Leonard Read: I pencil – Weekend Reading

Don’t think a pencil is a miracle of the modern age?

Read this classic by Leonard Read


Using my Canon FS20 with Linux

Before I start – let me say that this is not a post about editing the video of the Canon FS20 in Linux.  I haven’s set up my machine to do that yet (I shuttle the video over to a Mac for editing right now).  This is just a simple explanation about how to get the video off the camcorder, on your computer, and uploaded to Youtube.  I’m doing this on Ubuntu 8.04 – I can’t vouch for other systems.

Canon FS20 Video Camera

1) Plug in the camcorder power supply (the camcorder will not just connect on just battery power.)

2) Plug in a USB cable connected to the computer and to the camcorder.

3) Turn the camcorder on.

4) Press the button on the bottom right of the screen (has a ‘movie camera’ and a ‘play symbol’)

5) Use the little toggle switch to select “PC/PRINTER

6) Press the toggle switch down to select it.

7) You should now have a folder named “CANON” on your screen.  Open it.  Select SD_Video folder, and then the PRG001 folder.

8.) In the folder you will find “.MOD“, “.MOI“, and “.PGI” files.  The “.MOD” files are our mpeg movies.  Copy these files to the Desktop so you can work with them.   Select one of those files and rename it (in my example) from “MOV001.MOD” to “newcuriousthoughts_example.mpg” (or whatever you want to name it – the important part is the ‘mpg’ extension)

9) Once you have the file off the camcorder, you can unmount the camcorder by right-clicking the “CANON” folder and choosing “un-mount“.  You can now disconnect the USB.

10)  Now you can play the file or upload it to Youtube…  almost.  Unfortunately – this is what it looks like when I upload it to youtube:

11)  To fix this “squished” look I figured out a ffmpeg string to convert it to an mp4 and maintain the aspect ratio.  For my video it would be:

ffmpeg -i newcuriousthoughts_example.mpg -aspect 16:9 -b 9600kb -r 29.97 -ab 256k newcuriousthoughts_corrected.mp4

Note:  I like this Reference for ffmpeg.  I think I chose these parameters to keep the size as close as possible.  For my example – the video size is 5.1 Meg – after conversion it is 5.4 Meg.  I’m sure you could tweak this if you like.  Sometimes I will add the “-deinterlace” option – which works pretty well.

Here is now the video looks after the conversion:

The video will look better than this on youtube.  WordPress just limits the size of my youtube object – that is why it looks shrunk.  Hopefully this will help some of you in the future!  Someday I’ll start editing these files – but I haven’t tried it yet.

Schools Almost Out… What Are You Doing This Summer?

Schools out… now what…

In just a couple weeks school will be out. Students will have the summer free until school starts again in the fall.  Students are left with the perpetual dilemma of how to spend all that free time.  Here are a few suggestions:

1)      Work.  Let’s assume there will be 50 working days this summer.  50 days at 8 hours per day is about 400 hours of work.  At $7 per hour that adds up to about $2,800 (before taxes) income.  Even better is finding where to work.  Mowing lawns and watching swimmers is nice, but it doesn’t give much real world experience.  Working in retail, or a business, might give you the opportunity to see how a business works.  This ultimately will be worth much more to you than the money you earn. Aim for these jobs.  Ask questions.  Bosses will not be threatened by a high school kid.  Use it to your advantage.

2)      Start a blog or a youtube channel.  Unless you have a bunch of idiotic friends you can convince to crash their skateboards – you need to think about what you will put on these.  How are your writing skills?  Are you interested in anything?  Are you good at anything?  Do something about it.  Writing a blog is a great way to get writing experience – and anyone can do it.  Even if you watch movies – write reviews.  Hanging at the mall?  Write posts about what fashions are appearing in each of the stores.  Caring for dogs?  Start a page with hints and tips.  Even at a young age you should have plenty of knowledge to write about something. Try wordpress or blogger for free blogs.  Youtube offers another outlet.  Changing the taillight on your mom’s van?  Record a youtube video and post it so other will learn.  Blogging and creating youtube videos will enhance your writing and presentation skills.  This will help you in any job.  Doing these about items you enjoy won’t be a chore.

3)      Find a cause.  If you have time available, find a cause to support.  Humane Society?  Food Banks?  A particular disease?  Get in touch with the local chapter – make sure it is OK for you to represent them – then hit the street and go door to door (work in the organization only if you are not doing manual labor type activities – you want to learn and gain experience here. You can always find manual labor.)  Spread your message door to door and hand out small brochures.  Collect money if you can but don’t try to hard sell everyone – let them give if they want.  The goal here is to overcome shyness, practice making cold calls, accepting rejection, and moving on to the next task.  Just cornering somebody at their door is not a skill for making a living – it is called panhandling.  Getting somebody excited in your product, or your cause, and having them volunteer the money – is a skill.  You can gain this experience for free all summer.  By the end of the summer you will be an asset to any business who hires you.

4)      Make a goal.  Part of the problem with summer is that we have so many days, and no way to spend it.  We wake up each morning and look to be entertained.  The computer, tv, and games seem to satisfy this all for us.  Without a goal to direct our actions that time is wasted.  How big a loss is that?  Compare what you have to what I have as a working adult.  I have about one hour free each day to pursue “me” activities.  If you don’t limit yourself to 8 hours per day – you probably have close to 700-800 hours available over the summer.  If you and I were to pursue the same task, what you could do in one summer would take me about TWO YEARS to accomplish.  Don’t waste this opportunity.

5)      Take a class.  This is dead last on my list – in fact – I don’t really recommend it.  The only reasons I might would be if: 1) You have found your life’s calling and every minute wasted is unbearable, or 2) You are trying to take extra courses in order to graduate from college early.  Otherwise, I think the other opportunities are better uses of your time for the summer.

