Visual.ly Launched Today…

Posted by scottstead on Jul 13, 2011 in Reviews, Tech

…and all I got was this stupid avatar.

All joking aside, I think Visual.ly has a lot of potential. If you know me – you know I love data visualizations. I’m always interested in seeing the visual notes of my pals Jonny Goldstein and Austin Kleon and, of course, the wicked visualizations of design guru JESS3. The first, and currently only available “lab” available is a Twitter Visualizer. This lab polls your Twitter data and creates a visualization of your ‘personality’ on Twitter, ratios of follower to followers, etc. Note: it may take a bit to populate if you have a lot of tweets, followers, etc so be patient. See my results below.

I’m definitely looking forward to seeing how you’ll be able to port data into various ‘labs’ and what other API’s they’ll be interacting with. Two tentative thumbs up for visual.ly, but be warned – my expectations are high going forward.


DC Tech Meetup III: Women Founders and Technologists

Posted by scottstead on May 16, 2011 in DC Social Media, Tech, Vlog

This very special edition of DC Tech Meetup includes a wicked smart set of tech demos and panelists. From figuring out finances, to ad hoc networks and from connecting congress with constituents, to open source fabrication; these demos covered everything! Do, I really need to point out that they’re all women? Not really. But after the first two tech meetups being dominated by men, the folks in charge decided it was time to shake it up and show what the women of DC tech have been up to. Jen Consalvo, COO of Tech Cocktail facilitated the evening.

Intro: Jen Consalvo, COO, Tech Cocktail

Demo 1: Marci Harris, CEO, Pop Vox

Demo 2: Lisa Morales-Hellebo, CEO, Shop Suey

Demo 3: Phyllis Klein Founder, Fab Lab DC

Demo 4: Jennifer O’Keefe, VP Product, Personal

Demo 5: Geraldine Le Roux, Marketing Manager, Hello Wallet

Demo 6:  Jessy Kate Schingler, Developer, Ad Hoc Networking




CollabraCam: Multi-Camera Real-Time Switching in the iPhone

Posted by scottstead on Apr 15, 2011 in Reviews, Tech, Vlog

If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter you may have noticed that I have developed quite the iPhone photo obsession with apps like Camera+ and TrueHDR. You may have also noticed a series of apps I’ve been using to ‘pretty-up’ my photos, including: Color Splash, Percolator, DXP, PS Express, Diptic, Picture Effect Magic, and especially Instagram. It’s folks like Doctor Popular and his daily Appsperiments that have been pushing me to seek out new ways to make my photos better and generally more interesting.

A week or so ago I was taking a new app for a spin, trying to pin down some price drops on photo apps (yes, an app searching apps) when I came across an app called CollabraCam on sale for $4.99 (now on sale for $2.99). I’ve go to say that at first glance I was a doubter. I couldn’t believe that the technology was all there and that it would look as clean as it did on their website. But, with some searching I quickly found some demos that made it apparent that this app was for real. Here’s the breakdown.

What does it do?

From the CollabraCam Website: Wirelessly connect with up to four iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad camera operators over local Wi-Fi. Monitor the live-streaming cameras and choose the best shots to edit your video in real-time. Select a camera to put on standby to prepare for the next shot. Silently direct your camera operators to pan a shot, dolly in for a close-up and more.

Video clips are recorded to the cameras and are transferred, compiled and saved to the director in the background as you go. When you end the production and save your session, the final clips are transferred from the cameras to you in a matter of minutes.

The rough cut of your movie can be viewed in the app and exported to your Camera Roll in three sizes. Video clips can also be exported to your Camera Roll to edit in a video-editing app or saved via File Sharing in iTunes to edit on your computer. With minimal time and effort, you can assemble and trim clips and add transitions and music to complete your movie’s final cut.

What do I need to do this? ?

The director software is suggested to be ran on an iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, or iPod Touch 4G. The iPad can function as the director station (which after seeing some videos looks like the way to go, if not just for the screen real estate) with pixel doubling (essentially the images on the screen are stretched to accommodate the larger screen). Update from Kyle at CollabraCam: “We are submitting an update today or tomorrow to make the app universal and include a dedicated iPad interface, no more pixel doubling!”

The camera software will run on the iPhone 3GS but is recommended to be run on series 4 devices (all iPhone 4 or iPod Touch 4G devices). I have yet to test the 3GS as a camera, but I was told by support that you may have to set the software to “camera”. Then close and relaunch the app to get it working properly on the 3GS.

