Wishlist Archives

Affordable Terabytes

One of the things that I learned when I started getting into playing around with video (and more recently, rendering video from animated 3D models) is that the better the video quality and the higher the resolution, the larger the files are.  When I first got started my videos were initially done in 320 x 200 resolution with Windows Movie Maker.  It wasn’t long before I moved to 640 x 480 and the file size doubled.

Later, when I was first using the then new camcorder, I was doing everything in 720 x 480 resolution and the files grew larger again.  Then a little over a year ago I started using the HD capability of that camera and since then I have done all my videos in 1280 x 720 resolution and once again the file sizes grew considerably.  I have no doubt that some day I’ll find a better camcorder on sale and I’ll move to full 1080i HD video and the files will get even bigger still.

All of these increasingly large video files add up to an enormous amount of hard drive space in very short order.  As it is, between projects I’ve saved, completed videos and my growing collection of stock footage, sound files and graphics, I have over 66 GIGS of hard drive space devoted to video (that’s not counting the space required for the software being used.) and that amount is literally growing every day as I continue to make new videos.

While the 250gig drive on my desktop and the 360gig on my laptop are more than enough to hold this collection for a long time to come, there’s also the matter of making backups because I do NOT want to have to “start from scratch” after a catastrophic loss of some kind.  This is why I’ve been thinking seriously about a 1.5TB External Hard Drive.  It’s got enough space for several full drive images of both the desktop and the laptop hard drives and that means I’d be covered in the event something ugly happened.

Yeah, I could burn all that stuff to DVD’s, the problem is that would also mean creating some kind of an index so that I could find what disk something was on.  Much better to just have it all stored on some monster-huge hard drive because I know the directory structure I store this stuff in *very* well and don’t HAVE to look things up as long as it’s all on a single media large enough to hold all of it.

Besides, the line you hear these days about storage being “cheap” is more true than ever.  I remember way back in 1992 when hard drives would cost about $10 per megabyte of capacity and a 40mb disk was the best you could find.  This 1.5 terabyte drive actually goes for $94 and change … with Free shipping!  It’s amazing how times have changed isn’t it?

Technorati Tags: storage, large files, making video, file sizes, backup, video editing

Missing The StormTeam

I’m one of those people that likes to keep track of the weather even when there is nothing “severe” going on.  For years all I needed to do was tune my tv to KAIT and I could catch up to date weather conditions and forecasts on any of their newscasts.  They have also had a long standing policy of cutting in on regular broadcasts when weather conditions get severe so that they can do the best job possible of keeping viewers informed as to what was going on.  This all added up to make KAIT and their “StormTeam” being the absolute best tv station I have ever watched in terms of local weather coverage.

Then came the “Big Switch” to all digital broadcasting.  All of a sudden the just passable analog signal that I was accustomed to, living at the edge of their broadcast area as I do, was gone.  It was replaced by a digital only signal that, for reasons that nobody has been able to satisfactorily explain to me, has about half of the power of the old analog signal and is therefore useless to me.

Yes, I got a digital converter box back when everybody was scrambling to get one.  NO, it doesn’t help because it cannot receive the new signal.  I looked into the possibility of putting up an outside antenna and found the cost prohibitively expensive.

I even emailed some helpful folks at KAIT and they provided me with links to sites like www.antennaweb.org where I researched the possibility of building an antenna and I was able to determine that in order for an outside antenna to be of any use at all I would have to mount a directional antenna with a gain of at least 35db on a tower no less than 100 feet tall.  It was quickly obvious that buying or building such an antenna was entirely beyond my means.

People have told me that I should just get cable or satellite tv and that would solve the problem.  Well, actually, no it would not.  For one thing it’s unlikely that either would carry the station whose weather reports I want to see, KAIT.  For another, aside from news and weather broadcasts, I don’t even WANT to watch tv.  I have absolutely zero use for all of the channels that would be included in such a package and I REFUSE to pay for something (even if I could afford it, which I cannot.) that I have no intention of using.

This left their website, kait8.com as my only possible means of getting access to ANY of their weather broadcasts.  While far from complete, it was at least helpful for quite a while.  The weather broadcast was posted on the weather home page of the site for the morning and evening broadcasts.  A far cry from what I was used to because the weather cut-ins that I have come to value so much are never available on the website.

Then recently they’ve decided to redesign the page (Side Note:: WHY do sites insist on changing stuff that works??? WHY do they constantly “improve” things to the point where somebody on an older computer can no longer use it?).  Now, instead of having the weather broadcasts viewable on the weather page, when you click on the video you want to see you get redirected to a “video page” that is so heavy with flash players that the thing barely functions at all.

In addition to that, the daily posting of morning and evening weather broadcasts has been falling off for some time.  The site would often go days without being updated and almost never updated on the weekend.  It got to the point where I considered myself blessed to find even ONE new weather broadcast video posted there per week.

Now some bright genius has decided to change things yet again.  The weather videos disappeared completely from the weather page and was nearly impossible to find.  I commented about this to KAIT’s Sarah Tipton on Twitter and this morning the video link re-appeared on the weather page but it still drops you back onto that overly bloated video page that barely functions.  I’ll give her credit though, at least now I can FIND the thing again!  Thanks Sarah.

I realize that I’m not exactly a majority here.  I’m just a guy on a fixed income that really misses the up to the minute weather information, INCLUDING the cut-ins for severe weather.  I live a the edge of the area that their old analog signal reached and well outside the reach of the new digital signal.  I have no intention of moving (couldn’t afford to if I wanted to!), cannot afford cable or satellite (and can’t see paying for a whole package when I only want ONE channel!  Not that a cable or satellite company would permit you to order only one channel!  They won’t, I’ve asked.).

