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May 31, 2004

iMovie Rocks

My niece called today in a panic asking if her family’s iMac had a FireWire port (she wasn’t at home to check). Her question surprised me, as she is normally completely uninterested in computers. It turns out that she and some friends had been working on a video for school that was due—you guessed it—tomorrow. She really needed a computer with a FireWire port and iMovie, so they could edit their video. My wife graciously donated her iMac to the cause even though none of us had ever used iMovie. This promised to be a real adventure in software.

If you’ve ever watched Apple’s CEO, Steve Jobs, demo iMovie or any of the other iApps during a Macworld keynote, you can’t help but be sucked in by the ease of it all. He makes it look effortless and for a moment, you think Hey, I could do that. But then the glow fades, and you remember it’s only a demo. Nothing (especially software) works like that in real life. Well, I felt like I was living a Steve Jobs demo after using iMovie for the first time. With little more than a glance at the handful of brief but well-written PDFs that comprise the entire “documentation,” we were off and running.

We started by copying the video from the digital camcorder to the iMac. The iMac recognized the camera, and we started importing video. We soon discovered (accidentally) that iMovie made a new clip at each scene change automatically. That was a very pleasant surprise and saved a lot of time. It was the first of many such discoveries.

Editing was similarly elegant and painless. Throughout the process I was amazed at how smoothly the program ran knowing how much data was being slung about. We hardly had to wait for anything except when rendering a complicated effect, and I never saw the dreaded beachball. One of my niece’s friends was very computer-literate, and I was quickly replaced in the driver’s seat. She did a great job. Even though she had never used iMovie (or, I suspect, a Mac), she was editing like a pro in short order, because iMovie’s interface was so simple and intuitive, although it was necessary to consult the PDFs for an explanation of a few of the features. The only time we stumbled was applying titles, which didn’t seem to “take” on the first try.

In a few hours, they had finished editing their video from over a hundred clips down to a 20-minute finished length with music, sound effects, titles, and special effects. Getting the video back into the camcorder was as easy as getting it out (we would have burned a DVD, but we didn’t have any).

As hard as I am on Apple at times, I have to admit that iMovie is a winner.

May 27, 2004

Philadelphia FileMaker Users Group Forms

After work I attended the first-ever meeting of the Philadelphia FileMaker Users Group. Attendance was excellent and our host, IT Solutions Consulting, served pizza and soda. I arrived too late for the food, but heard most of the presentation extolling the virtues of FileMaker 7. I was struck again and again during the presentation not by how good FileMaker 7 is, but rather by how utterly lame previous versions have been by comparison. I can’t believe how many years we all (FileMaker users and developers) have suffered with FileMaker’s infuriating limitations. But hey, in its niche, it was the only game in town.

May 26, 2004

Leica's Fixed

So what’s new? Well, I got my beloved Leica M4 (here’s some pictures of a famous one) back from being repaired. And lo, there was much rejoicing. That put me in a photographic mood, so I have added five pictures to my PAW (Picture-a-Week) project. None of them were taken with the Leica. Go figure.

May 23, 2004

Oakes at Ten Months

There’s a new picture of our Seeing Eye puppy, Oakes, taken about a week ago at ten months of age.

May 11, 2004

Moving Day

So, we’ve moved. Whew! I could really use a beer after lugging all those pixels.

When I changed from, uh, the empty void it was (2000 to 2002) to the lively, thriving... well, at least somewhat less empty site it is today, I was always bothered that the domain name didn’t suit the nature of the site. Finally I registered the name I’ve been calling this place for over a year and completed the move yesterday. Since I only changed the domain name, it was easy to redirect any address at to the new domain. Welcome.

The other project that has been keeping me busy was putting up my photos of our trip to Denver last summer. I did it the hard way, of course, with PHP and MySQL, but it was a great learning experience.

By the way, I’ve updated the history of the “early years” here with some amusing looks at earlier incarnations of the site. Someday I’ll look back at this site and laugh, too, but for now it’s home.