Fun with cheap video cameras

If you’ve known/read/listened to me for any amount of time, you’ll know that video has never really been a draw for me. I’m primarily an audio guy, and in recent years have added photography to my creative pursuits.

Video though, never really captured my attention. I mean, I like a cat-getting-run-over-by-a-roomba video as much as the next guy, but i’ve never felt adventurous with video the way I can with a camera or microphone.

This summer, I was hanging out with a lifelong friend, and he was telling me about his hobby – remote controlled airplanes. He’s built/destroyed several planes, and he shares the hobby with his son, so it’s also a source of quality father/son time.

Anyhow, the conversation turns to airplane modifications, and I mention that I’d seen these tiny little video cameras online (from China of course) super cheap and with seemingly endless possibilities.. So he, I and another friend of ours each ordered these $10 cameras and set out to see what we could do with them.

If you’ve never heard of these things, they’re called “808 cameras”, and look like the remote door lock thingie for your car :

 

Shipping from China being what it is, we waited several weeks until we got them. Once we did get them though, I was impressed at the image/sound quality for such a cheap thingie.

As someone who’s always taken pretty good care of their toys, there’s a strange sense of freedom that comes with knowing that your financial risk is $10. It lets you do things you wouldn’t with a $1000 or even $200 camera.

So our creative challenges to each other have started, and we try to see what we can do with this thing…

Al’s shot a great video of a recent flight:

I used some tape to secure the camera to our hockey Goalie’s helmet (at a strange angle, and aimed wrong – you don’t want to watch the whole thing):

Al also took his on a roller coaster at Callaway Park:

Our friend Mike has promised to attach his to a remote-controlled helicopter, and if it warms up a touch before winter kicks in, I’m going to try to attach mine to a kite.

None of these videos will win any awards, but as we get more used to shooting with a camera that has no viewfinder, they’ll get better.

The great thing is we’re exploring different creative options, sharing amongst friends,  and having fun.

If you have (or acquire) one of these little cameras and want to join our “what the hell can we do with these” group – leave a comment, we’ll find a way to join up and share videos – ideas bring more ideas!

 

Chuck Lohr has a great site about the different variations of this little camera

 

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It’s not about you

(warning, this is a CC-Chapman-esque rant, if you think I’m writing about you, read on)

Do you know the Carly Simon song “You’re so vain“?  (written about David Geffen, features Mick Jagger on backing vocals, and really annoying 70’s era strings).  The key lyric to this song (hammered home in the 2,569 repetitions of the chorus)  is :

You’re so vain
You probably think this song is about you

 

In the good old days of the internet, say 5+ years ago. The common thing to worry about was people who’s only mission in life is to point out where they think others make mistakes or are mis-informed. These are annoying people, but pretty easy to deal with with facts and the occasional delete.

There must be something in the air though, because recently I’ve seen a dramatic uptick in cases where people take general information or statements, and publicly play the oppressed victim. I’m not sure what it is about these people, but there are many, and I think they are growing in numbers. I’ve seen it more and more in my recent interactions, and I’ve seen it happen recently in surprisingly violent reactions to published content from friends and the blogs I read.

It may be an old-brain reaction to previous trauma, where the “offended” weren’t recognized in a way they saw fit, it may be pure and simple ego. I’m no psychologist, but perhaps one day I’ll play one on TV.  I think though, that I can try to help these people with a simple sentence :

 

IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU.

 

It isn’t. Honest. Almost no one woke up this morning with the specific intention of pissing you off.

Simple research shows the following:

  • 99.9999983% of the content on the internet isn’t about you.
  • Of the remaining 0.0000017%, only 0.000000001% is written by people who know you exist.
  • Of those people, only 0.000000000000001% are ready to call you out publicly on the internet.

Ok, I made those numbers up. I said it was simple research! Anyway, the actual numbers are probably much, much smaller.

There’s a quick self-helpy kind of way out of this though. It simply involves conditioning your reaction.  If you find yourself reading something and taking it personally,  You just need to change your initial question when you react to something.

Instead of saying “Why is this person talking about me?“,  step back and think “Was this person really talking about me?” instead. I hope that helps you, I really do.

As a general help to those reading this blog, I include the disclaimer from my About Bob Page :

The views expressed on this site are my own and in no way reflect the positions, opinions or strategies of my employers or clients. Anything I’ve written here is evaluated on the fact that I will be able to sleep at night. If I’ve offended you, I probably didn’t mean to, or you may have mistaken my judgment of an idea as a personal evaluation. There are rare cases though, where I might actually think you’re a tool. I reserve the right to think and express that.

