Personal Artifacts

Over the years I’ve enjoyed getting to know my extended family, learning family history, and hearing the stories that are passed down through the generations. As with most American families, there is a theme of leaving the homeland, arriving in the United States, and heading west; and a legacy of hard work, dreams, trials, and love. I’ve also collected artifacts over the years, such as  letters, photographs, books, textiles, recipes, china, mementos, and gifts.


Grandma’s Recipe Box

In November I used some of these artifacts to create a couple of family history videos. They were prototypes, both to learn how to use the Movavi software, and to experiment with incorporating photos, maps, and newspaper clippings to enrich the reading of the letters. See Toolkit: Family History with Grandma Nina and Toolkit: Family History with Grandma Char.


Grandma organized her recipes with Dessert first!

During the writing and filming of the videos, I realized that my personal artifacts are stored all over the house. Letters, journals, and mementos are in the garage; letters from my two grandmothers are in folders in the downstairs guest room/office; physical photos are organized in photo boxes in the living room; digital photos are mostly archived to the cloud, with others stored on various computers and devices; and textile treasures—those that are embroidered, crocheted,  knit, and woven—reside in various closets or in boxes stored under beds.

There is a level of organization imposed, but, if I want to go deeper with my family history project, I’m realizing that I need a better taxonomy for identifying, cataloging, and retrieving these objects. I would like to curate the objects that still have meaning, and to purge those that have not stood the test of time. In the months ahead, I hope to see what I can learn about how to organize a personal collection of family memories.

Toolkit: Gimbal to Go

I added a new tool to my arsenal of movie-making paraphernalia this Christmas, a DJI OSMO Mobile 3. The gimbal pairs with your cell phone via Bluetooth, and provides an easy-to-hold handle, with controls for taking photos and movies. The gimbal acts as a stabilizer so that videos are fluid rather than jerky.


You can easily zoom in and out, switch to selfie mode and back, and automatically rotate the phone from portrait to landscape mode.  You can also adjust settings such as lighting, flash, and special effects. The handle folds down to fit in a compact space for transport, and comes with a portable tripod (or can connect to a more substantial one).


So far my only complaint is that I am forced to use the DJI Mimo app and camera, and to manage files through the app. I cannot specify that files be automatically uploaded to the storage of my choice, such as Google Photos or Dropbox.  Instead I must preview the results, then take a specific step to move each file to storage. This seems very restrictive and cumbersome, with a definite bias to someone uploading immediately to Facebook (not an amateur film maker with bigger plans).

Still the gimbal is light, easy-to-use, and provides wonderful stabilization. I’ve had so much fun taking videos, selfies, and stills, and been really happy with the results. I have yet to delve into Sports mode, Story mode, and gestures, so there is more to learn, and more fun to come (stay tuned)! I highly recommend this tool for the fledgling movie maker.

Red Dot Awards for 2019

Happy New Year! Time to open a new chapter in our working lives, one that is full of learning, growth, and productivity. I like to kick off the year with a recent Red Dot Award winner. The Red Dot competition is hosted in Germany, and celebrates human-centric design and innovative products from around the world. Last year I reported on the L16 Computational Camera by Bould Design and Light in Red Dot Awards for 2018. Starting the year with great design reminds me to bring beauty and elegance to my work.

Scrolling Keyboard by Royole Corporation

Scrolling Keyboard by Royole Corporation

This year I selected the Scrolling Keyboard by Royole Corporation, designed in-house in Fremont, California. The keyboard is 6 inches wide (154 mm) and rolls up into a tube. When extended it connects to a mobile device via Bluetooth. Push a button to roll it up back in the tube. Although tiny, when compared with the size of mobile phone keyboard, it seems quite generous. This is ideal for anyone who computes on the go.

I research and write everywhere I go, and love tools that are small, compact, and practical. This would be perfect for situations where I need to throw up a quick “office” in a small space like on an airplane or at a coffee shop. The keyboard seems to be in the design stage, but I’d love to try it out in the future.