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Media & The Personal Brand – ESPN, Grantland & 538, featuring ESPN’s Bill Simmons and Nate Silver, had a full room early afternoon on Saturday of South by Southwest Interactive 2014. Simmons and Silver talked about building their own websites, Grantland and 538 (launching March 17th), respectively, that were created with ESPN and carried largely by their personal branding. Grantland focuses on sports with a pop culture twist, whereas 538 (which is also the number of votes in the electoral college) will have an analytical approach in five main verticals: sports, politics, lifestyle, economics, and science.

The Importanace of Collaborative Effort

When it comes to building a website, Simmons stated that, ¨building things with people is a lot more fun.” and that the website becomes your passion and  almost like a child. He stated, ¨building a website is like being a dad in an 80’s sitcom.¨

Silver and Simmons also talked about how people treat bosses and website owners differently once they become the head of the pack. ¨For site founders, people respect what you have to say, almost too much,¨ Simmons stated. ¨30% of founder’s ideas are bullshit, but when you become someone’s boss, you only get 3% of feedback [on that bullshit] that it’s shitty because people are afraid of you…the first 18 months or so of Grantland, the site didn’t grow enough because people were afraid to tell me that ideas were crappy.¨ 

They then discussed the importance of encouraging employees to be open and honest, while also encouraging the employees themselves to make their own mistakes. ¨Let writers fail, you can’t steer them too much or else they won’t grow,¨ Simmons told the audience. ¨…you learn more from the plans that fail than the plans that succeed.¨

And hiring those employees for a new site is one of the most important things to do before launch (and even afterward). The smartest companies make a lot of money and hire the best people.  Silver reminded the crowd that building a good team takes time and companies may be more successful at finding great employees if they find a position for amazing people, instead of finding people for a position they have open.

They also talked about the writing process and how Grantland values quality over quantity when it comes to posts. Simmons stated that some people, when they have more time to think about a piece (1 piece per day versus 4), they become different (sometimes better) writers and that if you write something really good, people ARE going to see it.

They also touched on why Grantland has hired relatively unknown writers. Simmons stated:

¨Take a chance on people who will kill themselves to get where they want to go instead of hiring people who are going to peak.¨

Building a Site Through Your Personal Brand

ESPN agreed to fund and launch Grantland and FiveThirtyEight because of the personal brand recognition both Silver and Simmons had. Silver and Simmons reiterated that personal branding is really important in the digital age: If you stop investing into people and building your brand, it won’t be as profitable.

As a website owner and creator, there’s always more that you could be doing. This is the downside to the personal franchise side. It’s not always scalable. Silver said that,

This is why doing is more important than talking. The ratio is often askew.

Becoming Successful

Simmons ended the session with saying, ¨The thing with writing is that you just have to keep doing it.¨

All images taken by author.

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2014: The Year Of Free Hardware

Usually, I avoid making predictions. However, increasingly, I believe that the sleeper trend of 2014 will be free-licensed hardware — and that its availability could transform free and open source software (FOSS) as well as hardware manufacturing.

Meanwhile, the newly founded MakePlayLive is developing the KDE-based Vivaldi tablet, and has released the Improv engineering board to help small developers bring their product to market. Almost certainly, others are flying under the radar.

Having FOSS on commercial devices is hardly new, of course. As Jim Zemlin, the executive director of The Linux Foundation, is fond of pointing out, Linux increasingly runs the hardware of our daily lives.

What makes these efforts different is that they are not simply cases of corporations using FOSS to speed development and shorten time to market. Instead, to varying degrees, they represent the new trend of community projects starting to manufacture hardware and entering the commercial market.

For some, the trend is a small step. Ubuntu has always been dominated by its commercial arm Canonical, while the size of Mozilla has often made it seem as much a corporation as a community.

But for others, the trend means combining the community and the commercial in a way unimagined since the idealistic days of The Cluetrain Manifesto. It not only means making devices that are as free-licensed as possible, but also attempting to graft FOSS ethics on to business. Make PlayLive, for example, sees itself as a “cooperative brand” much like a FOSS project, consisting of a group of individuals who pool their skills to accomplish what they could never do by themselves.

