My Adventures in Star Wars Editing

Posted in Uncategorized on December 4, 2015 by unclepain

As you may have noticed, I’ve not been posting much in this blog.  However, there’s a reason for that.  I got more into music and there were some other family adventures I needed to attend to, but there was something I always wanted to do- and that was to re-edit the entire Star Wars Prequels.  So, I finally found the time to do that in between full time job, wife and 5 kids, and my music.  So, I created the Anti-Cheese edits of Episodes 1, 2, and 3.  You can see them at Youtube here in this order:

Phantom Menace

Attack of the Clones

Revenge of the Sith

They were getting a bit of traction this year on Youtube and most people seemed to enjoy the changes that I brought to the films.  But then a fellow named Kristian Harloff from Collider.com’s Jedi Council Forum found the films and went a little gonzo for them and that’s when things started to take off.  Kristian and his band of merry Star Wars nerds dedicated several minutes of discussion about the edits in their latest episode of The Jedi Council and they had some very nice things to say indeed.  You can check that out here:

Jedi Council discusses my Anti-Cheese Edits

My next video to my channel will probably be one in where I detail all the changes I made and why and do that for each film.

After that, I have a very special new Star Wars related project I’m working on that I’ll be posting to the world hopefully in the next month.  I’m recovering from tonsil surgery right now, so I’m needing a bit of down time.  But this all was pretty cool and since my Youtube page is linked to my Tech Dojo blog, I thought I would at least do a story on it here.

Mid-Life Crisis

Posted in Cool Stuff, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on May 18, 2011 by unclepain

So, I’m turning 40 this month.  I find myself thinking about my life and wondering if my best, most exciting years are behind me now, and that makes me upset.  So, in order to ensure I don’t rot in my Sleep Number bed for the rest of my life, I’ve challenged myself to find some new activities to spice up my remaining days.  After careful consideration, I’ve decided I’m going to make WingSuit base jumping in Switzerland my new passion!

OK- so this doesn’t have much to do with technology, however the technology behind the winged suits and the parachutes is pretty cool.  Oh- and the jumpers are now using these cool little HD cameras called Go-Pro HDs to record the action. Way better than duct-taping the family camcorder to your melon.  Check em out:

Here’s the specs from their website:

GoPro’s HD Helmet HERO is the world’s highest performance wearable 1080p HD video and still photo camera. Professional quality 1080p / 960p / 720p HD resolutions record at 30 and 60 frames per second (60 fps in 720p). Record up to 2.5 hours on a single charge and up to 9 hours total on a 32GB SD card (not included).

The camera is $299 and pretty sweet.  I’ve seen the footage displayed on some large format screens and it looks great.

Here’s their site: http://gopro.com/cameras/hd-helmet-hero-camera/

But, that’s not the coolest thing in this post.  That belongs to the actual videos of guys flying around these massive cliffs in Switzerland, skimming above and between trees, huge canyon crevices, and generally flying around like some kind of genetically altered flying squirrel hopped up on a case of RedBull and Roid-Rage.

Anyways, here’s a couple cool videos of these guys doing some outrageous base jumps:

Of course, I quickly decided to find another hobby once I saw this video.

Well, there’s always shuffleboard

Got any ideas for me?

Finally! Flying backpacks!!!!

Posted in Uncategorized on April 7, 2011 by unclepain

I’ve always been a sucker for gadgets.  Especially flying gadgets.  Especially flying gadgets you can strap on your back.  Sure, DaVinci was ahead of his time with the whole “air screw” idea (terrible name for a flying gadget BTW), but eventually, we got around to some really cool personal flying machines.  Turns out, we flightless humans have been working on some crazy-whack-a-do flying gizmos for some time.  Here’s a small sampling of some of our attempts to break the surly bonds of gravity:

Continue reading

Coolest App of the year award goes to…

Posted in Cool Stuff, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on December 20, 2010 by unclepain

Word Lens augmented reality by Quest Visual….

Here’s the concept:  You’re in a foreign country where everything is in Spanish.  Like most lazy Americans, you’ve forgotten most of the Spanish you learned in High School and the only phrases that stuck with you is what you remember from Sesame Street.  Wouldn’t it be great if you had an application on your fancy iDevice where you just point your camera at a sign that is in Spanish, and have the letters automatically translated into English on your screen?  Sounds crazy right?  Well, that’s exactly what Quest Visual’s Word Lens has done here and it’s pretty sweet. Check out the demo video:

One of the interesting aspects of the video is that it appears to not only translate the words, but it displays the translated words in the same font type and color as the original text, and it appears to do it very quickly. The program is self contained and does not require an internet connection to work.  As of right now, it is only available for iDevices, but the website for the software does state that they are aware that folks on other platforms want this software and are working towards that goal. I don’t know about you, but this is the kind of stuff that confirms  my decision to be a geek was a good one.

Flying Cars by 2015!!!

