Thursday, August 31, 2006

NewsFlash: Jeff's interview at Juxtaviews.com

Just wanted to let you all know that I recently did an interview on behalf of commandN that's now up at Juxtaviews.com. Kevin chatted with me about the show, the battle between TV and vidcasting, and what the future holds. Check it out!
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8/31/2006 05:46:00 PM  

Monday, August 28, 2006

commandN: Episode 59 - Microsoft Live and more

This week on commandN: I outline all the Microsoft Live service offerings, and Amber and Mike chat about CBS broadcasting online, the BlackBerry helmet, and Firefox crop circles.
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8/28/2006 08:52:00 AM  

Friday, August 25, 2006

MacOnMacs: Final Cut Pro Tips - File Locations and Organization

Most of my MacOnMacs postings are general tips, applicable to just about anyone. However, as I've gotten further into video editing, I've searched and found a lot of different Final Cut Pro and related resources that have helped me a great deal and should be of use to any up-and-coming video production types out there. As there are a lot of people with a lot more experience than I have in this area, I thought I'd just provide some links to some helpful articles I've come across, so here goes...

As I was cleaning up from editing the second installment of my tsunami reconstruction quarterly documentary series from Sri Lanka (see the RebuildAmpara.com videos in the News section of that site), I realized that there were a lot of files hanging around and I wasn't exactly sure where they all were and what they all were for. Thankfully I found a great article on the Los Angeles Final Cut Pro User Group site explaining Final Cut Pro file locations and what's stored in them.

What this caused me to realize is that I've been editing without a very well-developed plan for how my files were organized so that I could keep track of them and archive them easily. Thankfully, Final Cut Pro guru Larry Jordan has, in addition to a lot of other excellent info (I would recommend subscribing to his free monthly newsletter), a great article on Organizing and Archiving your Final Cut Pro projects.

I'll keep posting these tips as I come across them and I'd love to know of any great tips or links to tips that you guys might have, so comment away! :-)
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8/25/2006 10:10:00 AM  

Monday, August 21, 2006

commandN: Episode 58 - Hack your Nintendo DS and more!

The vidcast most watched by Canadians, commandN, has released its 58th episode - available for download at commandn.tv. In this ep Brian tells us how to hack the Nintendo DS, Chris and I do webPICKS, and Amber and Mike chat about Bill Gates' speech at the AIDS Conference in Toronto, movie trailers on Google Video, and online dating for orangutans. Check it out! :-)
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8/21/2006 08:16:00 AM  

Sunday, August 20, 2006

MacOnMacs: Ejecting CDs/DVDs

I thought I'd put a quick little post up on this subject, as I know I've repeatedly had to figure out how to eject an uncooperative CD or DVD from my Mac's drive. Here are a few steps in order of ease (obviously don't type in quotes where you see them below - type in what's in the quotes :-) ):
  • If you don't have an actual "Eject" button on your keyboard (it should be in the upper right hand corner), try pressing and holding the F12 key, which can be assigned the eject function in some circumstances.
  • Can you see the disc's icon in the Finder or on the Desktop? Drag it to the Trash in the dock (which will change from a Trash icon to an Eject icon).
  • If this doesn't work then see if you can select Finder->File->Eject (command-E) to eject it.
  • You can sometimes eject a stuck disc from another application. Try using the eject button in iTunes (bottom right hand corner) and/or, if you have Roxio's Toast, then try Recorder->Eject (command-E) in Toast.
  • Do you have a Mac with a tiny hole to one side of your disc tray? Straighten out a paperclip and stick it in this hole to manually eject a disc.
  • If your disc is still stuck then open up Terminal (in Applications/Utilities) and type in "drutil tray eject" to eject the disc. If you then need to close the tray, you can type "drutil tray close".
  • Still no luck? Time to haul out the heavy guns and restart this bad boy. Restart your Mac while holding down your mouse button (I guess this would be the left button on a multibutton mouse) until it finishing starting up.
  • One last chance here. Restart your mac but hold down command-option-o-f (that's for an "open firmware" startup). At the command prompt type in "eject cd" and press return. Type "mac-boot" and hit return to finish starting up.
Hopefully one of those will get your disc out, as I've never had a stuck disc where at least one of those options didn't work. If you know of any other options then please share them with other readers here by posting a comment. Good luck!
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8/20/2006 10:11:00 AM  

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

eyeCandy: World Trade Center (2006) 4/5

World Trade Center is Oliver Stone at his most restrained, and that is a very good thing given the subject material (and a rare quality for his movies, in my humble opinion). Aside from some minor pacing difficulties (partly due to the nature of the dilemma of the characters), I think he has done a fine job with a difficult task.

