Steam Powered Giraffe is a music group not a robot giraffe

We saw Steam Powered Giraffe at the Steampunk World’s Fair last weekend.  Well sort of…  It was really crowded in the tent where they were performing and we were stuck outside, but we stayed for a few songs.  We saw a couple of good musical groups (and a few not so good) but these guys were the most “steampunky.”

We weren’t sure what this act was until we saw them.  I thought maybe it was a big robot giraffe.  There WAS a big robot there but it wasn’t a giraffe.  Actually it wasn’t even a robot, just a statue of a robot, but it was cool.  Most of the fair was like that, wandering around wondering what was going on.

Are big media corporations using fraudulent copyright take-downs to sabotage other media corporations on YouTube?

I posted this video to Google+ and Facebook yesterday.  It’s a really great promotional video for the upcoming film Prometheus.  Today it looks like it was taken off YouTube by Comcast because of copyright.  What a stupid thing to do, I thought.  You want your promotional videos to be copied and posted to YouTube right?  That’s the whole point of promotion.  You want people to see it.

Then I realized, wait…  Prometheus is a 20th Century Fox film and Comcast owns Universal.  Not the same company.  Is Comcast fraudulently using YouTube’s copyright protection technology against a competitor?  Looks like it to me…

These kinds of shenanigans really piss me off especially since huge companies like Comcast are trying to force all kinds of new copyright restrictions on everyone.  You can’t have it both ways Comcast.  Copyright law is intended to protect your own content.  It’s not a weapon to go after your competition.

Here’s the video on another YouTube channel.  Check it out before Comcast tries to take it down!

Amazing old school special effects from Space: 1999

Brian Johnson is a well known special effects genius who worked on 2001: A Space Odyssey, Space: 1999, and The Empire Strikes Back. He is not a good TV host. In spite of his dry delivery this documentary ends up being a treasure anyway. It’s a behind the scenes look at how they created the Eagle model shots in Space: 1999. All the composting was done in camera – no blue screen, no optical printers. The SPFX shots were one strip of film directly from the camera.

My first glimpse of Star Wars was through Ralph McQuarrie’s eyes

Below is a full page Log Entry from Starlog magazine, issue number six. My dad picked it up for me at the airport as he was coming home from a business trip. As I flipped through the pages I slowly realized that I enjoyed almost all the articles. Up to that point I knew I liked Star Trek re-runs on TV but I liked a lot of other unrelated things too. I didn’t understand the concept of a genre until I saw all these wonderful articles grouped together in one magazine. I decided I liked Science Fiction. It was a revelation that shaped the direction of my life.

The Star Wars preview from page nine was my first glimpse of the SciFi explosion that was to come in just a few short weeks. The blurb itself was forgettable (and as it turns out, highly inaccurate.) What dominated the page were two paintings. The scenes were so far out that they really didn’t register with me at first. Surely these were just paintings and the movie won’t look like this… right?

Younglings reading this won’t understand but before Star Wars, nothing like it existed. It was so far beyond what anyone had seen before. The commercials on TV left you stunned. The movie played in the theater for 25 weeks even in the small town I grew up in. That’s half a year. Some people went to the theater to see it 20 and 30 times.

Star Wars not only changed the course of cinema, it changed my life. It solidified my love of Science Fiction and eventually convinced me that I wanted to dedicate my life to making movies. I’ve been doing it ever since. And it all started with this one page in a magazine dominated by these two magnificent paintings.

Thank you Ralph McQuarrie. You changed my life.

Incident In New Baghdad gets Oscar nomination!

James Spione, a friend of mine from back in film school, has snagged an Academy Award nomination for Documentary Short Subject. Congratulations to him and to Ethan McCord the subject of the film. It took an awful lot of courage from both of them to speak out on this subject and as an American I am glad I was able to see this story. The film has won several awards already and I predict it will win the Oscar too. Hopefully all the recognition will lead to wider distribution so everyone will have a chance to see it.

Check out the film’s web page HERE.

What I was doing on 9/11

Ten years ago today, I was sitting in the exact same chair I am right now, in my basement studio cut off from the world, editing what would become my favorite Discovery Channel production that I’ve ever been involved with. I would have remained totally oblivious to the events of the day except for the fact that my wife called me, a direct eyewitness to what was happening at the World Trade Center from her vantage point at work directly across the Hudson river. (Her story is here.)

