Video


EagleDeer2 by Linda Kerley, Zoological Society of London (ZSL)

Click. Click. Click. Cameras are everywhere. Mobile devices, security in buildings, and those dreaded traffic cameras. (Raises hand, I have been busted.) The warning to a new generation is “someone is always watching AND recording.” It sounds scary. How does this impact Techlife readers?

Science is all about data and more data equals more knowledge. In 2011, Linda L. Kerley (Zoological Society of London) and Jonathan C. Slaght (Wildlife Conservation Society) caught something on film that not only had never been recorded but had never been documented as possible by scientists. The pair actually found documentation stating this should never happen. But it did.

Footage and stills from devices have helped during disasters and news embargoes. Bringing unedited, raw images to governments, scientists, rescue workers and sharing them with news organizations have helped make the world a place where video and stills have improved the quality of life. (Despite my experience with a traffic cam.)

Linda and Jonathan study Siberian tigers in Russia using infrared camera triggers to track animal movement. Plagued by the same woes as the rest of us, batteries and storage, the cameras need routine visits to keep them running. During a visit to a camera Linda saw a deer carcass close by but oddly no other animal tracks were in the snow. The deer tracks showed it had been running and then it just stopped and died?

EagleDeer1 by Linda Kerley, Zoological Society of London (ZSL)

Stopped and died like your smartphone on a vacation? Cameras use a lot of power, as the screen is active during shooting and if you activate the flash that small burst can drain the battery even faster. Learn to frame and shoot quickly and reduce the use of the flash. Your device will live longer. I have set my smartphone to never use the flash.

Linda’s discovery was a scientific first.  The camera caught three images during a two second burst of a golden eagle attacking a sika deer. Golden eagles have powerful talons combined with a massive wingspan. Their stealth air attack combined with speed and talon piercing often crushes their prey quickly. Also of note was the forest attack, unusual for these open space hunters. These shots were not only a first for science in recording an event unknown to us, but they serve as reminder to scientists to keep an open mind about our world.

EagleDeer3 by Linda Kerley, Zoological Society of London (ZSL)

Click. Click. Click. From your local town to the remote forests of Russia, cameras click and whir capturing what passes before their lenses. Like Linda and Jonathan your unintended capture might result in a key historical moment. Keep your hand steady, and remember a camera is the chance to capture a moment in time. What is your most amazing photo?

 Photo Credits: Linda Kerley, Zoological Society of London (ZSL)

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When you see a headline like “Drive for $1000, Alex” you may think Techlife’s electric car column is on its way. (Hint: Nissan, Tesla or Chevrolet when you drop one off, my outlet will power not just a review.) So if not electric cars, maybe this is about Google’s self driving cars that were on real roads with live drivers. Strike two. How about if you stop guessing and just let me tell you? No? You want to keep guessing? Bingo. That’s the “Drive” I am talking about.

We have covered so many unique folks to date, in just 2011; Connor Dunn of TabCloud, Jared Fanning and Michael Baldwin the cartographers, Josh Nimoy, Aleksandar Rodic, Chris Milk for coders of Open GL, Jeremy Young the amazing artist and let’s not forget my mom and her gmail hack. What did all of these people have in common? Ok, that was rhetorical – I set you up to say “Drive.” So as we explore a time in the calendar when some people take it easy, I wanted to share the story of drive. Instead of just sharing one person, learn about the passion two vastly different people bring to what they do.

Earlier this year I covered the amazing feat of IBM Researchers in “What is a computer overlord? Meet Watson.” Their goal was to have a computer be able to understand and beat the best human players of all time in a game of “Jeopardy!”  Well, be amazed again; meet Roger Craig, the all time Jeopardy! single day money winner.  He did it in just his second match, beating Ken Jennings record. Roger went on to become a Tournament of Champions winner as well.

