Archive: March, 2006

Gross or funky

posted by Jeff | Friday, March 31, 2006, 3:42 PM | comments: 2

Why are my piercings all gross or funky since being sick?

First power outage

posted by Jeff | Friday, March 31, 2006, 11:53 AM | comments: 0

We had our first power outage today at work while I was in a meeting. That means it's really spring. Of course, I lost that game of Minesweeper and I'm sure dozens of IM's, but good stalkers will ping me again.

24: Most Beyond TV'd show

posted by Jeff | Thursday, March 30, 2006, 9:58 AM | comments: 0

Yep... Snapstream is now asking us to vote with our Beyond TV installs...

Living in the filth

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, March 29, 2006, 9:26 PM | comments: 0

As if my spirits weren't already generally low, for a number of reasons, I noticed today that my house is gross. I've got the worst offenses... like snot rags and dirty cat shit boxes, but there's a layer of filth everywhere.

It's part of a bigger picture issue of being overwhelmed with everything going on around you, beyond your control, made worse by being incapacitated for four days. It's the first time in a long time that I've felt like that, and it's almost like new territory for me again. It's seriously f'ing with my head. It's no fun.

Moussaoui will get what he wants

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, March 29, 2006, 6:50 PM | comments: 8

I am astounded by the way people are reacting to the Moussaoui trial, only because it demonstrates how little Americans really get religious radicals.

Everyone wants the guy to fry, you know, eye for an eye after 9/11, and I understand that. But if you put this guy to death, you're giving him exactly what he wants. Similarly-minded radicals will see him as a martyr and hero. If he rots in prison, he's just a schmuck who got caught. He's talking all kinds of shit on the stand because he wants death, and the jury is gonna give it to him.

Poetic justice

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, March 28, 2006, 7:14 PM | comments: 2

Anyone from Cleveland who has spent any amount of time driving down I-71 to downtown knows that Linndale is a scam. A town of a few hundred people in the middle of Cleveland with a couple hundred feet of jurisdiction on the freeway. I got one of my two tickets there, and I know a lot of people who have also been hit there, even for going 5 over.

This is what they get. I feel bad for the person who got pulled over (kind of... you are supposed to pull off to the right), but this is precisely what the Linndale cops had coming.

Wrapping up four days of hell

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, March 28, 2006, 12:49 PM | comments: 2

I'm finally coming out of the worst four health days I've had in many years. Starting Friday night, I started to have a fever, primarily a respiratory thing, then it moved to my sinuses by Sunday morning, and finally by this morning the fever had gone. I'm still at 98.9, but at least now I can function.

Today's order has been recovering from the dehydration (I thought I was drinking enough, but with all of the sweating and peeing, obviously not), and also sleeping. I've had no meaningful sleep during the fever times, so it's finally coming easily. The dreams, however, are disturbing.

The really depressing thing about it all, aside from not seeing another human being for four days, is the fact that only one person really called to check up on me (and she couldn't drop by because of a blood disorder that makes her particularly susceptible to getting sick). One of my volleyball kids made a phone call too. I could've died, and no one would've figured it out for some time later. That sucks. I feel like no one has my back.

Quarantine day three

posted by Jeff | Monday, March 27, 2006, 11:26 AM | comments: 0

I woke up this morning, well, I'm not sure I ever really fell asleep, and decided that work was not meant to be. I still don't feel as bad as I did Saturday night, but everything hurts still and I'm coughing up some seriously gross stuff. I may have had a minor fever this morning, but I think I'm normal now.

I haven't been sick in two or three years, then all of a sudden I'm sick twice in two months. What's up with that? Is life kicking my ass?

All I know is that I can't spend another day in this house.

More book woes

posted by Jeff | Sunday, March 26, 2006, 9:49 PM | comments: 3

I got my "earnings" statement from the publisher, and my book actually did sell negative copies when you consider the overstock from various retailers. Nice. Way to go A-W on that stellar marketing.

Certainly something has to go right this week...

I'm missing my tournament

posted by Jeff | Sunday, March 26, 2006, 2:07 PM | comments: 0

I'm missing the first tournament ever in six years that I've been coaching J.O. volleyball. :( Being sick sucks.

All signs point to something bad

posted by Jeff | Friday, March 24, 2006, 6:54 PM | comments: 5

I got home, I began coughing, my arms and legs ache, I can't keep my eyes open. Not good.

Time for comfort food, my Blue Man Group, Dayquil, and hopefully some sympathy.

A worsening inability to focus

posted by Jeff | Thursday, March 23, 2006, 10:00 PM | comments: 1

I've noticed that I have an incredible inability to focus and complete tasks that are more than brief.

For example, I can't write code for my own projects. I'm sure part of that is because of having a day gig, sure, but it annoys me to no end. So much of what I'd like to do on my sites is contingent on getting my f'ing forum rewritten, and I can't sit down to just make it happen. It really bothers me.

