Bluecheese Burgers and 555 ICs

16.55.08 - Mark

Ah, the combination of technology and food.

Well sortof. After dusting off my Canon S3is for it's timelapse feature for Inkinga few weeks ago, and then in the same post complaining about not getting anything faster than 1 shot a minute out of it, I decided to try and make the 555 IC based camera trigger.
Homemade Timelapse Trigger
The version I build was covered in MAKE Magazine Issue 15, as well as a bit more detailed on it's Instructables page. When I described it as "crude" in the Inking rant, I was surprisingly accurate.

While I tried to follow the schematics exactly the first two attempts (the first soldering, the second by breadboarding) I still wasn't getting a working device. Perhaps by my mistakes, but perhaps by design flaws. However after going over it's comments on instructables, I managed to hack together a working solution as well as a couple upgrades to the original design. While it's a bit tempting to document my changes, I'll hold off until I either debug it or create another version.

However, after assembling the components, and shoehorning it into an altoids-esqe case, I wanted to use it. While I've come close to using it a few times over the last week or so, I finally used it last night when I made some Bluecheese Burgers.

The photo rate was about 1 exposure every 9 seconds, Canon XSi camera on tripod, lens set on manual focus but camera shooting in Program mode. I turned off the trigger a couple times (like when the burgers were on the grill) but the whole series works pretty well. And since it's food, written ingredients and instructions are included (both here and in the video)

Bluecheese Burgers

2 lbs Hamburger (85/15 lean or better)
1/8 teaspoon Ground Cayenne Red Pepper
1/4 teaspoon Ground Cumin
1/4 teaspoon Garlic Powder
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly milled Black Pepper
2-3 oz. Crumbled Bluecheese
Hot Grill
(All measurements approximate - Cook to your taste, not mine)

Mix all spices and hamburger together.
Divide hamburger and form 8 thin paddies.
Put crumbled blue cheese onto 4 paddies, leaving open space on the edges.
Place remaining paddies onto the blue cheese piles and "seal" the edges of the two paddies together.
Cook burgers on the grill to taste. Roughly 7-8 minutes per side for Medium

Bluecheese Burgers are great on their own, but I prefer them with some Red Onion, slice of Tomato, some Lettus, and a bit of Mayo, but enjoy it however you want to.

Bluecheese Burger Timelapse (2MB 320 x 480 H.264 Quicktime)

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20.34.11 - Mark

A few years ago, one of my brothers bought a screen printing kit, the two of us figured out how to print some t-shirts, and planned on doing more with screen printing. Didn't quite happen. The parts have been reused to projects, but screen printing fell off to the side. The cloth prints since then were either one-off with freezer paper stencils and spray paint (similar to this project), experiments for other techniques, to simply being large enough that a professional lab felt more practical than an attempt at DIY printing on a short time table. However, about two weeks ago a friend asked me about printing some flags.

He'd used professional printers before, but the low number and small size meant it would have been pretty pricy, and while at first I figured stencils and spray paint would work (and it would) the numbers are enough that DIY screen printing would be easier. So I started working on the kit.

Unfortunately parts of it didn't age well. The screen, ink, and tools are in good enough shape, although quite probably not enough, and the photo sensitive emulsion chemicals were either missing, or used. I was also missing the manual. I know, oft ignored, but if you're playing with chemicals its wise to do your research. In this case I turned to Instructables, and landed on the true DIYers screen printing project. While it isn't the most precise article, it's a great guideline, both for people doing it themselves and those who want to save money.

So while I was waiting for the Potassium Dichromate / Elmer's glue photo emulsion to dry onto the screen, I started working on the art. In the past I'd dig up a piece of transparency sheet and use that for the mask, but finding any, and not liking the price I deiced to try vellum paper (in large part due to the DIY screen printer instructable). Which gets me to this video.

Since I'm working off a vector art piece, I wanted to print it on to the vellum. However my printers don't run on cheap ink, so I only printed out the outline, and would fill it in by hand. Right before I started filling it in I pulled out my old point and shoot and set it up for time-lapse.

