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Posts by Jeff Geerling about life, marriage, religion, philosophy and technology. Formerly titled 'Matthew 12:37 - Blog by a God-fearing Man'.

Tweet your Keynote Presentation - While you're presenting

I recently became aware (thanks, @ppadley!) of a pretty awesome little AppleScript that pulls tweets out of your Keynote presentation's Presenters Notes and posts them to your Twitter timeline. Unfortunately, though, the simple way it used to work was broken when Twitter switched to using oAuth instead of 'basic' (username and password) authentication for using its API.

Luckily, the project, Keynote Tweet, was updated and posted to GitHub, and works in tandem with twurl, a simple Ruby-based command-line Twitter client. Here's how you can get these things working for your own presentations:

Set up a Twitter App for API Access

Twitter - Create Application

Before you can post to Twitter from your computer (or anywhere besides an existing Twitter app/client, really), you need to create a Twitter App so Twitter will let you interact with the Twitter API.

Go to https://dev.twitter.com/apps/new, and fill out the form. Edit the app's settings and set your app to 'Read + Write' access, and then save the settings. Copy your consumer key and consumer secret and save these for later.

Install and configure twurl

On Mac OS X, since you already have ruby installed, you just need to install the twurl gem (which will also install the oauth dependency). In Terminal, enter the following command (without the $):


$ sudo gem i twurl --source http://rubygems.org

Wait for the install to finish, and when it's all done (and you're back to the terminal prompt), you need to authorize twurl with your consumer-key and consumer-secret (from the earlier step). Enter the following command in the terminal, substituting the all-caps keywords with your key and secret:


$ twurl authorize --consumer-key KEY --consumer-secret SECRET

After you press enter, twurl will return a URL and some instructions. Copy just the URL and paste it in your browser window. Then click on 'Authorize App', copy the key code from Twitter, and paste it back in the Terminal, then press enter again to save the key. Twurl should report that everything is good to go!

Add Tweets to your Presentation

In your Keynote presentation, add tweets by adding text inside [twitter][/twitter] in individual slides' presenters notes. Then launch the Keynote Tweet app (if you get a 'this app is unsigned' notice, right or control-click the app and select Open to open it), and enter in a hashtag if you'd like one to be added to all your tweets. Click okay, and then start your presentation (while the Keynote Tweet app is running). Your tweets should be posted to Twitter when you go to slides with the tweets in the presenters notes.

iPhone - A Powerful Tool for the New Evangelization

Elizabeth Westhoff, the Archdiocese of St. Louis' Director of Marketing, wrote an excellent article summarizing the many ways she and others in St. Louis are using iPhones and a shoestring budget to promote the faith through video, pictures, social media, etc.

I love this section:

The production of each of these videos is something unseen in most other archdioceses across the country and for those of us who have been involved in their production; it has been a complete labor of love with an understanding that it is yet another way of getting out the messages of Christ.

One of the most amazing things we have been able to do is to use our iPhones as recording equipment.

When one or two of us go out on these “simple” video shoots, I’m always afraid the people on the other side of the “camera” are thinking we’re not prepared, or professionals, or something else along those lines. We show up with a tripod, lights from Home Depot, a battery-operated microphone, an iPhone and nothing else. We have everything we need, really.

The most important part of any creative endeavor is creativity, something which is not lacking in St. Louis! Using an iPhone as a substitute for a professional video camera or audio capture device is not only possible—it's happening every day! The most popular article I've ever written on this site is my guide to external microphones and input adapters for audio recording on the iPhone and iPad.

GuitarJack Model 2 with Lavaliere Microphone

Use the tools you have to make the best media you can. And heck, the tiny camera and headset jack on my iPhone 4s provides a better picture and cleaner sound than even the most expensive shoulder video camera from ten years ago!

Read the article: e-Vangelization in the Archdiocese of St. Louis.

(This article was cross-posted with Open Source Catholic.)

