Ever since I came back from New Mexico, I’ve had a running battle with the squirrels that live around here, but it’s their fault. They started it by deciding to set up housekeeping inside the walls between me and my neighbor. They just tunneled in and started reproducing.
Mike has come a long way since I gave him his first digital camera soon after Connor was born on May 1, 2005.
Here is an example of some of his experiments with HDR (High Dynamic Range) photography. I find them both artistic and pleasing, worthy to me of being made into a coffee table book with absolutely no fatherly bias having entered into this judgment whatsoever!
I believe that for best effect you should watch the video in full screen mode by clicking the icon of the arrows pointing to the four corners of the screen that appears in the lower right corner of the player once you click the PLAY arrow to start the slideshow. (Escape leaves that mode.)
Mike has his own website called Shape Shifter Images and is available for portrait and other photographic work.
Thanks to my following Leo LaPorte on Twitter, I discovered this excellent resource today. And because it’s the season of giving and I’m feeling generous, I want to share it with you.
Another digital photography resource that I’ve used for a long time is Digital Photography Review. The various topic specific forums (fora?) on that site are a wonderful way to delve deeply into a subject of interest and profit from the experiences of others. Sites like these two and a multitude of others illustrate how the computer can be a patient educator, in addition to its more common use (for many) as a source of entertainment. As I think Yogi Berra is reported to have said, “You can observe a lot by watching.”
I have just created a free basic subscription at Vimeo. Running the HD video there through my HDTV is stunningly spectacular. Even it you never upload a video there, it is worth creating an account just to be able to save your favorites from this fount of creativity and beautiful imagery. Here’s one example.
I recommend that you click on the button at the bottom right of the video (with the arrows pointing to the four corners of your screen) to cause it to display in full screen mode. It warrants every pixel you are willing to devote to it.
This video is one of many HD videos available at Vimeo.
Last night I attended a board meeting where in an attempt to discuss some financial issues several of us huddled around one fellow’s laptop to try and see the spreadsheet he had worked on. He had done a nice job on the spreadsheet … I’m sure. And if we could have seen it, I’m also sure we would have all been duly impressed and greatly enlightened. However what that experience impressed on me was that even with a group as small as four, huddling around a computer monitor to try to look at content is at best unsatisfactory and at worst a frustrating waste of time. That’s why I’m excited about a solution I’ve found to that problem.
Take a look at this 69 second video demonstration of what I’m talking about.
As you may suspect from watching the video, my original reason for wanting to show my PC screen on my computer monitor had nothing to do with the problem I encountered at the board meeting last night. Originally I wanted to take advantage of those times when my computer was displaying my screen saver by having my big screen HD TV in my great room serve as a ginormous digital picture frame, cycling through my collection of photographs. But what I realized last night at the board meeting was that it would be a great solution for that issue too. I had previously thought of it primarily as a decorative scheme for my house that I am remodeling but now I can see it as being utilitarian too.
The technology involved is the InternetVue IV-2020 receiver. This device connects to the computer wirelessly but it must be plugged into the TV on which you wish to display the image. There are both video and audio connections that you attach to the TV. If your network router is close enough to the InternetVue wireless receiver, you can connect them directly with an Ethernet cable. I’m sure that is the most desirable way to make the connection since it eliminates the vagaries of the intermittent strength of the wireless signal to the network. So I expect to make that change when the renovation is closer to the end.
Another way I’ve anticipated using this setup is to demonstrate things in an instructional setting. It would also be awesome if I could get GotoMeeting to project onto the TV for a group. Had I discovered this tool last year, I would surely have used it as a digital scoreboard and feedback display for the call center I ran. The cost is minimal and the payoff in what you can display is high. It would have been very helpful and I regret I didn’t think of it then. For a couple of hundred bucks you can use all of that TV screen real estate to show a blown up version of you PC’s display. While I’m sure this isn’t the only way to accomplish this goal, and maybe it’s not even the best way, but it does work.
