Does the entertainment industry WANT people to steal movies? It seems like they do.

August 16, 2013 | Filed Under Computers, Lifestyles of the Heartlessly Bitchy, Popculture | 1 Comment

This past week I got a brand new Sony Vaio laptop. It’s next gen i5, with an SSD, 8GB of RAM, and  does full 1080p HD.  It cost a pretty penny, but considering I wait on average 6 years between new computers, I think it’s worth it to wait and then get something that will hopefully last.

I want to be able to rent DOWNLOADABLE digital movies that I can watch at the cottage or on the road (as a passenger) on long trips.

I tried itunes first, since I have an account for my music.  Turns out that iTunes isn’t certified for Windows 8 (even though it’s been out for a YEAR and is now selling as the default O/S on a huge number of PCs and laptops).  Microsoft certifies that anything that runs on Windows 7 will run on Windows 8, so I tried the Windows 7 version of iTunes.  It installed and runs, but any attempt to play a downloaded (rented) HD movie results in juttery/stuttery, out of sync audio.    Turns out that it isn’t exclusively a Windows 8 problem. Even on Windows 7,  and XP, huge numbers of users were/are reporting problems with video playback through itunes and/or Windows Media player.  I tried EVERY conceivable fix posted (including changing power settings and setting audio bit rates to the bare minimum), and NOTHING worked.  The audio stuttered, and was out of sync with the video and it got progressively worse as the movie played.  I ended up requesting a refund through some crappy feedback form.

I’d love to try Amazon movies but unfortunately, they aren’t in Canada yet, so those aren’t available to me.

I’m SERIOUSLY trying to pay for my movies here people.   The industry is NOT making it easy.

Next, I tried Flixster.  I set up an account and a corresponding “Ultraviolet” account (see below), and then found out that even though their tagline says “Buy, Rent, and Watch TV and Movies”, I could find no way to buy or rent the movies I was interested in… the only option it gave me was to “Play trailer”…

I finally found CinemaNow, which has apparently partnered with the industry and Ultraviolet.   Ultraviolet is a cloud service that allows those who purchased an AV-labled DVD to also get access to a digital version of the movie via the ultraviolet service.  CinemaNow has a Canadian store.   They actually rent DOWNLOADABLE movies. Great.  I’ll try that.

First experience: I sign up and it says I get 10 FREE ultraviolet movies as a new subscriber. The selection is rather shitty, but ok, I’ll bite. I pick my 10 free movies after creating my CinemaNow account and linking to my previously created  (on flixster) “ultraviolet account”.  They say that Macs and PCs are compatible devices, and list Future Shop and BestBuy as places to get compatible devices, listing SONY as one of the brands in the ad.

I then proceed to rent a movie to try out the service.  The service say that you can rent SD (Standard Definition) or “Upgrade to view HD on compatible devices. SD playback included with HD purchase.” .  I chose the HD rental for $5.99.

Then I had to download and install the CinemaNow player, so that I could download my rental and play it (due to DRM, now doubt).  I did so and then launched the player and logged in.  It took me to my “library” where it showed my newly purchased rental with a tag indicating it was EXPIRED.  Not only that, but NONE of the UltraViolet movies I had selected showed up in my library.  Great.

This triggered a call to their telephone support.   Props that they even HAVE telephone support.  (Unlike the ITUNES STORE, where I am still awaiting feedback on my “this rental didn’t play at all properly” report, and a refund.)

While I waited for support to answer, I restarted the CinemaNow app, and the movie came up as not expired. But still no Ultraviolet movies (after all that agony of selecting the 10 least sucky ones!).  But then it would only allow me to download the SD version of the movie I had rented.   I figured I’d start that and find out how to get the HD version from the support person – since it said I could watch either once I had paid the HD price.

NOWHERE on the site or in the app, does it tell you how far the download has progressed, or how much longer it will take.  ARGH.

