The Summer Backlog

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

Every Summer I speculate that I’m going to have an unbelievable amount free time. It will always be so fantastic and freeing. I’ll be done school, working a stress-free job, and there will be so much unscheduled time that I’ll just get bored and come up with hundreds of new tasks for myself.

This never happens.

Well, the having-free-time-thing never happens but I do take on new activities anyway. After enough time, I end up with a bunch of things I’ve been meaning to do, and work on them impulsively at sporadic intervals. Everything moves forward, slow and steady, but in an agonizing and chaotic fashion.

I do make time for my projects, but the available time is fluctuating as the years go by. When I started these projects all I had was time and energy, but no money. Now, I seem to find myself with a modest amount of money and energy, but no time. Eventually, I’m doomed to have time and money, but no energy. This is the vicious cycle, and here I find myself in the second stage.

Without organization, every project falls on its face. I’m a big proponent of organization, especially when I have so much going on. After a while, you just need to keep track and work smarter (or risk meeting some men who want to put you in a straitjacket). Below, I’ve outlined (to the best of my ability) the various projects I’m working on, and where they need to go next. Hopefully this not only helps me stay on track but also gives you something to yell at me about the next time you see me.

Obsoleet
I’ve actually had most of an episode filmed for a long time by this point. The only problem that I faced was the audio cut out at the end of one of the shots. After I redo it, which I wanted to do anyway, the footage should be mostly set to go into editing. Additionally, I’d like to film a little skit for the intro if I can manage it. Editing usually doesn’t take a whole lot of time, though I do want to try out some new software and I have to cut a brand new introduction. High definition video also proves to be more of a hassle and take some more (read unplanned) time.

Anarchivism
This one is going along pretty well, especially recently. On the scanning side of things, I have plenty of stuff coming in but not a lot going up. The scanner I have is awful when it comes down to conducting magazine scans and I’ll have to look for something beefier before going full tilt on my library. As an aside, I’ve more or less created the most complete wiki of hacker magazines complete with information on them as far as I can tell. With my current rig, I can pump out some more Blacklisted! 411 issues without much hesitation.

Going after Revision3 has slowed a little, but I can get back into it with some one-liners soon. Getting to other odds and ends comes and goes as I find them. The only section that could have hours poured into it is the hacker con category. The videos I find not only have different ways of being obtained but also get updated with a new crop annually, so everything is constantly in flux. I’m trying to hunt down some of the more difficult stuff as well as fill in actual information about the conferences. If you want to help out, please do.

TechTat
This one is more or less dead due to lack of interest. While it was cool having a collaboration site for retro tech, it lost its luster after a few months. I considered turning TechTat into an audio podcast but I’m not sure how that would turn out. I’m certain I can find some use for the concept.

ChannelEM
ChannelEM keeps trucking on, but is prone to frequent crashing. It does seem to get more stable after software updates, but still ultimately hangs. I want to take a look at the scripting done to run the station and see if I can put in any fail-safes to stop the crashing. CEM also needs a rotation update with any new episodes. Further, the idea of getting new shows to join up is a bit fruitless now, but the site does well as it stands. For no real reason at all, I’d like to see if I can add on to the existing scripts and create a JSON API with scheduling information.

Moonlit has also been working on some very interesting video projects that I’d like to integrate which would completely change the look and feel of both the site and the content.

Raunchy Taco
More or less in a standstill. The stability fluctuates and there isn’t that much going on there anyway. The IRC server is really only kept up if Ethan, Pat, and myself need a place to chat. For a network that has been off-and-on for 6-7 years, we have empty periods like this all the time. I’d like to just keep it up if I can.

The IPTV Archive
More or less in waiting. I put up a hefty amount of content, and then ultimately mirrored it to Internet Archive where it can live forever. If I had the time, I’d spend it doing more detective work for the missing shows- there is always more detective work to do. There are probably a half dozen more smaller shows I could throw up at some point but nothing too pressing.

Additionally, when I started the site I used Blip because it had (arguably) the best quality at the time. Now, YouTube has eclipsed it. There was a bit of panic a few months back about some Blip channels being closed down for no reason and I have to entertain the idea that this could happen to me. If that happens, the whole library would likely need to be moved to YouTube. A big move, but likely a nice one for the content.

Moreover, I’ve also considered moving the content over to Anarchivism as it would be a much more flexible platform.

