September 26, 2012
Just a quick bit of "I Love Adobe Media Encoder" here. Yes, the UI is a bit...strange, and its error messages can be obtuse, but I have yet to find a format it couldn't convert and well. It handles stuff that Compressor won't even try with, and it does so well.
I can forgive some UI weirdness when the damned thing does what its supposed to do that well.
Now, if it were just scriptable, it'd be damned near perfect.| Comments ()
September 20, 2012
A little perspective
On the OMG NO TRANSIT, APPLE MAPS ARE TEH FAAAAAAIALLLLLLL idiocy:
Here, the wonderful google map info for transit routes in Tallahassee, FL:
So, by all the wailing going on, should I pronounce Google Maps an abject failure, because it doesn't have transit maps for Tallahassee? No, that would be stupid. Is the lack of transit info a pain in the ass for people, lots of them in fact? Absolutely. Does it make the Maps in iOS 6 OMG USELESS AND A FAAIIILLLLLLURRREEE? No, don't be stupid. My son rides the bus in tally, i'm pretty sure he'd love for ANYONE to give him an iOS app that has real-time transit info. But, doesn't exist yet that we know of, so life goes on.
Are there areas in which Google maps kick Apple's ass? Absolutely. But there is one area where Apple destroys Google on iOS, and that is turn-by-turn. Google Maps never had it, iOS 6 does. So for my needs, fuck google maps.
"But John, you're not EVERYONE"
Well no foolin'. Really! Did I say that I was? No, not even close. Like I said, for people who relied on transit data, iOS 6 Maps are a step back, but, let's be clear, even Google isn't perfect on this. Google doesn't create that data itself. It relies on the transit authorities to provide that data out in a reasonably open format. Really, here's the URL. Note that Google isn't getting this data, it's relying on other agencies to give it to them. If that doesn't happen, Google doesn't have shit. Now, for a small town like Tallahassee, not a big deal. Here, the Tally Transit Website. This is pretty simple stuff. But what about a city like Jacksonville, that is not tiny, in fact, it's the eleventh most populous city in the US? Surely they're part of Google Transit. I mean, they have buses, trolleys, even an overhead people mover. It even has a fairly major Amtrak station (fifth busiest in the US), and a passenger ship terminal. It's not New York, but it's not podunk either.
Nope. Not on Google transit.
So for the entire population of Jacksonville, this problem is...not a problem. Becaue their transit agency doesn't provide the data Google needs, Google can't do shit about it.
A reasonable person would ponder this, and realize that transit is kind of a mess, even Google isn't even close to perfect at it, and for rather a lot of people, they literally don't know what they are missing, and so while it is a problem for many people, it is not a problem for all people.
But, reasonable doesn't make the hits flow.| Comments ()
September 19, 2012
It's not levelator
So in my last post, I was, I thought, pretty clear. Right now, putting together the AMB podcast, and as it turns out, all podcasts, can be described the same way:
A series of simple repetitive steps, with only small parts automatable. It's not that any one part is difficult. It's that every damned part is manual, and of it all, the stuff that's the most automatable turns out to be the stuff that's the simplest of all.
As well, a lot, and I mean, almost everyone, focused in on Levelator, and how to do that better. I'm not a sound person, I'm not going to pass judgement on the technical aspects of Levelator, I can't. It doesn't fuck shit up, and the files it puts out sound good. It's also dead simple, requiring exactly zero thought. Drag file onto icon in dock. Wait about five minutes.
There you go, the ENTIRE Levelator process. Okay, add an export and import step there. Seriously, it's not hard. (that's what she said.)
None of this is hard. There's not a single step or collection of steps in there that is hard. It's that they are all *manual*. I got some suggestions on automating the XML file updates. That's hilarious in a sense, as I do it in probably the most automatable application on the platform, BBEdit. Seriously folks, if I wanted to automate that, I'd have done it years ago. There's not a podcast file application out there that will do this better than BBEdit. About the only thing BBEdit won't do is upload directly to S3. But, I could script that via Transmit.
