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Thursday, October 25, 2012

Nathan Ake

Your Comfort Zone - Ready to Step Out?

If you ask any ordinary person if they have comfort zones associated with things they do, they'll probably say yes, but it may take them a few minutes to think what they are. Public speaking is often one of them although some of these people won't think twice about picking up a microphone and singing along to a karaoke machine at a party!
People step out of their comfort zones every day without realizing it, especially when they work for a living. If the boss tells you to do something you do it, mainly because the fear of losing their job is greater than the task they have to perform. We hate going to the dentist but the fear of losing all our teeth is far greater than a couple of minutes under a high-speed drill.
So it is with MLM. Trainers will always be trying to get you to move ahead and stepping out of your comfort zone only means facing your fears. Nobody learns to swim by jumping in the deep end. It starts by slowly wading in to shallow water and often with the help of somebody else. That is why your trainer is there. Do everything a little at a time and soon you'll wonder why you'd been so afraid of doing it before.
Setting goals is a good way to start. A sense of achievement boosts self-confidence enormously.
Many years ago I was asked by a corporate member of my company to stand up in front of a crowd of strangers and give a testimonial. I remember shaking, my hands sweating and my throat constricting with terror the closer I got to the minute I had to walk on stage.
A horrible situation for many people but add the fact that I'm German and English is my second language, it only made matters worse. I was petrified I would totally forget certain words in English and start throwing in the German equivalents!
Yikes! What was I to do? While breathing exercises helped to stop my heart racing I also remembered the word FEAR, an acronym for false expectations appearing real. It helped, and a couple of minutes later I was in full flow and proud of myself and I didn't throw any German words into my presentation. People listened and applauded.
I hadn't stepped out of my comfort zone, I'd taken a giant leap and when I walked off the stage I felt incredibly proud of myself, wondering why I had made such a big deal of it.
Now if I'm asked to speak I just shrug and say okay. I'm happy that I had to go through that initiation because now I have no fear of public speaking at all.
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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Nathan Ake

Tips For Taking Videos Using A DSLR

Digital cameras these days go beyond their basic function of just capturing photos. This advanced photographic device can also take videos which can be uploaded and stored in a computer or shared online.
Most cameras, particularly the compact point and shoot, are easy to operate today and as such, it is also easy to use them to record videos. The DSLRs also have this feature.
The HD DSLR, in particular, is now capable of capturing videos. The original version was not actually meant for video recording purposes but today, the HD has become a standard feature in DSLRs.
We share some simple tips here on how to record great videos. If you're able to follow them, you can be sure to capture quality videos moving forward.
Although most cameras nowadays are in auto mode, experts recommend using the manual focus when recording videos. It has been observed that automatic and continuous focus often result in bad videos.
Make sure then you practice using the manual focus as often as possible so you'll get adjusted to it and don't waste your time in the event you'll need to use your camera. A most important step is to learn about the steps in using the focus ring. Find out which way the ring turns so you'd know how to zoom in and out of your subject.
Keep in mind that not all camera brands are the same. In the case of the focus ring, for instance, Canon and Nikon differ in the way it turns. Turning a Canon lens' focus ring to the right will blur the focus while in a Nikon camera, turning it to the left will get the same result.
If you're taking a video of somebody approaching you from afar, there's a trick you'll have to keep in mind. From a distance, it's normally easy to pull focus on your subject. When the subject gets closer, however, you need to turn the focus ring farther to keep up and ensure that your images are clear.
It is also strongly recommended that you practice with each of your lenses. This will enable you to learn how far you need to turn the focus ring to get the best results.
If you'll be doing some panning while taking videos, there's a tip on how to do it right. What often happens is when you do a quick pan, the frame wobbles causing a blurry effect. Avoid a quick motion at all times and if you have a lens with image stabilization, it's ideal to use it. If you don't have it, you may use an external stabilizer. The only downside is its high price.
To achieve quality audio, it's a good idea to use an external mic. You can use your usual microphone in the house and just attach it directly or via an adapter to your camera. Most DSLRs with audio inputs have a headphone port where you can attach your mic.
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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Nathan Ake

