounts have the following limitations: 300mb upload limit per month for photos, 2 video upload limit per month, only the first 200 images appear on your photostream, limited to posting images in 10 groups and only your smaller size images are shown.

My advice is to get the Pro account. It’s not much money when you break it down per month: only about $2, but so worth it.


Flickr also supports the use of Creative Commons copyright restrictions. You can place these restrictions on one image or all of them. Better yet, each image can have a different copyright than the next one. You are always in full control over how your images can be used online!

My two cents

Since I’m starting to get into photography, I love the idea that I can share my photos with the world. In time, the goal is to continue gaining more and more momentum with the quality that I’m bringing to the table. In turn , I’m hoping this will lead more people to me, which I’m really hoping will turn into actual business. There’s so much more to Flickr—I feel like I just scratched the surface, so go check out the Flickr FAQ page to answer all your questions.

What is the Creative Commons?

I wasn’t sure if I should have called them a “who” or a “what”, but one thing’s for sure…if you’re putting content online, you should be aware of what CC is. First and foremost, copyright laws and regulations were designed years and years ago in a time where there was less to worry about in the way of content theft. We’re talking about the days before the Internet, computers and even copy machines. If someone wanted to steal your manuscript for example, they would physically need to possess it and then make a hand copy. While it was harder to steal content, it was also much easier to find out when someone did. Now, it’s easier to steal content, and much harder to found out when someone does it.

Today, we have computers, the Internet and copy machines plus a whole slew of computer programs that make digital copying and manipulation possible and surprisingly easy. The problem is that general copyright enforcement has not been able to cross over to the new age—that is until now.

Creative Commons

According to their own mission statement,

Creative Commons develops, supports, and stewards legal and technical infrastructure that maximizes digital creativity, sharing, and innovation.

Anyone who uses Wikipedia on a regular basis has seen the full power of Creative Commons at work. In fact, every single picture you click on will have a variation of a CC license attached to it. Copyright owners can mark their work with a customized copyright license that may or may not extend any rights to 3rd party users. Just the same, Flickr users have access to select various licenses for their work as well.

So to put it into simple terms, if you create a digital work (photograph, video, etc) and you wish to display it online, you can use Creative Commons to attribute a specific license to the work that allows you to decide how that work can be shared, copied, used, manipulated or displayed should someone come along and wish to do one or all of those things.

How licenses work

CC uses a 3-layer license format. The first layer represents the Legal Code which is all the legal mumbo jumbo that most of us non-lawyers don’tCreative Commons License Layers really understand. These are the words that basically dictate what is protected and what is not on a copyrighted work. On top of this comes the Human Readable layer that incorporates something that CC calls the Commons Deed. It is essentially a watered down version of the legal code beneath it. In other words, rather than sort through long paragraphs of rules and restrictions, the Commons Deed simply points out the most important facets of the copyright status.

Finally, the top layer is a machine readable layer that contains all the same legal information as the previous two, but can now be accessed by software used on computers, in search engines and on hardware that makes copying possible. This allows manufacturers and software vendors to create new ways of stopping the illegal copying of copyrighted materials. For example, on Flickr, if you don’t want to allow people to download your images, you can set the license to do that and Flickr can read this license and block people from downloading the image. It’s a great piece of technology. Now if only we could stop screen capture programs!

There are 6 types of Creative Commons licenses. I won’t go into all the details here, but this is a basic rundown of what the differences are:

  • Attribution – This license lets others distribute, remix, tweak, and build upon your work, even commercially, as long as they credit you for the original creation. This is the most accommodating of licenses offered. Recommended for maximum dissemination and use of licensed materials.
  • Attribution-ShareAlike – This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work even for commercial purposes, as long as they credit you and license their new creations under the identical terms. This license is often compared to “copyleft” free and open source software licenses. All new works based on yours will carry the same license, so any derivatives will also allow commercial use. This is the license used by Wikipedia, and is recommended for materials that would benefit from incorporating content from Wikipedia and similarly licensed projects.
  • Attribution-NoDerivs – This license allows for redistribution, commercial and non-commercial, as long as it is passed along unchanged and in whole, with credit to you.
  • Attribution-NonCommercial – This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work non-commercially, and although their new works must also acknowledge you and be non-commercial, they don’t have to license their derivative works on the same terms.
  • Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike – This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work non-commercially, as long as they credit you and license their new creations under the identical terms.
  • Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs – This license is the most restrictive of our six main licenses, only allowing others to download your works and share them with others as long as they credit you, but they can’t change them in any way or use them commercially.