If you search back through this blog or check the categories listing in the sidebar for the word “Flock,” you’ll find lots of references. That’s because I began beta testing it (almost alpha testing it) several years ago. There were many things I liked about it back then that are still present in the latest version and may even have undergone improvements that aren’t necessarily visible in the interface.
I downloaded version 2.5 from the Flock website yesterday, after being reminded by Daryl Houston that it now had a tight integration with Twitter.
It is ironic that I ceased using Flock because it was moving to integrate services that, at the time, I wasn’t ready to embrace. I’ll admit that my point of view at the time was that they were essentially trivial and a waste of time. I’m not yet entirely certain that previous assessment isn’t accurate, but as I have begun to participate in both Facebook and Twitter, I have found each of them has its legitimate and helpful uses, so I decided to give Flock a second look. Going back to try Flock again is like remarrying your ex-wife; it feels strange at first, but maybe some of the old joy will be augmented by as yet undiscovered new joys.
I have set Flock as my default browser for this trial which begins today and will, for the most part, run for at least a month. Like President Obama and his attempt to quit smoking, I may from time to time resort to old habits for expediency or if I’m under unusual stress, but I’ll do my best to achieve what I want to do in Flock first. We’ll see whether 30 days will be enough to establish a new habit.
My first impressions upon returning to Flock are very positive and pleasant. I have used this blogging tool before. There is an uploading tool for pictures to whatever service you use, which in my case is Flickr. And that uploader was always one of my favorite features. It seems to be just as convenient and reliable as before. Flock integrates a lot of tools that someone who is active online in posting to or commenting on blogs and forums and the like, can use and will find to be very handy. One of the early questions about Flock, which is built on the foundation of Firefox, is whether the integration of all these tools is better than customization and choice, meaning just the Firefox browser onto which you can add just those pieces of functionality that you want. I suppose there are those who are still debating that. For now, I am back to trying Flock because of the integration it offers. I am anxious to know how convenient I find those features and whether at the bottom line, I am more productive online because of them.
If you are interested in experimenting with a new browser (Yes, Virginia, you are permitted have more than one browser on your computer at the same time. The Geek Gods have authorized it. In fact, you may have as many as you like, particularly if you are trying them out), then check out Flock and we can compare notes in our comments.
Put on your recording of John Mellencamp’s “Ain’t that America” and read on.
The story behind this picture is that Sandy Gillis, my son’s wife’s mother, was buried yesterday in one of the most unusual funerals I have ever attended. It was solemn and appropriately spiritual, but it was unique. Sandy was a biker chick of a sort who always had a Budweiser in her hand. Her funeral procession consisted of more motorcycles than cars. The minister was the pastor of the local biker’s church, and he delivered a beautiful and down to earth message of comfort to the family. He acknowledged that Sandy didn’t crowd the pews very often at his church, but he also knew her from their working together where she had an unbelievable work ethic to the point of being thought of as a workaholic and a reputation as one who would give you anything she had if you needed it. One of her male coworkers sang “Pass me not oh gentle Savior” a capella and did a great job of it. Very moving.
Cheryl asked me to read something she had written, which I was, of course, glad to do. She gave me good material with several laugh lines, something we performers always appreciate. One of the paragraphs from that eulogy received a laugh of acknowledgment from everyone that Cheryl had nailed the image of her mom when she said,
She loved so many people it would make me mad from time to time. She would let anybody that needed a place to stay, stay in the basement. She would let you eat any of the food and drink in the house even when we did not have enough to eat (as long as you did not drink her last Budweiser in the refrigerator door) and if that happened, you caught Hell!
Mike commented that he thought Sandy “would be happy with her service.” I couldn’t agree more. It was sad to have to assemble to say goodbye, but it was a perfect celebration and acknowledgment of who Sandy was, and her spirit pervaded the crowd and the entire event.
