Today, IBM launches its new SmartCloud Entry version 3.1 that adds support for Hyper-V to VMware, PowerVM, and KVM that will be available to the public mid-June 2013. The podcast includes IBM Program Director for Cloud Computing Systems and Technology Group, Jeff Borek, Product Line Manager for Virtualization and Cloud Solutions, IBM Systems Software Team, Ian Robinson, and Alan Dickinson, IBM Program Director for Cloud Computing in Mid-sized Businesses.
In the podcast, the IBM team and I cover the general features and aspects of SmartCloud Entry. Plus, I ask the team some tough questions about affordability, maintenance, ease of deployment of new resources and more.
Why it’s frugal: IBM’s SmartCloud Entry is frugal because it enables businesses to provision cloud resources with a few simple mouse clicks, it’s inexpensive compared to other cloud solutions, it’s easy for businesses to create a private cloud without having to purchase additional hardware or without having to replace what they already have. SmartCloud Entry is multi-vendor compatible and multi-platform capable.
If you don’t get all of your questions answered from the podcast, you can contact an IBM partner and connect to IBM’s Cloud Computing site for more information. The site provides you with several videos, features lists, links to products and services, and much more including a community site where you can read blogs, watch videos, and participate in cloud forums.
For more information on private cloud click here to download a free ebook on private cloud from the Aberdeen Group.
This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet.
I’ve been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.
MotionComposer is a desktop application that allows you to create Flash or HTML5 animations for your website or animated ebooks for iPad and iPhone. MotionComposer is a relatively complex program that has just about every bell and whistle imaginable for creating dynamic content. I like the application. It’s too bad that I’m either not smart enough to create really good content or I haven’t spent enough time with it to do so.
I’m too embarrassed to post my creation for you to see but I can see how easy it is for someone who can spend time with the application to learn its ways and means.
It’s a very powerful program that I would compare to Adobe Photoshop in flexibility, power, capability, support, and complexity. Don’t mistake the application’s complexity for complexity of use. The program is complex but its operation is simple.
The user interface is clean and enjoyable to use. It is responsive and does exactly what you tell it to do. MotionComposer is one of those programs that you could use to create an interactive training device, a dynamic website, an animated ebook, magazines, newspapers or just about any animated digital content that you can imagine. I’d love to have expert knowledge of it but I may never gain that kind of competence with the application on my own.
MotionComposer’s website makes the following claims:
MotionComposer makes your life easy
- No coding required.
- A clear user interface lets you create beautiful animations effortlessly.
- Publish in Flash® and HTML5 in a single step.
- Publish content to any computer, smartphone, and tablet, including iPhone and iPad.
- Optimized HTML5 code ensures the best performance of your content on iPhone and iPad.
I’d have to agree. Even my very poorly conceived animation worked very well. If you’re a graphic artist, designer, web administrator, ebook creator, or creative person in general, you’ll love it. And for $149, it’s easy on the wallet too. Seriously, these types of applications, if you’ve priced them, are far more expensive or you have to purchase add-ons or modules to do what this one does as is.
Creating content with MotionComposer reminds me a bit of creating a stop motion movie. You begin with a timeline and slides. From there, you add graphics or text and edit the transitions and movements of your objects. It’s great fun actually and not anywhere near as tedious as creating a stop motion movie.
The app features multiple transitions for elements, such as text fly-in, transitions between slides, audio capability, zoom and more. If you really want to see it in action, watch the demo video.
I have some good advice for you after working with this application for a few hours. First, if you’re a beginner with this kind of app, read the docs, watch the demo video and learn its capabilities before you experiment. It’s easy but it’s not child’s play. This is a professional application that requires mastery. If you’re a pro who’s coming at this from another similar application or from some other method, you’ll love it.
In all, I think the price plus performance rate this application at a solid 8.5 out of 10 for me. A company representative told me that there is a newer version coming soon that will knock your socks off. Frankly, I never liked socks anyway. I can’t wait. I hope they allow me to upgrade. This is one app that I’d love to master and use.
Recommendation: Buy and Learn.
I was pretty excited when asked to review iStopMotion for iPad, since I’ve been a fan of stop motion video and claymation since I was a kid. I remember watching Gumby, Davey and Goliath, and all of those holiday claymation shows and loving them. I have always wanted to make my own stopmotion movies but never knew how. Plus, it takes a LOT of patience to make them, even with a cool app like iStopMotion for iPad.
And iStopMotion for iPad is cool. I like it. The really cool part about it is that you can install iStopMotion Remote Camera for your iPhone and use it as your camera and save your photos to your iPad without having to do anything more than clicking the shutter button.
I like the onion skinning feature too. This allows you to see where you’ve been on the previous shot so that you can move your objects a small amount so that the movie doesn’t look jumpy.