Despite the support queue being relatively short,  I was so dissatisfied with the support guy following the SCRIPT he had in front of him,  and not LISTENING to the problem, that I finally escalated to a manager.  The support person said, “Before I transfer you, I need to find out why you are asking to speak to a manager”.  Dude. Seriously?  I said, “Because I am not at all satisfied with the level of support I am currently receiving.”

The manager came on and finally admitted that their that their app and website only detect HD compatible TVs, game consoles and  blu-ray players, despite the fact that many laptops now have full HD capability, and that they were “having problems” with their software detecting HD-compatible Sony PCs right now.   Never mind I might use this, or any other MEDIA PC, to STREAM a download to an HD-compatible device, like a projector.    Their “protection” does not allow you to download or play the HD version if you are on a PC.  This is just ridiculous.    And it’s NOT AT ALL CLEAR on their website that HD versions are not available to download if you are on a PC – it still lets you buy/rent that version.  WTF?

And then there is the issue with the “free” UltraViolet movies. Admittedly free but still, CinemaNow, WHY do you have a DOWNLOAD button, if Ultraviolet movies are NOT downloadable and can only be watched in STREAMING mode?  (After yet another support request).  BZZZT. #FAIL   Oh, and when I tried to send a support request, I got THIS error:

error-1

When I tried to submit another support request, attaching the above screenshot error, I got THIS error (I know,I’m a glutton for punishment, but HOW HARD is it to get a damn support WEBSITE right? I mean, this is OUT OF THE BOX stuff people.)

error2

#CinemaNow #EPICFAIL

Dear entertainment industry. I REALLY REALLY want to be an honest citizen, but I don’t want to BUY a whole DVD just to watch a movie once.  I just want to rent it like I used to be able to, until all the rental places went out of business.  Besides, my new laptop doesn’t even HAVE a dvd player.  I’m willing to pay reasonable money to rent.  But you aren’t giving me any workable options.  If I could pay the rental price and download from iTunes and play in VLC, I’d happily do it. But Apple can’t see fit to PROPERLY SUPPORT anything not in the Apple Universe, despite being willing to take our money.

And while on the subject of Apple. SERIOUSLY.  I’ve read the support forums. LOADS of people are having problems with video playback in iTunes. People are upgrading their laptops and finding whole LIBRARIES of purchases no longer work.  Windows 8 has been out for a YEAR, and you still can’t get a decent iTunes/player for it?  This is the kind of  HUBRIS that killed RIM/Blackberry.  If you have a player for PCs then fucking SUPPORT IT.   And your technology is NOT the great wonder it once was.  My iphone battery barely lasts a day in most cases, and the touch interface is intermittent/flakey at best.    Maybe it’s time to move to Android. (When my current plan expires).

And there’s my dilemma.  I want to be a good, honest citizen and be able to pay/compensate all the people who put all that work into making movies, but I can see why so many people don’t.   The movie industry is driving people to theft because they don’t give so many of them ANY workable solutions that allow one to rent/buy and play a downloadable copy.

 

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HBI is finally getting a member update

September 9, 2009 | Filed Under Computers, Lifestyles of the Heartlessly Bitchy | 1 Comment

…. Summer is here, and amongst other things, I undertook a migration of the HBI site to a new server, new operating system, and upgraded applications. 

I also took some time off, and worked with summer student on producing a new membership application processing system, and attempted to refinish the floors in two rooms in my house.  Needless to say, applications languished in the queue during all of this.  To complicate things, all was not well in bitchland after the upgrade, despite the shiny new applications and hosting company.  Seems the new server kept hanging up on a near-daily basis.  After much back and forth with the ISP, consultations with the system provider, further consults with other experts, and googling the issue, I finally upgraded the O/S late last night.  I waved my dead rubber chicken and had a bottle of wine to keep me company.  The boyfriend kept his distance.  To his credit, he knew the profanity was not directed at him.   The upgrade was completed at 1 am. However, a few hours sleep was necessary for me to diagnose and fix the last configuration issue.  I think it’s all back together now (except the e-cards. I’ll get to them later).   Now, only time will tell if this solves the stability problem.

