Lighting Guide – Simple Guide for Mastering Portrait Lighting Setups in your Studio

Hey guys, sorry it’s been so long since I’ve posted anything new, just been busy with projects and work but I do miss working on my blog and other personal online goodies I used to run.  Anyhow, I found this online the other day and thought I’d share it. Ever wish you had a simple guide that showed you how to setup specific types of portrait lighting?  Check out this super simple guide I found from, it really takes a ton of guesswork out of how to set up your lights for that perfect portrait look you want.



Fix for Samsung Galaxy Note II that won’t connect to PC via USB with Unknown Device Error!

I’ve broken free of the iTunes collar, the manacles of Mac and the yoke of iPhone madness… yes friends, I am back in the warm embrace of Android at last as I have now been moved to a Samsung Note II!  Despite the joy, there was one small itsy bitsy hiccup along the way and that was Windows 8’s absolute refusal to successfully install the drivers and let me browse my brand new Samsung Note II with Windows Explorer.


Every time I would connect the cable to any of my USB ports, I would get USB Driver installation errors saying Unrecognized Device Error.  I tried everything I could find on the web to no avail, so I tried the most basic concept I could think of… I swapped out the cable.  The default white cable that came with the phone would charge the phone no problem connected to the PC, but would refuse to properly install the drivers.

Method 1 – Change the cable (it really works!)

I literally used a $1 OEM cable I bought from a dollar store years ago for an old Motorola phone.  Within seconds, the phone connected, correct drivers loaded and boom, windows explorer popped up with all the phone’s files available.  So there you go, before you try anything, swap out the cable!  If that doesn’t work, then I would suggest fiddling with the other solutions found online.


Method 2 – Don’t use a usb 3.0 port

Some folks have reported that using a USB 3.0 port on the PC in question may not work correctly.  Try using a USB 2.0 port instead if possible.

Method 3 – Ensure you have the right settings

By default my phone was already set to the right settings for USB file transfers so I’ll assume most of these ship with the same configuration, hence why I have this as method 3.  I found this on a forum and while it did not work for me, it seems a few other folks declared it a success.

  1. Launch the phone key pad on your note and press *#7284# (don’t forget to start with that * symbol!)
  2. When you press the last pound sign (#) this will bring up an option that will allow you to change your USB connection settings (modem or PDA) – change it to PDA.
  3. At the bottom there is a button that says Qualcomm USB. Click on it.
  4. In that menu click on MTP + ADB option.
  5. Save and reset.
  6. Wait for your phone to restart.
  7. Plug the micro USB cable to the Note 2 and the the other end to your PC or Mac
  8. Let your computer down load and install drivers.
  9. Once installing is done, unplug then replug phone.
  10. There should be a USB symbol on your phone in the status bar – click on it. It should ask if you wsnd to use mtp or ptp. Click MTP
  11. At this point your PC should open the phone’s folders in explorer similar to the screenshot above.
  12. Do a little dance, make a little love, get down tonight.

Remember, you do not need to use Kies or root your phone for this to work and you should not have to fiddle with manually installing and downloading drivers in Windows 8, it should work no problem as is.

Good luck!

Game of Thrones audio broken after intro or opening credits on PS3 Media Server PSM Fix!

If you’re like me, you’re probably enjoying Game of Thrones season 3 right now, and like me, you may be watching your episodes via your Playstation using PS3 Media Server and you’ve noticed lately that when watching the show, the audio craps out after the opening credits have played or maybe after the “Previously on Game of Thrones” segment.  This started happening for me, so I fuddled around with the PS3 Media Server Transcode settings and found a configuration that worked flawlessly.  Here’s the settings you should try out for your audio set up and your Game of Thrones sound should start to work again:

So the parts you need to pay attention to are the audio engines order and the audio engines settings on the transcoding settings tab.  On the left side under “Audio Files Engines” make sure you have the order set as:

  1. FFmpeg Audio
  2. MPlayer Audio
  3. Audio High Fidelity

Then, in the left middle area under “Audio settings, apply to following decoders:” make sure you check “Use LPCM” and “Keep AC-3” options and the rest are off.  Save and restart PS3 Media Server and you should be back in business!  You should also ensure you’re running the latest version of PSM or at the very least a fairly recent stable build.  PSM is updated on a fairly regular basis and the PSM team is always patching new bugs, adding tweaks etc.