Over on your iPad, iStopMotion assembles your snaps into a stop motion video for you. One word of caution here, though. Don’t assume, like I did, that iStopMotion will allow you to manipulate your movie a great deal–it doesn’t. Now, if you’re a Mac owner and you also have iStopMotion installed, you might be able to do more but all you can do with the iStopMotion for iPad app is delete the current frame, delete all frames, duplicate the current frame, or reverse the order of all the frames.
Hopefully in the future, Boinx will give us more editing features with the app. One I would love to see is the ability to export the video into individual frames. I need this feature because, like most filmmakers, I do not necessarily create in linear order. I need the ability to move frames.
I created a short video but didn’t realize the limitations so it won’t be posted here. Sorry. It was basically two hours wasted because I wasn’t aware. I guess I didn’t read the fine print.
That said, I think that if you create your movies in linear fashion, meaning you create your video from the beginning and work through to the end, then you’re fine. Unfortunately, I was going to work my magic in “Post.”
The app does exactly what it should otherwise. You can create all kinds of really cool stop motion movies, claymation animations, text-based animations and more. Don’t let my ignorance of the app cloud your decision to use it or not. I think it’s a very cool app and having the ability to shoot with the far more agile iPhone is the absolute coolest feature.
You can share and upload your movies via the app to Dropbox, YouTube, or save to the Camera Roll.
I think to get a full appreciation out of this app and what you can do with it, you’d have to own a Mac equipped with iStopMotion or maybe iMovie, although I’m not 100 percent sure that the movies are editable in iMovie. I don’t own one, unfortunately.
So, in a very rare move, I’m offering two different review results for this app.
9/10 for Mac owners who also own iStopMotion.
6/10 for everyone else.
I’m a burger fan. I love hamburgers. I’ve had good ones, bad ones, great ones and really memorable ones. Brew Burger is an unassuming little family-owned burger joint that makes one of the best burgers I’ve ever had. I go there often to just see if it’s really real. But honestly, I can’t understand why this place isn’t lined up out the door every day like one of those cult haunts that people go to and want to keep secret but can’t.
Brew Burger must be one of Tulsa’s best kept secrets and, in a selfish way, I’m glad. I don’t want the undesirable crowds to push out regulars like myself. I’m afraid that they just won’t appreciate Brew Burger for its personalized service, awesome food and cool art that you can buy*. They’ll ruin it for me.
We don’t even have to order when we go in. We sit down in the booth of our choice and someone brings over my Diet Dr. Pepper in a giant non-disposable cup. In a few minutes, we receive our heaping helping of hot fried pickles and fried mushrooms accompanied by Ranch dressing. Of course I have to edit the standard cup of Ranch with some Louisiana Hot Sauce (Usually the Chipotle or the Buffalo) to create that bit of tingle for my mushrooms.
The waitress comes over as a courtesy to our table, though she always knows what we want already: Brew Burger, medium, mustard, mayo, all the veggies (Tomato, lettuce and onion) and smoked Gouda cheese. Although I’ve deviated a few times to have Pepper Jack or Swiss, I’m really a smoked Gouda guy.
The burger comes out hot with steaming fries, which gives me time to dress my burger and cut it in half so that I can savor it by pretending to have two. The ingredients are fresh and the meat is always cooked perfectly. The whole thing tastes wholesome and good. I don’t know how to describe a Brew Burger other than it’s just good. No gimmicks. No dressing up. No themes or shouting or flaws of any kind. It’s just good. From the toasted ciabatta buns to the juicy burger to the crispy veggies and spicy fries, it’s perfection on a plate.
I’ve had some good burgers–most of the ones in Tulsa, a few in OKC and even some of the best of the best in Texas–and that covers a lot of ground. A few years ago, Texas Monthly published The 50 Best Burgers in Texas and we felt that it was our quest to have as many as possible during our annual trek to and from Port Aransas, Texas.
To our surprise, the 44th best burger was right there in Port Aransas with us at the Port Aransas Brewing Company, a local microbrewery. We had it. It was good. But we compared it to Brew Burger. Port A Brewing Company’s Stopher Burger lost.
We tried the #2 burger at the Corner Cafe in Austin on the way home. Nice, fresh, high quality ingredients but nowhere close to Brew Burger, although their sweet potato fries were to die for.
The next time we hit the Lone Star State, we made it to Jake’s for Texas’ #50th best burger. I’m not sure how this one made it onto the list because it was just kind of bad. The sweet potato fries were good with the marshmallow creme dipping sauce but the burger was not on my list of “Will returns.”
We also made to The Twisted Root Burger Company in Dallas on that trip for the #15th burger. It was darn good and there were a lot of options. But it’s one of those rowdy themed type things that really kind of turns me off because they’re really trying to be rowdy and alternative and that just irritates me. Besides that, I felt rushed to eat and leave.