That part is easy.
Every part is easy.
It's just that it's all manual, and it shouldn't be. This isn't making a fucking record. I'm not on my back in a bathroom screaming while someone plays drums in the living room and i'm worried the mic angle being 20 degrees instead of 20.5 will fuck up my genius and WHERE'S THE STRIPPER WITH MY FUCKING COKE?
I record one simple audio track, take two more and a while later, podcast. This is not some work of genius, I'm not Eddie Kramer mixing Led Zeppelin II with Jimmy Page about to stab me in the face if I get it wrong. It's generic production, and given the podcast market is mostly solo folks with no clue about audio talking about whatever, who don't want to have to care about the difference between normalization and compression, the fact that this isn't more automatable is really surprising. What is needed, what I think would sell is the Jetson's version. Audio file and some text in one end, bang, podcast is done some time later. But instead, we have Pro Tools tips, and Logic tips, and fuck me, I don't need either of those. I appreciate the thought, but I don't need Pro Tools. What I need is the ACME PODCASTINATOR. Think the podcast version of the NEST thermostat, and you have what I mean.
So please...don't tell me how to avoid the Levelator step, because when you do, it tells me that while you read the article, you didn't really think about what I was talking about.| Comments ()
September 18, 2012
Wanted: A Production Audio App
Seriously, that's what I could really use. Don't get me wrong, things like WireTap Studio and GarageBand are excellent applications, but both of them skew towards craftsmanship. They're for recording tracks, tweaking them, applying effects, and generally, applying craftsmanship. Same thing, from what I can tell with Logic.
That's great, and you can get amazing results from that. But for a lot of folks, that's not what they need, and it sure as hell isn't what I need. I'm not spending months creating an album, I'm hammering out a podcast every week. Here's what we do for AMB:
- We each record local audio with a variety of apps. We've tried other ways, but network issues make us their bitch.
- I grab the other audio tracks from Dropbox and shove them into GarageBand.
- I sync them up, trim excess and export as AIFF
- Drop AIFF onto Levelator, so that our levels are equalized out. Levelator is awesome.
- Shove AIFF back into GarageBand and make sure the podcast ads are the right length, come up with tag line for episode. Export as AAC
- Use BBEdit to update RSS file while podcast uploads
- Upload new podcast file, ping feedburner, make sure it's downloadable in iTunes
- Use MarsEdit to build blog entry for website & post.
- Post updates to twitter & FB
Within that, there are various parts that are harder or easier than most. Step-by-step, how things could work better:
- For items 1-3, this is actually pretty easy. At this point, I can sync up myself, Peter and Darby pretty easily. Do something for almost 4 years, you get good, who knew. Really, the only delay is that it takes GB a dog's age to give me the track waveform visuals. That's the only significant delay. An App that did multi-track editing and showed me the visuals faster would get my attention. One that handled importing different audio formats (I drop MP3/AAC/AIFF on GB at the same time) faster would definitely get my attention. One that could "remember" wave forms would be even better.
Really, the three of us say "I'm <name>" about the same way every time. The overall variation is small, and our timing is pretty consistent. An application that could remember those, and how I want them lined up would REALLY get my attention, because it would save me rather a lot of time over time. Then it would just be about 20 seconds to listen to the ad reads. Even better, let me designate "autotrim in front of this" areas. Woo-fucking-hoo, here's my money.
- For item 4, I love levelator, but what the fuck, why isn't there an "equalize levels" button in these apps? (There may be, but if so, it's hidden.) If I'm doing a podcast track, or multiples, why not just make that happen with a button push? Again, production stuff here. (and yes, I've looked at AppleScript. Most of these Apps are NOT automatable for shit other than "put file here" or "open file there". If I could automate this more myself, I would.)