Manage your Passwords Wisely

This is somewhat of a PSA: There have been many high-profile hacking cases lately where millions of user account passwords have been exposed. If you're anything like the majority of the population, and you're using one password for more than one website, you should stop doing that as soon as possible and switch to a more secure password strategy.

I've outlined what I do on Midwestern Mac's website: My Password Management Strategy.

You can't blame me for one of your accounts being accessed by a hacker! Also, if you're a web developer or application programmer, and you're not salting, stretching, and hashing all user passwords with something like SHA-2, you need to do that yesterday.

Dot-Matrix Printers

Does anybody else remember the whine of a dot-matrix printer head passing over a paper, making thousands of little dots which transposed digital text and images into analog?

Chalk up the sound of the print head on a dot matrix printer with the sound of a modem dialing, a cassette tape rewinding, and a real bell inside a telephone—these are sounds my kids will likely never hear.

LCWR Assembly in St. Louis

For the past few months, the LCWR (Leadership Conference of Women Religious) has been gearing up for an annual convention in St. Louis (my home diocese), where they'll have a keynote by Barbara Marx Hubbard.

Google finds some interesting tidbits about Hubbard:

"Agents of conscious evolution training." — her newest course, offered via her site.

"Birth 2012; Cocreating a planetary shift. It is time to activate a new era of human possibility and potential!" — Also from her site.

"Conscious evolution is the evolution of evolution, from unconscious to conscious choice. While consciousness has been evolving for billions of years, conscious evolution is new. It is part of the trajectory of human evolution, the canvas of choice before us now as we recognize that we have come to possess the powers that we used to attribute to the gods." — From her site's description of 'conscious evolution'.

"Dr. Hubbard is working to understand and catalyze the actions needed to navigate a quantum change to avoid global collapse. She is also working on the synthesis of the principles and practices of Conscious Evolution and New Thought with Reverend Jim Lockard. She is a founder and member of the Santa Barbara Conscious Evolution Community. She is initiating the SYNCON Process, for synergistic convergence to overcome the polarization in the United States by..." — Bio on Enlightenment Next.

I could go on linking to and quoting a variety of descriptions of Barbera and her work, but even taking about a minute to research her work and foundations, it's apparent she would not be a good fit for a keynote at a Catholic event.

At least she uses Drupal!

The LCWR is being investigated by the CDF (Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith), and things like having Hubbard headlining their annual conference does not help their standing.

I typically avoid commenting on issues like this, because I know how easy it is for people's feelings to get hurt, but sometimes things get so ridiculous that I can't stand being silent. It seems our Archbishop will be showing his support for the event by delivering an opening greeting. I'm not a bishop, nor a statesman, but I just don't see the logic in giving support to such an event. Simply allowing the event would be enough to make me nervous; attending and welcoming the guests seems like a stamp of approval.

If we want to save the LCWR from losing their standing in the Church, I suggest we do so by first praying for them, and second calling them out on their poor selection of a keynote speaker. You wouldn't ignore the speck in your friend's eye if you could help that friend remove it and live a better life, would you? (Of course, you should also be working on the plank in your own eye.)

Photography Weekend Part 3 - Backup Strategies and Disaster Preparedness

See previous posts:

An Ounce of Prevention...

When you work on a project where every piece of work (in this case, every photograph) needs to be cataloged, backed up, and sent to production as it's created, you have to plan things out pretty well in advance, but also be ready to fix problems and adapt to difficulties as they arise.

During my weekend of photography at Steubenville St. Louis, I was quite prepared for most difficulties that could crop up in photography:

  • I had a second/backup camera body: I always bring two cameras to important events. Some photographers bring three. Even though my backup body was a lowly D40, it's a heck of a lot more effective for low-light images and quality picture making than my iPhone! Plus it will still use my nice lenses without trouble.
  • I had seven extra 8-16 GB SD cards: Plan on at least one failing or having write errors at some point. Get the photos off of it, and ditch that card.
  • I had an external hard drive that I would keep a backup copy of every photo I took in an Aperture vault.
  • I set the camera to store the RAW file on the primary card, and a JPEG on the secondary (Eye-Fi), so if one card failed while shooting, the second was a backup.

