All Change

Taking on the guise of the Mad Hatter, you will have noticed some changes around the place.  Nothing too dramatic, but some font and colour modifications.  I may change the background too, if I can find something wood-like that is suitable.

This all stems from the pro-upgrade I’ve purchased to improve the place.

For one, I needed a new (and better) way for hosting and embedding video.  My original method (using blip.tv) had become very problematic in recent times, so needed something new and better.  The solution was WordPress’ own video hosting, called Videopress.  Few drawbacks, one being it costs, and two I would have to pay for storage (blip.tv was a free solution), but it is worth it. I needed it to continue to integrate with iTunes for the Stu’s Shed podcast, and this does so without any hassles.  Expect more regular videos again – they have been LONG overdue!

So along with video hosting, extra storage, I also like this site to be ad-free, at least of ads I cannot control!  All these popup and auto ads on sites really suck, and I hate banner farms.  In the past few years, the free WordPress site was pushing ads onto posts (you may have seen some in past years, and again on here recently), as my 1 year no-ad subscription had expired.

The pro-upgrade includes the no-ad option.  Oh, and I use stusshed.com, not stusshed.wordpress.com, and again it costs to have that.

The one option I didn’t specifically go out of my way for was site customisation, but seeing as it came with the pro-upgrade, I thought I might play with that as well, tweaking some colours and fonts.

So there you have it, all for you ongoing viewing pleasure.  No ads, inline videos and more storage space for multimedia content.

Podcasts

For quite a while now, I have been aware that there was something a bit confused with the Stu’s Shed podcast.  In part I lost track of it because I haven’t tried posting many videos for a long time (and there is a bit of a story there as well), and I just haven’t focused on the iTunes account because of it.

I keep wanting to get back to it – no promises but!

Got an email yesterday from someone who has been watching a few Stu’s Shed TV episodes with their Apple TV, and wrote to ask about the older episodes (for the past couple of years, iTunes has only shown the latest 14 or so podcasts).

Used that prompt, and decided to have a play with all the settings, and I seem to have fixed something – had a look this evening (once iTunes had refreshed my podcast feed), and all 130 or so episodes were visible again!

Now I see that I need to fix some of the older posts – there is a lot more text being sent to the RSS feed than is needed, and given there is a size limit to the feed that iTunes will accept, I need to minimise those posts, but that is something I can do slow time.

Would love to wait until everything is ideal – plenty of time, clean shed, uncluttered shed, dedicated videoing studio, income from it all to be able to dedicate more time and resources to it etc etc, but not one of those is likely to change any time soon.

So I either wait for the ideals, or accept that I won’t be able to produce the high production quality videos that I want (or can) produce, and start getting out some videos again.  I do want to get back to it, but as I said, no promises!

 

Update: if I managed to boost the number of RSS feeds you have from Stu’s Shed overnight – oops – my bad!  I hadn’t noticed anything on my RSS reader, but some have!

2001: A Blog Odyssey

Rather than quoting Prince, we move to Arthur C Clarke, and a look back to the dawn of man (or in this case, this blog).

Back at the start the blog was created to package up videos for a feed to iTunes.  As much as it achieved that, the blog itself quickly grew a life of its own.  Now given so many site visitors have read much, if not all the site there is less point rehashing where we’ve been, and just get to the point: where are we going?

First things first: Put any fears aside, there are no radical changes to the blog on the current horizon!  (I’m not ruling it out in the future, so never say never, but no plans as yet!)

What I do want to see changed:

I’m looking at the video hosting options.  Since starting, blip.tv have implemented change after change that has pretty much ruled them out remaining as a long term option for video hosting going forward.  So I am likely to head down the route of using VideoPress (which is videos hosted by WordPress – the platform this blog runs on).  This does have one drawback: cost.  But the convenience will be superb.  I will end up also having to spend on extra storage: videos have a habit of really chewing up the available space.  And that means even more cost.

A return to Triton.  I have been in discussions and negotiations with Triton (via Kincrome), and I am intending to reintroduce the hobby-starting tools back into this blog.  So projects and demos etc could be seen on mid-range gear (such as my large tablesaw etc), or on a range of tools responsible for so many becoming weekend woodworkers (and some moving on from there into serious woodworking.  There may also be some high end gear becoming available too.  Time will tell.

I am hoping to identify some limited, interesting items to be able to sell them directly through the site. Not sure what they will be.  These days if you find something from overseas to sell, there seems to be a growing movement for some to undercut sellers where possible irrespective of whether the playing field is level or not (normally isn’t).  So overseas products without absolute exclusivity is too much of a risk. Somethings Australian made perhaps (and still exclusive to Stu’s Shed). Or, well see the next point.