I am also off to TIFF this weekend – something I’ve been wanting to do for AGES, so I’m desperately trying to get at least the new member applications up on the site tonight. Unfortunately, the new processing system isn’t quite working yet, and my student had to head back to university, so I’m doing these “by hand”.  On the positive side, the editorial consults with Fabulana are hilarious as always.  The backlog of member applications up to and including Sept 7th should be processed tonight, and if I’m really smokin’, I’ll try and get out a Morrigan column or two…

I used to call this site a “labour of love”. Some days it’s just a “labour”.

Patience Bitches. We are almost there…

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Interesting Statistics

February 16, 2009 | Filed Under Computers, The Heartless Bitch Way | 9 Comments

Number of other sites that reference or link to Heartless Bitches International: 9,370  (according to Google today)

HBI’s Google PageRank5/10

HBI’s Alexa Ranking: 247,857

Number of members currently in the HBI Database: 10,960

Number of HBI members currently registered on the BitchBoard: 2,807

Number of user posts to the BitchBoard since its most recent inception: 28,781 (For the first couple of years, we used different forum software, so those posts were lost when we migrated).

Most posts made by a single member on the BitchBoard: 1,859 (since its inception)

Number of hours it takes me to do a site update (on average): 6

Number of threatening emails I have received over the years: too many to count

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Kids and networks – cut from the same cloth.

July 28, 2008 | Filed Under Computers, Parenting, The Heartless Bitch Way | 2 Comments

Today, as I am trying to make a network change to allow one of our corporate satellite sites access to a DMZ, (Demilitarized Zone, for the uninitiated), we suddenly lose all our Internet access. We spend almost 2 hours rebooting the firewall, the DNS servers (it seems related to DNS), only to discover that our primary network provider line went out.    The reason it took us so long to figure out was because some of our traffic was being routed over a secondary line. (It’s a long and sordid story, but it was also MONDAY, which plays a factor in any of these issues).  Of course, right at the time that I call the ISP corporate support line, connectivity returns. Of course.  And I am left there trying to explain to the support guy that the network was DEAD. Really. Just seconds ago.

That’s the way it usually happens.

You parents know that it’s the same with kids and doctors.

There they are. Fever of 104F. Barfing up everything – even water. You rush them to the clinic, or, god forbid, the emergency ward, and by the time a doctor gets to see them (HOURS later), they have a normal temperature, they are eating everything in sight, and running around raising hell.

But…. but… but… “He was REALLY sick when I brought him in.”

And of course they give you THAT look. The one that says, “Ah yes… yet another case of ‘over-protective parent syndrome'”. And they nod with that patronizing look, and assure you that your child will be JUST fine, and if the symptoms recur, you can bring them back in (and wait another 3 hours).

The kids grow up (eventually), but networks remain recalcitrant infants.

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Back in the Saddle

July 27, 2008 | Filed Under Computers, Uncategorized, Work | No Comments

If you were trying to get to HBI in the last few days, you may have seen some “site not available” messages. Correction, you may have seen A LOT of “site not available” messages.

At least twice on Friday, the server went down, and I had my ISP reboot it.  I couldn’t take much time to deal with it because my REAL job – the one that pays the bills – had me stuck in “networking hell” – and I don’t mean the kind where you talk to people.

[Geek alert] Friday morning I had scheduled to move a handful of servers from one subnet to another in preparation for a larger network move. I had scripted out what needed to be done the night before.  What SHOULD have been a 1 hour move turned into an all day ordeal complete with rebooting the firewall AND rebooting the DNS servers.  These things seldom go as planned, and this one took a wrong turn at Albuquerque right out of the starting gate.  In the midst of it all I had meetings to attend and other fires to put out.  So HBI languished.

Late Friday night the HBI server died again and no amount of incantations, three-fingered salutes or prayers would get it back. Thank god my ISP is small, with actual staff there to help you on a Saturday.

Saturday was a bit of a frantic day for me, what with 25+ people arriving that night for the annual Natalie VS Tony Rib Cook-off…  but I just had to get out to my ISP and see if there was anything that could be done for my decrepit and presently defunct server.

