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10.30.2008

TWIP Easy White Balance Tip - TWIP

TWIP Easy White Balance Tip - TWIP

The above link will take you to an excellent digital photography tip. The instructions are for Lightroom or Aperture, but pretty much any professional photo tool can do this same thing.

A Good Webcomic - Kukuburi


This is possibly one of the best webcomics I've found.
It's story driven, more like a comic book than the funny papers.

It's a story about a girl, a lizard, a hat, and an alternate dimension populated by the denizens of a child's imagination. If you're interested head over to Kukuburi and give it at least 10 pages or so and you'll be hooked.

Photosynth of Sweetwater Sound

I was experimenting with Photosynth from Microsoft Labs a while back and created this "synth". If you're not familiar with the technology, it lets you build a 3d arrangement of of a scene from photographs. When done correctly, you can "step" through the scene and see it from the points where the camera was placed.

I wanted to do a big interior, so after a few experiments in synth-building I headed out to Sweetwater Sound and photographed the interior of their new building.
This synth still has some bugs I need to work out. There are some holes in the 3d map, but it's the best one I've built so far. I've worked out a new possible system for shooting these. I'm trying to find another interesting building or landscape to synth next with the new setup.




10.29.2008

More Viral Muppets Clips on YouTube!

Looks like two new videos in the viral Muppet series on YouTube. You can find them tagged "virmup", or search for new "friends" accounts linked to the existing cast's user pages. (for example see Fozzie's friends under "wockawockabear" )

It's worth noting that Rowlf is back in these new videos. This is significant as he's is a fan favorite and has not had many speaking parts since Jim Henson's passing. Fans have complained about his absence and how they want the character to return as more than an extra. I take it as a sign that this new viral campaign is meant to cater to die hard fans.




Voting early

I tried to vote early today. The line was an hour long at the county
building.

Video - Rolling Bomber Special

I can't really explain this clip, except that I laughed a lot.



10.28.2008

Zombie Mario?


Fort Wayne Zombie Walk 106, originally uploaded by macrogeek.
One of the more creative costumes I saw during the First Annual Fort Wayne Zombie Walk.

I'm not sure how Mario became one of the infected...but obviously it's too late for everyone's favorite plumber.

10.25.2008

Fort Wayne's First Annual Zombie Walk


Fort Wayne Zombie Walk 045, originally uploaded by macrogeek.

Zombies invaded downtown Fort Wayne today for the First Annual Zombie Walk.
The walk was organized by Ft. Wayne's Downtown Improvement District as part of their annual Downtown Fright Night celebration. 

It looked like we had over a hundred participants for this first ever Zombie Walk.  There were a lot of people in plain clothes tagging along or watching as well.  I thought it was a pretty good turn out considering it was about 50 degrees out.  Our Zombie Horde assembled by the library at 4 PM and took a half hour shambling walk around downtown before piling into the Grand Wayne Center.  There were some great costumes in the mob. 

I went along and took photos, and you can see them here on my Flickr account:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/macrogeek/tags/fortwaynezombiewalk/

I also uploaded higher resolution versions to my Photrade account so that participants of this year's event can order  prints & merchandise:
http://www.photrade.com/macrogeek/

10.24.2008

Today's Catch - a pile of old video games

I traded a CRT monitor for this pile of old games today.  Basically my coworker got a monitor and I got his childhood.  In the haul was a highly disfunctional Intellivision, an Atari 2600, and a pile of games for each.  I also got a batch of NES games.  I was suprised that the guy kept most of the original manuals and the dust sleeves for the Nintendo carts.  

State of the art - Wireless Atari Controller

Yeah, that's a wireless controller for Atari.  The box goes on the Atari console, and the controller is powered by a 9v battery.  

10.22.2008

FMAD - Flash Memory Addiction Disorder

Is there such a condition? If so, I think I have it.
One of my friends and I went and shot some fall pictures on lunch. While transferring pictures to a spare USB flash drive I came to the realization that I'm carrying way too many bits of flash memory around with me. Depending on whether I have my camera bag with me or not, it looks like lately I've had between 15 and 26 GB of storage on various cards or thumb drives. (not including the 8GB in my iPhone)
That just doesn't seem right, does it? I guess it just accumulates as you move to the next larger card.

