Friday, December 23, 2011

RealArts @ Penn Internships

Via RealArts @ Penn:

"We are sponsoring 10 paid summer internships - for University of Pennsylvania students - at MTV/Viacom Creative, Rolling Stone magazine, Brooklyn Films, the Philadelphia Inquirer, Nickelodeon animation, Shore Fire Media, the Jewish Museum, at Original Film, & with the Stern/Gibbs writing team in LA. Penn students - apply now. Current 3rd-year students given preference but all may apply."

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


Join us today in the lab (and, frankly, probably every day this week) for our annual viewing of the (now classic) Christmas movie, Elf.

This fantasic image comes from Scott Campbell's excellent "Great Showdowns" blog.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Converting film reels to digital video

The lab has many free resources for the Penn community for converting media. We can convert from : dvd, vhs, c-vhs, mini dv, cassette tape, 35mm film, 35mm slides, and vinyl record. From time to time we do get questions about converting different formats of film reels. We have no equipment to do this in the lab and don't know of any resources available on campus that can convert film reels. In the past we have referred people to Video City Inc. in Center City. Until recently I have never personally used them, but I am happy to say I am very please with the business. I had three reels of 8mm film from an old box at my parent's house and had no idea what was on them. I got them converted to .avi files at Video City Inc. and although a lot of the film was water damaged I was able to rescue some great moments of my older brothers' youth. The footage was a little dark, which was just the way the film was shot. I was able to clean it up quite a bit in Final Cut Pro. You would also be able to do this to some degree in iMovie. Here is a before and after shot of a small section of footage.

There is a long list on Video City's website about what formats they can convert. I would highly recommend dropping off a hard drive for them to put the footage on instead of paying for it to go directly to a dvd. If you convert to a dvd it doubles the cost. Each reel ended up being about $10 to put onto the hard drive which is a real bargain in my book.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Why won't my Windows drive work on my Mac?

You may have run into problems with plugging a Windows-formatted (NTFS) external hard drive into your Mac; normally Macs can read files on these drives, but not save to them. Fortunately, some very smart people have written some free software that lets Macs use NTFS drives:

To install it, just click the banner, run through the automatic installer, and choose "no caching" when it gives you the choice. Restart your computer and you should be all set!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Smart Phone Buyer's Guide

It's "that" time of year again. Engadget has published their Holiday 2011 Smart Phone Buyer's Guide. They "examine the variety of options from each carrier, large and small, along with its most solid alternatives. Those insistent upon QWERTY keyboards will find each provider's pick of the litter, and we also select a high quality budget offering with $80 as the absolute ceiling. "

Check out the guide at

Thursday, December 8, 2011

What is 4K Video?

TimeScapes 4K from Tom Lowe

I came across this video called TimeScapes yesterday. It is basically a demo video showing off the capabilities of 4K technology. 4K is a term we might see popping up more frequently and simply put "4K" refers to a higher than high def video format; creating videos at 4096 x 2304 pixels. If you don't know... this is madness.

I remember hearing a couple of years ago that higher than hi-def video tended to make people nauseous, but I guess we are taking that leap. One of the biggest proponents of this new technology is Peter Jackson. He is currently filming two new Lord of the Rings movies, (The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and The Hobbit: There and Back Again) and not only are they shooting in 4K, but they are also shooting in 3D and at 48 frames per second (as opposed to the typical 24 fps). This should make for a very unique viewer experience. Here is one of the Hobbit video blogs that talks a little more about the technology and filming with the Red Epic camera to capture video in 4K.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Interview with Carrier IQ

You've all been hearing about the "Carrier IQ" fiasco/debacle/brouhaha, with the phone companies using this secretly-installed software to track all sorts of things on your cell phones. So far the Carrier IQ software has been installed on over 141 MILLION devices, but so far the details of exactly what the software does and specifically which devices have it installed are still forthcoming. Senator Franken of Minnesota is even asking the phone companies and hardware makers how they're using the software and what info collecting from their customers.

The Verge got a great interview with Carrier IQ's marketing vice president, which you can read here.