However, in spite of all that, I will say that Just because I can no longer receive their signal doesn’t change the fact that I live in “Region 8” and they are still the best source of up to the minute weather coverage that is available.  Yes, there’s sites like weather.com and intellicast.com and they are useful, however those along with all the other resources out there on the web simply don’t add up to even one minute of live coverage when they cut-in to provide severe weather coverage.

I think that KAIT is missing an opportunity here.  If their weather page had the morning and evening weather broadcasts viewable on that page and was updated in a timely fashion every single day they would be the station that looks out for the “little guys” like myself that lost their great weather coverage in “The Big Switch”.

In fact if they REALLY wanted to do something exceedingly cool they could arrange for their cut-ins to be simulcast live on their weather home page!  It would be just the ticket for those like myself that cannot get but very much want those live cut-in broadcasts.  Those cut-ins have saved a lot of people a lot of trouble and I sincerely wish that they were still available.

Technorati Tags: cable, cherokee village, jonesboro, too expensive, arkansas, satellite, channel 8, weather, digital tv, stormteam, antenna, kait, severe weather, wish list, no signal, live cut in

Never Mind The Joneses, I Want To Keep Up With My Lawn!

A lot of people measure their success by how good they’re doing with keeping up with the Joneses.  If they can manage to do well enough that this mythical family that has everything is not very far ahead of them then this counts as a victory.  The ultimate victory of course is when you manage to “become the Joneses” because then you are the new standard that everybody else in the neighborhood has to chase after if they’re going to feel like the are not falling behind.

I have a different point of view on the subject.  I don’t care about keeping up with this mythical family that has everything because even if I find everything on sale, I still just plain don’t have the resources to catch up with them.  Besides, there’s a lot of things that you’d have to get in order to be “caught up” that I actually don’t even need, let alone actually want.

I am much more interested in keeping up with my lawn.  I realize that this isn’t a big deal to most people because it’s just a matter of getting out there once a week for a couple of hours with the mower and you’re good to go.

The problem in my case however is that, even when it’s running, I do not currently have enough endurance to be using the mower for more than about 25 or 30 minutes at a time.  That’s why this Robot Lawn Mower sounds like such an incredible idea.

All I’d have to do is make sure that rocks and fallen tree limbs are out of the way, install some perimeter wire so the machine would know it’s limits and then set it going.  Then I could sit nearby keeping an eye on it while working away on my new laptop.  This way I could get the lawn caught up and actually keep it that way, AND have most of that same time slot to try getting caught up on my work.

Sounds like a win / win situation to me!

Technorati Tags: easy, lawn mower, robot lawn mower, time saver, wishlist

I’m SO Ready To Go “Portable”!

I have to say that I really enjoy what I do.  Not only is it stuff that I’m actually something approaching good at but it’s entertaining to me as well as those that see the finished product.  The thing is, there are times when it’s just not convenient to work at my desktop machine.  There’s other times when my poor aged desktop machine just isn’t up to the jobs that I’m asking it to do.

You see, it’s about four years old, and when I built it I used an ASRock motherboard that they’d just stopped making that year along with an AMD Sempron 2400+ that also ceased production some three or four months before I got mine on sale second hand.

ASUS G72GX-A1 LaptopIn spite of all that, at the time I built it, it was easily the fastest, most capable machine I had ever owned.  Then I got into making video and things changed quickly.  All of a sudden the machine I thought was so fast and powerful wasn’t even close to fast OR powerful.  There’s even some programs that would not even install because it didn’t have certain CPU command sets that were needed.

For a while, I had my wife’s HP laptop that I used for quite a bit but then it started acting up and finally stopped working at all, leaving me once again without a portable computer.  That’s why I’ve been doing some saving and a lot of window shopping.  This ASUS Laptop being one of the latest for me to look over.

It’s got a lot going for it.  Enough so that I could even overlook the Windows 7 that it comes with and probably set up a dual (or even triple!) boot with Kubuntu Linux

All I can say is that it’s going to be nice to be able to take my work with me again.  I got spoiled by that when my wife’s laptop was working and I’m WAY ready to get back to it.

Technorati Tags: laptop, wishlist, window shopping

Science Fiction Nostalgia

I was surfing around news sites just to see what’s going on today when I ran across an ad for one of the Babylon 5 movies.  Even though it was on sale at a really good discount I didn’t think too long about buying it.  I don’t actually want the movies.  Not just yet that is.

You see, Most of those movies were made after the Babylon 5 tv series ended and that means that it is necessary (well, it is in my opinion anyway) to have the entire series, all five seasons worth, before getting into the movies.

Babylon 5 (Complete Seasons 1-5)I know that it’s more than a little bit obsessive compulsive on my part but I have an extremely big obsession with having and watching things like that in the correct order.  For example I have all of the Nightmare on elm st movies.  I keep them store in order.  When I watch them, I start at the first movie and watch all of them on successive nights.

Somewhere around here I’ve got all of the Friday the 13th movies.  Again, they’re all in order and when I watch them, I watch ALL of them, in order.  I may spread this over a week of one or two movies a night but that’s the way I have to do it.  Skipping around in the order blows the chronology for me and as such I won’t allow it.

This means that there’s no way that I’m going to watch the movies until I not only have all of them but have determined the correct order and exactly what the placement is in the series timeline for each one.  However that wouldn’t stop me from watching the series, especially with a complete boxed set of all five seasons.  I’d just watch it again once I got the movies sorted out.

Technorati Tags: tv series, science fiction, babylon 5, b5, wishlist

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