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Tuesday
Mar292016

FBI and Apple

This is a complicated story that basically NO ONE is reporting correctly on. 

First, its important to remember that there were 3 phones in the case of the San Bernadino shooters. Two personal phones, which the shooters distroyed before they were killed in a shootout with officials and the infamous iPhone 5C that was actually issued to one of the shooters by his GOVERNMENT job. Yea, he worked for a US govermnet agency. I can’t remember which one, and I don’t feel like looking it up. The probabily that there was ANY sensitive or relevant information on his iPhone issued by his government employer was very VERY low.

Second, encryption. Yes, the data on the iPhone is heavily encryped but the pass code to get into the phone is only 4 digits (in all likelyhood) and that means in 10,000 tries you can get into the phone. Not to secure, but because we want to CONVIENTLY get to our data most people choose the 4 digit code. 

Apple on the other hand has a failsafe that only allows 10 tries to get into the phone for EXACTLY this reason and that was what the FBI wanted Apple to disable. 

By some accounts the FBI has nearly 200 iPhones that they wanted Apple to unlock and it is MY estimation, as well as many others believing, that THIS phone, or rather, THIS case was the one that would garner public support and rally the public behind the FBI and get Apple to “do the right thing”.

For the record, I’m 100% with Tim Cook on this and I don’t want the Goverment to be able to crack my phone, not because I have some terrorist plots hidden in it but because of the 4th Amendment which is part of the Constitution which, I for one, still believe in.

I think that when the public and tech community started backing Tim Cook the FBI Director James Comey realized they were fighting a lame battle and that they were going to back off. So on Sunday March 20th they request a delay in the court proceedings and said, “we may have another way into the phone”.

Why? Because the FBI doesn’t want to look like they allowed a corporate giant to stand them down and win. That’s bad PR for the US government. 

Instead they come up with the other story… “uh… never mind, we found some company in Israel… got into the phone”, which, read above, MORE THAN LIKELY had no good intel in it anyway, “and we don’t need to bother Apple about this”.

So… in doing so, the FBI saves face and they simultaneously “shame” Apple becaue now Apple’s secure iPhones seems much less secure. But hey… its an older 5C… right?

So… What now?

I don’t really know. But I sincerely don’t think that the FBI is either A. IN the shooters phone, or B. that there was any actionable data in the phone either way.

I do know that Apples hardware AND software is more secure today then the 5C was and that the FBI will rear its ugly head again, probably after a school shooting where a bunch of children die and the shooter was more tech savy and had a iPhone 7ex or something… This case is not over. They’ll be back.

Tuesday
Mar082016

Donald Trump...

I’ve been facinated watching the last several months the political discourse in the US. At first when Trump announced his run for the White House he was seen merely as a joke, or PR stunt. Every time a pundant said, “he’ll never pass [insert milestone here]” Trump surprised everyone. Everytime a poll came out saying he would never win this state or that, he has surprised us. (He’s also shamed the pollsters, who are either REALLY bad at their job or just plain LYING about what they SEE happening in order to influence what they WANT to happen.)

I, on the other, hand have just been sitting and watching and I find it really interesting. I don’t know WHAT it means. It could mean that “America wants a dufus in the White House”. It could mean that “America wants a racist in the White House”. Or, it could just mean that America wants someone DIFFERENT in the White House. 

It could also mean that “the establishment” is completely out of touch with the American populace and the fact that we’ve been “dumbed down” by watching American Idol and The Bachelor for SO long that we don’t know WHAT is good for us. But one thing that is clear is that Donald Trump is getting people out to vote and he IS creating a ground swell of people that are, like Howard Beale in Network, “Mad as hell and not going to take it anymore”.

What will be the outcome? I fear Hillary will win, but that is a whole other set of problems. Ultimately I don’t think it matters who is in the White House. I believe the American government is broken by lobbiest and PACs. Its pretty clear that the people aren’t satisfied. 

Meanwhile, enjoy this clip… sort of weird how accurate it is even today, 40 years later.

I don’t have to tell you things are bad. Everybody knows things are bad. It’s a depression. Everybody’s out of work or scared of losing their job. The dollar buys a nickel’s worth, banks are going bust, shopkeepers keep a gun under the counter.

Punks are running wild in the street and there’s nobody anywhere who seems to know what to do, and there’s no end to it. We know the air is unfit to breathe and our food is unfit to eat, and we sit watching our TV’s while some local newscaster tells us that today we had fifteen homicides and sixty-three violent crimes, as if that’s the way it’s supposed to be. We know things are bad - worse than bad. They’re crazy.

It’s like everything everywhere is going crazy, so we don’t go out anymore. We sit in the house, and slowly the world we are living in is getting smaller, and all we say is, ‘Please, at least leave us alone in our living rooms. Let me have my toaster and my TV and my steel-belted radials and I won’t say anything. Just leave us alone.’

Well, I’m not gonna leave you alone. I want you to get mad! I don’t want you to protest. I don’t want you to riot - I don’t want you to write to your congressman because I wouldn’t know what to tell you to write. I don’t know what to do about the depression and the inflation and the Russians and the crime in the street. All I know is that first you’ve got to get mad. You’ve got to say, ‘I’m a HUMAN BEING, God damn it! My life has VALUE!’

So I want you to get up now. I want all of you to get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up right now and go to the window. Open it, and stick your head out, and yell, ‘I’M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I’M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!’ I want you to get up right now, sit up, go to your windows, open them and stick your head out and yell - ‘I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!’