I am really interested in having a published work (or rather works!), and have a few different directions available.  Book of plans, or woodwork instructions perhaps.  Perhaps individual downloadable PDFs.  Probably a pipe dream – need time to create something like that!

Still, no mention of advertising, paid sections etc.

There may be more, just nothing else that comes to mind. Onward and upward!

Time, The Blogosphere, and World Economy

23 January 2012.

My daughter’s 5th birthday, celebrated with a large party of family and friends a couple of days ago, and on her actual birthday with grandparents, lots more presents, and time.

For a year or so before Jessica was born, I was heavily invested (timewise) in the Australian Woodwork Forums, moderating, writing and producing videos for a new area that we’d created which had particular appeal to me, as it combined my woodworking and a fascination with video editing.

To roll that back even further: other than always having a particular interest in photography, in 1986 I got to use an SLR for the first time while doing a short course at high school. The photographic interest at that point became the seed for a hobby that kicked off heavily in 1988 when I toured Europe for a year and bought a new SLR (Minolta 7000) while passing through the US on the way to London. That hobby (obsession) continued until 2000, when Kodak took some of my films I had just shot on the Great Ocean Road of Victoria, Australia, and destroyed them all by processing them in the wrong chemicals (they processed the Velvia slide film (E6) in print film chemicals (C41)). My interest in photography had a revival once I got my first digital SLR, but the intensity that I pursue it is only at a 1/10th what it used to be. Still, through a combination of a significant back-library of photos, and what I still take these days, my little photo blog has content to last. Stu’s Darkroom

But back to the video editing. Photography and videography do have a lot in common- video being a bunch of photos taken at 25 frames a second (or 29.79/30 FPS for NTSC). A year after my first SLR experience, I shot my first video- creating a music video for a band at school for a national battle of the bands music video competition called Shazam. The band’s music entry didn’t get anywhere particularly, but my video got through to the final 4. This was in the days long before you could whip up a broadcast quality video on your desktop computer (or your iPad).

In 1999, I was in Cairns diving on the Great Barrier Reef on a dive cruise, and met a couple from the US. Their next stop was Melbourne, so I took them for a trip down to Phillip Island for the day. Turned out, he was a programmer for Adobe, and he offered me their suite of products at cost. One of those products was Premiere: their non-linear digital editing product.

Photography, video, and the ease of desktop editing crashed into each other. All it needed was a few more years for the power of the average computer to catch up to make it a reality.

So there I was in 2006/7, producing small videos on woodworking and we (woodwork forums) become aware of a new blog/podcast starting the the US, called the Wood Whisperer. Not sure exactly when Marc started, but it was around then. What caught my attention was his videos were in iTunes, and I was really interested in getting some of my photo essays on there, in a similar theme to what Magnum was doing with their photo essays.

I needed something to test, and set up a web server at home to host the video. I didn’t want to start with a serious photo essay, so chose one of my woodworking ones. And to package it up for submission to iTunes, I created a simple blog. Stu’s Shed.

Oops.

This year (end of June) marks 5 years since that curious twist resulted in this website taking off, 5 months after my daughter’s birth. Boy has it been busy times! I read with interest on Marc’s personal blog about just how much of an impact having his first child recently has impacted hugely on him and his (now) business of The Wood Whisperer, and not only can I sympathise, but it makes clear just how time consuming it has been for me to hold down a full time job, with a new child, and run a demanding woodworking blog. I’ve grown the site as much as time has permitted (and continue to do so), but no wonder how much I’ve burned the candle at both ends to keep it running, and still not been able to derive an income from it- time to do the niceties of planning, regular articles, regular videos etc just doesn’t exist (as even Marc is discovering!)

You can read Marc (Wood Whisperer) Spagnuolo’s article here.

We have different models for our blogs, Marc and I. Between Marc, Matt (as in Matt’s Basement Workshop) and I, we had the first three woodwork podcasts (and the first three woodwork blogs (?)) out there. There are a few more these days! I still try to keep mine a bit different- not to be better, but why duplicate what someone else is doing?

This year, Stu’s Shed will, like my daughter, turn 5 years old. It will pass the 2000 article point, and hopefully the 150 video mark (yes, I want to get back to more regular video production). I doubt anyone will offer me $1000000 for my website though!

Still, my constant readers, we will continue on this weird journey together! Now the mad season is coming to an end (Xmas, birthdays etc), I can get back to my job of creating sawdust!

Oh- on World Economy? Have a read of this fascinating article on manufacturing and the western world. It uses the example of the iPhone, but really can be applied across the board to any industry trying (and failing) to keep manufacturing local. The world is a very different place these days. If Michael Crighton wrote Rising Sun today, I wonder how different the story would be?

Apple, America and a Sweezed Middle Class I wonder what future we are setting up for our future generations as western society follows our economy?

