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The argument of Mac vs PC is as old as the two computer systems themselves, but I’ve always ended up on the Mac side of things. As a teacher, I proselytized the virtues of Macs. I helped convert and influence whole generations of students into the cult of Mac, and many of my friends have fallen as well. And I don’t feel guilty about it – I really do believe they were better machines, with better software. But I’m not so sure anymore.

I’ve been using Macs since they first showed up in my classroom in 5th grade (that would be around 1985). I’ve always loved them. Now, don’t get me wrong – I also used and loved PCs. In fact, I have many memories of being an elementary-aged kid and working in DOS, Basic, and the like. I would use any excuse I could to play on my friend’s Commodore 64. So I’m not a straight-up Mac snob. But there was something about them – the software was special, the whole computer was just different. Even when I was 10.

Mac8500Fast forward to college in 1994 when I bought my first Mac. I dropped an insane amount of money on a PowerMac 8500. 120Mhz, 16 Megabytes of RAM, and the humongous 17″ AV CRT monitor (with speakers on the bottom). That monitor weighed about 50 pounds or maybe even more, and I thought it was the coolest thing. I had the computer that everyone wanted to borrow (and many did). And then, after many years, I started buying the Mac Pros. And iMacs and Mac Minis for the wife and kids. We were a Mac household to the max. But before you think I’m some rich guy, I’ll tell you that many of those computers were always bought used, and I always took full advantage of the educators’ discounts for my Mac Pros.

But why Apple in the first place? Well, it was simple – they were the computer for the graphics professional. The OS was far more robust when compared to Windows when I started, even though when XP came around it was pretty good. Also, their software was amazing, especially in the early 2000’s. From Shake to Final Cut Pro, Apple was bringing truly professional software to the masses. Anyone with a great desktop could do what the pros were doing in movies like The Lord of the Rings (which used Shake) or No Country for Old Men (edited on Final Cut Pro 7). So all of that, or so I argued, justified spending the extra money on a Mac.

My classroom full of the very best 27" iMacs in 2014

My classroom in 2014 – Full of the very best 27″ iMacs.  But not anymore.

Once Apple’s Aperture came around, I was truly hooked. Final Cut Pro, Motion, and Aperture were my mainstay applications. Firewire in the 90’s brought digital video to the masses by offering a cheap and high-quality way of getting digital video footage from your camera to your computer without expensive capture boards. So, as a teacher, I was able to teach students in Final Cut Pro, Motion, and Aperture, with Photoshop right beside it. My school district spent tons of money getting me the best iMacs, loaded with the best Apple software. I’ve had plenty of students graduate and go on into the professional graphics and film/video world. It’s been money well spent, as has the money I’ve spent on my own Macs for the photography work that I’ve been doing. Just ask any of my former students. Most of them will be shocked if they ever read this blog post…

But now, Apple is not really an option for me personally anymore, and I’ve also worked with my district to switch over all 56 computers that we have in the 2 Art Department labs to Windows machines. So, if you’re interested, I’ve outlined my reasons for switching below, and I wonder how many of you will agree with me, and how many will think I’m the devil incarnate?

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New Video: Selling Coffee to Save Lives

I haven’t been on my personal blog in a long time. I’ve been very busy working on several videos and many photographs from this summer and fall, as well as just the general work of being a teacher, father, husband, home-car-mechanic, etc!

Water_Well_Drilling_01Last spring (the last time I posted), I wrote that I was preparing to head off to Africa to film for a non-profit ministry called Ugandan Gold Coffee. UGC owns a coffee farm in the western rural area of Uganda outside of the city of Hoima. They use the profits from the sale of this coffee primarily to drill and repair water wells in the area, giving the people in some of the poorest areas access to clean water. It’s a great organization, and one that I have really come to appreciate and believe in. Their coffee is excellent (you should buy some!), and the people who run this organization are amazing; giving so much of their time and effort to help the people of Uganda like they do.

So, the short of it is that I was sent to Africa to shoot stills and video so that I could help them come up with more promotional material. I honestly wasn’t sure that I wanted to go. I know that sounds a bit crazy – who wouldn’t want to go to Africa, right? But I kinda didn’t. And yet I did. Let’s just say I wasn’t sure. I wasn’t afraid to go – it was just really inconvenient to go. But I did go, and I’m very glad I did. It wasn’t always easy, and I had travel problems, luggage problems, equipment problems, that sort of thing. But I met a very special group of people, and came home with a portfolio of images that I’m proud of having, and video that I hope will help Ugandan Gold Coffee sell their coffee and drill more wells so that more people in Uganda can have the basic need of clean water taken care of. It’s good, important work, and I’m blessed to be a small part of it.

For a look at my photographs, you can go to a blog I started just for my Africa trip, but below is the 2-minute video I recently finished that highlights what this awesome non-profit ministry is doing.

I’d also like to thank a few people for their help with the video, too: First off, the talented Josh Garrels and Marmoset Music for working with us on the rights to the music. Secondly, a big thanks to Paul Tracy of Envision Productions for his voice, and finally, a huge thanks to Brian Moore for allowing us to use his amazing recording equipment at Redbooth Studios!