Thanks to Jordan M. for forwarding the article our way.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


If you were sitting the library studying today, maybe you were handed a sticker that looks like this "hi" logo. Well check out the article in today's Daily Pennsylvanian about the new "Hi!" app that Penn student (and frequent visitor to the Vitale Digital Media Lab) has created along with another Penn student (Tanvir Ahmed) and an Alum (Lukasz Dziurzynski):

White envisions hi! being used at events like New Student Orientation events and football games where students could meet new people. hi! generates a list of everyone in one location and based on users’ Facebook profiles, “autopopulates a list with the people that you have the most in common with or that it thinks you would get along the best with,” White said. “It’s kind of like an eHarmony match-up but for making friends instead of dating.”

Read the full article online at:

Monday, December 5, 2011

Gadget Day This Wednesday

Join us this Wednesday, December 7, in the Weigle Information Commons for our Fall 2011 Gadget Day!

This time around we're looking at Evernote, iPads, smart phones, Wordpress, Google Hangouts, and more--including a lunchtime "Bring Your Own Gadget" show-and-tell session.

See the details and full schedule at

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Where Do All the Servers Go?

Join us for lunch on Friday to hear MES Alumna, (and Penn Library staffer!) Stephanie Alarcon, discuss the environmental consequences, social justice issues, and policy options for the growing E-Waste problem. The talk will be based on the research she did for her MES Capstone. And you don't have to be a hardcore geek nor treehugger to appreciate the content!

Free lunch for the first 15 guests. Please RSVP.

Hayden Hall, Room 358
Friday, December 2, 2011 from 12:00 PM to 1:30 PM (ET)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Adobe Software just got cheaper

Adobe is discounting their already-discounted student and teacher prices on their software through december 3. Check out the details here.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Wacom Inkling

Wacom has produced a new, unique product that we are very excited to try out. It is called the "Inkling" and it has the ability to capture what you draw with a physical ink pen on any plain sheet of paper. You can then transfer your drawing into the computer as vector lines. This is an incredible idea that will be very useful for illustrators, designers, and anyone who likes to doodle. Here is Wacom's promotional video for it.

Here is a comparison of a scan of an original drawing (left) and the vector file (right) that Inkling generated.

You can see it isn't exact, but still pretty impressive. If you click the image above you can see the YouTube review of the Inkling that this still was taken from. The lab will hopefully be adding the Inkling to our checkout inventory soon. Wacom has been releasing it in small batches on Amazon, and we haven't been able to grab ours yet.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Which is the best Music Service?

Life Hacker has a new post up evaluating the 3 major music services: iTunes, Google Music, and Amazon Mp3. In addition to a straightforward evaluation of each service, looking at the pros and cons of each, it goes a little deeper and talks about WHO will get the most out of each service, recognizing that people with different needs, likes, and personalities will prefer one service over another. They also touch very briefly on some of the smaller services and streaming music services that are out there.

As always, be sure to also read the comments section. One reader posted about a site called Beatport, which I was unfamiliar with, for listeners of electronic music, trance, house and (*shudder*) dubstep.

Friday, November 18, 2011

User Storage Down

Our User Storage drive has crashed, so the files on it are currently unavailable. We are hoping to have it working again next week, but we can't make any guarantees. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause you. Please let us know if you have any specific concerns we can help to address.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Cory Doctorow tonight!

Author, activist, journalist and blogger (co-editor of Cory Doctorow will be giving a free talk tonight at Huntsman Hall, open to the general public. You should go.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Free $50 Store Gift Card with iPad 2

The Computer Connection (that neat computer store at the back of the Penn Bookstore) is having a deal:

"Buy any iPad2 and receive a $50 Computer Connection gift card".

This applies to all models of the iPad2, and is open to all folks purchasing with individual funds. The promotion will run from now through December 2nd.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Lab closing

Hi all. The lab will be closed this Thursday, November 17, from 4:30pm-6:30pm for a class. Sorry for any inconvenience!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Lab closing

Hi all. The lab will be closed this Thursday, November 10, from 4:30pm-6:30pm for a class. Sorry for any inconvenience!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

