Fixing the macOS Microsoft LifeCam Webcam Overexposure Issue

There’s a problem with old Microsoft LifeCam webcams with macOS; often they will have increased exposure, making them basically useless (I look like a blindingly white ghost – well, more than normal). There’s no way to fix this at the OS level, no drivers update or settings to change. I read about a hack using Photo Booth to override the exposure issue, but it doesn’t fix it permanently and I found the effect would randomly stop mid-conference call. Not to mention that it hits your CPU pretty hard, which kicks up the fans on my laptop and makes things noisy. This webcam has to be about a decade old – maybe more – so frankly I’m amazed it works at all. 😆

I came up with the only thing I could think of to force the exposure levels on the camera down: I popped a lens out of my non-prescription sunglasses and taped it over the front of the webcam. It worked, dropping the exposure down to a usable level. And when the camera occasionally gets the exposure right, I can flip the lens up to remove the darkening effect.

Without the sunglass lens on the left, with on the right.

Now I’m just waiting for my new webcam to show up…in a month. 😩

Why it’s Always Day 1 at Amazon

“…customers are always beautifully, wonderfully dissatisfied, even when they report being happy and business is great. Even when they don’t yet know it, customers want something better, and your desire to delight customers will drive you to invent on their behalf.”

– Jeff Bezos, Amazon Letter to Shareholders 2016

AT&T’s Pay As-You-Go Yearly Plan: The Best/Worst Option for Travellers to Canada & Mexico

Every year my family and I go back to Canada twice to visit with both sides of our family, and most years we also go to Mexico for a vacation. Having a cell phone plan that accommodates those travel plans is key. For several years I was on Cricket Wireless, and they had a plan I’d temporarily upgrade to for a month to get data/voice/text roaming in Canada and Mexico. It worked really well in both countries, delivering decent (5mbps+) speeds no matter where I went.

Late last year, I switched* to an AT&T Pay As You Go plan that had an excellent price point: if you paid for a year in advance ($300 + tax), it worked out to only $25 a month. For that price, I got 8 GB of data per month, unlimited voice and text, along with free data/voice/text roaming in both Canada and Mexico. Also, one month of data rollover, and WiFi hotspot functionality (which Cricket’s plan lacked). There were some fine-print warnings about possible speeds outside the USA, but I wasn’t concerned. #Foreshadowing

Continue reading AT&T’s Pay As-You-Go Yearly Plan: The Best/Worst Option for Travellers to Canada & Mexico

How to Set up an Office 365 Exchange Email Catch-All

I’ve been using a Microsoft hosted Exchange email solution for myself and my wife for several years. Yes, it’s kind of geeky, but we both rely on Outlook as our main email/contact/calendar tool and it’s worked well for us. Years ago I set up a catch-all email forward for my domain, so anything sent to any email address at jasondunn.com would get sent to me.

Why would I do such a thing? To give myself protection from companies abusing my email address. When I sign up with a new company, the email address I give them is [email protected] When I do this in person, it makes some people practically go cross-eyed because they can’t understand how I could have an email address like that. 😜 Quite often I’ll get asked if I work for the company and when I say no it confuses them further. I always explain if someone wants to understand.

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Vinli’s Dead End: The Hidden Negative of Crowdfunding

I’ve been participating in crowdfunding campaigns since 2011 when I backed a documentary about MMA fighter Jens Pulver. I’ve enjoyed participating in the process of helping to bring products to market – 45 on Kickstarter, 40 Indiegogo – and other than the times I’ve been burned by backing a project that never came to market (which is another blog post) it’s been a fun way of purchasing items.

For this post, I want to focus on the other side of the story: what happens when you get the product, it meets your expectations, you utilize it fully, come to rely upon it…and the company goes out of business or EOLs (end-of-life’s) their product. Many technology products today have a service/app element and that means your hardware has dependencies upon the business model of the company you backed. They brought the item to market that you wanted, but if their business model changes or they go out of business, that thing you bought might just stop working.

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How Much Email Does a Presidential Campaign Send?