Decent burgers but I prefer Brew Burger and its relaxed atmosphere where the kids can play Connect Four or we can play Trivial Pursuit without the board. We’ve also played Gin Rummy at the tables as well.
Brew Burger beats them all. Hands down. No contest. No kidding. Their sweet potato fries are very good too. They also serve up Bison burgers, Elk and Turkey. I’ve tried the Bison and it was good. I’m going to try Elk the next time I go in but I’ll never try Turkey. I don’t like Turkey.
Brew Burger, you get my highest rating, 10/10.
Open daily 11am to 9pm. Closed Sunday.
Wednesday is 2 for $12 Brew Burgers and Saturday is half price drinks–yes, even beer.
*Art ranges from a few dollars to hundreds of dollars. It also ranges from kitchy to quite good. We are patrons of Brew Burger art and in fact I even commissioned some pieces from a local artist after buying some of her art off the walls.
I am an avid freelance, semi-pro photographer and as such, I really enjoy all types of photography from the very lowest common denominator of point-and-shoot film cameras all the way up to my fancy shmancy digital SLR (Canon T3). I’m equally intrigued by iPhoneography. I like the instant effects I can get with different apps that mimic, almost imperfect pixel by imperfect pixel, the effects I get with film and cross processing. I’m also a big fan of art, especially the various schools of modern art or what I call modern art–from the post Impressionists through the Bauhaus movement all the way up to what’s popularly known as Post-modernism*.
The Momentsia app gives you sort of a Modrian type effect in multiple collage type frames. See Figure 1 for an example.
The app is very simple to use. See steps below. Once you open the app and select the frame style that you want from the dozens of options, then tap a frame to take a picture with your phone’s camera to send to that frame. Repeat for the other frames.
- Select a layout.
- Capture or select a picture.
- Save or share.
If you’d like to add any shots from one of your albums, then tap and hold to bring up your album options. Select a photo for the selected frame and continue until your frames are filled. You can also use your front or rear facing camera with this app to get yourself into the action.
You can perform some minor manipulation like zoom in, zoom out and pan on your photos, which can give you some more interesting effects even with the same photo. See Figure 2 as an example.
The photo in Figure 2 is the same mannequin picture used for each frame. I zoomed in on the face for the lower left frame. The upper frame is a zoom and pan. The lower right frame is the original photo as it landed into that frame.
You can change the frame arrangement after your photos are in place if you want by tapping the design icon. Your photos will stay in the buffer. You can add, remove, take new shots and rearrange your pictures an infinite number of times.
Once you’ve completed your new masterpiece, you can save it to your Camera Roll, email it to a friend, post it to Instagram, attach to a tweet or post on your Facebook page.
The app is easy to use, versatile, offers lots of options and does what it says it does: creates collages.
Momentsia is free but I think if madbits wanted to monetize this app, they could for a cool 99 cents. I don’t think many people would pay more for it and it’s totally worth a buck for all you can do with it.
One thing to note about this app: the colors you see in the design preview have nothing to do with the actual colors in the end product. I’m not exactly sure why there are different colors, since they have no apparent effect on your photos.
In all, Momentsia is fun to use and is a great little app to have for you iPhoneographers out there who want something a little different to play with. I say, “Get it.” Why not, it’s free so if you hate it, you can delete it without a moments (Yes, that’s a slight attempt at a pun) remorse.
I give Momentsia a 7 out of 10 because there are few options and I can’t figure out how to get color tinting, if it’s even an option, for my frames. It’s a “good enough” app for a collage special effect but don’t expect spectacular and you won’t be disappointed. Hey, it’s free, after all.
*In today’s terms, Post-modernism would no doubt have the name Modernism 2.0.
Since I was a kid, I’ve wanted to make photo mosaics but never had the patience to copy, cut, paste, arrange, repeat. Making mosaic pictures back then is kind of like shooting stop motion videos: the result is so cool but the process is so painful. Well, technology finally caught up with my hedonism/laziness/lack of patience in the form of an iGadget app. Currently, the mymosaic app is only available for Apple products. And for 99 cents, you can’t beat the price.
The two best places to see examples of mymosaic and the creative possibilities are on the mymosaic Facebook page and on the mymosaicapp Twitter feed. There are some OMG photos on there. But don’t be intimidated by them because you too can produce such images with your photos in minutes. Seriously.
You can save your finished mosaics in a variety of sizes while it’s still in the buffer. See the size chart below:
- Mobile – Optimized size for mobile to mobile viewing.
- Small – 10″x10″
- Medium – 20″x20″
- Large – 30″x30″
The Large size gives you the opportunity to save your mosaic in poster size without losing detail.