For more information on the licenses, the logos that you can use to place on or near your work and a form to create your own licenses today, please check out the Creative Commons website.

My two cents

I fully support the Creative Commons movement and now that I’m beginning to post my digital photography online, I can clearly see the value in such a system. However, I’m also a realist so I understand that nothing is full-proof and even though systems like these are in place, there will still be ways to get around them and there will always be people willing to steal and copy materials from the Internet. It’s simply the way of life. But because I know this, I’m willing to assume that anything I post online will be accessible to the world and at any given time, can be copied and manipulated in any form.

That’s good advice for anyone wishing to post photos and videos online whether it’s on your own site or places like Facebook and YouTube. Think before you post.

World IPv6 Day – June 8, 2011

As usual, I’m late to the game! It’s a good thing I don’t purport myself to be a newscaster of any form because sometimes I feel like I’m the last to know. Even after I discussed the death of IPv4 the other day, I still wasn’t aware of June 8, 2011. But as it stands, June 8 is the day where 243 huge Internet organizations will participate in a 24-hr “test flight” of IPv6 across their servers and networks.

World IPv6 Day

On this day, the likes of Google, Facebook, Yahoo! and Akamai will be offering their websites and services over the IPv6 protocol. The basic idea behind this plan is to motivate other industry leaders and hardware manufacturers to continue getting devices and services ready for the new protocol.

Fortunately, these changes will be transparent to end-users, so there will be nothing special you need to do in order to see your favorite websites. Computers and hardware have in one way or another supported IPv6 for some years now, but if you want to verify this, proceed to the test site that’s been setup to run a series of tests on your computer system. It will tell you your current IPv6 compatibility and what, if anything, you can do to fix problems.

I’ve been an active Internet user for many, many years and I’ve often wondered how long it would take to run out of IPv4 addresses and as of February 11, 2011, we no longer have to wonder because it’s happened! There will come a day when IPv4 is no longer supported and it’s important now to ensure that systems across the world are able to operate on the new protocol.

More information

The Internet Society ( is probably your best bet for obtaining more (and updated) information about this event, so I’ve posted some direct links here for you to get the information you need:

IPv4 is Dying

Last month, I ran into quite a snag when trying to install a second iteration of WordPress MU on my server. I currently run a copy for this site and some others I manage, but I also have a few other clients on my server and one of them would like to also run multiple sites. I quickly found out exactly why you can’t run multiple instances of WordPress MU without a few caveats.

The caveat to be explored here is one that affects many areas of the Internet and its users. IPv4 is the fourth revision of the Internet Protocol. In layman’s terms, it’s the protocol that provides you with the IP address allowing you to get on the Internet. You may have seen them on your computer or device: XXX.XXX.XXX.XXX

Each octet can have 255 bits in it, meaning the whole IP address range is to and after removing a few reserved address blocks, you end up with about 4.3 billion combinations. In the original concept of the Internet, reaching this ceiling was thought to be impossible since the Internet was never to be used by the mass public. In order for a device to be on the Internet, it needs to have its own IP address.

In the beginning of the public Internet, large blocks of IP addresses were given to the phone companies to issue out to their customers based on various needs. At this time, if a computer network contained a thousand computers, 1,000 unique IP addresses were needed. This caused a lot of corporations to lease very large amounts of IP addresses. All that changed when Network Address Translation (NAT) was created. NAT allowed a network to use one public IP address for the entire network and a device such as a router to issue out individual private IP addresses to each device connected to it.

Confused yet?! It’s ok…that’s about as deep as I want to get in the definition of IP. Where I’m going with this is that no more IP addresses are available because the last 5 blocks were allocated to the 5 regional Internet registries (RIRs) on February 3, 2011. This doesn’t mean that all are being used, but they are at least in the hands of those responsible for leasing them to customers.