New Adventure!

I’ve started a new blog on weisbrodimaging.com, which is focusing on my trip to Africa this summer! I’m going over to Africa to film and photograph water well drilling as well as all sorts of other things. If you’d like to see what I’m doing, as well as get updates from time to time, you can click the link below, or go to the “africa” link in the main menu bar up above!

I’m so excited I can hardly type!

Categories: Life No Comments

The title of the linked article below is rather misleading, but I thought that the quote from Jon Foreman, front-man of the band Switchfoot, very awesome. It really describes how a lot of people feel about this idea of “christian” and “non-christian” music.

I’ve always struggled with this… Not with whether or not I should listen to christian or non-christian bands, but rather with the people who seem to think defining such stuff is so important. I’ve found far more meaning in many “non-christian” band lyrics than most “christian” lyrics. (And I listen to both) I’ve heard “Christian” bands drop more f-bombs than many Non-Christian bands. And, in many cases, it didn’t really bother me when they did. As the fabulous quote from Jon Foreman states, “…judging from scripture I can only conclude that our God is much more interested in how I treat the poor and the broken and the hungry than the personal pronouns I use when I sing.”

Really, in the end, it’s really stupid to even argue about it all, because this is actually a commercial distinction – a distinction that runs more along demographics than anything else.
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Categories: Life,Photography 1 Comment

I just recently read an article on the New York Times website, and it made me think about something I was discussing with my students yesterday: How autofocus and automatic cameras were going to make professional photographers obsolete because everyone could rely on the camera to take sharp and well-exposed pictures. Happily, this has not done so, because the issues of content, composition, lighting, etc. that cannot be done automatically (yet!). A person still has to make creative decisions when the make a photograph, despite all the automatic features and functions that cameras have these days.

However, as is discussed in this article, by James Estrin, the idea of what makes a photograph successful has certainly changed, because of the new(ish) technology of “liking” an image, or giving an image a “+1”. By defining a “good” photograph the way we have via social media, we may have started to lose the idea of what actually constitutes a good photograph. And we certainly are not rewarding the photographers who take good pictures as much as we used to.

However, what I think this really shows is the, well, ignorance, or the carelessness of the general public as to what makes a good photograph. There’s nothing wrong with baby pictures or blurry pictures a cute child. But they’re probably not a “good” photograph. What we react to with that kind of photograph is the content, and the reaction is purely emotional, and usually does not take into account the photographer’s skill, the composition, or anything like that.

I liken it a lot to the success of certain movies that are, by all accounts, plain and simple crap, where as beautiful and thoughtful movies are resigned to small, short runs at indie art theaters and make almost no money. A perfect example are the scores of horrendous and poorly done slasher/horror films that have very little skill in them. I’m relatively young, but it’s been a long time since I saw a movie that came even close to the likes of Alien or Jaws.

Photography is no different. If we look at a photograph and simply judge what we like based upon the objects that are in the photograph, not the skill inherit in the photograph itself, we essential are, little by little, telling our society what we want; which is simple, crappy photos. We accept these images because they’re easy to make, and because our friends and relatives make them. We “like” them because of the simple emotional reaction we have to them, not thinking about whether or not they are a good photograph. The end result is that we make mundane and poorly-made photographs more popular in our media today than good photos. We don’t revere good photography like I remember as a kid, and I also think that most people don’t aspire to try and make better photographs.

It all comes down to rewards. It’s conditioning. By indiscriminately hitting the “like” button, in a vain attempt to like and be liked in our virtual society, we cheapen the entire idea of what a “good” photograph really is.

My favorite quote from the article above says it very nicely:
“A photograph is no longer predominantly a way of keeping a treasured family memory or even of learning about places or people that we would otherwise not encounter. It is now mainly a chintzy currency in a social interaction and a way of gazing even further into one’s navel.”

Enough said.
 

Summer Update

Categories: Life 1 Comment

Well, this summer has been very busy – vacations, and projects galore! I have several projects that are in the works right now, all of which I will share as soon as I can. The first is a video project, which consists of a series of instructional videos on CPR and AED usage. Boring, you might say, but it has been rather educational for me. I’ve learned a lot – not just about CPR and AED’s, but also about long-term projects like this, and the amount of work they are. More later, and I’ll post the videos as I finish them off.

Also, I got the chance to photograph on a movie set just south of Rochester. An old student of mine emailed me and told me they needed a photographer for some on-set shots. I wasn’t able to give them too much time, but I was able to give a little, and I’m very happy with the results. I’ll post those as soon as I’m done editing.

And lastly, I have two websites in the works – those will be coming up pretty soon. Again, I’ll post more when I get the chance. It’s kinda crazy up here in Rochester – what with all these projects, and house-work (getting ready for a new baby, and my office is about to be transformed into a nursery, so I’ve gotta carve out some space for myself!), it’s a wonder I can still stand!
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Oh well. More to come – soon

Google’s New “Privacy Policy”

Today, a new privacy setting went active for anyone who has Google accounts. I wish I had paid a bit more attention to this before it actually happened, but last night I did some investigation and learned a lot, and was able to delete my history and turn off this “data mining” that Google wants to do. So, with this post, I’m going to show you how to turn it off yourself.

