Tag Archives: iPhone

James Mauri: iPhone Artist

Connecticut’s music scene can be tough.  Clubs want cover and tribute bands playing familiar music, James Mauri says.  Creativity — not so much.

James Mauri (Photo/Andrew Wallach)

So — after banging around since his 1995 graduation from Staples, studying media production, writing songs and working in a studio — James settled in Black Rock, trying to figure out how a singer/songwriter like himself could get noticed.

He realized that independent radio stations like WPKN, and internet stations, offered a way to reach music fans.  He booked himself to be interviewed and play.  Sometimes that meant 15 minutes at 2 a.m. — but it was better than doing long shows for unappreciative, drunken bar crowds.

These days music sells through videos too.  James bought himself a MacBook Pro — and an iPhone — and got to work.

It’s not the most sophisticated equipment, but it gets the job done.  For a song about the endless development of Route 7, James stuck his phone on his dashboard and drove north.  He intercut what he filmed with some performance tapes, then played around with speeds and special effects.

The result:  a sophisticated, compelling music video (below).

Make no mistake:  the iPhone is not a sophisticated video camera.  Lacking built-in lights, interior shots are particularly tough.

It can take a couple of weeks to get the effect James wants.  He adds features like stop animation as needed.

When he’s ready he uploads the finished product to YouTube, and sends links to friends.  Soon, the video is making its way around the internet.

James thought he’d simply be introducing his music to new fans.  But he’s been contacted by people who want him to make iPhone videos for them too.

He will not stay with his low-tech equipment forever.  James hopes to upgrade to a “better, more serious camera,” as well as to Final Cut Pro, a more robust editing system.

He may prefer the cutting edge of guerrilla video making to drunk-filled clubs, but James Mauri has not totally abandoned live performances.  This Saturday (June 11) he’s got a gig right here in town.

He and fellow Westporter Buddy Valiante will both play at Arcudi’s.  It’s not your typical club scene — but James Mauri is not your typical singer/songwriter or music video maker either.

(To view James’ YouTube videos, click here.  For more information on his music, click here.).

Welcome To myStaples

Many schools prohibit cell phones.  Administrators fear they’ll be used for games, texting, even cheating.

Staples allows cell phones (though not in class).  They’re a ubiquitous part of life, after all.  A ban won’t eliminate their use; students will simply devise ways around it.

Plus — go figure — they’re plenty helpful.

Senior Eric Lubin took that idea, and made iPhones exponentially more useful.

Eric Lubin, his iPhone and his myStaples app

An experienced app developer — he already has 3 in the iPhone App Store — he spent this summer powering up one of his previous creations, iSHS.

Rechristened myStaples, it’s as versatile as a Swiss Army knife, as easy to use as a doorbell.

And when it’s available on the App Store — hopefully this week — it could become as popular as Flight Control.

A key feature allows students to see their personal daily schedule.  (It’s different each day — not easy to memorize.)   Because the app works off the Staples TV system — which adjusts for special schedules, half days, etc. — it’s always accurate.

A bar at the bottom indicates how much time is left in each period — like for a song or video.  Users can set one-time or permanent reminders (hopefully via vibrate) based on “time remaining.”  For example, students may remind themselves “there’s 30 minutes left in my free period — time to start studying,” while teachers can let themselves know “there are 3 minutes left — time to wrap things up.”

The lunch schedule — always a source of confusion, because it changes based on department and month — is another key feature.

The homework feature is very impressive.  Students simply tap a class, add an assignment, then set a due date.  They can sort their homework by course or due date.  If they check it when it’s done, it’s automatically deleted.

Eric included shortcuts to Blackboard — the school’s course management software — and SnapGrades, a web-based gradebook.

The app is tied to Staples’ TV screens, so the daily announcements are displayed in table view.  That eliminates the need to stand in front of a TV monitor, waiting to see whether there’s a notice that a sports practice is canceled due to bad weather.

Eric tweaked myStaples for iPads, to take advantage of that device’s increased space.  There’s also an iPod version.

Eric considered a social component — the ability to see every other student who shares the same free period, say, or all those taking any section of AP Statistics — but did not have time to include it.

Not that he was slacking — or trying to make money off his app.  Friends have said they’d pay $10 for myStaples — but he’s offering it free.

Perhaps he’ll adapt it for other schools.  After all, Mark Zuckerberg started Facebook for his Harvard college classmates.  Look at him now.

Then again, don’t.

Eric Lubin is a much nicer guy.

(To download Eric’s app, search for “myStaples” in Apple’s App Store, or click on eric.lubin.us/mystaples)