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Retro Tech Tuesday: Disney's 1950's Vision of Future Travel

Who could've envisioned GPS, heads-up displays, and bluetooth-like connectivity in the 1950's? As it turns out, the creative minds at Disney, that's who. Sure, they may have also envisioned atomic-powered tunneling machines that would make short work of the toughest tunnels in mere hours. And yes, we don't have cantilevered, irradescent roadways criss-crossing the country, but all in all, many of the predictions in this short from the 50's were spot-on:


Retro Tech Tuesday: 1920's Folding Electric Car

While electric cars are slowly making their way onto the highways here in 2011, we still have precious few folding cars, let alone folding electric cars! If only we would've all rallied behind this gem in the 1920's... It definitely has a bit more assembly than the Sinclair C5 we looked at last week, but dang if that little car doesn't have some moxie:


Book Review: iPad for Seniors For Dummies

Granted the name is a bit awkward, but once you get past that, iPad for Seniors for Dummies, is a straightforward instruction manual for Apple's latest sensation. Author Nancy C. Muir has written her book in a concise fashion that assumes a bit of computer literacy on the part of the reader: If you're expecting a book that talks down to seniors, or ignores the reality that most of them (especially iPad purchasers) have at least used a computer, look elsewhere.

Smartly printed in large type, with the exception of a few sections like "recommended apps for seniors" this book could easily serve as anyone's iPad guide. It might not serve as the best guide for someone completely new (for example, one section talks about getting your iTunes music onto the iPad.) to electronics, but if your hip parent/grandparent knows their way around the Mac or Windows desktop, they should find this book to be a perfect match. Even the suggested apps include mainstream titles like Flickr, which would imply some web savviness as well.



Retro Tech Tuesday: The Sinclair C5

What's not to love about this week's Retro Tech? It has everything we look for: a retro commerical, retro music/sound effects, and a promise of a cleaner, brighter future that was never to be.

While this ad portrays it as a single-person electric "car", it was really more of a battery-assisted tricyle, hence the claim that you didn't need a license to operate it. While it looks like something out of a sci-fi movie, it looks far less glamourous in this real-world setting. That might be part of the reason it didn't catch on:


Revisiting FCP X: I Was Wrong

Two weeks ago, in this very blog, I had a post entitled "In Defense of Final Cut Pro X." In that post, I talked about my own journey from initial hesitation of the interface of the new software, to an open-armed embrace of the software following 11 hours of training. I said (and still believe) that the biggest mistake Apple made was naming this app Final Cut Pro X, and had they simply called it something else, and released a few more versions of FCP while working out the bugs, all would be well in the world. Well, I'm here to tell you I was wrong. This app shows no signs of being ready for a pro workflow. What changed my mind so drastically? Simple: I tried to use FCP X on a project for a client.

This was no big-time feature film, but rather a simple corporate project, consisting primarily placing PowerPoint slides over video from a training session. The tools and methods that seem to make so much sense in a training environment, quickly de-volved into hair-pulling frustration in real-world use. I'm not referring to the problems big production houses have with this release (things like 3rd party card support, EDL support, etc.) as those have been well documented.

I'm talking about tiny, daily irritations like the inability to mark an in and out point on the timeline, and then export that portion of the video. A quick explanation for the non-editors in the audience: traditionally, you could mark an in and out point in the main timeline of your video, then export that portion as it's own clip. This is helpful, if for example, you are working on a two-hour project, and just need to show a brief portion of the project to a client for approval. You export that tiny portion, and send it to the client for approval.

In FCP X though, you must export the entire timeline; in to out export is not supported. The workaround is to either export the entire movie to compressor, then mark an in and out in there, and export, or copy the entire timeline to a new project (not a new sequence as the concept of having more than one sequence per project has disappeared) delete the portion(s) the client doesn't have to see, then export there. Either of these solutions adds a significant amount of time to what was previously a simple operation.

This is one example of many "death by a thousand cuts" irritations in using the program in real-world conditions. I'm not talking about "paradigm shifts" here. I'm talking about little, conscious decisions that were made somewhere in the Apple food chain, that the same philosophy applied to iOS and the iPad would work in a pro app: We'll give you the features we think you need. No need for your input. While that strategy has worked wonderfully at creating groundbreaking hardware, it doesn't translate to an environment where people's very livelihood depends on their ability to get work done in a program.

There are some really cool features in FCP X, but I can't think of one that wouldn't be better served within the structure, layout, and functionality of the previous versions. Will Apple listen to the pro customers? I wouldn't hold my breath. What I do know is I have had email exchanges with bot Avid and Adobe, and both have taken the time to explain how certain features work in their programs. They seem to, what's the word- respect - professional video editors. Meanwhile emails to Apple (even an initial congratulatory email) went into that great black hole in Cupertino where suggestions from customers have gone for years.  I've seen the light, and now appreciate the value of companies who treat their customers as adults, rather than as children: "You'll get your shiny new toy when we tell you," might be a great strategy to sell the world more phones, but it isn't the best way to reach the pro market. Maybe that's why Apple has chosen to abandon it.