Qualifications for a Worship Pastor

We hear terms like "worship leader", "music minister", and "worship pastor" often in the roles we walk. Being involved in worship - it is a common place. What does it mean? We have spent a couple of days looking at both the differences between a worship leader and a worship pastor as well as determining what a worship pastor is not - now it is time to get down to the basics of what the composition of a worship pastor should be.
I believe that a worship pastor should hold to the requirements set forth in Timothy (1 Timothy 3:1-7) and Titus. These bullet points have been repeated and recited over the years - but I want to refocus them in our time as they should pertain to a worship pastor's life.
1. Above reproach: 
This one seems to be a hard one to understand... especially since other translations say "blameless". Who can be blameless? Don't we all sin? The point of being above reproach is not to be perfect, but to not have "hidden" items of reoccurring sin in our lives. Do I suffer from a pornography addiction? If so, then I am not above reproach.

Simply put - if I am a worship pastor - and have a congregation under my care... and have a dirty little skeleton that I abuse my wife physically... then imagine the let down of those who fall under my leadership when that "dirty little secret" surfaces.
Being "above reproach" involves knowing that your life as a worship pastor far exceeds what people see of you on a given Sunday. The least important of your duties becomes what happens on Sunday while the most important duties become what happens once you are off the stage and away from a microphone.
2. Husband of one wife: 
I will rattle cages here - but I will speak only after years of testing the Spirit otherwise. Can a man be divorced and be a pastor or does this requirement disqualify him? The answer lies in whether or not the man is currently married to "but one wife" or not. In the first century, it was highly common for a man to have more than one wife. The practice was even older than the time of Timothy's writing. When Paul wrote 1 Timothy, he was being very clear that a pastor should not have multiple wives.

Somehow along the way, we have turned this into mean one simple thing: if you are divorced - you cannot be a pastor. In contrast, if a person had murdered someone in the past and raped but has since repented of his sins - he could be a pastor provided he meets the remaining requirements. In simple logic - this would mean that we have somehow found the one sin that God will not forgive of... divorce. Doesn't seem to pass the common sense test - yet many well-meaning churches place this stigma and wrong application to Timothy and Titus on a daily basis.
In fact, the original words used in both Timothy and Titus in the original writing language to depict "the husband of one wife" is not at all like the wording used for "divorced" - even though the word is used elsewhere in the Bible. If the intention was divorce, then the writer would have been clear to call out "not divorced."
3. Soberminded , Self-control: 
Level headed is the best way to define this. This is the one that I, as I readily admit, I come closest to crossing the line with. Do you have a cool head or are you short tempered? No - not what others see of you... but how do you manage yourself when no one but your family sees you?

4. Respectable, Hospitable, and Able to teach: 
Respectable and hospitable should come with the territory- a worship pastor should not appear warm and friendly on a stage yet be stand-offish when approached in his day-to-day life. Likewise, a worship pastor should not act in one regard of kindness to his fellow congregants and act to a different degree to those outside of his church. He should remain respectable and hospitable in all regards.

A worship pastor should be able to teach others. He should be knowledgeable in the area in which he serves. He should know why he is leading worship - what worship is - the theology of worship - the lituragy - and should be able to impart these things in others so that they can understand more than simply a new song.
5. Not a drunkard: 
Here is another of those areas we will make waves. Can a worship pastor drink? Absolutely. I have in my household at this very moment two bottles of wine and probably some other assorted tonics.

