All posts filed under “Geeking out

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Incredible bookstore!


A while ago I read about this absolutely INCREDIBLE new bookstore in the Netherlands. (H/T to John at Brand Autopsy.) An old (essentially unused) church in the heart of this city was turned into the most incredible bookstore you’ll likely ever see.

The building hadn’t been used as a church for years. In more recent times it had been used for bicycle storage, of all things, which seems like an inappropriately poor use for a building of that significance.

Well, a bookstore has now moved in and really done a good job of melding a bookstore into the space and beauty of a good-sized cathedral.

These photos are fantastic.


[UPDATE]- More photos on the BLDG BLOG here.

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Racing Teams – Solar and more

One of the most foundational and transformational experiences in my life was working on the University of Michigan Solar Car Team. I had the opportunity to work on and race the 1997 car Wolverine, and to serve as Project Manager for the 1999 car, MaizeBlaze. Wolverine raced across the US in Sunrayce 97, and MaizeBlaze raced across both the States in Sunrayce 99 and the Australian Outback in the World Solar Challenge 99.

As I write this, teams racing the Panasonic World Solar Challenge 2007 competition are making final preparations before the race start tomorrow morning in Darwin, Australia. The University of Michigan is again very well represented with their car, Continuum. It has been 20 years since the first solar car race across Australia, won by the GM vehicle “Sunraycer.” Since then, the technology has increased dramatically. The last race in 2005 was so quick that rules were changed to make an even more challenging competition. (Teams were traveling the speed limit over the entire 1,800 mile course.) Cars in the top class must have much more upright seating positions, with steering wheels and a smaller solar array. These rules seek to increase the power required, and lessen the power available to teams in this category.

Continuum responded to the rule changes with a risky but very innovative design innovation. In this category, teams have 9 m^2 of surface area from which they could collect sun, but only had 6 m^2 of solar cells they could use. Michigan, at a very great risk, spent a tremendous amount of time, effort and expense to develop a system of concentrators. The back of the car has a broad area of parabolic mirrors that concentrate the solar energy onto very small (and specially designed) solar cells that are optimised for high-sun conditions. All of this is packaged under a clear material that conforms to the very aerodynamic body shell. Furqan Nazeeri, the 1993 team manager wrote about just how much risk they took on in a post here.

I wish them the best of luck in the competition. The University of Michigan Solar Car Team is the winningest student team ever, both in the United States and in the World Solar Challenge across Australia. However, because of teams such as Honda and other well-funded corporate competitors, the team has never quite managed to win the Australian race. This race may change that streak, and it is quite possibly the most advanced vehicle designed and constructed. Please visit the team’s blog here to follow coverage from their race.

Finally, it’s a bit of a coincidence that the race starts this weekend, the final weekend of the Formula 1 racing season. I’ve gotten into Formula 1 a bit living here in Europe, and it’s known as the most technologically advanced motor sport. That said, I recently saw some photos of the Formula 1 team garage on a blog post here. Compare and contrast those to photos in the Michigan team’s blog.


After seeing both, there’s not an amazing amount of difference between the two. One has millions in funding, and the other is a group of students, but the results are amazing.

Best of luck to Continuum and the Michigan team. They have supporters literally across the globe. GO BLUE!

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Voyeur vs. Exhibitionist (on Twitter)

I realized the other day that while I (and many others) rarely twitter my “status” or “what I’m doing,” other people are doing so constantly. That’s when I realized there are really just two different types of people: Twitter Voyeurs and Twitter Exhibitionists.

Examples of Twitter Exhibitionists:
Guy Kawasaki – Who’s constantly twittering about “truemors.” (For a while I was really confused about what Truemors did, until I just realized it’s a user-generated Fark.)

Hugh McLeod (gapingvoid) – Hugh is an interesting blogger, and an interesting Twitter-er. He’s updating Twitter FAR more often than his blog, lately.

Examples of Twitter Voyeurs:
Me– Every once in a while I update what I’m doing on Twitter, but just not that often. However, I do have Twitterific to read what people are doing.

Is there a middle ground? Somehow I don’t think so. The Twitter Exhibitionists seem to be the people that were consistently blogging, but now are Twittering instead. That makes me think they’ve simply “shifted their paradigm,” to use consultant-speak. Twitter Voyeurs like me either don’t have much to share, don’t want to share the insignificant details of our lives, or have a majority of our friends and colleagues not on Twitter. Perhaps there’s a middle ground, but I haven’t really seen it.

So are you a Voyeur or an Exhibitionist? Or do you think you are one of these middle-ground characters??

Comments are open…

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Uploading Keynote presentations to YouTube WITH TRANSITIONS!

If you’re like me, you occasionally like using the 3-D and other transition effects in Apple’s Keynote software. However, if you try exporting these videos to YouTube, you’ll find that they just don’t work. Between Apple’s exporting and YouTube’s importing, enough data is lost and/or compressed that the final result looks like crap. (While the slides and audio are fine, the transitions are horrible.)

I found a workaround to this problem, and have used it to successfully upload Keynote presentations to YouTube with the 3-D and other transitions working beautifully. While there may certainly be better ways of doing this, the way I’ve found works and is detailed below:

First, within Keynote, export your completed presentation as a Quicktime movie, but with a custom format:


Next, for your custom format, choose a custom size:


Select 320 x 240 as your custom size; it’s the YouTube size. If it doesn’t show a frame rate of between 24 and 30, click the “Settings” button to change this:


Once you’ve finished these selections, export your presentation as a Quicktime movie.

Unfortunately, YouTube doesn’t like videos that have been exported this way, so I use iMovie as a quick and painless work-around.

Open iMovie and drag the recently-exported Quicktime movie into the new movie project:


Next, export your iMovie project as a Quicktime file, but select “Expert Settings”:


When the Save box comes up, select “Options”, highlighted here:


This next screen finally lets you get your presentation into a format that YouTube likes. Make sure the file format is MPEG-4 (Improved), the Image Size is still 320×240 QVGA, and that the frame rate is 24 or higher.


Click OK to export, and you’ll have an MP4 file that will export nicely into YouTube with all of your audio and transitions fully intact.

I hope this is useful for you!