The film deals with the September 11th tragedy from the point of view of the rescue workers, specifically outlining the stories of two real-life New York Port Authority cops who were trapped in the destruction (Nicolas Cage as Sgt. John McLoughlin and Michael Pena as Officer Will Jimeno, both exceptional performances). [United 93, also based on true events at the time, takes a totally different focus and is also a worthwhile film]

The movie, although spending considerable time with the families of these men and without going into much other detail beyond what was experienced at the site itself, still manages to conjure up an enormous range of emotions in the viewer. From virulent anger at the atrocities committed, to crushing sadness and despair at the effect this had on so many people. However, much to the credit of the filmmakers, the ultimate point put forth here is how the unforgivable evil that was committed was more than matched by the unimaginable heroics of those involved in recovering from its effects. And, to paraphrase the movie, just because it was the right thing to do.

What else can I say - we know this tragedy and the film shows it in another way. It is probably one of the most emotional movies I have ever seen, but it's hard to separate how much of that is watching the movie and how much is remembering what happened. In any case, it is a fitting tribute to the real-life heroes who made it so we all didn't give up hope in humanity entirely.
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8/16/2006 11:30:00 PM  

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

MacOnMacs: Running Windows on Your Intel Mac (Part II)

Thought I'd update on my previous Running Windows on Your Intel Mac post in the wake of some news in the last couple of weeks...

For those of you who see Windows video games as the last thing holding you back from diving into the Mac world, check out TransGaming's recently announced Cider, "a sophisticated portability engine that allows Windows games to be run on Intel Macs without any modifications to the original game source code". Pretty cool stuff!

The UK's RegHardware site has just published a good article on running Windows on Mac: BootCamp vs Parallels Desktop, which is a good supplement to the comparison in my previous post on the subject. Speaking of which, there is also a new beta for Parallels Desktop that improves USB support, graphics, along with other improvements and bug fixes.

In other news, another big player VMware readies virtualization software for Macs. And as another choice comes in, a previous choice is taken away: Microsoft has finally bowed out of this battle, announcing that it will be shelving its Virtual PC for Mac. Frankly, I'd just as soon have a third party developer doing this stuff anyway, as Microsoft seems to be slowly digging itself into the ground with the enormously delayed Vista and other less-than-successful projects recently.

I'm certainly in line for an Intel Mac now that the new towers have been announced, so I'll hopefully be able to give you a first-hand account of how some of these things work pretty soon. Until then, these posts can serve as a bit of a guide for you ;-) .
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8/09/2006 11:53:00 AM  

earCandy: Barenaked Ladies (Charlottetown Concert - Aug.6/06) 5/5

As you may have guessed from other music reviews that I've done here, the Barenaked Ladies aren't exactly my kind of band. Although they have undoubtedly released some good singles (e.g. I love the tune "the Old Apartment"), they're pretty happy-go-lucky pop music for my tastes. That said, these guys put on an awesome live show.

Sunday's concert at the Charlottetown Driving Park was great. Although I missed most of opening bands the Novaks and Two Hours Traffic, the crowd seemed to be enjoying themselves throughout the sunny afternoon and the arrival of the headliners provoked an enormous reaction.

Each of the five "Ladies" enjoy multiple roles throughout the concert, whether that be with a variety of instruments (an accordion, double bass, and no end of guitars were onstage), singing roles (their group harmonies were excellent), or through the inter-song banter than characterizes their shows. These guys can totally think on their feet, as the very humorous conversations between members onstage, improvised raps and songs (many incorporating local references), and musical snippets from a variety of sources consistently demonstrated.

The almost two hour show included lots of their most popular tunes (Brian Wilson, If I Had A Million Dollars, One Week, and more) as well as a couple of new tunes from their upcoming album. This mix got me to considering how the songs that became classics must have been received when they were unknown songs, as I think the reception to the newest tunes was certainly weakest (though still enthusiastic), showing how much familiarity is a part of what drives the musical hit parades.

In any case, the songs were good, the musicianship was great, and the value-added improvised chats and raps were just fantastic. If you're a big fan then I think these guys could put on one of the best concerts of your life (in addition to changing considerably with each performance), but even for an occasional listener like myself, you just can't ignore what a fantastic performance these guys give a live audience. Keep it up Ladies!
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8/09/2006 11:19:00 AM  

