Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Need a Boost!?

From Prevention Magazine....

Better Mood Enhancement Than Chocolate, Alcohol, or Music

The next time you need a mood boost, forget chocolate. Forget the wine and mood music, too. Because researchers have discovered something else that works even better. And best of all, it’s calorie-free, doesn’t require exercise, and can be done almost anywhere. What is it? Looking at personal photos.

Researchers at the United  Kingdom’s Open University examined how much people’s mood rose after eating chocolate, sipping an alcoholic drink, watching TV, listening to music, or looking at photos.

They found that the music and chocolate left people’s moods unchanged. Alcohol and TV gave a slight lift. But the winner by a long shot was viewing personal photos, which made people feel significantly better.

So next time you feel down in the dumps, pull out the photo albums. Or, if  you’re technologically minded, you can load your favorite photos onto a digital viewer that you can take with you anywhere you go.

Monday, February 22, 2010

How Long Will My Digital Storybooks Last?

Ever asked that question?  Let Creative Memories Director of Technology Dr. Mark Mizen answer your question!

Lots of Copies Keeps Stuff Safe

Slide1 [This posting is based on a presentation given at the Canadian Showcase in Calgary on August 22, 2008; the information is still relevent today.]
I am glad to be here in Canada. You ask such interesting questions and are always interested in my boys, Ed and Noah. 
Slide2 The album page on the screen is from a test album I recently completed. I took the first two pages of ten different templates and randomly dropped in pictures of Ed and Noah. My goal was to test the printing of the templates. The most amazing thing was that my wife actually liked the resulting album when she saw it. It proved to her how easy it could be to create a StoryBook.
Digital. Is it going away? I think we all know the answer to that question is no. Digital no longer functions as a sideline to Creative Memories traditional albums. To start with, we developed StoryBook Creator to make life easy for you and your customers.
StoryBook Creator lets you build the book that you want, as simple as you want or as elaborate as you want.  We are continually adding new products and new features.
We have improved our color management and modified the default colors in StoryBook Creator to ensure that your customers receive high quality books. We continue to monitor and adjust the production process to improve our StoryBooks.
On June 6, 2008 we sold 4,267 StoryBooks. Now, if only we could sell that many StoryBooks each day. Oh, I forgot, we can. It’s simply a matter of getting the word out that Creative Memories has the best digital products available.
Slide4 Let’s look at our Hard Cover StoryBooks. The hard cover StoryBook with a personalized cover is the highest quality book available.
We have had StoryBooks in our accelerated aging chambers for over a year and the best estimate we have is that these books will last for 100 years or longer and even then, the StoryBook will show some yellowing but the memories will be intact.
Preservation remains important to many consumers, and Creative Memories is the expert on preservation. Quality is, in fact, more important now that digital photography is no longer a novelty.
Quality is not a given. We are seeing a greater number of low-quality books as the production of these books expands into low volume retail outlets. The corner camera store may be the expert on digital cameras or on photographic prints but it is clearly not the expert on producing photo books.
A high-quality StoryBook has a stitched binding and resists fade and abrasion. Books must use acid-free, buffered, and lignin-free paper. Creative Memories also test all books in high and low humidity to ensure that they will not warp under adverse conditions.
To highlight the difference in photo books, I am working with the International Organization for Standardization or ISO project to develop a photo book standard for long-term preservation. My goal is to develop a specification, much like ISO 18902, that we can use to differentiate our products from those of other manufacturers. Look for more details in the future.
Slide5 By the way, one of the best ways to ensure that something will last is to produce multiple copies. This is the LOCKSS concept. Lots of Copies Keeps Stuff Safe. LOCKSS was developed for libraries and institutions but the concept applies to everyone. With StoryBooks, it is as easy to create multiple copies as it is to create one.
