Monthly Archives: August 2006

Packing

Packing up to go back to school at the end of a long, lazy summer is very disheartening. I’ve been running around my house, humming sad songs and carrying load after load of loose clothes into my car. I’m planning to drive up tomorrow, in the hope of getting a parking permit before the weekend.

My video-transferring project is done, sort of. The next step is make the videos available online, but there’s no time left for that. Hopefully, I’ll be able to do that from Boston. Leaving for school also makes my problem of buying a new computer seem much more immediate.

New York

I went into NYC today with Paul to visit Adira and Rebecca. We parked in a permit-only lot that my mother informed me was not really permit-only and took the train in. Since Adira and Rebecca both live near Union Square, we set out in that direction, more or less. As we walked down 42nd street we saw an endless series of parked NYPD cruisers (Chevy Impalas), all with lightbars blinking silently, with policemen to match. They took over two whole avenue blocks, both sides of the street, angle-parked. After we saw the first 50 or so Paul asked a policeman what was going on. He replied that it was “a drill”, as if this were the most unremarkable thing in the world. As we approached Times Square thirty of the cars drove past us, sirens blaring. Mysterious.

The weather was consistently miserable, like a bad day in Seattle. We spent the day in and out of restaurants, record stores, and dorm rooms, and wandering the streets of Lower Manhattan, usually lost. We were visitors, not tourists. As Paul put it, it matters a lot more who we were with than what we were doing.

Feelings of accomplishment

It’s dangerous, but things seem to be working around here. My video editing is going exactly as planned (thanks to Avidemux) and my photoplotter films have allowed me to make my prototype window actually display the desired effect. It’s an exciting time.

1!!!

Of the 15 or so tapes we started with, only one is left that has not been transferred to DVD. I should be able to transfer it tonight; we will then proceed to phase 2, in which I chop up the DVDs into more reasonable chunks and send them to all the stars, many of whom I haven’t seen in 17 years.

I’m very excited.

Also, we test drove a Honda Fit today, in the process of finding a new car for my dad. The Fit is a pretty great car; I can see why it was so hard to find a dealership with one in stock. The one thing it doesn’t have is width; I don’t know if that’s a problem.

So long…

I can hardly remember a time before my days were consumed by the eternal struggle between myself and my opponent, the Matrox Marvel G400 we bought at a tag sale when I was in high school. I’d heard it said that the G400 was well supported under linux, which might have been true years ago but is certainly not anymore. I spent a week rebuilding my kernel to include the appropriate drivers, only to find that even once playback was working, recording was not. Then I created a FAT32 transfer partition, so I could boot into Windows, record videos, and boot back into linux to edit them. The noise on the old video tapes triggered the Macrovision copy protection, so I downgraded my drivers and used a crack to disable Macrovision. The G400 still wouldn’t record a whole tape; it would randomly, silently cease to record video, leaving AVI files with 5 minutes of video and 25 minutes of audio. Maybe it’s faulty hardware.

Today, I gave up and bought a DVD recorder. I’m still using my friend Christina’s video camera; if the current test transfer works I’ll be done with it soon. If it doesn’t work, I’ll be done with it anyway, I guess.

When not working on my video transferring project, I’ve been working on my window project, which has a ray of hope thanks to my discovery of Photoplotters, which uses computer controlled lasers to directly expose large sheets of black+white negative film. The process is designed for manufacturing circuit boards, so I wrote a program that uses circuit-board description language to build arbitrary images. My order shipped from California today, and I’m very curious to see how it came out.

I’ve also been spending evenings with my friends. I can hardly remember the who’s and when’s, but there was a lovely barbeque last night. That was a great cheeseburger.

Accident

I find that it’s important to write with moderation on this weblog, because proportion and scale tend to be distorted through the grapevine. I recall writing that I had a put a scratch on my car, only to have my cousin ask me if my car was still running.

Our fridge is jam-packed, a side-effect of buying at Costco. Today, while I was reaching for the peanut butter, some of the food settled, and an open pyrex measuring-cup full of pear juice fell to the floor and shattered. I was barefoot, and my left foot was considerably cut up. I did not know where my parents kept the first aid kit, and the cuts were in odd places, seemingly impossible to bandage.

In the end, all was fixed with three band-aids and a bit of tape, but it was certainly a nasty shock. I won’t be walking around the house barefoot anymore this summer. I just hope I didn’t get any blood on the carpets.

Beauty

For the past few years, the family computer has sat in the middle of our family room, trailing wires across the floor, making most of the cabinets inoperative, and generally being the least ergonomic imaginable arrangement.

Now it sits prettily on our new IKEA desk, with almost no visible wires. It almost looks like someone could live here.

IKEA

IKEA is scary. I just went today for the first time, and it’s indescribable. It’s a little like making first contact with an alien race obsessed with efficiency. These aliens do not seem to have grasped the concept of a “name”, as dozens of totally different items may have the same name, usually a name like “Dave” or “Jonas”. The store is more like endless mockups of rooms in houses, but without ceilings and missing a few key walls. Each one feels like a house in Kansas, post-tornado. Furniture is jam-packed, creating a maze through which you must navigate in search of the exit. It’s like a zoo, more than a store.

It’s like if the Swedish embassy served food, and housewares. Anyway, we bought a desk.

Pass

My instructions on how to scan pictures appear to have passed the test, and several envelopes now lie in our “scanned photos” box. I’m not sure I’ve really managed to convey the sense of the system to my mother, who’ll be doing most of the work, but she’s pretty much got it on the first try. There’s still one or two more bugs (my fault), but nothing terrible.

I think my bicycle tire deflated again overnight, so I probably just need to buy a new tube. I’ve been trying to think of a way to avoid buying them at a bike store, where they’re expensive, but neither Toys ‘R Us nor Wal*Mart lists them on its website. Maybe Target…

I spent this afternoon and evening at my cousin Jake’s house, at a pool party/barbeque, which was lovely.

Two days

We have a lot of photos. I don’t know exactly how many; I estimate 3-7 thousand. They’re taking up a lot of room, in drawers so disorganized that we have feared to open them for years. Recently we’ve talked about a solution to the problem, and yesterday we took our first big step. We bought a scanner (Epson Perfection 3490) and a digital camera (for Mom, $100 for 5MP camera+printer bundle). I got it working last night, and today I wrote out complete instructions on how to digitize and organize. Between the scanner to organize our old pictures and the digital camera to prevent us from having to scan new ones, we are well on our way to photo-organization nirvana.

Today, my dad informed me that my bicycle had a flat tire. I took out the tube, spotted the hole, and went to Westport Bicycles to pick up a patch kit. The salesman handed me a 1-inch-square case, much smaller than a matchbook, containing six patches and sandpaper. When I showed up at the register, he declined to charge me! I figure the least I can do is give them some good publicity.

Actually, the last time I went there they sold me bicycle lights that promptly died in spectacular ways, so maybe it’s better to say that their karma is balanced. Especially if the patches work.