November 9, 2009

I and Love and You

Simply great songs from the The Avett Brothers, I and Love and You.

November 9, 2009

Canon, let me lock my mode!

I’ve been absolutely loving my new Canon 5D Mark II. It’s a serious camera and having a full-frame sensor means I’m shooting a lot with my Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM lens. Together though, that combination weighs over 5 pounds and I rarely want to put that around my neck. I tend to sling the camera over my shoulder instead which actually works quiet well, with one really big problem.

The dial pictured above is the mode dial. It is one of the most important controls and pretty much changes everything about the cameras behavior. I tend to shoot mostly in Av mode when I’m out and about. When I sling the camera over my shoulder with the 70-200mm lens I carry it upside down” so the lens hangs in a natural way. Unfortunately, that means this knob will rest against my side, and as I walk it can move into a different mode!

You then lift the camera and shoot only to realize you are in some crazy mode and the pictures are horrible!

If there was ever a control that could use a small, flip-lock this is it. It needs a safety.

Canon Photography
November 2, 2009

Ridiculous Web Surveys

It amazes me when I actually attempt to take a survey on the web how poorly designed they are. Most of the time I disregard them, but sometimes a product that I like runs a survey and I would like to offer my feedback. I got one of those recently and on the third page, which by the way is already two pages too long, they present this screen. The question being asked is, in essence, what one feature do you most wish the product had?”


To answer this they provide a list that is so long that it expands over the entire browser. In fact, that screen shot only shows about half of the options available. On a 30″ monitor I could not get all the options on the screen at one time. Ridiculous. Dumb. Failure.

At that point, I give up on the survey, and decide it is more fun to write this article. Sorry Strategic Vision, no feedback from me.

November 2, 2009

Adding Symbols to Mind Maps

I’ve been aware of mind mapping software for a while but had never found an application that worked like I wanted it to. I need the software to go away and just work exactly as I expect it to. I don’t want it in a browser, I find that too slow and out-of-the-way. A couple of months ago I found MindNodePro and I’ve been really happy with it.

What do I use mind mapping for? Brainstorming. Taking notes in meetings. Research. Planning. You name it. MindNode Pro’s simplicity allows me to use it for a lot of different things. Also, MindNodeTouch gives me an option to sketch things out on my phone and transfer them to my Mac later.

Simple is good, but there are times when I just want a little bit of metadata attached to a mind map. I may want to put some nodes in order of preference, or mark a node for follow-up, or show a node is done. It hit me the that this is all doable with some of the extended Unicode characters, but, it is really awkward to type those characters.

TextExpander to the rescue! I’ve used TextExpander for a long time so I created a group of shortcuts called MySymbols. They are hardly shortcuts since I’m turning something longer that I can remember, like :star into the Unicode character ?. Great! Now I can easily make a mind map that has metadata in it, like this completely fictitious map.

Test Map with Symbols

I have ranking of vacation destinations. I’ve been able to add a variety of other information into the nodes that is pretty easy to understand. Very nice!

You could use any macro program to do this, you don’t have to have TextExpander. In fact, if you figure out the funky keyboard combinations you could probably do it without another piece of software but I think it’s just easier to remember things like :plane ?, :check ? and :seven ?. If you do use TextExpander you can download my definition file to get started.

Metadata Techie
October 27, 2009

Saving at the Dentist

Found out totally by accident yesterday that I save 5% if I pay the dentist on the same day I have the work done. Not happy they don’t make that clear anywhere. Could have been saving 5% for a long time.

Dear Diary
October 27, 2009

New Video Stingers (v2)

A little over a year ago I created a handful of stingers to use on video content that I create. The stinger serves a bunch of purposes. On the practical side it gives the movie player and data stream to get going. I often notice that in the first couple of seconds of video there are some breaks and with a stinger that happens before the content starts. Also, you can name your site and show what license terms apply to it (the later is something I forgot to do in my first stingers).

I decided to redo them and improved a number of things:

  • Made the stingers 5 seconds long. The first ones were 7 seconds and just a little too long.
  • I added the Creative Commons license information that I apply to my videos so it is clear what terms apply to reuse of the video.
  • My first stingers weren’t as high-resolution and didn’t look as good in HD.
  • I made sure the aspect ratio defaulted to widescreen.

Several of my friends asked me how I create my stingers. It is really easy actually. I use Keynote to make the stinger itself, using transition effects that are on a timer. I then export the presentation to a Quicktime movie. I import the Quicktime movie of the transitions into iMovie and do trimming as well as adding audio. I then export them out of iMovie and re-import the completed stingers into iMovie to use in other videos. It sounds more complicated than it is. If you would like to use my Keynote file to start with go ahead and download Video Stingers v2.1.key.

For fun, here are the five new stingers.






It’s hard to make these go both on the web and on a large television. I might have to make everything bigger and thicker on these.

Update: I did a recut because I didn’t like how the video looked at very small files. I also made it work better with 4:3 aspect ratio as needed.

Creative Commons Hobbies