- For 5, again, why not let me just have a text file that I aim at the application, and it shoves the text in the right places. Really, this is analgous to automating text box content in Word/InDesign/Pages, and that's a well-solved problem. As far as the length goes, well, if the ads are longer than track n, trim them. If the track is longer, well, the podcast track is pretty standard. Text bit that's 15 minutes long, then a series of ads that are 15 seconds each. Lather, rinse, repeat. it's really consistent, and therefore, automatable. Making me do this by hand every week until the end of time is just dumb.
- WRT 6, i'm being a bit lazy here. BBEdit is trivial to automate. But, why not have the podcast application handle this for me? My titles are the same, you already have the podcast descriptive text, it knows how long and how big the file is...why am I building this by hand? I can also automate the upload and permissions settings to S3 on my own, but again, a good application would handle this for me. Note: I will pay for this. More than a friggin' dollar too. This would not be an easy application to write, but it would be one that would be worth a real-world price.
- For 8 and 9, that's beyond the scope of a podcast. However, if MarsEdit's scripting issues were to be fixed, <hinthinthint>, this would go much faster. I'm unsure about asking Daniel to have ME talk to Facebook or Twitter. There doesn't seem to be anything enjoyable for him about that. But if it isn't a complete pain in the ass, then it would be nice.
Again, I don't know if this exists now, if it does, please point me at it. Finding this kind of stuff is not as easy as it should be, and most applications that I have found are aimed at creating beautiful works of art, not hammering out the same shit week after week. Production is not creation. They're similar, but they have different needs and goals. What is needed is a podcast application, or really an audio application that focuses on production, on automation, on allowing someone who's doing the same thing day after day or week after week to focus on that, and not have to deal with decisions made to foster a completely different workflow.
Just to show I'm serious, I'd not even blink if the price for this App *started* at $50 bucks, even in the Mac App Store. Hell, if I had the scratch, I'd bankroll it myself, and if I knew of a good team who was interested in doing so, I'd kickstart the fuck out of it. I think there's a use for it. There's at least one.| Comments ()
September 11, 2012
A quick bit of BS skewering
So in his reply to Frank Tisellano's post "In Blog Wars, Nobody Loses (Except Us)" on frank.is, Marco Arment writes, (Reply is the same name as Frank's post on Marco.org. Which makes things SO EASY. Not):
I don’t care about “eyeballs”. The Deck doesn’t pay for raw pageviews — sites are paid a flat rate per month, and that rate is occasionally recalculated if average traffic changes for a long time. Deck publishers, including Marco.org and Daring Fireball, are therefore incentivized to build up loyal, long-term audiences. If we just get a bunch of one-time clicks over a few days, we don’t make a dime extra. (Bandwidth may even cost us more.)
While I'm not doubting him on how the Deck pays, I've no reason to, let us be clear:
If you're schmoblog with 100 hits a month, you're not getting invited to have the Deck advertise on your site. Let me say that again, you are invited to join the Deck. This isn't speculation mind you, it's fact. From The DECK's site:
Sites and apps are added to the network by invitation only and are considered based on many factors including traffic, design, frequency of updates and overall appropriateness to the general target of the network.
Given that the DECK charges anywhere from $8600/month to $8600/day, traffic and accompianing influence simply cannot be minor factors. In fact, Marco pretty much states that traffic matters to The DECK flat out:
The Deck doesn’t pay for raw pageviews — sites are paid a flat rate per month, and that rate is occasionally recalculated if average traffic changes for a long time.
So let us stop this idiocy, this false modesty, this poor claim to higher standards. Marco, and by Tisellano's implication, Gruber may not be the hit whores that people like Dvorak and REISINGERRRR are, but if they want that ad money, they have to pay some damned attention. Given both their posting frequency averages, they are well aware of what they need to do to get those DECK checks. (Again, I have no inherent problem with this. This is how Gruber makes a living, and he's a good enough writer that I can easily forgive his worse tendencies. I mean, the man really is a raconteur. Even if I think he's full of shit, he's a good writer. I respect that. Marco is a good programmer. As a writer, he's a good programmer, but he's good enough that he gets to make some dosh from it. Good on him for that. I have zero problem with people getting paid, even for writing on the internet. )
But, I wish Marco would spare us the backpedaling whining. Like this tripe:
And the idea that I thrive on controversy couldn’t be further from the truth. I hate that Josh and Nilay took my offhand comment about Engadget and PR relationships so severely and personally. I hate that these two people, who I’ve met and have gotten along with quite well, now think that I’m a complete asshole for implying something far more severe than what I really meant.
