Travelogue of our trip through Europe to meet Don McAllister in England, Bart Busschots in Ireland and Knightwise in Belgium including all of the tweetups. Recordings with both Don from the Conservatory about his initial ventures into using a Mac, and Knightwise gives the perspective from a small country like Belgium on the recent Apple announcements. In Chit Chat Across the Pond we talk about how Bart taught me to use Aperture mode on my camera – finally!
Today is Sunday September 5th, 2010 and this is show number 276. Well I personally think Katie did a FANTASTIC job on the show last week. What a great friend to take all that time and work on (voluntarily I might add) just so that I could have a relaxing vacation and not leave all of you without your weekly fix. From what I heard she pulled off the live show without a hitch, which is a miracle if you ever see how much goes into the plate spinning that is the live show. Thanks Katie, I sure owe you one. Next I need you to fix that pesky contacts/calendar syncing problem of mine…good thing you have all of Blogworld to get that done!
I don’t know if I can do justice to the podcasting tour of Europe but I have to give it a try. I’ll be posting all my photos when I’m done Barting them, but I put a dozen highlight photos into the shownotes to when your appetite. We started out by descending on Don McAllister and his lovely wife Barbara, who is as sarcastic and funny and kind as you could hope. We did a tour of Liverpool, where Don acted as tour guide, including such important venues as the Cave where the Beatles used to play and the local Apple Store and Starbucks!
The next day Gary Malpas, aka @gazmaz from For Mac Eyes Only drove a couple hours to Don’s house, picked Don, Steve and I up and drove us all over Wales. We had no idea we’d be hitting countries other than the three on our agenda, so this was a big treat. We went to lakes, amazing vista views, had fish and chips and Welsh beer in a place entitled “beer garden and children’s play area”. The grand finale of the tour of Wales was a trip to Caenarfon Castle – built in 1283, and the site of Prince Charles Investiture as Prince of Wales. We had such fun following Gaz up and down just about every tower, laughing so much during that trip that Don actually was rubbing his cheeks as we walked into the house at the end of the day!
Steve had the great privilege of some private lessons with Don in his studio on using Final Cut. We tweeted about it and I think someone actually offered up their left arm to have the chance to learn at the feet of the master like that. Don gave Steve some great tips that solved some real problems he was having so it was worth the price of the trip right there!
Don held a tweetup in Liverpool where we finally got to meet Stu Helm, David Gwynne Harries, Leon Walsh (who has been writing to me as far back as I can remember), Aleksandr Vysockij and Oliver Haslam. I put all of their Twitter handles in the shownotes if you want to follow them. The big surprise of the evening was when Steve Harris, maker of Feeder from reinventedsoftware.com showed up. When he walked in, I said, “I can’t believe you actually drove 4.5 hours just to meet me – I NEVER would have driven that far to meet me!” To which he quickly answered, “I didn’t, I came to meet Don.” I loved him instantly.
We left Don and traveled on to meet Bart for the first time in Ireland. It was such a great experience after 3 or 4 years of talking at least weekly on Skype to actually be with him in person. People have asked us what the biggest surprise of the trip was, and for me it was Bart himself. You know that Bart has phenomenal technical depth, right? Well it turns out he has depth in SO many different subjects. Steve asked Bart as we left the airport why Northern Ireland is part of the UK, but Ireland is part of the European Union. We were treated to a full explanation of the history of England and Ireland and conquests by the different religions to explain where they are today. later in the trip Bart actually explained the importance of the 14th amendment of our OWN constitution to us. Astronomy? Yup, got that covered. Butterfly species in Ireland? Yup, all over it. There seemed to be no subject he didn’t cover.
Bart found our lack of knowledge of some of the better BBC comedies to be lacking, so he introduced us to The IT Crowd, Yes Minister, Blackadder, and Father Ted. What great fun that was. Now personally I think people in the US should get to watch BBC shows, even though we don’t pay the fees, because WE give the British people all those great NASA photos. Don’t you think that’s a fair trade? Our taxpayer dollars against the BBC fee, sounds fair to me.
Bart works for the University of Maynooth which is on the campus of St. Patrick’s College. The buildings there are positively amazing, felt like we were in a castle. The “chapel” to me was more of a grand cathedral, the grounds are covered in this red ivy, the trees are tall and statuesque, the spire of the church is visible from all over – everything about it was magical. Bart suggested we actually stay on the campus, and we sort of accidentally ended up in the giant suite where the bishops stay when they’re there!
