Monday, September 5, 2016

A Movie, and some advice, good advice, maybe

People are constantly asking me “Tim, what is the best video editing software for Windows 10 or the iPhone?” Do you have any idea how irritating it is to answer that question over and over again. Co-workers following me around all day, family members, calling, texting, faxing, sending private messages on Facebook, complete strangers stopping me on the street. Actually, nobody asks me that.

But, if they did, my answer would be, there isn’t one best app for producing world class videos. Or even cheesy little clips like mine. You need dozens of different apps to make videos.


I use Power Director Mobile, mostly on the Surface, it has so many transitions and effects it is very hard to find one with more. I actually bought the full version for $9.95. Even the free version is robust, fun, and filled with features. 

But, it has no apparatus to fade music. Which is absolutely vital to app production. Plus there seems to be no online help for that app. But, never fear, it is a simple matter, sort of, to move the video to the iPhone and there are so many good video apps on iOS that it is almost impossible to name them all.

So, we will focus on one Viva Video, which has some fantastic features. And, I think I am still using the free version, I will check and let you know in a future post.

So here are two videos from our trip to Swappers Day last Saturday.  Keep in mind, they both started in Power Director Mobile, the second one was “enhanced” with Viva Video and Cute Cut on the iPhone. I might run a few more incarnations and post them later.

Here is the first one.

And here is the edit.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Exoplanets and the possibility of life "out there"

There has been recent news reports of the K2 mission (using the Kepler telescope, once feared broken, and amazingly fixed by scientists using the pressure of sunlight to help stabilise the telescope!) finding over a hundred exoplanets.

I've always been interested in astronomy but I'll admit that in recent years I haven't looked as closely at the field as I used to do, I knew that they had found some exoplanets but my impression was that they were generally huge gas giant type things, interesting but not something that would support life (at least in a form that we would immediately recognise)

Now, however, the NASA Exoplanet Archive has well over 3,000 planets confirmed in its database, with many more being investigated, and now it has been possible to identify a good number of planets which are considered likely to have of suitable size and with liquid water on their surface.

I think that there's a real possibility in the next few decades that we'll be able to identify some chemicals in the atmospheres of these exoplanets, and possibly from there be able to theorise the existence of life.

I've always believed that the life on Earth isn't alone in the universe, and it's exciting to think that this belief could one day be backed up by evidence.

Are you excited by the possibility of other life, scared, or do you feel something else?  Drop a comment!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Battleplans, an App that is not taking the world by storm

I Almost Got One.
Being a licensed tech weenie means taking trends seriously. Keeping my fingers on the pulse of IT. Paying attention to hot new apps. So, when news came down the line about Pokemon Go, I grabbed my iPhone and started playing BattlePlans. I don't really know anything about Pokemon, and have no desire to walk around staring at my phone. That way leads to broken screens, broken limbs, and abject humiliation.

Besides, BattlePlans is addictive. It is a lot simpler than most of the "war game" apps. There are no extensive build and upgrade requirements. Yes, you do need to mine gold, and harvest what seems to be pearls to maintain your fighting ability. And you need what I think are gems to buy more heroes but there are no supply huts, farms, hospitals, and the seemingly endless variety of buildings. You just get to play.

You choose your target, ride in on giant sea turtles, and attack. And here is where the fun lies. While attacking you can control, kind of, your troops actions. As the battle unfolds targets of opportunity become available. Grab a hero and send them and their troops off to do your bidding.

Of course, occasionally they will get sidetracked. Maybe a battle with the undead offspring of Hero Grimm and you will be stuck yelling at your phone. "It is just a couple of Zombies. Capture that stone and then come back, you moron!!!" But, it won't do you any good. They are "Locked in combat."

There are several battle options. Other players to increase your war ranking. Skull outposts to harvest resources and a third, that I haven't really figured out yet. There are treasure chests scattered around the map, and they are difficult and don't really seem worth the effort. I may try one again and see if it makes more sense. Maybe not though.