You MUST have a wifi connection to use the software. It WILL NOT work over a cellular network. CollabraCam should only be used on a local high-speed Wi-Fi network (G or N) on the same wireless router or hub. You can create an ad hoc network on a laptop to use as the wireless broadcast network between the cameras. You do not need an internet connection on the wireless router or an ad hoc network created to use CollabraCam.

It is highly recommended to perform a hard reset before starting a session to ensure that nothing is running in the background. These extra cycles in the background are what cause the black flash frames between cuts. Here’s what the developers (Apptopus, Inc.) had to say,

There are lots of factors which can have an effect on performance, but
the biggest is processing overhead and memory. It is wise to flush
your memory and kill all background apps before a session. It is also
wise to put your device in airplane mode and turn Wi-Fi back on so a
phone call or text won’t disrupt the production.

I of course after reading this went to find exactly how to kill background processes and came across this handy article from TUAW.

Force Quitting
To force an application to quit, Apple recommends that you bring the app you want to quit to the foreground. Then press and hold the sleep/wake button for several seconds, until the Slide to Power Off control appears. Release the sleep/wake button and hold down the Home button for another 7-10 seconds. Your screen will flash briefly and you will return to the main iOS 4 Springboard home page with its icons. This method works for all operating systems from iPhone OS 3 forward, and is the preferred method listed in the iOS 4 documentation.

Removing the Application from the Recents List
There’s actually a much simpler approach for quitting apps, and that’s to use your recent app list. Double-click the home button to display the recently accessed applications. Press and hold any of the icons shown, then navigate to the application you want to quit and tap the red circled minus button. This sends a signal to the application in question that allows it to quit. The application will be re-added to the recents list the next time you launch it.

Why should I spend $4.99 $2.99 on this?

Do you shoot a lot of video with your iPhone? Are you an independent media producer or journalist with a small budget? Have you ever done a multi-camera shoot with an iPhone? Have you ever done a multi-camera shot on consumer, prosumer or professional video camera and wish that you could have knocked it out with an iPhone (especially when it’s content for the web). Are you tired of spending hours editing after shooting a piece or an interview? Do you go to events with friends that also have iPhones and think it would be nifty to do a multi-camera shoot of a keynote, an interview in the hallway, a concert – anything that has multiple angles that would be nifty to capture? If you answered yes to any or all of these – for the price of a happy hour Pabst Blue Ribbon you too can have some seriously cutting edge technology built in to your iPhone.

Update from Kyle at CollabraCam: The $4.99 price was to celebrate our first local TV coverage, we dropped the price further to celebrate our Webby Nomination. The price will go back to the original $9.99 after the Webby People’s Voice voting is done.

How do I benefit from using this app?

How much is your time worth? How awesome would it be to turn around a three camera shoot in just as long as it takes to shoot it? THAT is how you benefit from using this application. Imagine teams of three to four people roaming a presidential inauguration, a national political convention, a protest, a rally, a conference or some other large event where turning around a piece before anyone else would be really keen. You could beat the guys with the big cameras and the little cameras – anyone that’s heading back to base to edit their piece together and slap tops and tails on it (yes you can even knock out your video credits very easily with CollabraCam).

Not only is it cutting edge in its ability to live cut up to four cameras together into a single stream eliminating the need for a video switcher, but it has two other features that I think are very cool. It tallies the cameras as either being on standby or live. Also – the director can send common camera commands to the camera operators from the director’s interface.

What did I learn from testing Collabracam?

Things I learned today:

  1. When you’re done with a recording – keep the software open on all the cameras. I by habit closed my phone when we finished recording which closed the program and killed the download. Now I know!
  2. Bonjour was turned off/blocked on our in house wireless so we had to make a mac a hotspot by sharing out the wireless connection on a laptop. Done.
  3. It was apparent that we weren’t switching between cameras. Read the instructions! Maybe in future revisions after you hit record and the recording starts – the RECORD button could change its label to “TAKE”. It took us two or three recordings to figure out why we weren’t cutting between cameras. Doh! Again – I can’t iterate enough the importance of reading manuals. UPDATE from Kyle at CollabraCam: We are currently using the standard iOS toolbar which does not allow for different states of the buttons (the glow when tapped is automatically added, and a button can only be white to achieve the glow). In the future we may create a custom toolbar which can do that.
  4. The image quality was pretty d*** good. I was impressed. Unfortunately we didn’t get to finish with live cutting to compare the black frames between takes with the 3G and the 4G, etc. – but will do/know more soon.
  5. Reconnecting to the director after ending a session, etc. we had to quit all cameras and kill the app out completely from all devices to get it re-detect the cameras. It seemed like the cameras seemed to think a session was still open – because when we killed the Director app – the cameras – despite looking as though they were waiting connection – displayed the message ‘the director has disconnected do you want to continue’. This is an early version of the app and I’m sure this will only improve with time.