I'm having some problems writing my short film too, but that's more because I keep starting over, not really having a solid enough idea to bang out 20 pages for. That goal at least seems more manageable. Considering what I spent for the camera, I better get my shit together.

I think I know what it is that causes this lack of concentration, and it's a mix of things that I mostly can't control that keep me too frozen to concentrate on anything aside from sleeping. It's no fun at all. I think the plan of action is to resolve or accept the issues, and make a plan to complete the things I want to do, with deadlines. Every software project I've ever been on has a plan, so it makes sense to have one for my own.

Visually interesting HVX footage

posted by Jeff | Thursday, March 23, 2006, 10:35 AM | comments: 0

This is kind of neat. Great lighting, great use of overcranked shooting. I need to think of something clever like this to shoot...

Where can I borrow an empty warehouse space? :)


posted by Jeff | Thursday, March 23, 2006, 10:19 AM | comments: 4

Mix06 pics

posted by Jeff | Thursday, March 23, 2006, 12:25 AM | comments: 0

Non-Mix06: Final thoughts

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, March 22, 2006, 1:36 PM | comments: 2

There's an appeal to Las Vegas that I can't entirely put my finger on. The first time I was here in July 2003, I didn't even want to go, but had a good time. This time I was more positive about going, but then didn't really get out of the Venetian much (not exactly by choice).

So starting with The Venetian, I really like the hotel itself. Very nice. Not cheap, but very nice. The casino is OK I guess, even though I didn't do any gambling. The Canal Shops are neat, but there isn't anything in there I'd ever buy anything from.

I already blogged about Blue Man, so we'll leave that be.

I finally connected with Mary again yesterday afternoon, at which time the first words out of her mouth were, "Get me out of this fucking hotel!" So we went over to the Fashion Show mall to check out the Apple store. We also went to this little art gallery that had hundreds of paintings by her favorite artist. Weird to see a few Picasos and such too.

I wish I would've had more time to move around The Strip, but as I've learned again, you basically need 12-hour recovery periods when you do Vegas. Throw in a conference like this and I think you need even more. So one of these days, I hope I can do this city right, but I don't know if I want to spend so much time here since there are other cooler places. I need to get out to the Grand Canyon too.

Mix06: Final thoughts

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, March 22, 2006, 1:09 PM | comments: 0

Sadly I couldn't stay for all of today's sessions in order to get home at a reasonable time, but I did finally get to meet Rob Howard from Telligent (former Microsoft) after conversing with him for years by e-mail, forums and blogs. Good to finally match a face with a name.

There were really two big stories in terms of product. The first is Atlas, the AJAX framework that makes it very easy to build stuff in ASP.NET. There's a lot there to use with other platforms as well, but it's so easy that I don't know why the hell you'd want to. It's fairly amazing.

The other big story is Windows Presentation Foundation. I personally wasn't that excited about it, and didn't go to any of the sessions, but I peeked in on one of them (The North Face demo) and was impressed. Obviously a lot of people are interested because the session was packed. I kept hearing in the halls that they're planning on releasing it for other platforms, including the Mac OS and Linux. If that happens, it's suddenly a lot more useful.

There were a lot of bigger picture panels and such that I got a lot out of too, including the revenue model thing and the future of Web advertising. The most interesting opinion on the former was about the validity of subscription models, and they all agreed it was still possible to make money that way. Tim O'Reilly has reason to believe that, in that his Safari online service is 25% of the company revenue now.

There's a lot to soak in. Hopefully the heavy drinking at TAO Monday night didn't erase some of the day one stuff. :)

Blue Man Group Las Vegas

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, March 22, 2006, 11:44 AM | comments: 2

The show was, in a word, awesome.

Of course, I have to compare to The Complex, which was my entire Blue Man experience to date, and I'll start by saying that the theater show isn't better or worse, it's just different. Some elements do overlap, but they take strong advantage of the fact that it's in a fixed theater environment. Probably the biggest difference is that it's less music oriented. I mean, there's a ton of music, but it's not the vocal driven stuff, and there's a lot of comedy in between.

There is a lot of visual trickery that surprises you or just makes you smile. It's neat stuff.

I don't really want to talk too much about the show because I want people who go see it to be surprised. It's really an amazing experience.

As it turns out, because the show wasn't even nearly sold-out, they upgraded me to the 15th row instead of the balcony. The people around me paid $30 more. Sucks to be them. I think that they've priced the show a little high. It's a good show for sure, but over a hundred bucks you expect Celine Dion or Barry Manilow. It's worth it to me, but I think the general public sees the show as too expensive.

I'm going to go see it again. Sooner than later!

Blue Man Theatre

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, March 22, 2006, 1:08 AM | comments: 1

Mix06: Brain turning to Jell-O

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, March 21, 2006, 3:53 PM | comments: 1

OK, I'm officially having a hard time taking in information at this point. Even though I didn't have to pay for the conference, I'm getting my money's worth for sure. I haven't left the hotel yet. The stuff today has been a little more technical, thus the brain melt.

