Had I known as a 9 year old whose prized possessions were an Astromech robot and his shiny gold counterpart action figures that one day I would have something called a Droid as a constant companion as an adult I would have short circuited!
My first cell phone was a Motorola flip phone. It seemed pretty compact compared to the bag phone I kept in my trunk for emergencies. Over the years I have upgraded to progressively smaller and more featured units. The Blackberry seemed like the ultimate communications tool. Then came the iPhone and the Droid. Content with Verizon, I went with the Droid X late last year. Aside from losing some handy Blackberry functionality, overall it was a good move.
Yeah, apps are cool. Games are fun for long waits or airplanes, but the best apps are ones that actually help me with my daily activities. One thing that was next to impossible on a Blackberry was viewing PDF, Word or image files. In my job of media produciton manager, this is a daily occurrence. If a designer sends me a PDF I can zoom in, check it out, send revisions and forward to a client, all without booting up a laptop. That is, as we say in Connecticut, a beautiful thing.
I know, this is old news - smartphones have been around for a few years.
Did I mention this phone shoots 720p video and 8 megapixel photos? Gone are the grainy phone pictures I so excitedly added to my blogs for years. I almost never use my point and shoot digital camera - or at least I don't worry if I don't have it with me. When aliens land in my cornfield I'll be ready!
Stay tuned for a high resolution photo blog from my next trip. These should tide you over...
I will say the built-in MP3 player is handy, if only for setting alarms that will actually get me up in the morning!
And most importantly, I can now make blog entries and participate in the COW easily from the road!
From a non-work point of view, my wife and I share our Google calendar and shopping lists. Organization at home is also a beautiful thing. And did I mention how good the pictures of my cats look!
The Droid advertising is cool, futuristic and convincing. The non-gmail, non-exchange POP mail could use some improvements, but there are workarounds. Overall, I'm a happy convert.
Once in a while, there are a few sizable projects going all at once. There are a few key dates each year when things need to be finished - conventions at which we can sell our wares.
Last year I described the finishing touches on the Pancreas Atlas of Surgery book. With the book finished for the milestone of a Fall meeting, we set to work on the multimedia component - 36 chapters of video, audio, text and illustrations. Anticipating a lot of pickups and knowing the time required, we decided that I would also be the narrator. Recording 100,000+ words was a full-time activity for several weeks. Record for an hour, edit for an hour, rinse, gargle, repeat. Having a serious flu in December did not help, although my voice does sound velvety and delicious.
When we renovated the office we dismantled our audio booth and used the space to make the offices a little bigger. So using the Zoom H4N recorder, I can record in any quiet space, often my living room which is carpeted with lots of soft materials. However in the office, we have a small office we use for checking DVDs, charging batteries and storing media. I rigged up a small audio recording station with some foamcore and acoustic tiles and spot for a laptop or printed script.
In addition to the narration recording, I also wrapped up some outstanding video edits, recorded some missing video narration and handed this off to our Flash programmer. Don't tell Apple, but Flash is alive and well!
Another ball in the air is a corporate project. I can't go into details, but it involves about 12 hours of panel discussions recorded during a conference, combined with edited surgical cases and some narrative to tie it all together. Rather than bringing my whole crew out to the meeting, I hired fellow COW Steve Wargo and his crew to get the shoot done efficiently. I flew home with a single USB hard drive of XDCAM files and got to editing immediately. Tape is not completely dead, but it's on its way.
We're also in the throes of revising a client's website, including adding interview clips from staff and patients and building a web-based support group/forum.
A new project is a doc style effort - interviews, narrative, b-roll and some acting. We've done a few shoots so far with more scheduled.
We completed a promo of some new nursing videos, being shown next week at, you guessed it, a meeting. With those products done we can start the next batch, and have already planned a shoot for pickups.
And the final bowling ball is simply planning for future projects that have not kicked-off yet. Logistics, contracts and phone tag are what's needed.