With that said, IPv4 is essentially dying, if not already dead. Our only hope now is the release of IPv6 which would allow for 340 undecillion IP address, or about 5 x 1028 addresses for each of the 6.8 billion people alive on the earth today.

The Google Chromebook Netbook is Here

When I was in New York back in February, the friend I was staying with received a mysterious package in the mail and decided to open it while we were all there. He pulled out a strange-looking black netbook that had no logos, brand names or stickers of any kind on it. It was small, sleek and didn’t have a rom drive. From the looks of it, it was your run of the mill netbook except with a 11.6″ screen.

Once he turned it on, the device booted into a strange, but refreshing operating system known as ChromeOS. He then told us that months before, he had signed up to become a beta tester for Google to test out the new OS they were building around Chrome. The arrival of this netbook was a surprise given that he had forgot all about signing up for it. At any rate, we played around with it and noticed that this wasn’t your average computer. It wasn’t a watered-down version of Windows and it wasn’t trying to do things it wasn’t meant to do…it was simply a cloud computer.

Samsung Chromebook

I’ve talked about cloud computing before and I have to tell you, ChromeOS nails it! The computer boots in 8 seconds and has nothing on it except the Internet. That sounds funny to say while you’re holding a laptop, but it really only has a web browser. Everything is managed over the Internet through integration with all of Google’s services like Google Docs, Gmail, Maps, etc. This video explains it all:

Amazon has already created the product pages for the new Chromebooks from Acer and Samsung. There doesn’t appear to be any price points at this time, but I can’t imagine this device costing much for than a few hundred dollars. More details to follow.

Unlimited Data*

I’m really getting fed up with all of these services offering “Unlimited Data” with a little asterisk next to it. When you finally make your way down to the fine print, you end up learning that your unlimited data plan is anything but.


It seems like AT&T is the ringleader in this mess—starting first by removing the unlimited data plans for iPhone and continuing now by adding a data cap to their Internet customers! You heard me right, as of May 2nd, AT&T now caps Internet usage on both DSL and Uverse accounts! For DSL customers, the cap is set at 150GB of data transfer per month. Uverse customers get 250GB of data transfer. It’s not clear whether the TV portion of Uverse is included in the 250GB. In either case, AT&T will send you two warnings if you exceed these caps. On the third time, you will be billed $10 for each 50GB you go over.

When asked why they did this, AT&T’s response was:

AT&T has experienced a dramatic increase in the amount of data that is sent and received over its wireline broadband networks. This dramatic increase is driven primarily by a small fraction of our customers. In fact, the top 2% of customers use about 20% of the total capacity on our network. A single high traffic user can utilize the same amount of data capacity as 19 typical households. Lopsided usage patterns can cause congestion at certain points in the network, which can slow Internet speeds and interfere with other customers’ access to and use of the network.

For complete details on AT&T’s new data caps, check out


Fortunately, for those of you lucky enough to get FiOS, you don’t have to worry! When it comes to fiber optic Internet lines directly to your home, Verizon got it right. Each home is outfitted with a direct fiber line to Verizon which minimizes slowdowns and network congestion which has caused AT&T to limit their customers.

The same might not be said about Verizon Wireless when the iPhone 5 comes out. Rumors are abound that Verizon will cap their wireless data plans for smartphones soon. Of course we’ve heard this before, so maybe nothing will come out of it, but the thought is still daunting. It’s a fair statement to say that most people will never reach a data cap, but just the thought of having a limitation there is agonizing. Nobody wants to be surprised with a cell phone bill that has suddenly increased due to unknown overages.

According to Mobiledia, this rumor looks to be coming true.


Sprint appears to have the best “Unlimited” service you can get. According to one of their commercials, “only Sprint gives you true unlimited” and it would seem so. Nowhere on their website do they say anything about data caps, speed throttling, etc.


My two cents

If you’re going to cap your data plans, do it. But, don’t sell them as unlimited just because your definition is that your customers won’t reach the cap, thereby making it feel unlimited! To me, this is false advertising at its worst.