Upgrade to WordPress 2.3

I upgraded to WordPress 2.3 today. But then I suppose you’ve already read the headline. They’ve added tags to WordPress. I was using categories like tags. That will be an adjustment. I’ll probably greatly reduce the number of categories at some time in the future. I also will have to find (or write) a widget friendly theme. I customized the out of the box theme a little and I’ll probably live with it a while. Too much work to tweak themes :-).

I notice that it was last week when I blogged last. I will start blogging more often. I am determined. I will also start making more videos. Those are the two things that I plan to focus on until I get them down. I also plan to spend some time on writing screenplays.

It’s getting late and I need to shut down and go home. I’m pretty pleased with the way the upgrade turned out. I need to email the backup I did of the database to my home account.

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.

Tuesday Ramble

I’ve been trying to get over this virus the last couple of days. It saps my energy so that I get tired very quickly. That makes it hard to find time to do the things that I have to get done, much less the more or less optional activities like blogging. That doesn’t mean that I’m any less committed to blogging daily, just that I’ve had a temporary set back.

I finally started getting something tangible accomplished at work today. I have been studying various Microsoft Enterprise Frameworks like BizTalk and SharePoint. I made very little progress with the frameworks but yesterday I decided to punt and implement the functionality with a simple Java program. Twenty four hours later and I had implemented 90% of the functionality that I had been struggling to implement for weeks with the Microsoft tools. Now I’m not being critical of Microsoft and I admit that I’m much more experienced with Java than I am with .NET or any of the Microsoft languages and frameworks, but this is ridiculous.

I’m going to post this and go to bed. I’m exhausted. It’s going to be a busy day tomorrow. Hell, the whole rest of the week is going to be hectic.

Sick Day Ramble

Today I stayed home sick. I took a long nap. I feel better than I did. Which is good because the last time I stayed home sick, the air conditioner quit and I spent the day trying to figure out what went wrong with it and didn’t get any rest. I felt a lot worse today than I did that time. I wouldn’t have done well if I had been confronted with a crisis today.

This week I discovered a new TV show on Showtime. It’s called Californication and it stars David Duchovny. What an emotional roller coaster ride. The episode I saw on Monday was the fifth one. I went back today and watched episodes one and two. That leaves me two more episodes to watch until I catch up. It is an incredibly well written and well produced series. The characters are quirky but likable. I love it.

I relate very strongly to Duchovny’s character on a fundamental level. Not that I have the kind of sex life that he has. That would be strictly in my dreams. Rather, I relate to the fact that he is basically a good guy that is trying to practice his profession (writer) and struggles with an environment hostile to his process. He pines for his beloved New York. But, as we all must do, he has to adapt or die.

I finally feel a little better. I’m going to venture out to get carry out supper. It’s SciFi Friday – Dr. Who, Flash Gordon, and Pain Killer Jane. I have missed so much of Pain Killer Jane that I usually don’t watch it any more. I’m not a big fan of violent thrillers. I prefer the more cerebral mystery/scifi/adventure type shows.

Balance, Goals, and a List

I am struggling for balance. There is so much that I want to do and I’m realizing that I only have a short time to do everything that I’m going to do. It really brings home the importance of prioritization. I started writing this entry in an attempt to follow through on my resolve to make blogging a regular part of my life. But as I write I am thinking and what I’m learning from this introspection is that blogging is a tool for refining my thinking on various subjects. Paul Graham pointed out that the word essay means to explore. That captures a lot of the value of blogging to me.

So, I’ll talk a little bit about some of the things that I want to accomplish. In this first pass, I’ll focus on listing them without assigning priorities or time frames. I think it is important to do this in order to keep from getting bogged down in details and missing the big picture. I also want to go ahead and post what I write in this session, even though it probably won’t be comprehensive, in order to keep the flow going. Then, when I’ve listed most of the things that I want to do, I’ll start elaborating on them, prioritizing them, and trying to establish the time frame that I plan to accomplish them in. I think a bullet list will be appropriate for this first pass.

  • Write an episode of The Gentry.
  • Write and produce a short video for entry into film festivals.
  • Play and record music.
  • Write fiction.
  • Write software.
  • Experiment with my robot.
  • Build a bigger robot from scratch.
  • Put a ham station on the air.
  • Build ham gear.
  • Go for daily walks.
  • Swim occasionally.
  • Live in Great Britain for a year or two.
  • See Europe.
  • Write something every day.
  • Meet some of my You Tube friends face to face.
  • Pay attention to Pam.
  • See America.
  • Post more videos to You Tube.

That’s a start anyway. I captured a lot of my aspirations. This will give me something to think about for a while. I just need to overcome inertia. As the Nike motto says, just do it!

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.

Look out internet, here I come!

Well, Santa came. My video camera and my daughter’s still camera arrived Monday afternoon. The still camera was dead on arrival and I had to get a return authorization and send it back for exchange on Tuesday. The video camera however is awesome. I spent much of Tuesday reading the manual and I taped and edited a couple of videos. I’m beginning to get the hang of iMovie.

Pam ordered us two web cams for our computers. We will be on stickam before you know it. I’ll probably also use the web camera for vlogging at least some of the time. I’ve got a list of videos I plan to make as long as your arm. Check out javajini and mslollipop on YouTube and javajini and MsLollipop on LiveVideo.