iLife ’11 First Impressions

Last week I ordered Apple’s new iLife ’11 suite, which includes iPhoto and iMovie which I’ll be talking about here. iLife ’11  also contains Garage Band, iWeb and iDVD, but I don’t use those products much so I’ll talk about them less. This post will be my first impressions on the new release and won’t go into a lot of detail since I only took a cursory look at the product this weekend. Over time, I’ll work with it more and write more detailed posts about specific things I’m doing with it.

As you know, Apple is launching the App Store for the Mac and full-screen applications like you find on the iPod Touch/iPhone/iPad will be coming to  the Mac. I think this is generally a good thing, but I’m going on gut as I don’t have a lot of experience with full-screen apps on my desktop. Certainly for portable devices, full-screen apps are a necessity since the screens are too small to sport the necessary multi-window UI elements that would be required if apps were not strictly full-screen. However, I also know that on my desktop apps like my browser, Microsoft Office, and my IDE’s support full screen modes and I rarely use them. I do often maximize these apps, but that’s slightly different from what we mean when we say full-screen. Full-screen generally means there is nothing else visible but the one app… no title bars, minimize/maximize buttons, etc. I’m not sure what full-screen means for multiple monitors. Most apps full-screen mode is just for a single monitor.

Anyway, I’m getting distracted. One of the features of iPhoto is a full-screen mode. I tried it and it works really well. In fact, it quite naturally became the way I’d like to work with iPhoto as it allowed me to see a lot more events on the screen at once and scan through more photos on-screen at a time when I was searching through my library (of almost 30k photos). I didn’t notice if iMovie now supports a full-screen mode but supporting one in iMovie, to me, would be just as useful since the way iMovie presents thumbnails would benefit from as much real-estate as possible so you can cover as much of your footage as possible on the screen at once.

Both iPhoto and iMovie integrate better with the web and services you may use like YouTube and Facebook. Integration for both of these has improved. For instance 1080p is now supported as well as support for Vimeo and other web services, 2-way integration with Facebook (comments get propagated from Facebook back to iPhoto), etc.

Frame rate is more precise with iMovie and this seems important to me since one of my cameras shoots in 24fps, another in 30, and still another in 60 (interlaced). The difference in the rendered final product is probably subtle, but I’m imagining that a video shot in 24fps will look better if the resulting movie remains in 24fps and isn’t interpolated to 30fps. I’ll have to experiment to see if the difference is noticeable.

iMovie supports some highly automated ways to create themed movie trailers. My kids had a blast with this over the weekend and quickly mastered it. While they were excited to see their work become so professional-looking so fast, I wonder if they will begin to see that every trailer they produce looks the same and get bored. Oh wait, that’s the same thing that happens in Hollywood movie trailers! Kudos Apple, for capturing the monotony and lack-of creativity found in  real-life and bringing that to everyone’s desktop!

Here is one trailer Giovanni made: and here is one done by Antonio:

Notice that they are.. the same.

LI Broncos: Week 7

Ok, so both of my sons’ teams won their games! This ends a 3-game losing streak for both teams.

Marco’s team played on Saturday night at 8pm, at home, under the lights. The funny thing about that is 8pm is more or less past most of these kids’ bedtimes. A friend of mine came with his two boys (which was awesome) and we watched the game together. Marco played safety for the first time and did pretty well. He was playing strong-side safety and I’m not 100% clear what that is but it seems like he’s safety on the side with the most open field and thus most likely to get run through by the running back. But I could be wrong. I swear, I’ve learned more about football, positions, and how the game is played in the past 2 months than I have in my whole life. Anyway, we won 21-, well I forget. Our record is now 5-2 and you can see the latest standings here.

Antonio’s team played on Sunday morning at 10am. We played a team that people were saying hadn’t won a game yet. While my heart was with them, I knew that our boys could really use a win (even if the other team needed it more). Well, we won and it was great. Antonio was moved off safety and onto the defensive line. He said he likes it better so I’m cool with that, although I think safety plays more to his strengths. The thing about his performance that I was most proud of was how he supported his team even though he didn’t have a heck of a lot of game time. Antonio is a rookie and he’s learning the game and seems to love every moment of it. If you remember, he was ready to quit at the beginning of the season. So happy he is sticking it out. Bronco Blue’s record is now 3-4.

Before Antonio’s game, my new Canon s95 camera broke! I was heartbroken because it wasn’t a cheap little camera and I had a good feeling they were going to win the game. The lens stopped retracting right and eventually the whole thing just froze up. I went to Best Buy immediately (because I normally procrastinate this kind of crap) and although I was beyond the normal return deadline, they made an exception and offered me a brand-new camera. So lucky! Best Buy rocks!

Book Review: Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!

I just finished reading Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!, an autobiography of a pretty bizarre and amazing character. As many of you know about me, I do my best to make my own life an adventure… and I found a lot of parallels between his life and my own, though Feynman’s life was on a far grander scale. Now that I’m done with the book, I find myself constantly going over his experiences and comparing them to my own.

Feynman was born and raised in Far Rockaway, which is not far from where I live. He was at Los Alamos for the Manhattan project. He spent most of his life in California, teaching at Caltech. He also spent time in Cornell, in upstate New York. He had adventures all over the world. One of the most striking aspects of his life is the way he would pick up different skills for a variety of reasons ranging from curiosity to thinking they were absolutely necessary (and they probably weren’t). And he would be good at them! He learned Portuguese when he visited Brazil and he delivered a scientific speech completely in Portuguese becasue he thought it was required, only to find out that the rest of his colleagues delivered their speeches in English! While in Brazil, he also learned to play the frigideira, which is some kind of percussion device, and he played it in a band that walked around the city during Carnaval. He learned to play the bongos and went on tour with some crazy dance club. He loved strip clubs and nudes, alot. He would play endless practical jokes and would sometimes set up these gags for weeks before executing them. He was a curious social investigator, meeting all kinds of people and getting into all kinds of odd situations. He learned to draw and got good enough to have a exhibition dedicated solely to his work. He was on the California School Board on a committee to evaluate math and science textbooks and he was one of the only members of the committee to actually read the books and he found them all to be crap, written by people who didn’t really understand the material. He had a knack for understanding things so completely that he would always be able to draw real-world analogies for just about any physics problems. He would often criticize other students and scientists who knew the textbook, but would not be able to relate their knowledge to the real-world.

It’s funny how after reading this book I almost wish I had become a scientist, which was my dream in high school before I got distracted by computers. I never really felt like I was very good with computers, but I enjoy using them so much. I really enjoyed science in high school and I wonder what kind of scientist I might have been.