Transformative Works

Many of these efforts are going to fail — not necessarily because they are flawed, but because most new manufacturing ventures fail. Manufacturers and distributors of computerized hardware are intensely conservative, and newcomers without a record of success have trouble gaining footholds. Even when they do strike deals, their products are often not promoted with the same enthusiasm as products that are the clones of popular devices.

Many, too, are entering saturated markets. Often, one effort at free hardware will be competing against others.

All the same, the very effort to create free hardware is likely to reverberate through the FOSS community. For one thing, the effort means that pockets of the community are going to have a knowledge of manufacturing that, right now, very few have. Simply by trying to market their devices, participants are going to shed the naive suspicion of business that is still a feature of many parts of FOSS community and replace it with practical, firsthand experience.

Such experience can hardly help but change the way participants interact with companies like Google or IBM, for whom FOSS is primarily one strategy among many. The community will gain negotiating strength simply by being better informed and better able to assess announcements and events. It will be able to look after its own interests better.

Furthermore, if some of this community-based capitalism succeeds, the effects will be even greater. As the number of people involved simultaneously with the community and commercial efforts increases, new roles and relationships emerge. It already sounds, for instance, as though MakePlayLive is reinventing the idea of the cooperative.

But what happens if free hardware becomes a priority for dozens of small manufacturers over the next decade? Then, slowly, free hardware gains a voice in the industry, and perhaps manufacturers rethink proprietary firmware, and completely free devices become a market choice.

Yes, the idea is quixotic, even absurd. But so was free software once, and now it is a serious alternative.

The way events are shaping, 2014 could become the start of all these changes, to say nothing of others that we can’t foresee. Win or lose, these efforts at open hardware promise to renew the idealism and plans for world domination that are FOSS at its best.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

Latest Moto E (2014) Twrp Recovery V3.0

Update: TWRP 3.0 is now available for the original Moto E (1st Gen, 2014 edition) and we have shared the download link right below. Because TWRP 3.0 is new and packs great deal of improvements and new features addition over v2.x, there could be some issues here and there, although very, very unlikely. But we have kept the older, tested and confirmed wokring version 2.8.x too below, so that you can install older version in case TWRP 3.0 doesn’t work, or you face any issues with it. Enjoy!

For some time now, the development of TWRP recovery for the original Moto E, 1st Gen, released back in 2014, was stopped. But thanks to user  , the development has kicked off again and now you have the pleasure of using the TWRP v2.8.6.0 on your Moto E 2014 edition. Please note this is original Moto E 1st gen model, and not the recently released Moto E 2nd Gen, for which you can find the TWRP recovery over here.

There are two ways to install the given TWRP recovery, v2.8.6.0, on your Moto E 1st gen. First, if your Moto E is rooted, in which case you can simply download an app to install the .img file of TWRP recovery. You can use flashify app, or the TWRP manager app itself. Just provide the app root access when you open it for the first time, and then choose recovery option. Then select the .img file of TWRP recovery (download link is below, transfer it to your phone first) and the app will do the job for you.

The second method of installing the TWRP recovery does not require root access. Further, you can then use the TWRp recovery itself to root your Moto E. This method uses fastboot and is 100% working way to install recovery via its .img file. The guide below will help you installing the TWRP recovery on Moto E using the fastboot method.

Supported devices

1st Gen Moto E (2014)

Don’t try on 2nd Gen Moto E (2024)

Don’t try on any other Android device

TWRP Recovery

Version 3.0 — Link

Version 2.8.7.x — Link

Credit for TWRP 3.0 — magdeoz over at XDA.

Installation Instructions

WARNING: Warranty may be void of your device if you follow the procedures given on this page. You only are responsible for your device. We won’t be liable if any damage occurs to your device and/or its components.