Oh and yes I know I have video quality set pretty low… I stream via Wifi and anything higher just craps out.  One of these days I’ll hardwire it.

Please post a comment and let me know if it worked!

How to search for specific text within your website’s PHP files using SSH

Here’s a quick little tip for anyone that needs to plow through a zillion PHP files to find a specific line of code or a specific keyword.   I recently needed to scan the entire P2L folder for a specific word within any PHP files in the main public_html and subfolders.  The alternative would be to download everything to your local PC and then run a search locally on your PC.  That’s fine and dandy if you have a small site that would only take seconds to transfer, but it’s a different story when you have dozens of folders and subfolders and hundreds of pages.

So, let’s put the magic of Linux to work shall we?  Open up Putty or whatever SSH program you use and log in and make your way to the public_html folder of the account you want to search.

Here’s the command you want to run:

grep -r -i -l "keyword" *

Hit enter and the quary will run… be patient as it will take some time to complete.  It will list any files found that contain your keyword as the query runs.  Here’s a breakdown of the command flags used:

-r recursive (will search folder and subfolders)

-i case insensitive (ignores UPPERCASE or lowercase)

-l list only (displays names of files found only)

Hope that helps!

The SEO Marketing Traps – There is no secret SEO recipe you don’t know about!

After a recent experience of mine with some SEO related service questions, I wanted to put together a few thoughts on SEO services, tactics and maybe put some of your minds at ease…  if you’re trying to find the secret ingredient to SEO success, you might like to read this.  Please note this is an updated posting, the tutorial has been moved from the old host.

You’ve probably seen the emails…  a company in India is a leading SEO specialist, and for a monthly fee ranging from $100 a month to over $1000 will perform some SEO magic on your website, making you more visible, higher ranked on keywords, increased PR and even possibly a better lover!  You’ve been busting your head trying to figure out what these guys are doing that you’re not…?  your site has been stagnant and after a couple of months of work, you’re not really getting anywhere.  So what the HECK are these guys doing that’s you’re not?  What secret recipe are they using that will yield the amazing results you’ve been after but have failed to produce?  What do they know that I don’t?!

The answer is likely… nothing.  And here lies the trap, and likely leads to the most common SEO mistakes most of us have fallen prey to at some point.

SEO is real, powerful and necessary for the success of your website even at a basic level.  Internet marketers and specialists focus (or least should focus) very strongly on SEO practises, and SEO companies are trying very hard to let all webmasters know that SEO is important and that you need to use them and their elite SEO knowledge to get results and be the top of the world quickly and effectively.  The truth of the matter is many of us think that SEO is a bag of tricks that changes month to month and that only a few folks that have dedicated hundreds of hours to the study of SEO truly know what they’re doing.

Good news…  that’s completely untrue, and most SEO tactics that result in overnight increases in traffic often do more harm than good as they are probably against search engine guidelines and their TOS.  You have to change your mindset completely… there is no secret recipe or overnight tricks.  You need patience and time, plain and simple.

 01. There is no SEO smoking gun!

The first mistake to avoid is looking for the secret that you believe SEO experts know and you don’t.  Every single SEO concept and tactic you need has been repeated over and over in thousands of free tutorials and articles all over the web.  Deep down you probably even know that, but you’re on a mission for more organic search engine traffic so you throw caution to the wind and decide to pay an expensive SEO service that will employ exactly the same tactics you already know about, they will simply dedicate more time to it than you probably realized was required, and even the best of SEO companies can’t deliver overnight results unless they are performing shady blackhat tactics.  SEO is a lot like investing money… you need to think long-term, as in 6 months down the road, not 6 days or 6 weeks.  Forget about spam campaigns or link directories with a million other SEO “gurus” have posted links.  You need to focus on quality backlinks and real keyword research, and of course the king of web marketing: CONTENT!

