Need a webcam? Want to hook up a second webcam for multi-cam streaming? EpocCam from Kinoni lets you connect your phone to your computer as a second video input!

It works either wirelessly over WiFi or with a direct USB cable connection for lower latency.

I’ve only played with the iPhone version, but there looks to be an Android version as well, and they should both work with either Mac or PC computers. It’s slightly fiddly to set up, but I got it working:

  1. Install the EpocCam app on your phone.
  2. Install the driver from Kinoni’s website on your computer.
  3. Reboot.
  4. Launch the EpocCam app on your phone. It’ll show a “connecting” screen.
  5. Launch whatever app you want to use the video input.
  6. Go into the video settings and choose EpocCam as a source.
  7. Magic!

There’s a non-zero probability that I may be using this setup as part of my weekly DJ livestreaming on Twitch on Saturday mornings. Just saying. :)

DJ Wüdi on Twitch

For some time now, I’ve (mostly privately, sometimes “out loud” (which could mean either actually talking to people, or in online text ramblings)) been lamenting how rarely I’ve actually been posting to my blog. For the past years, various forms of social networking sites and applications — primarily Facebook and Twitter — have done a good job of monopolizing my online interactions.

It’s not all bad, really, as they’re great ways to keep in touch with friends, and I’m not making any sort of “quitting social media” declaration. But concentrating on those spaces has meant that this space, where I’ve been posting in one form or another for over two decades (seriously: my oldest “blog post” is dated December 29, 1995 and was posted back when I was still hand-coding; I have earlier posts entered into the blog, but they’re ports of old Usenet posts), hasn’t been getting much attention at all. And, as importantly, if not a bit more so, it means that virtually all of the writing and content creation I’ve done over these past years has been going to sites other than my own.

So going forward from here, I’m going to make a more concerted effort to make this blog the central, canonical repository of my online ramblings. I’ll still comment and get into discussions on Facebook and Twitter, but this is where all (well…most all…) content should appear first and will canonically reside, even as it’s mirrored elsewhere so that I’m not simply disappearing from those other spaces.

Here’s how I have things set up at the moment:

In brief (Twitter)

I’ve set up a micro.blog account, which is tied to both this blog and my Twitter accounts (I heard about micro.blog from a few places, including articles by Brent Simmons, Jean McDonald, and Charlie Sorrel). So now, when I have something quick and simple to say, it posts to my blog first as a post with no title, then picked up (via RSS) by micro.blog and piped to Twitter and Facebook.

Look here (links)

When I find interesting links, I’m posting them to my pinboard account — this is something I’ve been doing (off and on) for some time now, I’m just trying to be better about doing it consistently. If I want a saved link to post to Twitter or Facebook quickly, I give it either the .twitter or .fb tag respectively, which are picked up by IFTTT and piped to the correct site. Otherwise, the (apparently abandoned, but still quite functional) Postalicious WordPress plugin occasionally catches any recent links I’ve saved and creates a digest-style post for my blog.

Rambling on (blog posts)

If I have something more in-depth to say — like, oh, a few paragraphs on how I’m trying to start blogging regularly again, and brief explanations of the tools and services I’m using to start doing that — then those posts get written (in Markdown format, using Ulysses on either my Mac, iPhone, or iPad) and posted here. Not long after they show up here, micro.blog picks them up, creates a post that links back here, and then that goes to Twitter and Facebook.

It’s technically possible to just connect WordPress to Twitter and Facebook without using micro.blog as a middle step, but micro.blog is smarter about how it cross-posts than WordPress is alone. Without this step, every post would show up as a truncated excerpt and a link back to the blog; this way, that’s only the end result if a post is long enough to make that necessary, and shorter posts just appear to be “native” to whichever platform they’re seen on.

Will this system keep me going the way I hope it does? Only time will tell. But between Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica privacy mess and Twitter looking more and more like it’s going to be killing third-party clients soon, I’m hoping I have enough motivation to actually keep this going, rather than falling back into the ease and convenience of staying inside Facebook or Twitter’s ecosystems.