Important Note: Backup important files (music, photos, documents, videos, etc.) stored on your device before proceeding with the steps below.

Get ADB working properly on your PC first. Check out our ADB installation guide for this. Just install ADB and then come back to this guide.

Unlock bootloader of your Moto E if you haven’t already. For help, check out this page for help.

Reboot to fastboot mode:

Power off your Moto E first. Wait for 5-6 seconds after screen goes off.

Press and hold Power+Volume Down together for few seconds until you reach fastboot screen.

Connect your device to PC now.

Open the folder on your PC where you have the TWRP recovery’s file. Be sure to rename the TWRP file to moto-e-twrp (full name with extension will be moto-e-twrp.img).

Open the command window at the location where you have the TWRP recovery:

Select the option: Open command window here

Copy the command below, and paste it in command window. Then hit enter to begin flashing the recovery. (Replace flash recovery with boot in the command below if you want to test it first.) fastboot flash recovery moto-e-twrp.img

Once done, type the below and hit enter key to restart your device. fastboot reboot

Optional: Take a backup now. With TWRP 3.0 installed, the first thing you should do is take backup. It’s highly recommended! Boot into recovery mode and take a backup. To reboot into fastboot mode, boot into fastboot mode as stated in step 3, and then press volume down button repeatedly till you see recovery appearing on screen, and then press power button to select and boot into recovery mode.

Happy flashing!

Smx Panel Recap: A Marketer’s Guide To Social Bookmarking & Tagging

The second panel of this afternoon is A Marketer’s Guide to Social Bookmarking & Tagging. The panel members were Guillaume Bouchard the CEO of NVI, Michael Gray the President Atlas Web Service and Neil Patel from Advantage Consulting Services.

How to Tag Effectively

Guillaume recommends reviewing what others have done in the past and using some common themes in your own tagging efforts. When in doubt, he adds the necessity to check tag clouds of the most popular tags available. The final tip that Guillaume offered us here was the recommendation of not using commas in between your tag submissions.

Next, Guillaume tackled the differences between manual and automatic tagging. Manual tagging consists of the older SEO efforts of hyperlinks,anchor text, keywords, META tags, etc. These manual tagging efforts work best with images, encouraging high participation rates by allowing users to personalize the information they are tagging.

Automatic tagging is a tag or link created by an algorithmic system that extracts tags from a given media’s content. This is seen commonly in Facebook profiles, but can also lead to some strange tags when the human element is really needed.

The abuse and content degradation in tagging systems was another point that Guillaume chose to highlight in this afternoon’s presentation. A solid graphical example included showing the United States as it would look with inappropriate tags — such as the names of other countries. The example showed though that inaccurate tagging can truly ruin the overall user experience.

An interesting point that Guillaume made when discussing YouTube was the recommendation of posting video responses. He sees this as a great way to leverage immediate views (and, subsequent ratings) from active viewers. Guillaume wrapped up his panel participation this afternoon by discussing the growing importance and opportunities that Facebook present. An example? Develop an application!

Michael Gray on Delicious

A strong element that Michael hit upon today that bears a lot of repeating is that the crowd of users on Delicious is unlike those in other social media circles. Unlike the crowd at Digg (who is predominantly male, young, tech savvy, etc.) Delicious users run the gamut.

Research was hammered home again in, this time in Michael’s presentation, so I won’t bother to go too deep on that now — it should be obvious by now that you need to research everything. I would like however to put some focus on Michael’s recommendations on tagging of content. Since tagging is so new, there aren’t many conventions in place. One though that has proven successful for Michael’s efforts include the use of a + sign in between connected tag words. Following this, Michael covered the Delicious tag cloud and how that can be used to research the more popular tags for further integration on your submissions.

Advanced and aggressive tactics were discussed next, and Michael has found that the Delicious homepage is updated approximately every four hours. When you have submitted stories, ask your friends to tag your stories with particular (read: popular) tags.