Soft Cover Storybooks give us the ability to offer digital products at all price ranges. The printers used to produce the soft cover StoryBooks are the same printers we use for the hard cover books.  By eliminating the binding we are able to lower the price, which makes it easy to give as a gift. The low price makes them absolutely affordable.
Slide6 Creative Memories digital products consist of more than just StoryBooks – much more. Creative Memories also offers you and your customers the ability to put your files on CDs through the Creative Memories Digital Center. With this system, we are able to monitor the quality of the CD from the blank disc to the final preservation copy. Without quality control, you really don’t know how long your discs will last.
For My Memory Archive, we are offering silver and gold discs. Here is a clear summary of the differences. Both CDs are high quality and will last 100 years or more. It’s just that with the gold CDs you have a greater likelihood of being able to read your files at any given time. Think of the difference between sterling silver, which readily tarnishes, and gold jewelry, which remains brilliant. I have already told you which disc like.
Multiple CDs protect against catastrophic loss or damage. Floods and fires do not always happen to someone else. I recommend storing one copy of your photos at another location – at a friend or relative’s house or in a safety deposit box.
In the Technology Center, we also evaluate photo gifts. We test all photo gifts to ensure that they are safe and do not contain toxic metals, such as lead. This testing is particularly important since many of these products originate overseas, where safety regulations may be less stringent.
Because photo gifts are meant to be used, we also evaluate fade resistance. Even something as simple as a coffee cup represents your memories.
As you may be aware, Wall Prints are available in StoryBook Creator Plus. You have the same flexibility when designing your Wall Prints as you have with StoryBooks. You can also use the templates available on the Digital Center.
Wall Prints and Page Prints are produced on fade-resistant photographic paper. These prints will last 10-20 years before noticeable change. Think about the possibilities – one for the family room, one for the kids’ room, two for the grandparents, and one for the garage. Well maybe not the garage; but I think you get the point. The more copies you have of your photos, the more likely they are to be preserved.
Today’s quiz will be a closed book quiz, so please put away your handouts. You don’t really have to do that.
1.   StoryBooks will last…
A.    For one year.
B.    Twenty years.
C.    At least one hundred years but who’s counting.
D.    Until the Maple Leafs win the Stanley Cup.
The answer is C. Creative Memories 8 x 8, custom cover 8½ x 11, and 12 x 12 StoryBooks are designed for long-term preservation.
2.   The soft cover StoryBook is…
A.   Printed on inexpensive newsprint that will yellow over time.
B.   Designed to be discarded after looking at it
C.   An ideal, inexpensive gift.
D.   Creative Memories answer to the New York Times bestseller list
The answer is C. The soft cover StoryBook is an ideal, inexpensive gift. These books are printed on the same system as the more expensive hard cover StoryBooks.
3.   My Memory Archive Gold CDs will…
A.   Tarnish and discolor over time.
B.   Survive catastrophic loss or damage
C.   Preserve digital photos for generations
D.   Turn into silver when the clock strikes midnight.
The answer again is C. What a coincidence. Gold CDs represent one way to preserve digital photos for generations. We also recommend printed StoryBooks and traditional albums.
4.  To preserve photos, Creative Memories recommends…
A.    Multiple StoryBooks
B.    Multiple CDs
C.    Multiple Wall Prints
D.    All of the above.
And the answer of course is D. All of the above.
Thank you.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Take Beautiful Pictures of your Beautiful Like by Nick Kelsh

I just returned from Creative Memories Regional Saturday that was held in Seattle this year.  I will be sharing with you some of the amazingly beautiful new product they introduced in the next few days but today I wanted to share a wonderful video they presented.  The video is by photographer Nick Kelsh.  It was put together specifically for Creative Memories.

It is excellent.  He has so many great tips for taking better photographs.  He wants to us to be able to take beautiful pictures of our beautiful life!

So please click here and take a few minutes to watch the video.  I promise you will be glad you did and you will learn lots and Nick is funny too!!

Leave me a comment after you watch and let me know what you learned!