• The tiny video toolkit

    People ask me how I do the tiny videos. I hope to do a screencast at some point, but in the meantime, here are some notes:

    Video recording - I record them on my iPhone 11 Pro, I have Rode Wireless Go mics with a lav mic (these hook directly into the iPhone so the audio track is embedded in the video), a DJI Osmo Mobile gimble (totally not needed), and a cheap tripod. I record in 4k (see below for converting it for web). When I do “in the studio” I use the iPhone as well with Camo Studio and some Eve strip LED lighting. I have a black backdrop behind me. I use the FilMiC Pro Mobile on iOS to record - probably overkill, but if I ever get the remote thing working, it’ll be cool (I’d be able to control my main phone with another phone!). Their DoubleTake app is cool too - I used that for a couple Garbage Chairs of Amsterdam videos to bounce between me and the chair.

    Audio - I don’t really do anything with audio now - it gets recorded into the track. It’d be nice to noise cancel, compress, level, and stuff, but, whatever. Once that gets built into LumaFusion, I’ll probably just flip those switches. Descript will level the audio, which is nice. I don’t know, man: the audio is good enough - I could stand to have more gain, but, again: whatever.

    Editing - I edit in LumaFusion on iOS. I do most all editing on my iPhone, no shit. I’m often watching my daughter, feeding her, or otherwise somewhere besides a desk, so I’ve gotten really good at editing on my phone. Weird, but I like it. I’ve done it on my iPad and kind of like that less. Video editing software is very personal and muscle memory: I make no claims that what works for me would work for you: just pick something and train your hands to do the things. I could go over my editing style as well which, I like to think, is especially tuned for these short, quick videos.

    Subtitles - I started using Descript to get subtitles. It’s good stuff. I’ve done some editing in Descript - it will delete out filler words (“uh,” “like,” etc.) and silence pretty well. I don’t like the video editing in Descript. Sometimes, if I need a Twitter length video (max 2 minutes 20 seconds), I’ll use Descript to edit it down a bit. Then I have separate subtitles for the “everything but Twitter version” and the Twitter one. Sounds like extra work, but it’s actually fine.

    Thumbnails - I use Adobe Spark Post. It’s awesome and perfect for this job. I have an Adobe CC subscription, so I occasionally use stock.adobe.com to find zaney things. I also have a storyblocks.com stock footage subscription that I occasionally use for silly interstitials (like clowns in my bozo bit video).

    Posting - I do that all manually, per site. I did a rough analysis of where/how to post videos. My finding was that no one clicks on YouTube links: you need to publish the videos “natively” in each service: LinkedIn (best performing for my videos), Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok. The last three don’t really work well for my videos, so I’ve started ignoring them. To make this clear: you can’t just put a YouTube link in Twitter and LinkedIn for promotion: people won’t click on the link! So, I upload manually to YouTube, studio.twitter.com (a nice find I didn’t know about!), and LinkedIn. The thing with this is just knowing the various formats and subtitle expectations for each. Twitter vidoes need to be max 2 minutes 20 seconds, LinkedIn can be up to 10 minutes, YouTube doesn’t care. Twitter MP4s need to be 500 megs or less, so I encode those to 720p - the others will take 4k, so I upload full 4k to them.

    CTAs - you can put links into YouTube videos (“cards” and end frame things) - from what I can tell, no one clicks on those in my videos so I stopped doing them. You can also plop links into the YouTube description: I do this, I don’t know if they work. If you use studio.twitter.com, you can put one link that appears as an overlay to “watch more” (like, link to a full YouTube video) or “visit site” (like, go to a landing page to download my two free books). With LinkedIn, you just put the links in the post.

    Promotion - dude, fuck if I know. Hashtags? I’m pretty sure the only way to get better promotion for my videos is to get people much more famous then me to point to them.

    Interviewing - if I’m interviewing someone, I do it in Zoom and record the video. I figured out some settings where you can record the gallery view and the switching between active speaker view. The video quality is terrible, but I don’t ever want people to have to mess around.

