US Army Captain (Alleged Murderer) Leonard John Egland’s Suicide Spot: Royalty-Free Photos

Because I'm tired of seeing this photo

Hey media. Here are some free royalty-free photos of the “last stand” of Leonard John Egland in Warwick, PA (here’s the location on Google Maps). I’m kinda tired of seeing this dang mug shot, so help yourself, media. They’re all on Flickr noted as “creative commons” with attribution, so use away. Just please stop showing us that face shot. It’s freaking me out. Some choices:

  • Photos of the media circus around him (as if I’m any better)
  • The crime scene of his alleged suicide (very uncomfortable)
  • The intersection (with machine-gun armed police) before he was proclaimed dead
  • The Lukoil where he was last seen- that may be his car. Not sure.

Hey I was sleep deprived after 2 basement-runs due to Tornado warnings. And it’s hard not to get a bit obsessed when a SWAT manhunt is taking place just miles from your house. So I’ll admit… I drove around a while until I found the crime scene… it was a bit of a circus, with some parents even bringing their kids on their shoulders. I thought I was smelling either floods or death, but it turns out my car was just stanky.

Apparently Egland was last seen at the gas station, then fled on foot. He didn’t get far, or else he did some kidna loop after playing Rambo for a while… because the spot they were investigating was just a few hundred feet from the Lukoil on Almshouse/Sugarbottom/York Road in Warwick (very close to the Warwick tavern). That location had been reported a good 6 plus hours before he was proclaimed dead.

For a while we were warned to “lock our doors,” because an armed murderer was loose (although most of my information was from the web, as local media felt that lame flood-aftermath footage was more important). I’m not sure Egland was planning to gun folks down, and was pretty specific in his murders (unless you count the two police offers at whom he shot but didn’t severely harm). He went for his ex, her husband and his mother-in-law… then himself.

The crowd gathered like it was a circus performance. Then again, can I judge?

The guy had just returned from Iraq and I suppose he didn’t want certain people raising his daughter (who he dropped off at a hospital before fleeing, scaring folks, and eventually killing himself). The girl told hospital workers that her grandma was in heaven. She lived just a couple miles north of me.

Okay- for therapeutic relief I did amuse myself editing his face into random shots this afternoon. But none of these Flickr photos are digitally altered accept obviously the one of him peering out the window at the Doylestown Starbucks. Yeah, that’s fake. The rest are real.

Great way to end a week, right? An earthquake. A hurricane. Two tornados. Then you wake up to a military-trained murderer cruising your neighborhood armed and dangerous. My wife said she heard three gunshots some time in the afternoon, and I went driving around kinda hoping I’d spot him and run him over before he hurt anyone else. I recognize that’s not a very normal way to spend your Sunday.

Very relaxing.

Leonard Egland crime scene August 28, 2011. U.S. Army Captain who allegedly killed 4 people then himself

Famous YouTube Star’s First Videos

It’s fun to look at the early videos of some of the best-known YouTube personalities of today (and previous years). Unfortunately many have groomed their channel to eliminate some early embarrassments. Still, I’ve done my best to find some old and awkward videos from some of the top creators/channels. Please feel free to add some in the comments, because I’m too exhausted from digging these up (I haven’t figured out an easier way than scrolling page after page). Anyone want to dig up a vintage clip from their favorite creator? Find that first Shaycarl video or LisaNova?

Here’s a video I did in October 2007 where I asked some of my favorite YouTubers to send their childhood photos. It’s funny how some have vanished, and some have gone on to great heights.

Flip Cam Alternative in JVC Picsio?

A month ago while on vacation in Florida I discovered I had forgotten my Canon HV30. I panicked.

I searched my laptop case (a giant man purse) for a Flip cam to hold me over. Note how easy it is to say “flip cam” instead of “small video camera.” No luck. On a trip to Best Buy I look at the Flips, but I continue to be frustrated by Flip’s price rigidity. Instead of bringing any legacy model close to the $100 point (I’m the guy that would own five of them for that price), they keep adding features and pushing past the $200. At $200 it’s a rival to larger but much better $300-$500 cameras. At $100 (or even $150) it’s an impulse buy and almost disposable.

Having been duped by Sylvania’s “Poor Man’s Flip Cam,” I would not go that route again.

So I tried out the JVC Picsio because of a significant sale ($150 if I recall, off a $199 ARP) and the super strong endorsement from the Best Buy dude. Not Billy this time. I was in Florida.