Things have got to change. But first, you’ve gotta get mad!… You’ve got to say, ‘I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!’ Then we’ll figure out what to do about the depression and the inflation and the oil crisis. But first get up out of your chairs, open the window, stick your head out, and yell, and say it: “I’M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I’M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!”

 

Friday
Sep252015

Making Donut Graphics

My new nemisis.

A cool Photoshop Technique

$20.00 AE Script

Another AE trick using “Polor Coordinates” to create a pie, a simple Alpha Mask can cut the center out for you.

 

 

Saturday
Jul182015

Meerkat vs. Periscope

 My friend Maciek tweeted me today and asked me a simple question. Why do a prefer Meerkat over Periscope. I realize that the vast majority of people that I know have no idea what I’m talking about, let alone have an opinion about why one of these applications should be better than the other, but that’s never stopped me from sharing my opinion.

Meerkat and Periscope fall into the catagory of what I call “Personal Streaming” applications. This is not to be confused with video conferencing because conferencing implies that you are engaged in a one on one conversation with a person or small group. 

Steaming, on the other hand, implies that you are sending a signal out into the ether and you really don’t know exactly who is watching. More like “broadcasting”, but the analogy breaks down pretty fast. 

Both Meerkat and Periscope are Apps that live on your phone that allow you to engage in a webcast, or stream, very VERY easily. Basically you hit a button and you are streaming from you phone. The way the apps work are fairly similar but the feature sets are subtly differnt and thats what I want to talk about here.

First I want to say that I’ve spent WAY more time with Meerkat and my views are definately skewed. But here I go. Also, this world of what developers call “agile development” means that everything in this blog post could change by the time I hit upload.

In a nutshell, Meerkat is designed for interaction and Periscope is designed for broadcasting. Why do I say that? It all revolves around one feature that I call “Persistent Chat”. Both applications allow the viewer to “interact” with the person doing the streaming, or “broadcaster”, but Meerkat is MUCH better at it. 

In Meerkat you can chat with the broadcaster and the broadcaster can read that message at ANY TIME. You can even scroll back though the conversation going back to the beginning of your stream. So if you miss a question or a comment from the audience you can access that information later. It gives the broadcaster a better connection with their audience. If you’ve ever tried to conduct a live stream and interact with people you know how hard it can be to read a chat window AND talk… its not elegant at all but you REALLY need to be able to scroll back to catch up with people. This is what I call “Persistent Chat”, if you miss it, you can go back to it. This is perhaps my FAVORITE featuer of Meerkat. 

On the other hand Periscope’s App is pretty and very sexy but when people chat, you get about 5 to 10 seconds to read that comment and then it disappears… forever. As far as I know, and correct me if i’m wrong, there is no way to access that chat after it vanishes. This means that the chat is not really important, the writers of the App don’t really intend for you to ACTUALLY interact with the audience. This is a deal breaker for me. What it ends up being is that Periscope broadcasters either TRY to read the chat and interact with their audience or they just ignore it and become like any other broadcaster. Think about it, Walter Cronkite never tried to carry on a conversation with the people watching him on TV. 

Most people get hung up on the fact that Periscope offers a way to save your broadcast for a period of time, so that it is not JUST a live experience. From what I can tell Meerkat is adding that feature with something called “Meerkat Library”. So the ability to archive a transmission is not that big of a deal anymore.

I think the most exciting feature of Meerkat that just went live this past week is “Cameo”. Cameo allows you to give over your stream to one of your viewers for up to a 60 second window. They literally appear as a window on your stream and it allows you to get verbal interaction with your viewers. Yet another reason why Meerket is a platform that favors interaction with your audience.

For these reasons, I think that Meerkat is a much better platform for Personal Streaming and that’s why I use it. 

It also may be relevent to know that I was also a HUGE proponent of Betamax in the 80’s and Macintosh in the 90’s. So I’m only right some of the time.

Tuesday
Jun302015

FCPX and AAF Support

Recently a post came up on Twitter with my name mentioned and it was asking if FCPX supported AAF support yet. My guess is that this post won’t get much traffic because the VAST majority of my readers and followers don’t know or care what AAF is. 

What is it? Well… in high end production workflows it is very common that various parts of the work be devided up between differently specialists. Graphics are done by the graphic artists, color is done by a colorist, effects are done by the effects department and audio is done by a guy who has magical ears and better plug ins than the rest of us. If you want to interface with these people there is a long history of standardized workflows that have worked for a long time. 

So the other day when this Twitter post came up about AAF support came up for FCPX I just sort of rolled my eyes and here’s why.

1. The installed user base of FCPX users is vast and growing. 

2. MOST of them don’t know what AAF is and they aren’t missing this “vital feature”.

3. For the high end guys that DO need it, there are simple to use plugins that solve this problem that cost less than 3 months of Adobe Creative Cloud subscription.

4. If you were REALLY serious about getting this answer you’d actually ALREADY KNOW about this plugin. 

5. You’re probably just unhappy with something else in your life and you want to kick the dog, which in this case, is Final Cut Pro X. (and yes… its pronounced 10 and not “ex”) 

Then my friend Dave Valencic on Twitter chimed in and said, “it’s still a function that should be included”. Maybe Dave but frankly… I like the way that the development of FCPX is going. It’s a VERY strong tool and Apple constantly chooses where to put it’s efforts and resources. To do AAF support right would take resources and frankly… IT’S ALREADY DONE… its cheap to implement and again… the VAST majority of FCPX users DON’T need it so let the specialists take care of it.

And again. I want to say, although I have good friends that work at Apple none of them have shared ANYTHING with me about this topic this is PURELY my own opinion.

Later Later.