It was nice to see people comfortable being themselves and celebrating Sandy’s life in a way that she would not only have approved of but would have happily participated in. And just as Sandy would have wanted, when the service concluded, someone wheeled a cooler filled with ice cold Budweiser up to the graveside and the scene was set for Mike to take the photo. There are others here.
Even though this was a family event and therefore normally something you don’t share with the world, I thought you might appreciate hearing about this little slice of American uniqueness. I hope it brings a smile to your face, as it does to mine.
Over the weekend, I went to Carole’s house in Lula to spend the Fourth of July with my sons and their families. On Saturday they worked pretty hard in trying to get things cleaned out at Carole’s house and then late in the afternoon Mike and Connor went for a ride on Jeff’s Artic Cat. Here is the video I shot with my new iPhone of that event. And yes, it will shoot in landscape mode, but because this was my first real attempt at a video, I didn’t think to turn it that way. As I become more accustomed to it, I’ll get better. Everybody has a first time.
The phrase “television worth watching” is almost an oxymoron nowadays, but this week PBS is airing “The War,” a documentary about World War II co-produced by the team of Ken Burns and Lynn Novick. Last night, I saw the first of the seven installments and that was enough to convince me that it is worth my time to watch this documentary. If you’ll visit this link you can click on “PBS Previews: The War” to see a 26:49 minute overview of the series, giving a glimpse of its goals and some insights about the making of the documentary, and if you bother to watch that 26+ minutes worth of introduction, I’m confident you too will be inspired to watch the series. The next installment is presented here in the Eastern Daylight Saving Time Zone tonight at 8 PM on the local Public Broadcasting Station. For more information about the series, you can check this PBS web site.
If you are like me, you have a few friends who rely on you to help them out occasionally with using their computer. I often find myself talking with these folks by Skype both because it saves money and/or minutes on the calls and because I enjoy being hands free when I’m talking with them. In addition Skype offers the ability to chat while you are talking which frequently proves useful for sending links to explanations or other resources that can help resolve the issue I’m working on with them. But sometimes words fail me and it would surely be nice to be able to show them what I am talking about. That’s where the Jing Project comes in. It’s called a project because it’s not yet a product nor is it a beta, as the FAQ explains. This video explains in less than 2 minutes just what it does.
So since I need to teach my buddy Paul Moor how to use Windows Live Writer to insert a picture into a blog entry, I’ll insert one into this post and use Jing to capture a screencast of doing it. Well, since this was the first time I have used Jing, I recorded the video with no narration because I didn’t realize that it was recording sound at the same time as it was recording the video. I’ll know better next time.
However, what that video illustrated was that once you have navigated to the picture you want to insert, you need to choose whether you want it to display at the right or the left (I chose the right) and afterwards you need to select Custom Margins and increase the space between the text and the picture you have inserted.
As you’ll see if you follow the link to the screencast, these videos and image captures are hosted at Screencast.com. TechSmith, the makers of CamStudio, which I’d love to have but can’t afford, and SnagIt, which I own and use, are the founders of the Jing Project, so I am familiar with their products and their reliability as a company. They have arranged with Screencast.com to provide an account that doesn’t expire after 60 days, as do most of Screencast.com’s trial accounts, for the duration of the Jing Project. This link explains how to get started with the Jing Project if you are so inclined.
One final thing about my experience of installing it. The Jing Project requires .Net 3.0 (for Windows users) and an account at Screencast.com. I was impressed that the setup program for the Jing Project noted that I didn’t not have .Net 3.0 installed and offered to download and install it for me. And with the first time of sharing a capture or video, it gave me the opportunity to create an account with Screencast.com. It is best, in my opinion, to allow the setup program to initiate those things because that the way you get the account at Screencast.com that doesn’t expire after 60 days.
So if you are interested in experimenting with a new kind of resource, you might wish to give the Jing Project a shot. I’m looking forward to playing with it and impressing my friends.
Update: I had a reply from my friend Tom Willis who suggested that I record another Jing recording but this time include the sound. So here it is.