Photo credit : ME!  caterpillar, It really had nothing to do with this post, but I like the picture. I never said you were a caterpillar.

 

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Hi, I’m Bob, or VE2PDT to you :)

” … a satisfactory hobby must be in large degree useless, inefficient, laborious, or irrelevant.” – Aldo Leopold

I’ve always loved and been drawn to radio. I remember being quite young when my dad showed me how at night you could hear AM stations from far away places.

There was magic in the air – listening to WKBW from Buffalo or WABC from New York, they sounded HUGE in my bedroom here in Quebec.. These were the days before cable TV,  here were these big bold authoritative American stations, beaming tunes and DJ-patter at us with such power and energy, yet by dawn, they were gone.

It was literally a portal to another world opening up each night at sunset. I was hooked. Who knew what the magic would bring that night? Baseball games from Boston or St-Louis, tunes from New York or Chicago,  traffic reports for roads I’d never seen. It seemed like there was no end to it.  To this day I still listen for distant stations at night – though many stations sound alike now, the offerings are no where near as exciting as they once were.

One day, my dad showed me another radio in the house, with the strange “SW” (shortwave) band. Here was the whole world! Strange languages, accents, cold-war propaganda, jamming, stations that broadcast nothing but numbers! More magic!!

As I grew,  my passion for radio started to include wanting to understand the technology behind it. I learned about waves and electronics as I built transmitter kits that let me BE a radio station, even if the range was only about 100 feet.

In my late 20’s, my father passed away, and I took some time to reboot. I discovered an old 1940’s radio at a market, and was hooked into antique radio repair/restoration. I’d discovered a new way to feed my radio addiction.

My journey into podcasting is directly related to my love for radio. Here was a transmitter-less, legal way to be radio. Since I had never worked in radio professionally, this was my opportunity to learn some of the craft behind producing radio-like content.

So here we are in 2011, and I’ve found yet another outlet for my radio passion. I’ve studied for and passed my amateur radio certification, and obtained my own call sign:  VE2PDT. Now radio becomes a two-way communication device, and instead of just listening to the world, I’ll be able to interact as well.

Some of you may be thinking, “Dude, you can interact with the world here. It’s 2011 and called email/social networks/cell phones” .. Yes, that’s true, but none of these feed my passion for radio. Also, I still think it’s cool that I can converse with someone in Europe without there being any 3rd party between us. No telecoms, no Apple, no nothing – Just air. There’s magic in that air.

I’ll be blogging about my amateur radio adventures on this other blog over here, as I build out and use my “radio shack” and hopefully sharing useful information along the way. Let’s see what this brings..

CQ CQ CQ…

 

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10 years already!

Ten years ago today, on a super-hot day in a small town in Vermont, Cat and I were married in front of friends and family. Among so many other things,  Cat is my confidant, my unwavering supporter, my self-confidence when mine fails, and most of all my best friend. Without her love, I’d be lost.

Before all this other stuff, there was us. After all this other stuff, there’ll be us.

Happy 10th anniversary Cat, I love you more today than ever.

 

 

 

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A tale of two unexpected attendees

It’s story time kiddies, this time around, a tale of two people who found out late about PAB2011, and wanted to show up to meet friends and participate ….

Story 1, the Boring One, the Right Way : Mr Classy.

Mr. Classy realizes that he’s in Ottawa at the same time as PAB is happening. He’s only around for part of the event. He contacts the organizers, and politely asks if he can drop by for the meet & greet event. The organizers say yes, provided he comes by after the keynote speech. Mr Classy thanks them for accommodating him, and does just that. Once at the meet and greet though, Mr Classy realizes he wants to be involved in other activities connected to the event. He then registers, and officially becomes an attendee. He’s welcomed into the group, that’s pretty much it.

Takeaway from this story: Being Classy is boring, but forever has our respect.

 

Story 2, the Crasher, The Wrong Way : Mr Douchebag.

As a PAB organizer, I’ve got google alerts and twitter searches set up so that I get a chance to see when someone talks about the conference. Sometimes, just because it’s nice to see the wonderful things people say about PAB, other times it’s been handy because people have questions, and twitter has somehow become the internet’s default FAQ.

The day before the event, I see someone tweet about how they plan to go on the PAB boat cruise. I didn’t recognize the name. Immediately, I get concerned that somehow I messed up the registration setup, and I’ve lost one or more attendees. I had something like this happen in 2007, so right away I reach out to the person to ask if they were coming to PAB. The response made my jaw drop, he publicly tweets :

I’m going to try to sneak on to the boat party

WTF? In front of twitter, the universe and everything, this person publicly declares his intention to rip us off. I don’t want to get into it, as we’ve got a conference to run, but simply tweet :

you might want to register, boat cruise is for attendees

With that, I get no response. I figured he finally clued in that I’m an organizer, and that the attempt to crash PAB is pretty much over. I was wrong.