Corey was a sweetheart – he pulled it off the shelf, we tried swapping a video card, but that didn’t work, but I did notice that while the box had power, the fan on the power supply wasn’t spinning. He rummaged through a box of power supplies, uncertain if they were good or not – and after the second one we tried, we hit success – the box was up and running again.

Of course, this just highlights the fact that I simply HAVE to get my ass in gear and work on the migration of HBI to a newer/better/stronger server.  However, to get that done, I think I’ll actually have to take a week of vacation leave and focus on nothing else.  If things ever slow down at work, I may do just that.  Granted, I’d rather spend a week of vacation leave on a sunny beach somewhere, with a buff young pool-boy named Juan bringing me drinks, but this shit has just got to get DONE, and it’s too involved and complicated to do piecemeal.  The biggest pain in the ass is going to be going from a non-case sensitive system to a case-sensitive one.  I have THOUSANDS of documents to go through and sanitize by both changing file names and globally searching and replacing links in files.  Then there is the database upgrade, a dozen applications to test (and a few to upgrade – like the HBI discussion forums), and the mail server aliases to port over…. AUGH. It gives me a headache just thinking about it. 

I started in on this HBI migration last summer. Truly I did.  Admittedly at the urging/prodding of the bf, who even went so far as to get the dev system all set up and ready for me in an effort to get me MOVING on it.   But once again it languished due to other more pressing priorities, and perhaps my own penchant for procrastination on these kinds of endeavors.  I’m great about doing this kind of stuff for work, but personally, I LOATHE having to reinstall and move all my stuff to a new computer.  Maybe it’s because it’s what I do all day, that it’s the last thing I want to do when I get home at night?  This would explain why I am still using Windows 2000 server on my home system.

But I realize that I simply MUST make some time to get HBI ported to a new, improved, more reliable server.  Hardware is cheap enough now, and the current server is likely on its last legs, so it’s TIME.  Now if I could just find some.

Oh, and if the site goes AWOL again this week, it’s because we have to change IP Addresses and it may take a while for your local servers to update their DNS.  Fear not, I am still here, stirring up shit.

 

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My conversation with TomTom

March 24, 2008 | Filed Under Computers, Random Silliness | No Comments

The bf loves his TomTom. He takes it everywhere.  He lets it guide us everywhere. Even to places we already know how to get to.  Like home.  And he makes sure it talks to us.  He even carries it when he’s walking. You know, just in case he gets lost on the way to the bus stop. (It could happen.  Side note: his coat is so heavy from all the gadgets he carries that I swear it weighs about 30lbs)

This week, TomTom has the voice of Mission Control from NASA.  Last week, it was some supposedly soothing female voice.

Last night, on the way home, I was tired, cranky, and talking back to TomTom. It went something like this:

TomTom: Space Shuttle, this is Mission Control, bypass the international space station, you are clear for joining the motorway.

Me:  It’s called the Queensway.  Idiot.

TomTom:  Go 800 metres and then TURN LEFT.

Me: No, you moron. I won’t.

TomTom: TURN LEFT.

Me: Fuck you.

TomTom: TURN LEFT at the next street, then TURN LEFT.

Me: Bite me.  That’s a stupid route.

TomTom: TURN LEFT

Me:  Ok, I’ll turn left now, but only because I WANT to. Not because you told me to, you self-satisfied, smug piece of silicon.

TomTom: TURN LEFT at the next street.

Me: Pushy and demanding, aren’t we?  I’ll turn left if I damned well want to.

Of course, it IS rather pointless to talk back to it. At least at this stage in its evolution. But it made ME feel better. The bf just rolled his eyes.

Personally, I want a TomTom that’s more snarky when you don’t follow its directions.  You can buy an upgrade with John Cleese’s voice, but it’s pretty vanilla.  I’d pay MONEY to get an upgrade with John Cleese’s voice but one where he berates the driver if you don’t make a suggested turn.  I’d secretly download it onto the bf’s TomTom while he slept….  Can you imagine?

CleeseTomTom: Putter along for 800 metres or so and then TURN Left.