Oh bulldookey. Let's look at that paragraph again:
Big “gadget” blogs depend on maintaining very friendly relationships with the companies whose products they cover so they can continue to get exclusives, interviews, press badges to events, and early access to products. Maintaining these relationships while retaining credibility isn’t always an easy choice for many sites, and many choose poorly.
You almost baldly stated that the reason the Verge and Topolsky didn't behave in the way you and Gruber feel they should is because they need to suck up to companies so they can get access, interviews, and press badges. That last line?
Maintaining these relationships while retaining credibility isn’t always an easy choice for many sites, and many choose poorly.
I know English can be a complex language, so let me state this simply: That line baldly accuses The Verge and Topolsky of unethical behavior from a journalistic standpoint so they can get access, interviews and press badges. .
Of course they think you're an asshole for saying that Marco, it's a pretty asshole thing to say, and I am, if nothing else, an expert in being an asshole. The difference between us is that I don't try to deny I say things designed to piss people off, and that come from the worldview of an asshole. When I say shit that pisses people off, I'm never "surprised" by it. I don't whine about the results. Neither mind you, does Gruber.
If you're going to call people out on what you think is poor behavior and say assholeish things like you think they're behaving in an unethical fashion, stop fucking whining when the reaction isn't unicorns and handjobs. Either own what you said, accept both the reaction and the consequences of what you say, or stop saying things that only an asshole would say. To paraphrase Randy Millholland, for someone who doesn't thrive on controversy, you seem to say some shitty things about people a lot.
Either way, for the love of christ, stop crying that people are thinking unkind things about you when you say things about them that are kind of shitty. If being thought of as an asshole bothers you, stop being one.
Really.| Comments ()
Of Christians and Corn Dogs
For those of us who long ago checked out of organized religion, (or really, religion in any form), there's often an event that starts things off. Something that stokes a small, cynical fire in your brain that says "Something here smells a lot like bullshit". In my case, it was corndogs.
This will amaze the youngin's out there, but back in the mid-1970s, Miami, especially out around Bird Road and 112th avenue, was a really different place. Really redneck-y. I lived in an apartment complex in the area, and was, in a land of Baptists, son to lapsed Catholics. My parents had both been educated in Catholic schools in the 1930s. They had the scars on their knuckles to prove it. So yeah, we didn't go to church on Sundays, and for most of my short life up to that point, all 8 or 9 years of it, this wasn't a big deal. But in this apartment complex, church, and sunday school was a big deal. Every sunday, three different school buses would pull in, from three separate sunday schools, and every kid, but one, would get on one of them and disappear for hours.
To say I found Sunday mornings boring as hell was a severe understatement. So one day, after a bit of whining, my parents consented to let me get all dressed up and go to Sunday School. My mom later told me it wasn't real hard to convince them.
"It was either that, or listen to you lose your mind after six bowls of sugar-covered Capt. Crunch and complain you were bored. We would have let you go to Satan School if it meant piece and quiet for Sunday morning. Charles Manson could have invited you over, we would have been fine with that. You were kind of annoying at that age."
So the next Sunday, I'm all dressed up, i'm going to go to Sunday School. This will be awesome. Well, at least it won't be boring. Keep in mind, I'm a child of lapsed Catholics from Chicago. I was beyond ignorant of what Southern Baptist Sunday School was.
