My Blog. Pennies not required for my thoughts.

Is This Thing On?

I have a confession to make. This is my blog, yes. But I haven’t touched it in over a year.

Much has happened since I last wrote on this blog, and it’s kept me pretty darn busy. And when you have multiple social media accounts at your disposal, it gets pretty appealing to just fire off a short message about what I’m up to, than to write about it.

Clearly though, it’s time for me to get rolling on my blog again.

It is no coincidence that I’ve finally pushed myself to revisit this blog because I’m attending WordCamp US in Philadelphia this weekend… and I want to have something quasi-current to show for it.

So I am going to find a way to jump-start this blog back up again… maybe this weekend that I’m spending at WordCamp US re-energizing my WordPress-fu will be the spark to get me going. Fingers crossed.

P.S. I’ve finally discovered the amazingness that is an authentic Philly cheesesteak.

Philly Cheesesteak from Sonny's Famous Steaks
I can’t believe I had been missing out on that experience for so long.


Twenty Three

One year ago, I turned 22, in the middle of one of the most difficult periods of my life. I was just over 4 months past my graduation from American University, had just completed a summer internship at WAMU, and was getting by on just a little bit of (much-welcomed) freelance video work at the station.

I was counting my pennies, fretting about how I was going to find a way to earn enough money to pay my rent. I was seriously weighing whether or not I would have to call it quits and leave D.C., moving back to San Francisco. Nothing against San Francisco… but I had fallen in love with D.C., made incredible friendships and networking connections here, and I didn’t want to leave them. But I was running out of resources and running out of time, all of which made the fall of 2013 an incredibly distressing experience for me.

I could never have imagined all the incredible opportunities that this year would bring.

In just one year, I have learned all the skills to become a professional audio engineer and board operator at one of the top public radio stations in the country. I have run live studio shows, participated in breaking news productions, and even helped with the setup of a remote production. I have worked alongside professional experts in the radio industry and soaked up their expertise like a sponge.

If that wasn’t enough, I also became a producer for a startup public radio show that airs on a half dozen stations and whose podcast receives nearly 10,000 downloads a week. I helped with the installation of all-new digital television equipment at ATV–the student TV station that I practically grew up in during my undergraduate years–learning a plethora of new IT and networking concepts along the way. I oversaw an early voting center for a full week, plus ran an efficient voting precinct on Election Day, for the D.C. Primary back in March/April. Plus I did a bunch of smaller accomplishments that I don’t have room to list.

And as I turn 23 today, tomorrow I will officially begin my first full-time job. It still hasn’t fully sunk in yet.


ATV Changed My Life; Now They Need Your Support

ATV LogoIf I had to name one organization that has had the biggest impact on my life, it’s ATV, the student television station at AU. I learned so many skills and gained an incredible amount of experience at ATV, which directly impacted my career path. For me and for so many of my past and present colleagues, ATV has been more than a club; it’s been a family of dedicated students working together and teaching each other how to make great news and entertainment television content for their university community.

ATV Control RoomATV turns 35 years old later this year. But the life of ATV’s studio equipment is fast approaching two decades–an eternity in the broadcast television industry. Professionals have told ATV that its equipment–dating from the 1990s or earlier–belongs in either a museum or a landfill. Equipment failures happen at the station on almost a monthly basis now because of its age. And it’s hard for ATV to fulfill its mission of giving students practical studio television experience when its studio is more than two generations behind.

Last year, towards the end of my term as ATV’s General Manager, we contracted for a professional estimate of the cost for a full HD renovation of ATV’s studio. The estimated price tag for such an effort would be $230,000.

It will take a long time for ATV to achieve that goal, but there are smaller steps they can take along the way.

In partnership with American University, ATV is now working to raise $10,000 by April 25 in a “UFund” project, in order to purchase a new Blackmagic production video switcher–one of the key hardware requirements for their studio. It’s only a small part of their long-term effort, but it’s a start, that will itself have a big impact on the resources available to the station.

I have already proudly made my contribution to this fund, and I would ask you to join me in donating to this very important organization at American University that is making a real difference in the lives of so many young broadcast professionals like myself.

Find out more about the UFund project here and make a donation. Donations are tax-deductible.

