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Monday, April 29, 2013

Review of the Think Tank Urban Disguise 60 V2.0 Camera Bag

 Review of the Think Tank Urban Disguise 60 V2.0 Camera Bag

I have been using Think Tank products for many years and am continuously amazed at the bullet proof construction (Ballistic Nylon and YKK Zippers) and innovative ideas. Finding that my Think Tank AirPort Check In at times can be limiting size wise especially if I want to pack a pro camera with me on my travels, I needed a bigger bag. I went out and got the Thank Tank Urban Disguise V2.0. The AirPort Check In is not really a camera bag beyond packing a pro point and shoot like the Nikon P7000, Fuji XE1 or Canon G12. The Urban Disguise 60 V2.0 will carry up to a 17” laptop, a regular or pro size DSLR with a standard zoom attached and three to five additional lenses. It can actually hold a lot more stuff. This bag can swallow up a lot of gear. The nice thing that this briefcase sized bag is as the name suggests is that it does not look like a camera bag but a laptop business briefcase.

 It also is very versatile because it can also be used as a back pack with the optional shoulder harness and have additional items attached as follows:

  • Urban Disguise Attachment Straps allow the 6 straps in the kit to add the modular components on the size or a tripod on the bottom
  • The Shoulder Harness V2.0 can convert the bag into a backpack

This photo shows a sweet carbon fiber tripod and modular pouches attached for expanded carrying versatility

The V2.0 version has some new changes and they completely redesigned the front pockets on this new bag based on pro user feedback and places the main zippered pocket right on the outside flap. I find the Urban Disguise 60 to be the perfect size. It’s big enough to carry my laptop (or iPad and, Kindle or Blackberry Playbook), a pro-size body and an attached lens. There is room for additional lenses or a flash. Since I am traveling by air I have room to carry all my documents, airline tickets and tickets, iPhone and headphones. I also use the Cable Management 10 case to keep all small items and cords neat and safe. 

Remember that this bag is really a briefcase style camera bag and it does work very well for its intended use. I have tried several messenger style bags and for me the large flap was always an issue with me while I really enjoy the top zippered approach.

This bag is super versatile because if you take the dividers (It comes with 14 additional dividers) out I can slip a Cable Management 50 case in there and turn the bag into a really large travel briefcase. I use this where I find my Airport Check in is too small. Again it really depends on what are you bringing and how are you travelling. The UD60 fits easily underneath the airline seat and getting to your items is easy. I usually take the strap off, waterproof rain cover and back pack strap as well, and put that with my jacket in the overhead bin so I don’t step on the strap throughout the flight. This bag really makes it easy to travel with your camera on a business trip or family vacation. This bag can really swallow up a lot of stuff.

Ok, let’s take a look at its features

The front flap is held down with a quick release clip and large Velcro tabs. The front zippered pocket inside it has several smaller pockets and dividers one of which is inside zippered. This is a perfect spot for travel tickets and a passport. There are pockets to contain the lens cleaning pen, Multi tool, and flashlight or pocket wizards. There is a blue strap to hold your keys as well.

Underneath the front flap is another zippered document pocket as well as a section with a divider. You could put some flashes here but I put my Photographic Solutions Digital Survival Kit and the Cable Management 20 (keeps all the cords and small items in place. This is a flat bag. You could also put a camera body without a lens in this pocket.

These Cable Management cases are perfect for ensuring items do not fall out and get lost while traveling.

There is also a red D strap that allows you to clip the Pixel Pocket Rocket to it. One of these CF/SD card holders is included as a nice surprise.

The Center Section is where the camera will fit in and the divider(s) that allows the camera to be placed with the lens attached is provided. There is room on either side for extra lenses or a flash. You could also tuck a backup camera (not a pro version) in one of these pockets.
The UD60 also comes with a removable shoulder strap that is contoured and padded for maximum comfort. There are leather handles with a clasp that keeps the two carrying handles together.

There is an expansion zipper that increases the depth to fit a pro size DSLR with standard zoom lens attached, in main compartment.

On either side are Stretchable side pockets on both sides that are convenient for carrying small water bottles or a cell phone. They even stretch far enough to keep most hot shoe mounted flash units easily accessible. 

On the back we have another zippered pocket for documents or magazines, a business card ID holder, a roller handle attachment pocket with a zipper. The D rings for the back pack harness is there as well and the two bottom ones tuck into pockets to avoid rubbing up against your clothes.

Next up is the padded zippered pocket for the laptop. A 17” version can fit here and there is a divider that could be used for a mouse or power cable. 