Bart took us on a long drive to the Wicklow Mountain national park which I think was Steve’s favorite part of the Ireland adventure. Spectacular scenery, beautiful lakes, ancient ruins, what more could you want? The adventure was perfect because Steve actually drove, and on the left (not wrong) side of the road. you can imagine what an adventure that was for me!
Bart had a photo walk on the campus prior to the Tweetup, where we were joined by Aaron (who is from Germany, listens to the show, and who’s wife just HAPPENED to be giving a talk at a conference at the University of Maynooth on the very same day). Adam Herman came for the photowalk too and even though he couldn’t stay long it was a real treat to get to know him. Justin Byrne and David Shortle, affectionately referred to as “the MacCraic lads” joined in the fun, and I think Justin actually took some photos while the rest of us were mostly blabbing. Bernard (who’s name I never caught) joined in as well – he was great fun and actually got one of my favorite photos of Bart, Steve and I on the walk. The Madder Hat, aka Bren Finan joined in the photo walk too, we’d been looking forward to getting to know him as well.
At the Tweetup after the photowalk, we were all joined by Pat Mahon, who had hinted at a surprise guest, none other than Paul Shadwell from Switzerland! We’d met both pat and Paul in San Francisco at MacWorld so that was like old homeweek – Paul even wore the shirt that OzRose had created for the NosillaCastaway party. Pat had one more trick up his sleeve – a prearranged FacePlant with none other than Victor Cajaio! He actually got to be passed around during the tweetup so everyone could say hi – it worked really well over 3G with Pat’s Mifi.
As though Ireland hadn’t been enough adventure yet, Bart took us on the last day to the Hill of Tara where the high kings used to meet during the Bronze Age. Magestic hills and views. A surprise treat was that some people who train birds of prey were there and had owls and falcons we could get up close and personal with, including HOLDING them, and then they flew one of the falcons. Never seen that in real life before which was very cool. Again, there are a zillion photos that I PROMISE I’ll get posted in the next week.
We said goodbye to Bart, dragged ourselves out of bed at 3am to take off to Belgium to meet with Knightwise and his wife Nyana. I’m afraid they got the short end of the stick – we were practically vegetables by the time we got to them between 5 plane flights and two time zone changes we were a train wreck. Knightwise didn’t know any better so he just pumped us full of coffee and took us to a castle called Alden Biesen where he spent much of his childhood evidently. We explored in what Knightwise said Americans would call technically “Trespassing” but he acted like he owned the place so we followed him anywhere. A real highlight was when we climbed up into an attic where he said he used to play soccer with desiccated pigeons (still can’t get the creepiness of THAT out of my head), and he’s fishing around near these boxes of storage, when he came across a copy of Microsoft Office for Windows 95. He couldn’t stop laughing at that. Next he took us up some more stairs to another attic and as he remarked that this particular door should have been locked, he opened it to find paintings stacked along the walls. As we were about to unveil what was sure to be priceless lost works of art, we heard the faintest sound of an alarm…and we were out of there as fast as our little legs could take us!
The next day was probably my favorite, the four of us took the train from their little town into the city of Antwerp, about an hour and a half away. I hadn’t been on a proper train since I was in high school so just doing that was a treat for me. Sadly both Steve and Knightwise wore red shirts on the trip so Nyana and I were constantly watching them to make sure some danger didn’t befall them. We landed at Antwerp Central Station which is a spectacular building, impossible to describe without photos. The city of Antwerp is mostly still ancient buildings that are continually being restored – but at the same time very modern with fancy pants shopping places in the bottoms of these gorgeous structures. I liked walking around there very much. Knightwise took us to a local Apple reseller where we changed the home pages to knightwise.com and podfeet.com on the computers, and Steve got thrown out for a second time for taking pictures and video (he got thrown out in Liverpool too!)
A real treat of the adventure was when we were able to meet up with Peter Boodts, a very very long time friend of the show. We were supposed to meet him at the tweetup but He figured out from our tweets where we were (and Knightwise and I posted a pic showing him exactly where we were). He took us to a chocolatier that makes these amazing chocolate sculptures – like several from the recent Alice in Wonderland movie – Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, and the Queen of Hearts. Turns out Peter’s sister owns the place so we got to meet her and the head chef too.
