Looking for work

This Prezi movie expresses my reflections on the process of choosing the next place to work.
The embedded app below doesn’t work for me – does it for you?

This does: click the play button in the lower-left of the presentation window here at Prezi.

Meta: About the Medium

I love Prezi as a tool for building presentations, because the presentation itself is a mind-map. While a typical slideshow is one-dimensional and unidirectional (forward to the next slide), Prezi offers three dimensions: two surface dimension, plus depth.
That depth, the ability to zoom in and in and in, makes Prezi my favorite medium for seamaps. Seamaps are kinda like roadmaps as they show milestones on the way to a goal, except seamaps recognize that there are many routes toward the goal, and that the straight path is rarely optimal. We will find obstacles, back up, and try other paths. We prefer running software at many increments to implementing everything at once. The zooming format helps me draw the big picture of the project and the detailed picture of the iteration and the day, in the same map.
However, Prezi isn’t perfect for seamaps. The editor is infuriating in many cases. It’s difficult to impossible to select things sometimes; you have to get the scale just right first. Clicking gets me a text prompt, and that’s infrequently what I want. (Omnigraffle nailed this one: push T and then click.) Click-and-drag sometimes moves me back and forth in the map, and other times moves the image in the background out from under everything. There’s a fair number of bugs, too.
All of these problems also apply to using Prezi for little movies like these, plus more. I need frames in order to make a path for presenting, but then frames take ownership of the objects inside them, and I can’t resize the frame without warping parts of my picture. Those frames make objects under them unclickable in certain circumstances. Using Prezi takes patience and systems. Click off “edit path,” select the objects, group them, move them to the front. Edit path, click the animation button, select the objects, escape. Click off “edit path,” select the group, send them to the back. Repeat.
As a movie-creation medium, there are limitations, too: each frame will last as long as the audio attached to it, or 4 seconds if there’s no audio. Animations (“appear” is the only animation) occur at 4 second intervals, period. On one hand this is limiting, but on the other it leaves fewer decisions for me. The above production took about 3 hours, including recording the audio in Camtasia, editing it, and exporting each frame as a separate audio clip, in between Camtasia crashing, as it does.
Prezi’s strengths are unique and crucial to some forms of expression. Its limitations can be freeing, once they’re accepted. The editor quirks drive me away for a while sometimes, but I keep coming back. Overall, I do recommend Prezi-with-voiceover as a short movie creation medium. Now if only the “embed” option worked on this blog.

Cropping a bunch of pictures to the same dimensions

Ah, command line tools, they’re so fast. And so easy to use on a Mac.

Given a bunch of image files in the same dimensions, that you want to crop to a fixed portion of the image:

1) Install imagemagick

brew install imagemagick

2) put all the images in a directory by themselves, and cd to that directory in the terminal

3) check the size of one of them using an imagemagick command-line utility:

identify IMG_1400.jpg
IMG_1400.jpg JPEG 960x1280 960×1280+0+0 8-bit sRGB 434KB 0.000u 0:00.000

Oh look, that one has a width of 960 and a height of 1280.

4) crop one of them, look at it, tweak the numbers, repeat until you get the dimensions right:

convert IMG_1400.jpg -crop 750x590+60+320 +repage test.jpg

Convert takes an input file, some processing instructions, and an output file. Here, I’m telling it to crop the image to this geometry (widthxheight+xoffset+yoffset), and then make the output size match what we just cropped it to.

The geometry works like this: move down by the y offset and to the right by the x offset. From this point, keep the portion below and to the right that is as wide as width and as tall as height.

5) Create an output directory.

mkdir output

6) Figure out how to list all your input files. Mine are all named IMG_xxxx.jpg so I can list them like this:

ls IMG_*.jpgIMG_1375.jpg IMG_1380.jpg IMG_1385.jpg

7) Tell bash to process them all:[1]

for file in `ls IMG*.jpg`
echo $file
convert $file  -crop
750x590+60+320 +repage output/$file

8) Find the results in your output directory, with the same names as the originals.

[1] in one line:
for file in `ls IMG*.jpg`;> do echo $file; convert $file  -crop 7750x590+60+320 +repage out/$file; done