As you can see the UD60 is a very thought out piece of kit that offers a ton of storage room and can simplify the way you travel or add a bit of professionalism on your next photo shoot.

I can still cram more than a Nikon D300, 28-70/2.8, 85/1.8, 35/1.8, 12-24/f4, Kindle, iPad, Lomo Sardinia, iPhone, Sb-800 and Sb-600 flash, Pocket Wizards and cables etc in the Cable Management cases, Photographic Solutions sensor cleaning kit, Pocket Pixel Rocket, Rain Cover, Mulittool, Water Bottle, Sony HD Cam, Kodak Master Guide

Passes through TSA and Security Check Points no problemo!!

I personally found the 70 to be too big and the 50 to be too small, the 60 model is the perfect size for my needs

Good luck and happy shooting!!

Improvements: I would enjoy 4 rubber feet on the bottom or a rubber skid plate so there is a reason for a V3.0 model. Honestly, I don't see too much room for improvement for this style of bag.


 ID:  16” W x 11.3” H x 4.3” D (40.6 x 28.7 x 10.9 cm)
*Opening Expansion Zipper adds 2.25" (5.7 cm) to main compartment depth 
**Laptop Compartment ID:   16” W x 11.3” H x 1.5” D (40.6 x 28.7 x 3.8 cm)
ED:  16.5” W x 12” H x 7” D (41.9 x 30.5 x 17.78 cm) 

Weight:   3.7–4.4 lbs (1.7–2.0 kg)

Exterior - All fabric exterior treated with DWR while fabric underside is coated with PU for superior water resistance, 1680D ballistic nylon, YKK® RC Fuse (abrasion resistant) zippers, antique nickel plated metal hardware, Ultra Stretch pockets, nylon webbing, 3-ply bonded nylon thread

Friday, April 26, 2013

Smart Flying Tips for the Road Warrior (Up in the Air - Clooney Style)

Smart Flying Tips for the Road Warrior (Up in the Air - Clooney Style)

  1. Be nice to the workers along your way. Say hello to the flight attendants at the boarding door. Say hello to the gate check in staff and the lounge staff. This goes a long way and earns you extra pretzels.
  1. Always pack a sweater or sweatshirt style jacket. Airplanes, like grocery stores, are always freezing cold. It’s worse if you are beside an exit door. Scarfs are handy as well.
  2. Pack all valuables or jewelry in your carry-on so they won’t get lost or stolen.
  3. Wear comfortable shoes and slip on driving style shoes are a great choice. Loafers for woman are better than stilettos. Avoiding metal in your shoes prevents pat down checks at security.
  4. Avoid lines with families, old people, or confused travelers as the lines will be slow. Look for smart travelers that have taken their belts off, laptops are out and they look like they know the security drill.
  5. Bring a water bottle and fill it up after security and save $4 every time. Staying hydrated is important.
  6. Pack healthy small portion snacks with you. Protein bars, nuts and veggies taste better than airline food.
  7. Don’t stress delays as it can happen and you have no control over it
  8. Tablets make the trip more comfortable. Rent a movie on iTunes or download an eBook for your journey.
  9. Pack a small face cloth so you can refresh yourself upon landing. Anti-bacteria gels are mandatory.
  10. Carry-on bags prevents lost luggage and speeds up your journey. Check out the airplane version so you know in advance that your bag can be checked at the sky bridge. It’s still a carry-on bag but because the typical regional CRA jet has little overhead space then it gets tagged at check in.
  11. Pack Smart and organized. I use the Think Tank Airport Acceleration or Urban Disguise 60 as my personal carry-on bag in addition to my roller suitcase. It has room for all my stuff and keeps things from getting lost.
  12. Pack a small bag to tuck your coat in for the overhead bin. It keeps it clean and prevents it from getting jammed in the latch when they shut the door or other travelers crushing it when they cram their bag in.
  13. Before you drop your recliner seat back (usually slammed backwards), be courteous and let the passenger behind you know that is the case so you don't destroy a laptop in the process. Trust me i have seen it done several times. Also make sure your laptop or tablet is not positioned in a way if the passenger ahead of you slams their seat back during the flight. I saved my iPad from damage many times because of this foresight. I am nice - I don't recline my seat.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Toll Fraud - It could happen to you!