(drive past the place where we were supposed to turn)

CleeseTomTom: You STUUUUPID GIT!  I told you to TURN LEFT back there!  Now you’ve missed the turn and I’m going to have to recalculate everything! Harumph! 

CleeseTomTom: Ok.  Turn left up here at the next street, and this time, get it right will you?

(drive past place where we are to turn)

CleeseTomTom: You bloody MORON. You did it again!  You missed the turn AGAIN!  I don’t know why I bloody bother to try at all with you…

and so on…

A girl can dream, can’t she?

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So you want to get a job in IT?

March 8, 2008 | Filed Under Computers, The Heartless Bitch Way, Work | 7 Comments

Recently, I’ve been interviewing people for an IT administrator position. I’m an exec, but of a small company, so I literally roll up my sleeves when required and manage the servers and network alongside my existing IT admin as and when needed, so I know a fair bit about the actual day-to-day workings of corporate IT infrastructure. I’m also wickedly good at debugging and problem solving.

After going through a round of interviews this week, I’m going to impart some sage advice to those who might be reading and want to have a hope of having a successful career in IT.

To be a *good* IT admin, you have to love to solve problems. I want to see an attitude that says, “No computer is going to get the better of me.” I want to see someone who has taught themselves scripting languages and dabbled in installing wikis, blogs, firewalls, and other software components – just because they want to learn how to use these new technologies. You are in IT administration. If you are making a career of this, you should be constantly looking at what is coming down the pike – what new hardware and software is coming out – what will businesses be looking at implementing in 2 to 5 years? What are the latest virus and security threats? There’s tons to know and I don’t expect someone to know it ALL – I just want to see that you aren’t waiting for someone to tell you what to read or learn.
You have to be on a path to continuous self-improvement and learning. I’ll ask you what tech blogs you read, what podcasts you follow. I want to see someone with INITIATIVE. I’m looking for someone who is so INTERESTED in technology that they keep pace with the latest trends and tools because they want to – not because they HAVE to.

So you haven’t had a chance to use Linux at work. Did you install it on your own network at home? Do you have a network at home? Did you put in VMWare Server (It’s free!) and try installing various VMs on your own? Did you install and play with configuring an Apache Server even if it’s just inside your home network? Did you get a free web account somewhere and experiment with setting up a family website, wiki or place to share personal photos? Did you set up a VPN between your home and your parent’s, ostensibly because you can manage your dad’s computer remotely, but really because you wanted to experiment with the latest open source VPN technology? Show me SOMETHING that tells me you’ve got that spark.

Even if you’ve never configured it, can you tell me what Raid 5 is, when and where you’d use it, and when it’s not recommended? Do you know what a DMZ is? A Packet Filter Rule? A DNAT? Can you explain to me the difference between an SSL VPN and PPTP or L2TP? (other than the protocols they use).

If you are slotted into a position where “other” people take care of network servers, and “other” groups handle security, then what are you doing to make sure you aren’t dead-ended? What are you personally doing to grow your skills if you aren’t getting that kind of opportunity in your current job? And if you are a contractor, well, there’s NO excuse for not taking courses and learning things outside your current scope of responsibility. Your courses are a tax write-off. What are you doing after work? Are you a member of any of the local users groups for Microsoft, Linux, XML, security, etc?  If you have time to follow a regular TV show, or sports team, you have time to take a course and expand your skills – otherwise, you are painting yourself into a very narrow corner, and people like me are going to pass you over for that next really cool job.  And don’t give me the excuse that you don’t have time. I worked full time, raised two kids and still had time to take courses.
Oh, and be prepared, in your interview, to have to demonstrate your problem-solving skills. I might put you in front of a console and tell me how to add a user on the network. I will definitely give you a few hypothetical situations and and ask how you would diagnose the root cause of the problems.