November Workshops

  • PhotoShop Basics, Wed. Nov. 2, 10 am to Noon
  • Illustrator, Thurs. Nov. 3, 10 to 11:30 am
  • iMovie, Thurs. Nov. 3, 6:30 to 8 pm OR Wed. Nov. 9, 10:30 am to Noon OR Thurs. Nov. 10, 10 to 11:30 am
  • First Year Fridays - Make Your First Movie! Fri. Nov. 4, 2 to 4 pm
  • Networking with Twitter, Mon. Nov. 7, 5 to 6 pm
  • Census Data with New American FactFinder, Tues. Nov. 8, 10 to 11:30 am
  • Top Hat Monocle, Wed. Nov. 9, 2 to 3 pm - Vendor presentation on mobile and web open-ended audience response during classes
  • From Assignments to References: Zotero, Wed. Nov. 9, 5 to 6 pm
  • Excel Basics, Sat. Nov. 12, 2 to 3:30 pm
  • Social Media 101, Mon. Nov. 14, 10 to 11:30 am
  • Majors Dinner, Mon. Nov. 14, 5 to 6:30 pm
  • Excel Charts, Wed. Nov. 16, 11 am to 12:30 pm
All workshops are open to Penn students, faculty, and staff unless otherwise noted. Registration and details:

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Lab closing

Hi all. The lab will be closed this Thursday, November 3, and next Thursday, November 10, from 4:30pm-6:30pm for a class. Sorry for any inconvenience!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween! Be sure to stop by the lab today and get a candy bar.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Lynda temporarily Unavailable

Hey all. is having some trouble with their system right now, so things are running impossibly slow. We've been in touch with them, though, and they expect things to be back to normal within a few hours. Sorry for any inconvenience!

Everything's Back to Normal now!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Books, like in a library

We have some new books in the lab!

iMovie '11 & iDVD: The Missing Manual, iPhoto '11: The Missing Manual, and WordPress for Dummies. If you'd like to take a look at these or any of our books, ask the lab consultant on duty. They'll be happy to help.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Copyright... it confuses everyone

Boingboing linked to this series of copyright dispute examples designed by Susie Cagle. They show some interesting cases like the time Shepard Farrey was sued by the Associated Press for being a tracer.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Introduction to OS X Lion Workshop Today

In case you missed the last workshop on Apple's newest operating system, "Lion," Will Le, Apple's student rep on Penn's campus, is offering it again this very afternoon (Friday, Oct 7, 2pm-3:30pm in the WIC Seminar Room). It's a great introduction for anyone who's thinking about upgrading, or for people who have already made the switch but weren't quite sure how to take advantage of all the new features.

Get a preview of some of the new features of Lion at

Thursday, October 6, 2011

We Lost a Friend Yesterday

The lab owes a great deal to the man who helped bring us all of this incredible technology. We always had a charge after seeing what new things he would unveil at his press conferences. Steve's products were always clean, sleek, and sometimes beautiful, but most importantly, they just worked. His company certainly shaped our daily lives and with his early involvement with Pixar, he helped warm our heart. You will be missed sir.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Facebook Privacy

Penn's department of Audit, Compliance, & Security has created some guidance for managing your privacy on Facebook. Check out their video below, or visit their page for additional info.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Final Cut Pro X

The lab now supports both Final Cut Pro 7 and Final Cut Pro X. We are not encouraging people to use Final Cut Pro X because it has several drawbacks, but it is in the application folder in the lab if you would like to try it out and see what you think. If you are just catching up on the FCPX hoop-la here are some of the programs pluses and drawbacks:
-If you know iMovie, you will be seeing a more familiar layout that the previous version

-Most, if not all, of the rendering will happen in the background while you work. No more coffee breaks while you wait for your video to be ready.

-Auto-align for matching multiple audio tracks of the same source.

-No support for any projects of previous versions of FCP.

-Different interface than previous versions

-Doesn't transfer between multiple machines with ease

Connecting to AirPennNet

Trouble with AirPennNet? SAS Computing is holding a wireless setup fair in WIC TONIGHT (9/15) from 5 - 7pm.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

CS 5.5

It's a new school year and we've got new tools in the media lab. So welcome students and welcome Adobe CS 5.5.

So why the 5.5 upgrade? Why not a full step up to CS6? Well, CS6 is still a ways away. For now Abobe is placing a big focus on broad, multiplatform mobile content development with this release, using with the latest standards. And if you work with video, you’ll notice sweeping performance enhancements in CS 5.5 that enable you to work faster. These upgrades actually don't even effect all of the Creative Suite programs. The CS5 tools not revisioned to CS5.5 are Photoshop (Extended), Illustrator, Fireworks, and Contribute.