I haven't run into Mary from last night. Perhaps her night got even more crazy than mine after I turned in. I'm not sure if I'm going to go to that MySpace party tonight. My Blue Man show isn't until 10.

I'm sitting here in one of the Xbox 360 lounges, where they have the new Oblivion playing. Holy crap is it awesome.

Got more fancy AJAX stuff this afternoon...

Mix06: Recovery

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, March 21, 2006, 10:54 AM | comments: 0

OK... so that was an interesting night.

The party at TAO was sweet. The DJ eventually started playing some good music, and you know, open bar. Actually, that wasn't so good, because I drank too much.

Before that though, I met a designer from DC named Mary. We talked about her raising cats and dogs, about her lawyer husband's private firm parties and piercings and tattoos. Then we met a couple from Sweden and learned that they can watch "The Young and The Restless" there.

After last call, they chased us out. We went to the "V" bar across from the Blue Man Theater, where they won't give you water for free. Lame. At this point I was becoming painfully aware of my excessive consumption. Then I paid it forward to the men's room. Boo. Only the third time in my life that I've done that.

So I'm sucking down breakfast now. Should be fairly embarrassing to meet Mary again. Good times though, until the end.


posted by Jeff | Tuesday, March 21, 2006, 1:10 AM | comments: 4

Mix06: Party @ TAO

posted by Jeff | Monday, March 20, 2006, 10:00 PM | comments: 0

Mix06: MySpace party score

posted by Jeff | Monday, March 20, 2006, 7:28 PM | comments: 1

A PR person from MySpace just gave me a party invite to their private free drinks affair. Sweet. That's some wasteful dotcom waste at its best!

Mix06: Atlas

posted by Jeff | Monday, March 20, 2006, 7:14 PM | comments: 3

The hardcore Atlas demo was pretty cool. They're releasing a "go live" license for it today. Biggest surprise was that the underlying libraries can actually be used with any platform, which is pretty cool. And it's free.

So you can use Atlas essentially in three ways. There's the total server control method, the hybrid method where you can use the script libraries, and even more extreme, the xml-script declarative thing. While I see the power in the third approach, having been exposed to a lot of framework-based apps, I would also speculate that it won't be widely used.

I'm about to go into a session where the MySpace guys are gonna talk about how their platform as a whole works. 150 servers. Ouch!


posted by Jeff | Monday, March 20, 2006, 5:38 PM | comments: 1

Ahhh... Venice

posted by Jeff | Monday, March 20, 2006, 5:26 PM | comments: 0

Mix06: Gates keynote reaction

posted by Jeff | Monday, March 20, 2006, 1:50 PM | comments: 4

Interesting keynote. Kinda cool to be ten feet away from The Bill, despite the scary secret service types near by.

Anyway, the speech started with the typical marketing stuff, which isn't that interesting, and honestly I think Gates himself wasn't that interested in it. He's a geek first I'm sure, but he has a giant company to plug.

He brought on the MySpace guys... my God... they're just kids. I clearly missed an opportunity while I was wasting away working for shitty companies. Not a big deal I guess, as I'm not looking to get rich with what I do on the Internet, but it's amazing how relatively simple ideas blossom into amazing things. They showed a crude preview of their next profile management tool, and it was kind of interesting. "Shut up moron" to the guy who yelled out to the MySpace guys to open up their API. Fat stupid idealist Net hippy.

The guy from the BBC showed some neat stuff based in Windows Vista. Very impressive, and pretty. There's still that part of me that says, "So what, it's tied to Windows," but still very interesting.

The best part was bringing on Tim O'Reilly, who really did do a no-holds-barred Q&A with Bill. In fact, he forced Bill to say what I've been saying for years. Microsoft didn't crush Netscape, they shot themselves in the foot by giving away their product in the first place. Some competitors are quite good at failing on their own.

The Q&A stuff was where you could see how excited he gets about tech. I thought it was interesting that he talked about how competitors have vastly different business models. That's something I think about a lot (there's a session with O'Reilly this afternoon), because all of this feel good community, collaboration, "mashup" nonsense (I hate that word), etc., doesn't just equate to money, unless you sell your thing to Google or Microsoft.

So in any case, a good start to the conference. I actually forgot that I'm in the world's most distracting city. :) Must... resist... outside world...

Mix06: Bill Gates & Tim O'Reilly

posted by Jeff | Monday, March 20, 2006, 1:12 PM | comments: 0

Mix06: The Bill

posted by Jeff | Monday, March 20, 2006, 12:09 PM | comments: 0

Mix stage

posted by Jeff | Monday, March 20, 2006, 11:37 AM | comments: 1


posted by Jeff | Monday, March 20, 2006, 11:37 AM | comments: 0

Observations in the hallway

posted by Jeff | Monday, March 20, 2006, 11:18 AM | comments: 1

I'm sitting here on the floor outside of the ballroom where the Gates keynote is happening in about 45 minutes. Let me paint you a picture...