And as a little side-rant, I’m trying to figure out if working in a government job kills initiative, or people who choose to work in the government for long periods of time just lack initiative. (Here come the flames). Why do I ask this? Because consistently, the people I interviewed who were government contractors or employees, did NOTHING to improve their skills outside of the very narrow focus of their current jobs. The people from the private sector (even if they were far more junior) consistently had more broad-ranging knowledge and skills and showed more interest in learning things on their own, than the government employees who had three to 5 more years of direct work experience. Yes, private sector tends to provide more broad-ranging demands in IT, whereas in the government there are very focussed roles and locked-down environments. Never-the-less, that doesn’t stop people from joining a user group, listening to podcasts, reading up on new technologies, or experimenting at home – all of which was demonstrated by the private-sector workers, and not by the government employees.

Perhaps the bf sets a high bar for me in this. He isn’t an IT admin – he’s far, far more senior than that. But he inisists that he has to know about the new technologies and methodologies so that he can understand and make sense of what the IT people are saying doing and proposing. He doesn’t work with Linux at work – in fact he has never had linux at work as far as I know. But he has three different variants of it on our home network – and three wireless LANs, segmented for different traffic (such as guests and visitors). There is always some new piece of hardware or software on one of the several systems on the network. There is a RAID-configured disk array for storing our photos. And all of that is in addition to my 2 desktops, laptop and development server on the network.

He’s also set up a LAMP server, with WordPress for me to start porting HBI to.

He’s continuously improving his knowledge and hands-on skills in the area of his chosen career. When I interview you for an IT administrator position, and you tell me you want to be an IT architect some day, I EXPECT to see that kind of personal involvement in your own skill and knowledge development.

But this transcends IT and really flows into ANY kind of work environment. If you want to be successful, if you want to be promoted (or, get a better job elsewhere because your current job is a dead-end), then for heaven’s sake, DO something on your own about it. Take a course, read a bloody book or two, try some things on your own to extend your skill set. Don’t expect your job, or your boss to hand-hold you through your career growth. You aren’t in school anymore – nobody is handing you the courses and saying this is what you must learn. Anywhere you want to go is a path YOU must set. Sacrifice that TV time, that hockey game, that night out at the bars, and take the time to learn something new. Have kids? Listen to podcasts in the car as you drive to work, or on the bus if you take public transit. Use your lunch period to read something relevant. Book time after the kids go to bed to take an hour for yourself on career improvement. If your spouse takes issue with the time you are spending improving your skills, then you need to get that spouse to read this article.

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Geek Humor that tickled me today

March 7, 2008 | Filed Under Computers, Random Silliness | 1 Comment

“You are a walking null pointer exception.”

“We all lived in a yellow subroutine”

and an oldie but a goodie…. “ARP, ARP, ARP… the mating call of the lonely packet.”

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There and Mac again…

December 13, 2007 | Filed Under Computers, Lifestyles of the Heartlessly Bitchy | 1 Comment

So, I’ve been on this “home movie” project for over a year now…  I’ve fought with codecs, I’ve fought with conversion tools, I’ve fought with expensive software that crashes repeatedly.  I’ve downloaded and trialed numerous pieces of freeware, shareware and trialware trying to find SOMETHING to help me convert/work with the files I have.  I take a run at it for a while, but then I get discouraged and distracted and put it on the shelf again.  (I think I even blogged about this once last year).

To make matters worse, I have a competing project to convert all my own 8mm home videos to DVD as well.

I should back-track a bit.  These are old 8mm home movie films that were converted by a local company to .DV files. Using GOD KNOWS what codec, on, yes, you guessed it, a Mac.  The original film quality is rather poor.  It took AGES to get the files from the company in a format I could read or play at all on a PC.  Unfortunately, Adobe Premiere Pro 1.5 can’t process them at all. It doesn’t recognize the codec. Which is bizarre, since Windows Media Player can play the files, as can Quicktime.   I downloaded some free software (I can’t remember which one it was now – maybe Virtualdub) that let me convert the .DV files to AVI, but the quality SUCKED (or BLEW, depending on your nomenclature) unbelievably.  I tried using VLC to stream to MPEG4, which gave me acceptable quality, but it would only do the first 90 seconds.  I considered buying QuickTime Pro so I could convert them to something other than AVI on my PC, but I refuse to pay a premium just because I live north of the 49th parallel (see my previous post).

