Ramble on Writing and a Rant

I find myself in one of two situations a lot. Either I’m sitting here in front of an empty page trying to think of something that I want to write about or I just start typing about what ever comes to mind. In the first case nothing gets written. In the second, I get practice writing at the expense of rambling on about nothing in particular and boring myself and any reader that happens to stumble across my blog to death.

One of the things I like about YouTube is that when I watch a video, especially a vlog, and it inspires a comment, I can start a discussion with the vlogger. One of the things I don’t like about YouTube is the limit on the length of comments. I understand that it’s a free service and all those comments cost money to store. But videos cost money to store and comments take so much less storage. Maybe it’s the fact that it is so much easier to make a comment than it is to make a video which results in the volume of comments far exceeding the volume of video responses. Anyway, the point is I like the dialog.

I have yet to have a comment on this blog that wasn’t spam. I don’t think anybody reads it. I don’t know why I bother posting at all. I could just as easily write this stuff and store it on my computer. I guess it is a combination of hope that someone will read it and a kind of romanticism about contributing to the vast corpora of data available over the internet. Who knows, maybe someday I’ll write something that someone wants to read. That’s the idea behind writing here regularly.

I sure like my MacBook. It has changed my life. I can sit in any room in the house and read my email, write in my blog, watch YouTube or surf the web. I actually do many of the things that I couldn’t find time in front of the computer to do now that I don’t have to sit at my desk to do them. I can sit in front of the TV with Pam or take it to the bathroom with me in the morning. I can take it to bed with me. Let’s face it, I’m a computer junky.

Back on the musing about writing topic, I’m reminded of the essay that Paul Graham wrote that explained that essay writing is exploring ideas. Blogging is a kind of essay writing. If you have the discipline and take the time to edit a blog post it is an essay. If you’re lazy, like me, it is whatever flies off of your fingertips while you are thinking. It is more like the notebook that you use to capture the thoughts that you edit into an essay than it is the final essay itself. But I think it has value. It lets people see your train of thought as it evolves. This could be useful, especially if the train ever goes anywhere.

I’m doing better with the frequency of my posts. I haven’t found the place in my daily schedule that will turn this into a habit but I’m working on it. I am about sick of this theme. I’m either going to make up a theme of my own or more likely find another one on the WordPress site and change over to it. I might just hack on this one a bit. I like the colors, its the photograph that needs to change periodically. I need a new camera.

I need to be independently wealthy. I have so many expensive hobbies. Most of them aren’t that expensive once you get set up. I’ve got most of what I need to make videos now. I could use a microphone here and a mixer there and lights and a green screen and software upgrades. But the point is, I can make videos with what I have already. Those accessories would be nice but they aren’t necessary.

I recently upgraded my Amateur Radio license so that I have operating privileges in a bunch of new segments of the radio spectrum. I could build radios to operate in those segments from kits or from scratch. And, I intend to do that. Part of ham radio that I enjoy is homebrewing (building your own hardware). Currently though, I don’t have any working radios. Now radios aren’t that expensive but they are expensive enough that I can’t afford to just go out and buy one. Even a little general coverage receiver is going to cost somewhere around $100.

Right now, I’m struggling to pay my bills. Actually, I’m struggling to pay my bills because I’m helping my daughter get set up in business. So, I’m paying my bills and part of hers. I know this is a temporary situation but it is frustrating. And then there are the other things that come up like house maintenance, car maintenance, we need new furniture, we need newer cars as the ones we have get older and stay broken more frequently.

I know this has turned into a bitch session but it helps to get these things down where you can look at them. Then you can start working on ways to deal with them. Also, when you list all your problems like this, you get a feeling about their scope. In all fairness though, I need to do a blog about all my blessings to balance out this one a little.

Getting Settled In to the Vloggerhood

I’ve been producing videos on You Tube since September of 2006. I have yet to follow through with my original plan and produce a short fictional video to post. Maybe some day I will make my video short story as I call it. In the mean time I have been very busy.

I have posted a documentary of my father-in-law’s 79th birthday party (my first video on You Tube). I’ve posted the obligatory cute animal video. I’ve posted a number of videos responding to questions or challenges or entering contests. I’ve posted a how-to video. The how-to video got me featured on the front page of Live Video.

I’ve also produced several vlog videos. Vlogs are the video equivalent of blogs. But you knew that, didn’t you? I sometimes think that I only have two kinds of visitors here, those that randomly stumble across my site, never to return and those that just want to post comment spam.

