sailing the NorSea


WEEK 4 2010

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Saturday 30 January 2010
Saturday - very tired, did little. The cats & I napped together.

Fiddled a bit with an old desktop from Dads place. It was my brothers' discarded old PC, with hard drive issues, and I'd put Linux on it back in about 2004. I'd mess with it a bit when I'd go up to see dad, but a few months ago the hard drive finally died.

Since I wanted to test building ffmpeg (the AAC codecs are not included by default) on a non-primary system I put the old Ubuntu 8.04 hard drive in it and it fired right up. You can do that with Linux (though it came from a system based on a similar old Intel 845 chipset). It only has 256MB of ram - I thought I had some sticks of that, but they turned out to be ECC memory, and wouldn't work.

I never got to building ffmpeg, maybe tomorrow.

Friday 29 January 2010
Friday - worked until about 1:00pm, then hit the road north to Lancaster. My hands are just about toast. I wrote a couple more scripts to check keys in the database and found a couple more. It's almost nauseating, the amount of auditing this has taken. But it's about as done as it's going to get now...

I was talking to a friend, mentioning how I really needed to buy a kayak, a lightweight sit-on-top, so as to get ashore on the Channel Islands (should I ever get the boat in shape). He wants a kayak as well, but prefers the touring type, long and slender than you can sit inside. I told him now was the time, it's the dead of the California winter (about 55F and sunny!) and the prices were as low as they are likely to get. So he left a message for a guy trying to sell one on Craigslist, and we may go look at it on Monday.

Thursday 28 January 2010

Thursday - just working away on things. Not too much to say. Put in ten hours, and went home.

About 2007 (I really need to put the blog into a database, for referencing back) I mentioned that they were thinking of bringing Edgar Rice Burrough's A Princess of Mars to the silver screen. Fast forward to 2010, and there is finally a little bit of progress - Ain't It Cool News has a little article on it; a Disney Studio's creation is filming with the title John Carter of Mars. As the article mentions, people have been ripping ideas off it for decades, but with the success of AVATAR there is a whole new level of technology to make it work.

Wednesday 27 January 2010

Wednesday - While getting tires rotated at Costco last weekend there was time to wander about inside. A 50" 1080p flatscreen can now be had for under $1,000. I'm not a big teevee guy, but these were so cool it made me want to buy one, with a BlueRay player attached, but I resisted.

OK, I take it back. Quicktime automation tools for Windows Ver. 7 do exist (in the Legacy section), but you have to search for them carefully, or get lost is a maze of Leopard/Cocoa/Objective-C stuff, which is OS-X specific.

It's too late to mess with the stuff. More important things to do....

Tuesday 26 January 2010

Tuesday - one thing to do for the project is to "caption" the stills. Essentially I'd like to permanently impress on each JPEG the channel, reach, station, the gps coordinates, etc. And there is a good tool to do that, free, called Simg. Works like a charm. So I've written a vbscript to read information from an Excel spreadsheet, and then to write the required information to a batch file in the required Simg command format. We then run the batch file to caption the stills. The system works pretty fast, in the sample test cases I've created. So that's done.

Video captioning  a MP4 is a whole different ball of wax. Apple has automation for Quicktime, but it appears the Windows Version 7.* is not  supported any more. Windows Movie Maker doesn't have automation, and the work around, using various underlying layers of s/w called DirectShow, looks horribly convoluted to use. There is a Linux tool, GPAC (that uses ffmpeg), but it doesn't seem to work properly on my Mint Helena box. So, I dunno.

(In passing, the MP4 "standard" is about as much of a standard as the old SCSI interface - so general and broad as to be nearly useless. So much varies between different implementations that they might as well be different standards.)

Time is running out and this isn't a formal requirement.

Monday 25 January 2010

Monday - the presentation...wasn't, really. We had charts & plots, but I think that the client just wanted to see we were making progress, that there was more than excuses and vaporware. Sigh.

We are making progress, but it's like marching through jello, manhandling this data into a usable form.

I did see a Bald Eagle fly over, while commuting down from Lancaster, while near the hills just south of Palmdale, so that was cool. I've never seen one south of Mammoth Lakes before.

Sunday 24 January_2010

Sunday - working away on generating some tables for a presentation on Monday. I hate working on this stuff on the weekend.

I did watch the playoff games, sort of. Well, Minnesota should have won, but you can't turn over the ball five or six times in a playoff game & hope to win, even against a weak team like the Saints. Favre is partly responsible, but there is blame enough to spread around. As with 90% of playoff games, in any sport, the team that makes the fewest errors will win.

I do like my Android, but haven't really had the time/inclination to really get into it. I've downloaded just a few apps:
  1. Astro, a file manager. Decent.
  2. AK Notepad, useful, it came with no notepad, this is OK, but doesn't encrypt.
  3. Google Sky, totally awesome.
  4. Wikitude, interesting.
  5. Advanced Task Killer, useful.
I still want an encrypted notepad, from a reputable company (are you listening SPB?) and a good replacement for Microsoft Mobile Office.

Some people download hundreds of apps, but I am not comfortable with installing new stuff willy nilly - better to let other people experiment and discover the system crashers & trojans ;-)

I wish Dad was around to share this with.

Picture of the Week

Beach, woman, dog, and ball.
Photo NotesBeach, woman, ball, and very happy dog.

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