It’s been over a year, and I’d really like to give my family copies of these movies on DVD for Christmas. I can procrastinate no longer. In desperation, I gave in and resorted to letting the bf suck the DV files into iMovie on his Mac, since they were created on a Mac, and only the Mac seems able to render them (And people think Microsoft is an evil proprietary giant).  Many many HOURS later, there they are, in an iMove “project” and I started editing. There were bad segments, poor lighting, washed-out segments and parts with people none of us know  or care about anymore that didn’t make it into the final cut.

In true Mac fashion, there is no “save” button, or “save as” for an iMovie project, which is utterly disconcerting for a PC user.  (Seems the Mac magically saves as you go. Saving variants of your edits is not as simple as pressing “save as”.).  Not only that, but it puts your files in some magical place that only the Mac knows about, because you shouldn’t have to worry your pretty little head about such silly technical details. 

There was a lot of editing required on these files, and I spent a significant amount of time “trimming” clips.  Every 10 minutes or so,  I would try to “trim” the current clip and most of the movie would disappear.  POOF. Gone. Along with my scroll-bar.  The “undo” feature became my dearest friend.  I kept thinking about THIS video that I had seen years ago.  I was beginning to feel his pain.  At least this is OSX so it wasn’t crashing as the old OS9 Macs did.  Perhaps that’s why Macs automagically save everything – they are used to crashing and freezing on their users?

Ergonomically, I found the one-button wireless mouse heavy, clunky and difficult to work with. (It didn’t help that there was years of gunk on the bottom, which I had to clean off so that it didn’t STICK to the mousepad – Eeeew).  And of course, that sleek, rounded design – looking for all the world like an oversized OB Tampon – has just one button. Why would anyone ever need anything more than that? My god, what they could have done with an extra button! Instead, the Mac forces you to go to the keyboard for functions you could have easily done with just ONE MORE BUTTON.

In iMovie, there seemed to be no way to easily “set” the clip end marker (for trimming), short of having to DRAG it from the end (or start) of the selected clip to the place you want. Which often meant having to try and “drag” through several scrolls up the screen.  It was unbelievably tedious, especially given the ergo-dorkiness of the mouse.  To its credit, I could reset saturation, brightness and contrast levels for bad bits of film (of which there were many), but it would only apply the settings to an entire “clip” so any section I wanted to adjust had to be made into a “clip” first.  At least with Premiere, I can select a portion of the timeline and apply the settings to that, and generating/editing clips in Premiere is much more intuitive.  Additionally, I could see no timeline markers so that I could figure out how many minutes of music I needed to apply to a clip, or where I was in the film.  The “help” was of no help.  Oh, and once iMovie starts rendering (or importing), there is no graceful way for a non-linux geek to stop it. I mean an application runs and says it’s going to take HOURS to finish the task – you THINK the designers would offer a “cancel” button in case you change your mind, right? Nope. The almighty Mac knows best.

(The bf says, “Don’t you be dissin’ my Mac.”  Sorry sweetie. I greatly appreciate your help. I’m glad we could get the job done on the Mac, but like the doors on your highly functional Element, it doesn’t mean I have to like it.)

To make things even more complicated, the bf’s Mac has very little disk space, so he was all cranky about me generating big files on it. His portable spare drive is formatted FAT so that it can be seen by more than just a Mac on the network, but the Mac doesn’t always play nice with it – like when rendering from iMovie, because, you know, the all-powerful Mac knows best  – so it doesn’t let you specify WHERE to put the rendered files – like on a network or firewire drive with lots of space, unless that drive is formatted HFS.  It will put those files where it damned well FEELS like putting them, and don’t you go telling it otherwise.

And of course, since apparently “chapter markers” are just SOOO 1995, iMovie 2008 has removed the ability to set them, and iDVD doesn’t give you that option either.  Intuitively, (because that’s how Macs supposedly work), you have to suck it into Garage Band to add any chapter markers.  Why have a product called iDVD and then not provide the most basic of DVD functionality – the ability to set chapters? They have great instructions, however for rendering and posting movies to YouTube.