Mark and I usually spend PAB off to the side of the room, where we can see both speaker and attendees. It lets us easily see hands for the Q&A sections of the event, as well as giving us a chance to jump to the stage for intros and outros, or should there be a technical issue. As we sit down to watch Mark Poirier‘s great keynote speech on Friday night,  I look around the room, pleased at the turnout, when who do I spot but Mr. Douchebag sitting at one of the tables.

Wow. It’s one thing to crash an event, but the sheer lack of intelligence involved in doing it after being publicly called out is immeasurable.

Here’s how the next part of the scene plays out in my mind:  I interrupt the speaker, tell the audience there’s a rat among us. Alarmed and offended, the rat is taken by the audience to a secret location, where thanks to modern surgical techniques, his chances at ever reproducing are made nil. Then they all sing and dance and live happily ever after. And there are puppies, lots of very cute puppies.

What really happened is that we once again called him out publicly on twitter, and once he realized he was caught, claimed he meant no disrespect. We politely asked him register or leave quietly. He did the walk of shame and snuck out of the event.

I was worried it might cause some friction with the attendees who were “friends” with him, so I asked them about it later.  As it turns out, I had nothing to worry about.

PAB is a non-profit event, as anyone who knows how to use google can find out. The event and its activities are paid for by everyone who attends PAB. To try to crash the event offends me personally on many levels, and is so disrespectful to everyone in that room.

What’s the moral of the story? Really? You need me to spell it out? what are you, 4 years old?

 

On the positive side, this is the first crasher we’ve had in 6 years, which tells me we’ve been lucky. 🙂

 

 

Photo Credit:Wrong Way, originally uploaded by KungPaoCajun.

 

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PAB2011 afterglow

Wow!  that weekend went by in a heartbeat – literally.

PAB2011 Family shot

We’ve just closed out our 6th PAB, and while every one of them was great, this year’s really found a way to bring something different to the table.

The theme was “Your story deserves to be told. Well.” And to be honest, even after having seen the submissions and selected (with Mark of course) who would make up this year’s program, I expected to see more than a few “How to tell stories” sessions. In fact, I was somewhat worried about it.

I didn’t need to worry. While some did touch on the How-to’s lightly, what everyone did (which now seems obvious) was tell a story, well.  There is no greater motivator than seeing someone doing something well. Think about it, would someone telling you that you need 1000’s of hours of practice to play an instrument motivate you to do it? Of course not, but seeing someone play well, or seeing the effect of that playing on an audience or on you would motivate you.

PAB-people tend to be a very interesting crowd. There’s no one there waiting to be spoon-fed twitter-sized nuggets of knowledge. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. They enjoy the craft, and the process behind creativity as much if not more than the final product. There was no need to dumb this down, and both audience and speakers got that.

Once again this year, PAB-newbies blended in well, and the tribe comes out stronger again this year. Faces from PABs-past returned, and it felt like they were never gone. At one point on the boat cruise, I mentioned, “If I needed to start a big company very quickly, and needed to hire a big bunch people I trust implicitly. I’d just hire PAB.”

I wish I could say Mark and I set out to create exactly this event and feel 6 years ago, but no one could be that brilliant. We’ve worked hard, but we’re the luckiest conference organizers ever.

The next few blog posts will look at some other thoughts that came to me as a result of PAB2011 – keep reading..

Thanks once again, to everyone who brightened my weekend at PAB2011 – I come away re-energized, ready to create, and with a few less boundaries than when I came in.

 

See you in June 2012!

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PAB2011 – #6, if you’re counting

Hey!  Quiet around here recently, eh? Guess I’m breaking the “blogging rule” of not keeping to a schedule. F*** schedules, I speak when I’ve something to say 🙂

The room, by Bob Goyetche.

 

In just about 10 days, we’ll be holding the 6th edition of PAB, originally a podcasting conference, it really found its groove when we focused on digital content creation and audience engagement. Once again this year, no one will tell you how/what to tweet, how to get fans to your facebook pages, or the oh-so-secret sauce that SEO experts love to dip your wallet into.

Really, it would have been easy to go that route a few years ago. Easy, if we didn’t mind breaking the understanding we have with our community. There’s a mutual trust between not only Mark and I, but us and the PAB community. Things like: We don’t shill product. We don’t tell you how you’ll make money. These are things we do as part of creating an event we want to attend, and luckily enough people feel the way we do to keep an event like this self sufficient.

