Apple, Journal, Technology

Autumn Gem for the iPad Wins at iPadDevCamp!

Autumn Gem for the iPad

Our Autumn Gem application for the iPad won the Future of Publishing Award at iPadDevCamp! We developed this application to show the potential marriage between film and iPad. Going beyond a normal movie, we bring the story of Modern China’s first feminist, Qiu Jin, to life with interactive elements, historical information and movie clips from our film.

Unfortunately, we only heard about the award after the event was over. The judges created several new awards categories during the judging process, and they accidentally forgot to mention our application! No worries, we’re happy that our app was recognized by the selection committee!

The free iPad which is part of the award will be going to Ivan and Dominic from XBureau, who assisted us in developing the application; we couldn’t have done it without them! It was a completely random encounter that caused us to meet. On Friday night, I was standing in line waiting to talk to Chris Allen, one of the organizers of iPadDevCamp. I was holding my 5D Mark II, which was mounted onto my Zacuto Tactical Shooter. Ivan noticed my rig and asked me some questions about it. During our conversation, I told him about the film and my app idea; later on in the evening, he came up to me with Dominic and said they were interested in working on the app. Two days of furious coding, Photoshop, Final Cut, and After Effects later, here we are with a now award-winning app!

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Autumn Gem, Journal

Autumn Gem Web Site Refresh

We refreshed the Autumn Gem web site this evening. The original site was blog-centric, whereas the new site is focused squarely on the film. We’ll be updating the content on the site more frequently now that our Spring 2010 Tour is about to get underway. Rae and I just returned from Southern California where we screened the film at UC Irvine. Photos and commentary to come soon! In the meantime, check out the new Autumn Gem web site!

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Journal

Don't Stop Believing This Love Story

Dan and Julian sing Love Story

Everyone who knows me knows that I often found with my camera by my side. Since picking up my first digital camera back in 1998, I’ve been taking photos nearly everywhere I go. Up until recently, I’ve primarily just took photos with my DSLRs, but thanks to the 5D Mark II, I’m now shooting more and more video.

Over the past two weeks, I’ve taken a combination of photos and video at the Edwardian Ball, the Apple iPad Special Event and at Stanford University. This weekend, we celebrated Dan’s birthday at Sushi Rika in San Francisco. Dan and Juliana will soon be leaving the Bay Area, so we wanted to have one last extravaganza before their departure. I figured Dan wanted to have a consolation dinner, as our beloved Chargers lost to the Jets (again) in the NFL playoffs two weeks ago.

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Journal

New Year's Lunch

A few days late in getting these photos up. I hope 2010 will bring a few more entries to this blog than 2009! On New Year’s Day, Susan, Bryan, Kai, Petrice, Eric, Flora and their two kids met up in Milpitas for lunch. We originally wanted to go to Maru-Ichi Ramen, but they were closed for the holidays. So, we walked across the 99 Ranch Market and ate instead at this Taiwanese Noodle House. With kids, people having moved to another state, and work, it’s getting harder for everyone to meet up regularly. So, I’ve come to cherish these times when we’re able to get together to recap the past year and look ahead to the future!

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Journal

Star Trek: The Exhibition at the San Jose Tech Museum

Star Trek: The Exhibition

Yesterday evening, Felix, Rae and I went to the San Jose Tech Museum to see the Star Trek: The Exhibition exhibit. We went as part of a private event, which meant the usual prohibition against photography and videography was lifted. I hope that also means that I can post these photos up on my web site too!

Everyone who knows me knows that I’m a huge Star Trek fan (Star Wars too, I’m an equal opportunity sci-fi fan). I’ve been to other Star Trek exhibits in the past, but this one was clearly the best. For instance, they had recreated several sets from TOS and TNG, including the bridge of the original Enterprise! It’s too bad that I didn’t have any Star Trek uniforms in my closet, or else we really could have <a href="had a blast role-playing throughout the exhibit. Another set that was recreated was the Guardian of Forever from the classic TOS episode: City on the Edge of Forever. I just had to jump through the Guardian just as Kirk, Spock and McCoy did in the episode! A TNG-era hallway and transporter room rounded out the rest of the large-scale set recreations. Having gone through the process of building a set in our garage for Autumn Gem, I could appreciate the work that went into building these pieces for the exhibit.