Here's an article that describes what's new in each product in great detail. It's a lot of words, but it pretty much tells you everything you need to know. Better yet, come to the lab and see for yourself what's new.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Time Magazine Beyond 9/11 Project

Time Magazine has put up this incredible site:
It uses photos and video shot by Marco Grob to create a substantial mosaic of stories from September 11th and the 10 years that followed. The imagery is almost all in black and white, and the site is beautiful in its design and simplicity. It collects stories from a diverse group of leaders, survivors, rescuers, and fighters into a spanning interactive space. Some of the interviews will really bring you back to that day, and some may bring a tear to your eye. So if you are emotionally prepared, take a look.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Chase Irwin: Blowing Your Mind

Hopefully by you've seen the new library publication, "Ten Things About the Penn Libraries That Will Blow Your Mind." If not, we have a few sitting on the table near the door. It features our very own Chase Irwin, as the person whose mind is about to be blown, photographed by yours truly, and designed in large part by Jesse Turnbull. Chase graduated in May, so he won't be with us much longer as a lab consultant, but it's good to see he's going out with a bang.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

September Workshops

Please check out and share our September calendar!

Upcoming are:

  • Wordpress, Wed. Sept. 7, 1:30 to 3 pm
  • Excel Charts and Graphs, Thurs. Sept. 8, 1:30 to 3 pm
  • Excel Basics, Sat. Sept. 10, 2 to 3:30 pm
  • BlackBoard Basics, Tues. Sept. 13, 1 to 2:30 pm
  • PhotoShop Basics, Wed. Sept. 14, 10 am to Noon
  • Social Media 101, Wed. Sept. 14, 2 to 3:30 pm
  • From Assignments to References: Planning your Semester, Wed. Sept. 14, 5 to 6 pm - Presented by Weingarten Learning Resources Center (VPUL)
  • Google Sites, Thurs. Sept. 15, 10:30 am to Noon
  • What's New in Office 2010, Thurs. Sept. 15, 2 to 3:30 pm
  • PowerPoint Animations, Mon. Sept. 19, 10 to 10:30 am
  • RefWorks, Tues. Sept. 20, 10 to 11:30 am
  • iMovie, Wed. Sept. 21, 10:30 am to Noon
  • Mathematica - Special Vendor Presentation, Thurs. Sept. 22, 9 am to 1:30 pm
  • Prezi, Thurs. Sept. 22, 10 to 11:30 am
  • Embed Video in PowerPoint, Fri. Sept. 23, 11 to 11:30 am
  • Google Productivity Boost, Fri. Sept. 23, 11 am to Noon

All workshops are open to Penn students, faculty, and staff unless otherwise noted. Registration and details:

I am the Robot

By now you've probably seen the utterly fantastic t-shirt that our very own Jesse Turnbull designed for the library's freshman social. Something you probably didn't know, however, is that *I* am the robot. OK, technically I just posed for the reference photo, so I'm not all that recognizeable in the final image, but as you can see, I was totally the inspiration.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Google Image Search--new and improved

Remember back in 2008 when we blogged about a new beta service called "Tin Eye" that allowed you to upload an image and find higher-resolution versions of that same image?

Well Tin Eye is still around and long out of Beta, but Google has come along with something better. They've improved their image search engine so that you can drag an image onto the search box and find other images--not just the same exact image, but also similar images. You can drag a photo from your vacation to Machu Picchu into the search box, and Google will find other photos of the same place.

Check it out at, or watch this short intro video to show you how it works:

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Best TV Shows Ever

It's a tradition for the lab staff to make lists of our favorite things. We've listed our favorite candy, favorite songs, our high scores for various video games, and more. This time the summer lab staff (Jesse, Sarah, Dave, Chase, and Jonah) have listed their favorite TV shows. If it's already been erased by the time you're seeing this, here's a photo of the lists:

Not everyone agrees with our choices (I've already received one complaint that not a single person included "Pee Wee's Playhouse") but we stand by them.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Intro to Lion Workshop

Thanks to Will Le, Apple's student rep on Penn's campus, for the great workshop he gave today on the newest version of the Mac operating system, Lion. It was a great introduction for anyone who's thinking about upgrading, or for people who have already made the switch but weren't quite sure how to take advantage of all the new features.