For the second year in a row, PAB happens at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa. After 6 PABs, multiple podcamps, creatorcamps and other events I’ve been involved in, I can tell you that having an event partner like the NAC is like a gift from the universe. Not only does the NAC “get” what we do, but they also “get” what they do, and leave us time to run the event. My enthusiasm for PAB returned last year, and I think the Ottawa move and the NAC involvement are the 2 biggest factors.

So what’s this year’s event going to be like. Well, the theme this year is “Your story deserves to be told. Well“. While we thought we knew what we meant when we came up with it, the speakers this year (listed below) took it in directions we never intended or predicted. I’m SO looking forward to where they’ll take us!

You can see what’s up at the PAB site, or even register as there are a few spots left.

Here’s a quick look at the sessions, for your information, and also because I love this lineup!

You need to come to this event!

FRIDAY KEYNOTE

PAB2011 JOLTS (5-minute lightning talks)

PAB2011 SPEAKING SESSIONS

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Chicago did it! You can too!

 


The crowd, originally uploaded by heresmare.

The image above is one of the coolest I’ve seen in a while. Sure, it’s no juggling cat, but it still put a HUGE smile on my face.

CreatorCamp Chicago was held this past weekend, and though I couldn’t be there, I’m so proud of Mare and Neil for putting on a successful (and apparently to be repeated) event. It’s great to see the line-up, the venue and the positive reviews online – By all accounts a job well done!

Even though CreatorCamp is not as complicated to host as a “normal” conference, there are times of stress when organizing something like this. I’m sure there were “tear your hair out” moments for both my friends here, but I’m also sure there’s a great sense of satisfaction at what they’ve accomplished.

I look forward to hearing the “lessons learned” from this, hopefully there are things we can add to the wiki that will help the next people to host a CreatorCamp.

Who are the next CreatorCamp hosts? Why couldn’t it be you?

Congrats Neil & Mare!! We’ll raise a glass to CreatorCamp Chicago at PAB2011.

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Head-slapping pig posts

In November 2006 I blogged about a then new internet video show based here in Quebec. It was new, fun and somewhat innovative for its time, and I was happy to tell my readers about it.

Fast forward to today, almost 5 years later, and the name of that show is one of the top 2 keywords that brings people to my site. Consistently. Annoyingly.

What to do? Over 1000 blog posts, hundreds of podcast episodes, conference sessions, pictures, whatever, and this pig of a post is how people find me. I want to delete it, or even better find a way to automatically charge $0.05 to anyone even landing on the page.

For kicks, I’ve put Google ads and Amazon referrer links on that (and only that) blog post, thinking that someone MAY click through to the DVD, and then my dismay over seeing this freaking thing in my stats all the time could be comforted with a bit of cash.. Or course, that’s not working. (But it does prove that my comfort can be bought 🙂 )

You can’t choose how people find you, or can you? What should I do with this post? Has this ever happened to you?

 

 

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Don’t tell me what to do

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but a frighteningly high number of blogs out there have a single purpose.

They tell you what to do.

I don’t mind the occasional “How To” post, that can be helpful. So many blogs though, think they need to tell you how to live/love/work/laugh/drink etc.. It’s very anti-social when you think about it – what did you do with that friend that was trying to run your life? You dropped them, right? Why is this supported in this space?

 

“Like” this, do that, whatever you’re doing now you’re doing wrong, get more friends, get less friends, get more followers, tweet this way, etc etc etc

ENOUGH!

I’m willing to bet that you’re reading this not because of my wonderful SEO techniques, my sales advice, or my ability to magically hit the wrong note at a crucial moment in a song. Likes tend to attract, so I’m thinking you’re reading this because you like to interact with me or see my views on things, not me telling you what yours should be. To me, that’s the magic of whatever we’re calling “social media” these days. Somewhere along the way, many of us have lost the “exchange” part, and many have taken it to be a broadcast-only medium.

So in the spirit of this post, I’ll tell you what I’ve done, and what a revelation it’s been to me. I looked at the blogs I read regularly, and took a look at the last 10 posts or so. The ones that did nothing but tell me what to do – are gone. Who needs that? I’ve come this far without this “sagely advice”, and I think I’ll be ok.

Reading blogs that do nothing but tell you what to do is bad for you.

I wonder if following all these kinds of blogs doesn’t end up affecting people’s self esteem. I mean, if you ever wanted to think there’s something wrong with you, go read a self-help book. With that you’ll discover faults you didn’t know you had. I think bark-at-you blogs may have the same effect. “Gee, I’m not able to live out of a backpack and Macbook Pro, and still feed my family, there must be something wrong with me”.

I love learning new things, being told what to do, not so much. You?

 

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