You can also learn more about ATV and its future goals [PDF] and the ATV-HD renovation project proposal [PDF].


A Tale of Two Car-Sharers


Ever since I was young, I have been a transit enthusiast. What can I say? I quickly grew fascinated with the Caltrain that whizzed by on the tracks just a few blocks from my house, and that interest quickly expanded to go planes and buses as well.

But now flash-forward to today, and I have gone a little more mainstream from being a transit enthusiast: now I’m also a commuter. A commuter living in a major city, with no car. And that makes transit just a little less glamorous for me than it used to be.

In terms of availability, the District of Columbia actually has a good array of public transit services: a very convenient rapid-transit rail service (Metro), and a very complete, integrated network of local bus routes, that easily trumps the public transit offerings back where I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. But the reliability of Metro and Metrobus tends to leave a bit to be desired. And then there are some activities (grocery shopping, for example) that are outright a pain to deal with via public transit.

Fortunately, modern technology has enabled the growth of a new kind of transit option: car-sharing.

Car-sharing has become significantly more mainstream in recent years, providing a flexible, cost-effective option for drivers lacking their own wheels (or car owners looking to lighten the wear on their own vehicles a bit) to have access to short-term car rentals where and when they need them. In the District of Columbia, two car-sharing services are most prominent: Zipcar and Car2Go. Yet both companies take a very different approach to shaping the way drivers use their services.


What Makes Social Media So Complicated?

Social Media Logos

Some days, doesn’t it start to seem to you like we’re overdosing ourselves with social media profiles?

Long ago, back when I first delved into the world of personal blogging, my blog was all I had on the internet. For better or for worse, it was my little corner of the web. Sure, I also participated on a forum site or two, and I had my iChat/AIM account open, and I had an email address. But I didn’t have to maintain much of a public presence on those services; they were just tools that I used to communicate with colleagues; that’s all. I didn’t need a MySpace; I had a space. My blog. Done.

But now, in addition to my website and blog (the one you’re reading it right now), I have profiles on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, YouTube. And those are just the places that I actively update most. Yet you can also find public profiles of me on Flickr, Delicious, Yelp, Gravatar, SlideShare, and plenty of others. And that doesn’t even include some of the popular services that I have deliberately chosen to avoid, like Instagram, Pinterest, Vine, Vimeo, or, to name a few.

Now I’m not saying that those services shouldn’t exist. After all, I’ve been using Twitter for seven years–before it became cool, or even well-known–and I have also used Facebook, YouTube, and LinkedIn to my advantage quite well. (The jury’s still out on Google+.) But when you’re running a blog or a website–especially for an organization–juggling all of those social media services takes a lot of effort. No wonder so many companies put so many resources into social media marketing, yet for them it’s still hit-or-miss.



Final Cut Pro X is a Pro App, Despite an Amateur Launch

Final Cut Pro X

Since 2011, I’ve been in a bit of an interesting predicament as a video editor.

That summer, Apple abruptly replaced Final Cut Pro 7, the industry-standard video editing suite, with Final Cut Pro X. The only thing these two versions was its name and purpose; really, Final Cut Pro X was a completely new application that lacked any backwards compatibility with its predecessor. It was still a powerful pro app with some revolutionary new editing features, but Apple completely botched the launch.

The initial release of Final Cut Pro X was abrupt, and its feature set was incomplete. The app was still a bit buggy and prone to crashes. Lots of familiar features were still present but less obvious, and the workflows for using it were completely different. And the reorganized app, meant to be more accessible to a wider range of editors, instead made pro editors feel that they had been abandoned. It got dubbed as “iMovie Pro.”


Turning a New Page (rather, Site)

After a month of really hard work, I’m excited to unveil my brand-new personal website!

My new website marks a milestone for one of my resolutions in 2014. Now that I am well past the life of high school and college, I made the decision a month ago to completely scrap my old blog (which had been sort of spurting along after seven years), and put together a new professional website and blog that I could really be proud of.

Freeing myself from the legacy of having to move over a bunch of old blog content meant that I was able to try out a lot of new experimental features for this site, and really rethink the way I want to pursue this blog going forward. And since I didn’t give myself any time limit or deadline to work on this website, I was really able to provide a very close attention to detail on each page that I worked on.