Hope you have a great one 🙂  Leave some time to get a healthy tan and lots of vitamin D.

Goals – QOTD (Quote of the Day)

“I always wanted to be somebody, but now I see I should have been more specific.”

Lily Tomlin

Decisions – QOTD (Quote of the Day)

“The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.”

Omar Khayyám

VASRA – Virginia Championships Videos – 22 May 2010

NOTE: This blog is now inactive.

I have moved to the Nova-Rowing Blog


The races are done, the weather was very good, and we didn’t get rained on.  Below are the videos I took of the races.  Seeing all those great racers out there trying their hardest made me realize one thing.  I’m a terrible videographer!! I never did figure out a good strategy to get all the action.  If I moved away from a racer it was because I didn’t think their position would change by the finish. Sorry – but hopefully these are better than nothing 🙂

All the videos I have are posted – you can also look at the  NewCuriousThoughts youtube channel

The videos on Youtube will play at a higher resolution – wordpress seems to restric the size of the videos I embed in my posts.

Also – I haven’t screened these videos yet as I have been converting and uploading them all evening. If there is something ‘bad’ in them – I apologize and will try to fix it later. (Update – I got one phone call the whole day – in the middle of the men’s eight final – go figure…) Also – hopefully I got the races matched up correctly – if not – something else to fix…

The results are now posted at VASRA Results .

By the way – the entries for the VASRA Championship is here.

Race #1:  M 1x Final   (Men’s 1X Final)

Race #2:  M 2x Final (Men’s 2X Final)

Race #3: W 2x Final  (Women’s 2X Final)

Race #4: W Junior 8 Final  (Women’s Junior Eight Final)

Race #5:  M Junior 8 Final (Men’s Junior EIght Final)

Race #6: M 2nd 8 Final (Men’s Second Eight Final)

Race #7:  W 2nd 8 Final (Women’s Second Eight Final)

Race #8: M Junior 4 Final (Men’s Junior Four Final)

Race #9: W Junior 4 Final (Women’s Junior Four Final)

Race #10: M 2nd 4 Final (Men’s Second Four Final)

Race #11:  W 2nd 4 Final (Women’s Second Four Final)

Race #12: W 4x Final (Women’s Four X Final)

Race #13: M 4x Final (Men’s Four X Final)

Race #14: M Lt 4 Final (Men’s Lightweight Four Final)

Race #15: W Lt 4 Final (Women’s Lightweight Four Final)

Race #16: M Lt 8 Final (Men’s Lightweight Eight Final)

Race #17: W Lt 8 Final (Women’s Lightweight Eight Final)

Race #18: M 2x Final (Men’s Two X Final)

Race #19: M 1st 4 Final (Men’s First Four Final)

Race #20: W 1X Final (Women’s One X Final)

Race #21: M 1st 4 Petite (Men’s First Four Petite Final)

Race #22: Deleted

Race #23: W 1st 4 Petite (Women’s First Four Petite Final)

Race #24: W 1st 4 Final (Women’s First Four Final)

Race #25: W 1st 8 Petite (Women’s First Eight Petite)

Race #26: W 1st 8 Final (Women’s First Eight Final)

Race #27: M 1st 8 Petite (Men’s First Eight Petite)

Race #28: M 1st 8 Final (Men’s First Eight Final)

Teams Racing: Wakefield, Mathews, Western Albemarle, Great Bridge, Grassfield, Cox, Hickory, Hylton, Jeb Stuart, Woodbridge, Potomac, Woodson, O’Connell, Thomas Jefferson, Lake Braddock, Yorktown, Georgetown Visitation, West Springfield, Robinson, Garfield, TC Williams, Gloucester, Episcopal, James River, South County, Granby, Madison, Oakton, Langley, Forest Park, Jeb Stuart, McLean, Fairfax, St Albans, Washington Lee, Mt Vernon, National Cathedral, Madison, First Colonial, Page, Christchurch, Cape Henry

Phatch – Linux Photo Batch Resizing

In a previous post I mentioned KRename.  It really is my favorite tool for renaming photos once I get them onto my computer from the camera.  I use it the most. But occasionally I need to resize my photos, or I want to resave them to a lower resolution, or a more compressed jpeg.  I often do this when I want to email several photos to people or I want to resize them for this blog (and not use all my allocated memory.)

For these tasks I like to use Phatch. I have it in my Ubuntu 8.04 repository.  If it isn’t in yours you can find the download here for Linux (and Windows and Mac).  Phatch is a neat little tool written in Python that allows you to shrink your photos, apply text, or watermarks, round the edges of photos – then save them with a chosen name.  Like KRename – I’ve never had it destroy a set of my photos (always very important.)  I’ll admit I find the interface a little weird – but it tries it’s best to be intuitive – and I can usually work my way through without much trouble even if I haven’t used it for a couple months.

Here is a very simple example of what Phatch can do:

When you open the program you get the working window:

Phatch Opens with the Action List Window

You then click the “+” key to get a list of possible actions for your photos from which you can choose:

A List of Actions to choose from...

There are MANY more actions than this available. You can read about all of them in the Phatch Wiki.  I usually am simply resizing my photos.  Once you choose an action you are given a variety of options:

Each action has various options from which to choose.

Whatever actions you choose – you need to remember the make the last action the SAVE action.  Here is where I adjust the JPEG quality of my original photos.

Working with SAVE. A variety of image formats are available.

Finally – you can click on the “Gears” button on the main window to choose a folder on which to execute your batch processing:

Choose a folder and files on which to apply your actions

The program will then batch process your files and save them wherever you selected in your SAVE action.

An easy and well written tool for us Linux Photographers.  I hope you enjoy using it.