There are scary guys in suits with earpieces and lapel pins that look like movie secret service people. They're everywhere. I'm not sure why that surprises me, because if I was the richest man in the world, I'd be a little nervous about appearing in public as well.

There's a German guy here sitting next to me talking via Skype, presumably to Germany. This strikes me as interesting just because people in this community don't even think about using this kind of technology, even though it's not mainstream.

I'm really surprised by the number of Japanese here. I don't know how the conference was marketed, but clearly they do OK over there. And how appropriate that there are five Japaense TV stations in the rooms.

More after Gates...

At Mix06

posted by Jeff | Monday, March 20, 2006, 10:54 AM | comments: 5

OK, so the Venetian is fucking amazing. Seriously. Given the good room rate, I'm impressed. I think I could come back here again, soon even.

What a sausage party. I just saw a guy wearing an "Internet Explorer" sweatshirt. That just doesn't seem right. At least a dozen guys with pony tails too. Oh, and lots of Bluetooth headsets in ears, giant PDA's on belts, etc. Geek fashion at its worst!

I'm going to see Bill speak in about an hour. Going to head over to the Xbox 360 lounge for a bit to perhaps blow some shit up.

Death of my Palm V

posted by Jeff | Saturday, March 18, 2006, 10:43 PM | comments: 0

Well, today I went to look up an address in my Palm V, and it wouldn't even turn on. Bummer. I haven't even sync'd it in awhile, so what I wanted wasn't even in Palm Desktop. Sigh.

It had a good service life I suppose. I bought it in the summer of 1999. It was a good PDA. I don't know that I really need to replace it though.

Preemptive jet lag strike

posted by Jeff | Saturday, March 18, 2006, 10:34 PM | comments: 0

I'm trying to stay up tonight until 3 a.m. to facilitate the transition to Pacific time when I go to Vegas. I just sucked down a lot of Coke with Lime. See, I'm not worried about getting up for the conference sessions, obviously, but I am worried about not being able to stay up to enjoy, whatever, at night.

CoasterDynamix at 60p:24p

posted by Jeff | Saturday, March 18, 2006, 5:37 PM | comments: 3

I thought it would be cool to slow down my CoasterDynamix coaster by shooting overcranked at 60 framers per second. It did slow it down a bit, but I probably should have also made the shutter speed faster.

(Right-click and save, 54 MB at 720/24p)

I was surprised to see that my laptop could actually edit the video. My desktop can't because Avid chokes constantly on an AMD processor, which is lame. I don't know if the laptop can handle 1080/24p video, but I suspect that it can't. That leaves me in a crappy place, because it means I either need to upgrade my desktop with a fancy new Intel processor, or I can say screw it and go Apple with Final Cut Pro. But the challenge there is whether to get a Mini or a Macbook so I can monitor and/or edit in the field. It's like a no-win situation.

Today's computer mod

posted by Jeff | Saturday, March 18, 2006, 3:21 PM | comments: 0

I was browsing on Newegg the other day and they had a replacement cooler for video cards on sale. Impulse buy!

OK, not entirely. See, the video card that was in my HTPC in the living room had an old Nvidia 5600 in it with a loud ass fan. The CPU and power supply fans aren't that loud, but this thing was like a jet engine, and it doesn't even get that hot in the first place. So when I saw this cooler, I figured I'd put it on my desktop video card, a 6800 GT, and put then swap the cards. It "weakens" my desktop, but I don't do a lot of 3D gaming on it lately anyway.

The good news is that it worked. I wouldn't call the HTPC entirely quiet at this point, but it's a lot better than it was. The cooler is enormous, two slots wide, and it barely fit, but I'm pleased.

Lifestyle change

posted by Jeff | Saturday, March 18, 2006, 12:17 PM | comments: 0

I got to sleep in for the first time in weeks today, and I get to do it tomorrow too. It's awesome! Granted, volleyball has a lot of the weekend-get-up-early thing, but it's mostly going to a day job that changes things so much.

There are ups and downs to working at home and working at a location. On one hand, I feel a little more productive, I have a predictable income (contracting plus Web sites vary a ton), I don't stay up until 3 a.m., I'm learning and having my brain stimulated by other people, etc. The down side is that I don't feel like my time is my own. I spend an hour and a half in the car every day, eat like crap, don't feel motivated to exercise, don't have time to work on my own projects, don't clean the house regularly, don't stay up on groceries, etc.

Life is really crazy right now. My personal life is about as instable as it could be, I'm on the verge of writing and shooting a film, I might meet Bill Gates next week if I'm lucky, I have writing opportunities coming up, summer (and amusement parks) are right around the corner. I swear the last year has been so insane, and the next appears insane with opportunity. Scary as that might be, it's exciting.

