Posts Tagged 'videos'

YouTube

My wife and her friend get loud when they’re talking on the phone together.

They have such a good time with each other that over the course of their conversations the world gets smaller and smaller until they are barely aware of anything outside of a very small bubble. Inside that bubble there is nothing but their friendship and whatever topic they’re laughing about. Their “bubble-space fun” is great enough that they’ve decided they want to try sharing their fun with the world (or at least a few interested friends) through YouTube.

Image representing YouTube as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

It’s not an unreasonable thing to try. Though it’s hard to find exact numbers, there are, at a minimum, hundreds of thousands of YouTube channels out there that have a sizable following. As of today, YouTube’s statistics page mentions that they have over a million content creators monetizing on their videos with thousands of channels making six figures a year.

But even if getting rich isn’t your aim, what makes a YouTube channel worth watching? How do you make videos that appeal to people?

I am a shift worker, and every two months I rotate between three shifts. Only one of those shifts has reasonable hours, so on my days off while on the other two shifts I often find myself looking to YouTube to help pass the time (I am not much of a night owl). I currently subscribe to 84 channels, though many of those belong to people I know personally who rarely upload anything.

This blog post is not meant to be the end-all, definitive lesson on how to attain success on YouTube. However, I do want to share what keeps me coming back for more from some of my favorite channels, and a few things I’ve learned over the years about this sort of thing.

Disclaimer: if I were really good at this stuff I’d be making a living doing it. The following consists of a lot of conjecture and heartfelt opinions intermingled with some useful facts that I know. And I’m not claiming to be sharing the secret to viral videos or anything – I’m sharing what I know about content production and audience retention. Also, to get the full benefit from this “lesson” you’re going to have to sit through some videos, and a few of them are rather lengthy and not all of them are kid friendly.

Let’s get started.

Conventional wisdom in the entertainment industry seems to be based around the misapplication of a basic (and true) principle of human communication: know your audience. Rather than just knowing their audience, they are trying to know their audience. Like, in bed. They want to give the audience what the audience wants because that’s what makes the audience grow and shell out money. Appeal to the widest possible audience and you’ve got yourself a profitable YouTube channel in no time.

But what about you? Will you be happy? And what of your audience? Will your audience come back for more because they’re interested in what you’ll post next time, or are you just generating views because your videos show a thumbnail that got someone to click on it out of interest (boobs)?

Cyril Connolly said: “Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self.

I believe that all entertainers should do what they love for their own reasons. Going further than that (here comes your first video assignment, and it’s almost twenty minutes long), Simon Sinek teaches leaders how to inspire people to action by centering everything you do around a primary idea that answers the question, “why?” You will need his advice when planning your content and video “format” (what and how you do what you do).

“Why” is a great place to start. And if you do it right, your “why” is something that is based mostly around feelings. But you’ve got to try to describe it in words.

Now, YouTube is an interesting place. There are a lot of problems with the “audience” on YouTube. The next video I want you to watch covers these issues through a satirical and tongue-in-cheek presentation pretending to be excellent advice on how to run your YouTube channel.

The real trick is in clearly defining why you’re starting your channel and figuring out what kinds of people are going to be watching it. Then you figure out whatever you can about that audience and tailor the presentation to them (not your content).

pewdiepie

pewdiepie (Photo credit: pixesophie)

A great example of this is a guy called PewDiePie. He records himself being an idiot playing video games. As of right now, this guy has over thirteen million subscribers (I am not one of them). YouTube channels that focus on gaming are really big right now. A lot of people want to watch people play video games. But what makes PewDiePie number one?

Another channel I watch from time to time is The Game Theorist. He records videos in which he speculates on gaming related issues, carefully researching the topic and assembling an informed theory to explain what might be going on. He has a great video in which he basically proves that Sonic is not very fast. Very fun videos, but not consistently fun enough to get my subscription.

The Game Theorist did a really great video about why PewDiePie is so popular, and in it he outlines a lot of things that any new content publisher should know.

OK, one more long-ish video that you have to watch all the way through, then we’ll get into individual channels.

