Tag Archives: Rants

Proof of Concept (almost)

Hello again. Yeah, it’s been awhile. Spent it in tech hell, and still haven’t broken completely free of it.

So anyway, the concept mentioned above was to be able to record and edit a video while on the road. This means using the tablet. I wanted to do a one camera shoot and then do various zoom settings within the video to emulate different camera angles. The full Saga (and the crazy part) is below the video. But before we start, a word from our sponsors…

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The Video

The Saga
I’ve been trying to get all of the things I generally do on the computer moved to my tablet. This includes audio, video, social networks, and, yep, this blogging thing. I keep getting something that works and then it breaks.

The latest battle started in February when I downloaded a video app for my tablet. It does some great stuff, but my favorite bit is how you can zoom in on a clip, making look like another camera angle. I have been using an old version of iMovie on an elderly Mac, and it does all sorts of things well. Post-production Zoom ain’t one of them. I had a plug-in that fixed that, but the company seems to have either gone out of business or, at least, abandoned their old plug-ins, so when I moved from my even older Mac to the current one the old registration code didn’t work and I can’t get a replacement.

So along comes this tablet app. It’s pretty easy to use and does a great job at the Zoom thing but, unlike iMovie, it doesn’t smoothly stitch together the separate clips. And by that I mean, by the time it ended the video and audio was so out of sync it looked like a Japanese movie dubbed into English.

So… yeah. I’m sure they’ll get there. Eventually. But I need to make more videos like, now. Oh, I figured out the kludge to make it happen, but my work process to turn out this video was:

  1. Record the video (using my LG Leon phone!). There is only the one camera used in the shoot, so I have only one video file.
  2. Move it, via Dropbox, to my tablet.
  3. Repeatedly open a new project, add that file, adjust the Zoom level/positioning and then export it.
  4. Upload those five video files (with their different zooms) to Dropbox
  5. Fire up my Linux netbook and let Dropbox sync.
  6. Rename the files and then transfer them to a USB stick.
  7. Copy them from the USB stick to the Mac (which doesn’t have a net card so, there ya go).
  8. Load them into iMovie.
  9. Edit the damn video. Finally.
  10. Add titles, trim to length.
  11. Export it to the video you just watched. You did watch the video, didn’t you?

I love high tech! It makes things so much easier!

The Crazy Part
The crazy part is, even with all that hoorah it’s still a shorter time between camera and actually starting to edit in iMovie than how it used to work.

The files are in a format that iMovie eats  without me having to run them through a (very slow!) transcoder. The tablet app exports the video in way less time than the transcoder does. They files are also smaller, so they take less time to move onto the Mac and then into iMovie.

I still can’t sit at the Market between busking sets and edit a video, but I can do the zoomie bits down there and then finish the editing when I get home.

I’m marking it down as a narrow victory.

Freddy, Puh-lease!

Freddy the Mailchimp

I use Mailchimp to handle my email list. They’re an awesome company who’s free level is (hopefully just currently) actually more than I need. If my mailing list ever grows to the level where they want payment I’ll be happy to send them my moneys. They make much of the task of running a mailing list very simple.

Except remote editing your newsletter. In fact, lately their web app has been misbehaving on my netbook. The netbook is my one remaining “large” computer and I don’t haul it around much since I got the tablet. The elderly Mac doesn’t count as it doesn’t connect to the internet. And since Mailchimp’s android app has never worked, you can see how that’s slowing down my whole “do all the music biz stuff on the tablet” plan.

So you imagine what a whale oil beef hooked moment it was when, in desperation, I tried opening the web app in the browser on my tablet and found that it works there. OK, you have to switch back to the default keyboard (instead of the spiffy one I bought), and the editing window seems to want you to rotate the tablet to landscape and then back to portrait before it settles into a usable size, but it works.

It just seems to me that it shouldn’t be this difficult.

However, this means I have no excuse not to get the next newsletter(s) out on time. And you can hold me to that.

High Tech vs Music

Many net wonks praise high tech for all the benefits it has given to indie musicians, and lots of times that’s true. Other times it’s more like a drain of energy that should be put into, you know, making music. It shouldn’t be this way, but there you have it.

Two quick examples:
1. I’ve been trying for months now to move all of the “music biz related” computer things I do (social networks, blogging, calendar, etc.) over to my tablet. I spend a lot of time away from home, waiting to play. I’d like to be able to make good use of that time.