Monday, August 07, 2006

MacOnMacs: Apple WWDC 2006 - Keynote Address

I couldn't let the day end without posting on this year's Worldwide Developers Conference that opened today in San Francisco with a much (as always) anticipated keynote address from the man that Business 2.0 magazine calls "easily the greatest marketer since PT Barnum" - Apple CEO Steve Jobs. Down to the meat of the announcements:
  • Mac Pro - the "fastest Mac ever" and replacement for the aging PowerMac G4/G5 towers has finally arrived. Keeping with the simplifying of Apple's product line of late, the Mac Pro is a single, but highly customizable, entry. The basic model is $2499 and sports two 2.66 GHz Dual-Core Intel Xeon "Woodcrest" processors, but a dual 3 GHz option (add $800) is also available giving a reported performance boost of 60-110% above the 2.5 GHz PowerMac Quad G5 model before it. Although the Mac Pro's enclosure is essentially the same as the G5's, the additional space that was needed for G5-related heat issues is now used much more effectively to provide space for up to four 500 GB 7200 rpm hard drives (up to 2 TB of potential storage space), room for a second optical drive (up to 2x SuperDrive), 3 full-length PCI Express expansion slots, up to 16 GB of RAM, and more.
  • Xserve quad Xeon 64-bit server - the last piece of the Intel puzzle was replacing the G5 Xserve, which has been done with this two Dual-Core Intel Xeon processor-powered computer running at up to 3 GHz. The next generation 10.5 Leopard Server OS for the Xserve was also previewed, and includes a Wiki server, iCal Server, Spotlight Server, and a Podcast Producer component (I'd like to find out more about that one).
But even more exciting than that, which seems somehow impossible for a Mac geek like myself, we have our first taste of what comes next in our mighty OS (watch the QuickTime movie clips at the top of these pages - great way to get familiarized quickly while also seeing interface aspects) ...
  • Leopard Mac OS X 10.5 preview - as much as I've been waiting for the Mac towers to finally go Intel, I find myself very impressed with where the next generation of the Mac OS X is going:
    • Time Machine: Windows does have something similar, but this back-up and system recovery solution is implemented stylishly and effectively. A quantum leap from Backup, this may be the application that makes it easy enough for the general public to backup their computers regularly without the stress and hassle we've come to expect of such things.
    • Spaces - a beautiful virtual desktop implementation that allows a single user to separate their desktop into multiple "spaces" while providing easy drag and drop functionality for windows, along with quick access to applications in any "space". I've used one of these since my SGI days at Mainframe, and I'm happy to see it now standard in the Mac OS as well.
    • iChat: iChat has just become a truly worthwhile app for me. There are some frills added like video backgrounds and PhotoBooth-like effects, along with other more functional additions such as tabbed chatting for multiple .Mac, AOL, IM, and Jabber accounts. But the two ground-breaking things here are iChat Screen Sharing, which allows you and a friend to both take control of one of your desktops (which is shown on both computers) so that you can both collaborate on projects while hearing each others voices via an audio chat, AND iChat Theater, a virtual presentation room which allows you to make presentations via iChat of Keynote slides, photos from iPhoto, or content from any iChat-enabled application, accompanied by a video/audio feed of you "playing host". This is the kind of stuff that helps answer the question of "why would someone use iChat" - I'll for sure end up employing both iChat Screen Sharing and iChat Theatre in my work, and as far as I can see I can't think of another "chat" application that combines such practical elements to such good effect. Good work iChat team!
    • Mail: Mail just keeps getting better, and although the incorporating of elegant HTML templates to the email writing process is well-done, I think I'm most excited about the addition of Notes and To Dos (which are incorporated as a core Mac OS service) to the mix here. RSS via email is another perk.
    • Spotlight - finally we will be able to Spotlight search across Multiple network volumes and other Macs. Quick Look technology will also allow you to see previews (e.g. watching a QuickTime movie, seeing an Address Book contact, viewing a PDF, etc.) of documents in the preview graphic overlay without even opening an application. Plus, Boolean searching has been added. All solid evolutionary changes that might make Spotlight a little more highly regarded in my book.
    • Dashboard - I have to confess, I'm not a Dashboard user. I'm not sure these changes will make me become one but they seem sort of cool :-) . First off, Web Clip lets you visit a site in Safari and click the "“Open in Dashboard"” button to make a continuously-refreshed widget of that webpage or part of that webpage (it's crop-able). Secondly, Dashboard will sync across multiple computers through .Mac now. And, thirdly, although this news has been around for a bit, Dashcode will let anyone build their own widgets.
    • Other: iCal will support calendar sharing and some other features through the CalDAV standard; Alex, Mac OS X's newest voice synthesis is sounding remarkably human (take a listen on the page); Core Animation aids developers in the production of sophisticated visual effects; and, with Leopard, OS X is truly a 64-bit OS.

All very cool stuff. Mac Pros and Xserves are out now, Leopard (with some other surprises - funny keynote moment alludes to the fact that Longhorn has copied enough OS X things for now) will be out in Spring 2007. I, for one, can't wait.
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8/07/2006 07:28:00 PM