This next video is by a guy who I honestly did not expect to subscribe to. I remember the first time I saw one of his videos. I thought, “this guy is ugly, strange, and I do not feel like I connect with him.” That, however, was before I started getting into woodworking. When my wife and I started building a major piece of furniture I began looking for woodworking YouTube videos that were helpful for a novice like me.

That’s when this ugly guy’s channel came back up. After watching a few of his videos I subscribed. Then I found out that he had another channel in which he talks about the videos in his main channel. This intrigued me, so I checked out that second channel. Again, I subscribed.

Then I stumbled upon the following video in his auxiliary channel in which he talks about the video equipment he uses to make videos. But that’s not why I’m having you watch it. I’m having you watch it because the guy is awesome at little tips that make videos better for viewers. His video is kind of long, but it is full of outstanding advice for new channel owners.

If you’ve watched all of the videos I’ve prescribed so far, you’ve just watched 50 minutes and 46 seconds of video. Maybe you did it all in one sitting, maybe you broke it up into manageable segments over the course of a day or more. It’s possible that not all of those videos kept your attention for the entire length, but I’m betting that most of them did (if not all of them). Why did you watch those videos? Not just “because I’m trying to learn how to make good videos.” Really ask yourself, “what kept me watching even though those videos were so long?” If you need to, pick one and go back and watch it again, trying to figure out how the presenter kept your attention.

Now, let’s run through a few of my subscriptions and talk about what I love about them.

When I link to a channel, I recommend you familiarize yourself with their top video (or a few of their top videos). To do this, click on the channel link I provide, then look for the “Videos” tab (next to the little house icon, below the channel name). When the Videos tab first loads their uploads are shown in reverse chronological order (newest videos first). Click on the drop down button that says “Date added (newest – oldest)” and select “Most popular” to view their videos from most to least popular. Then watch at least a few of their top few videos to see what they are like.

The great thing about viewing the most popular video on a channel is that you can see the video that resonated the most with their intended audience. It’s usually the video that initially earned them a strong following of subscribers (but not always).

Alright. I’m not going through these in any particular order (well, except alphabetical order because that’s how I’m viewing the list of my subscriptions).

The first channel I’ll introduce you to feels more like a television show, and perhaps that’s why I’m subscribed. As far as I know, these videos do not air on cable. They are just a YouTube thing, but they have exceptional production value and a pretty nice budget behind them, which leads me to believe that they are professionally produced by a crew that also does television shows.

They do a variety of things on the channel, but the videos I like most are part of a series called “Man at Arms” where a professional blacksmith creates video game character weapons. That particular feature got my subscription, but since then I have enjoyed a few of their other videos as well, videos that I wouldn’t have seen if I hadn’t subscribed. That’s the power of gaining subscribers.

  • Check out this channel: AWE me

This next channel isn’t something that I would have initially thought I’d ever subscribe to (DON’T JUDGE ME). I initially happened upon the channel when I was watching a lot of videos of different accents (I like accents, OK?). The video that got me interested was part of a larger playlist that someone else had put together to showcase accents from around the world. To this day, the video of hers that I saw is still her most popular video (and it’s over two years old).

When watching her video I found that I didn’t just like her accent, I thought she had a lot of fun things to say. So I checked out her more recent videos and found that she was video blogging (vlogging) about a lot of topics in an interesting way (and by interesting I mean that she’s being her own silly self without worrying too much about her audience, though she does ask for suggestions from time to time).

To me, her channel is a great example of what one normal person (and sometimes she has her friends on with her) can do to hold an audience, even without great equipment or professional training. With just over 8,000 subscribers she’s not the biggest channel that I’m covering, but she’s got her audience and she does a good job keeping their attention (though I don’t watch her videos all the way through when they stray too far from my interests — for example sometimes she goes to parties and films it).