SD kitty porn

posted by Jeff | Friday, March 17, 2006, 9:18 AM | comments: 3

One of the benefits of my camera is its format flexibility. I assumed that it could shoot pretty amazing standard definition video as well, seeing as how it's 3-CCD and can record in DVCPRO and DVCPRO50. So again, I decided to shoot with mostly default settings using just the Vidled and natural light. Here are the results at two resolutions, compressed using H.264

These were shot in 480/30p, which is "regular" TV, only instead of interlacing each frame, the lines are scanned progressively. This results in a somewhat sharper image when you plan to deliver via the Web or display on nice LCD's. This is really beautiful SD without even trying hard. Imagine if I actually set up lights and such.

I'm getting frustrated with Avid. It apparently doesn't handle 1080/30p, which is extremely annoying. Xpress Pro apparently won't import 1080/24p either according to the specs, indicating you have to capture it in the higher Avid products. I don't get that since I'm not capturing anything, just copying the files from the camera. I've got it to do 720/24p, but I intend to shoot film at 1080/24p. The thing still bombs frequently, and I'm not sure if my hardware is up to the task either.

The alternative of course is to get a Mac and Final Cut Pro. They haven't released the binaries yet for the Intel Macs, but they should be out this month. If I could get away with buying a new Mini, that'd be great, but otherwise I'd need the more expensive Macbook or iMac. My little video project is getting very expensive, very quickly!

Still, I am SO excited at what I've captured so far, even though none of it has been anything that cool. Tonight I was thinking about shooting my CoasterDynamix coaster, overcranked, to see what it looked like at one-third normal speed.


posted by Jeff | Friday, March 17, 2006, 12:07 AM | comments: 1

Kid Rock said it best...

"Life's a bitch but I deal with it."

Vegas in March

posted by Jeff | Thursday, March 16, 2006, 12:21 PM | comments: 1

The temperatures range from the 40's to 60's. I did not know that. I better bring a jacket.

Taxes due

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, March 15, 2006, 11:14 AM | comments: 2

Thank God... I thought I was going to be really screwed with taxes for some reason this year. I only owe $501 to the feds, $541 to Ohio, and $682 to Brunswick. I expected it to be a lot worse.

And tax cuts my ass, Dubya. I'm paying the exact same percentage as I did last year, and the year before that. Tax cuts are a myth.

Lights, camera, cat!

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, March 14, 2006, 6:50 PM | comments: 2

I got a light for my camera, and tried shooting in near darkness. There is some noise in this, which is minor in the original image, but made worse in the compressed version, so it's not entirely representative of what the camera can do.

Right-click and save:

Young people shouldn't die

posted by Jeff | Monday, March 13, 2006, 9:51 AM | comments: 1

I learned today that a girl I went to high school with died this morning after a long fight with cancer. She was presumably about 31.

Katie was one of the most fun people I knew in high school. I had a crush on her at one point (she played volleyball, and I liked a number of the girls at various points). The thing I remember most about her is that she was always kind to everyone, even as she became more and more popular throughout school. She wasn't too good to talk to anyone. While I haven't talked to her in years, there's little doubt in my mind that she was a good person.

Your brain will go crazy trying to rationalize why shit like this happens to good people. It's just one of those things that happen in the world. Getting angry or bitter about it is not particularly helpful. Life is what it is, and part of it is death. That's just a fact you can't control.

What you can do is take these kinds of events as a reminder to get your head out of your fucking ass and look around to see just how much life can offer. I have to admit that I was not having a good day, pretty much from the time my alarm went off. The reasons are many and varied, but I just felt shitty.

I guess now I feel like I need to get over it and get my shit together. There are a lot of exciting things coming up in my life, I have a lot of things to do and enjoy and there are people out there who really care about me (and that I like to care for). The world is a pretty cool place if you allow it to be.

Katie was kick ass. I can't think about her in the state she was in for the last few years, but I do remember very vividly the way she was. I feel like I owe it to her memory to do what I have to do to not wallow in my own misery, or settle for anything less than what I deserve in life. I could be next.

48 hours at Universal Orlando

posted by Jeff | Sunday, March 12, 2006, 7:35 PM | comments: 4

I have not taken a trip anywhere in more than a year. The weather and my house were starting to really make me crazy. I knew my favorite Michigan girls were planning to be in Florida for their spring break, so I decided to go for a no-compromise 48-hour trip to one of my favorite places, Universal Orlando.

I arrived at MCO to get the last convertible in the Alamo lot, a PT Cruiser. Fun car, but it gets horrible gas mileage. I drove down to Melbourne to pick up Kara and Julie, who were staying with Julie's aunt. Easy drive, and it was fun to be out with the top down.

When we arrived at the Royal Pacific Resort on the Universal property, check in was quick and easy, and we hit the pool. I love the pool area and the bar. It's such a great atmosphere.

We did a walk around CityWalk, and then headed off to Downtown Disney to meet some of Julie's friends, who subsequently bailed. But hey, I had the car, and we learned driving with the top down at night in 74 degree temperatures is a bad idea. DD has some neat shops, but I don't like it quite as much as CityWalk.