House Keeping and Solo Projects
I enjoy writing and I’d to do more of it. Besides just being more active here, I’d like to get back into writing for other outlets. I’m thinking of more for The New Tech, and another for my local 2600 group. I’ve also been playing around with Medium (I like the concept but it still might be pretentious dribble) and would like to publish another article through it. I’m looking into 2-3 print publications as well if I can come up with the right topics and go into those pieces with the right energy.

Aside from my web work, I have a bunch of little, lower-profile things going on that I need to get out of the way.

I recently got a display for my Apple G5, so I can let it run as a capture PC for video transfers. I already have an ADVC box hooked up and the machine captures great… but it needs a monitor hooked up to run. Then, I can do more video transfers which can ultimately pop up in other places (Maybe a found footage section on Anarchivism).

I want to set up a dedicated headless Linux server for staging web projects amongst other things. I might also have it just run wget scripts all day or some custom web crawlers or who knows what else.

I have an old cocktail arcade cabinet that needs some love. If the original electronics are beyond repair, it would be nice to outfit the cab with new hardware and set up a MAME machine.

More Raspberry Pi projects would be nice. I like having the Incredible Pi set up as a PBX but I feel like I could do more with it. I have another Pi set up as a media center that I use often. I’m currently on setting up a Bitcoin mining rig with another and still have many more ideas. Raspberry Pi cluster? Telnet BBS? BBS hooked into the PBX? The possibilities are endless.

Paranoia kicks in with regard to my data. I have a dozen or so terabytes worth and I need to clean data off of old drives, sort it, duplicate it, and duplicate the data that’s already there. To make matters worse, I’m constantly downloading more.

A CJDNS Meshnet node has also been in the works for a long time. I tried to set up my first one on a PogoPlug and while I eventually got the software to compile, I couldn’t connect to anybody. It may be time for another try, and possibly on a “normal” box before adapting it to the PogoPlug.

I’m experimenting with a few more programming languages and development environments. Recently, I’ve looked into running some Go, and am learning a great deal of JavaScript. I’d like to look into C# and also play with the Unity engine. Aside from these, I’m reasonably proficient at Android development and might be tying this in with another project of a friend’s.

And the list goes on.

 

There’s a lot of things here- a hell of a lot of things. I’d be lying if I said that there weren’t going to be even more. Hopefully, as I now have a nice little outline, I’ll be able to zero-in my focus and get some work done.

In the meantime, sit back and enjoy the show.

Rethinking Video Part Three

Saturday, November 3rd, 2012

Been a while since I’ve done one of these. You may remember in the last part of this series of articles, I hinted at a documentary I was doing (It’s posted below, but you can check it out here if you don’t want to wait). This was April, seven whole months ago.

I got busy. That happens with life and I wish it didn’t. On top of that, my computer couldn’t handle the high definition video that I wanted it to. I wish it could have, but it couldn’t.

The documentary in question is about my friend and his barn. For a little background, he lives in a house that was built around the time of the American Civil War, and the property also includes a barn from the same era. Back then, my whole town was farm land (apparently my property 30 seconds away was part of an orchard) but now the original properties have been substantially broken down for housing. From what I’ve seen, his is the only one in town to include the original barn. Anyway, I called him up and asked him if he’d be interested in letting me do some filming to test out my camera. He agreed.

Now, it’s important to note that this filming had no plan. I came over and told him to just start talking. We didn’t hash out too much of a story, there wasn’t any logic to the way the footage was shot, and we concluded filming when there wasn’t enough light to go any further. Having said that, don’t expect the resulting documentary to follow any logical flow. It was more an act of shooting as much as possible, and then seeing if I could somehow work all the footage together in a way that made sense. In this regard, I think it came out well.

Let’s talk about where I messed up. For one, lighting. I brought a measly halogen light when I went to film, but quickly abandoned it. It made absolutely no difference whatsoever in illuminating the room. I probably could have produced better footage had I handled the ISO settings better, so that’s something to take into consideration for next time. Really though, it’s difficult to get a good sense of things when you have only a two inch screen to look at and adjust with. On top of this, I also purchased an inexpensive NEEWER LED lighting rig that sits on top of the camera. Though off-brand and cheap, it’s particularly bright and comes with several gels so it should help out tremendously. A smaller mistake I made was where I had my friend looking when on camera. While I tried to follow the rule of thirds as best as I could, I didn’t know about having the subject look to the far side of the camera. If you have him look at the edge of the screen he’s on, it’s as if 2/3 of the screen is wasted. Unfortunately, it’s something that you cannot unsee after it is pointed out to you. Lastly, I had some problems in audio. While I did monitoring with headphones, it was difficult to gauge the sound quality when I could hear everything from outside the headphones as well as through them. Ultimately, I’ll probably get a pair that do noise cancellation. I’m also interested in getting an inexpensive shotgun microphone for something a little more directional.

