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Post Party Bleh

I’m sitting at home watching the boob tube and looking at all the food just sitting around.

Well, it was a pretty good party. We counted 36 people having shown up. The interesting thing to me is that many of them were first timers. We had people from work, college, and high school.

This is the first year that there was people I knew from high school (first time anyone from high school has even seen our house). It also had the added bonus of making me feel younger (as I could actually stay awake all night).

  • Furthest Traveler: Sarah Wolfenberg (da U.P. der hey doencha know)
  • Shortest Traveler: Patrick McCarthy (upstairs)
  • Shortest Traveler That Actually Traveled: Pretty close between Sara Chan and family and Keith Custer and family (about 4 blocks each)

On a totally different note, I ordered a new toy (my Christmas present). I’m getting my Nokia 770. I’ll put a full review when I get it and have a chance to play with it.

Lookie What Anne Made

Anne made a video for Point of Beginnings. You can check it out here.

There’s a play at the bottom to play it right in your web browser (assuming you have java support). I’m just shocked that I could get the video to look that good and only be 25 MB for 17+ minutes of content.

Big shout out to Fluendo for the excellent player and to Xiph for creating Theora and Vorbis.

Looking For Music?

If people are looking for some good music that you can’t hear on the radio, look at Magnatune for some great indy music. They have everything from punk to classical to ambient to electronica and some in between.

Magnatune’s motto is “We’re not evil.” It’s an actual record label, so there is a guy there that has to listen to the music and give it a thumbs up. The way it works is you can stream the entire album to your computer to see if you like it. Then YOU say how much it’s worth! You can pay as low as $5 an album and can get the tracks in MP3, AAC (for iPod), Ogg Vorbis (free and open standard), or FLAC (free and open and lossless!). You can also buy a CD of the music, but the prices $13 as they don’t press thousands of CDs. The artists get 50% of the total you pay!

As a bonus, if anyone is making a video, commerical, podcast, or some such, you can license any song on the site. The prices are pretty reasonable.

DVD design and other video-related stuff

This fall I’ve been working on a video for Point of Beginnings (a local organization of folks who are interested in how this part of the country got started). Along with a friend, I videotaped an event at the First Territorial Capitol at the end of June, and we’ve been editing it down for the organization. Well, we finished editing this week, and I’ve been working for the past couple days to get it rendered into the .vob file needed for DVDs…

As of about 9:30 this morning, I have a good file (with both audio and video!), and now I’m working with qdvdauthor to design the menus and complete the project. I’ve always thought it would be fun to do this, and it turns out I was right :) So I have my main menu designed, and my “Bonus” menu will have to wait until I decide where to stop with the bonus features. I haven’t decided whether or not I’m going to add any easter eggs…

But after this project is finished (aka after the weekend), I need to get another DVD put together for the church bazaar next weekend. Joe and I each recorded the Music Sunday service a couple weeks ago — he recorded the audio out of the sound system into his new laptop, and I recorded the whole works from the balcony with my laptop (thanks to Dave Jones for operating my camera so I could sing in the choir!). Anyway, the plan is for us to have CDs and DVDs available for people to buy at the bazaar, so it’ll be a bit of a fund-raiser for the church as well as being a fun, short-term project.

I also taped a linux training Joe taught at work a couple weeks ago, and when he has a chance to get me the appropriate screenshots, I’ll put that together into a training tool for him. But I should probably work on the commercials for church, first. I have footage from last Christmas, and if I do it soon, it won’t seem as wrong as it did when I looked at it in April.

The long and the short of it is that I’m getting a handle on Cinelerra (open-source video editing program) and it’s quirks, and I’m trying to decide how to get involved in its development, I’m getting back into the production mindset (and getting some current things for the ol’ resume tape) and I’m learning some of the other steps involved as far as DVD production goes. For example: did you know that to convert a video file to play on a DVD the audio gets rendered as an .ac3 file, the video gets rendered as a .m2v and the two files are rejoined and synced (muxed) into a .vob? I just learned that this week. It makes that whole “export to tape” step seem very simple. But learning is good.

Great Week To Be A Geek

There was a slew of great programs released this week.

Mozilla Firefox 2.0 ( available at http://www.mozilla.com ) was released. If you’ve been hiding under a rock, Mozilla Firefox is a great web browser that run on Windows, Linux, and Mac. The upgrades in 2.0 are all quite nice, but you probably wouldn’t notice them right away. There’s an inline spell checker. There’s anti-phishing technology (it let’s you know if a site is trying to look like eBay or Paypal but is not actually eBay or Paypal). There’s a new theme that is quite well done as it was a minor change with a little more polish. Also, the search bar does suggestions as you type (awesome).

