Friday, December 31, 2010

The Importance of DSLR (“Idiot with a Tripod”)

“Idiot with a Tripod” by Jamie Stuart shows us the importance of DSLR video.  With so many people screaming about how “film” (video) shot with digital SLR’s is becoming the downfall of motion pictures, this simple 3 and a half minute montage shows us that 7D’s and the lot are giving us tools that make beauty more accessible… that DSLR’s are bringing us a revolution in the world of motion pictures.

“Idiot with a Tripod” by Jamie Stuart


Roger Ebert calls the clip “Oscar worthy,” stating:

This film deserves to win the Academy Award for best live-action short subject. (1) Because of its wonderful quality. (2) Because of its role as homage. It is directly inspired by Dziga Vertov's 1929 silent classic "Man With a Movie Camera." (3) Because it represents an almost unbelievable technical proficiency. It was filmed during the New York blizzard of Dec. 26, and Jamie Stuart e-mailed it to me with this time stamp: December 27, 2010 4:18:18 PM CST.

So many cinematography and film message boards and forums are filled with veterans whining about the fact that now "any schmuck can grab a camera and shoot a 'film.'" While I agree that the field will be littered with more garbage, the accessibility of motion picture equipment puts tools into the hands of people who previously were not able to share their skills and talent.

For a while I lamented the same thing in the music field: now any fool with a computer can record their awful ballads to their girlfriend, and we have to sift through all the schlock trying to find decent tunes.  However… it also means there is more good music out there (because it’s not only the elite with access to major recording studios who can put out quality recordings).  The same is becoming true with film.

Just because the tools are becoming accessible to everyone, doesn’t mean everybody has talent.  Ebert reflects this sentiment as he goes on: 

You can tell from the cinematography he knew exactly what he was doing and how to do it. He held the Vertov film in memory. Stuart must already been thinking of how he would do the edit and sound. Any professional will tell you the talent exhibited here is extraordinary.

In no way am I saying big-budget productions are dead.  I of course still want to see my Lord of the Rings and Broke Back Mountain shot on glorious film.  I NEED my giant sci-fi movies to have an $80 million-plus budget.  But DSLR is an important part of an equation that can keep cinema in the theater from going the way of the dodo.  There is a time and place for everything, and DSLR is definitely coming into its own.

While studios continue to spend ridiculous amounts of money on overblown situation comedies (Little Fockers, $100 million :: Sex and the City 2, $100 Million :: How Do You Know, $120 Million), tools like DSLR are making it possible for creative leaders and revolutionaries to create wonderful motion pictures at a fraction (and I mean super-fraction) of the cost of these hilariously budgeted films.

While Hollywood scrambles to make sense of the VOD and motion picture iPod revolution, thankfully there are talented individuals leading the way, making beautiful, enjoyable films without being shackled to the bloated and tired old ways of studios trying to adhere to the “rules” that died quite a while ago.

There is still a long way to go before the dust clears, but I am certain that the benefits that DSLR lend to “filmmaking” (cost, portability, size, etc.) are going to be a very important part of how films are made in the coming years.

Ebert quotes from:

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Sync Folders Across Multiple Computers

In their continuing brilliant renaming schemes, Microsoft has replaced and/or renamed Live Mesh (beta) with Windows Live Mesh 2011.  What happens in 2012?  Why use “Windows” in the title?  Of course it’s Windows, you dumbasses.

Anyway… I had been using Live Mesh (beta) to keep just a few folders synced (both between computers and to the cloud).  I’ve started using WLM2011 to keep folders synced from my home (main) machine to my laptop (skipping the cloud part, as I’m syncing huge folders that would quickly decimate the 5GB’s allotted for my SkyDrive).

Until today, I used SyncBack for keeping folders synced.  Every time I left for a trip, I would select the folders I wanted to sync and click run.  This was a huge pain in the butt every time I was going somewhere.  Yeah, I could have mitigated some of the annoyance by setting up a “container” folder within SyncBack to run multiple syncs, but I still would have to run the sync manually.  I could have set up scheduled syncs, but what I’m really after is “live” syncing.

SyncBack also always made me nervous that I was overwriting or copying something that I didn’t want to.  Furthermore, if you make changes to folder structures on one machine, then run a sync, the files that you moved will be recreated in their old location.  This sucks big time when you’re an OCD freak and reorganize your files/folders all the time.

I think Windows Live Mesh 2011 (what a STUPID and ridiculously long name) is going to work well for my needs.

