October 27, 2010

My Macworld iMovie ’11 Review


Macworld has now posted my review of iMovie ’11. I gave it 4.5 mice, up from the 4 mice I gave iMovie ’09 largely due to the inclusion of audio editing features that have finally caught up (and slightly exceeded) those of the late, lamented iMovie HD 6.

Putting together a video last night drove that home: I was able to isolate some sections where the shutter click from my still camera was overwhelming. To do so, I selected the portion of the audio where a spike appeared in the waveform, and dragged the Volume bar down to zero. However, that left a noticeable gap of silence.

So, instead I selected the clip, detached the audio, then trimmed it down so that just a section of background noise was active. The video clip is automatically muted when you detach the audio, so I un-muted it, placed the background noise clip over the shutter click, and lastly reduced the volume where the spike occurs. Here's the finished product:


The green waveform at the bottom of the screenshot belongs to the background music track; I've reduced the volume to about 40 percent so it isn't competing with the audio from the video. (I tried turning on ducking for the video clips, which reduces other tracks automatically, but doing so negated the purple background noise fragment clips. It was easier to adjust the background track volume where I needed it.)

Here's the finished video:

10:41 AM in Articles and Books, Digital Video, Macintosh, Movies, Photography | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

October 13, 2010

Fremont Fog

[Update: Sorry, I accidentally flagged the video as private. It's now public.]

Looking for some serenity? This is what greeted me when I came to work this morning.

Be sure to view it in HD. Shot with a Canon PowerShot G12, edited in iMovie.

04:12 PM in Digital Video, Photography | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

August 09, 2010

My Favorite Paragraph This Week

Software developer and teacher Fraser Speirs writing about transitioning his classroom of iMacs to iPads:

"It's the end of an era, but the beginning of a new one. A new era in which computers serve the needs of children and teachers. An era in which computers are not special artifacts sequestered in a purpose-built chamber into which children are ushered in hushed tones to have their weekly audience with The Computers."

I never enjoyed being in computer labs (as a student; I've never taught in one), so I like that "computing" in all its forms can happen anywhere.

10:28 AM in Cool Stuff, Handhelds/iPhone/iPad/Palm, Macintosh | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

July 09, 2010

Top 10 iOS Apps for Designers

My friends at HOW Magazine asked me to write up my picks for iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad apps for designers, which is now posted at HOWdesign: "Top 10 iOS Apps for Designers". The list includes essentials such as OmniGraffle for iPad and ColorExpert, as well as utilities such as GoodReader and 1Password Pro. You'll also find a bonus 11th app, just for fun!

11:59 AM in Articles and Books, Design, Handhelds/iPhone/iPad/Palm, Web Design | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

July 02, 2010

Latest Seattle Times column tackles video streaming

My column this week looks at Air Video, StreamToMe, and Netflix as ways to watch video on an iPad, iPhone, or iPad touch without storing the massive files on the devices themselves: "Streaming options for music, video need not be space hogs".


02:11 PM in Articles and Books, Macintosh, Movies | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

May 25, 2010

It's a Book! First Copy of My "iPad Pocket Guide"!

It's a Book! iPad Pocket Guide, by Jeff CarlsonMy prolific friend David Blatner started a tradition in the office we once shared. Whenever he published a new book (which is still pretty often) and received his first author copy, he'd bring it around to someone else's desk and say, "It's a book!"

Now that I've published dozens of books myself, I still do the same thing when that first copy arrives—like today's delivery of my iPad Pocket Guide! It's really quite satisfying to have the fruit of a lot of hard work arrive as a tangible thing.

(I'm not contrasting that with digital books, by the way. Receiving the first final PDF of my Take Control of Your iPhone Apps book made me giddy, too.)

Getting the first author copy means the book is probably a week away from being available on Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble.com, and on store shelves.

01:18 PM in Articles and Books, Books, Cool Stuff, Macintosh | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

May 19, 2010

My review of the 15-inch MacBook Pro (2010)

I've been pretty singularly focused on the iPad since its release, having finished my iPad Pocket Guide (due in stores likely in the next week or so!) and now working on a Take Control ebook about the iPad.

But while I was writing the Pocket Guide, Apple sent me a new 15-inch MacBook Pro review unit, which I used for several weeks while finishing the book. The switch from my 2006 MacBook Pro was painless: I used Migration Assistant on the new laptop to set up my working environment, copied from an external hard drive that had a backup of my hard disk. The fact that I was able to do this easily in the midst of a tight deadline says a lot.

The improved speed and increased memory was much appreciated: I package my print books, which means I do all the writing and layout, so I write directly within InDesign and use Photoshop for processing screen shots. Although the new setup didn't make me write faster (I'm still looking for that particular magic button), it did eliminate some of the little pauses and annoyances I was seeing on my old machine.