If you weren't lucky enough to attend, you can check out the new features of Lion at

Future Proof

What is Future Proof?
Here's what they say: "We write articles, craft interactive experiments, and create tools that help you develop mental and physical resilience in the face of an ever-expanding technology landscape. In other words, we make you futureproof."

FP is yet another fantastic project from the former VDML lab consultant Michael Highland. He and another Penn alum and friend, David Siegel are creating the company Futureproof. We've already written about their app "Awareness"-a tool to help heighten one's awareness of computer use. We should all be so lucky to be as considerate and attuned as we go about our daily tech business.

Take a looksee at the video to investigate further:

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

InDesign FX is releasing a new series of online videos called "InDesign FX," with new installments to be released every other week or so. The concept is that each release will be a self-contained InDesign Effects project designed to be completed in ten minutes or less. Taught by expert Mike Rankin, the series explores every aspect of InDesign's graphic effects capabilities through real-world examples, all without relying on Photoshop or Illustrator.

There have been 4 releases so far:
  • Blurring Objects with Drop Shadows
  • Creating Interlocking Objects
  • Exploring the Effects Panel
  • Creating Long Text Shadows with Type on a Path
Watch this introduction video (2m 42s) and then drop by the lab if you'd like to watch the other videos.

000 Welcome to InDesign FX
InDesign FX | by Michael Rankin
View this entire course and more in the Online Training Library®.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Interview with John Vogel

John Vogel has worked at Penn for 8 years. He was briefly in the Psych deparment and then at Wharton, but for the bulk of that time he's worked as a part-time annotator for the Linguistic Data Consortium. He's also a member of the Philadelphia-based band Grandchildren, and a very frequent user of the Media Lab for his solo work.

Q: What do you work on in the lab?

John Vogel: Almost everything I do comes through the lab at some point. I mostly do solo projects--mostly interviews--under my own name, that are on my Vimeo page, but I'm also working on a separate project under the name 'Eddie Sids'.

Battling Green Eye Shades was the last big video project I did. And then after I finished with that I started up these other 2 projects. One is called douthoux, and the other is White Zinfandel.

Everything on douthoux is electronic. And everything on White Zinfandel is supposed to be more natural. It's all written on piano first and then overdubbed with trumpet. I've been teaching myself flute and clarinet to overdub on that, and then electronic space sounds on top of that. And I'm working on both of those at the same time.

In addition to that, lately I've been cutting up the interviews I've been doing, because they have similar questions throughout them, and I'm making an edited version where they line up in certain places, and I'm writing electronic music for that. Over the last 2 months that's grown from not doing anything with it to having 45 minutes of material so far, and it'll probably be between an hour and 1:20 when it's done.

Q: And this is a personal project?

JV: This is all just for... fun. (laughter)

Q: What software and hardware do you use in the lab?

JV: I use Final Cut for all the video editing. Everything I do I have also taken the audio into Audacity here in the lab and mixed and compressed and amplified--just to brush it up, cut the ends off, and arrange it for tracking. And I use Garage Band for all the douthoux sampling.

Q: Where does the name douthoux come from?

JV: It was a random password that I don't use anymore, but I don't know, it just sounded like a European techno album to me. (laughs) So that was the idea going into it. I recorded my friends saying all the same utterances. Everything is grouped by theme, and I'm taking those themes and they represent the title of the track. And then for me, it's mixing the lines into a format where it sounds more like a conversation instead of excerpted lines, and then also cutting in usually standup comedy or TV or movies into that, and making something that has a narrative flow for each individual track and kind of explores the same theme throughout.

The video I'm working on now is for the 3rd track off of that. I did that as part of a live performance I did recently, and also 2 tracks off of White Zinfandel. I had 2 tvs running of my friends reading into the camera, and I edited all of that here, and my goal was to line them up, and now I'm trying to make them interesting and put them in a useful format. It will go on Vimeo as a stand-alone work, so it's not really intended as an accompaniment for the live performance.

Q: Where did you learn to do all the video/audio editing? Did you take classes? Did you teach yourself?