10.21.2008

Questions about Jazz HDV178

I received the following comment today and wanted to respond:

"You got to give me some insight... PLEASE! I have read so many reviews and got the good, the bad, and the ugly. How does your jazz stack up? I've heard some negative things about it and wanted to know if you're familiar with multiple brands and their specifics? Things that are important to me are low light capabilities, overall easiness, minimal pixalation, and good audio. I'm very close to buying the flip but would like to get more advice. I've been researching all weekend and ready to purchase, I'm just not 100 percent sure yet about which brand. Please email me at (removed)

Thanks,
Dustin "


Hey Dustin, first I have a couple of posts related to the Jazz HDV178. You can find them all here:
http://macrogeek.blogspot.com/search/label/HDV178

You may especially want to check out the HDV178 vs Flip Video review I did and jump over to see the comparison video on Vimeo. There are also example pictures and videos in some of the other posts. I'll let you check them out at your leisure.

I'd say that if you are already comfortable with camcorders and video editing, the HDV178 is a pretty good deal. I've also heard good stuff about some of the Apitek cameras, but haven't used any of them myself. If you don't already have some editing software and experience working with MPEG4 AVI files, then I'd look at the Flip Ultra. It's a great and easy to use camera, and you can get a good deal when they're on sale. Just remember they don't come with rechargeable batteries, so if that's important, you'll need to buy a set. The software that comes with the Flip is pretty basic, but it does work pretty well. Here is a sample video I shot with a Flip. The zoom at the end was done in Vegas, not on the camera, but you can see these cams work best on nearby subjects. (Most of the pixelation in this clip is caused by encoding this on Revver. )



If you're really hung on low light support, no grain, and good audio, you may need to look into spending another hundred or so and find a full sized camcorder that has support for flash memory. Most of these low end flash camcorders are going to get grainy especially in low light, and the integrated mics are cheap.

My only gripes about the HDV178 are:
  • Annoying startup noise
  • Odd mic placement. (It's on top, not the front, so your thumb can make mic noise. It's probably there to allow you to voice over and be heard, but it makes you come out louder than your subject if you're not mindful of it.)
  • Videos need transcoded to common format for most uses. (software is included, so not a big deal for me)
  • Cheap build quality. (mostly plastic, could be easy to break, but this is the case on any cheap camcorder)

These things being said...I still think it's a great and fun little camera for the price...so I'm pretty satisfied with it.

One thing to consider, is how are you planning to share these videos? If you're going to put them on a HDTV, you may want to look at a real camcorder. If you're just going to look at them on a standard def TV or by putting them on a flash based website like YouTube, Revver, or Vimeo, then the videos will look fine, you probably won't notice the lower quality after the video has been compressed by the host site anyway. Higher quality never hurts though.

10.17.2008

HDV178 MicroSD / SDHC Card Testing

I tested my Jazz HDV178 today with some new memory cards.

MicroSD cards with a Micro SD to Secure Digital adapter work fine, they seem to write at a fast enough speed to take smooth video.

MicroSDHC (High Capacity) cards put into the same adapter worked as well. So this camera does support standard SDHC (Secure Digital High Capacity) out of the box and Micro SDHC via adapters.

With an 8GB SDHC card the camera was estimating 4.5 hours of HD footage...which I think is more than the normal battery life of the camera.

10.16.2008

Shameful Confessions

I have to admit it. I'm embarrassed to say it, but I'm really enjoying the new Knight Rider (2008) TV Series. I know it seems the reviews are all either "it's Awesome!" or "this is the dumbest hour long car commercial I've ever watched". The TV movie was kind of cool, but I think this new show will be better in the long run...they just need to figure out how to sell it to the audience.

The new KITT-stang is pretty sweet. I like the look, and I must be one of the only childhood fans who thinks KITT can be a muscle car now. A coworker complained that KITT shouldn't be a muscle car...that his original look was "stealthy". I think when I was a kid, I looked at KITT and thought it looked fast. I think the Mustang conveys that attitude, and makes it look modern, and more aggressive. Face it kids...pointy nosed sports cars aren't as popular as they once were.
I like Val Kilmer as the new voice of KITT. It took me a couple of episodes to stop looking for Mad Martigan. I went back and saw the TV movie after I had watched a couple of episodes of the series. I think what sold me on Kilmer for the voice of KITT was a scene where it called one of the characters on their cell phone to warn them of danger. They voice worked in context for the scene, and they hadn't used it while showing the car yet.