Here’s an odd one for you. I subscribed to this guy on a whim when I found a video he posted of a nickel ball that he heated with a blow torch until it was red hot before dropping it in some water. I think Randall Munroe linked to it on his What If blog when referring to the cavitation effect (that’s probably not what it’s called) that occurs when super hot things contact water. Anyhow, the video owner got a sudden surge in traffic for the red hot nickel ball in water video and began doing more videos like it (using the RHNB acronym rather than writing out red hot nickel ball all the time). Now he’s got 45 thousand subscribers that just want to see what he’ll drop his red hot nickel ball onto next. It’s a simple premise, but one that has obviously gained him quite a strong following.

Sometimes the best channels are focused on just one interest. In this next channel’s case, it’s slingshots. In fact, he calls himself “the slingshot channel.” While some of his “slingshot” videos kind of stretch the concept of slingshot (see what I did there?), his razor focus on a single subject secures him a steady viewership that shares his passion. All in all he’s just shy of 300,000 subscribers at the moment, and he really loves making his videos.

I recommend you check out a few of his videos for sure. He is a fun, lovable guy and after watching a couple of his videos you’ll never forget the way he says, “That’s all for today. I hope you liked it. Thanks, and bye bye.” Super great guy.

A while back Google released a product that didn’t make a lot of sense. The Internet was complaining about its price, its unusual technical specifications, and all sorts of other things about it. Then I stumbled upon this guy explaining the features of this product and it totally made sense. This kid is sharp, great at explaining things in a way that is relevant to the average technology user, and really gets into the tech industry to relay the best news to his viewers. And it pays off. He’s got over 500,000 subscribers and through his YouTube income is able to pay for all the neat toys and gadgets he could possibly want. Plus, it seems that some product manufacturers send him their latest gadgets to try out and review on his channel.

In addition to having fantastically well planned content and presentation, he excels at production. His videos are clear and vibrant, and they have outstanding audio quality. When my father moved from newspaper publishing to running a couple dozen news websites for a corporation he had to learn to do web video. In his research he found that the main difference between obviously amateur videos and apparently professional videos was the sound quality. Good sound quality can put your channel in an entirely different category when it comes to perceived quality, and if anyone knows that Marques Brownlee does.

Here’s one of those video game channels. This guy is just plain silly. I found his channel when a coworker showed me a video from a different channel and one of this guy’s videos was a related video. I thought his video was way funnier than the one my coworker shared with me. So I subscribed. His videos are almost all short (2 to 5 minutes) and well edited to contain all of the funniest bits and enough back story to know why they’re funny. Do not show these videos to young children.

This next guy came out of nowhere. As someone who once frequented but now occasionally peruses reddit, I have learned to appreciate the power of certain social media platforms (especially reddit). One day this guy’s first video got posted to reddit when he only had about five videos up (to date he still only has 14 videos posted). The video was an explanation of the book Crime and Punishment and the reddit post title indicated that watching this video would grant me some insight into the book that I previously lacked.

The video delivered on that promise and then some. The production quality leads me to wonder if there isn’t a professional studio behind these videos, but I don’t care if they’re just going to try to sell me something in the end. I subscribed because I want to know as much about literature as this character is going to teach me. These are fantastic videos because they provide a service and do it in a way that is more than just entertaining, it is original. Original ideas (or just ideas that seem original) go a long way so long as they are presented well and given the right exposure.

Back when Lindsey Stirling was on America’s Got Talent and her YouTube channel teamed up with some big shot videographer, I discovered another violin-playing girl with a YouTube channel and I decided that I like her style better. And I’m glad I did, because soon Lindsey’s work began to feel heartless. I think more recently she may be rediscovering her old self, but for a while she lost her way when she lost sight of her “why.”

Anyhow, this other violin player has remained humble, innovative, and relevant to my interests for a couple of years now, and she just released her first original song. She may not have as many fans as Lindsey (only 220,000 subscribers vs. Lindsey’s 3 million), but she is just as talented (if not more) at playing the violin. Just looking at the comments on their videos and channels you can get an idea of how her 220,000 subscribers are just as valuable as Lindsey’s 3 million to someone who is not doing what they do for their audience, but for their self.

