Monday, January 24, 2011

Brad Jefferson - Animoto CEO Interview At Pre-Crunchies Party

On Friday this blogger had the opportunity to interview Brad Jefferson, the CEO of Animoto, and during the Pre-Crunchies Party to introduce the firm's new offices at 333 Kearny Street in San Francisco. Animoto is an online platform that takes your photos, music, and other media and creates high-quality videos. The firm's about 7 years old, and the platform has about 1 million registered users.

As described in the blog post on the party itself, the offices look like they're right out of a sci-fi movie. You know, the kind where the scientist is this young, cool, hipster cat. That's Animoto's SF digs, and Jefferson's office.

His office carries the theme too: it's entirely glassed in, and reminds you of those experiments where the person's locked into a room without any connection with the outside World except that you can look in on him. But it's also a place where Jefferson can see what's happening in the office without leaving his bubble.

Bubble aside, we talked about Animoto.

"There's four of us that co-founded the company. The inspiration was about how you get really high quality video to the masses. So, instead of using (video) editing tools, how do you have them just point to their photos, pick a song, and have it done for them. Something they'd just really be proud to share. Almost like a movie trailer of your photo album. One of the key parts of that," Brad said, "was Stevie Clifton, our CTO."

"He was working as a lead animator for ABC's documentary group. In that role he was trying to figure out how to automate his job. How to do some of the real heavy lifting that real animators have to do, in an automated manner. A lot of us grabbed on to that, and said 'that's great for you, but if we could make this a mass-market kind of thing, that would be a big idea. So that's what we quit our jobs for."

The Future Of Animoto

Brad says that the ability to see photos in the way Animoto allows is "pretty jarring" to some, and leads to a lot of possible applications for the future, though he did not explain what those would be.

Copyright Issues?

With all of the photos one can use to create a video using Animoto, you'd think there would be a number of users that ran up against copyright issues. Jefferson explains that's not the case because the terms of service "explicitly state that you cannot use copyrighted material, so we haven't had that much of a problem." That's a cool way of saying the users follow the Animoto rules.

Animoto Roll-outs

On February 8th, right after the Super Bowl, Animoto will roll out its new website with an improved "user experience," and introduce an ability to access HD quality so you can view videos on your digital television at home. Also, Brad says the time that it takes you to get your videos is going to be "reduced drastically."

Jerry Brown's Plan To End Redevelopment In California Wrong-Headed

California Governor Jerry Brown is known for attacking sacred cows but sometimes he does so without a clear vision of the real objective and how to achieve it. Such is the case with California Redevelopment Agencies (CRAs), which Brown wants to do away with as part of his State of California Proposed Budget.

Governor Brown thinks the move will return $1.7 billion to the general funds of California cities; but such a claim shows Brown doesn't understand Redevelopment, how it works, and what it's supposed to do.  The real objective of returning $1.7 billion will not be done in the way he says, and for several reasons.

First, California Redevelopment is designed such that it allows cities to establish redevelopment areas to keep property taxes. And contrary to popular view, redevelopment revenues from project areas can be used to provide services in those project areas. Many cities have done this, including Oakland.

Indeed, California Redevelopment Law was used by the City of Santa Ana to keep all of its property tax revenue. And while the law was changed to prevent that action by other cities, the City of Santa Ana's example proves that Redevelopment itself keeps property tax revenue under civic, and not state and county share, control. Yes, counties hate CRA's because they keep city property tax revenues from county collection and use. But counties can and do negotiate "pass-through" agreements to get some of that CRA prop tax revenue.

The bottom line is Governor Brown's wrong here and doesn't "get" how Redevelopment works.  The truth is that cities use California Redevelopment to keep property tax revenue and can use it for services.

Second, such a proposal as Brown's brings out every wingnut who has an issue with Redevelopment jumping on the Brown bandwagon, bringing up issues that can be easily fixed with a tweak in the law. For example, many suburban cities don't use their affordable housing set-aside monies. They should be forced to give 50 percent of those funds to a total pool that's then redistributed to the CRAs that have the greatest predetermined need.

Third, if Governor Brown really wants to attack a sacred cow and solve this budget problem, go after Prop 13.

Proposition 13 got us into this mess by throwing an intergenerational choke-chain around California's revenue collection system in 1978. Now, the near-depression recession we faced added another choke chain California has to deal with. The state has too many people chasing too few resources. The only way to reduce the population and increase the resources is by a three-percent increase in property taxes state-wide.

It would present a brutal and ugly fight. Hell, it might cost Brown his job and he'd have the shortest executive career since that pope who got poisoned, but it would be worth doing to really get at the actual problem plaguing California today: it's property tax system.

Be brave Jerry. Do it.

Sen. Mark Pryor's Support Of GOP-ish Amy Russell For Judge Upsets Arkansas Dems

Arkansas Senator Mark Pryor has incurred the wrath of Democrats in his state by pushing Amy Russell, the wife of Bob Russell, his former chief of staff, for a federal judgeship. The problem is Amy Russell is said to be a Republican.

