My trouble with iMovie ’09

You don’t have to visit this blog too many times to know I enjoy Apple products.

These days we have 4 Macs in our house, two iPhones and 4 ipods.

And I use iPhoto, iTunes and iWork regularly and for the most part happily.

This weekend, I got my hands dirty with iMovie ‘09. In a nutshell the user experience was pretty bad.

Here’s what I wanted to do: make a DVD for a friend from about 6 relatively short video clips taken from our Flip Mino along with 20 photos and a few songs playing behind those photos.

I remember a few versions ago, iMovie was simple and straightfoward. Now it feels like a mess.

I couldn’t figure out how to fade the audio track out from one to another.

I couldn’t figure out how to fade out the music at the end of project.

By default it applied Ken Burns to each photo. I couldn’t figure out to change that for all photos at once.

Do I really have to make a project in iMovie and then export to iDVD to burn a disk? Why can’t I just make my project in iMovie and hit burn somewhere.

I wanted to overlay a photo on top of the video at one point. I couldn’t figure that out either.

As long as Apple forces me to use iDVD to burn a disk then please give me beautiful themes at least. Is there a way to import themes from a 3rd party because I didn’t like any of the stock themes.

I think the time is right for someone to create a beautiful and simple alternative to iMovie.

Pretty please.

The fear card is being played on us again

The fear card is being played on us again.

This time it’s fear of closing Guantanamo.

Republicans have created this as a wedge issue. And I’m not surprised. They have been clear since the beginning that they are in favor of that place.

But now my party, the democrats, led by Senator Harry Reid participated in a vote last week, 90-6, in favor of keeping it open.

The rationale: fear.

The logic goes like this: where are we going to put these suspected terrorists? We can’t put them in our prisons on US soil. That would put our country at risk?

This is such a load of crap and fear selling of the worst kind.

We have dangerous criminals in our prisons today. There hasn’t been a breakout in maximum federal prison in forever. We spend billions of US tax dollars to build such secure places.

Our leadership in the senate has let us down big time.

We need new leadership in the senate. This group isn’t getting it done.

Live tv coming to a web near you

There a number of reasons why people still subscribe to traditional pay television (satellite, cable, telco).

Just a year or so ago it was about network television shows & movies.

But very quickly those shows are finding their way online. Either thru illegal p2p networks or legal places like itunes, amazon, netflix and hulu.

Plus those traditional shows are just the tip of the iceberg. The web has much more to offer. Fred wrote a great post a few days ago about a recent evening that where he VJ’d 90 minutes of various clips on youtube with his family. You can’t replicate that experience with your standard cable box.

Web video critics have long believed that even as more shows go online, pay television operators will always have the advantage because of live events (news, sports, music etc).

As we saw with inauguration, CNN and otheres offered live streams of these events online. MLB has an amazing live product at MLB.tv. On June 1st, you can watch a live Dave Matthews concert on Hulu. There is more live content coming every day.

To be fair, there are still a number of barriers before the web can fully compete with live programming. Real technical challenges remain as well as economic issues as well. But these are going to be solved. I’m quite optimistic about that.

As these problems become solved, I think we are going to see cable start increasing ISP fees.

But here’s the thing: if ISP fees increase it will only accelerate pay television churn. Generally consumers have a fixed amount to spend on entertainment. And increasingly consumers would rather pick internet access over pay television. Certainly that is true with the younger generation.

If you could only have one which would you pick?

Thoughts about Greylock

Yesterday, the big news in the venture community was about Greylock Partners, one of the premier venture capital firms in the world. Greylock is moving its headquarters to Silicon Valley.

Greylock was founded in 1965 and had been based here in MA since inception.

What does this mean for Boston based entrepreneurs and VCs?

Here are my thoughts.

0 – If I wanted to put a positive spin on the Greylock move, I would just wish them well and enjoy their departure. Less competition for those of us staying.

But the reality is that this was expected for a long time. They have not been active here for years. It’s no secret that the younger partners they have recruited over time are on the west coast. Their internet and consumer investments have mostly been west coast based while their east coast efforts have been focused on biotech & life sciences.

1 –  Having said all of that I am concerned about our local market. We haven’t been as active specifically in Boston/Cambridge as I would have hoped. And it’s not just Spark. Many of my VC colleagues tell me they are looking into NYC and are investing actively on the west coast. Take a look at this chart I grabbed from a PWC report on the Massachusetts annual share of VC per year.

Where will 2009 and 2010 end up? Unclear but I don’t love the trend.

2 – We are seeing big changes in the Boston VC market that are promising but will take time. Several new firms have launched with new funds and are active. Our firm, Spark Capital, and other firms like Flybridge Capital, General Catalyst, .406 Ventures and others. And while I miss YCombinator for sure, I’m happy that Boston is getting more attention from the outside. Foundry Group is making investments here as is First Round Capital and others. And TechStars just launched in Boston. I have high hopes for our new Start@Spark program too.

3 – Massachusetts has roughly only 2.3% of our nation’s population but receives about 10% of VC dollars nationwide. Life sciences, energy, software and internet technologies will remain quite strong and promising.

4 – We need to create an open environment for innovation. We need to get rid of employee non compete agreements. That isn’t the only issue but it’s a big one. I encourage you to support MA House Bill 1794 if you live here. Call your state rep, tell your neighbor, tell your coworkers, sing a song, tweet and blog about it.

We have a lot of opportunity here and plenty of raw materials. But we need to improve and compete at a higher level.

And when I say “we” I mean all of us. VCs, angel investors, successful entrepreneurs, new entrepreneurs, failed entrepreneurs, big companies, small companies, universities and government.

We can do better.