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Archive for the ‘Internet and Technology’ Category

M-Audio Delta44 Cards finally working in Ubuntu 9.04

October 11th, 2009 No comments

As a devoted Ubuntu user, I always tell the skeptics that in Windows or Mac OS, I have to pay money for my operating system and applications, then I have to do their beta testing for them. In Ubuntu, if you can fix it — it is yours with no need to pull out the credit card.

I was challenged when I upgraded from Ubuntu Gutsy 8.10 to Jaunty 9.04 in May 2009,  because my trusty M_Audio Delta 44 sound cards refused to make any sound except in the Audacity application.  I went into “Tech Mode” and started checking out the Ubuntu Forum. I found some confirmation that I was not alone in this post HOWTO: PulseAudio Fixes & System-Wide Equalizer Support. I also found a lot of information on ALSA here.

There was no quick fix for me so I submitted a launchpad bug report 425435. Read more…

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Net Tuesday Meet-up

October 7th, 2009 No comments

There is a really interesting group in Vancouver that has been formed through the “Meet-up” networking site. The “Net Tuesday” group purpose is to support non-profits with technology information and to share information. Part of doing “Tech Help” is keeping up with the nuts and bolts of Google Tools, so I decided to see what I could learn.

This particular meeting was the first one I attended and it was worth it to be able to go through security in the new CBC building. The plexiglas security gates will star in my next lo-budget sci-fi film for sure. Only moving pictures will reveal the wonder of it all.

The topics this evening were:  Google AdWords with Omar Al-Hajjar, Search Marketing Director for Magnet, a division of  Cossette West and Google Website Optimizer with John Hossack of VKI Studios.

As I have been posting AdWords on my site and considering advertising myself, the Google Ads presentation was timely. The Website Optimizer was a tool that I had looked at, but decided that I do not have enough traffic to use. Both presenters were very informative and it seemed like a great collection of people attending. Read more…

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Nexstar 3 Drive Enclosure How-to and Mac Warning

September 20th, 2009 No comments

External hard drives have been the most helpful item that I have purchased. I admit that I buy many of them and particularly now with high definition video where files sizes are large and a 30 Gig camera drive can uncompress to 10x in size depending on the final file type.

This post will serve two purposes:

1. How to install a hard drive in an external enclosure

2. Give a Warning on a problem that I had trying to use a Nexstar 3 enclosure with Mac OSX.

[I am trying out the anchor function with a new plug-in and it only works after you open the “more” tag — working on it.] Read more…

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Categories: How-To, VIX at Work

Word Press Themes and Plug-ins

September 7th, 2009 No comments

Screenshot-Welcome to AdSense

My Tech Help blog is using the iNov theme developed by mg12. I am not sure that I will keep this theme, but I am investing work into it. After getting my feeds set up, I had decided that I was going to try Google AdSense on this blog. I finally got it to work using the WP AdSense plug-in. I also figured out that I can insert the code directly into the post by using the HTML option in the WordPress editor. The Google Custom Search still is not working properly.

I was warned that Google only allows three ad sections per page, so I now put in a “more” tag and paste the ad code beneath the tag. That way the ad on the footer counts as one and the code in the blog only displays when the reader opens the post.  This prevents exceeding the limit when the posts are attached one after another on the home page. Check it out. Read more…

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Feedburner RSS Feed

September 5th, 2009 No comments

RSS-logoOne of the first actions I do in my fresh  WordPress install is to travel to Google and set up my new RSS feed with Feedburner.  Feedburner used to be a separate company, but now it has merged with Google and uses the same log-in account as the rest of my Google tools. RSS Feed links are usually identified with the logo at left. Clicking on the logo will subscribe to the feed from the site the logo on the page itself will also subscribe as it is linked to my feedburner account. Most blog pages and many web pages will feature this logo.

Feedburner handles all of the RSS feeds [Really Simple Syndication] from my websites. The wiki article explains RSS historically and technically, but the point for me is that the RSS feed delivers content from my site directly to subscribers.  This is a really simple RSS explanation from Feedburner. This process can be compared to a magazine subscription, once someone is subscribed they receive every issue of the magazine. Feedburner will even allow e-mail subscriptions that deliver directly to the subscriber’s e-mail box.