JV: I mostly taught myself. I also took some digital music classes in college at Penn State. We used a program called Digital Performer, which doesn't really get used anymore. Jesse and Sarah actually helped me a LOT here in the lab with the Final Cut Pro stuff. It would be the type of thing where I was working on a project where I'd sit down and really try to do something myself, and then I'd come to a spot where I didn't know how to do some technical thing, and they would show me, and that would really help me. I could go by myself for a little while, and then hit a spot where I wanted to do this one thing that I knew should be possible, but I didn't know how to do it, and getting help from the lab staff when I'd get stuck.

All of the music on Battling Green Eye Shades I did at the Music Technology Lab here at Penn in the music building my first couple years out of college. At the end of that, I wanted to do a video, and they sent me here to the Vitale Digital Media Lab.

Q: We're glad they did! What's your favorite part about the lab?

JV: The software is great. It's so good to have that resource, because all of the software is ridiculously expensive. If you try to get the kind of machines and software you have here at home, that's just ridiculous amounts of money that I don't have. (laughs) So just the availability of all of that stuff. The equipment lending has also been a big thing. I didn't even get into that until maybe a year after coming here pretty regularly. Just getting the cameras and the Zoom audio recorders has really helped with the interviewing that I've been doing. And the atmosphere and staff is just really helpful and cool. Yeah. It's just a good place to come.

Q: You've interviewed a bunch of bands and authors for Skyscraper Magazine and Beyond Race Magazine. How did that happen? How did you get connected to the bands and to the magazines?

JV: I'm actually the Fiction Books Editor for Skyscraper after just being a contributor for a few years. I was the Books and DVDs editor for Rockpile magazine here in Philly. I got started with them back in 2004 or 5, and I was with them until they crumbled due to financial problems. And about the same time, Skyscraper went from print to full digital online. When they launched their website they were looking for editors. I thought, I hadn't reviewed books and DVDs for a while, and it was something I really wanted to get back into, so they hired me for that.

I started doing the band interviews as personal projects before Skyscraper was up and running, so I was still in this middle ground where I didn't have anyone solid to publish for anymore. I tried to do the freelance thing, and decided I really didn't like the runaround of pitching articles. So I figured I'd do a project on my own collecting interviews. I already do interviews as part of my job at the LDC, interviewing people in microphoned situations daily, talking to people for 15-20 minutes at a time, and just keeping them talking is the only task. So you learn a certain amount of skill with coaxing conversation out of people. I wanted to apply that to something I really liked, and with people I really wanted to talk to. So I started sending out emails with this idea of just picking people's brains about the creative process, and I got a TON of rejections. And then just when I'd gotten to the point where I'd almost decided maybe this wasn't such a good idea, I got a response from Matmos saying they wanted to do it, and that really gave me hope and I just kept doing it. And it's continued right on up until now.

Q: Thanks for talking with me.

JV: No problem.

The live performance John mentioned in the interview consisted of two tracks each from his douthoux and Battling Green Eye Shades projects. They are: Technology, Personal, Glass One, and Glass Two.

Grandchildren Facebook:
Eddie Sids Facebook:
Battling Green Eye Shades on YouTube:

Eddie Sids Vimeo:

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Future of the Justice System?

I thought this article from Boingboing was interesting, especially since this is the year of gaming here on Penn's campus. Apparently Notch, the creator of the popular game Minecraft, is working on a new project he's calling "Scrolls". Bethesda Games, creators of "Elder Scrolls" a popular role playing game is taking issue with this and asking him to change the name before it's release. Notch had a different solution in mind...

I challenge Bethesda to a game of Quake 3. Three of our best warriors against three of your best warriors. We select one level, you select the other, we randomize the order. 20 minute matches, highest total frag count per team across both levels wins.

If we win, you drop the lawsuit.

If you win, we will change the name of Scrolls to something you’re fine with.

Regardless of the outcome, we could still have a small text somewhere saying our game is not related to your game series in any way, if you wish.

I am serious, by the way.

So will this be the future of our legal system? Will we live in a digital "Running Man"-esque society? Here's hoping this event actually takes place.

Friday, August 12, 2011

The End of the Summer

If you're a Penn student who graduated in May, you've been lucky enough to have a whole extra summer to continue working in the lab. The bad news is that the summer break is about to end, the birds will start to head south, and you won't be able to use the lab anymore once September starts. The good news is you still have almost 3 whole weeks before the end of August! So use the time you have left to take advantage of of the hardware, software, and expertise the lab has to offer to finish up your projects before you disappear into the "real world" beyond college.

