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Craft Beer Artwork

I love craft beer and am regularly impressed by the graphics I see on cans and bottles. Some are much better than others of course, but it got me thinking that it would be a nice thing to somehow capture. I had conceived an idea where I might build a contraption that would allow me to move my phone around the cylindrical object smoothly in order to leverage the panoramic photo feature to get a nice flat image.

It came to me when I realized I could take a pano pic out the window of a moving car with some success. The subject just needs to appear to be moving (not necessarily the phone itself). What to build it out of and where I’d find the time resigned the concept to one of dozens of ideas I have drafted up in Evernote which I’m unlikely to ever execute.

One day, it hit me that I could have the can move instead of the camera to achieve the same outcome and quickly purchased a rotating display platform online for about $30. It worked like a champ! The smooth motion of the rotation made for a great picture but I encountered a couple of other easily solved problems that were making it a challenge to get them just right.

First was the lighting. Any reflections or unusual light levels in the room would have varying affects on the image depending on the conditions and the reflective nature of some labels. This was especially a problem when trying to capture images painted right on the aluminum of a can, or directly on the surface of a bottle. This was an easy one to solve; I already had invested in a light box and photo station in my office for photographing items I sell via my BlindBoxes store.

Next, I was seeing that if I didn’t get the object directly in the center of the rotating platform, it would result in some warping and distort the aspect of the image from end to end. This I solved by purchasing a centering circle (various sized circles painted on the surface of a clear plastic disc). I still have to play with it some, but it is much less of a guessing game.

If it was not quick and easy to do, I knew it would be something I would not stick with long. So to address this challenge, I attached the motor and the lights to a Wemo outlet for Wifi control and connected that to a Google Home device I was not using. Now I can just say “turn on the Camera Station” and everything is a go, I drop the can, take the pic and turn it back off with another voice command (see video below). Then at my leisure, I crop it and adjust the dimensions, etc.

I have a decent collection of beers I’m cellaring as well as some shelves of some favorite empties I keep in the garage so I had a good supply of subjects to start with, especially my current favorite breweries: To Ol and Jester King.

After nearly a year now, I’m happy to see interest is growing with over 8,000 subscribers. I like most beer so now purchase in local shops and online to get the those with the best artwork as subjects. As attention has grown, I’m now starting to get breweries to mail me cans to feature. It is definitely a fun project I don’t regret taking on. Come follow me!

Problems with the new Book Book iPhone case

I’ve been using Book Book for my iPhone case for my last few iPhones now and was cautiously optimistic about Twelve South’s latest design. After using it for a couple of weeks, I reported the following complaints to the company and got not response. I’m going with no case at the moment and carrying a separate wallet; something I’ve not done for several years.

These days, when we can’t get satisfaction directly, we share. So here are the issues I have which have lead me to give up on my longtime favorite case/wallet.

  • I got an alert from the iPhone that my unsupported magnetic case may be affecting photo quality. That is disturbing as it is the primary reason I bought the new iPhone 11 Pro.
  • Two of my three wireless charging pads don’t work with the case despite it specifically saying it supports wireless charging. The previous case worked fine but this one either does not work, or needs to be very carefully placed in just the exact right position (which takes a couple minutes) and then can be intermittent. In my car I get constant warnings that it is disconnected and connected again and so I found myself having to regularly remove the phone from the case entirely. On the plus side, it is now much easier to remove the phone from the inner case as advertised. But the point is that I shouldn’t have to.
  • Due to the case being magnetic instead of locked in place, it also didn’t quite stay just where it should so I found I had to remember to push the phone up and to the right before taking a picture or the case would partially cover the camera lens. This was never an issue when it was locked in the right position with the previous model.
  • Finally, I really have to play with getting the magnet to hold the phone when trying to use it as a stand— I read that this may improve as it breaks in, and I believe that is true. If not for the other issues above, this is something I could certainly live with.

I hope I get a response. A refund. Ideally, I hope that they make a non-magnetic version of the iPhone 11 Pro Case. I hope I can update this article with a positive outcome (and will if/when I have one to share).

Update: On 11/7/2019 12South contacted me via direct message on Twitter, got my order number and issued a refund. No response was provided regarding the above product feedback.

Grandson – Live at the UnderGround CLT (Sept 2019)

What a great show. I had the pleasure of seeing Grandson play once a year earlier at the same location when they opened for Nothing But Thieves. I attended that show exclusively to see Grandson, but it is always a bit disappointing to have such a focus on an opening band. Not only does an opening band not get to play long, but the stage setup is is sub-par and the sound is frequently poor as compared to the headliner. I recall at this show in particular, the sound was way too low and so the powerful moments in the songs really lost their impact as a result.