Most people just pick up the feed and read it in an RSS reader software that shows them a copy of each of the feeds they are subscribed to in one place. There are many very good RSS readers and most browsers will read the feed, although some may need an add-on or plug-in. Many of the most popular readers are displayed on the Feedburner subscription options page [click on the RSS button to see the page] and I would recommend that you start with one of those. It is a matter of personal taste because they all work well, but feature different options. Read more…

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Categories: Uncategorized, VIX at Work

Life and Times

May 30th, 2009 No comments

I want to dedicate this site exclusively to the technical details behind my daily work. This includes the Live More Lightly Project and Sound+Light+Motion, my own sites and work and many other projects that I am working on.  To increase the focus of the site, content will be constrained to contain all of the technical details of my computer/technology/opensource project development.

It is still in the setting up stage, but I hope that I will be able to provide some interesting content. I also plan to have the experts who give me Tech Help post here as they are specialists in their particular area and can have some helpful information. Read more…

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Photography Made Clearer

March 3rd, 2009 No comments

Using the CanonS2 is very different from the CanonA80 as the greater number of pixels and better zoom lens mean I have a better chance of taking a good photo. The feel of the camera is another factor and the fact that I look through the viewfinder instead of the flip out screen. I know my daughter, who takes really good photos, would argue about the screen, but for me steadiness is an issue and it helps if I have the camera closer to me. I am researching tripods, so the situation will change when I am not holding the camera, then it will help to avoid touching the camera by using a timer or remote. I also learned this from my daughter, who confided in me that she took my favourite photo of herself by putting the camera on a handy rock and using the timer.

I know that most of these ideas will seem obvious to most people who have knowledge of photography, but for a person who has spent their life in music and tapping on computers, this is an interesting new study.

My tripod research revealed the true enemy of clear, sharp photos is camera movement, even small vibrations can blur the capture. This can be compare to a pervasive hum or quick chair creak in the recording studio. Stillness of the motionless camera is the recording studio silence of photography.

Vibration must be controlled in music and audio recording too. From a physics perspective all instruments, including the voice, create sound using resonance caused by controlled vibration. As a recording engineer who works with the modern technique of sitting in the studio room instead of being isolated in a control booth, I have learned to control every sound I make. When recording, I breathe noiselessly and do not move unless absolutely required. Yoga has helped me control involuntary sounds made by digestion and to slow my heartbeat. Studio microphones will pick up a heartbeat if you are excited and allow your heart to pound, so even if you love the music, you must remain calm. Read more…

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Categories: Video and Photography

Hitachi Blu-Ray Camcorder — Frustration

January 23rd, 2009 No comments

Still no video to post to the site, sorry.

I have been getting to know the lovely folks at Hitachi customer support really well. Usually meeting new people can be a rewarding experience, but I am really getting worn down by this continued effort to resolve my problem.

The very helpful customer support at Hitachi gave me the part numbers for the missing items after I bought an open box camcorder DZ-BD7HA from Future Shop. I dutifully ordered the correct parts from The Parts Store.com and they were shipped to Point Roberts where I picked them up.

All the parts work wonderfully except one. The essential proprietary USB cable to extract the video from the hard-drive to my computer. The part number is correct and there is a USB 6 pin on one end, but the other end will not fit into the camera. A quick comparison between the analog out conversion cable, that came with the camera, and the USB cable shows that the proprietary end is not correct.

It is really frustrating because Hitachi claims that is the correct part number and the number is clearly labeled on the package — but it is the wrong part. I now have to send the wrong cables back to The PartsStore.com and order new ones from someone else. I hope that the mix-up was with the Parts Store and not some deep problem with Hitachi or another source will send me the same wrong cables. I will still have to pay the shipping and then send it back if it is wrong. One more call to Hitachi tomorrow to try to get the cable directly from them or get some assurance that the problem is fixed.

I really like the camera and the display resolution makes the video look very good. I really am very frustrated with the fact I can’t extract the video on to my computer. Let this be a warning to me not to try to save money with open box unless I am very sure I can make it work. I had no idea that a video camera would use a proprietary USB as all the music gear I have ever owned use the regular connectors.

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Update on proprietary cable

The excellent customer support at Hitachi has agreed to send me the correct cable at no charge!
Unfortunately, it is a back ordered part and the estimated time of arrival is the middle of March. I am waiting with hopes that this will indeed be the correct cable and I will be able to start using the camera.

As soon as I can download there will be video on the site!

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Categories: Video and Photography

Time Investment

January 12th, 2009 No comments

A new year and I have been thinking about one of the great topics of my life — time.

These ideas may be totally obvious to everyone else, but I like to analyze and explain my perceptions. This is off topic for this blog, but indulge me this once, please.

