Christmas on Main Street

Last night I ventured into downtown Grapevine to grab a bite to eat. As I ventured down to the restaurant, I found that all of the bars and tables were filled. But much to my delight, when I arrived there was also photo walk in progress. Because the restaurants were so packed with tourists, I just returned to my car, grabbed my camera and walked around snapping photos for an hour. It was such a relaxing evening.

Flying My First Drone

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For my 30th birthday, my parents decided to tap into the joy of childhood by purchasing me something that has been nothing but pure fun: my first drone.

This Chinese quadcopter packs a ton of technology into an incredibly small package at an alarmingly reasonable price. This Hubsan x4 Quadcopter includes a 480p digital video camera, 6-axis control and enough battery power for approximately 7 minutes of flight on each charge. The included wireless controller offers a “Playstation-esque” feel but offers superb control of the aircraft.

It is absolutely amazing to me that this aircraft, which weighs 0.98 oz (28g), can pack a payload of 16GB of memory. The pace in which technology has improved in my short lifetime is unbelievable. When I was 10 years old, it would take a shoulder-mounted VHS camcorder and a stack of VHS tapes to record this much video.

Today, while my wife and her friend took our dog to the park, I decided to take to the skies for my first outdoor flight session. Living in Dallas, wind is always an issue, so today my focus was on controlling the aircraft under steady winds, and I must say that it takes an incredible amount of focus just to keep the drone aloft.

With about 45 minutes of flying time under some moderate wind conditions I’m definitely glad that I am starting with such a small and inexpensive aircraft. This drone has taken a beating. Falling from 100 ft in the sky to the ground with not even a bent prop, this drone is prefect for the curious or novice pilot (like me).

If you’re curious about the world of unmanned aircraft and want to try your hand at piloting a drone, definitely start small, but with a high quality aircraft. Get used to adjusting the trim, calibrating the gimbals and keeping the aircraft oriented with your controls. Try to practice “hovering” and keeping the aircraft as steady as possible before you learn to zip it across the sky.

As you learn, you will undoubtedly “over-control” as you panic when the aircraft does the opposite of what you intend. These over corrections will likely cause for an abrupt crash landing making you glad you decided to start the hobby with an inexpensive aircraft.

After a few more months of mastering this quadcopter, I think I might be interested in investing in a more sturdy aircraft that will be less affected by the wind with a sharper camera and more precise controls. Until then, I’m going to work on getting my unmanned wings and snagging some great grainy video in the process.

Next time you’re bored, go fly a kite drone. It’s great to feel like a kid again.

I'm betting 2014 will be the year of long-form content.

Social media changed everything.

For a long time now, we have been conversing in short sentences. Curbing so many of our communications to under 140 characters, that some bloggers have taken to curbing their content as well, trying to hold onto whatever sliver of the American’s attention span that is left.

Do we all have ADD? Are we all incapable of reading a few paragraphs and getting through the entirety of one’s thoughts before forming our own opinions? Have we been reduced to exchanging memes and animated GIFs as each one of us tries to get wittier than the other?

At some point or another, it all needs to stop. We need to get back to what writers do best: sharing stories.

No, I’m not talking about the Cliff’s notes or the 15 second video. I’m talking about the 1,000 word essay, the 45-minute documentary, the high resolution portfolio that took months to perfect. I think it’s time for us to step away from the “quick and easy” and focus on investing some time an quality in the content we share.

The reason that so many of us create content isn’t because it feeds our family or keeps a roof over our head. The reason most of us create content to share freely is because we enjoy doing it. So what’s better than being the best at what you enjoy doing?

I think we are heading into a time where people focus less on the “idea of the moment” and start to hone in on the “concept that lasts.” Sure, we’ll still exchange puns and funny images that mock our popular culture, but those that are interested in creating things will focus less on the quick and easy, not so much on instant gratification but more on creating ideas and artwork worth spreading.

As everyone becomes an expert in “social media” the value of being a social media expert in cheapened. We have all figured out how to communicate with each other online. Some of us perhaps better than others, but we’ve all learned that creating an account, building a presence and carrying on a conversation isn’t all that hard. What’s really hard is creating a conversation that lasts.

I may be stepping out on a limb, but I really feel that this next year will be the year of carefully-curated, meticulously thought-of and passionately perceived long-form Internet content.

Boris Gorelik is an Emerging Photographer in New York City

I spoke with him today about making money with his passion. Boris has been struggling trying to find a way to earn a living with his art. During the first episode of my new podcast (available on iTunes, Blip, YouTube and my website) we discussed a few opportunities that could help Boris make money from his photos.

Along with my friend, +Bruce Garber, we challenged +Boris Gorelik to try something out. It involves a bodega and overcoming being shy. It’s a great story and I can’t wait to share it with you. Until then, check out +Boris Gorelik‘s photos and let me know whether you think he has what it takes to make it in the Big Apple.