OK, just one more. This girl is a member of a game-playing, video-making team called The Yogscast. They actually have a Wikipedia page (yes, they’re that big of a deal and you had no idea they existed). They got their start playing World of Warcraft in a guild called “Ye Olde Goone Squad” (from whence they derive their current name, YOGScast) and eventually gained popularity with their Let’s Play video series about Minecraft.

I don’t really care for most of the Yogscast stuff (though some of it can be pretty fun), but I found Hannah’s channel when I was looking up videos of the recent game The Last of Us. I had heard that the story was good, so I wanted to watch someone play through it. Hannah’s first game play video of the game caught my attention when she cried at the end of the opening sequence. I enjoy her accent, her commentary, and what she adds to the game experience just by being herself. Her videos are pretty long (about 20 minutes on average) but I highly recommend you watch one or two of them. She’s great at holding her audience. She does all of her own video editing, and manages to edit out “boring” parts without making you miss any of the important content of the game.

Alright. That is a good general sampling of channels I subscribe to and why I subscribe. There are quite a few more, of course, but I think these ones are each unique enough that you should be able to figure out what you want to do by watching them do what they love.

I apologize for how freakishly long this is and how clumsy my writing is. I wrote it all out and lost the steam to go back and do a thorough editing.

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On Electronic Chain-Letters

I’ve been sick, and I’ve felt like writing, but I didn’t know what to write. Funny thing about inspiration though, it can hit you at any time, and in any text box. I just happened to get the urge to write while responding to an email, and the result was something I wanted to share with everyone.

Blah

I'm not fat - I'm puffing my cheeks.

Hey there. I’m sick today, and I lack the will to do anything except sleep, sit at the computer or at the couch, and do almost nothing. I’ve been thinking for quite some time that I’d like to write an unnecessarily lengthy letter to someone in my immediate or extended family, and since you’re my father-in-law and we haven’t exchanged words in a while, you win the prize.

So, when you forwarded that “touching true story” I thought I’d take a look at it rather than AUA it (Archive Upon Arrival).

The fact of the matter is, that I don’t care for forwards. I’ve got one friend (that’s one person, in the whole of my 200+ email contacts) that has ever forwarded me anything I thought was interesting. Most of the forwards I receive are silly “touching stories” that really don’t mean much to me. I’ve had too much experience with fabricated and embellished stories on the Internet, I suppose.

Anyhow, a really good friend of mine introduced me to snopes.com last year, and ever since then I have used it when faced with something on the Internet that seems outlandish. A quick query on snopes.com revealed a most interesting article written specifically about the email you passed along today. Interestingly, this particular story actually has quite a few true elements in it (most of the stories I have seen circulated in email forwards are so exaggerated and embellished that they are rarely representative of any truth that may have served as their premise). However, several key facts were changed and exaggerated.

The story took place in the early eighties, the boy’s name was Frank, and the Make-a-Wish foundation actually granted this as a wish (along with a ride in a hot-air balloon, and a trip to Disneyland). The most touching part of the real story doesn’t even appear in the email, and to make it worse, the email is copied nearly word for word from one of the Chicken Soup for the Soul books. The night that the boy died, it was five firemen that climbed into his room, not sixteen.

Here’s the link to the true account (along with the version of the email that the author saw, which is slightly different still from the one you sent me):

http://www.snopes.com/glurge/fireman.asp

So, yes. The story is touching, but I hate reading these stories in email forwards because they are almost all full of embellishment and twisted truths. I find it much more satisfying to scour the news for heartwarming articles that are presented as a collection of facts with the purpose of informing the reader. That way I’m getting completely true stories, which are better than the big, bold, colorful words (usually in the Comic Sans font) that have been changed or invented to elicit an “oh, how darling” response and usually wrap up with a self-righteous plea from the author to get me to say a prayer for some cause (usually, something I don’t care about).

In my view, the Internet is only good for six things, and half of them I don’t want any part of (pornography, gambling and robbery). The only three things I use it for are (presented in order of the value I place on them):

  1. Humor/Entertainment
  2. Communication (keeping in touch with close friends and family)
  3. Access to accounts and services (banking, on-demand-self-publishing services, etc.)