There’s only one problem with the mymosaic app and I hope MindTrip fixes it because, for me, it’s a major problem. You can only select an entire album instead of individual pictures to create your mosaics. You’ll see what I mean during the following mosaic creation tutorial.
When you create a new mosaic, either you can take a new photo for the main picture or select one from one of your albums. That part is fine. Step two is to adjust the mosaic options such as number of tiles, color shift, variety, tile consolidation, framed pictures and tile source.
When you select tile source, you’re only given the option of selecting entire albums. I want to be able to select individual pictures for the tiles. What if I want to create a mosaic of my daughter that’s composed of a picture of me and a picture of my wife (Get it?)? I would have to empty out my Camera Roll or create a new album and copy the two pictures into it that I want to use. Both options are kind of a pain.
Once you’ve selected your album, you tap Done to return to the options page and tap Make Mosaic. Your finished mosaic appears ready for you to save to your Camera Roll or to share on Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook or Flickr.
If you don’t like the way your mosaic looks, you can tap the back arrow and adjust your options and recreate the mosaic by tapping Make Mosaic again. You don’t have to recreate it from scratch, since the app holds your source photo and album in a buffer.
You won’t lose the mosaic you’re working on unless you return to the main screen where you select to take a new picture or select one from an album.
The mymosaic app is easy to use and a lot of fun to experiment with. I’ve sent some of my mosaics to Wal-Mart‘s photo lab to be printed and they look very cool. It’s a great way to see your handiwork in a short period of time, since most cities have a Wal-Mart with a short turn-around time photo lab. You can load your pictures into their website and pick up your printed pictures in about two hours.
I really like mymosaic. It’s the app I’ve looked for to create the effect that I’ve longed for: photo mosaics. Below, you can see a mosaic that I quickly created during the writing of this review. The original is a store mannequin that I shot while in Las Vegas at a conference. I took the picture with the Old Camera App and I think it looks quite cool. Click on the photos to see them in full size.
You can mix and match your mosaics too. You can use a source B&W photo and use color photos to create the mosaic or vice versa. The colors will be muted but the effect is still very intriguing.
Have fun with mymosaic. I highly recommend that you buy this app if you want to experiment with mosaics. It’s the most creative fun you can have for 99 cents.
Review rating: 8/10
Flashpoint 14″ Fluorescent Dimmable Ring Light Adorama Camera, Inc. Retail: $139.95 Adorama: $124.95 55ooK 80W Bulb replacement $15.95 As an avid film and digital photographer, I know that lighting is very important. There are times when flash units just won’t do the trick. Portraits, products, stop motion video, movies and many more applications require a constant, shadow free light source. Light is everything to the camera. It is your palette and your paintbrush. The Flashpoint 14″ Fluorescent Dimmable Ring Light from Adorama is a well-built, carefully thought out piece of photographic equipment. It’s hard not to be excited when you light up your subject with it. The perfect white light, the even tones and no shadowing or weird color shifts are what photographers and filmmakers long for in their quest to create their masterpieces.
The light has an adjustable dimmer/brightener on it so that you can modulate the amount of light bathing your subject. The light is very bright but not blinding to your human subjects, although they will appreciate the ability to dim and diffuse the light a bit when you place the ring close. The ring light allows you to take photographs or film through the loop or from the side. The unit as described does not ship with a light stand. For this review, I used my own ProMaster Basic LS-1, which worked perfectly with the ring light. The ring light fixture is lightweight enough to be very mobile but sturdy enough to remain still in light breezes outdoors. For inexpensive studio lighting, I don’t think you can do much better than this light setup. I love it. From still portraiture, to product photography, to videography, this is one accessory that you need to add to your list. It comes with its own thick, padded nylon carrying case and a velcro-attachable diffuser. Below you can see two photographs I made with the ring light of my daughter. No Photoshop adjustments have been made to these photos. They’ve been resized to fit better into the space here but size adjustment is the only one made.
These photographs were taken with my Canon T3, auto focus, no flash setting. Note the bright but soft lighting effect with this ring light. The first photo is unretouched except for cropping to remove background details. It was taken through the ring light. If you look carefully, you can see the ring light in her eyes.
The positional clamp on the light allows you to use a variety of angles so that you can not only position your light distance-wise but also from above, below or straight on. For these photographs, I positioned the light slightly above the subject’s eyeline.
I’m impressed with the overall quality of light, adjustability and flexibility of this ring light. I find no flaws in its workmanship or use. I really enjoyed working with this lighting unit and I think that it’s a worthwhile, yet small, investment if you even slightly serious about photography or videography. I highly recommend this product. The price is good, the replacement bulb price is excellent and you receive free shipping on this product from Adorama. What more could you want?
Stay tuned for an upcoming review of iStopMotion Pro and a stop motion video that I’m making using this light.