Sunday, March 22, 2020

Donald Trump and the Coronavirus



I am a big fan of truth.

I guess that is an occupational inclination. The law firm I first worked in, articled for, and became a partner of, had a rule that turned out to be very rare for law firms generally.

No matter the path you intended to take, you had to litigate for your first five years with the firm. When I factor in the time I spent doing what we students called the "court run" (getting subpoenas issued, filing law suits and motions, examining court records) and my articling period, I racked up close to ten years hanging around the courts.

In that time I faced off with a fair number of lying witnesses. I learned very effective strategies to deal with perjury.

I guess that's how I developed my very low regard for liars.

I'm not talking about kids lying. Often that makes you chuckle and becomes a fond memory.

No. I'm talking about adults who lie to advance their interests at the expense of others.

Donald Trump is the most egregious example of that I have come across in my life, and that's why I hold him in such low regard.

So far his lying ways have proven very successful for him, and difficult for people of integrity to deal with effectively.

Then came the Coronavirus.

It's shaping up to be a massive challenge for governments around the world. The slightest misstep, the merest delay, any momentary uncertainty in selecting a response, allows the exponential beast to blossom and sicken more victims.

It's not a democrat or republican challenge, a capitalist or communist challenge, a white black or brown challenge, an Asian European African or Latin American challenge.

It's a brutal unforgiving scientific challenge. It's immune to lies. You can downplay it, insult it, it just doesn't care.

In many ways it is poetic in delivering to the Trump presidency a custom-made crisis that preys on all of the signature moves of Trump's administration: undermining institutions, denigrating the press, stripping down the organs of government most needed in this kind of crisis. Famously just a few days ago, questioned about his administration's move to dismantle the pandemic preparedness function of the national security counsel, Trump said "I don't accept any responsibility" and claimed he knew nothing about it.

It's laughable and pathetic. Words fail.

And that led me to the clown tone of this episode.

The music for this episode of Life on two wheels is Twirly Tops by the Green Orbs, and Minor blues for Booker by E's Jammy Jams, both those tracks and the sound effects are made available courtesy of the YouTube Audio Library.

I wish you the best of luck avoiding the virus.

Please remember to keep your distance (two meters, or six feet) from your brothers and sisters.


Saturday, March 14, 2020

Vlogging: iPod or GoPro, OR BOTH?? Welcome to my studio!


This is the episode where you get a better, more technical understanding of what went well, what was challenging, and what was disastrous, with the three vlogging rigs that I use in the production of the Life on two wheels vlog.

The unmentioned ironies in the whole production debacle are...
  • yesterday I had to return the brand new GoPro Hero7 Black that I received in a warranty replacement just a couple of weeks ago... because... there was another issue with the camera's USB-C port. This time it's not the audio, it's the computer interface. Nothing I could do could prompt the camera to connect with my computers and allow me to download clips.
  •   That means having to disassemble the metal cage, unplug the microphone adapter, open the camera, remove the micro-SD card (smaller than a small child's pinky fingernail - amazing that it holds up to 64 Gb of video), plug the micro-card into the standard-size SD card holder, plug that card into a USB SD card reader, plug the USB card reader into the applicable USB hub, then download the video. Way too much complexity, plus constantly fiddling with the temperamental USB-C port on the camera is a recipe for further disaster.
    After an hour or so on the phone with the GoPro support team (by the way, I have been very impressed with their product support) my camera has been shipped back to GoPro for replacement once more. I have been advised that they plan to test the new replacement before shipment to ensure that the port is working properly in every respect. 
  • I discovered to my great chagrin that my lavalier Rode mic broke. There is a break in one of the wires right at the plug. No big deal, I have two other lavaliers with long cords that I can use for future interviews, BUT... I had used that mic with my iPod to record a farewell get-together with Stephanie Yue last summer when she flew off from Toronto to Europe with her Vespa. You guessed it, the audio is buggered all to hell by that mic defect. Now I have to figure out
    • how to break that news to Ed; and
    • how to salvage what I have for an upcoming episode. 
While this video is yet another nerdy vlogging how-to video, with a (hopefully) click-bait-ish thumbnail and intro, I am genuinely enthused (in case it's not clear in the video) with the studio set up.

I love it because I think that using my iMac desktops as studio lighting is such a cool and efficient hack. So many bloggers have massive amounts of gear that turn their studios into virtually single-purpose spaces.

In my case, my studio is a secondary purpose for my home office, whose primary purpose is my law practice hence the books, the computers (MacBook, old iMac, new iMac), printer+scanner, desk lighting, shredder, back-up drives (nicely concealed I might add, I am sure you didn't notice). I actually have a green-screen in the closet that I have tested which can be set up behind my office chair and that allows me to completely eliminate the entire background with a mouse-click.

For an after-thought video production studio it works really, really well for me.

So that's it folks.

I'll be back with something on Stephany's adventure, and on the 2019 Distinguished Gentleman's Ride.

The music for this episode of Life on two wheels is Complicate Ya by Otis MacDonald and Minor blues for Booker by E's Jammy Jams, both tracks made available courtesy of the YouTube Audio Library. The ULANZI V3 Pro Aluminium Vlog Cage with cold shoe and protective housings for the GoPro USBC microphone adapter for Gopro Hero 7 6 and 5 cameras, the Saramonic SR-XM1 microphone, the Comica dead cat windscreen, and the Joby Telepod Pro are all available at, you guessed it, Amazon.

Monday, February 24, 2020

GoPro Clusterffffffail!!!


You'll learn in the video that I have been mired in a video-and-blog-production-free zone since July of last year.

Finally, I can see clearly now (sad 2020 joke). Yet I truly do think that I have found a path back to creativity and production.

The kind of bond you can build with YouTube is really odd.

It is simultaneously insanely public, yet paradoxically intimate. It's like my audience is a massive intimidating horse, but I have learned to whisper in its ear, and it listens patiently and intently. My studio is like the horse's ear.

Well, that's certainly not the most poetic description of YouTube as an artistic platform for mankind, but you get the drift.

This is episode 40 of the vlog.

As I grew progressively sidelined by the course of events, the horse wandered out of its stall, out the proverbial barn door, to become a random distant dot grazing in the meadow. The thought of slipping on a bridle, coaxing it back, and climbing back into the saddle became daunting. It was no longer the horse I knew, the one I whispered to. I began to doubt if I even remembered how to ride, or what its name was.

I can now safely say, if there are others who have lost track of their steeds, that it's akin to riding a bicycle.

My new reality is that I have two purpose-built production facilities, two mounts willing to let me ride shoeless and bareback, lean into their manes, and whisper confidently in their ears.

A studio that you see in the video (actually you can't see behind the scene at all, but it's a dedicated iPod tied to a bunch of other cool stuff), and a new Go Pro designed for roaming (with some special bullet-proof ingenious add-ons protecting the disastrously frail ill-conceived external microphone sub-system).

It all sounds so dry, nerdy, and boring, not at all like thoroughbreds who prance in their stalls and swing their heads out to greet me. And yet there they are, and they are mine.

A source of comfort.

There is still so much to learn, there always is, but I am back in the paddock, at least for now.

It's great to smell the hay.
The copyright in all text and photographs, except as noted, belongs to David Masse.