App Programming without prior knowledge

I am a marketing expert but I needed to learn coding… And you can too! It will take you 5 minutes to create your first program, while it took me 3 months.

After one year of being able to create the prototypes and even some working web-apps myself, I decided to offer some knowledge online. Then I had the idea for a real challenge:
Is it possible to teach a person without prior knowledge the basic principles of coding a useable web-application in a very short period of time? Say 5 minutes, so that even the most impatient person can do it?

So I took one of my personal favorite – my photo sharing application – and figured a way to instruct how to get code, put it on a host, organize a functionality and make it run. And it turned out, you can walk through the tutorial in even less than 5 minutes!

And here it is: The 5 Minute Coding Tutorial

Why did I as a marketer learn coding?

On February 22, 2014 I had this idea for an app. I thought, I had this super great startup idea that you can tell no one, before you are not online attracting a huge user base, so that you have first mover advantage.

The problem: no partner for the programming.

First, I thought of how to find one: startup-job ads, university leaflets, meet up groups, all sorts of guerrilla search. I was to stay under the radar right?

I also asked 2 software developing companies for the cost of having it developed by them. €5.000 – I was hesitant.

I had a feeling to waste my time and started to find out what I actually needed to put my idea into reality. A simple search showed me, I needed to create a LAMP stack. Well, bear with me, I will explain later in detail! One of the main things for my LAMP was php programming language and a MySQL database. I looked up courses and found out that the next day, a MySQL class starts at a public education center in Berlin. For 75€ I could learn it the next three days. And I did. A few days later I had put together all the necessary queries (? this will be explained later, let’s focus on the story here!) for my program. Next step would be to learn php.

Then I met a guy, who was more than capable of doing all the development (thats how you actually call such an activity). But he was not willing to sign a confidentiality agreement. We did not partner up.

After another two months, my program was ready. Still no partner found. My last step was to learn how to create a responsive website with contemporary design, so that it looks like an app, when it was just a website frontend.

After three months my prototype was ready for the testers. It worked flawlessly and I was proud.

The real me – the marketing guy – started to market it. And it did not work out.

But after trying and trying, I put the thing in the drawer and went swimming (it was summer in the meantime). And … I had the next idea. My know-how enabled me to think in solutions. I know now, how to create the prototypes for my ideas. And it takes me 2 weeks – instead of three months – to make them ready for testing! I do not have to spend €5.000 for a program of which I do not know how it works.

I learned a few things:
– Do it yourself
– or at least have basic knowledge of how to do it.
– Forget confidentiality agreements, NDAs and secrecy agreements
– but also do not run around with ideas (only technical illiterates do that).
– Put it in the drawer, if it does not work after trying hard for 2 months.
– Use it as a code resource.
– Take it back out whenever the market situation may have changed.

I have put together the best resources for the elements of a LAMP-stack, so you do not have to scramble it together like me. Using these to learn coding will take you not more than 1 month. You will have your first idea coded in another month. So, you can launch a beta in 2 months!
Request the resources to get started!

Last week I learned that my idea – actually a good alternative – attracted serious funding in the 150 million $ area. Well, there is room for at least 2 of these… . Time to take it out and try again…


Marketing and the Ownership of Data

As a marketer, I want it all: your name, address, birth date, shoe size, shopping behavior, search behavior, just everything. I know, I can get it for free with a little extra work. Or I save the work and spend a little money, to buy the data from somebody who collected it.

And what is in it for you?

Nothing. No, I mean, you get all that great marketing that I will direct to your address, email, Facebook account, etc., etc., etc., etc.

Take a step back: who is actually the owner of your data? Generally, there is a big legal border between Europe and the U.S.: in Europe, you are the owner of your data. In the U.S. the collector of data is the owner.

In the past, Europeans did not have to worry:  identity theft was an American issue and when you called someone on a landline, she actually picked up the phone, because she was not worried to be disturbed by the 500th marketing call that evening.

Nowadays, marketers sneak into your life through email, search, social media and any digital platform you want to use for free. That poses regulatory problems, like in the current case of Google vs. The European Union.

