forest

I’m really enjoying living in the forest.

John Muir

If you’d like to learn more about John Muir and what he did to preserve forest lands on the west coast, learn about him on wikipedia here or you can go deep and read the biography.

john muir forest quote

Drone Experiment One – Shots of the Truckee River and Nevada County Forest

Ariel drone photography is problematic for those seeking to make great movies for the internet. Here’s my thinking:

Shooting video with a drone is extra fun. The person driving the camera is generally having the time of their lives, so they love the footage they get.

The problem is that those shots are far more interesting for the person who shot it than it is for the person who watches it.

A post shared by Ian Robinson (@independentian) on

The problem with the footage is that it needs to tie in with a story or a pattern that keeps people interested.

I haven’t figured that part out yet, but I’m seeking ideas.

Unboxing a DJI Mavic Pro

Unboxing a DJI Mavic Pro is a lot of fun. It’s like unwrapping a private aircraft. This is a quick blog and a video about my experience. I’m trying to keep it short and interesting.

Unboxing a DJI Mavic Pro

So the unboxing is great. They package the drone well. Packaging is fine, but the thing that I like the most is the ability to take a camera from the box and use it 10 minutes later. The DJI Mavic Pro scores pretty well on this scale.

unboxing dji mavic pro - Box

At the end of the day, it’s a really complex device. The fact that they sent me a box and I was able to fly a drone and take 4k video from the sky is pretty amazing.

unboxing dji mavic pro - Controller

Setting it up is not the most intuitive thing ever. It took a bit of focus and I actually had to glance at the instructions for a few minutes to understand how to charge the thing.

unboxing dji mavic pro - Blades

As you can see by the end of the video that it takes a little bit of time to set up once I connect my phone to the remote control. This is annoying because they force you to register for an account with the DJI application. That’s a bit annoying, but at the end of the day, it’s a minor inconvenience.

unboxing dji mavic pro First Flight

Once you get it in the air… wow.

These things are a lot of fun. I’d say it’s easy to fly. Many people warned me that I should practice flying before I use the Mavic Pro. They warned me that I risked crashing it if I didn’t have experience flying a drone. At the end of the day, those warnings were warrantless.

It’s an easy thing to fly. I don’t think anyone needs to practice. Just take off and learn on the fly.

unboxing dji mavic pro Landscape 1

If you’re inspired to get one, Amazon will ship it to you quickly. I mean, you only live once right. Get it here.

My First Blacksmithing Project

Kyle Pastrell makes these beautiful Damascus Steel Knifes. For months before that I was geeking out on his awesome knives and finally, the other day we set a date to spend the day at his Dad’s black smith operation in the garage of his house. It was awesome.

That said, my blacksmithing skills are 100% beginner. That was the first time I set a piece of metal into a forge and hit it with a hammer.

Of course, there is no better way to learn something than doing it, so the first day we committed to making a single day knife. Kyle makes really nice knives… but they always take him a few days at the least. So the idea of making a knife in a day was a stretch, but stretching feels good.

Lessons Learned

Overall workmanship on this knife is average at best. The steel is a bit soft because we didn’t have time to temper the blade in oil quite like Kyle would have preferred.

We also forgot to eat so I got pretty shaky towards the end of the day. That’s why my epoxy job was just about as disgusting as it could have been.

We did get lucky in that the knife is well balanced. It’s centered almost perfectly so it actually feels excellent in hand.

It seemed cool to me to keep the old railroad impressions on the butt of the knife. That maintained it’s crude look.

It would be possible to bandsaw the handle off, reforge and grind a little more and make this blade something really special. Perhaps I’ll reforge this one every time I make another 9 knives so this one could become a Damascus beauty like the ones Kyle makes.

That’s a really long way away for me.

Videography Notes

Autofocus is problematic with maker videos. Even though I love some of the beautiful depth of field shots that I get from the d70, it’s the G7X that I find to be the trustworthy camera to shoot with. Best of all, the G7X makes video files that work well with my version of Adobe Premiere.