Nice short and simple video, in many ways very similar to the Pennies video I. [wow, over 4 years ago!] The slight difference is I had the camera set on time lapse, in one shot a minute factory issued mode, so this ends up being choppier than I'd prefer. I'm not sure if I want to blame my lack of (good) camcorder, better knowledge of the CHDK hack for my point and shoots, or the extended lack of a intervalometer controller for my DSLR (be it commercial product, graphing calculator, arduino based project, or a crude but simple 555 electronic circuit)

In any case

Inking (4.4MB 320 x 240 H.264 Quicktime)

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I Fear Change - Appease Me!

02.48.46 - Mark

Earlier this week Flickr added the ability to post short (90 seconds or less) videos to the site for it's pro users (people that fork over $25 a year for the service) and now a while bunch of people are up in arms saying that by adding video the site is going to turn into youtube, which is complete crock, and are boycotting groups that allow video, block people that post video, and some claim they'll be defecting from the site or otherwise demanding the new feature be taken offline and thrown into a deep dark dungeon and never be allowed to see the light of day again.

They may as well be chanting "I fear change - appease me!", which would be preferable since it would 1) do just as much for their "cause" 2) would tell you more about how far along they are in terms of mental and emotional development and 3) would simply be more entertaining.

For one thing Flickr is a business. Sure it's a business that makes you feel like it's all warm and soft and friendly and that it's totally hip to it's friends customers interests, and to be fair it does to a lot to be customer friendly (it is a community site after all) but it's still a business, and this is a business move.

Videos uploads are only open to those with pro accounts, so to upload video you have to pay. New pro membership benefit == more members == more money. Then there's the fact that yahoo (which owns flickr) doesn't exactly have a strong video presence, and flickr is a closer fit than a lot of things it could have tried.

Second, comparing Flickr to YouTube is pretty silly when you look at it. YouTube is free to all, and after a few family friendly parental type controls the site is pretty much a free for all. YouTube also isn't exactly interested in quality. Flickr seems to be sort of the opposite. The video clip I uploaded to flickr looks almost as good there as it does when I play it locally, and the player interface isn't bloated or bland. So you don't have the total dreck we've all come to expect from youtube clips.

The third thing is since you have to pay to use the service, you're setting a good barrier to entry. Everyone has seen a myspace page that made you want to suck your own eyes out with a drinking straw, and look at all the number of craptacular free blogs and websites out there. Now how many sites have you seen with a registered domain name (and I'm not talking a .tk or some other free domain) and real paid hosting? Nowhere near as many. Pay walls keep a certain level of junk out, so again, none of the youtube free for all.

Should flickr added a "Don't show me video" option? Probably, and it would surprise me if they don't (or if someone fails to come up with a no video hack) but I'm finding it a useful feature. I've got a bunch of short clips that are neat, and worth sharing, but nothing I really care to piece together into a video. So while things like youtube and blip (another video service) fail, flickr video works, and gives me more of a reason to keep up my pro account.

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Holiday Bird

09.57.14 - Mark

I can get lazy sometimes. When I was out and about taking photos two weeks ago (when it was 70 degrees and sunny) I ran across this bird who has a habit of showing up around the Greenway Trail in Mount Airy, I'm pretty sure it's a Great Blue Heron, but I'm not a bird expert. The herons (there are a few that like the creek) tend to show up when I'm either without a camera or they fly away before I can make a photo. For whatever reason this one wasn't disturbed, and allowed me to watch and record for about 10 minutes before moving on.

It took me a week to get around to editing to find some music I liked for the bird and edit together the video clips and photos I took, and then it's taken me an additional week to getting around to fighting with compression settings and file formats, so after all that time I'm finally getting around to posting the video as a sort of holiday gift. Maybe later I'll get around to adding some sort of flash player so you don't have to download my, anymore large, video files.

The music under my video is "Clouds Fly as I Smile" by SaReGaMa the Artist who released it under a Creative Commons Noncommercial Sampling Plus 1.0 License. My video (like most of my content) is CC Attribution Non-commercial 3.0.

The Bird (158MB 320 x 240 H.264 Quicktime)

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 License.

Oh yeah, Happy Holidays.

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A voice for pictures

01.29.24 - Mark

Very rarely do I feel like recording my own voice, but when I made my latest panoramic I had a shell script running in the background taking a screen shot every 15 seconds for the 2 hours or so I was working on the image (minus the 15 minutes where I ran out of space to store the screen shots). Stitched together like a time lapse video it provides the basis for a short how to video, just add some narration and maybe some detailed video capture clips and I might have a decent video. In theory not that hard.

