Research #11

What I’ve been researching this week:

  • Good pre-school iPad apps
  • Alternative pickling methods
  • Creating a custom trunk floor for my car
  • Emerging market boutique camera lenses
  • Japanese style iced coffee (also, Cory Doctorow’s no-mess method)
  • Home made seltzer rigs (thanks for the idea, Sarah & Jason)
  • Remote-camera options (security and whatnot)
  • Sourcing Century Stands & Grip Hardware


Research #10

What I’ve been reading about this week:

  • Anamorphic vs standard lenses
  • Davinci Resolve Lite LUT’s
  • WiFi enabled outlets and powerstrips
  • Cutting foam
  • Re-Upholstering Eames Lounge chairs
  • Manfrotto Autopole 2
  • Harris Tweed Plaids
  • Hunting Jackets sewing patters
  • Dog Schidt Optiks FF58 lens
  • Gustin Japanese Oxford in white


It’s not a cure for everything, folks…

So this happened. San Jose State killed their much-talked-about MOOC experiment. For some pretty good reasons.

But I don’t really care about that, if I’m honest. I think the wrong bit of it is getting all the attention.

Consider what the university did: They took the large numbers of at-risk freshmen who needed to take some basic and remedial courses, and mandated that they do so in a MOOC. In doing so, they took an ill prepared population and pushed them into a method of teaching that has little (none, really) interaction and personal connection with a human instructor, and has no face time- and requires very good time management skills as well as an ability to work independently. Freshmen. At risk.

See the problem?

I started a MOOC once- Dan Ariely was teaching a free course about Decision Making Psychology on Coursera. It was really good- good subject, excellent instructor, well structured, and free. I made it two weeks.

I’m clearly a decent student to have gathered the education I have- I can focus and time manage and all those other skills. But the complexities of my life pulled me away regardless- and this from a course I liked! What, then, can we possibly expect of at-risk freshmen?

Something to keep in mind about producing.

I found this on tumblr today, and it comes from AMIT GUPTA . I have no idea if the anecdote described is true- and I don’t think it matters. The lesson here works- and not just for students, but also for educators.

…. let’s start with an anecdote from Art & Fear. It concerns a ceramics class:

The ceramics teacher announced on opening day that he was dividing the class into two groups. All those on the left side of the studio, he said, would be graded solely on the quantity of work they produced, all those on the right solely on its quality.

His procedure was simple: on the final day of class he would bring in his bathroom scales and weigh the work of the “quantity” group: fifty pound of pots rated an “A”, forty pounds a “B”, and so on. Those being graded on “quality”, however, needed to produce only one pot — albeit a perfect one — to get an “A”.

Well, came grading time and a curious fact emerged: the works of highest quality were all produced by the group being graded for quantity.

It seems that while the “quantity” group was busily churning out piles of work — and learning from their mistakes — the “quality” group had sat theorizing about perfection, and in the end had little more to show for their efforts than grandiose theories and a pile of dead clay.

Studio Test #3

We’re getting close. First half has some very basic color correction done- the lights are at 5000K, and really, to be neutral, 5500-5600K would be better. So I’ve got to pull a little red out. No biggie.

The second half is color corrected, and then has a filter applied that pushes some blue into the colors, but filters for skin tone and warms those somewhat. I’m not sure it’s my favorite implementation of the effect, and I’m looking into some more fine-control options. For now, it’s getting me the better separation between my subject and the background that I wanted.



I’ve been reading a book about checklists. It’s called The Checklist Manifesto. The author supposes the checklist that are properly design should free our minds from the mundane tasks that absolutely have to be accomplished and allow us to focus on the more demanding and difficult creative tasks that need to be addressed as well. He offers examples from the fields of surgery, investments, law, and, most important to him, pilots.



It turns out there’s been an enormous amount of research done on what makes a good or bad checklist in the realm of pilots. Not only that, but the work that’s been done look at the failures and successes of those checklists and updates them regularly. This creates a cycle of creating and re-creating checklists based on the needs of the environment they will be used

in. This, the author argues, is the reason why air travel is so safe in this country, and indeed worldwide.

The book contains a series of the students observations, all of which made me think about its applic
It was powerful for me, and I suspect will will serve to change the way I interact with complex tasks in my future professional career. I never thought I would be proponent of checklists in the classroom, but the clear, well argued, and profound examples offered in this book allowed me to see the virtues of them even in a tasks such as education.ation in the realm of education. I am sure, were we to propose a checklist for creating a lesson plan in the classroom, that we would receive blowback from educators the world over. The argument about us not trusting the capabilities of professional educators, and trying to dumb something down to the check list would overwhelm us. I suspect, having read this book, that argument might be valid for poorly conceived in designed checklists. Rather, a well-designed checklist should empower us, as educators, to free ourselves from the mundane but necessary tasks that need to be accomplished in the classroom, and allow us to focus on the more creative problem-solving endeavors that we must apply ourselves too.

Highest marks.