There are some problems with the game. Sometimes you will get stuck in a war with people whose troops are far superior and you will stand no chance. But, when the war is over the game will apologize and move you to a lower level.

With any game the players who don't mind spending real money to get pretend money will advance much quicker. I say let them. It seems silly to get a free game and then spend money to play. I plod along at my own cost free pace, collect my gold, my pearls and my gems.

Pokemon Go is a huge success, and I may end up downloading it. But, BattlePlans is a little app that is flying under the radar, and you should give it a shot. Dr. Dawg says It Rocks.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

The Prime Generation

This last weekend I finally fired up Amazon Prime on my little Roku thingymadingy, so I could finish watching "Justified" which is only available on Prime and Hulu. I have had a Prime membership since Amazon launched it really just for the free two day shipping. I will admit that I am one of those evil people putting the mom and pop shops out of business by ordering as much as I can online. Amazon is the easiest of the bunch for ordering and such, and I do have an Amazon credit card (hey 3% back folks!) but the Prime video was a chore, and the lack of an android app made it a waste of time compared to Netflix or Crackle. I hated how clunky it was to operate, and having to go out of the show you are in and maneuver to the next episode got on  my nerves. I am here to report that this has changed, kind of.

While I give Amazon credit for making the effort I still wonder (aloud here obviously) why some episodes seamlessly continue onto the next and others pop up a graphic with up to a 15 minute countdown to the next episode. If that isn't a big enough pain in the rear you have to watch it because it may cut the episode that you are watching off up to 10 minutes in a few instances, and then guess what? You guessed it, back to the clunky way of getting back into the last episode and fast forwarding to get the end you missed. I notice while Justified and Deadwood did this a lot Boardwalk Empire does it a lot less. I still wonder why it does it at all. Netflix still holds the complete and utter edge on original programming and ease of use, so if you are asking yourself "Why not just do Amazon Prime?" DON'T DO IT! You'll be very disappointed.

I of course haven't cut the cord yet, but when it comes to revolutionary items of the 2010 generation, you have to admit, streaming media players have got to be up there. I couldn't live without my Netflix (and sometimes Prime Video) but if you haven't made that jump yet do yourself a favor and just buy a Roku. Everyone has a streaming player they will sell you but Roku is the only one I would endorse. It works great and they are always doing what they can to make it better. I have a Chromecast that I bought because it was cheaper, and I figured Google would do their best. Yeah it is crap. You have to control it with Android apps and if there is no app (Like Prime) then you ain't streaming it. It also doesn't work half the time, drops to very low quality often and when it decides it isn't going to work at all, be  prepared to reprogram the app all over again. I have no opinion of the Fire TV because I haven't used one, and I don't do Apple. Feel free to tell me why I should use those devices, but again ... dance with the one who brought you.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

An app from a galaxy far, far away.

Yesterday I posted a picture of myself in Jedi robes, with a light saber and an Imperial storm steps to improve computer performance. Since technology and I have such a difficult relationship I only tried a few of these things. It was the result of a "spring cleaning" of my virtual world. I read, on,

One of them was "Zap Your Apps." I am a shameless collector of apps, well, sometimes I am a little ashamed. Most times I collect them with the zeal of a politician hustling delegates in a tight primary race. Obviously this seemed like a good place to start.

My addiction to photo and video apps is almost uncontrollable. A picture is worth a thousand words, and a video is at least 1250 words. With the right app I can squeeze 1103 and 1437 respectively.*

About a year ago I found this app that would allow me to take Star Wars inspired theme "selfies." Of course, it does other things. But it was the chance to have those "selfies" that inspired the download (I don't remember if it was free or not).

Unfortunately, technology and I are not friends. So, taking "selfies" is a feat I can only accomplish on rare occasions. I shake, or the phone moves, or the light is too bright, they almost never work. I am helpless when faced with the need for a steady hand and a steely gaze.

So, I decided either the app would work, or it would be deleted. After several attempts I had a decent photo, even my coworker said "Yeah, that is ok." High praise indeed.