This headlining show made up for those deficiencies considerably. And, as you can see from the picture, I even got to meet Jordan, the lead singer. There was a pretty inexpensive VIP option where we got to come in early for a meet and greet and also listen to an unreleased track.

The unreleased track played was produced by Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park (who he’d worked with previously) and was a solid Grandson track, very good and exactly what you’d expect. It was incomplete but we heard most of it and it sounded pretty close to done in my opinion. He said he was a bit unsure of how it would be released or when because with the American Tragedy EP series compete, he has multiple other projects in the works. This song will be a part of one of those, but he didn’t drop any hints on what is planned.

I was in early so got right up front and was able to easily take unobstructed video of the whole show without much effort. This was the first show I’d recorded with my new iPhone 11 Pro so I was excited to see how much better it could do with sound and challenging lighting and I think it came out great. The iPhone has gotten better for concerts with each release. I mostly zoomed way out to use the new wide angle lens and capture the entire stage. I was pretty into the show so didn’t do much zooming; particularly because I kept the camera very low and out of the way.

Here it is, the full show, beginning to end…

The girl next to me got the set list, so I took a picture of it too which adds to a pretty complete document of the show!


The Mike O’Meara Show

I enjoyed the Don & Mike show when I lived in DC, when it was on the air many years ago. I made it to a live show one time, but mostly listened on my drive home from work. A few years back I discovered that Mike had his own show now and I’ve been listening on and off ever since, especially when driving long distances.

I sent an email to the show one time and forgot about it. Because I only listen periodically, I never heard if they read on the air it but recently decided to look for it.

image1In short, the story was that I had purchased an audio file expecting an episode of the show and got a two second clip of Mike simply saying “Asshat”. Because it ended up in my iTunes library and my car plays songs in alphabetical order by default, it actually played quite frequently.

Thanks to how good indexing of email is now, I was able to search several years of email in a second and found the date of the message I had sent. I then went into Spotify and scrolled back to July of 2017 when I had sent it and listened to a couple of episodes following that date. Thursdays were the weekly mail segment of the show back then, so it wasn’t much effort to find it. To my pleasant surprise I was able to hear that they did read my letter and it was fun to hear their reaction. Find it at time index 13:27, episode 1813 (also here on Spotify).

Atmosphere 2018

I caught Atmosphere touring for there great new album Mi Vida Local in Charlotte last week and was happy to get a great spot up front where I could shoot the show while barely looking down at my phone. I enjoy recording shows, but being up front I didn’t want to hold my phone up at all. The result is very little zooming but it wasn’t really necessary given my position.

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Spoon at the Orange Peel

An amazing show and a great performance, I was very lucky to be right up front in the middle. I always enjoy recording shows, but this one was especially worth recording as I’ve already watched it many times myself.

Eleven songs in total:

  1. Do You
  2. Whisper I’ll Listen to Hear It
  3. First Caress
  4. Do I Have to Talk You Into It
  5. Underdog
  6. I Ain’t The One
  7. Rent I Pay
  8. Don’t You Evah
  9. Stay Don’t Go
  10. Can I Sit Next To You
  11. Camera

Application Book Forward

I first got a copy of The Application Book by Tim Mangan as an early look of something I would review online. It was outstanding. Having edited several books in the past, I was compelled to provide lots of unsolicited feedback which he happily accepted. Later Tim asked that I provide a forward for the book which I was honored to do.

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Beer Blog

I’m a big fan of craft beer. I don’t get excited about food– in fact, there is a ton of food I don’t like (or won’t even try). I know, not very mature of me but that’s just my thing. Anyway, beer is the one thing I am adventurous about. In fact, if there is a beer of a style I like that I’ve not had, I will always choose it even if one of my very favorites is available right alongside it.

This blog is largely about professional topics, but I’ve been working in some music and concert info for a while and have decided to make it about anything I’m interested in and not just work. So, I’m expanding it to talk about some of my favorite beers and breweries. I’m in the Charlotte, NC area so the focus will mostly be on this region.

Right now I like sour beers most. I enjoy most wheat and fruit beers and have gown to appreciate most all styles with the exception of anything very hoppy (which excludes most pale ales), smoked or containing rye. My latest favorite style I’m on the look out for is a dry-hopped sour.

I was a big fan of Wicked Weed until they sold out, some favorites of the moment are  Burial, Fonta Flora, Salud Beer Shop and a few others. As for places, or the spots where one can get these tasty beverages, I decided to take it a big step forward and produce a new website on the topic!

Miike Snow at the Fillmore Charlotte

I record a lot of concerts and have for many years. I started with a point and shoot camera that took video and it was relatively good for video but lighting was a problem and audio was often quite bad. I’m so impressed with how each new iPhone handles the very load bass of a live concert better and better. The last show I recorded was one of the best I’ve managed and that was Spoon at the Orange Peel in Asheville, NC a couple weeks ago.

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