February 27, 2024

No butts about it: You can kick that smoking habit

Addicted to tobacco but finding it difficult to stop? There are good reasons why abandoning cigarettes and other forms of smoking is so hard. One of the biggest is that nicotine, found in tobacco, can be as addictive as heroin or cocaine. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cigarettes are designed to swiftly deliver nicotine to the brain. Within your brain, nicotine instigates the release of chemicals that induce pleasurable sensations. With repeated nicotine exposure, your brain becomes accustomed to its presence. 

But all hope is not lost. It is absolutely possible to kick cigarettes and other forms of smoking to the curb for good with the right approaches and education. Get helpful tips by reading my newest piece for The Daily Herald, available here.

February 20, 2024

Audiovisual augmentation

With astounding relative speed, artificial intelligence (AI) technology has permeated many different businesses and industries in recent years. But lately, its encroachment into video and voice creation has been particularly remarkable, providing ample opportunities for players in this field to succeed in more efficient, economical, and impressive ways. 

Consider how AI is revolutionizing the field of video by automating tasks, improving the editing and post-production process, and unlocking innovative opportunities. Video editors powered by AI today can, for instance, efficiently analyze and process extensive amounts of footage, identifying key moments and automatically generating highlights. AI also plays a crucial role in tackling intricate editing tasks such as color grading and transitions. Additionally, AI-driven tools empower creators to produce distinctive and captivating visual effects, introducing a new layer to storytelling. 

AI has reshaped the creation of voices, as well, ushering in an era of realistic and expressive synthetic speech that is now used widely within areas such as customer service chatbots, voiceovers, virtual assistants, and audiobooks.  Deep learning algorithms, trained on vast datasets of human speech, can now generate voices that are virtually indistinguishable from their human counterparts. This breakthrough has expanded possibilities across various domains, including voice-over work, animation, entertainment, and personalized communication.

It’s constructive to consider the progress that’s been achieved on these fronts, the adoption rate of voice and video creation, the difficulties that still need to be addressed, and the enticing possibilities ahead. Learn more by reading my newest piece for Speech Technology magazine, available here.

February 14, 2024

Cineversary podcast sends valentine to It Happened One Night for its 90th birthday

Joseph McBride
In Cineversary podcast episode #67, host Erik Martin and guest Joseph McBride, a film professor at San Francisco State University and author of Frankly: Unmasking Frank Capra, send a valentine to It Happened One Night, directed by Frank Capra, which celebrates a 90th birthday this month. Erik and Joseph hitchhike across Hollywood history to examine how this granddaddy of the romcom and screwball comedy remains a classic, its influence on later films, what it reveals about Capra, and much more.

To listen to this episode, click here or click the "play" button on the embedded streaming player below. Or, you can stream, download, or subscribe to Cineversary wherever you get your podcasts, including Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Audible, Castbox, Google Podcasts, Pocket Casts, PodBean, RadioPublic, and Overcast.

Learn more about the Cineversary podcast at www.cineversary.com and email show comments or suggestions to cineversarypodcast@gmail.com.

February 7, 2024

Will your health insurance cover talk therapy?

Want help for a mental health-related issue? The good news is that most health insurance plans will cover treatment like talk therapy, inpatient hospitalization, substance abuse treatment, emergency care, and medications. But your need for these services and pharmaceuticals must be deemed medically necessary, which requires a diagnosis.

Learn more about if and to what extent health insurance covers mental health treatment, how to confirm if therapy coverage is in place, what kinds of treatments are typically covered, how much therapy costs, and more by checking out my newest story for Forbes Advisor, published here.

February 2, 2024

The perks of pet ownership

Fido, Fluffy and friends with feathers, fins and scales can make a big difference in our lives, providing companionship, structure and distraction from our concerns. But pets can also contribute to better physical and mental well-being, yielding substantial health benefits.

Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, research indicates that the connection between individuals and their companion animals is associated with numerous health advantages, including reduced blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels, fewer feelings of solitude and anxiety and diminished symptoms associated with post-traumatic stress disorder. Pet ownership also increases opportunities for physical activities and outdoor pursuits, improved cognitive capabilities in seniors, and enhanced occasions for social interaction.

Read my newest article for CTW Features, available here, to discover more of the benefits of owning a pet.