SceneTap: On-site cameras find happening bars

Next time you go out to a bar and discover it's totally dead, or the gender mix isn't to your liking, here's an app that could save you the trouble.

SceneTap is designed to give you a preview of your intended watering hole, or suggest nearby options, by providing real-time info about the number of customers, the average age, and the male-female ratio.

Users don't have to check in as with Foursquare. The app tackles its tabulations by using dedicated camera systems in participating establishments that employ face-recognition and people-counting algorithms.

Developers hope to grow this physical infrastructure, which sets SceneTap apart from other bar apps.

The camera footage isn't recorded and patrons are tracked anonymously to protect their privacy, according to a release by the start-up behind it.

Users can also get news on specials and other deals, and post comments and rank bars, as with Le Bar Guide.

SceneTap is free for iPhone and Android devices, and on the Web. Like other iOS apps, it won't tell you how to avoid DUI checks on the way home.

Slated to launch next month, SceneTap has more than 50 participating nightspots in Chicago. There are plans to expand to New York, Boston, Las Vegas, and other cities across the U.S. in the coming months. … Read more

Super scripts

Nuvotech's Movie Outline 3 is a screenplay development tool that uses a technique called step-outlining to help the screenwriter create and build a script, including character development, plot elements, scenes and settings, and even technical aspects like character speech count, scene numbering, and timing.

Movie Outline 3 first opens with a helpful guide that explains how the program works and how you can use it to improve your screenwriting. The interface itself resembles a specialized word processor, which is what it is, essentially, with the usual editing functions. Where Movie Outline 3 differs is its toolbar for creating and … Read more

What are all those camera modes for, anyway?

Editors' note: This story was originally published in Feburary 2010. Surprisingly little has changed since then, but enough that it merited an update to include video, 3D, and screenshots of cameras from manufacturers still in the business.

Everyone out there who leaves their camera set on full automatic, raise your hands.

Automatic is great while you're learning your camera, and I frequently recommend it to people who want to step up to a dSLR but are too intimidated by all the settings on the camera. But like any crutch, ultimately you're better off without it. Here's some guidance about all those other modes you could be shooting in.

If you're frequently unhappy with your photos shot in Auto, it's time to substitute some of the camera's decisions with your own. Auto can only guess that you're shooting sports, but you know. Why leave it to chance? Choosing from these modes is the way you provide important information to the camera to help it make better decisions. Yes, it'd be nice if the camera could just take perfect pictures without any thought on your part, but most technology simply isn't that smart yet.

I'll start with some basic terms, then move to the core shooting modes -- ones that have been around forever and that you really should try (if your camera has them) when you're ready to take control of your photography. If you're not ready for these, then jump below to Typical scene program modes and Less-common scene modes. … Read more

Novel writing helper

yWriter4 provides novelists with a tool to not only create their new story, but keep it tightly organized. This no-frills layout and inventive categorization may help bring that story from daydreams to the page.

The program's cluttered interface, full of buttons with no onscreen direction, practically begged us to visit the Help file. Luckily, while there, we discovered a wizard that walked us through the process and made everything much less confusing. The program required us to do a lot of prep work before we even wrote a word. However, we quickly learned that setting up databases of characters, … Read more

Video: Red Ones and helicopter mounts in action

There's a new video out for the Seattle-based Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band song "Albatross, Albatross, Albatross." I know, Crave isn't a music blog, but I figured you guys who are really into gear would appreciate the behind-the-scenes video--not because this stuff is normally interesting, but this particular video features some really awesome gear.

You'll immediately notice a duo of Red One cameras being used. For those not in the know, Red's flagship camera shoots ultra-high-def video that rivals film in most ways. You can't buy a TV to play back its video … Read more

Quick script maker

SceneWriter Pro offers budding screenwriters a way to organize their great ideas in an industry-recognized format. With easy controls and surprisingly professional results, this is a great tool for creative minds.

While the program's interface is not exactly intuitive, it has several things working in its favor. First, a little experimentation quickly unveils how its main screen and four smaller satellite screens (along with several command icons) operate. As users explore, the program pops up a screen with a helpful tip for that specific function. Finally, the program's Help file will eliminate any other operational questions. The program … Read more

Podcast Tips: Behind the scenes of CNET podcasts

Today's Buzz Out Loud ended and I found myself hanging out in the studio with the live chat. All it took was a single question from someone about podcasting and I proceeded to spill the beans on everything we do behind the scenes of your favorite CNET podcasts.

I've had a lot of people ask me to explain the ins and outs of podcasting here at CNET. If you've ever wondered what kind of technology we use to create our shows, from hardware to software, you might want to check out this walk through.

I also detail … Read more

Featured Freeware: PaltalkScene

PaltalkScene's integration of video, audio, and text chatting unified into one window makes for a strong chatware program that includes a wealth of features.

Parental controls employ a password to change settings or block groups; adult content is hidden by default and all rooms are moderated. Add in the room ratings of G, R, and A, and safe chatting is a cinch. Right-clicking a person's name gives a user-defined amount of personal information, with private room invite and file sending options. Sessions can be printed and saved, and buddy lists from other chat accounts can be automatically imported. … Read more

Paltalk adds Express to its Scene

Popular video chat host and program publisher Paltalk on Tuesday introduces a beta of a complementary program to PaltalkScene. The new application, Paltalk Express, transfers the entire video chat apparatus to the Web and bolsters it with the kind of Web 2.0 bells and whistles that should make its appeal instantly obvious.

Based in Flash, Paltalk Express supports a decent range of features, even in the beta stage. Once logged in, the interface has the look and feel of a standard program, with a menu bar on the top left, your user status below that, and tabbed chat room … Read more