State of the blog

So, there hasn't been much traffic around here lately. All short-form traffic has been directed to Twitter or Tumblr, and I've been reserving for longer-form posts. Unfortunately, longer posts take more time and effort. Sometimes it's easier to condense to 140 characters and just fire something into the twitter stream.

The time and effort I would put into a longer post has been directed at other writing efforts recently. Those come and go, get shelved and dusted off, and generally never get finished. When I'm in the mood to work on one of those ideas, though, I don't think about much else when it comes to putting pen to page... or electrons to internets as it were.

I'm not abandoning the blog, though. I've decided to focus on it a bit more, in fact. I hope to have more posts, with some varied content, up here soon. In an effort to keep flexing writing muscles, I'm going to start posting reviews. The big problem with reviews, and why I haven't posted many of them in the past, is that I general consume media later than most. I play video games when they're old and discounted, watch movies on Netflix after everyone else has forgotten the plot and I'm lucky if I can get to books within a decade of publishing. I've decided I don't care if they are timely, though. I'm not getting paid for this, don't really need the traffic and I've got no deadlines. I just need to write more.

So I shall.


Petition: Tell retail pharmacies to come clean about homeopathic products

I can't even begin to describe how much I hate drugstores that peddle snake oil like homeopathic "remedies", magnetic bracelets and other woo-bullshit like that. I don't know how much good online petitions do, but I hate homeopaths and snake oil salesmen enough to sign it.

Sign it. Unless you believe in homeopathy. In which case, please read this, then sign it.


iMovie Trailers

(Disclaimer: I work for the company that produces the product I'm about to write about. This is no secret. I almost never blog about our products, though. Not because I don't believe in them, but more because I don't get paid to do so and don't want anyone to think otherwise. If I spoke for my employer, they'd have to pay me a lot more.)

iMovie '11 introduced a feature called "trailers". It helps the user create short movie-trailer-esque videos.

You pick a genre for your movie (e.g. Adventure), and then it sets up the format for you. Your'e guided through selecting clips from your video library, and editing the pre-formatted text. If the trailer calls for a specific type of shot, say a close-up or group shot, it can help you find clips like that by automatically scanning your videos for that criteria.

When I first saw the demo of this feature, I thought this was Really Neat™, but that's about it. Then the more I thought about it, the more I began to think this is brilliant.

iPhones and other modern smartphones, Flip cameras, and cheap video cameras all make capturing video pretty trivial these days. The problem is making it interesting.

Even though you were, of course, riveted during little Bobby's first Little League game, maybe not everyone is going to enjoy the entire video of the momentous event as much as you. Even though he is such an impressive hitter. This feature would guide you in creating a much smaller and easier-to-digest video which will be actually fun and interesting. (Well, providing you actually caught some interesting moments on video to begin with.)

Ever since we got Freyja, our greyhound, I've been shooting a bunch of video of her on my iPhone. Mostly capturing her when she's running like a bat out of hell or sleeping in a funny position.  On it's own, it's not really compelling footage to share. In action movie trailer form, however... I think it's pretty slick.

I present Freyja - Release The Hound:

This was actually pretty fun to make.  It took about 10-15 minutes to get together the first draft.  I probably spent another 20 minutes on tweaking things. The action trailer wants lots of short clips (some as short as 0.6s) and so selecting just the right few frames was more of a challenge for my own perfectionist nature than anything else. Even now, I want to go back and tweak some things, which the app makes it fairly easy to do.  Even "republishing" to where ever you've shared it is a piece of cake.