I'm happy to report that the new MacBook Pro is nice and speedy: I ended up buying one to replace my 2006 model. I figured I would be buying a new main Mac this year anyway, so the timing worked out nicely. My thoughts on its performance, and particularly how the new graphics-switching technology works, is now online in my latest Seattle Times column: "MacBook Pro makes another jump into the future".

11:01 PM in Articles and Books, Books, Cool Stuff, Macintosh | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

April 26, 2010

Increase Your iPad Media Storage for Just $49

[This post also appears at TidBITS.]

Here's a cool iPad tip suggested by one of our awesome TidBITS readers. Commenter "Mikey" asks:

Can you use the SD Card Adapter to watch or import h.264 movies?

The idea is that if you watch many movies or other video content, you'd want a lot of storage on your iPad. The base model, $500 Wi-Fi only iPad with 16 GB of storage isn't too roomy once you start throwing media files onto it. But paying $100 more for the 32 GB model, or $200 more for the 64 GB model, may not be in your price range.

What if you could increase that storage for just $49 instead?

Using Apple's $29 iPad Camera Connection Kit and a $20 8 GB SD memory card (or several), you can take an iPad on vacation without lugging a laptop, and still carry more movies than would fit on the iPad by itself. You could also repurpose older, lower-capacity SD cards you may not be using anymore.

The iPad camera kit is designed primarily to import digital photos directly from an SD card or a camera, but because most digital cameras now shoot video as well as still images, incoming video files are supported on the iPad, too. (Although not all formats will run; I discovered I could import clips from a Flip MinoHD video recorder to the iPad using the USB connector module of the kit, but couldn't play them on the iPad. Movies purchased from the iTunes Store, which are wrapped in Apple's FairPlay digital rights management scheme, won't play using the following method.)

To take advantage of this capability, load up the memory card with movies. Let's say you'll be gone for a couple of weeks and want to take just the iPad. Before you leave, encode titles from your DVD collection using a tool such as HandBrake, which offers a convenient Apple TV encoding preset. When a file is created, copy it to the DCIM folder on the SD card. I also successfully tested a short 720p HD video, exported from iMovie at the HD setting.

Eject the card from the computer and insert it into the SD camera connector, which opens the Photos app in the Camera pane. You can't watch a movie directly from the memory card, but you can copy it to the iPad's photo library. Tap to select the movie you want to watch, tap the Import button, and then tap the Import Selected option that appears.

After the movie copies, you'll find it in the Last Import collection under the Albums pane (as well as the Events pane if you normally sync the iPad's photos with iPhoto). The movie stays within the Photos app, not in the Videos app. Tap its icon to start playing it.

After you've watched that movie, you can delete it from the iPad's memory by tapping the Trash button at the far right edge of the toolbar. Then load another movie from the SD memory card and watch it at your leisure.

Other card capacities are available: A 16 GB card runs about $48 currently. 32 GB cards are also available, but at $96 the cost savings over upgrading the iPad diminishes.

People are looking at the iPad as a laptop replacement, and although this trick doesn't tackle other issues such as effectively working with business documents or printing, it can be good for travelers with long stretches of time that needs to be filled. Instead of bringing a laptop, with its capacious hard drive, you can bring just the iPad and a pocket full of inexpensive SD memory cards.

07:08 AM in Articles and Books, Cool Stuff, Macintosh | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

April 09, 2010

I think I've figured out the Big Deal about the iPad

One difficult thing about being a tech writer and having an iPad is answering the questions, "Why would I want one?" and "Will it replace my laptop?" Well, I think I've finally figured out why the iPad is a Big Deal: it's a spontaneous computing device. Read more in my Seattle Times column this week.

10:16 PM in Articles and Books, Macintosh | Permalink | Comments (0)

April 07, 2010

Talking about G10/G11 Book on MacVoices

g10g11_105x128.jpgOn a recent MacVoices podcast, I joined Chuck Joiner to talk about the making of my (almost ridiculously long-titled) book "Canon PowerShot G10/G11: From Snapshots to Great Shots." What's great about this episode is that we were joined by photographers Jeff Lynch and Justin Van Leeuwen, who contributed photos for the book through an experimental crowd-sourcing process using Flickr.

From Chuck's description: "The team talk about how the project came together, the decision to publclly solicit photographs, and why so many shooters decided to get involved. The project took on a life of its own, and the conversation covers it all, from the social networking aspects of digital photography to an explanation of what makes this book different than other instructional and coffee table books, to some good old photographer geek talk."

Listen to the podcast here.

01:52 PM in Articles and Books, Books, Cool Stuff, Photography | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)