Even getting factual news on the Internet can be a challenge. My father runs the Internet arm of a newspaper corporation in Arizona, and this is a problem they deal with on a regular basis. Sure, there are news sources on the Internet that can be trusted, but they are drowned out by all the chatter and clutter from sources like the mysterious writer of that email you sent me (who, again, did little more than poorly copy another “touching” email, which was nearly a direct copy of a segment of the Chicken Soup for the Soul book).

So, I just use the Internet to look at fun stuff, like this article and clip from Robert Downey Jr.’s acceptance speech. Occasionally there is some interesting news at those trusted sites, like this article about a group of apes that had never had human contact before. Mostly, the Internet loves things that are silly and irreverent, like this historical look at a group of entertainers known throughout history as fartistes, among other names.
The main reason I love the Internet, though, is because of people like David Thorne. I really can’t explain all that well what it is that I love about his work, but I would encourage you to read this email exchange he had with his renters, and this exchange he had with a Blockbuster employee. He is extremely irreverent and at times a tad inappropriate. However, he is a comedic genius. After one of his earliest email exchanges went viral a coworker told David that he would never be able to do it again. David bet him his Christmas bonus that he could, and two weeks later he had another email exchange that went viral.

Essentially, what I love about David Thorne is that he embodies the idea that the Internet is not to be taken seriously. He is quoted as saying, “the Internet is a playground.” I agree, and that is why I don’t like coming across stories that are supposed to be “touching” on the Internet, unless they come directly from trusted news sources. If they don’t come from a trusted news site, then I’m a sucker for believing them until I’ve researched the facts myself.

As you can see, between David Thorne, funny/interesting stuff that comes to me in my feed reader, and finding funny videos like these ones, the Internet provides me with far more entertainment than I even have time for. It barely even leaves me time to read email, especially forwards. However, next time I get a forward from you that claims to tell a “true” story, I’ll check the facts on fark.com and tell you what they say. Sometimes the truth is better than the lies that circulate in chain-emails.

I hope you enjoy the links I’ve provided you with, and we all here love and appreciate the effort you make to maintain a presence in our life. Your daughter and grandchildren send their love, as do I.

Love,

-Brian

Fun YouTube and Others

From Cell Phone Photos

So, this is for my friends. Specifically, I was talking to someone tonight about some fun stuff on YouTube and I decided to make a list of some of my recent favorite songs, videos and artists to share.

I’ve spent the last few minutes reviewing most of these videos because I tend to forget the presence of little offensive words here or there. For the most part, these songs or videos will be marked to warn you if you might want to watch before showing your children. However, my kids have seen most of these, so it shouldn’t be a problem.

All links open in a new window, so click away!

Robots

This song is by Flight of the Conchords, and as such has a curse word in it (wrong word for donkey/butt) so you may not want to show it to your kids. However, if you don’t mind them hearing that one word a few times in the chorus, this is a really funny song/performance. Check it out on YouTube.

Star Wars Rap

This song has a few mature elements that are reference but not explicitly talked about, and they use one word that you may not want your child repeating (a less than kind word for urine). To check it out, click through to Atom.com and watch this hilarious Star Wars themed rap. Even if you’re not a Star Wars fan, you should enjoy this.

Tighty Whities

Next I’ll share a song that may not be your style if you generally only listen to country music or classical, but the theme is too funny not to share the song. Plus, it’s completely clean as far as language and themes are concerned. It’s part of the “Pull ’em Up Campaign” aimed at getting people to pull their pants up and quit showing us their underwear. Even if you generally can’t stand rap, you’ve GOT to listen to this song. I didn’t let my son hear this one, but not because of the content.

OK, the rest should be fine for your children. Well, this first one might not be if you don’t want your children watching animals answer nature’s call. It’s completely natural though! This is Rhett and Link doing an “inappropriate” commercial for a small zoo.