That’s a big difference that I’ve noticed between this blog and my You Tube videos. My videos are actually seen by other people, a good many of whom I had never met before they saw my videos and started interacting with me. Vlogging is two way communication. Blogging, not as much so. It could be, but it never has been for me with this site.

I’ve noticed a pattern in my posting of videos. I seem to make a flurry of posts approximately once a month. I’m hoping to use this observation to change this behavior. I guess time will tell.

I also realized that I am really engaged with the individual vloggers that I subscribe to. I care about what is going on in their lives and I miss them when they don’t post for several days. This has motivated me to try to post more frequently than once a month.

One of the vloggers that I subscribe to goes by the screenname of UpDownMostly. Tim is a good guy. I’m pretty sure he lives in the Research Triangle area of North Carolina. He is incredibly active in the You Tube community. He is a role model for me. He watches more videos than I can imagine being able to watch and makes at least half a dozen videos a day, primarily video responses.

I guess the essence of this engagement that I’m talking about is interaction, both through text comments and video responses. When it comes right down to it, I’m addicted to the You Tube community. But is it an addiction to want to participate in a community like this. I may joke about it being an addiction but I really don’t think it is. I think it is just a normal human desire to interact with and belong to a community.

Quick (relatively) Update

So much has happened since my last post. I thought I’d get back in the swing of blogging by catching folks up. I figure if you’re not interested in what’s going on with me, nobody is forcing you to read this :-).

First, and by far most importantly, I got a new MacBook! This is so exciting for me. It has a built-in web cam so vlogging is now a breeze. I still intend to make video shorts with the Canon Elura 100 (my DV palmcorder), but I don’t have to go to the trouble to set up the tripod just to record a vlog.

I’ve gotten totally addicted to the community aspect of YouTube/LiveVideo (hereafter referred to as YT). I have to check in on what my friends are doing every day. I still use text commenting for most of my interactions but when I have something to say that doesn’t fit in a comment, I make a video response.

That kind-of explains one of the reasons I haven’t posted here in so long. I use this blog as a platform for publishing my opinion on various topics. The only thing is, my blog is largely unread. My posts on YT get some traffic, and even better, I get feedback from folks. I know, I’ve got comments turned off here. But that’s only because all I ever got were comment SPAM!

We finally got the external webcams to work on my wife’s ibook, after her new MacBook arrived. You don’t really think I could get a new MacBook without getting her one too :-). Now my daughter has my wife’s old G4 iBook, her boyfriend has her old G3 iBook and everyone is happy for the time being.

We discovered Stickam just before we got the new MacBooks. My wife is well on her way to Stickam addiction. I’m afraid I’m not far behind. In case you don’t know, Stickam is a sight that combines interactive video and text chat with a kind of MySpace like home page (I think they may be owned by the same company as MySpace). You can post video, audio, and still pictures to your page. You can make friends and hang out in each others rooms. You can create chat rooms to hold meetings in. I’m still a little fuzzy about all the details. It’s kind of overwhelming at first.

I also discovered a new blog that I love (thanks to revbob over on Ex Cathedra) called The Sheila Variations. She’s a very cool, very literate, artsy type person with neat friends and interesting opinions. I’ve added her to my daily browsing list.

This is turning into a novel. I’ve covered most of the high points so I’ll finish this up and post it. I intend to post more frequently now that Spike (that’s my MacBook’s name) is my constant companion. Cheers!

Yet Another Frustration!

When I got home last night, I discovered that the webcams that Pam and I had ordered for our computers had arrived. Initially, I was really excited. Pam was already a little frustrated. She couldn’t find the Mac drivers on the disk that came with the webcam. I reminded her that the eBay listing had mentioned the fact that you had to download Mac drivers for the camera.

I poked around and found the seller’s web site and found the links for the Mac drivers for our computers. There was one version for Mac 0S 10.3 and another version for Mac OS 10.4. Since we both have older Macs, we have never upgraded to 10.4. I tried installing the 10.3 drivers repeatedly on both our machines. It always failed near the end of the installation. I installed the Windows version of the drivers on a PC laptop that I have and the camera worked fine. This convinced me that the problem was with the Mac driver software.
Finally, I got Pam to write the seller and ask for the drivers. They replied with an email that had both drivers attached. They were identical to the ones I had downloaded from the web. She wrote back telling them the problems we were having and we haven’t heard back from them yet.

Needless to say, we were both very disappointed. I hope the vendor comes through with fixed drivers soon. I’m going to see if I can find any other source for drivers for the camera. The camera is a Frisby model 106 webcam. The image quality is really very good.