Friday, January 25, 2008

New HD video camera… almost

During the process of writing a chapter about iMovie ’08, I decide to upgrade my video camera to something “tapeless” with high definition capability. I want good quality, but don't want to spend thousands of dollars. To be more exact, I want a great camera that's substantially less than one thousand dollars.

I couldn't decide which would be best, the Sony HDR-SR5 or the Canon HG10. Both record to a 40 GB Hard Disk Drive. That means no fast forwarding and rewinding of tape to locate scenes. When you connect the camera to the computer, the clips that are on the camera's hard drive appear in the iMovie Import window (below). Click a clip to preview it. To import one or more clips, click the checkbox under the clip, then click the "Import Checked" button. Pretty nice. Of course you also have the disadvantage of not automatically having an archive on tape of all your footage (tape is very cheap compared to buying extra hard disks for storage). Then again, I've got hundreds of hours of tapes whose video I'll never get around to looking at again, because I'm too busy shooting new video.


The iMovie ’08 import window (above). The bottom pane shows the clips that are on the Hard Disk in the camera. Select a clip to see a preview in the top pane. Checkmark the boxes under the clips you want to import.

I decide to go with the Sony HDR-SR5 and order it online from (they're great). The Sony gets here the next day. I love it. Good quality. Oops. I didn't notice that this model doesn't have a view finder, just an LCD screen. The screen is advertised to be bright enough to use in bright sunlight, but that must be referring to 20 year-old eyes. I can barely see the image on the LCD screen, and it's gray and overcast outside. Dang, gotta call ButterflyPhoto and see if I can send it back.

Fortunately, the ButterflyPhoto people are very nice and understanding, and suggest that I exchange it for the Canon HG10. Perfect. I almost ordered that one anyway. Hopefully it'll be here by Monday.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Leaving San Francisco

Pals (and artists) Jeremy Sutton and Peggy Gyulai picked us up at the Moscone Convention Center, then drove drove us to the Lobby at Battery & California where Peggy's one-person show, Tone Interludes, is hanging. She gave us a personally guide tour of the exhibit. Beautiful work.

Then Jeremy drove us to their art studios in the Mission District. Fabulous studio spaces and beautiful work inside. Jeremy gave me one of his latest Painter Creativity DVDs. Fabulously designed and produced.

The DVD title is "How to Paint from Photographs Using Corel Painter X, Createive Techniques with Jeremy Sutton." As I mentioned in an earlier posting, Jeremy is one of the top Corel Painter experts in the world, and an inspirational, charismatic teacher. And, he's agreed to visit Santa Fe in early October, 2008, to make a presentation to the Santa Fe Mac User Group, and, better yet, to hold a 3 or 4 day workshop about using Painter (the fabulous "Natural Media" painting software that simulates real world brushes, oils, watercolors, chalks, pencils, etc). Details will be posted on the Santa Fe Mac User Group web site as they become available.

Robin in Jeremy's studio.jpg
Robin and Jeremy in Jeremy's studio. Not shown is the other half of his studio, including a space for at least six students and their laptops (for the digital painting classes he teaches).

Peggy's studio is next door to Jeremy's. Great spaces in the Mission District.

We didn't get to meet track star Michael Johnson (world's fastest human) as I indicated in an earlier posting. I guess I had that information wrong. Although, now that I think about it, I did feel a breeze while I was there, so I guess that could have been him (he's famous for being fast, you know).

After a nice lunch and coffee at the Coffee Bar (shown below) located on the ground floor of their studios building, they gave us a ride to SFMOMA (San Francisco Museum of Modern Art), which was just a half block from our hotel. Jeremy is a member of SFMOMA, so he ran inside, got a couple of free tickets for us, and said goodbye. We enjoyed the museum for 30 or 45 minutes then grabbed our bags at the hotel and snagged a cab for the airport.


Farewell Macworld

We took one last stroll around the exhibit floor. The show was winding down. The Quark booth had a few people attending one last demo presentation.

Quark booth last day.jpg
For many years Quark had a pretty arrogant attitude about their dominance of market share in desktop publishing, and they (the founder or president or some top guy) even publicly expressed disdain for the smaller Mac user market, and usually didn't bother to show up at Macworld. So now it's payback time, especially with Adobe InDesign treating Mac Users with respect. Ha! (Oops, sorry, that slipped out).

Meanwhile, the Adobe booth was still at standing-room-only capacity. But, to be fair, Adobe wasn't showing InDesign, Quark's competitor. They were showing the amazing Photoshop Elements 6. If you don't want to buy the very expensive Photoshop, Elements 6 does almost everything Photoshop does, except convert files to CMYK color space (necessary only if you're preparing files that are to be printed commercially by big, expensive color printers, or published in a magazine that's printed by commercial printers).