But before I do that, you might ask, “Why do we need to turn this off? What’s so wrong with Google keeping track of everything? They say it will help make our Internet experience better!” Well, I guess, in all honesty, you don’t need to do this. But I think it’s wise. For multiple reasons. If Google only does what they say they’re going to be doing with this information, then maybe everything will be okay. And even if we can trust Google (which I’m not sure we can, given how they were found to be exploiting holes in certain browsers to unethically mine data when that was specifically not supposed to be allowed), the real question comes when you start to think of identity theft issues: What happens if someone get access to all this information about you? Or, even worse, what happens if someone assumes your identity online and does illegal things in your name? I can easily imagine a case, like these, where someone hacks into your network, and uses your google accounts to surf and download illegal things, and then you take the fall for it. That scares me more than just about anything, really.

(And as a side note, if you aren’t locking down your wireless internet, you at risk for serious trouble, in my opinion. For more information on encrypting your wi-fi network, this is a good article to start with. But I think it best to go even further than that, and use MAC address filtering.)

Another part of this is due process. The government is pushing hard to get access to our digital information as well. You’ve probably heard a little bit about that in the news. But it’s a big issue. Especially surrounding this idea of warrants. Does a police officer have to get a warrant to get access to your digital information, even if it’s on Twitter, which is a public digital domain? So what about the information that is on your computer? Is that private? Probably. But what about the saved information that Google is keeping that you used on your personal computer? Ahhh, now the lines are getting fuzzy…

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Who Are You… Digitally?

Categories: Life,Technology 4 Comments

Beyond the silly or cryptic email names and “handles” on forums and the like, there seems to be a lot of people who believe that who they are in social media like Facebook should have no bearing on their daily lives as teachers, or interns, or businessmen. The issues we face in technology today are of integrity, privacy, and of who we really are.

The article that got me started on this topic is one I read at youtern.com, where the “saavy intern” provided an infographic about how employers use social media to chose – and reject – their future employees. The telling statistic is the biggest one – approximately 69% of employers have rejected an applicant because of something they have posted online. Conversely, 68% of employers hired someone because of what they saw online in social media. And the biggest social media site used by employers to judge their applicants? Facebook, of course.

Click on the thumbnail to see the infographic.

Immediately you might think that the moral of this story is that you need to be very careful of what you post online. I think that goes without saying. A lot of people lament the fact that there seems to be no privacy anymore. Senators can’t even sext their mistresses without having it plastered all over the internet – what is the world coming to?!

Now if that sounds a bit sarcastic, well, it is meant to. I think that the real question isn’t whether or not you should be posting certain things on Facebook, it’s really whether or not you should be doing those things at all.

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Everyone’s New Second Language

Categories: Life,Technology 1 Comment

A BBC article is asking if coding should be replacing Latin as a foreign language taught in schools. Now, as a former 3-year latin student myself, I can attest to the benefits of taking Latin. So I do not think that Latin should be completely replaced, really. But the real question is whether or not coding should be taught in schools at a young age. And the answer to that is a resounding yes. Especially web languages such as javascript, php, and html. As our young students get tossed out into the modern world, I can’t think of many careers that wouldn’t benefit in some way from the knowledge of using code. Even your typical non-technical artists and craftsmen and craftswomen can use the web. What better way to spread the knowledge of your skills than via a blog, or twitter, or something along those lines? Some might argue that there are plenty of coders that are making tool – a la Dreamweaver – for the non-coders to be able to publish to the web. But that’s only if you want to have a website that looks and moves just like everyone else’s. With those kinds of tools, you are automatically limited by the tool itself. But learning to code a website yourself? Now you have your own tools that can help you take your ideas and your wildest imagination and put them into… pixels and electrons.

Why Teachers Need Parents…

Categories: Education,Life 1 Comment

As I have been teaching for a long time, I have seen several approaches to “success” by students. Some may have a strict schedule. Others may find that sports help them focus and use their time better. Some have to have a study hall to get extra work done. But whatever it is, when I see very successful students, usually (although not every time), they have at least one very involved parent or guardian behind them. Not that there aren’t students who come from horrible family situations who do well in school, but let’s just say that parents are just as much a key ingredient to a student’s success as a good teacher.

This article, which appeared today on cnn.com, is an excellent article that vocalizes so many of the feelings that I hear said often, by teachers, counselors, and administrators, both from the school I work in as well as from many other different districts. I hear it from teachers across the boards, both in core curriculum as well as in the arts, and in music, etc. This is not a simple, localized issue. I personally believe that what we are seeing is the same issue that is plaguing so many places of our life these days – a lack of general ethics. You can see it everywhere in the news, from the students on up to the politicians who take “bribes”, er, I mean, campaign contributions, and care not a whit for their constituencies.

In reality, to many people, it seems that life has become more about only the end result, not how you got that result. If you win the election, or get an “A” on the test, it doesn’t matter how you got there, does it?!

Of course it does.

Click Here for the CNN Article