My biggest gripe is not being able to sync two pre-existing folders.  To set up a folder sync with a folder that already exists on the remote machine you have to first sync an entire folder to the remote machine, then deselect it from your synced files on that remote machine (it will automatically be placed in your “user” folder –nothing you can  do about that), then move the folder to where you want it (and let the folder write over everything in the folder that already exists there if you’ve already been syncing the folder), and click sync again.

This is a pretty big pain in the ass.  I would MUCH prefer to be able to simply enter a folder path manually, or better yet be able to “explore” to it from the machine you are using to set up the sync.

From the WLM2011 help site:

If you want to select where the contents of the folder sync on a computer, don’t select the computer in the list. Instead, click OK and go to the [remote (this is important)] computer, click Sync this folder, and then select where you want the folder contents to sync [select the already existing folder that should sync to the other]. Note that if you select a folder that has files in it, these files will be included in the synced folder.


The biggest thing I really, really, really wish you could do with WLM2011 is set it to sync over your local network instead of having to send everything over your internet connection.  This seems like a no brainer.  Why in the hell would I need to send all that data “out into space” when the two computers are sitting right next to each other and are connected with a Gigabit ethernet connection?  I understand syncing over the internet is necessary if you are syncing to your SkyDrive (the cloud), but if you’re not… it just seems like Microsoft wants to sift through your data. Boo.

One more wish: I’d like to be able to rename the root (synced) folder and have it also change on the other machine.  Currently, if you change the name of a synced folder, it will be recreated from the other synced machine, and then you’ll have two of the same folder on the same machine.

Finally, I’m hoping I can find an Android app that will allow me to bring my phone into the mix.  I don’t have my hopes set too high though.  Worst case scenario: I’ll set up a “mobile” folder to sync between all my machines, and then just set up a separate sync (using Double Twist or some other Android program) between that folder and my phone.

One more thing… I wish you could organize your folders in the WLM2011 interface.  Currently, all of your synced folders are just listed alphabetically.  I’d like to be able to organize synced folders into categories (photos, artwork, video, documents, etc.)

[update]  The ability to organize the folders you are syncing is ABYSMAL.  In other words, there is NO WAY to organize your synced folders.  This is a massive over site on the part of Microsoft.  Your synced folders are simply listed in alphabetical order in your Windows Live Mesh window.  You cannot organize them in any other way.  If you have hundreds of synced folders, you simply have an alphabetical list of hundreds of folders (you can’t group them in any way).  Very, very, very stupid.

Also, I really miss the visual differentiation of synced folders that the old Live Mesh had.  It used to be that synced folders turned blue when you synced them.  Now there is NO VISUAL INDICATOR that a folder is synced.  You could manually change the folder icon, but that’s not realistic for hundreds of folders.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Best Way to Stream Audio Via WiFi

UPDATE: The information for "best streaming audio wifi setup" has been updated at my new post here.
I’ve been searching for the perfect wireless home audio set up for years.  I’ve got a beautiful Clairtone G2 in my swank 50’s living room that I use for my audio listening pleasure.  It’s not the most practical thing for setting up all your audio/video needs, but it’s so damn pretty, and goes so well with the rest of my midcentury modern furnishings that there is no getting around the fact that I have to make it work with my audio setup.
I started out years ago using a Creative Labs WiFi system.  I think it was actually called “Creative Sound Blaster Wireless Music.”  Sound Blaster of course went on to become a more generic term for Creative Labs computer audio cards (actually, I think this was the case even then, and it made the name of the unit incredibly confusing).  This was early wifi audio streaming.  When it worked, it was pretty cool.  The fact that the system had a remote that actually showed the name of the song playing, and songs in your library, and even playlists made the device years ahead of any other similar system, but it was S-L-O-W.  If you had any sort of decent music library (more than 200 songs), it was painful to scroll through your tunes.  Playlists were difficult to compile, and the server software crashed all the time.  Other than that it was grand!
For some reason, no one has created a similar unit at a decent price since this unit was made available around 2004.  The closest thing seems to be the SqueezeBox Duet, but it’s around $400 —which is WAY too pricey when you’re just trying to get audio to your old stereo.
There are some decent units under $150, but almost all of them have speakers incorporated into the unit.  I just wanted a good wifi box to plug into my stereo via RCA plugs.  Why does no one make this?!
I’ve finally found something that works for me, and it just goes to show: if you wait long enough, technology catches up and people make enough things that are “almost right,” so you can cobble together exactly what you need at the price you want.
I finally ended up just buying an old Airport Express off of eBay for $45 (they list for $99) and using it only to stream audio.  Because it’s only for audio, you can use G or even B wifi, so don’t waste your money on a faster N unit.
When I received my Airport Express, I plugged it into the power strip and ran a 1/8” to RCA cable from the unit to my stereo.  I downloaded the Airport Utility from and followed easy steps that connected the Airport Express to my existing home network (selecting the options to use the Airport Express only for audio streaming). It was super easy, and I had music streaming to my G2 literally minutes after opening the Airport Express box.
I was happy to see that I can switch speakers from the iTunes interface (I am able to select one or more), and thus the music playing in my office is in perfect sync with the music playing in my living room.  You can even control the volume of each independently, so I can make the music louder in the living room, and quieter in the office.  Currently I have the audio in my office turned off so I can watch Hulu, but iTunes is still streaming to the living room.  I will likely add another Airport Express in the future so that I can stream music to my patio as well.
I use Jeff Sharkey’s TunesRemote for a remote control, which allows me to access my entire library and all my playlists from my phone.  HOW TO: Install the app on your phone (download from Android market), let it scan for your iTunes, click on the correct computer/network on your phone, the app will pop-up a four digit code, your device should appear in your iTunes window (same window in which your Playlists, etc. are displayed), click on your device in iTunes and enter the four digit code.  I’m listing all that, because I had trouble setting this up at first.
If you don’t like using iTunes, Rogue Amoeba makes a program called Airfoil that allows you to stream any audio to your Airport Express.  Basically Airfoil hijacks the audio from any program on your computer and then sends it to your Airport Express.  You can even send to multiple Airport Express devices (like you would with iTunes).  Don’t get all excited thinking that this will work with audio for your internet video though.  It will be out of sync, and there’s not a damn thing you can do about it (see this post).
So… I’ve got audio streaming to my G2, I’ve got a remote to control it, and I’m a happy, happy boy!