I am not a drunkard. I do not allow myself to become so inebriated that I cannot function nor make a spectacle of myself. In fact, despite the presence of any alcohol - I can't tell you when the last time a drop has touched my lips has been. Many churches will take the stance that a pastor should not drink period. I think that this is taking a much different approach at the Bible that what was intended in the first place.
Still, today, we have varying views. Is it wrong for me to go out to a restaurant and drink? No - again, as long as I do not become a drunkard - but I will readily tell you that I do not drink publicly and I will readily defend why I do not. As believers, we can readily discuss the differences between which alcohol had more "potency" - the wine of our time or the wine of Jesus' time. We can readily discuss how Jesus turned water into wine for his own mother. We can discuss how the verbage is not "thou shalt not drink" but, rather, "not a drunkard"... and we can do all of this as fellow believers.
Non believers and new believers generally, however, have one notion: "Doesn't the Bible say you're not supposed to drink? And you're apastor!?! While, yes, we can take the time to explain the differences at the right time - but we may not know when that "right time" is. Allow me to explain:
I am at a restaurant with my wife. We order dinner and each of us have a glass of wine. The waiter brings out the bottle and sits it on the table. It would become very obvious to anyone sitting around us that we are drinking wine. A couple nearby notices the bottle and asks the waiter if it is a good wine. They order a bottle of the same.
Fast forward to the next Sunday. I am leading worship. In the congregation is a new family - in church for the first time. They recognize me. "Isn't that the guy in the restaurant we saw the other night?" "Yeah, wasn't he the one that we saw with the wine? I didn't think church people were supposed to drink?"... my "genuine" factor is already decreasing. Yes... I know I'm veering here - but it is entirely plausible.
The bottom line is this - I don't drink publicly because I do not want anyone to have any distractions who may come to worship for the first time because of their own limited knowledge of the Word and how it relates to partaking of alcohol.
6. Not violent but gentle, Not quarrelsome: 
In a worship team... or any church congregation - there will be arguments. A worship pastor with a short fuse would come closer to fighting than trying to resolve the conflict at hand. A good worship pastor should be slow to judge, gentle in his actions, but firm in his decisions.

7. not a lover of money: 
... which will become obvious based on the average pay. No - seriously - I say this in jest, however a worship pastor must have a motivation to do his job because of his calling and not because of the amount of money it pays. A worship pastor should have the attitude that he would do so out of calling if no budget were available. He should also be financially responsible. Since, in most cases, he will responsible for (at least) a portion of the budget - the way he handles spending in his home life may very well depict the type steward he will be with the church's money.

8. Leads family: 
Yes - this is paraphrasing. A pastor should be a good husband and father. If he cannot tend to his own family... how can he be entrusted to shepherd God's family?

9. Not a recent convert and well thought of by others 
A new believer still has lots of spiritual maturing to do. It is important to not rush to grab up new converts who can sing and play guitar/piano to fill roles without first establishing spiritual maturity.