Except I'm quickly remembering why every other time I've done a narration, I've started with scripted, practiced, and edited audio, and then cut the video to fit the audio. Going the other way around and trying to coherently narrate a video as it's steamrolling past you and whatever thought you're trying to express doesn't work so well (and is probably why a lot of DVD commentary tracks suck)

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Loud RF

01.14.22 - Mark

I don't need many more reasons to hate Cingular. Lousy coverage, lousy service, and painful RF noise. Chasing down audio problems is not one of my strong points, but I've been hearing loud obnoxious, painful ear piercing noises coming out of my various speakers. While browsing tonight I actually came across my answer on accident. The noise I've been hearing has been Cingular cellphone signals bleeding over into my speakers. Fun.

Apparently it's also enough to completely blow out a speaker, which isn't all that surprising if you've heard that noise and lived to tell about it. Somehow I doubt Cingular would replace that hardware.

Figured out while reading Bunnie Huang's blog (He's the guy that hacked the original xbox), where there's a link to an amusing Cingular/Apple parody video.

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Another reason I hate DRM

20.32.54 - Mark

I've ranted on DRM before (I may have even started a post like that before), but when it's wasting my money, I tend to get upset. I'm a happy Netflix customer, I've slowed down my watching a lot since I first started but I still like the service. I'd like it more if I could use their watch now feature, but right now I can't. It would be one thing if the software on their end wasn't there yet, but it's not. As Hacking Netflix points out the watch now stuff works just fine on the Mac (I've checked on the Mac, but not the Ubuntu box) It's the fucking DRM that's depriving me use of my Netflix account and the 17 hours of video I could be getting every month.

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Insomnia Film Fest - the Sequel

01.37.02 - Mark

Apple is running another Insomnia Film Festival this year. I thought about entering last year, but I don't qualify this year.

They must have gotten a great response from it last year since they've really scaled it up. They've opened it up to high school students, they seem seem to be promising a lot more publicity, and there's a much larger prize package (5 MacBooks, with copies of Final Cut, Shake, and Logic, as opposed to just software last year)

Can't wait to see what this year's teams produce. They produced some great films last year

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Robots in disguise

00.40.10 - Mark

I'm really looking forward to seeing Transformers this summer, even if Michael Bay has traditionally produced mediocre movies (but with great visual effects) The previews I've seen for Transformers just amaze me. The fluidity of the CGI transformations makes me want to have the highest quality copy available to view frame by frame on a 30" wide screen monitor (which means I will see it in a theater) I didn't even imprint on Transformers as a kid that much. I might have watched a stray episode here and there, but by the time I was really watching Saturday morning cartoons that had moved from the original version and onto the Beast Wars Series and that never really clicked (despite involving both robots and Mainframe Entertainment - the people behind ReBoot)

Still, I'm looking forward to the movie.

As an aside, videos that can't be downloaded suck ass. I had to stop and restart the yahoo streams on my ubuntu linux box before I could watch the trailers (and even then it got cutoff), and the yahoo stream despite opening up quicktime was choking up on my macs.

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The Airshow

23.29.22 - Mark

It's been about 53 weeks since I last posted a video, and that's far too long to neglect the Media feed, so I present The Airshow.

I took all of the video in it at the Mayberry Air Race a few weeks ago with my Canon S3IS, and finally got around to editing it together today. There wasn't much I could do with the audio (it was at an air show after all, and windy day on top of that) but hopefully the visual style makes up for it. The first part of the movie is from the R/C demonstrators throughout the day, followed by the heavy duty aviation. The last five minutes is from the two shows preformed by The Flying Farmer an 82 year old stunt pilot. His performance is worth the download on its own. The edits are pieced together from the two shows, but I tried to maintain some semblance of continuity. Enjoy (and I promise not to wait another 53 weeks to post another video)

The Airshow (47MB, 320x240 Quicktime, 9 Minutes, 40 Seconds)

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 License.

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Bad Business Plans

16.19.04 - Mark

The Bittorrent store is doomed to fail. Their business model is based on having knowledgeable geeks and power users using crippled software, to pay to have their computers and internet connections used to support the store's network, while renting mainstream content that in addition to being low quality has been wrapped in stringent DRM forcing you to use one computer and forbids you from using portable devices.

Meanwhile their main competition is themselves, by having millions of high quaility, DRM-free files available on the same network at no cost, and which have the added benefit of being playable on any sufficiently modern media device.