The next morning we got up bright and early to hit Universal Studios first, starting with Revenge of The Mummy. I love that ride. It's easily one of my favorites in Orlando. I was disappointed though that the first mummy was not functional, so the soul-sucking effect was absent. That was a bummer. Still, awesome ride.

We did Men In Back and E.T. before heading over to Islands of Adventure. IOA was significantly more crowded, but with our hotel key cards we skipped lines anyway. We made our way all the way around by about 12:30, with the longest wait for Poseidon's Fury (because they appear to want to fill the room before starting the show). Dudley was closed for rehab, which was a serious bummer.

The one coaster note I'll make is that The Hulk is in dire need of new springs. My first time through I bashed my industrial in the cobra roll, and it hurt like hell. You can see the cars shift all over the place laterally throughout the ride, and this looseness is the only thing that holds it back from being an absolutely great ride.

We took a mid-afternoon break for some more pool action and some, uh, "refreshments" before returning to the park. Good times. When we got back to the park, we did a couple more laps on Hulk. I got a tighter car and it was a lot more fun.

Eventually we got back to Dueling Dragons where we had our one minor issue. With a fairly active queue, they pulled off two of the four trains an hour before the park closed. This made absolutely no sense to me. Kara even speculated that it was just asking for some problem that was going to shut down the ride. Sure enough, the computer thought that the transfer wasn't aligned right, and they couldn't restart. I was pissed because we were next in line for the front seat on Ice. The station was filled.

I was annoyed by this because the ride op told us they always pull off trains. I didn't want to be one of "those" enthusiasts, but I did feel like I had to vent a little, so they called the supervisor, and their "Park One" or MOD or whatever they call it. I expressed my frustration with the situation because I really want them to succeed where others fail. Why would you make people wait and risk having your ride shut down? These kinds of trips are expensive for most people, and for them to not see the value of your time and money says they don't care.

Fortunately the ride was restarted soon enough, and knowing we weren't going to get to anything else in time (and the fact that the queue emptied), we did four laps, two on each ride. Still some of my favorite inverters. The down time wasn't a day-ruiner, but I guess I was just a little disappointed because I expect more from them.

Anyway, that night we went to City Walk for Margaritaville. Our wait was about a half-hour shorted using our resort privy. That's such a festive place to eat. I had one of the best veggie burgers I've ever had. It was surprisingly good even.

Overall, lots of good times and good new memories. Kara and Julie were a lot of fun, and great travel buddies. It was such an amazing release from the daily grind. I wish I could've stayed longer, but even this short time helped me feel a little recharged.

A few photos of us.

First impressions of the HVX200

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, March 8, 2006, 10:37 AM | comments: 5

I finally spent some quality time getting to know the new camera, and so far I'm in love. As with all relationships, it's not perfect, but so far I'm really liking what I see.

First off, a little background. I studied radio/TV (and doubl majored in journalism) in college, graduating in 1995 when we had digital audio, but video was still too expensive. I fell into a job where I got to build, run and program a government access facility for three years. I was a fairly early adopter of DVCPRO and scored a Media 100. Spending $120k+ a year was fun. :) I later moved to a programming (as in writing code) career, but never entirely ignored broadcast. The Internet, in fact, just seemed like another form of electronic media to me.

Today I wanted to buy a camera to do a little for-hire work on the side, as well as shoot an indie film of my own. I also wanted something well-suited (i.e., 480/30p) for video destined for the Web. While the camera is relatively expensive, money is not so much an issue as much as it's just something I really want to do. This kind of thing feeds the soul.

Let me start by talking about the images it makes. Everyone seems to leave that out when they talk about this thing. I took it to my club volleyball practice and did some full-auto shooting of my girls hitting (including overcranked). I didn't even have enough time to get the battery fully charged when it arrived at work, thus the lack of time to start playing with settings. I tried various resolutions and frame rates. When I got it back home and plugged it into the 37" 1080p LCD, I was in awe. With absolutely no lighting or setting tweaks, the video was beautiful. Great contrast and detail all around, and aside from a little white balance shifting in auto, color and skin tones felt about the same as I had seen them live.

I'll address the alleged noise issue right away. Yes, there's noise. No, I don't find it offensive. Having watched countless hours of broadcast HD on the same TV, it looks surprisingly the same, and even a bit less. By the same I mean it's not distracting or serious when viewed at a normal distance. Remember, I shot this stuff full-auto. The only thing I changed was the AGC, which surprisingly was set to 6db max by default. The shadows didn't seem particularly bad either. All in all, it's about what I'm used to seeing on TV or in SD DVD's.

The build of the camera is really solid. It's an adjustment to hold it since I used shoulder cams pretty much forever, but the weight in your hand is about the weight I'd expect on your hand from a shoulder camera. I hope the Azden wireless receiver I ordered is light as well.