This should not only be simple, it should be a done thing by now. But nope. Still can’t do my newsletter from the tablet, despite having the app for it. And it’s one of the big time eaters which leads to it being one of the things I’m worst at keeping up with. Other things are possible, but finicky.

I will say it’s better than when I started, but it’s eaten a big chunk of time just getting to the OK stage.

2. Bugs and upgrades. The former cause things like having to release my most recent video again this morning. This includes traipsing around to all the places I talked about it so I can edit the new link in. Ah! but those places have their own bugs, making me just delete and redo the posts.

Upgrades are all groovy, as long as you don’t mind (or in my case, can afford) buying new hardware on their schedule.

Yep, I’m whining because I just wanna bang on my ukulele all day.

Seriously though, I don’t mind doing the other stuff. It’s part of the brave new music world. But I’ve got to get the ratio of “actual music making” to “other biz chores” to favor the music part a bit whole lots more.

Heeding the inner voice

Sunday I busked solo at Pike Place Market (because Sketch has a regular church gig). It featured some of the fattest hats I’ve had in a long time. I left, all flush with cash, and thinking maybe I wouldn’t bother going in on Monday. Lately the Mondays have been dismal  and I didn’t want to waste time when I had other tasks that needed doing. But then the second-guessing set in. And the guilt.

Yes, guilt. Due to a hiccup in the normal scheduling I had a ride both to and from the market, so I’d save money I normally spend on bus fare. And I knew that, despite how wealthy I was feeling at the moment, the money wasn’t likely to last until Friday, the next day with at least a moderate chance of decent tips. And with it being winter I need all the chances I could get or my conscience would say I’m “being lazy” and would tsk at me when I ran out of cash. So, even though the inner voice (of experience) was warning me, I went to the market.

I should have stayed home and edited the video that’s waiting to be finished. A whole day eaten up for less than $20 gained. Now the next day I have open for editing is Thursday.

“Live and learn” they say. I’m managing to stay alive so far, but sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever learn.

NaBloPoMo Potpourri

Hello whatever few readers I might have left. Today is the first day of NaBloPoMo and yes, I know it’s been a long time since I posted anything. The reasons/excuses/whatever are many. I’ll touch on a few and then leave you in peace.

#1: there was a major hiccup in the “blog” install of WordPress. Factor in how weird and busy things had gotten in the rest of my life and you might understand why I just kept putting off trying to fix it.

Well, NaBloPoMo to the rescue, eh? Knowing that I had to blog something today in order to do the whole thing right, I decided that, rather than asking my long-suffering hosting service to get it fixed, I’d try it myself. Lo! I discovered a minor, but annoying, hack had happened to my account. Using a combination of the online dashboard from my hosting service and good ol’ gFTP, I flushed the rotten crap off of my system (I bloody well better get some geek points for that!) and re-installed the plug-in that had been hacked

#2: I’ve been spending a lot of time and energy that would otherwise go into blogging (or tweeting, or paying attention to my Facebook activities) on Google+. This falls firmly into the “excuse” category, but there ya go.

#3: Last whine, I promise. This past summer has been the single worst one I’ve seen at Pike Place Market since my first one… about 27 years ago. And today hit a genuine nadir.

Let’s put it this way, if you’ve been thinking about buying any of my recordings, now would be a good time. I have 2 days to come up with $30 before I’m unable to busk the market anymore. Even though the hats have been freaking pitiful, it’s still my main money.

I’d give you chapter and verse on this situation, except I don’t have any good blood pressure meds available.

You are also welcome to drop a donation into my online tip bucket (you should see it here on this page… towards the middle of the left sidebar). Only do that if you’ve gotten something useful off of my site(s) or just want to be a supporter of aging indie ukulele dudes like myself.

And can afford to do it.


know how tough times are right now, believe me. The economy sucks for most all of us. Keep the faith and take care of you and your loved ones. (In other words, don’t bloody guilt yourself into it for some dumb damn reason, k?)

Meanwhile, I’m going to use NaBloPoMo like I have for the last 4 (5?) years… as a jump-starter for me to get back into the swing of this whole communication thing.

Many thanks for all of the wonderful support and love I’ve gotten from you folks over the years. I’m not so easy to get along with sometimes and I love you all for your patience with me.

(cross-posted—with some small editing—from Ukulele & All That Jazz)