Neil Patel’s Coverage on StumbleUpon

StumbleUpon has really emerged as a powerful network of social media power — and with more than three million users, it’s a crowd you need to be in front of. With more than 12,000 visitors in one day for the most successful pages, it’s a great way to grab instant and longterm traffic.

The StumbleUpon toolbar was next, and it’s certainly important if you are looking to be a powerful user here on SU. Neil then walked the users through a tutorial of how to use the basic functionality of the toolbar in order to submit optimized links to SU.

The coolest feature to me on the StubleUpon toolbar was the ability to send messages to your friends on StumbleUpon. As Neil indicated, if you can build up your list of friends and create a strong account — this feature is a wonderful way to assure positive reviews.

The panel wrapped up with a Q&A session where the audience really got involved…

The Improved And Enhanced Color Panel – Photoshop Cc 2014

Each of Photoshop’s panels can be turned on and off from the Window menu.

If you’re not seeing the Color panel, you can select it by going up to the Window menu in the Menu Bar along the top of the screen and choosing Color from the list of panels. A checkmark next to a panel’s name means it’s currently open somewhere on your screen:

The Color panel is found (by default) at the top of the panel area on the right.

If you’re working in Photoshop’s default Essentials workspace , you’ll find the Color panel in its usual spot at the top of the panel area along the right side of the interface ( colorful model photo from Shutterstock):

Of course, to benefit from these new features in Photoshop CC 2014, you’ll need to be a monthly subscriber to Photoshop .

As we’ll see, not only is the Color panel now fully resizable, but it also gives us two new ways of choosing colors — the Hue Cube and the Brightness Cube — both of which have been borrowed from Photoshop’s Color Picker and designed to make choosing colors in Photoshop faster and more intuitive.

In this tutorial, we’ll take a quick look at the improvements and enhancements Adobe has made to the Color panel in Photoshop as part of the Creative Cloud 2014 updates.

Resizing The Color Panel

Dragging towards the left to make the Color panel wider.

Dragging downward to make the Color panel longer.

Undocking the Color panel from the other panels in the column.

Now, you may be thinking, “Well, that’s sort of cool, but what’s the point? You’ve made the Color panel bigger, sure, but why? What’s the benefit?” An excellent question, and certainly, when using the Color panel in its default RGB Sliders mode (with sliders for mixing red (R), green (G) and blue (B) to create the colors we need), there isn’t much of a reason to resize it. However, Photoshop CC 2014 introduces two new ways to choose colors, and as we’re about to see, it’s these new options — the Hue Cube and the Brightness Cube — that make resizing the Color panel such a great and useful feature.

The New Hue And Brightness Cubes

This would open the Color Picker (and still does, by the way) where I could select the color I need:

The Color Picker has been the most common way to choose colors in Photoshop.

The Color Picker gives us lots of different ways to choose colors, but by far the most common way is by first selecting a main hue (often thought of as the actual color itself) from the narrow vertical bar:

The main hue strip.

Once we’ve chosen the hue, we then choose a brightness and saturation level for the color from the larger square (the “cube”) on the left. The brightness levels run from top to bottom while the saturation levels run from left to right:

The brightness and saturation box.

The reason the Color Picker is set up like this initially is because by default, the H option is selected in the center of the dialog box. H stands for Hue, which means we’re selecting colors based primarily on their hue, with brightness and saturation as secondary attributes:

The Color Picker is set to Hue by default.

Watch what happens if we switch from H to B:

Switching the color selection mode from H to B.

B stands for Brightness, and by switching from H to B, we’ve changed the way the Color Picker is set up. We’re now selecting colors based primarily on their brightness, with hue and saturation as secondary attributes. The narrow vertical bar on the right becomes the area where we select a main brightness level for the color:

With B selected, we choose a brightness from the main strip.

Then, once we’ve chosen the brightness we need, we choose a hue and saturation from the square on the left. The hue values now run from left to right while the saturation levels run from top to bottom:

The hue and saturation box.

The Color Picker needs to be closed before we can continue working.