Looking at the NYT article, they claim a better user experience, but I can't see myself or my bittorrent aware brother using the official site over TorrentSpy or The Pirate Bay and while I have no problem forking over cash, bandwidth, or even watching advertisements to compensate for my downloads I'm not accepting DRMed files. I commonly download files on a linux box and watch videos on one of a number of other devices, from a video iPod to streaming it across the network and viewing it on a laptop connected to the TV.

I can't help but think that this is nothing but an attempt to keep a perfectly legal tool and its creators from being sued by naive MPAA/RIAA lawyers.

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Please Stop Streaming My Video

15.40.52 - Mark

While I'm tolerating YouTube and the like more than I was a few months ago, my lingering hatred of streaming video has reemerged in the last week or so.

What's prompted it has been NetFlix's announcement that they're starting to phase in streaming video to it's customers. A couple months ago after realizing that I've been blowing some serious cash on DVDs at the same time I was getting a serious craving for some older slightly obscure movies I signed up for Netflix.

I haven't really blogged about it since I've got mixed feelings about the service. The selection has been good (certainly satisfying my cravings) and after putting in about 120 ratings I've been getting some truly great results from their recommendation engine, but at the same time the turn around isn't always great (I'm starting to run into throttling issues) and I've been seriously annoyed by skips and freezes caused by scratched disks. However the service has allowed me to rent more and varied films without regrets. I've gone from foreign films to documentaries to cheesy blockbuster comedies, and at $2 a film I can even afford to rent a few stinkers.

So when Netflix announced it was starting to add online video I was a bit excited. Among other things more movies. However I'm not using it. Aside from the fact that they don't support Macs or Linux (I don't have a windows box) its streaming video, and my "broadband" internet is far from high speed. One a very good day pages load quickly and without fuss. One normal days I'm painfully reminded of dialup. On a bad day I feel like I would get a faster connection by using an acoustic coupler with my cell phone to dial up an AOL access point in the middle of Alaska.

While my current state of bandwidth maybe a little off the norm (and maybe a bit exaggerated), I have absolutely no problem letting a download sit in the background until it's finished. I'd rather wait a while and watch a video in one go than have it spontaneously freeze of stutter in the middle of a scene. Furthermore, I'd rather be able to move the video around, from a server, to a laptop, to a DVD, or to my iPod

So please, stop streaming my videos, or at least give me an OS independent download option.

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HSU's Funniest Class Videos

13.01.15 - Mark

Supposdely my Advanced Web Graphics class is out of Flash. Except we're not. While we have had the test, our next assignment is to create a screencast based on some of the small projects we did during the flash section.

Personally I like video, and along with audio, it has been horribly neglected in the Web Technology cirriculum. The term podcasting had already emerged when I started the degree program, and by the time we started doing serious work with multimedia, video blogging was starting to emerge in a big way. At one point I was watching vlogs before going into a class where I was learning how flash was the be all and end oll of web multimedia. I have tried mentioning how blogs, wikis, podcasts, and video is to teachers, and it has produced off the cuff lessons, but goes largely ignored in favor of our "authoritative" textbooks.

What's worse is while he has the idea thing going, it ends there. Like any good PHB, those of ous left to do it are short on details and specifications, and flooded in jargon.

If I don't try and do a 24 hour movie (and maybe if I do) this weekend I may just rig my Pismo with flash and a copy of snapz pro and go about this assignment on my own.

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Fast. Cheap. Good?

01.24.33 - Mark

Apple is running the Insomnia Film Festival next week. One film, maximum length of 3 minutes, and no more than 24 hours to write, shoot, edit, and publish it in. Dave Slusher at least, thinks I should enter.

I've heard of similar events, and some of my videos have been done inside 24 hours so I am sort of thinking about entering. I've got a list of concerns, I won't post all of them but it boils down to the Fast, Cheap, Good Trilemma, but the challenge is intriguing. I suppose we'll see within a week what I decide to do.

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The Morning Commute

22.27.31 - Mark

Since my iBook has been out of service for a few weeks, I've built up a small supply of raw video, and this little movie is the result of it. Last fall, when the leaves were finally changing colors I pointed my camera out the window of my car on my evening commute home then set the footage to music in Leaves as a first attempt at video blogging. Since then I've gotten a little better at manipulating iMovie and with my iBook kind of fixed (and a massive external hard drive attached) I figured it was a good a time as any to make a new video.