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Monday, July 30, 2012

Nathan Ake

Video Production Business Tip - How Much to Charge As a Freelance Videographer

When setting up your video production business for the first time, you may need to do some freelance work to make up for the times when you don't have any major projects to do. As a freelance videographer, how much should you charge for your services?
I've always believed that you should never leave money on the table when negotiating a deal with a customer. In other words, if a customer expects to pay $1,000 for you to shoot for a day, you shouldn't offer to do it for $700. On the other hand, if a customer only wants to pay $700 for your services, you shouldn't turn it down just because you ordinarily like to make $1,000 for a day's worth of work.
Regarding my pricing strategy, I try to charge somewhere close to industry standard rates so that I make as much money as possible while remaining competitive when compared to other videographers in my market.
For a one-person camera crew, my day rate is $1,200. This includes my camcorder, tripod, wireless microphone, light kit and up to 10 hours of time working on the shoot.
My half day rate for a one-person crew is $800 and includes the same equipment package and up to 5 hours in the field.
For most customers, this rate is acceptable. For others, it's more than they have in their budget for the project. When a customer indicates that my rates are higher than they want to pay, I simply ask them what they have in their budget for these services. Then, if what they are comfortable paying is within range of what I'm willing to accept, I'll book the gig.
I typically won't accept anything less than $700 for a full day of shooting and $500 for a half day but I rarely have to go that low. Most customers who have experience hiring freelance videographers are familiar with industry standard rates and fully expect to pay them. Then, when they call you again in the future, they'll pay the same rates again and again.
The best strategy is to set your rates according to industry standards so you have something to go by when people ask what you charge. Then, be willing to negotiate from there so you can book the gig.
In my mind, a guaranteed $700 for a day's worth of work is far better than getting nothing because you refused to accept less than what is on your rate sheet.
A bird in the hand is better than two in the bush. $700 in your checking account is better than $700 in your competitor's account. Plus, when that customer needs to hire a videographer for another shoot, who do you think will get the call? The other guy will... every time. Think hard about the lifetime value of a new customer before you turn down a freelance gig because they didn't want to pay you full rate.
Another thing to keep in mind is that if your rates are too low, a customer might perceive you as not qualified compared to other videographers in your area. If their rates average $800 to $1200 for a full day of shooting and your rate is $500, odds are good they'll hire one of them instead of you.
Having rates that are too low can make you look like an amateur regardless of how long you've been working as a professional videographer.
There will also be opportunities when you are asked to work using someone else's equipment instead of your own. For these cases, you'll need rates for just your time that doesn't include the use of your gear.
I prefer not to work without my own equipment because I like to make the extra money but freelance beggars can't always be choosers. Again, guaranteed money is better than no money.
My full day rate without equipment is $500 and my half-day rate is $350. These are pretty standard in the industry for experienced videographers so your rates may vary. If you are in a position where you are still trying to make a name for yourself, you may want to charge closer to $300 for a full day and $150 for a half day.
The same rules apply here as they did above when it came to negotiating rates. When asked if what your rate is for shooting with someone else's equipment, tell them but be open to charging less if their budget requires it.
Always remember that guaranteed money is better than no money. If someone is willing to book you today for $300 but you have a deal that has a 50% chance of going through that will pay you $500 to shoot on the same day, take the guaranteed money. You can always try to convince the other customer to shoot on a different day by offering them a discount.
Or, if they can't shoot on a different day, you can book the gig anyway at the higher amount and call one of your trusted videographer friends to cover the shoot for you. The customer pays you $500. You pay the other videographer $300.
The net result is that you made $300 on your shoot and $200 from the other shoot all in the same day. Then, when you get paid for the other shoot, you cut the videographer a check and off you go. Plus, you have two satisfied customers who will call you for future work.
If your goal is to make more than six-figures with your freelance videography business, you'll have to book multiple gigs at the same time on a regular basis. It's possible to do this if done correctly. The more trusted partners you have in your network, the more money you can make on a given day, week or month.
One final thought about setting your freelance videography rates. Even though there are industry standard rates for these services, it's up to you to manage your finances so that your rates will cover business expenses and your personal salary each month.
When you are first getting started, it's vitally important that you run your household and business as lean as possible. Get rid of all unnecessary expenses and restructure your debt if possible so you can reduce monthly payments.
In this business, there will be great months followed by terrible months regarding sales. Keeping your monthly expenses as low as possible will put you in the best position to achieve success. It is possible to support your family and to even provide a luxurious lifestyle with your freelance income but many families find that having a second income from a spouse's job makes things a lot easier.
If you have two incomes in your household, you have the option to charge less than your competitors for your services. Just keep in mind that you'll run the risk of customers not taking you as serious as your competitors because your rates aren't in line with theirs. Tread carefully.
I suggest you quote industry standard rates but that be willing to negotiate down as far as you are comfortable doing so in order to get the gig. Then, when it comes time to invoice the customer, put the industry standard rate first followed by the amount you chose to discount the rate in order to help the customer meet their budgetary requirements. This way, they'll understand the true value of your service and you did them a favor by discounting the rate to meet their needs. This will go a long way in building good will with that customer and will greatly increase the odds they will only want to work with you should they have the need for any freelance work in the future.
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Sunday, June 10, 2012