    Streaming - I use OBS with a few core scenes (one big head talking, sharing a screen with a head). The best tip I got on OBS was to tune down the resolution to 720p. While my Netherlands internet can take most anything, I don’t have the compute horse-power to do more. Besides, who’s going to stream 4k? When I stream, OBS records the video and then I take that video and edit it and post to YouTube. I haven’t done much streaming this year…I don’t like it.

    Studio stuff - for a mic, I have an Apogee MiC 94k. It’s great! I think there’s a newer model now, probably fine. I currently use an Eve LED strip on the wall in front of me for lighting. I keep it on white at 25% brightness. I hook up my iPhone 11 Pro with Camo Studio so I can use. With the black backdrop I have, I found that messing around with the gamma kind of fades out the background enough (I have no idea what “gamma” is). I, of course, have those boom arm things for the iPhone/camera and mic. Mine are shit, but they work.


  • a strange gig for a press photographer. They are a weird breed, estranged in every way from pointy-headed reporters and editorial writers. If reporters are generally liberal in their thinking, photographers are massively conservative. They are the true professionals of journalism: the End, the photo, justifies anything they have to say, do or think in order to get it. Police brutality, to a good press photographer, is nothing more or less than a lucky chance for some action shots. Later, when his prints are drying in the darkroom, he’ll defend the same cops he earlier condemned with his lens.


    🔗 Fear and Loathing in America, excerpts in The Paris Review, 2000

  • But implementation is important too. How do you keep people on track without dampening their creativity?

    It’s not either/or. You just need to be intentional about which you want to emphasize now. To shift the focus of stand-up meetings, managers can pull two levers: frequency and content. If you want more novelty, have fewer meetings and keep them short. If your priority is implementing existing ideas, greater coordination from more-regular meetings can be helpful. As for meeting content, a discussion of goals focuses people on implementing old ideas rather than on coming up with new ones. So if you don’t talk about goals, you open the door to more creativity. Say you’re a tech company trying to develop a completely new category of product. A lot of agile meetings could get in your way; it would be better to just have your engineers follow their individual inclinations and explore randomly.

    The suggestion is that focusing on achieving a goal, and the tools for it like stand-up meetings, lessons the innovation output. You’re deciding to spend time implementing and existing idea, achieving an existing goal instead of coming up with the new ideas and new goals.

    A bit of “works as designed,” but important to realize so that you can build both into the system.

    🔗 Balancing execution versus innovation

  • Organizations can benefit by focusing their data initiatives on clearly identified high-impact business problems or use cases. By starting where there is a critical business need, executives can demonstrate value quickly through “quick wins” that help a company realize value, build credibility for their investments in data, and use this credibility to identify additional high-impact use cases to build business momentum. We see firms that invest in data capabilities and technology without a clearly defined business demand failing time and time again.

    If a corporate initiative is failing, try showing that it’s worth doing. People don’t want to change, esp. if there’s no proof that there’s a reason and that things get better. Too much business transformation stuff is drive by the promise that things will get better, by the speculation. Most of the time they don’t get better - there are many more failed startups than successful ones, you know. The current system, by nature of it being what people do, “works.” It might be in the decline, but it’s well known and has worked well to this point: it’s safe. You can force people to consider new things out of a sense or urgency, by showing them that their life will be better in the new system (which is largely about exposing how bad the current system is), and demonstrating that the new system is better.

    Also in the context of “everything changes” and “data is the new oil” type stuff, you should revisit the assumption that it’s all a big deal. After 5, 10 years of the culture resisting change, maybe the culture is right: your tech-led imperative to change isn’t such a big deal. It’ll just make you 10% better, not 300%. The change required to get there is equally less dramatic, &, hence, your “culture” seems a barrier.

    🔗 Why Is It So Hard to Become a Data-Driven Company?