Two of my friends and fellow filmmakers were working on the same production, shooting the end of the documentary on the Army base in Fort Knox, Kentucky. They ended up trapped there for a few days when the base was locked down on alert but eventually got the rest of the story.

The show we were working on, Tank School, follows a group of new marines just out of boot camp, learning how to drive and shoot tanks.

I’m quite proud of this show and to this day I haven’t seen any driving or shooting scenes inside a tank that are as intimate and dramatic as the ones in this documentary. Looking back I think this show was something quite appropriate to be working on exactly ten years ago today.

Don’t swim upstream baby the future is right where you were…

Online video pioneer Ze Frank is “replaying” his much imitated daily video series The Show exactly five years after its original broadcast in 2006.  Follow along as episodes are released on a new blog complete with reflective commentary.  It’s an exploration of a brand new medium, an examination of spontaneous creativity, and a study of viewer engagement.  It’s funny too.  Watch the replay every day here.

The Mercury Men… finally!

Big, big news today.  The Mercury Men is a highly anticipated, independently created, dramatic sci-fi online video series.  There’s been buzz about it literally for years and now, finally, it’s about to be released to the public.  It will be shown for free “soon” on Syfy’s website.  Check out the trailer:

Here’s the official announcement on the Mercury Men blog.  Congratulations to Chris Preksta and everyone else who obviously worked very hard to make all this happen.  I can’t wait to see the show!

Is Robert Scoble my friend? Facebook says NO!

Robert Scoble is a blogger and technical evangelist who also does something I know a bit about, web video.  My wife CAT and I met Robert in person at a podcasting conference called New Media Expo in 2008.  We were all speakers at that conference.

Earlier this year my wife, who is VP of Enterprise Architecture at a large well known company in NYC, had some dealings with Rackspace which is where Robert works.  Because we met at New Media Expo she was able to e-mail him and smooth out some business problems.  It’s crazy but that’s how this new social media thing works.  Because we do a knitting show, Rackspace got some potential business.  The connections are not always obvious.

I point out all the above so you can know exactly where I was coming from when I clicked “Add as friend” on Robert Scoble’s Facebook profile.  After I clicked I got this:

OK, I’ve met Robert personally so this is some kind of mistake.  I go to the help center to resolve the problem.  I get this:

Huh?  This doesn’t sound like a way to resolve the problem.  It actually sounds like a reprimand.  Let’s take this a step at a time.  I’m going to be very detailed about my personal Facebook account statistics to give the discussion the proper context, so please bear with me.  Facebook says:

Facebook is a place for connecting with friends, family and other people you know personally.

Is that what Facebook is for?  I’m not sure how fan pages, online games, corporate products, and companies, etc. fit into that limited definition but, OK… Let’s accept that narrow frame for the sake of discussing what follows.  I’m sure that’s the entire purpose of this introductory sentence.

If you’ve been prevented from adding friends on Facebook, it’s likely because many friend requests you’ve sent recently have gone unanswered.

I have a few friend requests (12 out of 173 total) that have gone unanswered but none of them have been even close to recent.  I actually forgot about most of them until I looked just now.  It’s also less than seven percent of the total, not even close to spammer territory so I doubt that’s the problem.

This may be because you’ve sent friend requests to strangers,

I haven’t but OK… Let’s figure this out specifically.  I just checked.  The last person I friended on Facebook was my roommate from collage.  This was maybe a week and ½ ago.  He accepted almost instantly.  I guess he remembered me.  Before that?  I don’t know.  It was probably two or three weeks ago.  I’m extremely conservative about who I friend on Facebook compared to other social networks.  If I had to guess I maybe click on “Add as friend” two or three times a month.  Out of my current 161 friends, I’ve met every single one personally except for nine.  Basically I don’t friend anyone unless we’ve met in person at least once.  The exceptions are, if we are likely to meet for some reason in the near future, or if we’ve known each other online for a very long time (like years.)

This brings up a deeper question though:

How does Facebook know if I know someone?

Does Facebook assume that if one of my friend requests goes unanswered for a period of time that I don’t know that person?  That’s a pretty big assumption on their part.  (Note to self:  I’ll have to remember to call my father-in-law on the phone and demand he respond to my Facebook friend request I sent three months ago.)

Also, does Facebook assume I don’t know somebody if they deny my friend request?  I don’t know how many friend requests I’ve had denied but it can’t be that many.  Different people use Facebook different ways, some restrict it only to family, or only friends from collage… Some accept everyone who clicks on their profile.  Certainly they understand this at Facebook, right?  A denied friend request simply means that you don’t fit the other person’s filter.  (Or maybe they just don’t remember you.  High School was a looooong time ago.)