Nathan Ake

Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E530 Review - A Laptop With Security Features, Long Battery Life, and More

The mid-range laptop Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E530 is an impressive business notebook with a 15.6 inch form. Windows 7 Professional and security features such as fingerprint sign-in make it ideal for work. However, it also comes with some features a multimedia user will love: decent graphics, USB 3.0, HDMI, and so forth.
At first glance, its gray case is nothing special. It takes a closer look to see the neat highlights, including an aluminum strip surrounding the display. You can also choose a blue or red display lid if you want to add a bit of color to your laptop. The overall construction of the machine is durable. The wrist and palm rest area is nice and firm.
The bottom part of the Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E530 has two separate covers that allow easy access to the important components. The two covers can easily be put back together securely.
It comes with the following:
  • Display: 15.6 inch widescreen high definition with 1366x768 resolution
  • Hard drive: 320 GB 7200 rpm
  • Memory: 4 GB DDR3 (1600 MHz)
  • Wireless capabilities: Integrated Wi-Fi LAN adapters and ThinkPad 1x1 b/g/n
  • Graphics: Intel HD (mSATA capable)
  • Webcam: 720p
As mentioned above, this system comes with fingerprint reader, along with other security features such as the useful anti-theft technology. This type of technology allows you to lock your laptop in the event that it's stolen or lost. It protects your investment since you won't have to worry about personal data being stolen.
Since this model was designed with business in mind, don't expect it to run games with intense graphics. Still, it can play some games here and there as long as you don't put the settings on high. While it's not as powerful as expensive gaming laptops, it still handles graphics better than devices with comparable hardware.
As for battery performance, the 6-cell battery has a capacity of 48 Wh. The power consumption is rather low on the battery, which means it can last for a long time. On average, consumers are getting five - six hours of battery life per charge.
The E530 offers a good amount of connectivity, including 3 USB 3.0 ports, HDMI port, VGA port, and a USB 2.0 port. The USB 2.0 port allows you to charge external devices while the machine is in sleep mode. The headphone and microphone jack are combined. Many of the ports are located toward the front for easy access.
The chiclet keyboard has standard sized keys and features a number pad. The keys have a stiff stroke for sure typing. You won't have to worry about your fingers slipping any. The notebook comes with a good sized touchpad. The input, overall, is good. Since it lacks mouse buttons, it takes a bit of practice to get the hang of the touchpad. It shouldn't take you long to get used to the gestures, however.
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Thursday, May 10, 2012

Nathan Ake

UK Kindle Fire Versus iPad

Kindle Fire or iPad?
As Amazon has announced the launch of their own tablet in the UK and other European markets for the end of October, consumers will face even more choices when selected their gadget. Amazon announced 2 models - the "basic" Kindle Fire and the HD, which comes with 16 or 32GB on-device storage (the regular Fire has 8GB).
As it is the mighty Amazon who is building this tablet, it cannot be dismissed as another "me too" tablet as some of the other ones that populate the market. The tablet is Amazon's single best selling item in the US since it was launched last year, another good reason to seriously look at this tablet more closely.
I bought the Kindle Fire in the US last November and have had enough time to play with it to give you my personal review here. To be fair though, my purchase in November was a bit hasty as I did not take into consideration that there was no app marketplace in Europe yet and that other media, such as films, would not be available. My family and I have been using Amazon's gadget to surf the internet and download and read books though and have really enjoyed this gadget.
We also have an iPad, though it is not the latest model. However, we use both tablets and found that each has distinct advantages in some areas and weaknesses in others. The main consideration when choosing a new tablet should be how you intend to use it. It you want to watch many films, the larger screen of the iPad will be of advantage. If you want to read e-books, clearly the reduced weight and size of the Kindle Fire is a plus.
The main disadvantages of the Kindle Fire are the fact that it does not come with a camera or microphone, which rules out using the likes of Skype, and the lack of a 3/4G option, so you will have to solely rely on WiFI.
One of Amazon's greatest assets that comes to bear fruits with the Kindle Fire is it's large "ecosystem" of media (18 million films, songs, magazines, books etc). Users will be able to tap into films (Love Film is an Amazon company), audiobooks (Audible belongs to Amazon as well) and, of course, e-books. Amazon has also been busy building an app store, though it appears that iTunes does still offer more apps. Another great feature of the Kindle Fire is the fact that it fully supports Adobe Flash Player. If you have used your iPhone or iPad you will probably have come across the frustrating moment when you have found something on the internet but cannot watch it because it is driven by Flash Player which Apples' devices does not support.
As mentioned at the outset of this article, the basic Kindle has a somewhat limiting 8GB on-device storage, which may put off many consumers. However, Amazon offers unlimited cloud storage for all their own content.
Another great feature of the Kindle Fire is the micro-HDMI (micro-D connector) port for high definition video output to televisions or A/V receivers. This means that you can watch films that you are streaming from Lovefilm and other videos on your TV set as well, turning your Kindle into a streaming device or decoder.
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Monday, April 16, 2012