Controlling the camera is a mixed bag. The actual dedicated buttons are adequate and easy to find. Everything is laid-out about where it makes sense, and it's on par with any other pro camera that I've used. The menu system is a little awkward. The buttons don't make any sense, since they're oriented 90-degrees from the position that you view the viewfinder or LCD. Up is right and right is down. Duh. Why they didn't use a click wheel for menu control is beyond me. Sony was doing this in consumer cameras for menu navigation in 1999 at least.

And that leads to my next complaint, about clip mode. Whoever decided that it's OK to require the camera to be in the resolution mode that matches a clip to view it should be fired. As I mentioned, the first thing I did was try a bunch of different formats. When I went to play them back, I couldn't, and I had no idea why. In clip mode, the camera doesn't tell you anything, it just doesn't respond. The manual doesn't say why the clip numbers might be red, just that you can't play them.

Once I figured these things out it was a lot more fun to play around. There are a lot of setting tweaks I want to experiment with, so I'll set something up under lights and play. The next challenge is to figure out how the hell to get Avid Xpress Pro HD to import the P2 files, and which files I'm supposed to be importing. I keep seeing threads in various forums about using the capture mode, but that's pretty stupid since the whole point of P2 is to not capture. If it really doesn't make sense, I might have to think really hard about going to Final Cut Pro with a Mini.

So in summary, after a few hours of playing, I'm really impressed with what the camera can do. I'm a little surprised at the lack of a document that says for Avid to "do this, this and this," but the acquisition itself on the camera is killer, playback quirks aside.

Very brief first impression

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, March 7, 2006, 10:27 AM | comments: 0

Because of practice and a two-hour episode of 24, I really didn't have much time to play with the HVX200. Grrrr. I did a little bit of shooting at practice, but had no idea what I was really doing other than not getting good focus, something you can't get away with easily in HD.

Hopefully at some point this weekend I can take it outside and do some experimentation with the settings (not to mention find how to save sets of settings into the scene files). There is a ridiculous amount of flexibility in the camera to adjust image settings, not to mention the many different resolutions and framerates you can record at. As you might expect, the weirdest thing is that you don't hear anything when you record. When there's no tape, there's no noise! It's so weird.

I've read in some forums about guys getting this camera and shooting the next day with it. Yikes. I hate to see what they're getting. This is not a point-and-shoot device. But that's what I really like about it so far, in that it offers endless creativity and it's a cool gadget. Satisfies both sides of the brain!

Moblog stoppage

posted by Jeff | Monday, March 6, 2006, 2:08 PM | comments: 1

My apologies to Joe and Neuski... for reasons I haven't yet been able to recreate, the moblog service sometimes dies every few months and your entries just sit in the queue. If you ever encounter that, let me know and I'll kick the box. :)

It has arrived

posted by Jeff | Monday, March 6, 2006, 2:04 PM | comments: 3

Oscar thoughts

posted by Jeff | Monday, March 6, 2006, 12:03 AM | comments: 1

John Stewart is hilarious. I don't know that award shows are his thing though, at least not when they're going to be all serious.

It's weird how many movies this year I didn't even know existed. Rachel Weisz (holy crap is she pregnant!) won best supporting actress and I didn't even know that her movie came out. Then there were others that I knew about, but never really made the effort to see. Munich, Goodnight and Goodluck and Syriana are all movies I wanted to see, but never did.

It was good to see the March of the Penguins guys get recognized. I still haven't seen it (it's sitting right here in front of me), but documentary films just generally don't get the love I think they deserve.

In terms of fashion, Nicole Kidman was stunning. After years of being too thin or otherwise skanky, she was curvy and beautiful. Good for her. Keira Knightley sure looked amazing. Salma Hayek gets more amazing with age. Jennifer Garner... two words... mommy boobs. The dudes had no fashion sense at all, save for Ben Stiller's chromakey suit.

Reese Witherspoon winning best actress is a big deal to me because she's representative of "my" generation of actors, and many of them have so much class. It's very exciting to see this transition to "young Hollywood."

So much for a Brokeback Mountain sweep. I didn't even know Crash was on the radar, and it won.

The movies I cared most about got no significant love. Elizabethtown was ignored, King Kong only noticed for visual effects.

I can't wait to make my movie. :)

Another tough volleyball weekend

posted by Jeff | Sunday, March 5, 2006, 8:36 PM | comments: 1

Had another winless tournament. Grrrrr. Granted, it was easily one of the most competitive tournaments anywhere in the region this season, but losing can be OK when you play to your potential. The kids simply aren't doing that yet.

You start to second guess yourself in situations like this, which is ironic because after six straight seasons of winning teams I never take credit for those. But as I carefully look at what they're doing, it's clear that there are two kinds of kids right now. There are the competitive and intense kids, and everyone else. The divide between those two groups is at risk of causing conflict between them too.

But it's not all bad. As the tournament went on, there was progress. There was a certain amount of confidence building and some real glimmers of brilliance there. As they make individual progress, I think the team will continue to develop. The rest of our tournaments shouldn't be nearly as insane in terms of the teams we'll play. So generally speaking, I'm still optimistic about them reaching a higher level of play. Time will tell!

