Monthly Archives: April 2008

Flip Ultra

I first heard of the “Flip”: a few months ago, but it wasn’t until “this 37signals post”: that I started paying attention. I was attracted to the simplicity of the video camera: few buttons, decent quality, and kid-proof design. Here is my mini-review.

Speed. This is where the Flip shines. It is compact enough to take anywhere, and simple enough that you can take it out of your pocket and start shooting video in seconds. I’ve already shot way more video than I would with my traditional DV camcorder.

Battery. It runs on two AA batteries. I was able to record a ton of video before replacing them, accumulating 3 GB of files over several weeks. This is unheard of compared to any other still camera or video camera I’ve owned.

Transfer. The Flip saves as the Xvid flavor of MPEG-4, which is not supported natively by QuickTime. Luckily a quick “Perian install”: later and you can view and edit them in QuickTime Player or any app that supports QuickTime. Just mount the camera and copy them over, or convert to H.264 with something like VisualHub. The “Wii Transfer 2.6”: beta also supports Xvid to convert and share to your Wii.

Quality. I wanted to do a side-by-side comparison with Motion JPEG used on most digital still cameras, but this isn’t a video hardware review site so an in-depth analysis is beyond the scope of what I need or have expertise in. To my eyes it looks pretty good though. Make sure to get the Ultra, not the regular Flip Video which has a lower bitrate.

Complaints. You need to give the power slider and record buttons some real pressure, and on a few occasions I’ve clicked record only to realize 1 minute later that it didn’t start. I understand that the designers didn’t want us turning it on or recording unintentionally, but this negates some of the speed advantage mentioned above.

In a nutshell: The Flip isn’t for everyone, but at just $140 it’s hard to argue with its strengths. I take it everywhere now. One pocket for iPhone, one pocket for Flip.

Wii Transfer serial numbers

The search phrase “wii transfer serial numbers” (or “wii transfer serials”) is consistently one of the top referrers from Google to this blog, usually pointing to “my post about the first 75 days”: I figure I get enough traffic that I should dedicate a page to this. (I’m the developer, by the way.)

Here are the best ways to get Wii Transfer:

  • “Buy a copy”:! Just $19. Simple checkout with PayPal and you’ll get an automatic email within minutes.

  • Write a review for a blog or magazine. “Email me” first and I’ll give you a full license, even if it’s just your personal blog.

  • Become a “beta tester”: From time to time, I need people to test the latest in-progress features. Free copy if you send any useful feedback on a beta.

Thanks for your support! I hope one of these options appeals to you.

Unite the Party

After Hillary won Ohio, Texas, and Rhode Island last month, I decided it was time to think less about actively supporting my own candidate, who clearly wasn’t going away, and more about the future of the Democratic Party and what it would take to come together when a nominee is chosen. I had been quick to defend Hillary on Twitter and in blog comments, but the more I considered the close race and the long month until the next primary in Pennsylvania, now finally here, the more convinced I became that a joint ticket is the answer to a unified party.

Rather than bicker with my friends who support Obama, I changed my tone to emphasize our shared values and launched a new site: “”: I’ve been posting there regularly since March, and hope to build a group of like-minded Democrats to write on this topic, as well as a list of supporters who want to see a joint ticket happen.

Thinking about the endgame of the race in this context provides an excellent backdrop for discussing the real issues important to voters. There’s still an opportunity to use these campaigns for good: setting the right tone against McCain and bringing awareness of the Democratic agenda to everyone.

Ollie Johnston

Last week Traci asked me if I had heard about the animator who had died. Now of the 220 feeds I subscribe to in NetNewsWire, a full 60 of those are in a group called “Animation and Comics”, so I should have heard about any news from a variety of artist blogs or industry sources. But I’ve had my head down working on a number of programming projects — both Rails and Cocoa and just keeping up with the never-ending flood of email and Basecamp messages — so that NetNewsWire group was closed, and I was sadly ignorant.

My first question to her: “Was it Ollie?”

And of course it was. Ollie Johnston passed away at the age of 95, the last of Disney’s “Nine Old Men”. See the epic Cartoon Brew post for more. I had blogged about the death of his friend Frank Thomas in 2004, and also of colleague Ward Kimball in 2002.

For those who don’t know me very well, and even many who do, I’ll let you in on a little secret. One day my boss is going to wonder why I don’t answer his emails, and it will be because I’ve thrown the computer in the trash, set my USB devices on fire, and returned to the first passion of my life.

Sure, I have an old-school animation desk (old office 2005 and new office this year, next to computer stuff) and a bunch of paper and sharpened pencils to play with. Sure, I’ll still always love building software, designing user interfaces, and am grateful for the friends I have at work and in the Mac development community. Sure, I can’t support a family and giant mortgage doing silly portraits on the street corner.

But damn it. Ollie Johnston died.

MacLife write-up and Wii Transfer beta

MacLife Wii Transfer has a full-page mini-tutorial in the May edition of “MacLife magazine”:, as part of a section on connecting your Mac to video game consoles. I finally “picked up a copy”: last night. It was certainly a nice surprise and seems to have brought a small increase in sales.

I’ve also been wrapping up the next version of Wii Transfer, which hopefully smoothes over most of the rough spots in the current release. After sending beta copies to a few customers, I’m opening up a “new forums section”: as an experiment in getting early builds out without a more formal public beta. (It’s not linked from the main site yet, but will be soon.) Every developer handles betas in a different way, but I like the balance Jesse at “Hog Bay Software”: has achieved between his released software page and the early builds and developer notes in the forums section, for those customers willing to dig a little bit below the surface.