It was okay enough. Seemed a little loud, but okay. Then we get to the "Where's Jesus" part, aka "have you found the Lord?" So they're talking about finding Jesus, finding God, which was a bit odd to me, as the minimal god-related education I had was pretty clear on the "God is everywhere and knows everything" bits. So I wasn't sure how he could get lost. But then they say "if you find Jesus today, you get these school supplies and a free corndog." I couldn't have found Jesus with a Jesus-finding machine, but you tell a nine-year-old that if he finds jesus, he gets FREE CORNDOGS...well HELL YEAH! I jumped up and said "I want to Find Jesus". A lot of stuff I don't remember other than it involved me saying "Amen" a LOT, and bang. Jesus found and on the bus ride home, I had a free corndog.
Keep in mind, three separate Sunday schools.
So I figure the next week, I'll try another one. Maybe they gave you corndogs for finding Jesus too. Also, Jesus really needed God to hold his hand better, he got lost a lot.
Yep. If you find Jesus, you get school supplies and a free corndog. Done.
Next week, the third Sunday School. Corndog.
I might have been only nine, but I had a plan. I took a week off, because I realized that if I did so, and then started again, it'd have been a month since they last saw me, and they might have forgotten me. Especially if I dressed different.
This goes on for months. I don't really wonder at how cynical this all is, because it seems to make everyone happy. They're happy, because the little yankee heathen has found Jesus, and I'm happy, because FREE CORNDOGS!!!!!
I probably would have set shit on fire for corndogs at that age. Just pointing out that morals are quickly set aside for the proper reward, and at that age, corndogs uber alles.
But eventually, my dad realizes:
- I have a phenomenal collection of schools supplies, and I was never that studious
- I am always walking in the door eating a corndog, and he knows I'm not getting money ahead of time
So he and my mom ask me what's going on, and as it didn't occur to me that I was doing anything wrong, I tell them.
"So...you go to all these different sunday schools, find jesus, and they give you corndogs."
"Do they ever ask you if you've found Jesus before?"
"So you aren't lying. You're just finding Jesus over and over, and they give you corndogs"
"Okay Cub, you have to stop."
"No. you have to stop. I'm actually afraid that you're going to go to hell for manipulating the Baptists that much. I'm not mad, you're not in trouble, and I'm kind of impressed that you figured this out on your own, but what little part of being Catholic remains in me is very worried that you're going to go to hell. Or lead a cult. Either way, you have to stop."
"BUT WHAT ABOUT THE CORNDOGS!!!!" (This was my real worry here)
"Sigh..fine, we'll get you a corndog on sunday."
I think it was that which started me down the path of becoming so areligious.
The sad thing was: even though my parents bought me corndogs, the ones I got for finding Jesus tasted better. Scam adds spice I suppose.| Comments ()
September 7, 2012
Mac IT Conference 2013
I'm a little late here, given the deadline to submit for Mac IT is Sept. 9th. But this is the internet, so it's not like you have to mail things in.
Anyway, once again, I'm asking folks in the IT space who work with Macs to submit sessions. Not "Mac" sessions per se, but sessions about how you do what you do in your day that happens to involve Macs. Doing neat things with virtualization to solve cross-platform issues? Submit a session. Doing some stuff with network monitoring? Submit a session. Found a whole series of neat tricks in iOS or OS X (Server) that can be of use to people? Submit a session. Just finished a BYOD implementation? Submit.
This thing, this Mac IT is about people in this business coming together to share knowledge. It's not just tech knowledge. For example, are you a CIO dealing not only with Macs/iOS devices but every other platform under the sun, in addition to staff issues, budgets, etc.? Dude, you have a gob of knowledge that your compatriots would love to hear about. For example, how do you deal with Apple's rather interesting policies in terms of volume purchases from the Mac and iOS App stores? That's a huge issue for every company out there, (however you chose to describe "company"), and it's so new that no one has the ultimate answer.
If you're issuing iOS devices to people, how are you managing that? Again, this is still relatively new territory, so the chances you have a really good story to share are quite good.