Ubuntu 6.10 (Edgy Eft) ( available at http://www.ubuntu.com ) was also released along with the sister distros Kubuntu, Xubuntu, and EDUbuntu. Ubuntu is a version of Linux that is generally designed around the common user. They are working on some of the things people want yet (like simple ways to be able to add all the video and audio file support people want), but they are making strives. Anne and I both use this on all our computers. The last release of Ubuntu had Long Term Support (in other words they are supporting it with patches for 5 years), so they couldn’t do many things that were experimental. Edgy is quite cutting edge, and Feisty Fawn (the next release) has some pretty lofty goals set for it. Ubuntu can run on any Windows or Mac computer (PowerPC or Intel) on a bootable CD that requires no installation, so you can check it out.

Fedora Core 6 was also released. This is another Linux distribution that is made by RedHat. It’s nice to see some other distros doing good work.

Internet Explorer 7 was also released. As much as I’d argue you should use Firefox, Opera, or Safari before IE7, it is a small step in the right direction. They are compliant to more of the standards, though I wish they’d have full proper support for PNG files and SVG.

Under Two Months until the Fifth Annual Christmas Cartoon Party!

November 11th, I expect everyone to be in Platteville, WI.

New Recipe: Apple Streusel Bars

I needed to make a dessert for a funeral luncheon this week, and decided to try something new.
I tried a recipe for Apple Streusel Bars out of a Rock County 4H Cookbook, and I was really pleased with the way they turned out. The bottom crust was flaky, the apples were tender and well flavored, and the streusel topping and icing balanced out to be really tasty, without being overly sweet. I have a few apples left, and I think I'll make another batch so I don't have to give them away! I put the recipe in my online recipe book, so check it out!

Shingles Shingles Everywhere

Look at all those shinglesLook at what fun we had.  For those of you that can't tell, here's the list of layers.

  •  Red  rolled shingles (tarred down of course)
  • White shingles
  • Green shingles
  • White shingles (they must have really liked the white ones)
  • Tar paper
  • Black  shingles
  • Dark gray shingles

My question is this, "At what point do you think to yourself that another layer of shingles is a good idea?"

What was even funnier to me was that they had to patch a spot on the back, so they cut down to the right depth and then added a 1/2" piece of plywood to bring the shingles up to the same level!



Thirsty Hamster

Thirsty Sumomo

If you’ve had small pets (hamsters, gerbils, etc) before, seeing one drinking out of those little water bottles probably won’t make you say, “Awwww… so cute!!!!” But I haven’t, and Sumomo is, so here’s a picture from shortly after we got him (approx 1 month old) quenching his thirst.

I got a little video footage of him this weekend, so when I get a chance I’ll get a video clip on here, too.

Labor Day Weekend -- emphasis on the LABOR!

We roofed this weekend.

When I say we roofed, I mean we spent a whole lot of money at Menards, ordered a dumpster, and then spent the weekend working. When I ordered the dumpster, the nice gal at Faherty's asked how many layers of shingles we had on the 1400 sq ft we were doing… I guessed one. She said if it turned out to be two layers, we wouldn't have enough space, but we hoped. The first section of garage had just one layer… and then we got to the old porch. Six layers. Yup. The bottom layer was tarred onto the boards, and really wasn't fun to remove. The back part, overlooking the park had four layers: red, white, green and black. And at the top and ridges, they added lots of overlap for good measure. Removing those shingles weren't much fun.

My parents arrived before 9 Saturday morning and climbed right up on top of the garage with us. Then Kevin (Joe's coworker) arrived midmorning, followed by Joe's parents around noon. With all of us working hard, we had all of the shingles off the garage and most off the back part of the house by nightfall. And we also had most of the garage reshingled! (And I think we all had blisters.)

We like our neighbors, so we didn't start the air-nailer until 8am Sunday. Another of Joe's coworkers stopped by for a while (Sara) and helped us chip away at the last of the old shingles. If we had started a couple hours earlier, or if the rain had waited a couple hours later, we could've had it done. As it was, it rained hard enough that we had to stop with several rows of shingles remaining. With no end in sight, our parents headed toward home (although my folks stayed a bit later for extra bonding — like watching the Buffy Musical and Spiderman 2… and a little work on the farm website)

This morning, Joe and I groaned up the ladder again, and with some help from Adam, laid the rest of the shingles and then while I made pizza they cleaned the gutters and installed covers. Now all that's left is nailing down the flashing, a little extra tarring, and one stripe of shingles above the garage door.

I thought parts of the project were fun, and I'm feeling surprisingly confident about my roofing abilities, particularly considering I'd never really done any before. We'll still get to the front porch this year, but there's no way we're going to do the top half of the house ourselves, no matter how much money we'd save.

I hurt. A lot. And based on the way we all moved this weekend (and the regular ibuprofen breaks) I'm not alone. But we'll survive, and hopefully we'll forget how painful it was when it's time to do the porch.

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