This week we had a client in the office for some voice over and strategizing - and they were nice enough to bring lunch! Tomorrow a quick VO/editing session (physicians tend to have free time on the weekend) and then another client next week for the same (we have shot 5 surgical cases which should be edited by the time he walks in the door).
Somehow, it all gets done. I think we have room for some more bowling balls.
For now, thanks for reading.
Last week I was away for 8 days, and I spent about 9 hours in airports and 6.5 hours flying.
Flying itself is no problem. Commercial air travel is fast and miles safer than driving, statistically speaking of course ;)
It's the airport experience that could use some work. Here are a few outlandish ideas:
Standardize baggage fees.
Every airline is different. It used to be you could say "media discount" and the employee would enter a secret code into the mainframe and voila, only $25 per extra bag. But when mainframes went away so too did secret codes.
Provide better seating in waiting areas.
And accommodate the fact that people generally do not like sitting next to strangers. I would suggest seat-seat-space-seat-table-repeat. This provides for couples or friends sitting together, lone travelers and a place to put a carry-on bag so as to not take up another empty seat.
Mini movie theaters.
Long layover, pay $5 to rent and watch a dvd. Provide an LCD monitor showing departing flight and gate changes.
Free wifi for all.
Some airports have it many don't. And those that have it sometimes make it difficult to find the correct signal. Name the free public wifi "XYZ Free Public WiFi" with XYZ being the airport code. I have read of a conspiracy that "free public wifi" is sometimes used by hackers looking to exploit your laptop. Not sure this is true.
Cheaper bottled beverages.
Since we have lost the ability to take drinks through security the price of bottled water seems to have increased. Sure they give you a 4oz drink on the plane, but not always on short or bumpy flights. I would pay $1.25 for a 16oz bottle of water, but $2.50 or $3.25 is pushing it.
Mandatory Body scanners.
Recently I went through the body scanner and was amazed that it identified a plastic comb in my back pocket. I say send everyone through. Don't make it a choice. No body scan...no fly. No pat downs for elderly or wheelchair confined people.
Expedite security lines.
More bins and longer conveyer belts. And wash those bins from time to time - yuck.
Provide a way for experienced travelers to be in their own line.
They tried this with Blue in the early 21st Century, but that seems to have fizzled out. How about adding $5 to the price of a plane ticket to get into a faster line. I think Southwest might do this.
Somehow provide enclosed smoking areas outside away from the doors.
At some airports you walk outside baggage claim into a cloud of smoke. Add that to humidity or exhaust fumes and it is a poor way to welcome people to a new city.
More tables and chairs near gates.
Many people purchase food then eat near the gate. Waiting area seats are squishy and angled. Drinks spill. Grease drips. Onions and pickles and nacho cheese drip. Ketchup packets splurt. Yogurt cups go sploosh. Then someone in dress pants sits on the same seats! Yuck.
Clean the bathrooms.
See descriptive words in above paragraph. Also, be consistent with hands-free devices. Hands-free sink is good. But touching the wet lever to dispense a paper towel is gross.
Everything at an airport is time sensitive. Yet it is often difficult to find the time of day. I would put up a big clock at every gate, in the security area and in various other high traffic areas.
Deplane the same way you board.
Most airlines board by zone or seat rows. We should exit the plane in the same manner. In most cases, as soon as the plane comes to a standstill, people are up out of their seats, even at the back of the plane, and then blocking the aisles for 5 minutes. Unload the plane 10 rows at a time.
Airplane Food - get rid of the salty snacks
Salty snacks make you thirsty. An airplane is a bad place to be thirsty. Most of the snacks currently served are high glycemic index foods which in fact make you hungry. Being hungry on a plane is a bad thing. Rather than chips and cookies, how about offering apples, grapes, bananas or perhaps some less salty whole wheat crackers, or mini yogurt cups. Or lobster. Everyone likes lobster!
Some or all of the above will help make the airport experience...a better experience.