  • Saturday stroll

  • The process

  • Photojournalists

    a strange gig for a press photographer. They are a weird breed, estranged in every way from pointy-headed reporters and editorial writers. If reporters are generally liberal in their thinking, photographers are massively conservative. They are the true professionals of journalism: the End, the photo, justifies anything they have to say, do or think in order to get it. Police brutality, to a good press photographer, is nothing more or less than a lucky chance for some action shots. Later, when his prints are drying in the darkroom, he’ll defend the same cops he earlier condemned with his lens.


    🔗 Fear and Loathing in America, excerpts in The Paris Review, 2000

  • not the best hustler

    I am not the best hustler because I do not know myself as well as I want to, which leads to a series of ongoing self-hustles. Like setting my alarm for seven thirty when I’ve already crossed well beyond the midnight hour, immersed in the glow of my phone. But it’s the promise I think I’m chasing. Like my dear pal, looking at a bracelet reflecting off the sunlight, dancing on her skin. … hustling is easiest when you are in a room people don’t believe you to be in. All you have to do is show up and refuse to give the people what they want

    🔗 On Hustles

  • Fonts of Amsterdam

  • But not all businesses are making those investments. Only 36% of executives said they have the necessary learning infrastructure to upskill their employees, according to the report. Less than half (48%) said they are investing in building soft skills, such as adaptability and collaboration. 

    On the other hand, since 2018, surveyed people think they have the needed leadership in place much more than back then.

    🔗 Then and now: Digital transformation in the pandemic landscape

  • New Tanzu Talk video: people don’t want to change. This is a problem if you’re transforming how your organization does software. You have to figure out how to motivate them, how to reward new behavior. Here, I offer a couple of tactics to get started with. 🎥

  • 📷

  • Fonts of Amsterdam 📷

  • Fake sky from PS Camera, and original. 📷

  • Garbage Chairs of Amsterdam.

  • “Daily Active Shit-Heads” - excellent phrase. www.cnbc.com


  • Estimating the death of the IBM System i market

    At an even amount of 9 percent of the current base per year or 10,8000 customers, it would only take 11 years to vaporize the IBM i base. If it is 9 percent of the base incremented down per year as it declines, it will take 40 years to reduce it from 120,000 to 3,000 customers. Neither of these scenarios seems likely given the current commitments that Big Blue is making in the Power server line and the IBM i platform. We think that without too much investment, IBM could keep the IBM i platform going at least to 2035. (That is just using Power11 chips.) We think the actual attrition rate is probably closer to 1,000 customers a year against maybe 300 new customers, but that is just a guess.

    So, like, effectively: never.

    🔗 Talk Is Cheap, Action Is Costly

  • Don't make your corporate memo/deck perfect

    If everyone on a team (including the leaders) accepts that all first drafts are bad, that automatically gives everyone permission to write a bad first draft, about anything, at any time…. The bad draft is a place to experiment with thoughts.

    A bad draft - an imperfect thing - drives collaboration, exploration, more rigorous analysis, and, even co-ownership.

    🔗 All first drafts are bad drafts (and that’s what makes them good)

  • Variability is the enemy of sustainable enterprise architecture. But, we keep doing it cause it’s so fun!

  • News Serif

    Boy, that looks real nice.

    🔗 News Serif

  • modernize large app portfolios by starting very small

    “Oftentimes, we get clients who will say, ‘We need to assess those 10,000 applications that we know have to go to the cloud before we do anything on them.’ And we try to change that around and ask why: ‘Why do you have to look at all of them?’

    “ … I haven’t found a customer that doesn’t know some of those critical applications that are very painful, that go down all the time or whatever the criteria is. They all have something that keeps them up at night, that they get the calls [about] at 3 a.m. They know they’ve got to think about those first.

    🔗 Refactor or lift-and-shift: How to prioritize modernization efforts

  • Mindfulness from blood-sport

    Americans haven’t found a constructive was to discuss inequality and power distribution. We like quick, violent arguments and fights that focus on zero-sum outcomes: one group wins, another losses.