This was no accident. This was pure drive. Roger details his dominance, with a look at his training methods. He used popular Jeopardy! site J-archive to build a private web learning tool around the data. Just to prove it works, he allowed three other friends to train with it. Each was a contestant who also crushed their competition (though they remain anonymous at this time.) His brilliant move, dismantling learning as he knew it.  His drive led him to re-learn, how to learn. Re-read that again. He taught himself a new way to learn.

You are sitting there nodding right now. Saying, yeah but Roger’s very smart to begin with and that helped in his quest. Drive has no barriers. Meet Kenny Brooks, door-to-door salesman. In just seven minutes he will have you wanting to buy his product.

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“Yeah, right? I don’t think so,”  you are saying to yourself. For years you have been conditioned to  not trust door-to-door folks, and be a skeptic. Kenny does more than show his drive, he details it for the listener. He explains himself and his goals, along with his role models. His drive is clear and direct but the delivery gets you laughing and excited. With nearly 1000 comments some claim this video to be phony, even so Kenny’s methods and his style show the human drive to immerse yourself in the challenge.

As the year winds to an end, and we begin to look ahead, pick your passion, and drive it into next year.

Remember way back to February when the Colts lost to the Saints in a great Superbowl (except for you Colts fans)? Like you, I watched the Superbowl commercials too.  You might not remember Google’s simple Superbowl campaign was a search box with a person researching various aspects of life around a central theme, meeting a French girl. It was pretty forgetful, even today it only has 5 million plus views. Interestingly Google didn’t forget. (We included the ad if you are reading the digital version, and this is a Techlife where you want too, trust me.)

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Google had bigger plans for their campaign known as Search Stories. Using YouTube.com they gave users a way to Create Your Own Search Story.  Putting the power of the story in the hands of their users. They made it easy and painless. Here’s how in 7 easy steps.

1. Pick a topic. We chose something close to home, getting more readers for Techlife.

2. Create up to seven different searches that will be illustrated

3. For each search choose one of 7 different search types. Such as maps, books, images and more.

4. Keep in mind your last search is going to be the end of your Superbowl Ad

5. Next pick your music, Google provides 24 tracks in various categories.

6. Finally edit your masterpiece, which might require going back a few times. Mine did.

7. Add a title, genre, description and upload. You’re done!

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Google advises things such as:

…using the different kinds of search to add visual variety to the story…

…tell a story that ends with a surprise…

So this sounds perfect what could possibly be wrong? A lot. First off let’s start with the biggest. You aren’t getting your own Superbowl ad. You aren’t even getting your own late night ad. This is pure and simple a promotion for Google.

Secondly their ads are better than yours will ever be. (Mine too!)  Why? Because they break their own rules and don’t use the Search Stories creator to make their ads. Most ads I viewed by them had two parts that will always beat the regular story teller.

Part 1 they use a real audio expert to mix audio sounds that are more than just the simple 24 songs they offer the regular director like you and me. It’s good sound too, the kind that enhances the ad and really was carefully created.

Part 2 they create many more visual tricks such than their own story editor allows. Tricks such as quick cuts, live YouTube videos, maps that animate or use street level views, and even mobile views of Google products.

It’s the equivalent of us having a stick to play with and them having all the fun toys for the cool kids.Well for those of you who are digital readers that last joke makes perfect sense when you view the video. For those in print, the last video has a pretty famous award winning team make a cameo. Peek in and take a look. And maybe my ad just worked.

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Often when I write a column like this I open myself up to a barrage of “help me” requests from friends, family, random strangers who recognize me and stop me on the street.  It seems today’s problem is one we all are saddled with, spaghetti wiring. Before we delve into this meatball topic (forgive that last pun, it’s cheesy – Parmesan cheesy. Sick yet?  Just wait.) I want to cut off the requests at the pass.

Techlife is all about you reading, absorbing and doing.  Techlife is excited to hear from readers (and family, you know who you are) who solved their spaghetti wiring. Are you still asking yourself why take the column in this direction? Because I don’t want to come to your home or office, you can do this.  There I said it.

The New Gadget

Look behind your desk or main television, mess of wires? That’s spaghetti wiring. That’s what I was facing.