I love the versatility and indestructibility of my GoPro Silver, but my footage is REALLY hard to edit. For some reason, that footage kills my editing software. It takes way too long to render. There had to be a better way, but so far GoPro software seems really unhelpful.

Thank You

Big thanks to my friend Erik who showed me the first few maker videos. Also, bit thanks to Diresta, Primitive Technologies and Birth of a Tool for your amazing movies. Finally, and without precedent, thank you again to Kyle Pastrell. It’s a huge complement to receive an invite to come work with you for the day buddy. I look forward to future projects.

This one isn’t great, but I feel like it’s a good start.

This is How to Get to Reno From Sacramento During Snowmageddon

Reno Snow!

Crossing from Sacramento to Reno right now is impossible because of the snow. Highway 50 has collapsed and I-80 is subject to close often because so many inexperienced snow drivers use it. This is how we crossed the sierras without either of those highways.

Reno Snow - Alternatives to I-80 and Highway 50

This is an image from CA-20 which has stunning views. We often drive this road in the summer because there are great cliff jumping spots on the Yuba River. It’s actually not even that snowy right now, the snowy part comes later.

Reno Snow – California is Wet

So the drive from Reno to Sacramento is usually a two hour quickie, but today we spent about six hours on the road getting from Capital City to the Biggest Little City. Despite the hyper inefficiency of it all, I had a great time.

Because of the slow drive, we were empowered to catch up on some really good podcasts. One on Science and Culture, one on investing AND an audible book called Ready Player One (get a free audiobook here).

I’m not going to lie, this is an ideal way for me to spend the day. While lots of people consider this a sort of emergency or terrible day, I love it.

Putting on chains, driving where few others drive, seeing small towns in naturally beautiful places; I love it.

When we did get back to Reno, I was excited to stop driving. The drive took about six hours. It would have taken a lot less time if we had gone straight there, but CalTrans closed the road a few minutes before we got to almost the peak of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Therefor we drove a lot of extra miles because we didn’t know the road wasn’t open.

There are two new towns I want to visit in the summer. One is Downieville, CA, the other is Sierra City, CA. Both of these cities look like great places to write a book or to go on an amazing Yuba River adventure.

Relevant Links When the Weather Gets Weird

Maker Video Editing – Practicing The Craft

My friend and I are going to make a series of maker videos in the coming months. Before I start working directly with him, I want to develop a bit of experience with maker video editing. In the last few months, I’ve become fascinated with these maker videos.

Maker Video Editing experiments

I want to get some practice making good videos about building things before we start our School Bus conversion. We are planning that the moment we get our drop-shipping store to monthly profitability with a team to manage the day to day.

Here are my favorite makers:

This is my first shot at making a maker video. I purposely have kept the video unlisted as I it’s just an easy, fast experiment to learn some of the mistakes before I’m really trying to make something great.

What is Happening Here

In this video I just fix a pair of scissors with Sugru.

Sugru is just some putty that cures to be really durable rubber. It’s great stuff for fixing all sorts of problems.

It’s a very simple project on purpose. All I’m doing is gluing scissors together using a single product. The reason for making a video wasn’t to make the best maker video of all time, but to do something quick so I could practice making and publishing a maker video. The best way to learn is to make mistakes doing.

Maker Video Editing Experiment

Maker Video Lessons Learned:

  • Manual Focus – The wacky focus is due to the autofocus moving around. When sped up it really takes away from the shot. Also, the autofocus is wrong often so it tends to grab the wrong place. I switched the camera towards the end of the project from auto focus to manual focus and the last few seconds were much better.
  • Speed up Rates – Most of this is sped up to 300% I feel l like this is a bit fast, but it’s in the ball park of right on.
  • Editing Time – These videos take FAR less time to edit than my previous travel videos. This is a much less intense editing style. Very good news.

If you found this useful or have any tips for doing great maker videos, please share them in the comments. I’d love to hear from you.

Experimenting with Maker Video Editing + Sugru

Reno Patagonia Outlet Grand Opening, Nevada!

Reno Patagonia knows how to put on a party.

It wasn’t just that they had a great space, delicious food and sophisticated booze. The organizers did an excellent job of picking local artists to be a part of the event.

