Time lapse: From the suburbs to the city – Detroit

Inspired by a video I stumbled upon years ago (can’t find the link anymore), I decided to bring everyone on a journey through an hour of my life every day. Detroit is a unique environment because the majority of people who work in the city live out in the suburbs. While talking to people that live in other major cities the idea is foreign to them. The city is suppose to be the place to be, why would you want to live outside and commute? In a city dominated by the auto industry, the idea of public transportation was looked at as a “poor man’s” way of getting around. I’m not sure where the idea came from but it was bread into every single person around the city. Secondly, city services are just not there for us.

My journey

Time lapse: From the suburbs to the city – Detroit from Nick DeNardis on Vimeo.

Above is a time lapse video I put together to bring you on my journey to and from work (Wayne State University) every day. I live 20 miles from campus and it takes me roughly 30 minutes each way. That’s a large chunk of time carved out of my day that I can’t get back. I hope you enjoy the ride and the tunes.

A few notes about the video. I actually did drive the speed limit although it looks like I’m flying down the road. It also looks as if I am getting pretty close the the vehicles in front of me, I blame it on the camera making it look like I’m closer than I really am. Just wanted to put that out there before I get too many comments.

Video production

I am a huge believer in using existing tools to do work, so I did just that. I didn’t use anything special to create the video above that I don’t already use to create EDU Checkup each week.

I now drive Andrea’s old car, a Ford Focus, to work to save on gas. I simply added a tripod between the drive and passenger seat, which fit nicely. Attached a Kodak Zi8 to the top and I was ready to rock and roll. I cracked the windows open a little bit to get the ambient noise. I also had to make sure it didn’t touch anything in the center of the car because it shakes the camera a lot.

Once the drive to and from work were recorded I downloaded the video to iMovie and started playing around with the speed settings. Thanks to Mallory Wood for making me aware the setting was even there. I found that 800% seemed to be a happy medium. Slower was just too slow and anything faster you can’t really make out the small details passing by.

I added some title slides and contemplated putting a few lower thirds to point out landmarks but I scrapped the idea for now. I might replace it if people ask me a lot of questions about the environment. I added two songs to overlay the sound of the engine, Lupe Fiasco’s Daydreamin’ and Streets Of Tomorrow by Carla Vallet.

Wrapped it all up with a thank you slide then sat and watched it render. I don’t know why I did this all on my Mac Mini but I did and it took far longer to encode than I imagined. But in the end it all worked out.

Learn something from everything

Initially I thought this would be a cool project and I didn’t really think about how to get this done before hand. I think everyone should at least once per month have a project they just jump into and figure out, something completely different than their every day work. Although the work on this video only took a few hours to put together it took a far different part of my brain than I typically work with on a daily basis.

fail thoughts

LinkedIn and the WSU identity crisis. #fail

There are quite a few WSU’s out there, Wayne State University (where I am from), Washington State University, Wichita State University, Wright State University, etc. So referencing WSU on the web doesn’t always work.

Today I received a LinkedIn invitation from someone I did not know in person. So I checked out her profile and got down to a reference to Wayne State University. I simply scrolled my mouse over the title and this pop-up appeared:

WSU Fail

The pop-up is a normal action of LinkedIn but the content is completely wrong. They mixed up Washington State and Wayne State!

I cannot tell which university is correct, my guess is Wayne State since their other positions have been in Michigan. Being a programmer at heart I try to analyze how this could possibly happen in my head but the only reason I continue to come up with is lazy programming.

I wonder how many other LinkedIn blunders are out there.


Road to validation.

Overseeing the current Wayne State University homepage is like running with a tiny pebble in your shoe. You feel it every step but your going so fast you cannot stop to take it out.

Working with a site so large it can become discouraging but taking one step at a time one can accomplish anything. Yesterday we took our first step, moving the site to a new server in an environment that we are comfortable and flexible in.

The old version of the site was sitting on an NT box, a requirement of the company who built it over 4 years ago. When I started I had a few goals, one was to get the site off that server and get it validated and rewritten in POSH. Well that day has come and we managed to sprinkle in a few other goodies along the way, here are some highlights:

It took some work to get here but we made it. There is still some tweaking to go but all in all its setup. Now its time to concentrate on the content, we are going to be doing a page by page overhaul and adding greater functionality and layout to each child page.

In addition to the content we will also be shrinking the file size and HTTP requests further and further down to the base minimum. Right now we are ~90k depending on the panel that loads and 16 HTTP requests with an empty cache, we hope to cut the size down by a third and get rid of 2-4 requests.

Stay tuned for more progress.