I had gotten a new DVD Recorder/VCR (yes we still have some old tapes) combo unit and was excited to replace an aging and often broken DVD player and remove an old VCR from my living room setup. Streamlined. That was going to be me.

Upon close inspection, I realized this was going to be a time sink. I had a TiVo, a TV, a Wii, a Receiver, a DVD player, a VCR, surround sound speakers, and a few other black boxes that did who knows what. Each had a power cable and many connecting wires to carry video and audio and connect and record and — STOP!  Spaghetti wiring.

A few months later came the inevitable, “Why is this new combo unit still sitting here?” I took another peek at the spaghetti wiring and saw not surprisingly, nothing had changed.  The next thing I knew I was scraping arms, reaching deep behind wall units, and moving things around. Then came the moment of truth, powering up for the test and…

Spaghetti Wiring 101 – a How To Guide

  1. Invest in small velcro cable ties and white labelmaker labels.
  2. Start simple. Pick one unit and extract the wires.
  3. Label both ends of the extracted wire, with descriptive helpers such as  “To TiVo” or “From Wii”.
  4. Grouping wires using velcro straps. Open a strap and add new wire to bundle and velcro back up.
  5. Only deal with the units you need too, this is not the time to re-wire the world.
  6. Use a camera to take photos before you start and after you finish. Store photos for future reference.

It’s All in the Title

I believe in karma when testing.  I had ripped the guts of my system apart. Had dust bunnies across everything and now was the time to test the system. I pulled out my test media I thought were in line with the situation. For DVD, Defiance, the amazing true story of survival during the Holocaust. For CD, The Big Chill soundtrack,  a collection of classic tunes all music lovers should own. For VHS, The Nutcracker, a fantasy story about a little girl’s dream world with beautiful music.

Well look at this, the first few images from Defiance, one down, two left. Next up the first few notes of Marvin Gaye’s I heard it through the Grapevine sweetly reached my ears. Finally darling little Clara dancing with Sugarplum Fairies. I had done it!

I had defied the spaghetti wiring while a DVD player and VCR were casualties of their own big chill. I had cracked the nut of taking the wiring mess and giving it beautiful future. (I warned you this was full of puns.) Let’s hear your stories of spaghetti wiring warfare, puns welcome.

Ever wanted to draw that perfect circle?  Or maybe make hot ice?  Head over to Techlife’s new favorite time sink edu-site, WonderHowTo.com a site with over 230,000 videos and articles organized by category (as of December 2009.)

WonderHowTo.com has both human and algorithmic judging to determine a video or article”s true educational nature.  Their community of users is always submitting and organizing new how to videos and how to articles.  This increases the chance this do-it-yourself content will be useful.  They also let other users rate content on an A, B, C scale so you quickly know how well a video or article actually instructs.

In their FAQ they even explain this is not a sales site, and videos from infomercials or clips from how to DVDs are not allowed.  This helps keep the content spot-on.  Their categories are quite varied and include something for everyone.  (Categories listed below).

In addition, they have a Wonderment category, which is a great trove of interesting content not all of it How-To, with provactive titles such as: Eat Your Wedding Dress, Tree in a Jar and Learn the Na’vi Language of Avatar.

Ever wanted some bar tricks to win free drinks here are a few choice options: Move a Trapped Dollar under a Bottle, Big Coin through a Small Hole, and our favorite Make a Fork and Spoon Defy Gravity.

They even have a series of videos from Michael Jordan on various instructional aspects of playing basketball.  Ever wonder How to do the Crossover by Michael Jordan.  Now you know.

What is your favorite How to video or article?  Post it in the comments.

WonderHowTo.com’s Categories

Techlife covers Hulu

Techlife was called into the principal’s office.  One of the Publisher’s of a paper that carries my syndicated column Techlife, called me to complain.  Now before you get all high-falutin’ as the superfans of  Techlife are often apt to do, and organize a FlashMob at the offices of the Publisher.  Let’s talk about the facts.

FACT: I have written Techlife since 2005.