Inappropriate Zoo Commercial

For a direct link, click here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kszzbkfJ-5Q

Jonathan Coulton

Jonathan Coulton is a musical comedic genius in my book, and here are two completely kid friendly songs (unless you strictly don’t expose them to violent themes, then the second one about zombies killing people probably won’t be good). These are both live performances (where you get to see his funny interactions with the audience) but he does studio recordings as well that are better sounding.

Skullcrusher Mountain

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5IBewKuV9BQ

Re: Your Brains

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9e3gngvFdxg

For more about Jonathan Coulton, please visit his website.

This one may only appeal to your children (or the child in you), but it’s a cute stop motion animation that I recently got a chuckle out of.

8-Bit Water Slide

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lkYVazguJCY

Also for the children, a few near-Pixar quality animations that are funny, entertaining and good for adults also!

Pigeon: Impossible

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jEjUAnPc2VA

The Passenger

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OGW0aQSgyxQ

The Magic Box

(Ultra sensitive parents be warned: This video contains partial nudity – butt cheeks.)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sC7rIZ5dOPY

A Little More Fun and Then We’re Done

OK. I’ve embedded way too many videos, so the final four videos will just be links. They are all funny, so make sure you watch them, but the last two you might want to watch without your kids the first time you watch them. I’ll mark them with an asterisk (*) to remind you that you need to review them before showing them to your children.

Laughing Kids (very cute)

Kid Singing Britney Spears Scared to Death by his Mom (watch all the way through to the end)

No. No! NO!!!” – The Greatest Scare Prank *

Gun Scare Prank *

I know there is a lot here, but I don’t see how you couldn’t love most of these. 😀 Of course, if you don’t love them, I won’t be offended, but I do ask that you at least check them all out when you find the time.

Enjoy!

Boom De Yada

I’m writing a post mostly out of guilt today. My site has been untouched for far too long, and lately it’s been pulling in a lot of views. That makes me feel like a horrible person.

So, I’ve been thinking about sharing this little something for a few days anyhow, and today I decided to just do it.

A while ago I happened upon and fell in love with the wonderful world of xkcd. If you’ve found your way to my blog and have yet to check out his webcomic, you should be ashamed of yourself.

Anyhow, xkcd’s creator has done many fabulous comics that I love, but I recently discovered a fun video based on one of his comics that I wanted to share with you.

First, here’s the comic (titled “xkcd Loves the Discovery Channel”):

xkcd Loves the Discovery Channel

xkcd Loves the Discovery Channel

(Click the image to view it full size on the xkcd site.)

Next, here’s a video to explain the cartoon’s connection to the Discovery Channel:

Also, check out this other Discovery Channel video.

Finally, the moment you’ve all been waiting for… the new video I found!

(Note: The Vimeo player is great, and it’s one of my favorites, but on many browsers it plays a lot smoother if you let the whole video load before you play. To do this, press play, then pause as soon as you see it begin to load the video. Once the seek bar is full of solid grey, it is safe to play!)

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “I Love xkcd on Vimeo“, posted with vodpod

I hope you thought it was as cute as I did.

Merry Christmas

Micah playing with a camera he got for Christmas.  From Christmas Morning

This year, Christmas was great. It was great last year too, and the year before that, and three years ago, and so on… but this year was especially awesome. Why? Because I’m the dad and I said so.

This was our tree this year.

Here is our tree this year.

Everyone got presents they loved, gave heartfelt presents to people they love, and thought warm, happy thoughts all morning while the rain splattered and smacked against our living room window.

I have two new videos uploaded to our YouTube channel. There is a new album posted on our Picasa site and you can watch for photos from Micah in the future (so far, none of his photos have turned out very well, but he’s still trying and I promise I’ll share the first one he gets that turns out better than a blurry smudge). We’ll be moving soon, and there is (ironically) too much going on for me to take the time to enumerate it all to you without losing precious family time.

We want to thank our friends and family. All of you helped make this one of the most beautiful Christmas mornings ever and we love you. Thank you for the cards, e-mails, packages, phone calls, and loving prayers. No matter how you contributed to our Christmas season, thank you for being there for us.

Below you’ll find the two new videos I uploaded.