Final Notes

All in all – I love this app. I am going to recommend that everyone I know buy this app so we can shoot awesome collaborative multi-camera videos with zero editing time and instantly publish to my video blog, YouTube, etc. Kyle Hilla, a member of the developers info team has been super helpful throughout our testing and answered all of our questions with utmost transparency and road maps of the future of the software. Here’s a mini list of 3 major things he state they are working on that I think are flaw fixing and generally pretty sweet pluses.

  1. Select the audio source so it’s not just audio follow video
  2. Enabling 720p video
  3. Making it capable of streaming to the web – every indie journos dream

At $2.99 it’s absolutely a steal – so buy now. Furthermore – if you love mobile video as much as I do, show these guys some love and go vote for them in the Webby Awards! They’re up for the “Best Use of Mobile Video” award and I really think this is the next step for iPhone video.

Second opinions? Other reviews?

@Ruperthowe’s Review
@Rosenblumtv’s Review
Mac World Review
Greasy Guide
Great YouTube Test of CollabraCam


Chris Lehmann Keynote Speach at MSET 2011

Posted by scottstead on Apr 12, 2011 in Art, Partay, Tech

Jonny Goldstein and I reprized our roles of host and producer yet again, except this time instead of asking the questions – he took large scale visual notes for Chris Lehman‘s keynote for MSET 2011. I, of course, shot the video. Chris is the principal of the Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia, PA and talks frequently about the importance of technology in education. Jonny documents keynotes as a keynote visualizer, keynote listener, graphical facilitator – however you want to say it. Here’s what happened…

Video streaming by Ustream


AT&T: New Cell Sites? Sweet!

Posted by scottstead on Jan 27, 2010 in AT&T, iPhone, Tech

…and wow, that means that you actually GOT the text message they were sending you. Since last June I made the jump over to AT&T, with the only reason being the iPhone. I went despite the rumors about dropped calls, bad reception, and shoddy call quality. I have in fact experienced all of these, especially the dropped calls. I had for at least a while screen captured every “Call Failed” I received on the device, but quickly gave up, realizing it would consume my time and device storage space. My coworker, Andy, today received an SMS message from AT&T that they have added two cell towers in his neighborhood in NOVA (Northern Virginia for those outside the beltway). The message reads, “Great News! We’ve added 2 new cell sites in Alexandria, enhancing coverage in the areas of Mt. Vernon Ave & Glebe Rd as well as W Braddock Rd.” AT&T is going to have to increase its capacity to handle the amount of bandwidth that is going to crop up from the new iPad launched today – in addition to the hoardes of iPhone users that are already overwhelming their circuits (yes, this means you New York and San Francisco).

The question remains – will new towers help congestion and lack of coverage? Of course they will – but the real question remains how many iPhone users are going to be pleasantly surprised with text messages like these going forward? Hopefully a lot – then Luke Wilson will really have something to brag about and Verizon can stop airing those commercials with the transparent AT&T 3G map.

So the question stands – have you received one of these lately? If so please leave a comment and let us know where you are. We’re really very interested to see in the next few months how many new cell sites pop up to support all of these new fan-dangled 3G devices.

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Google Wave Invites Are Out (Get it?)

Posted by scottstead on Nov 24, 2009 in Tech

Invites are out. Ha! I kill me sometimes. Seriously though, I was very happy today to notice this.
Google Wave Invites
I’ve had a few friends in the sandbox interested in creating things in wave, but not really enough people to put a dent in it. Sure there are public waves, think giant baseball game crowd participation where nothing really meaningful comes from it – just pure participation, but I want something a little more productive/personal. So now, I get chance to invite 7 people (I already sent one of my 8 to a co-worker) to join me in some mad-creative-wave-ocity. Do you want to play? Leave a comment and tell me why you want to wave and 7 lucky winners will get a golden ticket.

Looking forward to waving with you.



Vectorscope’s Are Sorta’ Cool

Posted by scottstead on Nov 14, 2009 in Art, Tech
This is video of a vectorscope. This is what happens when video is out of whack. Sorta fun to look at though.