Research List #9

It’s been a busy last week around here, but here’s the (short) list of things I’ve researched:

  • Crop factor on Black Magic Pocket Cinema Camera (appears to be 2.88?)
  • Mazda 5
  • SquareSpace hosting
  • pickling watermelon rind
  • Aging quick-pickles (seems contradictory, but who knows?)
  • Looking for other educators on
  • Better color correction in FCPX
  • Davinci Resolve Lite
  • GoRuck Sandbag (20lb? 30lb?)
  • Filson Guide Work Tweed Jacket (sourcing this fabric?)



Here’s what’s going on with my videos:

My new studio is mostly set up- some smaller bits coming (today?) and it’s totally good to go.

The camera isn’t running aftermarket firmware- yet. Looking into that more.

The first focus is going to be a large series of videos on Lord of the Flies. Between me and my partner, I’m envisioning something on the order of twenty (!) videos- so that will take time. Following that substantial effort, I want to do Canterbury Tales. But that’s a while from now.

For now, I’ve shot two rounds of test footage- one to confirm that my 2700K lights weren’t going to cut it, and the second (just this morning) to see if the 5000K replacements I purchased were substantially better (they are). I’d love to have some bulbs that are 5600K, but those are a) hard to find and b) spendy. So 5000K it is. The image looks a lot better now (and the sound is far better too…), but I still need my Optical White umbrellas to get the image looking closer to what I want. I’ve included a still (of a test subject) below. Note: that still is totally raw- no post/color correction or anything else. Looks even better with some work done.

Next I need to spend some time writing and planing the episodes, as there’s a LOT of material to cover- up to and including some pre-loading that needs to be addressed.

All that said, I’ve got some impending (good) family drama that will slow things down for a bit, but I’d expect to be putting the first few episodes out before the summer is over.

Stay tuned.

Test Shoot #2

Research #8

Research list for the last week:

  • The military’s Project Stargate
  • Pepper’s Ghost effect
  • Close Encounters of the Third Kind (and Spielberg in general)
  • Low-Power Bluetooth
  • Using an iPad mini 4G as a phone
  • Good options for 5500K LED lights (or is 5000K close enough?)
  • Linux on a older G4 tower Mac
  • iCloud Beta of iWork (am I right it doesn’t do much yet?)
  • iSight compatibility
  • in-car Bearcat BCT8 mounting
  • Adjustable metal rail tie-down systems

Still thinking about breakfast.

I can’t stop thinking about breakfast.

I wake up every morning, and the first thing I do is eat breakfast. I’m unlucky, and my body isn’t a big fan of waiting to put fuel in the tank. If I delay this part of the day, I’m setting myself up for a morning full of fog and grogginess. It’s not a matter of caffeine intake, mind you- that usually doesn’t happen until an hour or three after I’ve woken.

As a result of knowing this about myself, I make sure two things are always true:

  1. My house has supplies for breakfast
  2. I am up early enough to allow time to utilize those supplies

I’ve begun to realize in recent years that both of those things are not true for many people. Often there’s a trade off between sleeping time and waking early enough to eat. Or there isn’t (for one reason or another) food around to eat. Or- and I’ve seen this in my own very young children- some people need to wake up a bit before they eat a meal.

But, sooner or later, not consuming calories in the morning begins to have negative effects on people. It’s science, folks.

Time for an analogy, people. If we, as educators, are a race car team, we are looking to extract as much performance out of our cars as humanly possible. We try to buy the right (and best) equipment. We try to hire the best and most dedicated staff and drivers. We work long hours and think hard about changes that we might make to extract more and more speed and performance. So far so good, right?

So why would a race car team not care about the quality of gas they put in their car’s tank?

Many of you might not know that race cars don’t (usually) run on pump gas- what we buy at the gas station. Typically, normal household cars run on something like 87 octane gas. High-end cars might require 91 or even 93 octane to run properly. And when I say properly, I don’t mean “best” or “at maximum potential.” I mean run. Once, years ago (and before kids) I owned a silly car. As a result of some changes I made to it, it would not run on less than 93 octane. The engine computer simply wouldn’t allow it. Running anything less than 93 octane had a very real possibility of physically damaging internal engine parts (bending valves being the most likely).

If we want to maximize the performance of our students and prime them to be in the best possible learning condition, how do we ignore the fuel they use? We can’t. I know there are long and in-depth laws regarding what may and may not be served in a school. Fine. That’s great. But for our best bang for the buck we need to be dealing with breakfast. Here’s couple of reasons:

  1. Most of the school day is before lunch.
  2. The way you start a day has a lasting effect on the quality of the rest of the day
  3. It’s a chance to front load nutrition for the day
  4. It’s the most neglected meal

I’ve written before about my thoughts on a school fruit bowl. That’d be a great start. I don’t think you even need to go wildly beyond that. Some yogurt (can you imagine home-made yogurt? Awesome). Some granola, maybe. Maybe, if this is a working thing, we do a once-a-week big breakfast event thing. Trot out the big guns. Eggs. Who knows?

I know we have breakfast for a population of students that need it right now. That’s a good thing. I’m simply arguing that they all need it- and that if they need it, it’s an opportunity to tilt the field in their own favor and set them up for success.

Now, where to find the money?