FACT: I have written more than 230 columns to date.

FACT: I have had more than 5000 readers interact with the column.

FACT: I am stopped at least once a month for my good looks as the writer of a famous syndicated technology and life column.

FACT: We welcome opinions of all types, especially those that support the above fact.

“Not to shabby,” I can hear you thinking.  And of course you the readers have made this possible.  The phone call in question was a bit of a principle issue. (Notice how we used both versions of the word, who says we can’t turn a phrase.)  It seems that allegedly a reader or too contacted the Publisher thinking my column was more advertorial than witty, high brow, useful, well written, drivel that I intend it to be.  Let’s examine the recent evidence shall we, here are some recent columns in reverse order…

Now I submit to you a jury of my loyal readers, biased in all ways they should be, who have lined their birdcages read the columns does it sound advertorial to you?  Sure I throw in a bit about my life, my company, my family like all good writers do.  It makes me seem authentic and smart, a thinly veiled ploy to connect with the reader.  And if one of you were to contact me for cup of a coffee to discuss your own business ideas, would I not pretend to listen?  So if a few of these advertorial accusers would like to step forward, we can comment back and forth as so many others do here at Techlife. We welcome all feedback.  Special thanks to our Publisher and our Editors on this one.  Did I do Dave Barry proud?

In speaking with a client, I was told I often remind them of Michael Bluth, Jason Bateman‘s character on the show Arrested Development.  I had never seen an episode, but this client mentioned it was on Hulu.  So I proceeded to watch all of Arrested Development on Hulu, you might detect that a bit in this month’s column or else, I’ve made a huge mistake.

Hulu, a partnership between some of the major networks, has old and new movies and television shows that play in full screen on your computer.  Everything is on-demand, loading in a few seconds in HD.  It is well thought out and easy to use.  I don’t love the control factor, for example they recently cut out Season 2 and 3 of Arrested Development with no reason given, though message boards guess to sell DVDs.  I can already see the complaints by employers to my Publisher for introducing this time sucker.  And for that I know Dave Barry would be proud.

We love our readers!  Let me say that again, we LOVE our readers.  A faithful Techlife reader just sent me this custom viral video which certainly got my attention and had me watch it.  Techlife is covering this technology, more than posting election coverage as this technology will be seen more and more.  This viral tool has been used more than 9.7 million times for this site alone according to the New York Times.  It is a very interesting move to get American’s out to vote.

You will notice if you watch carefully, this video has my name, Dave Kaufman, sprinkled throughout in various places.   It came with an email, targeting me by name as well.  I have to say it was very well done and got us thinking about the ways people and companies will be soon making more and more personal approaches to everything we do.  It is certainly a form of Digital Ethnography.

I appreciated the humorous nature of this video and website effort, but I wonder how much I will like it when it tells a young child to do something and uses their name.  Another scary use of this technology is more advanced phishing or social hacking scams.

Guy Kawaski appreciates the humor and suggest’s a good use for his own company and as a marketing tactic.  A site called New York Politics Room 8 talks a bit about the study showing personalization in election marketing helps get voters to turn out.

For today enjoy it and if you want to send one to a friend click here, but let us know what you think and always keep the great emails coming in.

OLPC on 60 minutesWayan Vota from OLPC News

While writing a recent article, on the OLPC XO Laptop, one of the all time most popular articles on Techlife, we got to meet Wayan Vota the founder of OLPC News. Wayan’s a strong, independent voice in the community of OLPC and the XO Laptop. He was featured on 60 Minutes for his work. (see 7:06 mark on Techlife TV for Wayan) I appreciated his grasp of both technology and non-profits and how the two mesh, so we sat down with him to learn more about what makes Wayan tick (tick, tick.) (unabashed 60 Minute pun for the OLPCNews readers who know me.)

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Lesley Stahl discusses the 60 Minutes piece on the OLPC on Techlife TV.

Techlife: Wayan Vota. Interesting name, what are the origins?

Wayan Vota: Born on Bali to hippie folks. Got a local name in the process.