No delivery

posted by Jeff | Friday, March 3, 2006, 4:04 PM | comments: 2

Alas... it looks like the camera will not arrive today. :(

You WILL drive 55!

posted by Jeff | Friday, March 3, 2006, 2:30 PM | comments: 4

OK, yeah, so I keep reposting stuff that Dvorak is posting, but there's a lot of great stuff.

A bunch of college kids forced people to go the 55 mph speed limit on an Atlanta freeway. For all of the impatient assholes that can't give me the chance to pass safely at 10 over the limit, I would thoroughly enjoy this. Here's the video, which is also funny.

My Hump

posted by Jeff | Friday, March 3, 2006, 1:13 PM | comments: 1

I was washing my hands in the men's room, where I thought I was alone. Some guy's phone goes off in the shitter and the ring tone is BEP's "My Hump." If that wasn't embarrassing enough for him, he farts, then answers it. Sounding like he was trying to pinch one off, he says, "I'll call you back."

That's funny.

Outsourcing: Bush finally got it right

posted by Jeff | Friday, March 3, 2006, 12:35 PM | comments: 0

It appears that Bush finally said something that made sense. He contends that outsourcing to India is not a bad thing in the global economy. I'm shocked. He says protectionism is bad.

First off, when you look at the stats, outsourcing isn't nearly as bad as it seems, and I think one fed agency even says it's down overall. I think the reason that there has been so much noise about it in the last couple of years is because it happens to expensive knowledge workers who make a lot of noise.

This is something in general that frustrates me about a lot of Americans. The "buy American" for cars thing has certainly quieted down, in part I'm sure because the American auto-makers aren't even in the top 3 anymore, to say nothing of that fact that most "Japanese" cars are made here anyway.

Bill Gates testified before Congress that we're kind of screwed when it comes to scientist types. We just aren't producing them. I know that in every programming job I've had in the last few years, we've had Indians and Asians not because they're cheaper, but because there are no qualified candidates locally.

It's time that we get our stuff together if we're going to compete.

Department of Homeland Screwme

posted by Jeff | Friday, March 3, 2006, 11:12 AM | comments: 3

Pay your credit card bill, assume you're a terrorist.

This is some seriously screwed up shit, and it seems like every other day you read something like this.

More beauty shots

posted by Jeff | Friday, March 3, 2006, 10:46 AM | comments: 0

Here's some nice stuff that a guy shot with his HVX...

The anticipation is killing me!

More over-crank goodness

posted by Jeff | Thursday, March 2, 2006, 5:56 PM | comments: 1

Here you go... more over-crank video from the HVX200.

Tomorrow at this time I'll be able to shoot that. So who wants to jump over some shit for me? :)

So many things, so little time

posted by Jeff | Thursday, March 2, 2006, 11:03 AM | comments: 0

Well here's something I'm not used to realizing... I'm busy. I've got a lot on my plate right now.

First there's work. I'll be the first to admit that I was skeptical I'd like any day job, but fortunately this one does meet my biggest requirement: Brain stimulation. Our chief architect and most senior developer are scary smart people, so there's a lot to learn. My hope is that it's still interesting even when we get into heads-down coding-for-hours mode as well. So far so good though.

I recently decided to rewrite POP Forums from the ground up. Yeah, I know, that's insane. I can recycle some of the more recent stuff I wrote, but for the most part, it needed to be thrown away. There are too many design choices that I just can't live with anymore, to say nothing of the fact that trying to shoehorn unit testing into the application after it is written is very nearly impossible to do in a meaningful way. I really want to roll on it quickly, but I'm not finding a ton of time.

Volleyball is getting pretty hardcore in terms of the time it's taking, but I do enjoy it. Sometimes it's hard to get motivated to get to practice or a tournament, but once I'm there, I'd rather be there than anywhere else. I really like the kids, I just hope they can reach a level of intensity that equals my expectations. Our tournament this weekend should be interesting, because several teams there are candidates for national champs.

My camera should arrive tomorrow or Monday. I am so psyched. This is the one area of my life that I've been letting slip away, the way I did radio, and I'm stopping it now. I was chatting with a friend the other day who was encouraging me to do some kind of IPTV show. That would be so kick ass. The fact that the camera also does standard-definition video at 24p and 30p makes for beautiful video to use for the Web. And I can't wait to shoot some HD stuff.

Oh, and I'm getting some sun soon, outside of Ohio. Thank God!

Ad oddities

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, March 1, 2006, 9:13 AM | comments: 5

Something must have changed with Google AdSense. I put a handful of ads on my sites, the three or four keyword type, and all of a sudden they're averaging a buck more a day than they were before.

I really wish I could afford to only use Google ads, because they're relatively non-intrusive. The problem is that they have a very low click rate on the coaster sites because there just aren't a lot of interesting ads to click on.