Does Facebook think I’m a spammer?

I’m extremely conservative about who I friend, certainly when compared to many of my friends who are podcasters, web video creators, or otherwise on the vanguard of the social media scene.  They have thousands of “friends.”  I have 161 and make maybe two or three friend requests a month.  Spammer?  Not even in the same universe.

OK, let’s get back to Facebook’s message to me.  This is where it starts to get darker:

…or it may be due to other behavior that Facebook members have reported as unwelcome.

What the heck does that mean?  OK… I’m sure the last person I friended (my collage roommate) didn’t badmouthed me to “The Friend Police.”  But now I’m thinking.  Who of my friends would go behind my back and complain?  I look over the list.  Well there’s this one guy – I had a fight with him once in collage.  Oh, and then there’s this girl – She used to kick me in grade school.  Maybe one of them complained?

Shame on you Facebook.  This bit is downright evil.  “Other unwelcome behavior” should really be dealt with specifically and not as vague innuendo implicating my friends.

I want to know what the issue is!

If Facebook is going to scold it’s users for bad behavior, it doesn’t make any sense to make the issue vague.  Why treat regular users like spammers and then give them no way to resolve whatever the problem is?  It just doesn’t make any sense.

You’ll be allowed to add friends again soon.

Soon?  How soon is soon.  An hour?  A day?  A month?  When can I have new friends?

At that time, please remember to only send friend requests to people who you already know personally.

OK, now you’re starting to sound mean and arrogant, but you’re a big faceless corporation so I’ll try to ignore it.

Otherwise, additional limits may be placed on your account.

Wait a minute…  Did Facebook just threaten to cut me off from my friends online?  Based on what?  Because their pathetic algorithm says I’m a spammer?  And I have no recourse?  Are these people MY friends?  Or are they Facebook’s friends?

Is Facebook becoming too powerful?

Some time ago internet entrepreneur and blogger Jason Calicanis closed his facebook account in protest.   He did it live on episode #53 of his show This Week In Startups.  (Discussion of deleting Facebook starts at the beginning of the show, the actual process starts at about 13:45)

You can read about his reasons for doing this in his blog.

In the video at about 33:48, just as he finishes deleting his account Jason says something very telling.  He says, “How you write these dialog screens is how you get judged in this industry.”

I agree.  Which is why I went into great detail above.

Around the same time technology broadcaster, author, and entrepreneur Leo Laporte also left Facebook behind.

Recently however, Leo came back to Facebook mainly because he needed a Facebook account for his work.  He reviews software and sometimes needs a Facebook account to use that software.  (I looked for a reference link where Leo stated his reason, but couldn’t find one.  I think I heard him say it on TWiT Live in between one of the show tapings.)  Leo’s dilemma only illustrates the problem.  Facebook is a giant now.  I know many people (including myself) who can’t leave Facebook mainly because that’s where all the people are, especially non-tech people.  Getting all your friends to move over to another service would be impossible and Facebook knows it.  In the future I’m sure things will be more open but right now they aren’t.


Is Robert Scoble my “friend?”

I don’t know.  I guess that’s up to Robert.  Like everyone, I’m sure he has his own filter for who he friends and who he doesn’t.  If we both agree then we will be “Facebook friends.”

…and that’s the way it should be because:

Facebook should not be able to decide who can be friends!

What do you think?  Have you had trouble friending people on Facebook?  Are you dependent on your Facebook friend connections?  Leave a comment.

Old Spice Guy records a get well video for Kevin Rose

This is social media marketing at it’s best! The Old Spice guy records a get well video for Kevin Rose creator of, Revision3 and host of Diggnation.

This is brilliance in action.  A funny video directed at an unlikely person with a large social network.  Old Spice gets their brand to geeks everywhere.  (And it’s funny too.  This won’t work unless people want to talk about it.)  Old Spice has made scores of personalized message videos to invade other demographics too.  Check them all out in their YouTube channel.

There’s one directed at Alyssa Milano.

After her reaction, Old Spice Guy recorded and posted a response video.

Then Kevin Rose sees the video directed at him and replies on Twitter.  Then Old Spice Guy records and uploads another video to continue the conversation.

Then another video for Alyssa Milano.

This is how it’s done, people!  Old Spice is schooling us all on social media marketing!  Pay attention!