TL: Why did you start OLPC News?

WV: In the summer of 2006 I noticed there was much hype around OLPC, but little thoughtful analysis of its proposed methods and assumed impacts. I wanted to explore the details of OLPC’s implementation plan – how it expected to actually get laptops in the hands of children worldwide – in public form of open commentary and discussion. With ~5,000 daily readers, over a dozen writers, and too many contributors to count, I feel that OLPC News is successful beyond my wildest dreams.

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Animator vs. Animation II

Techlife readers are really amazing. You send in some of the best things on the web. Once again loyal reader Dan found a gem, with Alan Becker‘s Animator vs. Animation movie. It follows the story of a small Flash animated stick figure as he wreaks havoc on the flash desktop of his maker.

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Watch Animator vs. Animation on Techlife TV

Being the inquisitive bunch we did a bit more research and found that this gem is really part of of a larger collection of work by the talented Mr. Becker. After the success of Animator vs. Animation, Alan built Animator vs Animation II. In this story, the animator does the unthinkable and risks his entire computer to a stick figure’s wrath.

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Watch Animator vs. Animation II on Techlife TV

Alan’s wild success was recognized by the world,  and he teamed with Charles Yeh and Atom Films to create Animator vs. Animation: The Game, which is a blast. (pun intended). And then the duo modded it a bit and created Animator vs. Animation: The Game SE (Special Edition).

Animator vs. Animation Animator vs. AnimationThere are a lot of small touches Alan added to these animations, be sure to keep your eyes on areas like the backgrounds and text labels to catch all the attention to detail. I enjoyed Animator vs. Animation, as you can see the care and effort Alan put into his first masterpiece in the genre. Animator vs. Animation II is great second effort with some out of the box thinking and a real ending. I hope Alan is plotting Animator vs. Animation III, I’ll be watching.

Animator vs. Animation IIAlan’s inspiration likely comes from the original Stick Art films. Stick art animations have been around for a long time, and are often violent and a bit comedic. What’s your favorite? Post the link below.

Line RiderA winter wind whips a lone rider on his trusty sled. With only a small hat and a candy cane scarf his entire existence is to ride the line. Can he keep it up? Will he make it? Only you will determine it. Only you can make the flight of the Line Rider.

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It’s been a while since Techlife has brought us another in the series of Friends of Line Rider. Can you tell we missed the little guy? Today we find ourselves enjoying Line Rider Zada v1.3.

A modded Line Rider version with everything that is missing in the first Line Rider. Use the eraser, speedups and zoom for a better Line Rider experience.that is Zada!

Line Rider Zada is really quite the fun afternoon and perfect for adults and kids alike.

Line Rider Zada v1.3

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Techlife TV has a double feature today with videos on Android the Google operating system for mobile phones. These videos demo simple text messaging and chat, rendering of the earth, the videogame Quake, Google Maps and Street view and much more.

As a long time user of the Sidekick by Tmobile, also known as the Hiptop, Techlife TV was excited to see Apple’s iPhone be released and now Google’s Open Handset Alliance operating system Android in the wild. These mainstream devices will help provide competition to RIM’s Blackberry Operating System and Microsoft’s Mobile platform along with the other manufacturers of smart phones like Nokia and Palm. It was interesting to see Microsoft buy Danger the makers of the Sidekick mostly because Danger founder Andy Rubin left a few years ago to form a company acquired by Google and now turned into Android. So all this means more for the consumer.

Which smart phone will win is anyone’s guess? But with Apple moving into the top ten in sales of the iPhone it will be exciting to watch the future unfold in this segment of the marketplace.

Google’s Andy Rubin demos Android for the BBC – Blip.tv video via Gizmodo

HEMA: Brillant Design and Execution

To be unique in today’s business environment you need more than creativity. You need management willing to take a risk, and top notch people to bring the idea to life. HEMA, a Dutch Department Store has what it takes. HEMA gets it.

As many longtime readers know Techlife has a day job, providing marketing and technology consulting which includes web site design. We are always looking for unique examples, that really engage the user. We got this email from Charlie S., a reader and customer.