The footage was shot on a beautiful cold wet rainy morning most people despise (or at least constantly complain about) on my way to school a couple weeks ago, and I tired to edit it so its not entirely obvious that I reused several segments (unlike Leaves). For the record, using a Mac to edit video is so much easier than on Linux (which I tried doing this video with)

Anyways, the music is Clouds or Smoke? by Derek K. Miller (PenMachine Podcast) which was released under a Creative Commons Attribution, ShareAlike 2.5 license - same as the video itself.

Morning Commute (55MB 320 x 240 H.264 Quicktime)

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.5 License.

And sorry about the large file size. The compression really kills off a lot of the details I like in the video but H.264 makes it bearable at 320x240. I was really tempted to post a high resolution quality, but I figured 120+ Megs for a 4 minute video is too selfish.

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Do not attempt to adjust your Television

17.05.01 - Mark

Sometimes you find something online you never thought you would see online. I'm not talking about the weird ternds that just get amplified by the internet, I'm talking about truly strange things that predate the internet and were so temporary that you couldn't possibly expect to find them online. Like the hijacking of two Chicagoland TV station's signals in 1987 by a guy in a Max Headroom mask. The fact that that little tidbit of text exists is pretty amazing on its own, but the fact that someone has a digitized video of the rogue signal is mind blowing (that page has a couple of other interesting video clips).

This Internet thing is truely amazing

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13.40.24 - Mark

Yesterday was another one of those oddly beautiful days everyone seems to complain about, at least it was in the morning, and unlike the last one I wrote about I had the foresight to grap my camera and shoot some video on my commute. While a camera can only capture a fraction of the scenery, I think I have enought to edit into a video.

While I still don't have a Mac capable of editing video without taking three hours to process an action, my linux box has some horse power and there are a number of linux video editors out there, including Cinelerra which I've even managed to install onto said linux box.

Unfortunatly installing it and being able to use it are two entirely different subject matters. For the record it was a pain in the ass to install as well.

I'm enjoying my linux box more and more, but I'll be real happy when I finally replace my iBook

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Cello, Cello, and More Cello

23.14.36 - Mark

I love the sound a cello produces, and it can produce a wide variety of sounds, as this video demonstraits.

37 parts, all played with a single cello then mixed together to create a neat song and an even neater video.

Almost makes me wish I had put some more effort into learning to play the Cello well.

via digg.com

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CVS Not So Disposable Camcorders

21.52.26 - Mark

While I'm not using it as much as my Canon SD300, I do like the CVS "Disposable" Camcorders, and have shot a few videos with it. Part of my facination with it is the sheer number of hacks being done to them, and I'm really tempted to grab another and do the night vision hack. I also might pick mine up a little more often since someone made an easy installer for the CVS Cam USB drive driver, as opposed to the original pureread app I have been using - I never could figure out how to install Ops for linux (which lets you have some more control over camera settings)

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Ouch, stupid overhead

00.52.30 - Mark

I'm really growing attached to Fireant, and can see why the vlogging community has latched onto it. Like any software there's a learning curve to it (something I keep forgetting), and while there are a couple things I'm still getting used to, like some of the playback controls and the lack of an easy way to go to the site in a real browser, most of the time its quick, easy to use, and extremely easy to manage files (iTunes Delete file functions leave something to be desired).

Recently I've been watching clips from Apollo Pony ("Rocketboom's Newsroom"). I had it in my subscriptions, but I accidentally downloaded all of the clips (which happened to me with RB as well). I hate to waste that bandwidth so I've been watching what I download, and there are some real gems in there. No regrets.

Since my post (and correction) on pod-catcher clients, I've also been playing with iPodderX Lite, and I'm starting to get the religion. There's a whole lot to be said for set it and forget it downloading but one things iPodder Lemon had going for it was that it was extremely easy to see download queues, progress, and failures. So far I haven't seen that type of functionality in there, but that could be pro, or something coming out in Transistr. Furthermore its only ever a problem when I max out my iBooks HD (which unfortunately I do a lot, especially when I'm collecting video)

Between the two clients there are a few problems, nothing serious, and nothing on the scale of my iPodder pains. More like transition pains (which are always unpleasant)

Anyways, back to watching, deleting, and downloading.

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