Email marketing is a persistent subject of curiosity for me; I’m always observing how companies use email as a communications medium with their customers/supporters. It’s the oldest form of electronic communication still in use, but it ubiquitous and effective.

Back in September 2019, I signed up to support Andrew Yang’s Presidential campaign because I like his vision for the USA, in particular universal basic income (even though I can’t vote here yet). I was surprised by the amount of email they sent in the first three days: seven messages. I’d never experienced such intense email saturation before. Usually reaching out even once a day would be considered borderline email harassment. 😆 The first week? 13 emails. 😲 I decided to keep every email he’d ever sent just out of sheer marketing curiosity.

How many emails did the campaign send in total? 334 over a period of 154 days. That’s 2.2 emails per day, every day, for almost half a year! I have no idea if this is typical or not for a campaign, but if I wasn’t someone who had donated to the campaign and hoped he’d make it all the way, I would have unsubscribed in the first week. I’m deeply curious about what the campaign’s weekly unsubscribe rates were. 🤔

Email can be a powerful tool to communicate with people who care about what you’re selling/saying, but if you overdo it you can alienate the very people you’re trying to build support with.

#IronSharpensIron: When Direct Mail Hurts Instead of Helps

We live in an era where environmental impact is on the minds of many people, and every brand should be aware of how their actions are going to be perceived. Companies can’t do things the same way they did them even five years ago; climate change is real, it’s happening around us, and every company needs to be mindful of their environmental impact – especially when it comes to sales materials and direct mail pieces.

The biggest catalog I’ve seen in years.

I thought most companies were aware of the need to not be seen as wasteful, so I was surprised and frankly a bit irked to get this massive 2 pound 3 oz, 787 page catalog from Uline recently (shown above). This wasn’t just any junk mail – it was huge! I didn’t request this catalog, have never purchased anything from them, never gave them my information, and am not part of their customer market. It was addressed to the “shipping department” of an LLC I spun up two years ago for working with one client as a small side gig. This is Uline’s “hello” to a potential new customer, but I don’t have a warehouse or ship anything. This is direct mail marketing without appropriate targeting, and it backfired.

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#IronSharpensIron: How B&H Builds Customer Relationships Beyond the Sale

Selling consumer electronics at retail (or online) is a tough business; customers are price-sensitive because they know that the product they want is the same no matter where they buy it from. Businesses with retail storefronts can try to work in the service angle, but regular consumers generally just want the product. Online, it’s even harder: a lower price is just one click away (aided by price-sorting search engines), and if a buyer doesn’t have any particular loyalty to your company, they’re often going to go where they can get the best price and free shipping. So how do sellers stand out from each other and compete on more than just price?

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Explorations of Winter

Given the surprisingly intense snowfall we’re currenting getting in the Seattle area, it seemed appropriate for me to share some pictures of an even colder place: High River, Alberta, Canada.

Sony’s 128GB CFexpress: No Real Improvements For Still Photographers, And Yet…

I purchased my Nikon Z-6 in November 2019, and in hindsight I wished I’d pulled the trigger sooner. It’s had a marked improvement on my photography, namely due to the in-body image stabilization. To be blunt, it was a technology I needed for quite some time* as I usually shoot with prime lenses that lack stabilization. I was exceedingly grumpy with Nikon for not following Sony, Panasonic, and every other camera OEM’s lead (other than Canon) but I bought the non-stabilized D750 anyway. I swore though my next camera would have it. <shakes fist at sky>

This isn’t a review of the Nikon Z-6 though. What’s that? You want my review of the Z-6? It’s great, though I wish it had two memory cards slots instead of one QXD card slot. Buy it if you have an investment in Nikon lenses. If you don’t, look really hard at the Sony Alpha a7 III. I’d have probably gone with the Sony if I didn’t have my Nikkor f/2.8 lenses; I just can’t justify replacing them with equivalent Sony lenses. 💸

Continue reading Sony’s 128GB CFexpress: No Real Improvements For Still Photographers, And Yet…