At any rate, as I type this, my edited movie is rendering. It will take several hours.

And of course, unlike Premiere, which let’s you export direct to DVD, I have to then go into iDVD, suck in my movie file, and use THAT to export to an actual DVD.   We did one trial “render” of my video content out of iMovie, to some Macish format (mpv?) without any music overlays (there was no sound on 8mm film in those days), and it took hours. This I can accept – Premiere takes hours to render too, if you have lots of video effects and edits. The quality of the resulting mpv file looked good, so I figured, why not just bring THAT into iMovie and add music?  Since there are no edits and the only overlay is the audio, that should greatly reduce the render time for the next round, right?

That was when I found out that it would take 53 minutes just to suck the 40 minute rendered file back into iMovie. WTF?  

Being impatient, and not trusting that the next render pass would be any faster, I figured I’d go back and add the sound to the original project files, leaving the Mac grind away while I slept.  Why on earth should it take almost an hour to bring in a file (that is in a Mac-friendly format) when Premiere takes just seconds?

I don’t know why I bother to ask. The all-knowing Mac doesn’t divulge such precious secrets to the unwashed masses.

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Podcamp Toronto 2007!

February 28, 2007 | Filed Under Computers, Lifestyles of the Heartlessly Bitchy, Popculture | 1 Comment

PodCamp Toronto!

Well, it was a delightful weekend of uber-geekiness and I learned TONS. My mind is spinning with the possibilities.  I am completely psyched now to do a weekly podcast.  (As if I don’t already have enough on my plate!)  I have buy-in from a couple of editors, and can see having guests periodically as well.  Imagine The Morrigan, Instgatrix (the anal-retentive editrix-from-hell), Auntie Dote, JadeSyren or Fabulana on a podcast discussing current events, social idiocy and topics of the day! If we use TalkShoe we could even have a live phone-in show, like “Ask the Heartless Bitch”, or “Ask Auntie Dote”.

I have to send special thanks out to my friend Micha who told me about Podcamp over drinks just a couple of weeks ago and encouraged me to come. And special kudos to the bf who dutifully dropped me off, picked me up, and even rushed over my business cards on Saturday when I forgot them.  He really IS a sweetheart!

I have to say that this was my first “unconference” and I loved the format and style. I’ve organized a few “Cons” in my day, and the unconference style was refreshing and really stimulated participation.  My hats off to the organizers,  Leesa Barnes, Jay Moonah, Brent Morris, Julien, and Mitch JoelChris Brogan, one of the original Podcamp Boston organizers, was a total hoot, and made everyone feel welcome and included. He is also now the proud owner of a BeanBitch.  He was wearing a T-shirt that said “Free Hugs”, and it made me realize, I need to get another HBI T-Shirt out there that says “Free Virtual Kicks to the Frontal Lobe”.

Brian Hogg of dotBoom also has a BeanBitch and has promised to use it in an upcoming podcast. (I think our BeanBitch is doomed to get eaten).

All the sessions that I attended were good. Standout sessions were Mitch Joel’s on building your personal brand, Chris Brogan’s on building community and Heather Vale’s on monetization techniques. 

On the saturday night we went out to watch a couple of local bands play at “C’est What?”  I thoroughly enjoyed Uncle Seth (band member Jay Moonah was on the organizing committee) and Chris Brogan was kind enough to provide me with a CD!

The entire event was FREE, because of sponsors like Scotiabank (bet they’ll just LOVE this trackback!), babyTEL, Cundari, Marketing Martini, PodChannels Inc., Ronin Marketeer, and many more….

Some memorable quotes from Podcamp (attributed where possible):

“I’ve heard of Heartless Bitches International” – Mitch Joel

“You can see that I always have the Google Holy Triumverate running…” – Chris Brogan

“I HATE Digg”

“Anything worth doing, is worth doing badly” –  Jim Milles on What to Podcast

“Be you because others are already taken” – Mitch Joel 

“Just Press Record

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