Sometime between November 12th and December 19th, I thought this stuff was interesting. You might think so too!

  • Toxic Masculinity Is the True Villain of Star Wars: The Last Jedi: SPOILERS: “Poe's character, while not one of the main protagonists, has even more to do in The Last Jedi. However, while he may be filling the role of the dashing pilot that Han did in the Original Trilogy, director Rian Johnson is using the archetype to say something completely different about heroism, leadership, and—perhaps most importantly—masculinity.”
  • Star Wars: The Last Jedi Offers the Harsh Condemnation of Mansplaining We Need in 2017: SPOILERS: “Any female boss in 2017 or American still nursing the hangover of the 2016 presidential election can tell you that even nice guys often have trouble taking orders from women.”
  • Star Wars, the Generations: SPOILERS: “Great movies reflect an era through the eyes of artists who embody that era. George Lucas embodied the era of Baby Boom ‘destiny’ and self-conceit. Rian Johnson embodies our era of diminished heroism, cynicism and near despair– tempered by the hope, if we can but learn from our heroes’ mistakes, that somehow, some way, some day, we may yet restore balance to the Force.”
  • Rian Johnson Confirms The Dorkiest Reference In ‘The Last Jedi’: SPOILERS: “There is a dorky reference in Star Wars: The Last Jedi that even director Rian Johnson admits that you may have to be of a certain age to get – thanks to a narrow window where you might have been watching premium cable in the very early ‘80s when this bizarre little short film would air in-between feature-length films.”
  • Rian Johnson Says There Are No Twists, Only Honest Choices: SPOILERS: “It seemed completely honest to me. It seems like the most dramatic version of that. And that’s what you’re supposed to do. Find what the honest moment would be, and then find the most dramatic version of it. So, in terms of the big ‘twists’ in the movie, they sprung from a process of trying to follow where these characters would go as honestly as possible.”
  • Star Wars: The Last Jedi humanizes the Force: SPOILERS: This was one of my favorite things about The Last Jedi. To my mind, a very smart direction to take things.
  • Did You Catch the Brazil Reference in Star Wars: The Last Jedi?:
  • ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ Redeems the Prequels: SPOILERS: “One of the many reasons I love Star Wars: The Last Jedi is that it redeems the prequels. … It recontextualizes the prequels and reinforces what I loved about them.”
  • Pro-Neutrality, Anti-Title II: Interesting argument that the likely change to ISP regulations — the 'net neutrality' debate — may not be quite the horrid thing it appears to be. Worth thinking over. "The question at hand, though, is what is the best way to achieve net neutrality? To believe that Chairman Pai is right is not to be against net neutrality; rather, it is to believe that the FCC’s 2015 approach was mistaken."
  • Keyboard Maestro 8.0.4: Work Faster with Macros for macOS: Saving for me to remember and look into when I have more time.
  • The Amazons’ New Clothes: “The Wonder Woman designs received acclaim from fans and costume fanatics alike. They were clearly inspired by the Amazon’s origins in the Mediterranean and were feminine but very functional. Why mess with perfection? Oh, right. The all-male team of directors and executive directors wanted women to fight in bikinis.”

Sometime between April 27th and May 17th, I thought this stuff was interesting. You might think so too!