Video #1 is of Sophie opening her Christmas Eve present (per family tradition, we each pick just one present from under the tree to open before going to bed on Christmas Eve). Micah had already been asked to sit calmly and watch, but as I’m sure you would expect from him, he immediately jumped up in front of the camera.

 

Video #2 was shot immediately after video #1. Micah started opening his gift before I even told him to begin. I think I was mistaken in the video as to who deserved the thanks for the gift. Now that all of the wrapping is in the garbage, correctly identifying the genius gift-giver may be impossible, but my wife believes it was Uncle Jacob who gave the gift. Anyhow, Micah loved it.

 

Make sure you go to the new Christmas Morning album to look at all of the fun photos. Remember you can leave comments, download a larger resolution image, and do much, much more right there at the Picasa site.

We leave you now with all of our love. Thanks for everything.

New Updates & Videos

Yesterday I shared something fun and wrote about a side project of mine and mentioned a few other updates all in one post.  If you haven’t read it yet, you probably should (use the link at the end of that last sentence).

Late last night I uploaded the videos I promised and I’ll embed them here.  One is long (nearly six minutes long) and the other is short but cute.  Also, there’s a great video about not being proud or showy…  The family web album also has new photos under Family Stuff.

Meet the Scan Toaster

Meet the "Scan Toaster"

First, though, a quick look at a product that isn’t for sale and we want it!  It uses innovations on existing technology to burn images and text onto bread.  It is only a working prototype for now, a finalist in a design competition.  Hopefully, if it wins, we’ll begin seeing them in stores before I get tired of eating toast.

Another great reason we’re tempted to hold our breath for this one has to do with Micah.  He loves toast, but doesn’t realize it.  Every time we give him toast he picks at it and takes forever to eat it.  We figure that if we had a toaster that could burn images and text onto the toast we could make it more interesting for him.  His toast could have “Eat Me” burnt right into the surface, or it could have a big picture of something he enjoys eating, like a doughnut or a cookie.  As you can see, the possibilities are endless, and even though we don’t seriously expect the gimmick would actually achieve anything for Micah, we like the idea.

Clicking on the image takes you to the article where I read about it, and clicking on the same image at that article takes you to yet another article with even more information and a diagram of how it works (for if you’re interested).

It sure is a nice looking little appliance though, isn’t it?

Sophie has begun trying to use simple sounds and words to communicate, but so far her efforts have been only sporadically successful.  She can say “dada” though it usually comes out “dadada” or “dadadadadadadada” and we discovered this morning that half the time she says it she is really referring to her mother.  When she gets upset she will often call out to her mother in no uncertain terms with “MA!” or “maaaam.”  This morning we spent a few minutes trying to set her straight that I am “dadadada” and my wife is “mam.”  I think we made some progress, but in the end she still went crawling off in mom’s direction chanting “dadadadada.”

When eating something she likes she will say “yum” and while playing with her big brother, Micah, she will call out “aiga,” which is close enough (and it tickles Micah to histeria).  Many times, when we ask her if she needs a new diaper, if she’s hungry or if she want’s to be picked up, she responds with a loud and enthusiastic “YEAH!”

She will also say “Hi” occasionally and “will you kindly cease all personal activity and pick me up before I make your life miserable.”  Well, it sounds something like that anyhow.  Sometimes her babblings do seem to make little phrases (like “I like that” or “I did that”), but I’m sure that’s just our imagination.

Even without words she is very expressive, as I am sure you will see in this video titled “Almost Six Minutes of Heaven” starring Sophie, Rochelle and Micah.

Sophie is also doing some serious practice for walking, pulling herself up and getting up on her feet.  The first time this happened we didn’t have the camera ready.  We rushed to get it going and in my hurry I forgot that only photos should be shot in portrait mode (with the camera turned on its side) – videos shot on their side are no fun to watch.  So, later she pulled herself up onto a short box and I got it recorded.  The box isn’t is tall as the other things she was pulling herself up onto, but you can see how good she’s getting at being on her feet.

The only problem is, she’s got pretty sweaty feet most of the time, and those don’t stick to wood floors very well.