This panorama created from 3 separate shots opened in Photoshop CS3, but you can do the same thing with Photoshop Elements 6.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Party at The Franciscan Crab Restaurant

Thursday night and we just got back from a great seafood buffet dinner and party at Fisherman's Wharf, sponsored by the Apple Consultants Network, which included Crucial, DriveSavers, Peachpit Press, VMWare, and others.

Outstanding Corel Painter expert, artist, and instructor (and long-time pal) Jeremy Sutton and his sweetheart Peggy showed up. He offered a tour of his San Francisco studio tomorrow, and a visit to Peggy's current exhibit of oil paintings. We'll also get to meet track star Michael Johnson, world's fastest human. Jeremy is doing a portrait for him.

Years ago, Jeremy came to Santa Fe to give a Painter presentation to the Santa Fe Mac User Group. Minutes before the presentation started, the computer died and Jeremy thrilled the audience with a swing dance and break dancing demonstration (yeah, he's an expert dancer too). It was a favorite meeting that most members still talk about.

Jeremy Sutton and Peggy.jpg

Jeremy Sutton and Peggy


The party also featured magician Ash K, The Pretty Good.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Another bedtime story for designers

Did you ever wonder where Peachpit Press got its name. Robin has been associated with them for nearly twenty years, and she has the scoop on that.

When Robin was first introduced to the young fledgling publishing company, owned at the time by Ted Nace, they had published three books, one of them being Ted's own book about Ventura Publisher (they laid out the Ventura book on a plank placed over the bathtub). At the time, Ted and his college roommates were living and working in a peach colored house in Berkeley that was such a dump it was considered a "pit." Thus the name "Peachpit."

So now you know.

A Story for Designers

Sitting in the DriveSavers Hospitality Suite, I mentioned to Scott Gaidano, President and founder, that I like his logo, a white nautical life preserver against a red background. He says "Yeah, we were sitting around in a hot tub trying to come up with a name for a company, and there was a life preserver hanging on the side of the tub. We wanted to run a small, two-color ad in MacWeek, and the only choice they offered for a second color was red."

Recently a marketing company wanted to throw out the logo and start over on the image. Scott says "No the logo stays, but you go if you bring it up again. 300 of the Fortune 500 companies already know that logo."


Robin chats with Scott Gaidano in the DriveSavers Hospitality booth.

Blogger Lounge Hell

I decided to give the Microsoft Blogger Lounge another chance. It's been two days since I was there and unable to connect, using their Wi-Fi.

I can tell right away some changes have been made. The Lounge has just one other blogger in it. Instead of just walking in, a door guard asks if you're here to blog. If so, sign in with your name and blog address. I do that and login. They've changed the wireless network (because it was non-working). Now there's no security setting required, and no password required. Oh yeah, now there's a thirty minute time limit for a visit.

Sweet Swan of Avon! The connection works, but it's possibly the slowest connection I've ever experienced (other than the wireless connection in our hotel, The Westin). I go to to see just how slow it is. Loading that page just about uses up my 30 minutes, but no one kicks me out.

As you can see, the download speed in the Blogger Lounge is a blazing 242 kbps, (that's just a speed burst -- the average speed ended up as 174 kbps). That's not even modem speed from 10 years ago. And I'm now the only person in the Lounge! The red zone in the large gauge is the broadband speed area.

As a blogger, I'm really more interested in the upload speed. A Thousand Curses! The upload meter (the "Up" arrow on the left) never gets above a speed burst of 1 kbps.

I predict this lounge will be empty for the remainder of the show.


Wednesday, January 16, 2008

San Francisco Nights

It's not just a song by Eric Burdon & The Animals (mid ’60s), it's a melody that captures the feeling of the city.

Be sure and wear some flowers in your hear. You're gonna meet some lovely people there.

Lots of Macworld parties going on tonight, but not like in ancient times (the late 80s and early-90s) when all the big companies tried to outdo each other with extravagant parties. Like the Kai Kause/Metacreations party at which a couple thousand people took over the Exploratorium for a night. Or the giant party at Filmore West featuring Jefferson Starship and Timothy Leary, who gave a unintentionally hilarious, spaced out welcome speech. And with artists tucked in every corner sketching caricatures with Wacom tablets.

Times change, and a lot of companies realized it wasn't that smart to spend the previous year's profit on a one-night party. Dang.

Tomorrow night we check out the party.