For editing, I ended up completely building a new computer from scratch. The process and all the little details can be found here, so give that a glance if you have not already. While I did a rough edit on my laptop, it would frequently crash and I could not get an fine edit because the playback was so choppy. This new rig does the job nicely and cuts through the video like a warm knife. Now, I started editing this in Sony Vegas and that’s what I finished in. For future projects, I am hoping to switch to Adobe Premiere. I’m a bit sick of Vegas at this point, especially after finding a glitch wherein I cannot render using the beefy GPU I got for the build. Anyway, I feel the editing went well. I’m not fantastic at color correcting. I did some minor correcting and light balancing, but some of the footage was hard to do anything with since it was so dark.

Below is the final edited video if you care to check it out. I originally planned to do a few of these mini documentaries, but it took so long to do one and I ultimately ran out of time to follow through with anything else. While I had some problems with this project, I can say that few of these issues would effect how I do Obsoleet or any similar tutorial-based segment. I recently created a segment for The New Tech which will pop up soon with any hope, and I can now turn my attention more towards this type of content once again. Let’s just hope real life tones it down a little.

Building a Computer

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012

As I mentioned previously, my laptop and HD video were not the best of friends. So apparently pulling myself into the current generation of video with my DSLR camera meant that I had to upgrade everything else I had as well. Not a problem. I decided to spend a large sum of money to build an editing rig from scratch. Difficult? Possibly. Doable? Absolutely.

I decided to do my research. If I was going to spend my hard earned money, I wanted to get the best bang for my buck and avoid cutting corners. I chose to use PCPartPicker for ratings and pricing, and a few forums to get the baseline of what I wanted. It had to be fast, it had to be stable, and it had to be upgradable. I was used to mainly getting laptops which are limited in their use as time goes on. I had a desktop before, but it ran Windows 98. That’s how long it has been since I had one. I wanted to build something now that after a year or two I could throw a few hundred dollars at instead of buying a whole new setup. I wanted something that would last a good while. PCPartPicker proved to be an invaluable resource. I could search for just what I wanted, and add it to my build list. It kept track of which retailers had the best price and previous prices so you could figure out if the component was prone to going on sale or at the lowest price it has ever been. On top of this, I usually waited to see if I could get a manufacturer rebate, and ended up with about seven of them at the end of my purchase spree. I started buying components in early August and had my computer finally assembled in the first week of September.Not too shabby.

Ultimately, this was my build list:

CPU: Intel Core i7-3770K 3.5GHz Quad-Core Processor
CPU Cooler: Corsair H100 92.0 CFM  Liquid CPU Cooler
Motherboard: Asus P8Z77-V ATX  LGA1155 Motherboard
Memory: Corsair XMS3 16GB (4 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory
Storage: Samsung 830 Series 128GB 2.5″ Solid State Disk
Video Card: Sapphire Radeon HD 7970 3GB Video Card
Case: Cooler Master HAF 922 ATX Mid Tower Case
Power Supply: SeaSonic 620W 80 PLUS Bronze Certified ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply
Optical Drive: Asus BW-12B1ST/BLK/G/AS Blu-Ray/DVD/CD Writer
Monitor: Asus VH236H 23.0″ Monitor
Monitor: Asus VH236H 23.0″ Monitor

Pretty powerful, and pretty expensive. Nevertheless, I had all the components I wanted and they started to roll in.

Before I go any further, I have a confession to make: I had never built a computer from scratch. Everyone has added in more RAM or switched out a blown PSU, but most self-appointed geeks had also built their own custom computers and I had never taken the plunge. It wasn’t for lack of interest, it was mostly just something I never got around to. I’m happy to say that this, my first computer built, went completely successfully and booted the first time. Sure, it took a few hours, and I had a little help, but I’m incredibly happy with the results.