A simple model would help: Ownership of your data! How would it work?

No one can use your data without your permission. You can give it away for free or you could sell it. You could limit usage to the one company you sold it to or – for a higher price – allow them to resell it. Google would have to be honest with you: “Do you want to have this search result in exchange for your data or do you want to pay for it?” Big Data Marketing Networks would appear, who tried to buy your data for monetization with ad clients. By not opting in, they would not be able to do business with your data. And so would be nobody else. You could sell your data one by one, or in bulk, asking for different prices. Like stock photos, you could sell your data royalty free or for limited use.

I think it would create a much better situation for the individual who is concerned about her data and for the marketers who would know what they can do and what not.

Advertising in the social platform era

that was a real interesting infographic/table in the Financial Times today describing advantages and disadvantages for appetizing with various social media platforms from Facebook to YouTube.


4000 Twitter Followers in a Month

How to grow your Twitter Followers by 200 every day for about 20 days?

There are “social media gurus” selling this in seminars, when it’s actually a simple recipe. They say it’s costing you 5 minutes a day – which is true!

So, what is behind it?
Twitter allows you to follow 1000 people a day and 2000 in total. Twitter does not limit how many followers you can have.

And here comes a universal finding:
Follow 1000 twitterers and around 200 will follow you back.

Step by Step:

  1. Find a twitterer whose followership resembles your target group, pull up his followers and follow 1000 of them. On the first day, you will have at least 100 following you back (and offering to repeat the same thing on Facebook or Instagram),
  2. Wait for another 2 days and slowly the number will rise to 200.
  3. Flush out all of your Follows (people who you follow) who did not follow you back.
  4. Now you can follow another 1000 – repeat step 1.

If you do that almost every day, lets say 20 days of the month, you will very likely end up with 4000 followers.

You can do that trick directly on Twitter and its apps, but you need to click one after the other to follow/unfollow, which may seem stupid work. But it is true, that once you know the trick, it does not cost you more than 15 minutes a day. There are some twitter platforms out there that allow you to process this more efficiently, but you still have to click like a maniac. Yet 5 minutes a day is realistic.

There are also limits!

Twitter does understandably not want you to do this and is monitoring massive following / unfollowing per day. So you may want to take it a little more slow to not attract twitter’s attention and the consequences of getting blocked. It probably is a better idea to mix an organic quality follower strategy with this mass followership strategy.

8 Tricks For Making Impressive Photos with a Smartphone

All of this applies for camera use too, of course.

No Cut-offs
I put this first, because it takes time to learn it and it is the biggest nuisance on earth when looking at photography. Everybody knows that you must not cut off feet. But the same applies to literally everything (the car with cutoff back door, sun cut offs, buildings cut off, clouds clumsy cut offs, etc.). You need to develop a photographer’s eye to not step into the cut-off trap while quickly making a shot supposed to be terrific for it’s sundown. And what about all these great looking closeups where literally everything is cut-off? Well, before you are really good at this, try to include as much as possible and then crop the picture in your editing feature.

Choose one or two subjects. Even three, but careful not to overdo it. Two subjects can be quite interesting, but if your main subject is powerful, then less is more. Humans make the best subjects.

Switch on the grid in your settings. Focus on the subject and put it into the center of the grid. If you work with more than one subject, try to arrange them properly within the grid.

are a way to make things more mysterious. It works best with humans. Their faces often not recognizable, our eyes are scanning their gestures. To achieve silhouettes you must position the subject between you and the source of light. Try more than one shot and include one with HDR switched off. Early and late sun positions work best, because it’s easy to position the source of light.

Do not light out shadows. And do not cut them off. Include 100% of the shadows and then try the cutting in the editing mode. Sometimes you can make a photo great by putting the shadow as the main subject.

Mirror images in water are great! In shallow water even better! Try showing your subject and it’s mirror image, then try to show the mirror image alone. Experiment with the reflexions. Surfaces can be great – a drop of water on them with some reflection enhances the whole photo experience.

Unique Angles
Position yourself and your camera in an unusual spot in relation to the subject (to it’s feet, from the odd side, currently it’s very popular to shoot from above – drones etc.)