    Things like GameStop throw all that inequality and weirdness on the table and so we have a chance to discuss it and act aghast.

    In this instance, the aghastness is:

    1. Why can’t I have some of that money?
    2. Is this illogical system worth all the sacrifice and worship we give Finance?
    3. Is this the best thing to spend our time on?

    Also, it’s a good story - entertainment with clear villains, but also ambiguous heros.

    There’s little, if anything, about race and gender in the discussion, morals even. This is a huge change from years of culture wars. This is just like watching gladiators, context free of any culture wars. It gives you that focus one one thing to exclude all the stuff you’re anxious about. In a gentler system, this would be called “mindfulness”: focusing on “the now” to stop the voices in your head.

    For the most part, gladiators were slaves (I think). In the case of GameStop, both sides volunteered.

    What I’m saying here is that you can’t have sympathy for either side if you base sympathy giving on: they had no choice or were somehow tricked into the negative situation.

    I don’t think that means much, but it does highlight another American oddity: we don’t really think about downside as a real thing. We are raised to value the underdog, and much of our folklore is about the underdog winning. However, that doesn’t happen much. We can’t deal with the concept that people just lose, that you get defeated, that there’s no way to win. We get upset when that happens to us as individuals: it’s not fair!

    I don’t know other cultures much, but my sense that this idea that you deserve success is part of American-think.

    This idea that you would be resigned to your fate is incredibly un-American. In fact, it’s perhaps the worst sin you can commit: idle hands and all that. When people are poor and underprivileged (until very recently) American culture assumed it was just because they didn’t try hard enough and have given up. Boot-straps and all that.

    We can’t conceptualize that most people don’t win most of the time. There must be cultures that are more aligned to this style of thinking.

    That’s part of what makes mindfulness and “living in the now” so hard for me to…believe? If I’m not always struggling, planning, worried…bad things will happen. If I give up and accept things as they are, then things will go bad, I’ll lose all my money, security, etc., happiness.

    This, of course, isn’t the point of mindfulness. It’s not giving up and letting yourself float around in a sea of shit. But, it’s hard to even think otherwise with this American notion that the only way to be happy is to fight, to work for it and suffer along the way.

  • Joan Didion interview, 1978 - Paris Review - The Art of Fiction No. 71 theparisreview.org/interview…

    I didn’t realize until after I’d written it that it was essentially the same ending as Run River. The women let the men commit suicide.


    INTERVIEWER: So the process of writing the novel is for you the process of discovering the precise novel that you want to write.

    DIDION: Exactly. At the beginning I don’t have anything at all, don’t have any people, any weather, any story. All I have is a technical sense of what I want to do. For example, I want sometime to write a very long novel, eight hundred pages. I want to write an eight-hundred-page novel precisely because I think a novel should be read at one sitting. If you read a novel over a period of days or weeks the threads get lost, the suspension breaks. So the problem is to write an eight-hundred-page novel in which all the filaments are so strong that nothing breaks or gets forgotten ever. I wonder if García Márquez didn’t do that in The Autumn of the Patriarch. I don’t want to read it because I’m afraid he might have done it, but I did look at it, and it seems to be written in a single paragraph. One paragraph. The whole novel. I love that idea.


    INTERVIEWER: You say you treasure privacy, that “being left alone and leaving others alone is regarded by members of my family as the highest form of human endeavor.” How does this mesh with writing personal essays, particularly the first column you did for Life where you felt it imperative to inform the reader that you were at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel in lieu of getting a divorce?

    DIDION: I don’t know. I could say that I was writing to myself, and of course I was, but it’s a little more complicated than that. I mean the fact that eleven million people were going to see that page didn’t exactly escape my attention. There’s a lot of mystery to me about writing and performing and showing off in general. I know a singer who throws up every time she has to go onstage. But she still goes on.


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