Perception of Time Passage

It seems to me that time is going faster the older I get and I have spoken to other people my age who feel the same kind of speeding up effect. My theory about this is that a given amount of time is experienced in comparison with the amount of time you have previously been aware of. For example; to a child aged 2, one additional year is one third of their life span but to an adult aged 29, one year is only a thirtieth of their life span and an older adult of 59 perceives a year as one sixtieth. For me to experience another year is approximately one fiftieth of my lifespan, so the effect of time is compressed compared to the perception of the length of childhood days.  Please comment on this theory.

Photography and Time

Recently, I have started to raise the quality of my photography. In order to accomplish this goal, I studied photographs and also compared the result that I achieved with the result I expected. I have come to some conclusions that may be surprising.

As a competent audio engineer I am used to capturing audio from source and achieving excellent results, because I am familiar with the behaviour of sound waves. Sound waves are quite slow moving and long, especially at lower frequencies (perceived as pitch). Both audio and visual capture are actually the process of recording the past because of the latency between the event and the capture device. The event of striking a string or hitting a key initiates a vibration that travels into the air and is picked up by some type of microphone and because sound waves are so slow, the audio engineer can initiate the recording process when the musician starts to move and still capture the entire sound wave.

It is well known that many people have traveled faster than sound in airplanes, but light is another story. Light moves so quickly that the photographer must actually move to take the photo before the moment that is captured occurs. No one can move faster than light and most photos are not taken from a great distance so the light reaches the camera almost instantaneously. A great photographer must plan to take a picture of the immediate future when the capture is initiated because if the moment has been seen, then it has already passed and can no longer be captured.

This has led me to take note of the amount of planning and forethought required to create interesting photos. My new idea is to recognize that a moment is about to occur (or plan a moment) and be ready to initiate the capture process to freeze the next moment in time. I have been trying to take a photo of what I am seeing, but that is impossible — I can only take a photo of what is about to happen.

In audio sampling, I have had to develop an accurate idea of very short time frames. I own the very first EMU SP-12 in Canada, the first drum computer to have built-in sampling. Due to the 5 second memory limitation, I had to learn to truncate (cut parts off) samples to make them take as little memory as possible. So I learned what .008 seconds sounds like.  Now I will try to translate that awareness into visual technology. I must develop the rhythm of shooting photos so that I will know how long it will take to initiate the process. This idea is interesting and I hope my photos will improve.

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Motivation and Project Management

December 21st, 2008 2 comments

In the depths of an snow fall that is very unusual for Vancouver, I am continuing to work on the Live More Lightly Project.  The blog is more than a year old now and significant progress has been made on developing the project.

The Live More Lightly Workshop has been presented in an elementary school and a demo video has been produced. Unfortunately, due to completely justifiable concerns about putting images of children on the internet, I cannot post the demo. However, I do have a supportive testimonial from the teachers here.

The book project has been refined into three versions:

  1. The Live More Lightly Songbook and Workshop Guide
  2. The Live More Lightly Book of Choral Arrangements
  3. Study Guide for the Live More Lightly Workshop

The Study Guide is a requirement for ArtStarts in Schools Touring Artists and I have used the video (with permission) in my application to  become part of their booking program. I will have to produce Book #3 (Study Guide) first because there is a need for it to accompany workshops that I am involved in presenting. Book #1 is intended for use by groups who want to do a workshop without me and Book #2 (the choral guide) contains arrangements for organized choral groups who have some musical training and a conductor.

The book has been taking a substantial amount of work, but even more work has gone into the image capture and documentary part of the project. I have ordered the additional parts I need for the Blu-ray video camera and they should be delivered soon. My two Canon still cameras are functioning, but I really feel I need an upgrade so I can take better quality photos.  Shooting in RAW is a requirement and I have found a Ubuntu Linux program that claims to handle RAW formats. I have been studying photography by asking a lot of questions and experimenting with different techniques. Now I am about to begin with video again, not just editing, but shooting. As soon as I get the parts for the video camera I will start recording video from my propane powered van and start to coordinate the streaming concept.

It all keeps me very busy. My next post will contain photos of my Yamaha FJ in storage with the new Renntec crash bars and carry rack installed. Simon worked on my bike before it was parked and it rides like a new machine. Still working on the luggage problem, but now the carry rack should help with the planning.  A future post on the MPEG4 always-on low resolution camera system will be next because several new products have been recently introduced. I will not make a decision until spring as I expect that the latest technology will be the best choice.

A summer tour seems so far away on this solstice afternoon, but I know that there is a massive amount of work to do so that I can be ready for the journey. Sometimes it is hard for me to be strongly motivated to continue to work, but evaluating the progress thus far helps me re-group and continue onwards.

All the best of the holiday season to everyone. Drive carefully and Live More Lightly.

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Categories: Video and Photography