From there we went back to Antwerp Central Station to the Starbucks inside and had our tweetup where we got to see Stefaan Lesage for the second time – we’d met him back at Blogworld last year. He’s a real sweetheart, and he came bearing gifts, but I’ll get back to that later. For the first time we got to meet Bart from Belgium, not to be confused with Bart Busschots formerly from Belgium. this Bart goes by SnowMacBook on Twitter so you can tell them apart. Peter brought along an Apple QuickTake 100, the first digital camera Apple ever made back in 1994. It took a grand total of 8 pictures at “high” resolution. Very cool to play with, but now he has to figure out how to get the images off. A good point of humor was when we took all of our tech gear out of our bags and dumped it on the table – an impressive pile to be sure!
I mentioned that Stefaan brought gifts, but let me back up. Don and Barbara gave us boxes of chocolates from England. Paul Shadwell brought us chocolate from Switzerland. Bart (SnowMacBook) brought us chocolate from Belgium. And Stefaan brought us 8 bottles of Belgian beer and a beautiful beer glass. We were thrilled and excited to eat and drink all of this, but every single host basically fed us every 2-3 hours, and we were mainlining chocolate and coffee and beer as it was, so there was no way we could consume ANY of this before we left, and it was a HUGE volume of food and drink – so how on earth were we supposed to get this all home?
I tweeted the question out and of course most people suggested “in your bellies, silly”, but Bart (the original) came up with the perfect solution. We’d each brought two very small rolling suitcases, so he suggested we buy a bigger suitcase, one large enough to carry the smaller one, and pack the beer and chocolate around it. Believe it or not, this worked perfectly, and it only cost us 32 euros to do it, far cheaper than trying to pack and ship all of it home! The best part is all of the beer and chocolate came through unscathed. I know you were worried!
On our final day with Knightwise and Nyana they took us to a place where Belgium, Holland and Germany meet at a point and let us stand in all three countries at the same time. We sat on the Holland side for coffee (noticing a theme here?) and then drove to Germany to a town called Aachen, where they took us out for Louisiana food of all things! At least we had German beer there. Again with the amazing churches and cathedrals and dramatic architecture, and yet another Apple retailer to harass.
We got home two weeks later, exhausted, but with the strong feeling that the world definitely got much smaller for us. This podcast has turned into an adventure neither Steve nor I saw coming. Who would have thought that picking up an old microphone I had lying around the house and recording my thoughts about technology would help us find friends from all over the world? How could we have known that people would open up their homes, drive hours and hours just to make our trip interesting, and bring us gifts? This podcasting thing just gets more interesting and rewarding every day. Thank you to our hosts, thank you to all who came out to the tweetups, thank you to everyone who followed our adventures on Twitter, even Jane from Australia when she jinxed our luggage. We’ll never forget this trip as long as we live.
Before I left on the trip, I needed to document everything Katie needed to know in order to produce the show. She’s a very accomplished podcaster, with MacPower Users, the Mac Roundtable and her first podcast The MacCore, but she hadn’t done a live show before on Ustream, and we all have our idiosyncracies in how we do things. How do you think I went about documenting the process for her? With ScreenSteps of course! I was able to take screenshots, type in text, annotate the screenshots with sequence numbers, arrows and boxes, and even put hyperlinks into the text areas for where she could download the various tools I use to pull of the show. Hit export to PDF, mail it off to her, and in 38 short pages she was able to master the task! Remember, there’s LOTS of pictures so it’s not THAT hard! If you need to teach people just about anything on the computer, Mac or PC, you really would enjoy using ScreenSteps vs. any other tool out there on the market, especially MS Word. Check it out at ScreenSteps.com, and be sure to use my coupon code NOSILLA for 25% off the tiny price of $40 for the standard edition or $80 for the Pro version. That tells them Allison sent you!
Don and Knightwise on this and that
As a little treat, I did two recordings while we were gone – one with Don in the Conservatory, and one with Knightwise sitting at an outdoor cafe drinking coffee. Let’s listen in.
Anorak, the nickname Barbara calls Don is defined here: wikipedia.org/wiki/Anorak_%28slang%29
I hope you enjoyed listening to Don and Knightwise in their natural elements!
It’s funny how Honda Bob has become a household word around the world. Imagine sitting in a car in Belgium as Knightwise discusses how he would totally buy a Honda…if he lived in the LA or Orange County Areas! Surreal to hear Bob’s virtues of auto repair and maintenance touted as you drive past ancient cathedrals and watch sheep grazing on rolling green hills, something I’d never see near my house. He knows that Honda Bob drives to your house to fix your car, and keeps it running smoothly for the life of the car. He knows Bob tells bad jokes – heck he’s the one who dubbed him “Bad Joke Bob”! Well maybe Knightwise isn’t that lucky but you may be if you do live in LA or Orange County, so give Honda Bob a call at (562)531-2321 or send him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. HDA Bob’s Mobile Service is not affiliated with Honda, Acura or Honda Worldwide.