Nathan Ake

Karaoke Microphone Technique

Your Karaoke host may be skilled at setting up the sound system, but there is a limit to what they can do! If you aren't aware of how to handle a microphone correctly (and a lot of Karaoke singers aren't) then you are really going to struggle if you actually care about sounding good.
This article covers basic microphone technique. Following this advice and practicing until it becomes natural to you will give you a great chance of sounding as good as possible next time you are singing at a Karaoke. Once you get the microphone technique right, it's down to your KJ to get the sound system setup correctly and, of course, let's not forget your singing talent!
A "Dynamic" microphone will typically be first choice for singers and Karaoke hosts. Generally they are of a sturdy construction, can handle high volume levels and are relatively inexpensive to buy (all essential features for a Karaoke mic!).
Something all singers should be aware of with these kinds of microphones is that they pick up sound better from in front of the microphone than from the rear & sides. Also, the closer the microphone is to the sound source (ie. the mouth) the louder and more dominant the bass tones will be.
Microphone Positioning
Therefore the positioning of the microphone is important when you are singing to ensure the best possible tone is produced by the mic. There are two essential elements to this:-
1) the angle at which the head of the microphone is held
2) the distance between the microphone and your mouth
The head of the microphone should be pointing towards your mouth with the microphone held at a slight downward angle, say around 30 degrees.
The distance between the microphone and your mouth must be adjusted depending on how you are singing at any particular time during a song. Positioning may need to change from phrase to phrase, or even word to word. If you are singing softly, the microphone will need to be brought in closer to your mouth, just as if you are singing loudly the microphone needs to be held further away, moving closer again as the volume subsides.
This may sound rather obvious, but there is a definite technique to it which does take practice to acquire. It can take quite a while until it comes naturally to you. Keep the microphone at the correct angle and experiment with the distance from your mouth as you sing quiet & loud phrases.
Common Mistakes
You will see many karaoke singers holding the microphone too far away or right upto (and sometimes almost in) their mouths. If the mic is too far away then you'll either not be heard or the Karaoke host will need to add so much volume and gain to the microphone to try and hear you that you'll just end up with feedback. If the mic is too close then the bass tones will dominate the sound resulting in an unclear, muffled, deep bass sound. So learning good microphone technique is an important skill if you want to give yourself the best chance of sounding good!
Another common problem when holding a microphone close are 'pops' (the loud and unpleasant popping type sound when 'b's and 'p's are pronounced) and the over-emphasis of sounds such as 'ch' and 'sh', for example. Although this has much to do with singing technique too, to help reduce the effect if you find it happening during your next karaoke performance, try holding the microphone a little further away and angling it a little more to try & reduce the effect.
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