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COBA, Journal, Photography

Final COBA Meeting

After seven and a half years of running Camera Owners of the Bay Area, I called it a night on the user group Wednesday evening. It’s been an incredible ride, one in which I’ve made many new friends in the photography community. When I started COBA, there weren’t many face-to-face user groups focusing on Digital SLRs. Also back then, Digital SLRs were expensive, starting at $3000 for the Canon EOS D30. Now, you can get a quality DSLR for under $500, less if you buy used!

COBA has covered numerous topics over the years, camera announcements, software techniques, hardware reviews, trip reports, sensor cleaning, bags, do-it-yourself gadgets, RAW processing applications, and much more. I went through a presentation detailing all of the meeting topics from the entire history of COBA. 7.5 years in just 30 minutes! I was amazed by the breadth of topics covered; even in the sessions that repeated themselves over the years, people learned new things.

Moving forward, I’ll try to organize some annual gatherings of COBA members. I’ll see many of them at the local Smug user groups, also held at SmugMug headquarters in Mountain View.

Until the next COBA gathering, enjoy these photos taken by Rae, from the final monthly COBA meeting!

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Journal, Reviews

G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra Movie Review

Adam circa 1987 with Cobra Terror Drome toy set

When I think back about my childhood in the eighties, several things stand out, including my introduction to Apple computers, Transformers and G.I. Joe. Growing up, I had a subscription to the monthly comic book and many G.I. Joe toys, as you can see in the photo to the right. Yes, that’s me back in 1987 with the dreaded Cobra Terror Drome toy set! I also watched the cartoon, but I much preferred the more realistic comic book, written by Japanese-American writer, Larry Hama. No one ever died in the cartoon and everyone always had a parachute in their back pocket when their plane or helicopter exploded. And, don’t get me started on the G.I. Joe animated movie with Cobra-La!

As I progressed through high school, my interest in the toys and comics naturally waned, but my love for G.I. Joe never really went away. I’ve always thought a G.I. Joe movie could be awesome, but only if it took its lead from the comic book and not the cartoon. When Michael Bay’s Transformers came out, I was very disappointed; it was all special effects and eye-candy; for instance, you couldn’t tell the Autobots from the Decepticons, as grey metaled robots beat up on similarly grey metaled robots. Transformers 2 was better, but not enough to improve my thoughts on the franchise. When the initial photos of Darth Maul/Ray Park dressed as Snake-Eyes came out, I thought, “Wow, this could be a really good and faithful adaptation of G.I. Joe!” Those initial thoughts turned to WTF after seeing the rest of the Joes dressed like Matrix/X-Men characters. The initial trailer — accelerator suits and all — only served to reinforce the potential trainwreck building in my mind. The kicker was the photo of Cobra Commander’s mask. The producers basically said f-you to 27 years of Cobra Commander canon, saying the hood was too KKK-like and would scare children. Ummm… isn’t that the point?

No Expectations, No Regrets?

Despite the nagging feeling in the back of my mind, my expectations were raised after some early positive reviews from AintItCoolNews. Of course, AICN has been accused of being paid Hollywood hacks, a feeling that only intensified after hearing that Paramount decided not to screen the movie for critics. Sure enough the high rating on the Tomatometer for G.I. Joe dropped like a stone on Friday and is currently at 42%.

Before heading out to see the movie, I asked myself, “Were these movie reviewers G.I. Joe fans growing up? Did they understand the mythology, did they know by heart nearly every issue of the comic book, did they know each character’s background and motivations, and did they ever play with the toys?” Who is the target audience for the film? Over the course of marketing our own documentary, AUTUMN GEM, Rae and I have had to answer that very question; show the film to your target demographic and audience, and they will love it.

And so, on Friday, I went with Dardy… and three of my G.I. Joe action figures in my pocket, hooded Cobra Commander, Snake-Eyes (1982 version, no swivel-arm battle grip) and Snake-Eyes (1985 – the definitive version), to the nearby Winchester movie theatre to see G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra.

Spoiler alerts to follow. If you’ve read this far, however, I think you’re hardcore enough that you’ve already seen the movie! This review is not so much a review but a free-flow of thoughts coming from 27+ years of being a G.I. Joe fanatic. You have been warned!

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Journal

BBQ and Pool Party

Rae and I hosted a BBQ and Pool Party at our house this past weekend. We had a great turnout, with a wide-range of people from all ages and walks of life. Thanks to everyone who brought the wonderful snacks, drinks, and grill items. Two things made this party memorable: kids and Eric’s underwater camera! Check out the photos below!

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