Robin at the Peachpit Press party held at Varnish, an art gallery.

Varnish 2.jpg

The Marriott at night.

Marriott at night.jpg

San Francisco is wonky place

San Francisco is sometimes a strange place. Buildings don't always follow the rules you expect buildings to follow. It's cool looking, but I'd hate to go to work here everyday and deal with that slanted office floor.


And I'm familiar with Casual Friday dress codes, but here they obviously have Caveman Wednesdays. Maybe that's just in the Comic Life booth. Yeah, I'm sure it is.

Comic Life.jpg

Macworld is a spiritual place

Echoing the theme that Mac is not a hardware/software product, but actually a religion, The FileMaker Cathedral… uh, I mean booth… puts you in a quiet, contemplative mood as you learn about database heaven. The extra-high pulpit is a nice touch, I think, as the oracle speaks to the devotees.

The new consumer level database app, Bento, looks great.

Bento Cathedral.jpg

Honda Accura

We have two cars, but I'd like something really small for trips to the grocery store. There's a Honda on the show floor that is pretty much what I had in mind.

Robin & racecar.jpg

RouteBuddy is way, way cool

A couple of years ago I discovered RouteBuddy, GPS software for Mac, and fell in love with it. It's beautiful, elegant, and being updated regularly to make it beyond great. They're based in London, so it was fun to see that the free demo map was actually of Santa Fe, our home.

I exchanged a couple of emails with this guy named Neil Wilson-Harris soon after I first bought the first version of the software, and I was immediately impressed with how nice and helpful he was. Of course, the first thing that hooks me or repels me about new software is the quality of the graphics, both in the app and on the app's website. So RouteBuddy had me at first glance. Really beautiful stuff.

If you want to explore the world of GPS and Mac, definitely check out RouteBuddy.

RouteBuddy Neil and Robin.jpg

Neil Wison-Harris shows Robin a map of Santa Fe, using RouteBuddy.

The Macworld Nap

If you're from San Francisco, you probably see this all the time. Or Redmond. Or even Roswell, where aliens hang out. It was new to me. I heard a rumor that it was a scam and that Microsoft is behind it. When they wake up, they have an insatiable urge to install Vista. Creepy.

The Macworld Nap.jpg

Being cool with MacBook Air

Wireless migration assistant.jpg

I sat in on a MacBook Air presentation at the Apple Theater today. A couple of interesting things, in case you missed it. The MacBook Air doesn't have an optical drive, but you can buy a special external USB SuperDrive to connect to it. But you don't need that if you have a fast wireless network. MacBook Air has a special feature that enables it to detect any other optical drives on the local wireless network. Other computers' optical drives show up in the sidebar under "Devices." If you want to install an application that's on an install DVD, put the DVD in a computer, and it shows up on the MacBook Air, as if the optical drive and the disc were part of the MacBook Air. How about using the Migration Assistant to transfer files to your new MacBook Air? Same thing. Mac Book Air's Migration Assistant works wirelessly on your wireless network.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

That's the real Lynda of on the left. She's never had a booth this big at Macworld before. But then, her training DVDs and online training have really taken off in the past year. I'm a subscriber to her online training and it's very extremely cool, covering a rich variety of software apps. I was smart enough to tell her I'm a friend of Robin's, and that scored me two tickets to the party on Thursday night, plus a special invitation for authors and potential authors Wednesday night.


Quark is here

Remember them? I'd heard they were still in business, and sure 'nuff, here they are. This photo erroneously makes it look like nobody cares, but there's still one minute and 30 seconds before the presentation is supposed to start.


The Adobe booth is packed for every presentation, no matter what app they demo.


The View

Robin and I arranged a rendezvous with friends (Joey Wilson and Linda Pedelty of Wilson Consulting, from Santa Fe) at The View, a bar on the 39th floor of the Marriott, just a block or so from the Expo. If you get there, enjoy the view (hmm, I wonder if that's where the name came from) while you do iPhone stuff. Around here, when the theme is "There's something in the air," we take it to heart and head up to The View.


The MacBook Air


Everyone wants to hold the MacBook Air to see for themselves just how light it is. Here's a photo of several thousand Mac geeks trying to get their hands on one.

Free stuff

Hardware and software companies gives away lots of free stuff at Macworld. Mostly big bags with their company names on them. I've noticed a direct co-relation between how popular a bag design is, and the gender/age demographic of the bag-givers. This particular bag seemed especially popular with men who didn't have their wives with them. The fireman couldn't take his eyes off those bags.