02. Search Engine Guidelines

Another mistake most webmasters make is to completely disregard user guidelines of the major search engines.  I think it’s safe to say that most of us know that Google has a TOS with very specific guidelines of what you can and can’t do to optimize your site for it’s index, but how many of us have actually read it?  Oh, you have?  Good stuff, now how many of you check it for changes on a regular basis?  That’s what I thought…  and yes it changes quite often.  Following these terms is critical if you care about search engine traffic because you can score some very effective tips on optimizing your site, plus find out what could end up getting your site penalized.

03. Internal Linking Strategy

The final mistake I see quite a bit, that even I am working on correcting, is internal linking.  You can bust your butt on backlinks, but if you ignore the topology of your internal link, you are missing a VERY important ingredient to your SEO success and your ability to earn what is called “link juice”.  First time you hear this term?  Link juice is the currency used by Google to determine why your site should outrank others.  For a great explanation on link juice and how it works, check out this article.

The fact is, it’s extremely difficult, if not damn near impossible to control how other sites link to you, but you can do whatever the heck you want with your own site.  Internal linking is an art-form on it’s own and can yield significant long-term gains when properly applied.  By creating effective internal linking, you’re more or less promoting other areas of your site that are less popular, but still possibly relevant to your visitors.  This increased visibility on an internal level can introduce your users to features, areas and content they may have never realized you had, and these users are all potential backlinks, social media buffs or word-of-mouth links to untapped traffic.  Just check out large sites like Microsoft, Amazon, eBay, Digg and many more… you’re presented with the content you are looking for, as well as internal links to other relevant areas in an effort to engage you and explore further.  This is effective internal linking.

Again, you’ve read SEO articles before and most say the same thing… you need to focus on the following:

Onsite SEO

  1. Establish and optimize your website pages for specific keywords.  This includes metatags, URLs and content.
  2. Investigate and research your competitors… see where they rank for keywords and how they are optimizing their pages.  Are they ranked higher than you?  You can find out why by checking meta tags, backlinks and their content pages.
  3. Optimize your title, meta and header tags.
  4. Optimize your anchor text, your robots.txt and your image Alt tags.
  5. Write relevant content as often as possible!
  6. Fix broken links on your site.
  7. Create an XML sitemap and submit it.
  8. Ensure your site is included in major search engines and see how you rank for your top 10 – 20 keywords.  Keep track on a monthly basis to check your progress.
  9. Install and use Google Analytics.
  10. Validate your code for easy crawler inclusion.

Offsite SEO

  1. Verify search engine guidelines and make sure you are compliant
  2. Research and build up backlinks to your site… there are dozens of strategies.
  3. Create a separate blog and keep it updated with content regarding your site, updates, research and other projects.  Use it to generate interest!
  4. Create articles for open distribution
  5. Take advantage of social media and social bookmarking sites
  6. RSS Feed submission
  7. Forum posting
    Search for link directories and link exchanges relevant to your site’s content and join them!  Don’t just submit to everything under the sun, most link directories are completely useless.

I’m sure I’m missing a couple of items on here, but this is everything you need to know, and this is everything an SEO company will do for you no matter how much you spend per month.  There are no magic bullets, smoking gun or any other catch-phrase worthy techniques you don’t know about, it’s all out in the open.  The key is to dedicate time to your SEO strategies and set long goals for results, but short-term goals to get there.  For example, rather than say “OK this month I want to increase my traffic an extra 5000 visitors a day” look for a more tangible short term goal such as “This month I will create 50 new one way links to my site”.  With small monthly goals, the long-term traffic goals will follow and will likely exceed your initial estimates.

Of course, if you have absolutely no time to optimize your site for search engine traffic, that’s an whole different issue and at that point you may wish to employ the services of a reputable SEO consultant, but don’t spend a cent if you’re thinking they know something you don’t.  Patience and hard work always trumps looking for a quick fix and instant results.

Now for some handy links you should know about…

Google Webmaster Guidelines
Yahoo Terms Center
Bing’s Webmaster Center
W3C Standards
SEO Centro Keyword Rank Checker

That’s for me on this one guys, thanks for reading and see you on the next tutorial!

Take care,