The two new options, Hue Cube and Brightness Cube, are listed at the top of the menu. I’ll choose the first one, Hue Cube:

Selecting Hue Cube from the Color panel menu.

With Hue Cube selected, the Color panel now lets us choose a color the same way we’d choose it from the Color Picker when H (Hue) is selected. We first choose a hue from the narrow vertical bar on the right, and then we choose a saturation and brightness level for the color from the larger square on the left:

The Color panel set to Hue Cube behaves just like the Color Picker set to H (Hue).

Use the swatches to switch between the Foreground (upper left) and Background (bottom right) colors.

I’ll select the second new option, Brightness Cube, from the menu:

Selecting the Brightness Cube from the Color panel menu.

With Brightness Cube chosen, the Color panel now acts just like the Color Picker when set to B (Brightness). We select a main brightness for the color from the vertical bar on the right, then we choose a hue and saturation from the square on the left:

The Color panel set to Brightness Cube behaves just like the Color Picker set to B (Brightness).

The great thing about being able to choose colors like this from the Color panel, rather than the Color Picker, is that we can leave the Color panel open on the screen the entire time we’re working, letting us change colors effortlessly and on the fly without needing to open up a separate dialog box (and being blocked from doing anything else in Photoshop while the dialog box is open). Here, we see my Color panel again in the upper right of the interface where it appears by default, but this time, it’s set to the Hue Cube rather than the default RGB Sliders mode. Also, I’ve resized it to make it larger, as we learned how to do earlier, so that while it takes up more screen real estate, it also gives me a wider range of colors to choose from as I’m working:

The resized Color panel set to Hue Cube.

Of course, the Hue Cube and Brightness Cube are only two of the many ways Photoshop’s Color Picker gives us for selecting colors, so these new Color panel options haven’t completely replaced it. What they’ve certainly done, though, is greatly reduced the need for it. The next time you’re doing any sort of colorizing work in Photoshop, rather than jumping to the Color Picker every time you need to change colors, try out the newly-resizable Color panel, set it to either Hue Cube or Brightness Cube, and see for yourself how much of a difference it makes to your design or retouching workflow.

Mac Media Center – Setup Any Mac As A Media Center Easily

You can setup virtually any Mac as a home theater media center, all you need is the right tools. Yes, that means your MacBook Pro, MacBook, Mac Mini, iMac, even Mac Pro, can all turn into a media center, and it’s a lot easier than you might think.

For the purpose of this article, we are going to assume you have an HDTV that supports HDMI input, and, preferably a Mac that supports HDMI output with audio (for Mac’s that don’t support direct HDMI output with audio, read on anyway there is a solution for you too). When you are finished with this article, you will be able to have a complete Mac Media Center hooked up to your TV, creating an awesome home theater, and you’ll be able to control the whole thing wirelessly from your couch.

Setting up a Mac Media Center

Here’s what you’ll need to setup a media center with your Mac:

HDTV that accepts HDMI input

Mac that supports video/audio output (newer Mac models that support full HDMI highly recommended, the New Mac Mini is perfect)

HDMI cable (and/or other appropriate cables if your Mac doesn’t support direct HDMI out)

Apple Remote Control

Apple Wireless Keyboard and Apple Wireless Mouse – these are optional but highly recommended if you want to browse the web and play games on your media center

Plex – Plex is arguably the best media center software solution and runs right on top of Mac OS X as an application. It’s got a beautiful interface, vast media support, and is free to download. What’s not to love?

Step 1) Get the proper Video Output Adapters

So first things first, get your cable situation squared away. Newer Mac’s support full HDMI out with audio and video carried over the same cable, but on many models you’ll still need an adapter. For instance, my MacBook Pro 2010 model only needs a Mini DisplayPort to HDMI adapter

and a standard HDMI cable, because it supports full HDMI output. The new 2010 Mac Mini supports direct HDMI output with no additional cables at all, so you’d only need an HDMI cable.

and a standard HDMI cable, because it supports full HDMI output. The new 2010 Mac Mini supports direct HDMI output with no additional cables at all, so you’d only need an HDMI cable.