Chit Chat Across the Pond
Yelling at my iPod while jogging this morning:
- Nano – how hard it is to hold at the gym
- iOS doesn’t have a “Mario” title
- Is November in Fall?
- We missed one last week! – from Adobe! If you still have Shockwave installed – it got a security update to version 18.104.22.1689 (Windows & Mac) – seriously consider un-installing it – almost no one uses Shockwave anymore (it’s a pre-cursor to Flash) –http://www.adobe.com/support/security/bulletins/apsb10-20.html
- Update on the DLL pre-loading attack described last week. MS have released an update (KB2264107) which adds a new registry entry for controlling the loading of DLLs. This registry entry is complex and quite powerful, but not really usable by regular folks. This week MS added a ‘Fix it’ solution which sets this Registry Key to a sensible value to provide reasonable protection from this vulnerability:http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2264107
- Real Networks have released a security update to Real Player – http://service.real.com/realplayer/security/08262010_player/en/
- iTunes 10 provides security updates for Windows users (not Mac users) – http://support.apple.com/kb/HT4328
“Hi Allison, I have a question for Bart. I love photography and have done it for years. I thought I would buy a new iPhone 4 because it would be great to have a reasonable camera always on me. Instead of having a phone, an iPod touch AND a point and shoot I thought I would get the iPhone 4. Now Steve has given me a new iPod touch with two cameras in. How does the camera on the new iPod touch compare to the iPhones? Can I get pretty much all I need for about £200 pounds less? Or will I have to keep saving for the iPhone4?
Sorry to ask a question of Bart via you but I couldn’t find a way to contact Bart. I would, of course, be very happy for your input too!!!!!!!!
Sadly – the answer is no – it’s a different camera that really is just for FaceTime and for video, even the higher resolution back-camera is only 780 px tall, so perfect for HD video, useless for photography.
- iPod Touch specs: http://www.apple.com/ipodtouch/specs.html
- iPhone Specs: http://www.apple.com/iphone/specs.html
Main Topic 1 – How Allison’s getting on in Aperture Priority Mode
- Talk a bit about the photowalk first?
- Bart told Al – set it to aperture priority, set Aperture to f8, then mess with exposure compensation
- Works great on still stuff – people get annoyed with “wait, let me take that again…”
- Got 3 or 4 photos of everything I saw in Europe, was able to get the best one this way
- The ONLY way I was ever going to learn this was with Bart by my side: “Bart!!! Help! it’s on f11 now and I don’t know how I did that!!!”
- Mistakenly thought changing the aperture say to a smaller one would make the pics darker, but Bart explained that you set the aperture and the camera adjusts the shutter speed to make it “perfect”, and then you mess with exposure compensation to improve on perfect. Very good I tried this and then got corrected (even though I was in Belgium by then)
- Like that I get to decide when the flash goes off (but I learned from someone on the photowalk that I can push the flash button to pop up the flash, didn’t know that)
- I’m completely weaned off of program or auto mode!
- Funny story – when we were with Don and Gazmaz in Wales we asked a guy to take a picture of the four of us in front of a waterfall. He metered off the bright white fall, which put us in almost entirely silhouette. I asked if he’d take it again metering off of us, and his girlfriend said, “what? you don’t have photoshop?”
Promised a photo of the “real” Chit Chat Across the Pond as requested by Kyle:
And a proof that Victor showed up at the Irish Tweetup thanks to Pat Mahon:
I hope you enjoyed the show today, next week will be more tech filled, I promise – I’ve got a nice Blackberry Torch review already written up so you’ve got that to look forward to! If you haven’t joined the live show before, I really recommend it – the NosillaCastaways are a lovely, caring bunch of people who welcome everyone with open virtual arms. Give it a try if you’re not busy at 5pm Pacific Time on Sunday nights at podfeet.com/live. In the mean time shoot me your dumb questions, those questions that seem to dumb to ask because surely everyone else knows the answer (but I bet they don’t) by emailing me at email@example.com, and follow me on Twitter at twitter.com/podfeet. Thanks for listening, and stay subscribed.