The Deipnosophist

Where the science of investing becomes an art of living

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Location: Summerlin, Nevada, United States

A private investor for 20+ years, I manage private portfolios and write about investing. You can read my market musings on three different sites: 1) The Deipnosophist, dedicated to teaching the market's processes and mechanics; 2) Investment Poetry, a subscription site dedicated to real time investment recommendations; and 3) Seeking Alpha, a combination of the other two sites with a mix of reprints from this site and all-original content. See you here, there, or the other site!

18 August 2008

The web's killer app, finally!

I enjoy photography, as you know. No pun intended, but I perceive each of the many components that comprise a great photo to be a challenge to my intelligence and my impatience. From the photo's composition -- its forground, mid-ground, and background -- to 'framing' the scene via the use of other objects to help tell the photo's story, the Rule of 3s, and by shifting the placement of the subject (if possible) or even shifting my position to rid the frame of unwanted objects. Should I use flash...? Is my photo's story best told arty-farty, or as a snapshot...? Etc.

The fact is that everything that occurs before I snap the shutter intrigues me... but everything that could be done afterwards with the computer bores me. Go figure. Many of you probably enjoy using Photoshop or other software to manipulate your digital photos, but I do not; most likely to the detriment of my photos' quality.

How many of you enjoy the process of making a movie from your still photos? Certainly a task that fatigues me just thinking about it.

Until now, that is.

I traveled to Santa Cruz, CA late last month to attend, and participate in, the wedding of my good friend, Jim D, to his luminously beautiful bride, Kim. Also in attendance were the great and powerful from the technology companies of Silicon Valley (Jim's friends and colleagues), professional dancers (Kim's friends and colleagues), and, in a personal surprise, the highly-regarded, Dick Fabian. (Dick happens to be Kim's grandfather!) I enjoyed the honor and privilege to talk with Dick for a good 30 minutes before he had to return to his wedding-day duties.

So I snapped some photos. And some more. And when I returned home, I used a new web application called Animoto that relies on... yep, cloud computing. (Amazon is the host service, though; not Google.) With Animoto's software, I made the movie below...

Animoto transforms even a nincompoop such as me to seem a veteran Hollywood director and editor wrapped into one person. Unfortunately, YouTube imposes a stringent compression ratio, which compromises its quality. But watch the video (and turn on your speakers), and you will get the idea.

I originally used Animoto's service to familiarize myself first hand with this notion of cloud computing; now I use it to make movies of my photos -- and have fun in the process. Click here for more info. btw, you receive $5 off an all-access pass ($30 for 1 year), if you sign up from the link in the previous sentence, or the graphic link near the top of the sidebar.

So about this post's subject header -- really, the web's killer app? Well, my point is arguable, certainly contestable, but consider that Animoto's software solution utilizes completely Amazon's cloud computing infrastructure, you use bandwidth to upload the photos and music files, and again use bandwidth to download the finished product, and finally use your email client -- whether desktop or web application -- to share the finished movie. Of course, and to its credit, Animoto does not require you to be a member to view the completed movie, so it lacks the multiplier effect that comes with this trickery. No, Animoto prefers to grow the old-fashioned way -- by earning your favor via a superior product.

Oh, and consider this tidbit: Jeff Bezos, the founder of invested his money into Animoto after learning of the company during a joint appearance at a cloud computing conference.

Try the fun and possibly even game-changing software, and you might agree.
-- David M Gordon / The Deipnosophist

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