While IT has a rep for being a "boys club", that's simply not true in reality. Women are, as with everything else a huge part of IT, including Mac IT. In fact, this year, we expanded the Mac IT Advisory board to include my friend and redonkulously smart person, Nadyne Richmond. I'm more than slightly pleased about that, and proud that IDG supported our request for this. I'm even more happy and proud that it was an easy sell. Nadyne's an asset to any group she's a part of, and it's great she's a part of ours.
We want to hear from everyone. Mac users are not defined by gender, color, religion or anything beyond one egalitarian characteristic: we use Macs. The same thing goes for the sysadmins that support them, the CIOs that manage them, the coders who create software for them, and everyone in between: Mac IT is about people that work with this platform in the IT space. If that's you, whether you have five macs on an AD network or 5000 Macs worldwide, we want you to come and talk to us. How you present yourself to the world is not important here, it's what you do and what you know that is. Please, come share it with us?
Everyone I've ever met who is a part of "Mac IT" is smart, and awesome. Everyone. It's a group of people for whom "the smartest person in the room" can apply to every one of them, and usually does. Every single one of these people have an area where, when they start talking, everyone else quiets down and listens. Being in the speaker's room at Mac IT is literally, being in the presence of genius. It's not just there. Being in the sessions at Mac IT is being in a room full of people who are all really smart, and on the right subject, smarter than you, me or anyone else. That's sometimes the scary part of presenting at Mac IT. I always assume there's someone in the room far smarter than I am. (In one case, it was a retired professor with a doctorate in Electrical Engineering. He said I did good, it was like getting a gold star from my teacher.)
That's the other great thing about Mac IT: you're in a room, or rooms, with people doing not only what you do, but things you don't do, who are still there for you to talk to. Don't give me that crap about virtual meetings. Online meetings are indeed convenient and a time/money saver, but once the session closes, you're done. You can't continue a conversation with that person from across the country, because now they're offline too. At Mac IT, they're in the room. The conversation doesn't have to end just because the session did. There's hallways and meeting spaces and all kinds of places to keep that flow of knowledge going. IF you have a problem that's puzzling you, I'll about guarantee there's someone there who can help you solve it. Heck, they probably solved it months ago.
So yeah, first, submit a session. Don't worry about if it's good enough, because if it's of interest to you, it's of interest to others. You never know, that thing you do every day without thinking just might help someone who's been floundering.
Second, come on out. Come share what you know and what you do. There's a lot more people in your world than you may think and spending a week with them is not only educational, it's a hell of a lot of fun.| Comments ()
September 6, 2012
I think I love you...
Nod to The Partridge Family here.
Earlier today, Melissa asks me if I can help her convert some video. The source? A Sony HDR-XR160. As soon as I hear the "S" word, I know this will suck. Sony is as bad at interoperability as Apple was at their worst. They may even be worse.
It takes, no lie, about two hours to get the thing to even show up as a friggin' USB device, and that required VMware 5 and Windows 7. (Much love to VMware for allowing this to work.) I was able to at least get the files off the camera. For all the good that did me. Why you ask? Because they're friggin' .mts files, which are fine and dandy as far as AVCHD goes, but good luck getting anything to work with it. FCP, Compressor and the other Apple tools just throw their hands up. iPhoto tries, but because of how Sony presents things, all it can do is see the still files on the little...darling.
I do try the terminal route, but the two file systems on the cam have nothing to do with anything useful, and there's no way to easily see which MTS file I need that way. The only utilities I can easily find are all essentially the same one, and all are like thirty bucks. I have no problem with the idea of paying for software, but I think "Holy Crap, I have to have something that will work with these things." Then, I remember I have Adobe Media Encoder CS5.5. "What the heck, it can't hurt to try, right?"
Oh hell yeah. AME has zero problems with .mts files. In fact, does a damned fine job of transcoding them into much more usable h.264 files. Also, when you set AME loose on a 2011 17" with a Quad i7 and 16GB of RAM?
AME does NOT mess around:
So yeah, if you need to convert those gods-be-damned AVCHD MTS files into something that will work better with things like FCP et al, Adobe Media Encoder will handle it for you.| Comments ()