What's bothersome to the Arkansas Democrats is that while blacks have called for black judges to be nominated, both Pryor and the once-sitting-Senator Blanche Lincoln gave them, what one blog called "the finger." Now, here comes Russell, and while she's black and the wife of Pryor's former Chief of Staff, she's not a Democrat.

That's interesting and it shows how far racial politics have come. It's not enough that the judge be black, but also be a Democrat. Personally, that kind of concern may be a good thing because it signals the mainstreamizing of black politics. It also says that, as Eugene Robinson has written, we are "disintegrating" into several groups that don't associate with each other in the way we did in the past.

I'm not sure if that's a good thing at all.

I'm also not exactly certain that a black Republican judge is less desirable than a black Democratic judge. Both are likely to be rather conservative socially and sympathetic to those who may come up in life's short end, if you will.

Still, it places Obama in a bit of a pickle. The basic objective is to keep the party happy, so Obama should just punt on this one. It looks like Arkansas Dems are out for blood.

Rahm Emanuel Can't Run For Mayor Of Chicago, Court Rules

Rahm Emanuel, former Congressman and Chief of Staff in The Obama White House, in a really shocking turn of legal events, can't run for Mayor of Chicago as of this writing. Here's the video by The Associated Press:

According to The New York Times, an Illinois Appeals Court, in overturning the decisions of the Chicago Board Of Elections and a Cook County Judge, had ruled that Emanuel can't run because he didn't meet the basic state residency requirements.

Rahm, who has a wide lead in polling and fund-raising, has said that his time working in The White House should not, essentially, be held against him because he was doing national service.

Now, the matter is certain to go to the State Supreme Court.

Boy, you can imagine what choice cuss words Rahm had for the two judges who went against him. Bet the house he threw something - maybe a paper weight.

But all kidding aside, this blogger can't think of a single time a white house staffer has quit to immediately run for local public office. This is without precedent, and therefore subject to wide legal interpretation.

The news comes just at the time when Rahm's the leader in both polling and in fund-raising, and by a wide margin. It's reported that Emanuel has raised $11.4 million to date. By contrast, Gery Chico, his closest challenger, has scored four times less money from donors than Emanuel.

YouTube Video Mendenhall Humps Roethlisberger Draws Varying Comments

(Rating: NC-17) Rashard Mendenhall, the Pittsburgh Steelers best running back, decided to dry-hump his teammate and QB Ben Roethlisberger toward the end of Sunday's AFC Championship game against the New York Jets. If you've not seen the video, here's my version, asking for your comments, which have been posted on the YouTube video:

While the reason for Mendenhall action, which has went viral on the Internet (it's still on Google Trends and has been since Sunday evening) and on YouTube, and has not yet been publicly explained, many have offered comments on it and at and YouTube.

Here's a sample:

Now you know how it feels Roethlisberger
CMCCvideos 2 hours ago

i think tosh from tosh.o dressed up as mendenhall for that play
50redraider 2 minutes ago

the ref runs over to try and get a closer look
slamshrk31 29 minutes ago

People seriously did stuff like that on my high school football team lmao. I wouldn't call this proof that he's gay, this is just what happens when you have a bunch of huge guys with testosterone bleeding out of their eyeballs lol.
edAVP1138 14 hours ago

LOLOLOL, I don't believe he is gay. Just having a little to much fun. I just hope he doesn't do that in the locker room, then for sure he is gay.
fieldx200 2 hours ago

@fieldx200 Exactly. He's just messin' around.
cwarren 1 hour ago

In a way, the variation in reactions shows what American society is willing to tolerate in 2011; the bar is much higher.  It may be due to the constant daily presentation of sex and sexual images in mainstream online platforms.

It's hard to find a good, definitive study on this, and most of what's out there focuses on how men react to women, and if not that then porn.  But the middle ground: the constant presentation of ideas and lifestyles associated with sex - from sex tapes to sex scandals, racy celeb photos, sex issues, and Gay and Lesbian sexuality - and its impact isn't studied, or if it is, the study's not widely known.

But it's an important matter that deserves serious consideration and conversation.  It should not be buried. Advances in communications technology are presenting a giant social mirror.  The question is what will we see next and can we handle what we see?

99er Nation / Tier 5 PepTalks Continue: Jobless Talk Rant by Paladinette

The 99er Nation / Tier 5 PepTalks continue via the most recent version of the Jobless Talk Rant by Paladinette, this weekend.

The rant for this week is titled: Fight Back wisely and features Key talking points and the current 99er campaign.

The latest in a series of rants uploaded to encourage the weary 99ers into battle mode begins with a clip from Martin Luther King that is as relevant today as when MLK spoke the words nearly 25 years ago.