Posted in Uncategorized on October 10, 2010 by unclepain

Just got done watching Back to the Future Part 2 with my kids last night.  We’re on a trilogy marathon with them this weekend and it’s been fun to experience the films with them that I saw as a boy.  So, in case you haven’t seen the film, it’s where Doc Brown and Marty McFly go into the future to save his kids from certain doom (although why they didn’t just take that information and use it to avoid the pitfalls they knew about 30 years in advance is beyond me….but I digress).  The interesting part is not the plot holes, or the fact they changed Marty’s girlfriend to a different actor between the 1st film and the 2nd.  The interesting thing is that the time they went forward to was the year 2015.  Yeah, only 5 years from now.  In this future world, we have jet powered hoverboards, self-lacing sneakers, and flying cars.  Well, it’s 2010 and so far all we have is the self lacing sneakers.  No, really.  Somebody built powered self lacing sneakers.  Check it out:  They’re called Power Laces.

Pretty spiffy, eh?  The only problem is that Nike already patented the idea, so homeboy who built actual working power laces might want to reconsider any financial aspirations he has for selling these bad boys.

However, that’s not what I wanted to talk about today.  Let’s talk about flying cars.  Well, of course there are some ghetto flying cars already on the market, but I think the technology that will really make it an inevitability is full automobile autonomy.  Basically, the ability for cars to drive (and eventually) fly themselves.  Seems our good friends at Google are working with a team from Germany to make cars that drive themselves using GPS, lasers, video cameras, and probably a working version of R2-D2.  Check out this post from Engadget to see it in action:

Auto-bot in action…

Apple’s Bumper Crop…. of CRAP!

Posted in opinions with tags on July 19, 2010 by unclepain

I must apologize in advance.  I really do not mean to become an Apple basher.  I own and love numerous Apple products.  I’ve always felt like Apple was composed of artists who happen to make gadgets, and their attention to detail and user experience is second to none in the tech industry.  But this latest fiasco with the iPhone4 is just too much to stomach.

I’m sure most of you are aware of the issues that seemed to have plagued the iPhone4 and the “antennae of death”, but for those of you just waking up from a coma, here’s the short version:

Apple releases super nifty new iPhone in June.  iPhone4 has cool new features like front facing webcam, camera flash, HD video capture and editing, and a revolutionary new feature where they used the sides of the phone’s body as the antennae.  In theory, this would make the phone more receptive to AT&T’s crappy network and hopefully drop fewer calls.  Users rejoice.  Users stand in line to buy new iPhone.  Users take iPhone home and realize that if your skin touches the lower left corner of the outside antennae, it kills your reception and your connectivity bars drop like BP’s stock.  Users revolt.

And that’s when the tap-dancing begins.

So, Apple’s first response is from Steve Jobs who replies to a user’s email about the issue.  His response?

Just avoid holding that way.

Awesome.  Reminds me of that joke where the guy goes to the doctor and says “Doc, my arm hurts when I do this…”

Next Up: From Apple PR…

Gripping any mobile phone will result in some attenuation of its antenna performance, with certain places being worse than others depending on the placement of the antennas. This is a fact of life for every wireless phone. If you ever experience this on your iPhone 4, avoid gripping it in the lower left corner in a way that covers both sides of the black strip in the metal band, or simply use one of many available cases.

OK- slightly less condescending, but “avoid gripping the lower left corner”?  Seriously?  How else do you grip a phone with your left hand?

and then, Apple says this:

Upon investigation, we were stunned to find that the formula we use to calculate how many bars of signal strength to display is totally wrong. Our formula, in many instances, mistakenly displays 2 more bars than it should for a given signal strength. For example, we sometimes display 4 bars when we should be displaying as few as 2 bars. Users observing a drop of several bars when they grip their iPhone in a certain way are most likely in an area with very weak signal strength, but they don’t know it because we are erroneously displaying 4 or 5 bars. Their big drop in bars is because their high bars were never real in the first place.

Ah! So, there’s really nothing wrong with the iPhone, except for the fact that it makes you think you have better reception than you actually do. Brilliant!  Now the attention gets put back on AT&T, because their network stinks and the iPhone just has been tricking you into thinking it’s better than it really is.  So, just get used to seeing less bars in more places, then you won’t be as disappointed when your bars drop off totally.

Then, Consumer Reports reviews the phone.  It finds the same issues with connection problems and black-balls with iPhone4 with the dreaded “not recommended” label.  Apple pays no mind when tech pundits and reviewers yell “foul”, but when Consumer Reports pulls you over their knee and spanks you in public… well, that’s not awesome.

Finally, the last straw.  The Federal government got involved.  New York Senator Charles Schumer sends an open letter to Steve Jobs telling him to come clean with what’s going on, fix it, and give everyone a free case which seems to fix the issue.

