Category Archives: Uncategorized

Using a Sony a7ii DSLR Camera for video conferencing

Since the start of the pandemic I’ve been working at home for going on 6 months now and streaming my work self over Zoom many hours a day. My work machine is a 2017 MacBook Pro and my home monitor is an old Apple Cinema display so I already have two built-in cameras I can use for streaming. That said, the cinema display is 10 years old and the camera quality is about that of a lowly cell phone camera from the same era, or to put it bluntly it’s terrible. Now the MBP has a decent laptop camera however, it’s not my primary monitor and it’s hard to stare at a secondary monitor meeting after meeting. I also happen to own a Sony a7ii DSLR and after finally getting tired of presenting myself through a terrible webcam I decided I’d investigate my option to use my DSLR as a webcam. Since then I’ve had numerous people comment on the quality of my camera and a few people schedule calls to learn more about my setup so I figured I’d document it.

Btw, none of these are affiliate links.

While this seems straightforward enough it actually pulling it all together took more than I expected. First, Sony DSLR’s are famous for eating batteries so I needed to find a power source that could last all day. I did a lot of Googling and found a number of DIY solutions and abandoned Sony adapter. I finally found this dummy battery adapter which has worked great:

Next was finding an inexpensive HDMI capture card because I wasn’t entirely sure I’d stick with this setup. I opted for a $119 off brand card from digitnow.us which I’d never heard of but the card did get some good reviews on YouTube and I’ve had no problems, “it just worked”.

I also had to purchase a micro-HDMI cable and that and there are a million and one of these out there so I found one on Amazon that got good reviews and again, no problems so far.

I figured if I was going to have high quality video I’d also better upgrade my microphone too so I bought a Yeti:

I have the camera mounted on my desk using my tripod and while a workable setup it’s not ideal but I recommend this tripod wholeheartedly.

As for software I most use the HDMI capture card directly but I’ve also installed OBS and played around with it but it does drive my laptop fans and consumes considerable CPU which hardly seems worth it. I’ve tried tweaking a number of settings to fix the issue but nothing really seems to have helped. One thing that’s pretty cool but I’ve never actually used in a call is a lightboard that I setup using excalidraw and a Luma Key filter as my drawing surface. I’ve also experimented with the iPad app Concepts using Reflector to mirror the iPad onto my desktop and feed it into OBS.

If you’re on a Mac you’ll also need the virtual webcam support too:

Lastly, I’m a Wired fan and found this article helpful as well.

I also would recommend installing Sony’s Imaging Edge software so you can use a mini-USB cable and control the camera directly from your desktop which is far easier than messing with it when it’s mounted to the back side of your monitor. Just be sure to set your USB Connection setting to PC Remote.

Highway 17 Santa Cruz Mountains Traffic Commuter Resources

Resources for information on Highway 17 Traffic over the Santa Cruz mountains to/from Los Gatos.

CTO4Hire John Waters New Company

A friend and former collegue, John Waters has recently started a new venture I thought would be of interest to people who read my blog considering he’s one of the best I’ve had the pleasure of working with. I met John while at Falafel Software and his new company is CTO4Hire. John’s extremely knowledgable and has experience working on a wide range of technologies across a broad spectrum of businesses. I believe his skills and business acument make him uniquely qualified to offer the type of services provided by CTO4Hire (from his website):

CTO4Hire provides C-level business executives with on demand access to a highly qualified and experienced CTO, assisting you and your team on a per project basis, or on a retainer, with projects ranging from systems integration, evaluation of technology, vendors or employee assessments, software architecture and systems design, due diligence of planned ventures, and leadership of teams in startups or established enterprises.

You can contact John here. Having recently started a CTO position myself I’m particularly interested in following CTO4Hire.

Possible to fix card slot for Nikon D70?

I have a Nikon D70 and one day I found the flash card sticking out and discovered some little hands had been playing around with it. The issue was one of the pins was bent to the point where I couldn’t insert the card. Using a small screwdriver I was able to realign the pin and insert a card however the camera fails to recognize the card and just displays “-E-” where the image count normally would appear.
I’m curious, is this worth trying to fix? Anyone have a repair place they would recommend?

First phase of MerchantCircle redesign goes live

Shortly after MerchantCircle was acquired by Reply.com a site redesign effort was launched and I was asked to lead the effort from the development side. At the time, I’d been working as the sole developer on bloglines.com so for me this was an interesting challenge not to mention a fairly sizable gear shift. The site is built with a Python templating engine called Cheetah and consists of just over 2000 template files, in other words it’s big. It would be fair to say there was a good deal of skepticism about launching such a large undertaking and it took me a few weeks wrestling with a few approaches before I settled on a pattern I felt comfortable with. On bloglines I’d heavily leveraged Cheetah’s support for visual inheritance, something not used in the original MerchantCircle codebase though it’s the cornerstone of the redesign.
Below is the old MerchantCircle listing page (right) and the new redesign as you can see there are significant differences which are far more than skin deep.

Old Design
OldDesign_Nov_2011
New Design
NewDesign_Nov_2011

The redesign in the press:
Reply Relaunches MerchantCircle As A More Consumer-Focused Merchant Marketplace
Reply revamps MerchantCircle.com in days leading to Yelp IPO

Too many automated bill payments on the credit card

Our credit card company called yesterday and said a 3rd party database was compromised. They canceled our cards and reissued. I forgot and swiped my card at the grocery store doh! Then couldn’t download something from the AppStore and couldn’t stream a movie from Amazon and now I’m awaiting a slew of bill pay failures.

Ah the conveniences of the modern world! It’ll be nice when this is over.

Casualty of a Google Panda Update?

I’m beginning to wonder if my blog has become a casualty of a Google Panda update. Looking at Analytics my traffic is down 40% over the last month yet I’ve only posted a handful of times. That’s a pretty dramatic drop when nothing else on the site has materially changed. As I search on Google for post that I’ve written which have driven traffic to this blog they’re nowhere to be found.
Screen shot 2011-11-12 at 11.05.00 AM
Then again, perhaps I’m just getting punished for my Leaving Andriod post. (but seriously, that post was on Oct 20th)
Update Jan 16, 2012: Down traffic continues to the point where my traffic is 1/3 of what it was a year ago.

CNN's sad attempt to use Mike Arrington

While browsing tech news this morning I stumbled into Mike Arrington’s post about an interview he did with CNN. While I’m not always a fan of Arrington, though in this case, I completely accept his explaination of what happened in his interview with Solidad O’Brien. I’ve never read CNN for Tech news and rarely look at it otherwise though this incident will further cement that relationship (or lack thereof).

Btw, my prior and current CEO where Egyption and Persian respectively, both Entreprenuers.