Finally, a lesson in pride.  I was going to embed this video like the other ones, but it is hosted from a site whose embed code doesn’t work here as well as YouTube’s does.  If you need a good laugh and a reason not to show off, click here.  Parental guidance recommended, video contains an act of violence (but no blood or cursing) that may not be suitable for children who will not understand the context.

Side Project & Had to Share…

I started a side project that I want you all to know about, but first I got a chuckle out of something that I wanted to share with you.

You may or may not have heard about the new Microsoft ad campaign.  They hired Jerry Seinfeld and Bill Gates (remember Gates doesn’t work for Microsoft any more, he’s retired) to do an ad campaign aimed at erasing the bad image Microsoft has of being the devil.  The first ad was released earlier this month and I thought it was a good first step but I felt like they should have done a lot more with it (I didn’t laugh even once, which left me wondering why they hired Seinfeld at all).  The second ad came out last week and I just got around to watching it today.  I laughed out loud at this one and you just have to watch it yourself.  I watched it embedded at Engadget, but here it is if you don’t want to click through to their site:

I think it’s an interesting concept and was well executed.  I look forward to seeing more of these ads in the future.

Now, for the project I started.  I linked to it from here sometime last week and even inserted the feed (you may have noticed it if you visit my page often) in the side bar.  The project is called My Favorite Quotes.  If you are subscribed to my feed in a reader, I recommend that you subscribe to this new feed at http://ilikethesequotes.wordpress.com/feed/ and if you just stop by my site every once and a while to read what I have written lately, be sure to look at the My Favorite Quotes feed toward the bottom of my side bar.

Here’s the deal: the feed only displays the quotes, not what I write about the quote.  What I am not trying to do is start a “quote of the week” service (once I’ve got a few more quotes up, I’ll start doing it once a week or so but over the last few days I have written commentary on four different quotes).  The feed only serves up the quotes, but the whole point of the project is that I write my thoughts and commentary about each quote.  Thus, if you see a quote that interests you, be sure to click through to the site to see it in context where you can read what I wrote about it and (please) leave your own comments.

Also, the new site has an About this Project page where you can leave quotes you like in the comments and, if I like the quote too, I’ll do a commentary on it.

I hope you at least enjoy the quotes.  Many of them are humorous and most of them contain a great deal of wisdom.  I also hope you read my comments on the quotes and share your own comments.  As always, I am listening and would love to hear your thoughts.

In other news I have rearranged most of the side bar here (at the Mediocre Renaissance Man site) to remove some of the clutter and make the new features easier to notice.  I shall have to do more if it is ever going to be a truly efficient place to interact with me, but this is a good step forward.

Work on my game project has slowed, no screeched to a halt.  I intend to pick it back up a bit this weekend, but my wife’s patience was wearing thin so I decided to give it a rest.  It has been difficult for me, and I am worried that this break may prevent me from ever completing the project.  I need momentum to get projects like that one finished, and my momentum is all gone.  I will still upload the project even if I never finish it, so you will get a chance to check it out even in its unfinished form.  No time frame on that though, it’s just going to happen when it happens.

Also this weekend I plan on writing a more in-depth review of Google Chrome since I have had a while to test it out and gather my feelings.  I may not actually get around to writing the whole review this weekend, but expect it by next weekend at the latest.

For all you family readers out there, we have new videos to upload, but we’ll just add that to an already bursting list of “todo” items.  Maybe I can start the upload now and let it run while I do other things…

Finally, I have added a page to this site called About You.  I recommend you check it out (not a lot of text, I promise).

All in all, I really just plan on relaxing and playing some games with my family this weekend.  There’s always a list of at least ten things I’d love to do in a day, and if I get around to just one of them I’m happy.  I’m going to go play some SSBB.  Later.


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RSS My Favorite Quotes

  • Quote #60
    "The greatest minds are capable of the greatest vices as well as the greatest virtues." - Rene Descartes
  • Quote #59
    "There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self." - Ernest Hemingway
  • Quote #58
    "The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool." - William Shakespeare

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