  • The Case of the Stolen Source Code: Last week, for about three days, the macOS video transcoding app HandBrake was compromised. One of the two download servers for HandBrake was serving up a special malware-infested version of the app, that, when launched, would essentially give hackers remote control of your computer. // In a case of extraordinarily bad luck, even for a guy that has a lot of bad computer luck, I happened to download HandBrake in that three day window, and my work Mac got pwned. // Long story short, somebody, somewhere, now has quite a bit of source code to several of our apps.
  • JSON Feed: Announcing JSON Feed: We — Manton Reece and Brent Simmons — have noticed that JSON has become the developers’ choice for APIs, and that developers will often go out of their way to avoid XML. JSON is simpler to read and write, and it’s less prone to bugs. So we developed JSON Feed, a format similar to RSS and Atom but in JSON. It reflects the lessons learned from our years of work reading and publishing feeds.
  • Let’s discuss the Linguistic & Pragmatic use of the [“N-word”]: No matter what your intentions, the word WILL mean something different depending on your relative status. Language is circumstancial.
  • The neural network writes the episode list for next season’s Dr. Who: I’ve trained this open-source neural network framework on a variety of datasets, including recipes, Pokemon, knock-knock jokes, pick up lines, and D&D spells. Now I give you: training a neural network on the complete list of Dr. Who episodes.
  • What we really need is an adaptation of the original 1740 The Beauty and the Beast: So were you aware that the The Beauty and the Beast story we all know is a heavily abridged and rewritten version of a much longer novella by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve?  And that a lot of the plot holes existing in the current versions exist because the 1756 rewrite cut out the second half of the novella, which consisted entirely of the elaborate backstory that explains all the weird shit that happened before?  And that the elaborate backstory is presented in a way that’s kind of boring because the novel had only just been invented in 1740 and no one knew how they worked yet, but contains a bazillion awesome ideas that beg for a modern retelling?  And that you are probably not aware that the modern world needs this story like air but the modern world absolutely needs this story like air?

A fun new piece of photo editing/post-processing software was just released yesterday evening. One of the features that’s become very popular in many of the iPhone photo apps like Camera+ or Instamatic is the easy ability to apply post-processing filters and special effects. Often designed to mimic the analog effects of toy plastic cameras, old film, faded prints, and other imperfections, these filters have become a popular way to add an artistic touch to digital photos.

However, such effects haven’t been that easy to mimic in desktop apps — not impossible, but not one-click simple, and that’s where Flare comes in.

Satyr Dance

Flare makes adding these kinds of retro effects to any photo incredibly simple: just drag a photo into the window, choose a filter to apply, and export the finished photo to email, a new file, or Flickr. Flare comes with 24 filter presets, and has a small selection (which will apparently be expanded over time) of extra presets that can be downloaded and added to the lineup.

i love you (again)

Not content with that, though, each preset is completely editable. The presets are created by mixing together and adjusting combinations of color, texture, border, and effect, and each preset can be adjusted to tweak the final output, or new combinations can be built from scratch. Once the final look is chosen, the settings can be saved as new presets for use on other photos later on. Presets can even be exported from Flare and shared with others (here’s a sample of that effect).

Swimming

This is a 1.0 release, and while I’ve been enjoying playing with Flare and haven’t run across any bugs, there are some things that I’d love to see in future releases. At the top of my list is image importing: At the moment, the only way to bring an image in to Flare is either a standard “open file” dialog or by drag-and-drop. While this is great for initial simplicity, I tend not to have image files lying around in directories. Rather, they’re all stored in iPhoto or Aperture libraries. While dragging from another program is easy enough, that requires me to have both applications open and taking up screen space. Integrating the standard Mac OS iPhoto/Aperture image browser would make selecting photos to work with much easier.

Update: Thanks to @talosman for pointing out that Mac OS X already has image library support built directly into the “open file” dialog. Just select “Media” from the left hand sidebar, and your iPhoto and Aperture libraries pop right up. Slick! Funny how features like this can easily go overlooked, I’d never stumbled across that before.

I’d also love it if Flare could be more tightly integrated into Aperture. Right now, Flare doesn’t work as an external editor for Aperture (when saving a file after making adjustments, Flare writes to a new file rather than to the file that Aperture created, so the changes don’t get pushed back to Aperture) — and even if it did, I prefer having Aperture tied to the more full-featured Photoshop as an external editor. As Flare is essentially a one-trick pony (admittedly, a very well-trained pony), I’d love to see it available as an Aperture plugin. Happily, there are hints that this is something that may be coming in the future.

Flying High

All in all, I’m really impressed with Flare, and had a lot of fun playing with it and exploring different filters and combinations of effects. Flare is $20, and is on sale for half off ($10) for its first week (until March 18th) if bought through the Mac App Store. It’s definitely worth checking out.