Then the real dancing began.  Apple held a full on press conference on Friday to fill everyone in on what they found.  Basically, Steve still said there’s nothing defective about their phone-  ALL phones can be utterly killed by holding them wrong.  In fact, they threw several other phone vendors under the bus by showing videos of bars dropping when being gripped “wrong”. However, they said they were going to give out free bumpers to everyone who wanted one, just because they are nice guys.  Oh, and if you bought a bumper already, they’ll give you your money back…. as long as you bought their case and not some other case.

Here’s my issue with this:

1. Yes, if you smother the primary antennae output area of a phone with your hand, you can get it to drop reception.  In fact, I can drop a few bars if I do that on my EVO.  But with the iPhone, you can get the phone to disconnect if you just touch the forbidden area with the tip of your finger.  Placing a small rubber bumper between the forbidden area and your skin fixes this problem.  This phenomenon is unique to the iPhone, so trying to point fingers at other phones that demonstrate some attenuation issues that are not even nearly as bad as the one the iPhone4 has seems a bit childish.

2. OK, so let’s just assume that Apple’s reasoning about the “forbidden spot of death” is accurate and it affects every phone on the market (which it doesn’t) then why on earth would you put that killer spot in an area that is almost certain to come into contact with skin?

3. Their offer of a free bumper only extends until September 30th.  What happens after that?  Will Apple actually have a hardware fix in place by then, or will every new iPhone4 user just need to factor in the price of a $30 bumper at the time of purchase?

Dance-on twinkle toes.

EVO vs iPhone 4

Posted in opinions, Uncategorized with tags on June 30, 2010 by unclepain

OK, so I broke down and actually put down my money for the Sprint EVO 4G.  I’ve been scoping the smartphone market for the last 9 months knowing that my contract with AT&T was due to expire in February of this year.  At first I was tempted by the Google Nexus One, but it was T-Mobile only (originally), which sucks in my locale.  Then, I was swayed by the 5 inch goodness of the Dell Mini 5, or its official name: The Dell Streak.  It was supposed to come to AT&T, but they took their sweet time and it still hasn’t been released in the US.  So, while waiting I was pretty sure the iPhone would come out in June (just like every year), so I thought I’d just hang out and see what features it had and see if it made sense for me to go there.

….and then the bomb dropped:  The Sprint EVO 4G was previewed and it blew me away.  It’s a geek’s dream come true.  It’s like Marty McFly went to the future, picked up this phone in the year 2027, came back to 2009 and accidentally dropped the phone in the Sprint R&D lab where they reverse engineered the technology, sprinkled in some alien technology from the crashed Roswell alien spacecraft, and then dropped it on an unsuspecting geek community in 2010 and caused us all to lose our collective nerd minds.

So, I’m basically a very happy EVO user.  Yes, there’s been a few issues along the way:  For one, the default configuration on the phone is setup to drain your battery FAST.  You have to go in and tweak about 20 items in your settings panel to get acceptable battery life.  I’ve done that now and I get great battery life- At least 14-18 hours with moderate use during that time.

The Android market place is nowhere near as dense as the Apple App Store, although I anticipate that in the next 2 years there will be significantly more Android handsets in the world than Apple phones and I also predict that the Android Market place will get just as much developer attention as the Apple App Store.  Apple does have a 2 year head start on Android, but their smartphone dominance won’t last for long.  Many folks have complained about Apple’s iron fist policy with developers and the apps that get to be in the App store, but they do a great job of making sure the apps are stable.  I’ve never seen an iPhone app crash, but then again I haven’t tried all 200,000 of them.

The iPhone still has the easiest user interface and a great ecosystem of iTunes and 3rd party accessories…. but that’s the end of the iPhone’s advantages.  The EVO beats the iPhone in every other technical aspect I cared about:

Screen Size- 3.5 inches for iPhone 4- 4.3 inches for EVO.  That large screen is a joy to use- Winner EVO

Video conferencing- iPhone 4 will only let you video chat to other iPhone 4 users, and only over Wifi.  EVO can video chat with users on Qik, Fring, and Skype over Wifi and 3G, and it works. Winner EVO

Removable battery- iPhone NO, EVO YES-  Winner EVO

Removable Micro SD memory card- iPhone NO, EVO YES- Winner EVO

HDMI video out- iPhone NO, EVO YES- Winner EVO

Personal MiFi hotspot built into phone- iPhone NO, EVO YES- Winner EVO

Extensive customizable OS and developer support for custom ROM development- iPhone NO, EVO YES- Winner EVO

Flash support- iPhone NO, EVO YES- Winner EVO

Cell reception works no matter how you hold the phone- iPhone NO, EVO YES- Winner EVO

Basically, the EVO owns the iPhone 4, but most iPhone lovers will never see their idevice as anything other than a gift from God himself.  I ran across a really funny video on the web the other day that perfectly details this phenomenon in a hilarious animated short.  Unfortunately, it was inundated with profanity so I created an edited version of the video that is safe for children and grandmothers too.  Enjoy!