Toll Fraud - It could happen to you
A California man received a call from a friendly person who said he was a representative of a long distance company. The caller said he wanted to verify the customer's calling card number, because "It looks like someone might be using it to make long distance phone calls without your permission."
Because the customer wanted to be helpful, he gave his calling card number to the caller. Imagine his shock when his next phone bill was for $30,000--and included hundreds of calls to cities all over the world!
A Texas woman was so eager to move to her new home that she forgot to tell the phone company to disconnect the phone service at her old address. A month after she moved she received a bill for $500 for local and long distance calls made from her old house--after she had moved away!
These are just two sad stories about the problems people can have if they are not careful about their telephone service. It is estimated that every year calling card fraud and other crimes involving the illegal use of phone services cost consumers and phone companies over $1 billion.
People who are the victims of such fraud do not have to pay for calls they didn't make, as long as they report the problem to their phone companies as soon as possible. However, each of us pays for the fraudulent misuse of the phone system. We pay through higher prices for phone services to make up for money lost to criminals.
The good news is that you can reduce this kind of fraud by taking a few simple precautions. This brochure highlights some common types of frauds, and explains what you can do to avoid them.
A "moving experience"
You are moving to a new home. With all the activity you forget to notify your phone companies of the move...
Action to take:
A phone bill sent to a vacant home is an open invitation to crooks to attempt to steal the phone calling card number. In addition, if your phone service is still connected, anyone who breaks into your old residence--or who moves into the place--can plug in a phone and make calls that are charged to your account. Since the bill is in your name, the phone company will ask you to pay it.
Always call your local and long distance companies before you move. That way your service can be stopped the day you leave, your final bill can be sent to your new address, and service can be re-established at your new location the day you need it.
Card verification
Your phone rings and a nice-sounding man says he is with the phone company or a government agency. He says there have been many calls made on your calling card, and he wants to verify your card number...
Action to take:
A telephone calling card is like a credit card, because it allows you to make phone calls without using coins. Never give your calling card number over the phone to anyone calling you, no matter who they claim to be. A phone company would never ask you to verify your calling card number--it already knows what it is!
You also have to be very careful whenever you use the card in a public place, like an airport or the lobby of a building. Cover up your card so that others cannot see it. If you must read it aloud, make sure others cannot overhear you. If the phone has a digital display of your number, cover it.
Any time you think that someone you don't know has your calling card number--regardless of how they obtained it--call your phone company right away. The phone company can quickly cancel the card and give you a new one almost immediately.

Long distance calls
Your phone rings and an operator says she has "Bob" on the line and he would like to charge a long distance call to your phone number. Your husband's name is Bob...
Action to take:
Are you sure it's your husband calling? You can ask the operator to let you hear the person's voice. Frequently, a con artist (swindler) looks in the phone book for listings of couples, like "Jane and Bob Smith," that he can use in placing calls without paying for them.
He will ask the operator to place a long distance call and bill it to the Smiths' phone number. He will pretend to be Bob and hope that Bob's wife Jane will answer the phone when the operator calls to make sure the charge will be accepted.
When you make a call from one phone and charge it to another phone, that is known as "third party billing." The operator should confirm that the person making the call has the right to charge it to the other phone number.
If an operator calls you and asks if a call can be billed to your account, always make sure you know the identity of the person making the call.
To stop telephone fraud, remember these tips:
·         Do not give your calling card number to any stranger who calls you, and guard that number carefully when using it to make calls in public places.
·         Call your phone company immediately if you think that someone has obtained your calling card number.
·         Before you move, tell your local phone company to disconnect your phone service and tell your long distance carrier where to forward its bill.
·         Don't allow anyone to charge calls to your phone without first checking their identity.
·         Never give out any personal information about yourself to strangers who call you.
·         Review your local and long distance bills as soon as you receive them, and contact these phone companies immediately if there are charges on the bills that you don't understand.
·         Consumers are not required to pay for unauthorized charges on their phone bill. Follow the procedure explained on your bill for notifying your long distance company about any disputed charge.

National Association of Consumer Agency Administrators

What is Telecom Fraud and How to Protect Yourself

What is Telecom Fraud?

Telecommunications fraud generally involves a third party making long-distance calls at the expense of a business. Forms of fraud involve:

PBX Fraud (DISA)

The majority of recent fraud cases have occurred around Private Branch Exchange (PBX) systems, by direct inward system access (DISA). Intruders gain access to businesses that use a PBX phone/voicemail system and use system commands such as an 800 number or other access number to gain a dial tone.
They place unlimited long-distance calls directly through these lines for unscrupulous operators reselling long-distance at a profit. These calls appear no different to the service or equipment providers than any other call originating from that business.