[UPDATE] I updated iTunes (always a big mistake) to 10.1 and can no longer connect to the Airport Express from iTunes.  Airfoil connects to the Airport without issue.  Don’t you just love it when a third party does a better job than the manufacturer? :eye roll:
[UPDATE] The issue above was completely firewall related.  Make sure you have an exception for Airport (not just iTunes).  I found that setting “protocol” to TCP (not UDP) made things work best. I should probably figure out what the hell that means.
best / cheapest / most inexpensive way to stream audio
wifi with vintage audio

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Rogue Amoeba Airfoil: a Big FAIL for Playing Video

Be aware: Rogue Amoeba’s Airfoil WILL NOT work with video on your PC (and it only works with video FILES on a Mac).  If you’re on a PC and you’ve tried Airfoil to get audio from your computer to an external audio source (like your stereo), you’ll notice it doesn’t work very well; there is a two second delay between the video and your external audio.

Rogue Amoeba has a proprietary player that will compensate for the two-second audio buffer delay when using it to play Video file audio to an external source, but in tiny, tiny print on their website they write:

"Airfoil Video Player [which corrects for the 2 second delay] is only available for Mac OSX. We have no plans for Airfoil Video Player on the Windows side.  Sorry!"

Furthermore, the video player only helps when you are playing video files.  It does nothing for Hulu, Netflix, iTunes Store video, Blockbuster Online, Amazon Video, YouTube, etc.  So if you thought you were going to use Airfoil to watch internet TV… you were wrong.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Hulu Chaos

Evidently I’m Teresa Lynn.  No wait!  I’m Sam somebody.

Last night, my Hulu account kept bringing up other people’s avatars and names.  I’m wondering what the hell was going on.

Was someone else seeing my profile information?


Thursday, December 9, 2010

Watch Porn

I tend to get “precious” with cool things I find on the web… like if I tell people about it, there will be less for me (as if I can actually afford to “buy things”).  I’m trying to overcome this irrational psychosis by sharing things here… with you… right now.

Here is one of my most favoritest things.  A couple of years ago I had a bit of an E-bay addiction (my wife has since beaten coaxed it out of me)  --mostly chairs and sundry mid-century modern coolness, but the disease did net me a few wicked cool watches.  The time pieces I purchased were from a guy calling himself Watchismo.  Watchismo has since become an online store.  It is my porn.

Here are some examples (click to go to their pages):



The ones I bought way back when? From the Watchismo online museum:

1970’s Zeno Green Jump Hour (wind)My Zeno actually seems to be in better condition than the one pictured above… it was new old stock… and I don’t think I paid anywhere near what it’s listed for on the Watchismo site.



1970’s Seiko Square Face (automatic/kinetic)


Watchismo doesn’t have this one in their “museum.”