Because of this preparation, I always had at least two copies of every photo I took, and I wouldn't erase an SD card and re-use it until a photo was completely processed, and backed up three times (once on main drive, once on backup drive, and once on Flickr). (Also, after the event, I burned three DVDs—one for my archives, and two for the client).

...is worth a pound of Cure

Of course, things can and do go wrong. I had two annoying experiences that I had to deal with—one which was (relatively) minor, the other which could've been quite a disaster!

Eye-Fi Failure (Flaky Connections)

Eye-Fi Pro X2 in D7000 2nd slotI was having some interesting problems with my Eye-Fi Pro X2 SD card during the full Saturday of shooting that were tough to fix; the major problem was a 'write error' bug that seemed to crop up every 200-300 shots. The card would not allow any further writing until I ran back to the computer, dumped off the photos, and formatted it in-camera.

Well, one of the times I formatted the card in my laptop instead of the camera, and I think the card lost some of its proper WiFi settings, because I couldn't get it to connect to the Internet through my iPhone anymore. It took an hour or two of debugging and plugging, unplugging, formatting, etc. before I could get it to work reliably in my D7000.

But, during that time, I switched over to using a second normal SD card while shooting, still with JPEGs, so I could quickly upload them to Flickr (albeit, manually) when I ran back to my laptop.

It was annoying, but after I got the card fixed again, not too much of a bother.

Memory Failure (Formatting woes)

These are the mistakes for which you really need to watch out! I purposely follow a very routine workflow when I dump pictures to my computer, and if I get interrupted, I can easily forget which card is active, which card I can format and re-use, etc.

One time, when I was concentrating on a conversation with someone else while importing, I mistakenly placed the wrong SD card in my camera's number 1 slot and hit the 'Format' button, erasing about 60 RAW pictures from a pretty important event that I hadn't yet imported.

Of course, I still had the JPEGs on the Eye-Fi, but having the RAW files for this particular event was important, because the contrast required post processing and some color balancing (which are a pain on lossy JPEGs).

SD and CF Flash Memory Cards in pile
You never know which one will fail next! (D7000, 17-55mm DX, ISO 1600, f/2.8, 1/50)

Luckily, I realized what I did right away, and quickly pulled the card from the camera (after the format), and set it on the desk with a label of 'DO NOT USE'. You see, when you format a memory card, the actual files aren't written over/removed, just the references on the card's file system. So, knowing that I could later come back and restore the files (hopefully—nothing's a given when it comes to file recovery!), I set down the card with the hope of restoring the photos I just formatted later. (If I would've used the card again, the missing files would've been written over, irrecoverable forever).

When I finally had time to restore the photos, I was going to re-purchase an app like PhotoRescue, which I had sucessfully used from time to time to restore photos. But, since I am comfortable working with lower-level tools, and knew there had to be an open source solution to this problem, I dug around and found the excellent tool PhotoRec, which is GPL-licensed, but requires some knowlege of using the command line (tutorial coming soon!). No problem, though, and after scrubbing the SD card, it came up with every missing photo in the .nef/RAW format. Very nice!

Lessons Learned

I wouldn't be a very smart photographer if I didn't try to change my ways to make things better after having these two problems. I've decided to try to (within reason) have enough memory cards so I can shoot an entire event/weekend without needing to format any—and then at the end of the event, after all photos have been processed, I can wipe the cards.

I can't do much about the Eye-Fi troubles I was having, but I can simply hope that Eye-Fi improves its software so it's not quite as fickle, and Nikon and other camera manufacturers work on better solutions for photo storage, transfer, and backup in the camera bodies themselves.

Besides these two problems, I didn't really have a stressful weekend—but much of that was because I came prepared for the worst! Always do the same, and your photography experiences will be more enjoyable.

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