A worthy competitor to Flip in my book, but not according to Amazon raters...

Pros:

  • As small as Flip, but I believe the picture quality is as good or better. You can go 720 or 1080, and in good lighting it looks like a $500 camera.
  • I was afraid the JVC Picsio wouldn’t play nicely with my Mac, and I’d need software to convert. Surprisingly the files were .mov files and ready to roll into iMovie.
  • It takes photos and they’re pretty decent. I’ve learned not to get lured by megapixel promises… consider these pretty nice for a discount video camera ($150 would get you far more in a digital still camera).
  • You can find the price online even lower (see Amazon).
  • It’s very small and goes in the pocket easily. We took some cool swamp footage I can’t remember if I posted! Wait- I didn’t, did I?
  • I like to toggle between photo and video camera easily. It confuses the victim, however.

Cons:

  • It got slammed on Amazon’s reviews, so I wouldn’t have purchased it had I known that. But my experience wasn’t as severe as theirs.
  • No USB plug: you’d be surprised how that seemingly trivial miss can be so frustrating.
  • The playback sound (camera’s speaker) it almost inaudible. Like the Flip, no external mics welcome. Indoors without ambience, it did well. Cars not so much.
  • The power button is hard to use (quite annoying to dig fingernail multiple times to turn off/on), and the navigation is more complex. It began recording in my pocket a few times.
  • Apparently when the battery dies, it’s a paperweight.
  • Some people claim the images are not as steady, but again I was happy with what I got for $150 on an impulse buy.

Would I buy it again? I suppose if I didn’t already own a bunch of Flips (the Hello Kitty one is still my fav), I might have instead sprung for the Flip Mino to give it a try. As I recall, Greg Benson (mediocrefilms) shot this Yearbook parody video with it (amazing). For another $50 or $100 I’d like to see how it compares directly to the JVC Picsio and other portable cameras.

Here’s some footage I shot with it. What do you think?

Bottom Line:

  • I am surprised at Flip’s ability to dominate the market and hold on high prices ala Mac. It’s a great innovation, but I keep expecting for a Canon, JVC, Sony or other manufacturer to come out with a $100 Flip killer. Not yet.
  • As long as Flip keeps innovating (and allowing older models to hit that $100ish level) it may continue to dominate the ultra portable market, and I noticed the bold advertising campaign has continued even post Cisco acquisition. I do wish it would use actual amateur video in its ads instead of the awkwardly over produced simulated amateur clips. Again Flip resembles Mac in its advertising: slick, cool, musical.

P.S. If you Flip peeps wants to loan me the newest (UltraHD or this brushed-steal gen 2 Mino) for a head-to-head trial against the JVC Piscio I’ll gladly take the challenge and return the camera. I’d shoot simultaneous shots of the Flip and JVC (recording in the same conditions at same time), then post them on my daily vlogs on YouTube (unclenalts). Just hit me at kevinnalts at gmail (if I don’t reply immediately, don’t hesitate shooting again).

YouTube Live Hangover

YouTube Live Photos by WifeofnaltsI probably had about 4 drinks at YouTube Live (a concert, party and gathering in San Francisco on November 22, 2008). But I’m hungover the same way I was after visiting LA to shoot HBO Lab’s “Hooking Up” and “The Retarded Policeman.”

Here are a few of the photos wifeofnalts took while I was busy gathering video footage. We also summed up our favorite moments in the video below. Jo (wifeofnalts) was rather smitten for Bo Burnham and Chad Hurley (YouTube’s founder). 

San Francisco was unbelievable. It was the first flight my wife and I have taken alone in a decade (before we had our four children). We visited my sister in NAPA, and she joined us at the event to cover it for ABC’s Good Morning America. 

It was great to see YouTube friends, and watch the performances. Now back to the day job! Thanks, Jan, for  the reminder that I’ve neglected our sweet lil’ WVFF tribe. Met fellow tribemate Peter Coffin, who I had the pleasure of hanging with, until they drove us into separate seating areas like cattle. 🙂

 

HBOLab’s “Hooking Up” Web Series Debuts Today. Satire Ensues.