I left the party thinking, “Wow, Reno really is a great place!”

The above movie was pretty much shot on the fly with my Cannon G7X. I wasn’t planning it at all, but I think it came out well.

Reno Patagonia

Who Served at the Reno Patagonia Grand Opening?

If you’re interested in any of the businesses listed in this video, I’ve listed them below:

Truckee River Flooding February 10th, 2017 | Downtown Reno, NV

This is just a quick movie about the flooding that is happening in the Truckee River. I think it’s kind of cool.

Enter Willie

Q: Have you ever seen the water this high?

A: I’ve seen it once or twice you know, but never really like this. I mean, it’s immaculate guys.

This is how it goes man. Right down here, as you can see, it’s really getting hot.

The ducks! The ducks are sitting on the side because they don’t even want to get in the water. If that ain’t bad… what is man?

Nice Lady #1

Truckee River Flooding 2017

Q: Is this the highest you’ve ever seen the Truckee River?

Yeah, besides a couple weeks ago yeah. It’s pretty crazy.

Q: Cool, do you think we’re still going to flood?

I really hope not because I live literally across the street there. I’m pretty glad they built that wall so I’m hoping we don’t flood.

I live on the bottom floor so if we flood, I’m screwed.

Nice Gentleman #2

Reno 2017 Truckee Flooding

Q: What used to be down here? It’s just a river now.

It is a side walk. The pathway goes under… but now it’s part of the river. It’s crazy!

Nice Lady #2

2017 Truckee River Flooding

Q: So the river is flowing a little less than it was in January?

Yes. It’s flowing a little lower than it was in January. It’s a little more mucked up too. In January it was grey and dark and very, very dramatic.

This is really something, it’s the Mighty Truckee.

Willie

I bet you if the fish could get out of the river, they would too! 😀

2017 Truckee River Flooding

Helpful Truckee River Links

Flood statusNational Weather Service’s website where they make predictions.

City of Reno = See what the city is tweeting about.

National Weather Service = Check NWS Twitter to learn about any warnings in the area, or to hear what’s happening on a national level.

Truckee River Ducks

 

2016 – A Year in Review

What Happened

January

We started the year in a city called the Gold Coast, Australia. If you want a tour, you can have one for free here.

We took a trip up to Far North Queensland to horse ride, scuba dive, SUP and eat ice cream with some of our favorite people the Rumneys. They also make ice cream and it’s really really delicious.

We went to a billabong near Brisbane with some international friends. There we found a rope swing that we monkeyed around on.

Then we flew to Chiang Mai, Thailand. That’s a great way to start any year, right?

From Queen Sirikit Botanical Gardens outside Chiang Mai

February

In Chiang Mai we met a lot of new friends. Ben showed us a secret local waterfall spot.

Justin showed us around the Night Bazaar.

We went to the Nomad Summit. Big thanks to Johnny for inviting us and organizing the event. Also for inspiring this post. Here’s his year-end wrap up post.

We drove some big motorcycles to the highest point in Thailand.

Then we took the sleeper train to Bangkok. It was fun. We made a movie about it.

Bangkok was a lot of fun. Johnny Ward showed us around his favorite spots and to a roof top bar. Thanks JW.

Then we took another train and bus to Krabi. There we rented a motorcycle from Moto Krabi and drove it to Ko Lanta where we found a place to live for a month.

March

In Ko Lanta we did a lot of CrossFit with Robert at Fit On Lanta.

We toured the Tiger Cave with Norwegian Ninjas.

We went SCUBA diving with Johnny at Hin Daeng.

Drove around the island and went to more caves with Daniella.

Drank a lot of coffee while working at KoHub.

Rented dirt bikes and drove all around the island with David, Johnny and Max.

Then we learned how to cook Thai food.

We met Chris and Sam for the first time. We became fast friends and knew we’d see them again soon.

We drove our motorcycle back to Krabi, then we went up the Coast for a 5 day Live-aboard Scuba Diving trip in the Similian Island National Park. We made a movie about that experience too.

Then we took a long tail boat to Tonsai and spent a few days there with crazy looking monkeys, paddling around the islands and jumping off cliffs.