Voicemail Fraud

Voicemail fraud is the most prevalent type of fraud and the most significant threat to businesses that use a Private Branch Exchange (PBX) phone system or voicemail. An unauthorized third party can gain access to a business's phone system and place long-distance calls directly through these lines. They gain access most commonly through voicemail menus protected with only simple passwords (1111, 2222, 1234, etc.) or unchanged factory default passwords.
Once inside your system, an unauthorized third party can use the system commands to gain a dial tone and place calls that appear no different to your service or equipment provider than any other call originating from your business. Having a good password management policy and practice is a strong start towards protection.

Calling Card Fraud

An unauthorized third party steals a calling card or calling card number and then uses it to make calls.

Modem Fraud

An unauthorized third party can gain access to your Internet dialler if you access the Internet via a dial-up connection, and use your phone line to place long-distance calls.

How to protect your Business from Telecommunications fraud

While no telecommunication system can be made entirely free from the risk of fraud, diligent attention to system security can reduce the risk considerably. The following actions can limit the risk your business faces.

Remote System Access and Administration

Remote access allows callers from the public network to access your business's PBX system using an access code. For example, an off-premises executive may use it to dial directly into the PBX in order to make a long-distance call less expensively than with a credit card. It's also one of the primary avenues of illegal entry into your system. To lessen the vulnerability of your remote access system, use authorization codes or other passwords to control access and limit calling range after normal business hours or provide attendant intervention.

Smart Passwords and Access Codes

Never use default passwords or default access numbers for your system as they are easy to crack and almost everyone knows them. One of the most effective security measures is to select hard-to-break passwords and remote access codes. Use the maximum number of characters, mixing the pound sign (#), asterisk (*), and numeric digits (0-9).
Avoid passwords that contain the following:
  • Predictable patterns, such as ascending or descending digits (7654321)
  • Repetitive digits (5555555)
  • The same digits as your extension number (or the reverse of your extension number)
  • Numbers that align to or identify the owner (room number, employee ID number or even a social insurance number)
Tips to safeguard your DISA (direct inward system access) number:
  • Never publish a DISA telephone number.
  • Change DISA access telephone numbers periodically.
  • Use longer DISA authorization codes: ideally 9 digits and never fewer than 7 digits.
  • Issue an individual DISA authorization code for each user.
  • Warn DISA users not to write down authorization codes.

Frequently Change Passwords and Access Codes

It's a good idea to change passwords and access codes at least four times a year for both switch (software based/remote access) and hardware-based voicemail systems and automated attendant services. Always change or remove authorization codes when authorized users leave the company, especially when technicians depart. Do not write down remote access codes or passwords, or program them into auto-diallers.

Controlling Long-Distance Calling

  • Prohibit or restrict calls to countries you do not do business with
  • Consider block all calls to the Caribbean, a popular calling destination for telethieves and call resellers
  • Limit international calling to only those employees who need to place international calls. Limit calls to domestic area codes if calls to these states are not permitted
  • Put time-of-day restrictions into effect, such as prohibiting or limiting outbound calling at night and on weekends
  • Restrict 800 access from non-essential areas that are known toll-fraud centers

Protect Your Voicemail System

Prevent unauthorized third parties from connecting to your voicemail system and accessing private bulletin board messages, creating their own mailboxes, or accessing the PBX system by taking the following measures:
  • limit the voicemail to internal calling only
  • remove mailboxes immediately when an employee leaves the company
  • avoid spare mailboxes before they are needed

Restrict Automated Attendants

After remote access and voicemail, automated attendants are the most common entry point for unauthorized third parties. Automated attendants answer a company's telephone, but can also serve as an open door to telecom fraud. Hackers enter the automated attendant function, then dial the 91XX or 9011 extension. On many PBX and voicemail systems (with dial-out capabilities left active), these extension numbers connect to outside long-distance lines. To reduce automated attendant fraud, restrict or block access to long-distance trunks and local dial capabilities. In particular, block access codes such as 9XXX and possibly even the 8XXX fields or install a "verify extension field" capability, if available. Review the recommendations in the "Smart Passwords and Access Codes" section.

Monitor and Analyze Your Systems

Continuous monitoring of your company's calling patterns will help you to identify fraud at an early stage and minimize loss. It's a good idea to regularly monitor your PBX, voicemail, automated attendant and 800 call detail records. Learn to spot patterns such as an increase in after-hours calls, calls to countries you don't do business with, multiple short duration inbound calls (especially after working hours).Watch for numerous incoming calls on your 800 lines followed shortly thereafter by a surge in long duration outbound 800 calls, which may indicate that an unauthorized third party has entered your phone system through your 800 lines and is dialling out.