It's been really nice working with you all, and I hope we see you again over winter break or next summer when classes are out of session, when we allow alumni to use the lab (don't forget to bring your alumni card!)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Password Strength

Here is an interesting take on how to optimize the strength of your passwords.
XKCD created this web comic based on this paper (PDF) about best practices for creating passwords. It is pretty different than the common accepted approach to creating a secure code, and would be much easier for most people to remember.
Take a look:

This was reblogged from where there is an interesting discussion going on about the legitimacy and difficulties of using this system.

Thursday, August 4, 2011


Have you ever wanted to make your own font, but didn't want to be bothered with learning Illustrator or with buying font creation software? FontStruct is here to help. You can go to and use their online app to create your own font, then save that font as a True Type font (.ttf) to your local computer. It has tons of options for creating your font and a very simple interface. Give it a try!
Here are some interesting examples of fonts created on the site:

Saturday, July 30, 2011

The great migration

Are you liking Google +? Perhaps you like the circles and hangs, but are feeling overwhelmed by the idea of rebuilding all of your connections from scratch? Here's a Lifehacker article about migrating alllllllll of that data from Facebook to Google +.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Mac OSX Lion Compatible Apps

For those of us still waiting to upgrade to Apple's new operating system, OS X 10.7, aka Lion, it's helpful to know whether any of of the killer apps that we depend on regularly are indeed compatible with the new OS, so that we don't shell out our cash, upgrade, and suddenly find out that the program we need the most now crashes our system.

Well now there's RoaringApps, a wiki which tells you whether your favorite apps are Lion-compatible, so that you know whether you should wait before upgrading. Plus, if you have the inside scoop on an app, you can contribute your knowledge by adding the app to the growing list of programs that have been tested on Lion.

The chart lets you limit your view to compatible apps, non-compatible apps, or the full list.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Migrating from Final Cut Pro 7 to Final Cut Pro X

Last time I spoke with them, the good people at are still working on creating their training courses for the controversial new FCPX. In the meantime, though, they've created a very helpful set of videos on transitioning from the old FCP 7 to the latest version.

This course, taught by award-winning writer/producer/director Abba Shapiro, is intended for people who are already quite familiar with editing in FCP 7--it's not a beginner course. But if you're a FCP 7 user who's ready to start gearing up for working with X, this is the course for you.

It's only 3 hours long, and you can use my favorite feature to watch it at double speed in half the time. If you don't have your own account, just stop by the lab or the WIC desk and we'll log you in in one of our computers.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Google+ iPhone App

The Google Plus iPhone app became available today. Of course, you need to be a Google Plus user to take advantage of it.

I haven't had a chance to do much with the app yet other than download it and log in, but I'm hoping to try it out tonight. Certainly looks promising. I couldn't find it in the app store (perhaps it hasn't been indexed yet), and ended up having to follow a link from a webpage. Just in case you have the same problem, here's the link:

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Google +

Have you checked out Google + yet? It looks pretty comprehensive, and, well, fun. You may have heard that Google + will be "everything"-an e-mail service, a social network, a media sharing tool, a community. From having just briefly looked over the demo, it seems that's pretty true. It's a bit difficult to articulate, so go investigate!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

How to Reserve Equipment in 90 seconds or less

Thanks to Jesse for this 90-second video walk-through of how to reserve the equipment we lend from here in the lab. You can make your reservation at

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Final Cut Pro X

Wow. I have never read such vile reviews of a product in my life. An awful lot of people seem to be singularly unhappy with Apple right now over the new release of Final Cut Pro, which became available as a download in the App Store just yesterday for $299, a heavy discount from the previous version's $999 price tag.

First, you can (and should) check out Apple's FCP site at

Then you can read Walter Biscardi's review at Creative Cow, which does a good job listing the problems that have made so many FCP users upset:

Then, before you get TOO upset, you should read David Pogue's responses to many of those complaints:

He ends his article with these words: "Professional editors should (1) learn to tell what’s really missing from what’s just been moved around, (2) recognize that there’s no obligation to switch from the old program yet, (3) monitor the progress of FCP X and its ecosystem, and especially (4) be willing to consider that a radical new design may be unfamiliar, but may, in the long term, actually be better."