So I kept the app. and will add several Star Wars pictures, and try a few other options. Plus, I will share them with you. So, you can glory in my technological wizardry. Won't that be fun?

I can always delete those productivity apps, after I am done taking pictures of myself, and a few friends.

*Only rough estimates, final numbers will be published on conclusion of scientific studies too complex to explain.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Technology Saves the Day.

This is a post that was difficult to place, it could have been in many places, but, since this is basically about a piece of technology this seemed as good as any.

For Christmas I got a fitbit Surge. A watch, really. But it is a watch that counts your steps, cool. And it is a watch that counts how many flights of steps you climb, wow. Also, it tells you how many miles you walked, calories you burned, what your heart rate is, what your resting heart rate is. This thing is like an addiction.

At first it was kind of a pleasant distraction, "oh look, I took 10,000 steps today, and climbed 19 flights of steps. Isn't that nice."

But, then it kind of takes over. I find myself putting a cart full of boxes on the elevator and racing up the stairs to meet it. Instead of waiting until several things are needed at once I will go grab individual items, making several trips.

And since it syncs with an app on my phone it emails me when I have reached certain milestones. Plus it gives me the option to brag about them on Facebook and Twitter. And, I do, with gusto.

It has been a life changing accessory. Of course it does a lot of things I haven't figured out yet, like diet, and sleep tracking, but one step at a time, or thousands of steps at a time, maybe.

Unfortunately it won't count torturous, terrible endless hours on the stair climber machine at the gym as climbing stairs, or think of the boasting. But, nothing is perfect, right?

In short, if you are thinking about getting in shape, and think a fifbit might help, and you have a compulsive, slightly obsessive personality (not that I do) you are right. It makes life a game, where you are the ultimate winner, no matter what, because you are healthier. Plus. if you work with slugs it will give you endless opportunities to gloat. And you win again.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

The Newest Must Have Fitness App. For Dummies.

As many of you know from my constant bragging I am a workout guy. I go to the gym regularly, I have attended the last two Arnold Fitness Expos. I take at least 10,000 steps a day, and boast endlessly about the accomplishment. If vanity were aerobic I might live forever.

Many of you also know I am a tech guy. I have an iPhone 6, an iPad (though the only time my wife lets me see that is when it needs recharged*) and a Microsoft Surface Pro 3. And the ultimate tech/fitness guy gadget; A FitBit Surge, so tracking steps taken, stairs climbed, calories burned, and resting heart rate are easily accessed and flaunted. "hey, read 'em and weep. Unless you think you are too manly to weep, then read 'em and fume with impotent envy."

It only makes sense that I develop my own fitness app. Yes, it is time for the Tech Weenie Workout or Face Ridicule app. Using the audio components of Smart Phones, Smart Watches, and Smart other things to come we are going to humiliate the country into better shape.

Next time you are jogging TWWFR will pick a song with a suitable tempo and channel it through your headphones with words of encouragement. "Don't worry about that guy behind you, he looks undead, but there is probably no such things as zombies. Whoa, he is picking up the pace, and there is definitely something unwholesome about that guy, the ghostly pallor, the jerky movements, the sickly sweet smell of death. Don't look now, but he is closing in, RUN YOU FAT BASTARD! RUN LIKE YOU ARE CHASING A DONUT!"

When you hit the gym imagine Siri, or Cortana, or Google Voice thing saying "you call that lifting? I don't call that lifting. I call that an old woman waiting on a bus." Think of the motivation, think of the effort, think of showing that snotty voice who is tough, and who is just a disembodied pain in the butt coming through earbuds.

It is in Beta now, if Beta means not started. Thanks for choosing Tech Weenie for your tech, and fitness, needs.


*We are negotiating on a new iPad now, it has reached a critical stage so legal council has instructed me not to discuss the process until an agreement has been reached, or to add Diet Cokes to her lunch that I lovingly, carefully assemble every morning, or put condiments on the sandwich I make, with affection, to put in her lovingly assembled lunch, but that is all I can say for now.