Turbo Boost is back. Yeah, I know it's completely goofy that the car can jump...but hey it was a cornerstone of the original series. At least now they've added some animation to try to sell the effect. KITT now has VTOL styled jet nozzles under the body. As a kid I always wondered how the stupid car could jump without a ramp...but we just suspended disbelief and tuned in the next week. They don't seem to be using this every episode...so at least it's not rediculous thus far.

The one thing that I hope they get rid of is the new "off road" mode. KITT should not turn into a truck. It's stretching too far to sell that effect. I can buy that the car can change into an beefier version for combat...that's mainly a styling change. The car stays the same size for that transformation. The turning into a truck thing has to go. I hope they just listen to the fans and quietly make that feature disappear partway through the season. Lets just never speak of it again.

At this point, the series is pretty fun and it entertaining me, so i'm going to keep watching and see how it goes. I'm hoping they listen to fans, fix a few things, and find a good pace before the end of the season. We'll see if it gets renewed for another season.

10.09.2008

Wells Street Bridge HDR revisited


Wells Street Bridge HDR v2, originally uploaded by macrogeek.

I did go back and reshoot the HDR image of the Wells Street Footbridge in downtown Fort Wayne. I was going past that morning and the it was just the right time of morning and there were nice clouds and a little haze or fog on the river. I'm pretty happy with how this one came out.
It doesn't have the grain problems the original did.

Cheap Storage with SD, MicroSD, CF Adapters


I found the coolest adapter kit at Meijer a couple of weeks back. It's branded GFM, which is the Meijer "house brand" for their cheap electronics. I think it was actually made by a company called Eagletec judging by the part numbers. It was on clearance, probably because it's a PCMCIA kit and that technology is rapidly being replaced by ExpressCard. The kit included a PCMCIA to Compact Flash adapter, a Compact Flash to SD adapter, and a Secure Digital to MicroSD adapter.

The whole thing was on clearance for $9 when I bought it, and I recently saw that they had dropped again to $6.
The part numbers of the adapters are:
PCMCIA to CF - ET-PCMCIADPT
CF to SD - ET-CFAII45
SD to MicroSD - no part#.

So far I've been really happy with this set, as my TravelMate C110 TabletPC doesn't have an integrated card reader. Now I can carry the whole nested set of adapters in my unused Cardbus / PCMCIA slot.

There is little to no documentation on the packaging for these adapters, so I've been playing around with them. So far I've found:

The PCMCIA to CF adapter will accept Type I or II cards. It seems as speedy as dumping cards via USB 2.0, but I haven't actually done a throughput test.

The Compact Flash to Secure Digital adapter works great to adapt SD cards up to fit in my Compact Flash equipped camera (Canon EOS Rebel XTi / 400D). I've heard this is slower than real CF cards, but so far I've not had a problem using it this way. I suppose you could have problems if you were shooting bursts of photos in RAW format, but this camera has a pretty good buffer, so I haven't had any issues. I've even used a MicroSD card w/ adapter and it works fine.

The CF to SD adapter does NOT support High Capacity cards (SDHC). I tried a 4GB card in it, and it did not work in either my camera or a SDHC compatible card reader.

While I wish for SDHC support on these adapters, I'm pretty happy right now because 2GB SD cards are plentiful and cheap. Micro SD also seems to be very cheap right now and easily adaptable into other formats. I found a GFM 2GB MicroSD card with SD adapter at that same Meijer for 20% off last week, I think it ended up being $8.50 after tax.

I'm going to keep using good quality CF cards with my XTi, but it's nice that in a pinch I can take spare SD cards from my HDV178 pocket camcorder, or Canon point-and-shoot cameras and give myself some extra space if I need it.

I'm planning on picking up a MicroSD to Memory Stick Pro Duo adapter soon for use with my PSP. Once I have that I should be able to use MicroSD as my common memory for most of my consumer devices and just change adapters as needed.

10.07.2008

To early?

I guess someone wants to get a lead on their competition. Seriously,
Christmas in October seems a bit much.

Flash Drive: 1, Washing Machine: 0

It would appear my 1GB Viking DataTraveler USB stick is tougher than my washing machine. The USB drive has successfully retained all it's files after being washed in my jeans pocket.

I let it dry out for a couple of days before trying to use it, but it seems to be working, no worse for wear except that the sliding USB bit seems looser than before.