Some iPhone Apps for Woodworkers

Let’s face it, the iPhone is making massive inroads into the mobile phone arena.  It seems that walking down the road, if you see someone talking on a mobile then it is 50-50 whether it is an iPhone or not.  The phone aspect itself is obviously irrelevant to woodworking, but there is that small other feature of the iPhone particularly which is a little more relevant.  It is a computer, and a very portable version at that.  What’s more, software for it is easily purchased through the Apple apps (ie applications) store and that can be done directly on the phone itself, or through iTunes on the user’s computer.

The ease of accessing applications, and the cost (some free, and the majority being around $A1.19 (ie $US0.99)(although many reviewed here are $2.49)) has resulted in iPhone applications now equate to 99.4% of all mobile phone apps purchased.

Looking through my iPhone, I thought I might show you some of the woodworking related applications I have (and in no particular order).

There are a couple of conversion programs (there are a whole heap out there, but these are a couple I’ve stuck with), which allow you to convert from one measurement to another (and with a wide range of starting and finishing units to choose between)

ConvertBot

ConvertBot ($A2.49), which uses a dial-interface to choose the starting and finishing units, then changes to a calculator-type screen for entering the measurement itself. Since that was released, another has become available that I prefer:

Convert

Convert ($A2.49) which has a very straight-forward interface, and without changing screens allows both the starting/finishing units to be selected (finger-scrolling), and the value to be entered via the numeric keypad.

Often though, in the workshop it isn’t just changing units from one to the next that we need (after all, if your plans are in imperial, you can always use an imperial rule if you don’t want to bother converting all the measurements to metric).  What is useful is being able to add and subtract measurements, particularly in an unfamiliar format (fractional inches being the obvious one).

ShopCalc

ShopCalc is a mobile app that works in pretty much the same way as the FastCap calculator shown on here recently. You enter in whichever format you want, then add/subtract etc any other format, then finally display the answer in whatever format you choose.

Now inside the iPhone is an accelerometer. This device is like a spirit level inside the phone, detecting what orientation you have the phone in so it adjusts the display accordingly.  The accelerometer is surprisingly sensitive, and therefore allows a raft of woodworking opportunities.

One app, called iHandy Carpenter ($2.49) has 5 woodworking tools built-in, including a rule, spirit level, plumb bob etc.

Spirit Level

Plumb Bob

And a number of others, perhaps more suited to the carpenter/tradie than the home woodworker.  The spirit level for one, is the equivalent of the Wixey ($A70ish) for a fraction of the price.

Not only tool applications available, but also a whole stack of resources, including…..Stu’s Shed (through a mobile interface)

Stu's Shed on the iPhone

Superb small screen interface

And of course, we can’t not mention,,,,,the Wood Whisperer!

Wood Whisperer

There are a whole stack of other applications, of various levels of quality (and price).  If you come across any that prove really useful, please drop me a line!

Bear Creek's boardfoot calculator

iTunes

FWIW, Stu’s Shed is still in the top 4 woodworking podcasts worldwide on iTunes 🙂

And according to my new map plotter, it now lists 90 countries that have viewed the site – quite incredible that being on the worldwide web (www) actually means being world wide!

iPhone, iTunes, iShed

So the last one doesn’t exist (although perhaps it should – hmm Stu’s virtual shed……)

I have been playing around with the other two.  The iPhone is a new toy, and is very interesting. Not that much of a leap from the iPod Touch that I have been using for a while, although having built-in speakers makes watching the latest podcasts even easier.

Speaking of podcasts, Stu’s Shed is currently one of the “Featured” podcasts in the hobby section of iTunes, and we are in the top 4 of hobby podcasts 🙂

Amalgamating the two, I do keep an eye out for apps that have a use for woodworking, and although the level was pretty good (and has been improved even further since, now with a digital as well as a spirit level readout), a few other apps seem very pointless (using the phone as a ruler!?).

One that does look to have some promise is a ShopCalc, able to handle fractions, imperial and decimal. It also has a special division button useful for fractions, so a length can be divided by a length or into equal portions.

Not sure if I understand it yet myself, but from their site,

13 divided by 3 =  4.33333

13 foot divided by 3 inches = 52 pieces

13 foot divided into 3 equal portions = 4 feet 4 inches.

ShopCalc

ShopCalc

In future they are planning extra calcs for volume, and board feet.

The other benefit this calc has, is you can do the calculations in whichever unit you want, and convert the answer to whichever system (eg get imperial decimal from your plan, and convert the answer to mm).  You can also combine measurement systems easily, so adding 2 63/64″ + 2.756″ – 3mm is easy.  There is even a tickertape display so you can double check that you entered all the units correctly.

(and the answer is 142.8mm or 5 5/8″ or 5.622″) – see, even I can handle the different unit types now (having grown up in a metric education system).

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