Thursday, December 2, 2010

AVG Massive Fail is a GO!

Thousands of people woke up this morning to a beautiful BSOD.  Anyone who ran the AVG update last night on their Windows XP or Vista computer woke up to a non functioning computer.


The important parts of the message I got (what you need to Google) were:

stop: c0000135 msvcr80.dll

The problem I found (after hours of my day wasted) was that an AVG update is hosing people’s computers.  Here’s the fix:

    1. Get thee to a command prompt (easiest way is using your Windows Install CD).
    2. c: (or whatever your boot drive is)
    3. cd program files (x86)
    4. cd avg
    5. cd avg10
    6. ren avgrsa.exe x_avgrsa.exe
    7. ren avgchsva.exe x_avgchsva.exe

Yes, I know you can get all the way to the final “avg10” directory by typing in the full, direct file path, but I like going this route to be sure I’m not overlooking another directory.  Your location of AVG could vary, depending upon where it’s installed (for instance, not “AVG10”).  You just need to be sure you’re finding your active install of AVG, and then finding the avgrsa and avgchsva files.

Alternatively to renaming the above files, you can also just delete avgrsa.exe and avgchsva.exe, but I like to leave things intact to make restoration easier.  Many of the “solutions” I found suggested renaming the whole AVG directory (or even simply removing it), but just renaming the two files above will allow you to continue to download AVG updates in the off chance that they fix this mess (they haven’t as of 1pm today) .

Once my machine was back up and running (booted without issue once the above steps were completed), I was still able to run an AVG update using the tray icon.  The update found definition updates, etc., so we’ll see if AVG is on it enough to correct the problem with this morning’s update.  If not, I’m finding a new anti-virus software.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The World of Streaming Radio

I just drove across the United States listening to internet radio the whole way.  Not broadcast radio, streaming media.  In fact, I actually changed my route from a rural highway (it was pretty early in the day, but it didn’t really matter in the pitch black of night) to a major interstate loaded with cell towers just so I could pull 3G.

Slacker became my friend.  Pandora was there too.  I tried out doubleTwist’s radio, but you can only utilize their stations (not build your own), so I quickly abandoned them for my radio purposes (still love their sync!!!).

I like how Pandora’s thumb up and thumb down rating systems works WAY better than Slacker.  It’s also pretty lame that there’s a limit on banned songs/artists with Slacker’s free version.  I understand not being able to FF past a certain number of songs in a free version, but not being able to eliminate things you don’t want to hear next time?  That’s ridiculous.

I found myself listening to music with Pandora, and comedy with Slacker (“Mitch Hedberg Radio” wound up playing a lot of Hedberg, Jim Gaffigan, Patton Oswold, Jerry Seinfeld, Lewis Black, George Carlin, and Brian Regan, so I was pretty happy with that station).

I quickly ran out of podcasts as I haven’t ever really been very religious with any source.  I had a couple I’d downloaded previously (Coverville and Fresh Air), but only a couple.

I tried to find a decent Podcast App from the road.  Evidently people only download Podcasts from their computers.  This seemed incredibly odd to me (that there weren’t any good programs to find and download podcasts from your phone).  The best I could find was Google Listen (still beta in Google Labs), and it was pretty abysmal.  It was easy to find the podcasts I wanted, but Listen uses a proprietary player which was evidently coded by a third grader with no thumbs.  The player randomly skips back to the beginning at any given moment, and there is no way to easily get back to where you were, as once that happens, the position of the slider corresponds to absolutely nothing.  There are FF and REW buttons that skip forward/back at 10 second increments, but using the buttons almost always results in the podcast going all the way back to the beginning (again, regardless of where the position shows on the timeline).

Luckily, if you wait for the podcast to fully download, you can find the files in a folder marked “”  They are without a file extension, and named as a random group of numbers (like songs on an iPod) to prevent you from finding and playing them I suppose.  I simply clicked on the files with Astro or AndroFile and selected open as music and was able to listen to the podcasts.

So while Google Listen does a good job of finding podcasts and downloading them, it’s pretty useless in playing them.  I have NO IDEA why they feel they need to add a player to the app.  Just download the damn file and let me play them with my player of choice!  Perhaps it’s Google’s way of trying out a music player they’ll be launching, but right now it’s just super annoying.

So I drove across the United States listening to the interweb.  Pretty cool.  There were a few times when I lost 3G in the bowels of Kansas, but for the most part I was able to keep listening.  Only a very few times did I lose my stream, and it was usually only for 20 or 30 seconds.

Viva la revolucion!