Our excellent iPhone 4 star-studded iMovie vacation; my core compulsion loop

Over the past 10 days we’ve been on a road trip through Southern California. Lots of fun. But being off the grid gave me a chance to really play with the iPhone 4. Since we were in Hollywood, it was a good chance to test out the new iMovie that you can use on the new iOS4.

Here’s my first movie, don’t worry, it’s very short, only 87 seconds. You should click here, pop it out, and make sure you’re watching the HD version on Flickr.

In making this I found iMovie to be most excellent EXCEPT for a couple of things — the sound track is too short and the audio level was inconsistent, getting louder during a couple of clips and I couldn’t figure out how to control it! I guess Apple wanted us to only create 60-second videos, not 87-second ones. Well, that and there wasn’t many choices of music. I really wish they would hook up with Tapulous. Oh, wait, another Steve Jobs company, Disney, just bought Tapulous. Why is Tapulous cool? Because you can buy music to play games with. Why couldn’t I buy longer and better music to put onto my home movies?

One other thing. Hand holding the iPhone is WAY too shaky. I don’t know of a good solution. I tried to prop myself against things when I could, but usually I couldn’t. So, my video has the shakes. That’s the only downside of the new camera in the iPhone 4.

By the way, check out how good the iPhone 4 camera is. Here’s a shot I did with it from the deck of our villa in Laguna Beach on Thursday night:

View from Laguna -- iPhone 4

Now compare the same moment, but captured on a $3,800 Canon 5D MK II:

View from Laguna -- Canon 5D MK II

Yes, the Canon image is better, especially if you look around the sun, but the camera in the iPhone holds together remarkably well. If I didn’t have them side-by-side it’d be tough to tell which one is which, other than when you blow them up to maximum resolutions.

Anyway, we met a few stars on our trip.

MCE Tech pimps out my MacBook

The CEO of MCE Tech, Arnie Ramirez, pimped out my Mac. Damn is it fast! Thanks to Sam Levin for organizing that visit. Arnie took out my hard drive, put SSD in, then took out my optibay drive, and put a 750gig drive in there. Finally he increased my RAM to 8 gigs. Wow, does everything work fast now! MCE was the first company to come up with ways to better use the optibay and they did an awesome job. Full disclosure: he gave me a good discount.

And we had lunch with movie star and entrepreneur/investor Ashton Kutcher who invited us to lunch to talk geeky stuff. He’s working on an interesting company and wanted to tell me about it. But mostly we talked about how to save Yahoo and the future of media. More on that later in July because I can’t disclose what I know.

Movie star and entrepreneur Ashton Kutcher photo opportunity

During vacation I downloaded quite a few apps (my install right before vacation deleted all my apps, so I needed to redownload all of them since I didn’t have them properly backed up). Anyway, thanks to Appsfire you can see all 250+ apps I have installed. More on those later, too.

I took the time to really play a lot more with location apps. Yes, you can see everywhere we went on my Foursquare Feed. Even Ashton Kutcher is using it, too (he invested in the company, he told me) and he does, indeed, do his own checkins.

One thing I learned about vacation: it’s not to escape work. Especially when, in my case, I do what I love already.

In my case, it was about switching off the machine that feeds content to Twitter, my blog, and elsewhere, and get some time to get some perspective on what’s going on in my family and at work. I came back with a ton of ideas written on my iphone and some observations, too.

Oh, and Microsoft killed Kin? I could have told you THAT was coming. Microsoft and big companies have a disease where they go for the mass market. The problem is that the mass market has already happened. What will happen tomorrow? Something small that most of us will miss. How many of us predicted that the iPhone would force entire industries to shift? Microsoft certainly didn’t.

Plus, Microsoft should talk to teenagers. They want iPhones. They might settle for something that LOOKS like an iPhone, like a DroidX, but they certainly don’t aspire to get some lameass phone that doesn’t look like an iPhone. Ask the teenagers. They will tell you the truth. Whoever built the Kin didn’t do their homework. Same for the phone designers at Palm. Misjudged what people now want. Go to Disneyland and look at how people are using their phones. That will be where new ideas come from, but did Kin’s team think of doing that? Did Palm’s?

FooCamp kicks off

Other stars? At the beginning of my vacation I spent some time at O’Reilly’s FooCamp. I love Tim O’Reilly’s explanation of why they do it: “to make us smarter.” I got smarter, mostly by spending the past 10 days trying to figure out my core compulsion loop is. But nothing like hanging out with tons of interesting geeks in an apple orchard (the fruit, not the machine) for a weekend. Not to mention my tent was right next to Leo Laporte’s and I got the skinny on what he’s up to while we shared a nice cigar or two.

What’s that? A core compulsion loop is something in a game that a player MUST do. What did I find out on vacation that I must do?

Oakley's headquarters

Inside Oakley's headquarters

Well, this post explains it all. My core compulsion loop is to study the best-of-breed tech companies, the entrepreneurs that build them, and the infrastructure choices that they make. Even on vacation I felt compelled to get a tour of Oakley, which has the coolest headquarters building I’ve seen (and I’ve been inside dozens of the best companies like Target, Boeing, Amazon, Rackspace, Microsoft, Loreal, etc — none come close to Oakley’s design). We got a private tour of Oakley’s manufacturing plant with one of the tech geeks there. Thanks Colin Smith, really appreciated that. They showed us some of the ways they have made better sunglasses than any other company and I didn’t realize they make almost everything right in their Southern California headquarters. Nice to see manufacturing done in the good old USA!

Denise Howell

Speaking of manufacturing, one of my favorite law bloggers, Denise Howell, was down in Laguna Beach at the same time we were, so we met up and intermingled kids on the beach. Lots of fun, and learned a bit about Laguna from her. You can read her blog, or follow her podcast on Leo Laporte’s This Week In show.

Anyway, my vacation was mostly captured with my iPhone 4, so back to that. I almost spent a day writing a review of the iPhone 4, but for now it’s my phone of choice and is more productive — for me — than any of my Android-based devices but the reason I didn’t write that review is because MG Siegler at Techcrunch wrote up a good review that matches my experiences completely.

One last thing, though. Apple is full of crap about its antenna problem. We own three of the new iPhone 4′s and if we touch the gap at the bottom left of the screen, which joins the antennas, we can get our iPhones to consistently drop calls at home. On our road trip we learned that this only happened in low-quality wireless areas where we were quite a ways away from the nearest AT&T antennas. But for Apple to try to make this out to be just a problem with the display software is absolutely wrong and should be further addressed. Yes, putting a case on it, or refraining from touching that area, does fix the problem but Apple should admit they have a problem and put out a fix, which probably involves some tape or a case, which I’m sure they don’t want to do. In my mind it is a defective product and I’ve never had that kind of problem with any other cell phone. I’d probably just have lived with it, but Apple’s explanation was so lame and so wrong it really pissed me off.

And, with that, I guess my vacation is over.

Oh, here’s what my iPhone 4 screens look like. I +love+ the new groups feature, which let me fit 250 apps into two screens:

My new iPhone screen #1My new iPhone screen #2