As you can tell by my build list, the computer doesn’t have many components outside of what you get from a basic PC. Not many accessories here. I recently went ahead and ordered some cold cathodes for more case lighting and a Firewire card so I can do old footage dumps from my DV camcorder or hook up an analog-to-digital video adapter (have one in the mail) and rescue VHS tapes or other old formats. Why more case lighting? Maybe it’s my childhood self getting the computer he wanted to build back when $50 was considered a large amount of money. Otherwise, I wanted something that was nice to look at.

I didn’t bother getting a new keyboard or mouse since I have a few nice wireless mice and an old Z-board keyboard that still works fine. Will I upgrade these in the future? Most likely. Depending where this computer ends up, I may not have enough space to facilitate a mouse. As for speakers, they are built into the Asus monitors so no problem there. I wanted two monitors for editing video: one for the actual editing and one for preview. I found out that my graphics card supports up to four monitors, so I have room to grow if I want. Lastly, I got a copy of Windows 7 Professional for free (thanks Pat) which saved some money.

Performance wise, the computer runs like a dream. But, as any madman would, I want to push it to the limit with overclocking. That is an adventure for another time, but I found some good guides to use as starting points. From what I understand, both my processor and graphics card are prime candidates for overclocking and I intend to squeeze a bit more out of them before I get comfortable.

So now what? I’m going to finish the short documentary I started in April. This should take no more than a few nights if all goes to plan. What it really comes down to is some fine editing, possibly some color correction, and making sure all the text graphics are as I want them. While this is happening, I’m also going to switch up editing software to Adobe Premiere. Not migrate my documentary over, just set it up in addition to Sony Vegas and ween myself over. Sony Vegas is nice, but I feel as though I have outgrown it. As for my adventures in filming, I already have 2/3 of a segment done for The New Tech so expect this to find its way out soon.

Otherwise, I’m fast approaching the point at which I can roll out Obsoleet Season 2.

Thanks for hanging in there.

As a parting gift, here are some pictures taken right after the build. Enjoy them :)

Where is Obsoleet?

Thursday, July 19th, 2012

I haven’t made a new episode in a while. I apologize for that. Let’s talk about what has happened in the interim.

Episode eight came out in February, and I released a short test video a month after with my new camera. In the month of April, I started working on a short documentary, but here is where the snags started. What it really comes down to is my computer being unable to handle editing high definition video. I edited together the footage from the first shoot after a few days, but trying to do anything more than splice clips is next to impossible. I can’t color correct without crashing, precision editing cannot be done with choppy video, and I barely have enough resources to run my editing software yet alone any other applications.

Let’s step aside from this for a minute.

In early May, I started the SaveRev3 project. I actually hinted at this in Obsoleet as an un-named project. Anyways, with the the help of others I have archived all of Revision3′s “Archived Shows” including ones they removed from their site. A nice accomplishment if you ask me. On top of this, I started a new website for the project called Anarchivism. Anarchivism is an ad-hoc/umbrella/do-ocracy destination for archiving projects which has already expanded past the Revision3 efforts to cover other video shows, audio shows, hacker conference media, and demoscene discs. With any luck, it will only get larger.

Aside from this, I have been writing more. A lot more. I have been keeping SaveRev3 status updates, general reviews, editorials, etc. and it has given a new spark to my old habits. Aside from writing for my own site, I have also been contributing articles to The New Tech, a wonderful video podcast and community-oriented site.

This leads in to what’s next. I had originally thought about releasing short one-segment videos to pass the time before I build a brand new computer with all the bells and whistles (Which I’m starting early August). Instead of doing these one-off segments for Obsoleet, I got the idea to contribute them to other shows. I am planning on creating segments for both The New Tech and BSOD in the near future before starting season 2 of Obsoleet. This way, I can still make video while getting my computer together, and have some of the editing responsibilities split with others.

I also plan on branching back out into audio. The New Tech is planning a weekly radio radio show that I hope to be involved with in some capacity. I am also planning an episode of Hacker Public Radio, which has been on the to-do list since before it was even called Hacker Public Radio (TWAT represent!). In addition to all of this, I’ve been considering revamping Techtat so that it has its own podcast in addition to the articles.

So where are we exactly with Obsoleet? Season 2 will pick up after I build an editing rig. Plain and simple. In the mean time, I’ll produce content for other shows, so you can still get your fix. As a little bonus, I’ve recently registered obsoleet.com (which I’ve been waiting to be free since starting the show) and have migrated the site over there (Update your bookmarks). It still needs some work, but it’s getting there bit by bit.

As always, let me know what you think. If you have any additional ideas, suggestions, or gripes, you know how to find me.