HBOLab’s “Hooking Up” series debuts today (see premier episode), and here’s a sneak preview of photos of the cast. There’s also a new YouTube channel with a trailer for the series at YouTube.com/hookingup. I don’t know much about the story because I only read my own short scenes with Michael Buckley. The plot revolves around relationships in a world where most of our communication is electronic. Of course I play a professor, and Buckley’s a junior professor. SxePhil and Jessica (LonelyGirl15) play a couple, and I have seen some sneak peeks of their e-mail and Facebook flirting.

It will be interesting to see how YouTubers receive this series, which involves higher production and scripted dialogue — which they don’t often associate with some of these popular YouTubers like KevJumba, Charles Trippy, and  MrSafety. Being a popular YouTuber involves a lot more than acting (writing, directing, promoting, connecting with crowd, remaining topical, etc.).

In this web series, however, the YouTube weblebrities have little more than their acting to rely on. I, for one, felt completely out of my element. I’ve done stage acting before, and most of my video stuff is improv with script points. So I didn’t find it easy to stick with a script of a character I didn’t invent — and I’m kinda bracing to groan when I see the clips.

At least we had a blast in LA. I didn’t see most of the people at the HBOLabs set (the mock Bask University) since my scene involved Buckley alone. But we did catch up later doing the Retarded Policeman, and then a brief dinner before a red eye back to the East Coast to… be a marketer.

One thing’s for sure. You’re gonna find out what a bunch of fat asses we are when we aren’t vlogging directly to the camera, and don’t have the privilege of editing out unflattering body shots. Especially that Jessica. She must weigh about 95 pounds.

P.S. If you’ve seen the Hooking Up Trailer, then you’ve got to watch FallofAutumnDistro‘s biting satire of it titled “Selling Out.”

YouTube Thumbnail Isn’t Center Frame Anymore

For the last few videos I’ve uploaded to YouTube, I’ve discovered a disturbing trend. The default thumbnail (image that represents the video) isn’t predictable. YouTube appeared to be departing from the model of using the center frame and the 1/3 and 2/3 frame.

At the risk of spreading potential Twitter rumors, a little birdie says the center frame as thumbnail is RIP.

This is a really big deal if it’s not another technical glitch. I’ve discovered that almost nothing makes a video like the thumbnail. Not the title, creator, or content.

Many sites allow you to select from as many as 12 images. Some sites let you keep selecting/refreshing until you find just the right one (and even crop it). And there are even sites that allow you to upload a jpeg to represent the video.

So why would YouTube make it more difficult? Because thumbnails are often manipulated and because… YouTube can do whatever it wants now. The switching costs for viewers/creators is huge, and so we have a virtual monopoly. 

Here’s hoping reason prevails. It would be a shame to subject a creator (and viewer) to a random thumbnail. Unless a different thumbnail appears each time someone refreshes the video (which is far too complex for servers) then there’s a simple solution…

Upload OVER AND OVER until you get the one you like.
Yeah! That’ll spin some bandwidth.

This is especially an issue a problem as Google provides a new way to search video thumbnails without ever going to YouTube. Did you notice that if you now search Google for the word YouTube, you can refine your video search without leaving Google’s homepage? Interesting move and one that would appear to be good for viewers but unclear as to whether that helps/harms revenue for Google. Fewer display ads (Google results don’t have them) but perhaps a higher CPC (cost per click) and more opportunities to serve the text ad.

youtube google search refined

TheMightyThor1212 Not Alone at Boston YouTube Gathering

the guy who attends every youtube gathering

The YouTuber who has attended every YouTube gathering since 2002, TheMighyThor1212, was surprised to be joined by two other people at the weekend’s Boston YouTube gathering. Joe, aka MysteryGuitarMan, attended and took some photos. A Ben Franklin lookalike was the third attendee, although he said he planned to be at the venue before he was aware of a YouTube meetup.

“It was a fun time for all three of us,” said TheMightyThor1212, who requested his real name not be used. “I was stoked how much I had in common with the Ben Franklin guy. We both have glasses, opposable thumbs, and an uncanny appreciation for technology.”

Later that evening, MysteryGuitarMan returned home because he’s not allowed out past 10:30. TheMightyThor1212 and Ben Franklin guy went for some drinks at the Lighthouse Bar.

“It was a little weird because I came out of character after four Scotch and Cokes,” said David Scheyd, who earns $14 an hour playing Ben Franklin on weekends. “But that MightyThor dude never took off his shades or told me his real name. And he maintained he’s the son of the Elder Goddess Gaea, is the protector of Midgard, and has a natural affinity for Earth.”

Ben Franklin lookalike