We will be keeping Final Cut Pro 7 in the lab for the coming school year (this was already the plan, even before the release of FCP X, because Apple's release date was too close to the beginning of classes to allow us adequate time to learn and test the new software), but we will have the new version available on at least 1 or 2 workstations for those who wish to start using it or play around with it. We'll re-evaluate the state of FCP in the Summer of 2012.

Updates: It's been several days since the release of FCPX, and there's a growing body of good material on what's going on:

Jeffrey Harrell has an excellent post on why FCPX is wrong for professional editors:

Thanks to Ellen for pointing me toward this response to David Pogue from video editing guru Rich Harrington:

Also, if you have an hour and half to kill, and this topic is of particular interest to you, you may want to check out Rich Harrington and Walter Biscardi--both long term professional video editors and longtime FCP users--discuss their concerns in this "podcast" at called "Why We Can't Use Final Cut Pro X at Our Companies":

Most significantly perhaps, David Pogue has since downgraded his recommendation on FCPX in his third article on the ongoing debacle: "Final Cut Pro X may indeed be ready for the future. But for professional video editors, it’s not yet ready for the present."

Man, I'm glad I'm not Steve Jobs right now.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Facebook Privacy. Yes, again.

Lifehacker has created this nice guide on managing your privacy settings in Facebook. The best part is that they've promised to keep it up to date:

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Fitting the iPad into a Photography Work Flow

Terry White had a good post recently on how to fit an iPad into a Photography workflow. Yes, there's a certain aspect of the post that seems like a thinly veiled attempt to get you to purchase certain apps, but it's not unreasonable to expect that you'd need 3rd party apps to full take advantage of the device, just as you'd buy MS Word or Adobe Photoshop to full utilize your computer.

He breaks the post into these general areas:
  • Preparing for the shoot
  • Model and property releases
  • Getting images into the iPad
  • Controlling the Camera from the iPad
  • Reviewing the images
  • Editing the images
  • Going from Lightroom to the iPad
And talks about how the iPad is useful in each area.

Read Terry's post at

Friday, June 17, 2011


I learned about Lubith last week and I spent the weekend playing around with it. Boy do I like it. Lubith is a tool that helps you design and download your own Wordpress theme. For free! Check out this five minute (okay seven minute) tutorial on how to use it.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Games & Alternate Reality Games for Learning

Great session for anyone interested in using games in an educational setting. I'm copying and pasting from the flyer:

Whether you are new to games or want to discover how they can be used for learning you won't want to miss the PANMA session to get the latest information. This session is for anyone in education, corporate or looking for new innovative ways to get your audience to participate and learn.

We're lucky to have Koreen Olbrish from Tandem Learning to share her knowledge and experience with you. Tandem Learning has been at the forefront of immersive learning strategies and applying game dynamics to educational projects. Koreen will share the latest trends in serious game design, including 3D immersive games and alternate reality games (ARGs), and how these design techniques can increase engagement and facilitate learning. For those new to serious games, Koreen will provide an overview of why games are great for learning, when games should be considered, and the basics of different types of serious game design. Case studies of corporate learning implementations of games will also be reviewed.

Q & A Panel

We'll close the evening with a Q&A panel where you can ask your questions.

You'll learn about:

  • Current trends in applying game dynamics to learning
  • How serious games can engage learners differently
  • Alternate reality games and their advantage in immersive learning design

Date: Thursday, June 30, 2011

Time: Doors open: 5:30pm / Event Starts at: 6:00 – 8:00pm

Location: Huntsman Hall, 3730 Walnut Street, Room G-55, Phila, PA 19104 | Directions:

Cost: FREE

Register Here:

Pizza & light refreshments will be provided. A special Thank you to our Sponsor Wharton Technology for providing the space and pizza.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Page Speed Online

I like this. Google Labs is developing Page Speed-a site that rates how quickly any page on the internet loads. I could imagine this being helpful for web designers testing out how quickly their pages are, but I could also see this being helpful for users. For example, if your computer is lagging, this site can tell you whether it's your computer that behaving badly or if the page is particularly slow. Of course, it might take a while for the page to work if your computer is the culprit...
In Google's words: Page Speed Online analyzes the content of a web page, then generates suggestions to make that page faster. Reducing page load times can reduce bounce rates and increase conversion rates.