Your cable requirements are going to vary from machine to machine, so determine which output adapter is needed for your Mac.

Step 2) Download and Install Plex Media Center Software

Plex is really great media center software that runs right on top of Mac OS X.

Features of Plex Media Server include:

Easily catalogue, organize, and access all of your media files: movies, music, pictures, etc, directly within Plex

Automatically download movie, TV show, and album artwork, episode information, IMDB ratings, and more

Plays HD video content nearly flawlessly

Plug-in video support for Hulu, Netflix, Youtube, MTV, Vimeo, and more

Diverse codec support for various video and audio file types

Interface is completely skinable allowing you to change the appearance to another theme that fits your setup, TV, or preferences

Subtitle support for foreign language movies

Shoutcast stream support and awesome visualizers for music

Weather updates for whatever regions you specify (it will automatically detect one by default)

RSS feeds support

Works with the Apple Remote, Wireless Keyboard, or Wireless Mouse

Support for hardware accelerated H.264 video playback on Nvidia 9400M, GT320M, GT330M chipsets

As you can see Plex is full featured, and that’s exactly why we’re using it for our Mac Media Center. If there is an app that is easier to use and as full featured as Plex, I haven’t found it yet. Setting it up is an absolute breeze.

How to setup Plex:

Download the latest version of Plex

Drag the app to your Applications folder

Launch Plex

Let it sync with your Apple Remote (it may want to install 3rd party drivers as a bug fix, no problem)

Using your keyboard (or Apple Remote), navigate and select your Video source destination (directory, hard drive, whatever)

Watch movies, TV shows, play music, whatever

Yes, it’s that easy, seriously. Plex will automatically pull your music library from iTunes too, so there’s practically no setup.

Here’s a screenshot of the media browser interface:

Step 3) Connect your Mac Media Center to your TV

This step is pretty straight forward, you just need to be sure you have the proper cables. For for the sake of this tutorial we’ll pretend we have a new 2010 Mac Mini, all this machine requires is an HDMI cable to connect from the Mini to an HDMI port on your TV.

Step 4) Enjoy your Mac Media Center!

Once you have Plex running and your Mac connected to the TV, that’s all you have to do! Now it’s time to sit back and enjoy your media center. You can also further customize Plex by downloading additional plugins, you can access these directly through the Plex application.

So that’s it. Now for some Questions and Answers…

How do I browse the web or play games on my Mac media center?

Just quit out of Plex and launch Safari or a game. Once your Mac is connected to your TV, the TV is basically a large external monitor for the Mac, so you can treat it as such and play virtually any game, browse the web, or anything else you’d otherwise use a Mac for.

Why just focus the media center on newer Macs with HDMI out?

The reason we recommend newer Mac’s that support full HDMI video/audio exporting is just ease of setup. In fact, you can setup the exact same media center on a Mac that doesn’t support full HDMI output, you’ll just need additional items. What can be done with just an HDMI cable on newer Mac’s requires additional cables to perform the same task on an older Mac; for example, an older Mac might need a mini-DVI to DVI adapter, than a DVI to HDMI adapter, plus the HDMI cable, plus an additional AUX cable to output audio. The exact requirements will depend on your Mac model but it’s not complicated as long as you know what you need. In other words, if you have an older Mac, don’t get discouraged, just get the right adapters and the rest of this guide works the same for your media center too!

My Mac doesn’t export HDMI, what can I do?

If your Mac doesn’t support direct HDMI output, you can use a DVI to HDMI adapter to still output to HDMI, just remember that you will need an additional cable to carry the audio signal from your audio output jack to audio input on the TV, since DVI does not transmit audio.

Additional Mac Media Center resources

Mac Mini Media Center – a guide exclusively for setting up a media center on your Mac Mini, complete with remote torrents support and a webserver

Rip DVD’s on your Mac – what media center is complete without media to watch? Rip your DVD’s and watch them from your Mac hard drive

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