The Diary of a Reluctant AT&T Customer: How I Came To Love the iPhone 3Gs

Posted by scottstead on Sep 19, 2009 in Reviews, Tech

I’d been putting it off from the get-go. I knew I wanted an iPhone but I had run screaming from AT&T/Cingular years ago. Billing was confusing, customer service was shoddy, roaming charges would pop up causing exorbitant bills in places where no roaming charges should’ve been applicable; but, hey, that was the early 2k’s. It’s 2009, right? Time to let bygone phone carriers be bygones and jump on board…

…and it’s not like I had much of a choice. I had been following blogs, forums, news sites – the works – in hopes that another phone would emerge that has piqued my attention as much as the iPhone, but to no avail. Android is interesting. Samsung OMNIA, HTC, interesting. To me, they seemed unproven without the application base that the iPhone has; sure, it’s a matter of time. It was a matter of time until the iPhone was available on Verizon as well, my carrier of choice – especially in Washington, DC where they are the only carrier that has repeaters in the metro stations and tunnels.

After hearing countless accounts of dropped calls, shoddy reception, and full-on outages at major events (inauguration in DC, SXSW, etc.) I was leaning, leaning, leaning away from AT&T. On a bi-weekly basis I would build my plan, throw an iPhone in my virtual shopping cart and stare at it for 15-20 minutes, and then subsequently close the tab. “Not today. I can wait. Have patience.” And then…I bit the bullet.

New iPhone

I was excited. I had been rocking the employer provided Blackberry for three, count them, three years. Don’t get me wrong I like the Blackberry. I like, no love, Verizon. But it was time. My social media connectivity needs, creative and curious nature, tech-geek-video-ness all demanded the iPhone. This begins a series of posts regarding my iPhone experience.


DAY 1 I received the iPhone just 2 days after ordering it. Sweet! I’ve got it – now let’s get rockin’ and rollin’ with this thing. Oooh shiny! Wait for it…wait for it…NO DATA. So, of course, I go the route of geekery and Google the issue. I find a solution that only requires getting the iPhone on a wireless connection and visiting the site www.unlockit.co.nz. I make it sound instantaneous and simple, but frankly, it took me about 3 hours to come to this conclusion. But, nonetheless, it worked. I was data-fied, downloading apps, and on my way to…

High Data Charges

Day 3 I receive a text message from AT&T indicating that my data charges are through the roof. This is peculiar to me, because I, of course, have HAD to sign up for a data plan since I purchased an iPhone. A 20 minute phone call with AT&T got this sorted out pretty quickly. It turns out that they DID NOT somehow sign me up for a data plan and I was being charged per MB. The woman on the other end was very helpful, got me sorted out, put notes on file regarding the situation and sorted it out. Nuff’ said… In hindsight I should’ve called AT&T when my phone would not connect to their data network. I essentially circumvented the system and turned it on myself with the APN hack – but in the long run didn’t do myself any favors – lesson learned.

Picture 11

Day 4 – Present I’ve only run into one bug since I’ve started using the 3GS. It involves some kind of corruption in the phone database which displays the wrong icons for various applications (see image). There was no definitive fix for this in version 3.0.1 – but since I’ve recently installed 3.1 – it appears to have fixed itself.

All in all – I want to say that my experience has been a positive one. A few dropped calls here and there but nothing off-the-charts. Has the iPhone added to my productivity? Not sure. Has it increased my connectivity one-hundred fold? Yes. Can it turn into a time-suck? Definitely. There are applications that have taken up hours of my time – albeit a game, or a sketch app – the iPhone can be a lot of fun. In the next edition of the iPhone diaries I’m going to write up some post-age on my favorite applications – but I’ll give you a short one off of screen caps of all of the apps that have currently made the cut on my iPhone.

Page 1 Every Day, Easy Access Apps

Page 2 Location Sensitive/Smart Applications

Page 3 Information Overload: News, Sports, Stocks and Weather

Page 4 Geekery, Web Apps

Page 5 Music, Games, Art

Page 6 Scratch Pad: Will they make the cut?

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What The Web Says About Me

Posted by scottstead on Aug 31, 2009 in Art, Tech, Vlog
Jonny Goldstein, former host of Jonny’s Partay and the now graphical guru that brought the world Envizualize sent me a link the other day. “What the internets say about you http://personas.media.mit.edu/personasWeb.” This is what it had to say. Best viewed full screen.


Ford 1k Mile Challenge: Carl Edwards and Wayne Gerdes

Posted by scottstead on Apr 27, 2009 in How To, Science, Tech, Travel, Vlog



My ride along with the champs as they knock out the 1000th mile for Ford’s 1000 Mile Challenge in the all new Ford Fusion Hybrid. More post later…right now…on to the video!

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