HEMA is a Dutch department store. The first store opened on November 4, 1926, in Amsterdam. Now there are 150 stores all over the Netherlands. HEMA also has stores in Belgium, Luxemburg, and Germany. In June of this year, HEMA was sold to British investment company Lion Capital.

Take a look at HEMA’s product page. You can’t order anything and it’s in Dutch but just wait a couple of minutes and watch what happens on the page.

Charlie’s email proves something that HEMA executives figured out. Make something unique and people will help virally market for you. HEMA’s site has attracted positive attention, just look at these headlines. Who wouldn’t want these types of things associated with their company?

Creativity Matters

Hema – Greatest Store Ever

Great Website

HEMA: Breaking Through The Clutter of Online Retail

Cool Site of the Month

Cool Online Catalog Promo

HEMA: Innovative Error Page or Advertisement – You Decide

HEMA has people touting the greatness of their products, talking about their company, using words like creativity, greatest, cool, and innovative. People don’t mind marketing when it has an entertaining purpose. They embrace it.
Have you seen a great Rube-Goldberg or unique marketing idea? Let us know in the comments.

One of my favorites is Honda’s Rube Goldberg. What sets these apart from other ads is the time and energy in the productions, people appreciate the clever, hard work that makes a few seconds of enjoyment, but a lasting impression.
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History of Religion by MapsofWar.com

A reader emailed me MapsofWar.com and I was intrigued. But the mystery only starts with the amazing visuals spanning 5,000 years of religion or imperialism.

Many clients I work with ask me to visually simplify complex problems and we use various techniques to deliver stunning solutions. Maps of War has used history as the backdrop for an artist who’s medium is Flash and large data sets. Techlife interviewed the creator and artist of Maps of War, who wished to remain anonymous.

Techlife: MoW is a dynamic project, why did you create the first MoW? Which one is it?

Maps of War: The first map was Imperial History of the Middle East. This map was the original idea I wanted to share with everyone, and the overall site was created to showcase it.

Imperial History by MapsofWar.com

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TiVo HDWhile they last at Amazon, get a TiVo HD for just $257, saving nearly $45. Of course you also get free ground shipping which makes this an even better deal. I have been reading about all the great features, and am pretty excited about Amazon’s Unbox partnership with TiVo. I will be able to download movies from Amazon and have them show up on my TiVo.

Amazon Unbox and TiVo

Even better with the TiVo HD I can do Progressive Download of Amazon Unbox, which means I can get my movie and start watching just 10 min later. That’s quicker than a trip to the video store!
Techlife has been a long time user of TiVo, since back in 2000 with a TiVo Series 1 when it was a gift from a friend. We thank him every chance we get.

Since then nearly every person who has ever seen our TiVo has not just craved one but bought one. We have returned the favor and bought a few as gifts and the “thank you’s” have been overwhelming. All in all, more than 100 people now have a TiVo home and even more impressive at least 8 come to mind who have multiple TiVo’s in their home.

So it was time. Time for us to consider upgrading the TiVo Series 1. There have been quite a few changes since then, as most people know you are looking at a TiVo Series 2 and a TiVo HD Series 3, but there was an intriguing option that I kept coming back to, the TiVo HD, which didn’t list “series”. This had a lower capacity but still High Definition recording in a PVR with the TiVo software. How could I go wrong? After a bit more research I was sold. It lists for $299.99 in most retailers, but thanks to Amazon’s great deal it is less, at least today.

What is the best feature of your TiVo? What is the best feature of your TiVo Series 2 or Series 3? Leave a comment.

Techlife TV gets submissions from readers all the time, send yours in. Allan sent in the Christmas bonus level, but while checking it out, we came upon the coolest 8 Bit Nintendo video we have seen in a while. How many games can you name? Super Mario Bros, The Legend of Zelda, Tetris…

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8-bit Awesome

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The12 Days of Christmas

by: Straight No Chaser – Indiana University

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