"My rants are intended to be weekly pep talks for Americas unemployed especially those in the 99er nation."

  • Fighting back wisely means relentless focus upon our stated goals: Jobs for the Nation and until those Jobs are available - BENEFITS for the Duration!!!

  • Be Visible & Take Action -- GET OUT THERE into the home offices of all your own Congressional reps in the House and Senate and NEVER forget they work for YOU!!!!!!

Strength in Numbers - Listen to The definition of SOLIDARITY as Webster describes it: "unity or agreement of feeling or action, esp. among individuals with a common interest; mutual support within a group"

  • No More infighting / divisiveness within the 99er Community!
  • Peaceful protests against banks on bonus hand out days! Look for upcoming articles from the Unemployment Examiners on this very soon and then ACT on them PLEASE!

Any of you wary of joining the U-Cubed Union of the Unemployed - PLEASE REALIZE that U-Cubed is FREE and is simply a means to the desired end. The committed and creative leadership within this organization is even greater than that of the American99ersUnion - and that is NO Disrespect for that entity. I belong to that union too and support all of their efforts. It is just that U-Cubed has the money, the presence and the dedicated Tech support, Administration and KNOW HOW of dozens of dedicated professionals with years of experience of how Washington Works, what it takes to fight this fight wisely and lead the charge. We need the support of every unemployed and underEmployed person in this country and all those who love and support us in this fight for our very survival - to join forces into an entity that Cannot be ignored any longer...

To that end PLEASE - Join Today 

U-Cubed on:


TWITTER: @U_Cubed 


Paladinette ends this RANT with a humorous “Blast From the Past” that should bring back fond childhood memories for many in the 99er Nation.

[The donation button below is for Paladinette. If you like what I write please donate so I can keep on fighting for the 99ers! Thank You!]

Jay Cutler Eviscerated On Twitter And On NFL Network After Packers Bears

Chicago Bears Quarterback Jay Cutler's image is taking a massive beating in the wake of his leaving the NFC Championship Game with a knee injury in the 3rd Quarter. 

Cutler's being eviscerated on Twitter and on the NFL Network, which looped telecast game recap continues to communicate NFL player dissatisfaction with Cutler's decision to take himself out of the game.

The Twitter tweets are just plain blunt and mean:

Megakingordie BIG JAY
#cutler man couldn't handle the pressure if not the offensive coordinators are horrible cuz everytime I watch #cutler mans gettin sacked

jazzypoohstar Jasmine
The thing that got me bout #cutler knee injury in ok u injured but u standing up straight on sidelines wtf #fake #fail your team
12 minutes ago

And that last tweet is notable because it did look like Jay could move around, and the question is would it have been enough for him to play from the Shotgun the rest of the way? To millions, including NFL Network's Deion Sanders, it looked like he quit on his team and the City of Chicago.

As Deion so well put it, there's a difference between perception and reality and the perception is that Cutler just quit. The Jacksonville Jaquars Maurice Jones-Drew's tweets were particularly hard on Cutler:

Jones_Drew32 Maurice Jones-Drew
RT @DoObieGibson: Jay Cutler's injury status: Bruised Ego <--- man so critical yet true 10 hours ago
Jones_Drew32 Maurice Jones-Drew Hey I think the urban meyer rule is effect right now... When the going gets tough........QUIT.. 10 hours ago 
Jones_Drew32 Maurice Jones-Drew All I'm saying is that he can finish the game on a hurt knee... I played the whole season on one... 10 hours ago

Bears Defend Cutler

One group coming to Jay Cutler's defense are the Chicago Bears players. After the NFC Championship Brian Urlacher said "Nothing like jealous people at home watching. Players around the league you said right? Yeah, I love jealous people when they are watching our game on TV while their season is over...Jay was hurt. I don’t question his toughness, he’s tough as hell. He’s one of the toughest players on our football team. He doesn’t bitch, he doesn’t complain when he gets hit. He goes out there and plays his ass off every Sunday, he practices every single day, so no we don’t question his toughness."

Bears Head Coach Lovie Smith said "For us, Jay hurt his knee, he couldn’t go. He tried to go, that last series there of the first half, took a shot to the knee, tried to go, went in and worked on him a little bit at the half but he came out. He just couldn’t go, team, doctors and all, there was no decision really. He was injured."

Jay Cutler's NFL May Be Not-For-Long

While the words may die down, they will not go away. This game will haunt Jay for the rest of his life. Until he makes a gutsy performance, Jay Cutler will always be defined by his play and decisions made on Sunday January 23rd, 2011 during the NFC Championship Game. If Jay has any heart for the game, he's going to be called on to show it again and again.

Cutler's up against the enduring image of Brett Favre playing on bad knees yet running around the field like a little kid at play. Or Phil Rivers playing on a torn ACL in the 2008 AFC Championship Game.

That last fact is the most damning one for Jay. Cutler's image is in the tank; he's got to lift it out of there next season.