I don’t remember how we got to China, but we did it for a visa run. You’ve got to leave Thailand every once in a while if you want to live there for more than 1-2 months.

Macau was really crazy. It’s the Las Vegas of China.

April

We flew back to Chiang Mai to kick it with Sam and Chris during the Songkran Festival. We spray painted our big guns gold

We drove a scooter from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai along the way visiting the Sticky Waterfalls. We got stuck in the biggest rainstorm of the year. We made it, but it was uncomfortable.

We toured around Chiang Rai with V’s father for 2 days and then drove the scooter back to Chiang Mai. Wow. That was a huge drive on a scooter.

We spent the rest of the month working and getting strong at Chiang Mai CrossFit. After 3 months in Thailand we flew to San Francisco, California.

May

Our good friends Kimi and Declan had an amazing wedding in wine country, Napa Valley. Seriously, they have a cool group of family and friends and it was a magical celebration.

We then enjoyed horseriding and croquet with family and friends in Reno, Nevada. Also wakeboarding at Pyramid Lake.

I don’t know how everything worked out exactly, but next we flew to St. Maarten in the Caribbean, because my friend Dane was marrying Miriam. It was great to see old friends and explore the beauty of the island.

June

The Nomad Cruise picked us up from the capital and southern part of the island, Phillipsburg. We spent the next 10 days cruising from St. Maarten to Lisbon, Portugal. On that ship we met a LOT of really, really cool people.

David, Lily, V and I had a really massive power tour around Lisbon. Miles and Melanie joined us for some of it too. That was an epic day. I haven’t even made that movie yet.

We took a massive journey from Lisbon, Portugal back to Reno, Nevada because we thought we were needed at a party that had been cancelled unbeknownst to us. That was hilarious. V didn’t think so.

Next we moved to the Bay Area to house and dog sit. I met Seth Godin in San Francisco during Udemy Live. We explored the city and flew David’s drone alot. That was really neat.


July

We spent quality time with family after my grandfather passed away.

Then we moved to San Francisco and our good friends Jel and Sam visited us from Australia. I also studied really really hard to get into App Academy in San Francisco. Software Engineering is not easy.

August

I was accepted into Hack Reactor and App Academy in San Francisco. All that work studying software engineering paid off. It was a tough choice, but I went with App Academy. Getting accepted into that program was a really proud moment.

The program wouldn’t start till November so we took a road trip down South to Los Angeles and Huntington Beach after David invited us to the Magic Castle. We had a really great time. David took V on a private plane and I went surfing with John. We did a lot of cool stuff. Thanks for being the host with the most David. You Rock!

September

After we got back from So Cal V’s twin sister Vanessa and her husband Mark came to visit us in Reno. We celebrated the twins birthday and had a really fun week.

V went riding with her sister, I went riding with my sister.

We wakeboarded at Pyramid lake and did high speed aquatic push up competitions.

Then we went rock climbing with friends, Roxy, Jake, Brian, John, Vanessa and Mark.

We decided to take another road trip to Las Vegas, The Grand Canyon and Sedona to see Miles and Melanie. We met them on the Nomad Cruise, so the next logical thing to do would be hang out in the desert in Arizona right?…. right….

October

I got back into video editing in October and finally caught up on making the movies for the year.

On the way back from Sedona we stopped at Zion National Park, Utah before chilling out at the hot springs in Austin, NV. That was a fun drive.

We began V’s citizenship process.

Then we lost a friend. 🙁

November

Things got weird in November, but I wrote about what I’m grateful for that election cycle. But a lot of cool stuff happened too. We spent alot of time with family and friends. We also went on a boat ride around the Foster City canals with the family for Thanksgiving.

December

Despite studying as hard as I could, I failed out of App Academy. That was a big bummer, but life goes on.

V and I got caught in a snow storm but managed to make it back to Reno just in time for the holiday festivities. That was the first Christmas we had with my family in a really long time. Three years to be exact.  We spent Christmas Day skiing with the family. It was a blast.

We’re back in San Francisco Bay Area for the time being.

That’s how the year went. Wow.

Happy New Year everyone!