Monday, January 14, 2008

Getting to the Promised Land known as The Moscone Convention Center

Sitting in the Albuquerque "Sunport." Trying to connect to the Sunport Wi-Fi network. Full strength signal, but no connection. Hmmm. The Wi-Fi seems to be working because in the Finder. sidebar, under the "Shared" item, I see "Pamela's Powerbook." Tip #1: When you're using a public Wi-Fi spot, you might want to turn File Sharing off. And disable the Guest account (if you're running Leopard). Robin walks around the gate area, spotted a woman with a PowerBook. "Is your name Pamela?" she asked. Pamela seems surprised, and even fatalistic that her PowerBook is being shared with anyone on the public wireless network. Robin offers Tip #1, and Pamela, being smart like most Mac users, jumps into System Prefs and turns off File Sharing.

Now we're in the air and I'm listening to the soundtrack of Walk Hard: The Story of Dewey Cox. Tip #2: Get a pair of Bose Noise Canceling Headphones. The difference in ambient engine noise is not just nice, it's awesome. If you buy from the Bose web site you can set up payments (they're not cheap, but they're superior to the less expensive models).

Between the Oakland Airport and our hotel, we have an interesting conversation with our cab driver, a nice guy from Kabul, Afghanistan. He and most of his family left Afghanistan during the Russian invasion period (1980s). Mostly we talked about the movie, Charlie Wilson's War. Charlie seems to pretty popular with Afghani types, having boosted the CIA budget to covertly fight the Russians there from $1 million to $100 million. We hope to hook up with our cab driver next year at Macworld Kabul.

Before meeting Robin's sister for dinner at the Hayes Street Grill we hook up with friends from Santa Fe -- Joey, Linda, and Corey -- at The View Bar on the 39th floor of the Marriott Hotel. Joey Wilson and Linda Pedelty are long-time Mac mavens. Joey, Linda, and Corey are going to get in line for the keynote at about 4 am. If I can't sleep I'll go visit them in line (ha!).

Our hotel's Wi-Fi connection is not bad -- it's hideous. Totally unusable. Thankfully I brought my Verizon Wireless Broadband EVDO card with me. Tip #3: Pack a wireless broadband card when you stay at the Westin in San Francisco. Unfortunately, Verizon's EVDO service doesn't allow you to watch or do video. You can do it, but they might cancel your service if you do. It's always sumthin'.

Better stuff tomorrow after the Expo keynote.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

The fun starts tomorrow

Tomorrow (Monday) Robin and I will spend most of the day traveling between Santa Fe and San Francisco, so this is probably the last entry until tomorrow night, after we've launched some analog-docking procedures with a few friends and family units (hugging, shaking hands, talking, eating, drinking). Digital-docking, on the other hand, is the kind of interaction we're having right now. It's not important, but I picked up this terminology from Kai Krause (we miss you Kai), and I've been waiting 10 years to use it somewhere. So there.

Since I'm not there yet, I can't post a fun Macworld photo. But I was able to grab a shot of the excitement and anticipation that's rampant around here.

Friday, January 11, 2008

This blog will also appear at…

Our friends at will have several bloggers at Macworld Expo, San Francisco, offering their view of the biggest Mac gathering in the world. Robin and I have been invited to submit our thoughts, so this blog will also be available at

Matthew Cone, the founder of MacInstruct, so impressed us that we hornswaggled -- er, convinced him to co-author our book-in-progress, Cool Mac Apps, Third Edition (available soon).

If you have a Mac, visit MacInstruct. It's a beautifully designed and lovingly produced web site that offers all sorts of Mac knowledge, insights, tips, and tricks, categorized by levels (Simple, Moderate, and Challenging).

Digital regards,

There's something in the air

That's what the new Macworld Expo banners hanging inside the Mosconi Convention Center say, according to photos being published on Mac rumor sites. What could it mean? 

We'll know by noon next Tuesday. Meanwhile I'm guessing that Apple, Inc. will announce Apple Airlines—Direct service to all major cities from Cupertino, Wi-Fi Internet access in mid-flight, with stewardesses selling Mac applications and hardware along with fruit smoothies and .Mac memberships. Maybe not, but come on now, what else could it mean? 

Whatever. Robin and I are anxious to get there and start a weeklong family rendezvous (both Mac family and genetics-based family—lots of overlap there, now that I think about it). 

For those of you who have an iPhone, and are attending the Expo, check out for a Macworld Expo directory site optimized for the iPhone. The directory includes a listing of exhibitors' information and booth numbers. Click an exhibitors booth number and its location is highlighted on a map of Moscone South or West exhibit halls. It's a cool way to find the booths you want to see on such a large exhibit floor.

Stay tuned.