Super Awesome Video Slideshows for Valentine’s Day

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If you’ve never heard of Animoto, you should check this out. They let you easily create video slideshows from your photos and videos in minutes. I’ve known about Animoto since way back, but I never really got around to playing with them. For Valentine’s Day, I figured I would use them to put together an awesome video for Kim. Here’s the result:

As you can see, the result is pretty slick. It was really easy to create. You just select photos from you computer to upload, select a song from their selection and animoto creates a unique video based on the music you chose and the photos you uploaded. Their algorithm is dynamic guaranteeing a unique slideshow for everyone. I was pretty pleased with the results. Kim certainly was. You can create a 30 second slideshow for free. A 3-minute slideshow costs $3 – that’s what I used. You embed Animoto videos as is or you can also choose to upload it to Youtube.

My only gripes were that the output was a bit low res and the music selection was weak. For an extra $5, I can get a hi-res version with an ISO file that I can burn to DVD. I don’t know if I’ll go for that. I think they should partner with more music distributors to offer you a larger library of music. The other thing you have to watch out for is that they will try real hard to steer you into getting the “All Access” pass for $30/year. If you only want to get 1 video, click on the small “info” link and scroll down to the “$3 single video” link. They made that really hard to find. However if you plan to use these videos for commercial use, you’ll have to shell out $249/year for their pro license.

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Cover Story: Daytime Developer, Nighttime Ninja

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About two months ago I was contacted by Jasmine Grimm, Editor-in-Chief of Connections magazine. She wanted to do a story on me because I’m a weird guy with an interesting story. She found me on Twitter and did some research on me before contacting me. We did a phone interview which she used for her story. Here’s the article

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Overnight Success on Reddit, 10 Years in the Making

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On Thursday evening, my pals Sachin and Brad alerted me to a new section on Reddit. It’s called IamA as in “I am a…”. Basically you submit a post telling your special story and people just ask you anything. They strongly recommended that I go on there and post. They were sure I was going to be a big hit there.

I tried to come up with a pretty eye catching sensational title that was true. I posted “I am Raiden from the Mortal Kombat video games. – AMAA”. AMAA stands for Ask me almost anything.

Since creating that post a bit over 24 hours ago, it was front paged on the IamA section, upvoted over 280 times, downvoted over 120 times, and received over 390 comments. People have even blogged about it. It’s been pretty amazing.

It’s been very interesting to see the kinds of questions that come up. People were excited to find out that Raiden is a web developer. The Reddit crowd I’m sure probably skews towards that. The reception’s been great. People ask really funny questions. There were some really hardcore MK fans. Or maybe I just really don’t know much about MK.

I’ve actually had an account on Reddit and have submitted articles and upvoted posts. However I’ve long since forgotten my login and password so I created a new account and named it more appropriately for this one post.

I think my takeaway from this is that there really is no overnight success. My instant hit on Reddit was a confluence of many variables. Most importantly it was due to the fact that I did martial arts for 10 freaking years and did the moves for a very popular video game franchise. That is all.

Another reason is that it was the right social network. I’ve been on Twitter for over a year and I can’t say that I’ve found the engagement on there that I’ve found in 15 minutes on Reddit. I think on Twitter there’s more marketers and other types of people – not as many video game geeks.

If you’re interested in reading the full transcript, here it is:
http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/9x5dh/i_am_raiden_from_the_mortal_kombat_video_games/

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Our Newest Member of the Family

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Almost two weeks ago we picked up our newest member of the family. His name is Snuggles and he’s an 8-week old havanese puppy. He’s so tiny that I actually think he’s smaller than a subway sandwich. When Kim first found him she absolutely adored him and told me we had to have him. I don’t think words do him justice.

Here he is in the sink. In the beginning he was very needy. If he didn’t see us for any period of time he would start whimpering and crying. After not even 2 weeks, he’s shown a lot of improvement. Now he’s able to hang out by himself for a little bit. He figured out the puppy pad pretty quick but he’s also pooped and peed wherever he pleases. We got him these steps to help him up the couch and he figured those out right away although he didn’t like going down headfirst. He’s recently figured out how to go down sort of sideways.

I’ve never had a puppy or a dog before and I have to say they are a lot more work than I ever imagine. Stay tuned for more posts on Snuggles.

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Hanging Out With My Wushu Idol Ray Park

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Today I went to Wizard World, a comic book convention, and got to meet and hang out with Ray Park. In case you’ve been living under a rock for the last 10 years, Ray Park is a Hollywood actor famous for playing the role of Darth Maul in Star Wars Episode I back in 1999. He was at Wizard World to promote his new movie GI Joe where he plays another childhood hero of mine – Snake Eyes, a good ninja.

Ray Park was one of my original inspirations for getting into wushu. Jet Li gets the credit for being THE first when I saw the movie Fist of Legend. However, Ray Park sealed the deal 10 years ago when he, as Darth Maul, took on two Jedi simultaneously and gave them a run for their money. I said to myself, wow – I want to be just like him. That was 10 years ago, and I have been doing wushu ever since.

My friends Don, Mel and I went to his Q&A panel. It was great to hear him plug wushu so many times. So many of his fans are only vaguely aware of the martial arts behind the stuff he does.

Afterwards we followed him out the conference room and got a chance to hang out with him a bit. I’m pretty sure he spent a lot of time with us 3 instead of his other fans because we all had wushu in common. Don even went as far as offering to perform for him and busted out his award winning ropedart routine COLD! Ray also gave fans a little something by busting out a butterfly twist cold. I was too gunshy to bust out anything myself, as I’ve torn my jeans doing stuff before in the past.


Don and Ray doing wushu – I’m still in shock

Today was an awesome day. I got to meet one of my original wushu inspirations. Ray was very cool and humble. I felt deeply honored he took the time to hang out with us wushu fanboys & fangirl.

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