New York Trip Highlights

I’m in my hotel (Quality Hotel Times) at the end of a two-day trip to New York City. The location of the hotel was great, in that I was able to walk to all of my appointments and thereby avoid the nausea induced by NY cab rides. Tomorrow I leave at 4:15 a.m. for LaGuardia, so I’m hoping my cabbie will feel less need for the rapid acceleration and deceleration I experienced Tuesday.

One of the unexpected bonuses from my trip was getting to see a taping of the Late Show with David Letterman. Guests were Charlize Theron, Richard Belzer and Motley Crue. Other than using oxygen to metabolize carbohydrates, I don’t have a lot in common with any of them, but it was an interesting experience. Hard to imagine that people find this fulfilling, though.

Then I went to check out the Apple Store on Fifth Avenue, to return a MacBook battery that had failed 11 months into its 12-month warranty. It turned out that this store is too busy to take walk-in appointments, but it’s open 24/7, so I had to schedule an appointment at 6:40 this morning to see one of the guys at the Genius Bar. The good news is I have a replacement battery. Here’s a little shot of the store from last night when it was hopping. The design of the store is every bit as elegant as the iPod, even if the video I shot isn’t.


After having dinner in the ESPN Zone last night, and watching both the Yankees and Mets lose in interleague play, I walked back to the hotel and caught some video of one of the big huge lighted signs in Times Square. Since this is a family-oriented blog, I decided to feature M&M’s instead of one of the less wholesome signs.


This all just is intended to document my trip to some extent, and also to show how easy it is to do so with the Flip, YouTube and a blog.

Fast Flip Video Uploads

Here’s a video I took this evening while dining with my bride at her favorite local Chinese buffet restaurant, in celebration of the anniversary of her birth:


I uploaded it directly from the Flip video camera to YouTube. It isn’t particularly long, but within 10 minutes of upload it was processed and ready for viewing.

This is just to illustrate how quick and easy it is to upload video to the web using the Flip. Instead of having to digitize from a tape, which takes at least the length of time required to connect the camera to your computer and play the tape segment, the file can be almost instantly uploaded. And if you don’t want to edit, you can just upload the raw video.

Not that you generally should. It’s really easy to edit the video files, so you can trim extraneous seconds to improve the presentation. But if you catch some extraordinary event, you can show it to the world within a few minutes.

I’ll be doing some exploration of the balance between time to worldwide video availability and quality of the product. Let’s just say that what you see above minimizes both, and that I spent twice as long writing this blog post as YouTube and I together spent producing and processing the video.

Blogging 130: Video Blogging with Flip and iSight

Note: Every required course in the Social Media University, Global curriculum is free. In this one, I’m reviewing a product for video blogging that isn’t free, but it’s certainly inexpensive. Because of the cost, however, this course is an elective, not part of the core curriculum. But please at least do the course reading below, even if you’re not able to complete the homework assignment.

For the last several years I’ve been using my miniDV camera for producing amateur movies, whether for fun work projects or family videos. In fact, I have a huge drawer full of miniDV tapes that have captured many of my family memories, and which I have used to create high school graduation retrospectives for my two oldest kids, and for some wedding videos. And although I’m a self-taught producer, I’m pretty pleased at what I’ve been able to create with relatively simple tools.

One thing that makes producing these videos, well…a production is the need to digitize the footage, connecting the camera to the computer via Firewire, and playing the whole tape to import files that can be edited in iMovie (or one of the Final Cut versions.)

But thanks to recommendations from Steve Lubetkin and Monty Flinsch, I’ve recently (this weekend) begun exploring the Flip camera as a video blogging alternative. My one-word review:


I’ve seen Scoble do his Qik gig, and it’s pretty cool to have “a TV station in your pocket,” which you can use to stream video live to the web. But while I personally find my life really interesting, I think most of my readers would prefer the edited version. And besides, the quality of the live video stream (even from a 3G phone) still needs some work.

That’s what’s so compelling about the Flip: for a ridiculously low price ($119 for 30 minutes, $149 for 60 minutes), you can get a camera that records 640 x 480 video with decent sound into files that you can edit instantly and upload to YouTube or another video blogging platform, or to Facebook.

In fact, I started shooting the segment you see below at 7:15 p.m. CDT Tuesday, using a Flip Ultra and a cheap tripod. It took a couple of tries to say something close to what I wanted. So I was done recording by 7:20. Then I plugged the camera’s built-in USB extension that flips out (Get it? Flip?) into my computer’s USB port, and completed the editing by 7:25 using QuickTime Pro. I exported at 30 frames per second and best quality, which took about four minutes for this 75-second clip. By 7:32 I was uploading to YouTube. Total time from shooting to uploading: 17 minutes.

Then my youngest son asked me to go out for a run (with him on his scooter), so I took a blogging break. I’m not sure how long the upload took because I was away while it finished, but that will vary for you anyway, based on your Internet connection speed.

One hour later…

Continue reading “Blogging 130: Video Blogging with Flip and iSight”

Social Media Research and Weekend Reading

Here are highlights of the last week:

  • Your Chancellor did his taxes using TurboTax in less than an hour. It was Form 1040 with itemized deductions. If SMUG ever goes for 501(c)(3) status, I’m sure it will be more complicated, but for people like me who have used TurboTax previously, it is wonderful how it carries forward information from the previous year, such as charities previously supported, mortgage lenders, employers and dependents. It’s an excellent program and well worth it. Next year I plan to not procrastinate; I think the price is higher closer to April 15.
  • The first new class for the week was in the Podcasting curriculum. It’s Podcasting 104: Adding ID3 Tags to Your Audio Files. We’re well on the way to showing you how, as a SMUG student, you can do your own free podcast. I also did a related post on Religious Podcasting.
  • We also added an advanced course in the Facebook curriculum, Facebook 210: Professional Profile, Personal Privacy. It shows you how you can create a professional friend list that will enable you to use Facebook for both your personal and professional networking, without worrying about co-workers, clients, customers or other professional associates running across information that is too personal.
  • We also launched SMUG’s first cooperative social media research program. I hope you will use the recommendations from Facebook 210 to establish a professional friend list and participate in the research project.

I also have begun exploring the Flip video camera, based on a recommendation from PodcastSteve (a.k.a. Steve Lubetkin). My initial experience has been quite positive. And check out this guy’s comparison of HD and Flip. I will be reviewing the Flip here after I’ve spent some more time with it.