Do not bring up as many things as possible. It’s like telling a story: make a clear storyline and do not get carried away!

No Trick: Combine
All these tricks can be combined easily without violating each other, but be careful too.

Also not a trick: Monetization
Now we got all these features, general fotomaking knowledge, a few tricks and some talent, right? All for just bragging about our photography on Facebook, Instagram, Flickr etc. or even worse: having them downsized in a WhatsApp message – what a waste, don’t you think?
Wouldn’t it be more rewarding to have someone ask for a specific set up to be photographed and pay us for good work? Here is how –>

7 Secret iPhone Camera Features

Burst Mode
Hold down the shutter button for longer.burst.014The camera will start taking photos one after another as long as you keep the button down. iPhone6 and 5s shoot 10 photos per second, the other models make slightly less. A counter tells you how many have been made. The easy access to this feature makes it extremely useful for anything with movement, especially snapshots. When accessing the “photo”
in camera roll, you will find a “Selection” command on the bottom line, that brings up all the burst shots. You can choose the best one and trash the rest.

Manual Focus FocusThe camera focusses automatically, but that’s not always in line with your needs, because it is dependent on how much light the different possible subjects in a photo reflect. For example a person in front of a building in front of some mountain provides three possible focus subjects. The camera autofocus finds the subject according to light reflection. To correct the autofocus, tap the screen to focus on the object that you want to be in focus.

ExposureexposureManual focus can result in objects being lit up or in the dark,which again is a result of light reflection. Manual focus shows you a little beam with a sun on the right side of the yellow frame. Tap the sun and adjust the light to adjust the focus to your needs. This allows you to manually group light reflection on the different subjects in relation to your main subject.

Lock Focus and Exposurelock
Since the camera adjusts focus and exposure when you move it, the slightest move changes the settings described before.To lock focus and exposure tap the screen where you want to set focus and exposure and hold it down for a couple of seconds. A larger square a yellow AE/AF LOCK sign will appear.

High Dynamic Range is the difference of the brightest parts of the scene (highlights) to the darkest parts of the scene (shadows). This is why many photos with sky make the actual object too dark or focussing on the object makes the sky too bright. HDRAnd the picture is totally different from how the photographer had seen the scene, because the human eye can see a much higher dynamic range than any camera. HDR combines the best characteristics of both ranges – highlights and shadows.
When you turn on HDR on the top of the camera window, your iPhone will make 3 photos for each shot and combine the best parts to creat the best photo.
– it takes just a little bit longer
– you need to hold your iPhone very still or mount it on a tripod
– subjects should not move
Remember: it takes 3 shots and combines them, any movement (subjects or your hand) leads to a blurred combination.
As good as the iPhones camera is, the better HDR results can be achieved with dedicated HDR apps.

Headphone Shutter Buttonsheadphones
You probably know that you can use the volume buttons on the side of your iPhone as a shutter buttons. You just have to switch it on in settings. This allows you to hold the iPhone like a normal camera.
But did you know that the volume buttons on your headphones have the same functionality whenever the camera is on? Feels like a remote shutter control and is a great way to minimize unintentional touching of the window or camera movement.

Monetization IMG_0606
Now we got all these features, general fotomaking knowledge, a few tricks and some talent, right? All for just bragging about our photography on Facebook, Instagram, Flickr etc. or even worse: having them downsized in a WhatsApp message – what a waste, don’t you think?
Wouldn’t it be more rewarding to have someone ask for a specific set up to be photographed and pay us for good work? Here is how –>

A Fun Way to Earn Money with your Smartphone Camera

This is about fun AND being rewarded:


The facts:
– many people carry a smartphone with a quite good camera with them at all times,
– advertisers, journalists, PR-agencies and companies constantly need fresh photography for ads, reports, presentations etc.,
– the smartphone guys could make many of these photos in adequate quality,
– a platform can bring them together – is a simple setup:
1. clients enter their photo requests as briefings
2. smartphone guys pick briefings and make the photos
3. clients buy the ones they want
4. and the smartphone guys get some money for them.