new toys

My El Cheapo camcorder (the Samsung SC-D365, with an average Amazon.com rating of 3/5) has crapped out on me.  I can’t capture digital video recorded on it without losing timecode every minute or so, so whenever I try to capture a segment of video, I end up with lots of minute long segments separated by 5 to 20 seconds of gap.

Once I realized this, last Thursday night, I went to Best Buy and bought a new, much nicer, camcorder.  It’s a Canon HV20 (average Amazon.com rating of 4.5/5), and so far I’m extremely happy with it.  It can record (and, of course, play back) HDV.  And even though it’s just a one-chip imager, it’s got very nice picture quality.  It’s got a number of features my old camcorder didn’t have, too, such as a 24P mode and manual control over lots of things (like white balance, aperture, exposure length, etc.).  And it’s got a remote control which may be handy at some point.  Admittedly, it’s a little bit flimsy and lightweight, and it doesn’t have an XLR input for audio, but it’s a consumer camera so that’s par for the course.  I guess it better be a big step up since it retails for over 3 times the price as my Samsung.

I also decided to go for the highest end purchase protection plan (or whatever they call it).  The main selling point for me was that it lasts for 4 years, and covers accidental damage including things like dropping it by accident into the Colorado River.  Given that bad things seem to happen to my cameras, I thought getting some insurance for this purchase would be worth it, especially considering the camera cost almost as much as my motorcycle!  Usually the Best Buy insurance plan thing is a bad deal, but the last time I bought one it paid off.
I decided to shoot my latest documentary film on HDV 1080i, even though most people will watch it on DVD (which will waste most of those pixels).  But I figure a couple years from now, the BluRay vs. HD DVD war will be over, and my family will start to get HDTVs.  If not sooner.  Plus, the next generation, such as my niece Kristina, to whom this documentary will be dedicated, won’t likely know of a world prior to HDTV.

I also broke down and bought the upgrade to Final Cut Studio 2.  Not cheap!  It’s $500 to upgrade to the latest suite, but there are just so many new features that I think it’ll be worth it.  Besides, my film collaborators and clients will be using FCS2 eventually, and the upgrade price isn’t going to go down, so I’ve got to buy the upgrade sooner or later.  So I just bit the bullet and did it now.  A couple things I’m looking forward to playing with: the Color application, improvements to audio editing ease-of-use, and lots of new features in nearly all the parts of the suite.

When Pardons Turn Political – New York Times

My coworkers and I were discussing this in line at Qdoba a couple days ago.  When I heard Libby had been convicted and sentenced to 30 months in prison, I thought to myself, “Well, all his legal team has to do is draw the appeals process out long enough so Bush can pardon him late next year, near the end of his term.”

But an astute coworker pointed out that Bush appears to genuinely care about his “legacy” and think that history will smile upon him.  And if he’s really concerned about his legacy, he won’t commit any lame duck cop-outs.  We’ll see, I guess.  But my money’s on Scooter getting pardoned before December 2008.  Anyone want to take that bet?
When Pardons Turn Political – New York Times

FTC Objects to Whole Foods-Wild Oats Merger (Kroger Co. (KR), Wild Oats Markets Inc. (OATS), Safeway Inc. (SWY), Whole Foods Market Inc. (WFMI), Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT), (US501044), (US931142)) | SmartMoney.com

I can’t say this really upsets me too much.  Personally, I like Wild Oats more, and I’m afraid that the merger with Whole Foods would make them suck.

FTC Objects to Whole Foods-Wild Oats Merger (Kroger Co. (KR), Wild Oats Markets Inc. (OATS), Safeway Inc. (SWY), Whole Foods Market Inc. (WFMI), Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT), (US501044), (US931142)) | SmartMoney.com

Parallels Desktop geekiness

Well, a while back, I told you I bought Parallels Desktop for my Mac.  Then I said I wasn’t too impressed.  Well, since then some time has elapsed.  And I’ve tried and failed to get some things working.  But this past weekend, I had a few breakthroughs.  It’s now working for me rather nicely.

I’m not 100% sure why I did it, but I set things up so I can run the following OSes in virtual machines on my laptop:

  • Windows XP
  • DOS 7.1
  • FreeDOS
  • Ubuntu Linux

how I spent Mother’s Day 2007

Here is how I spent Mother’s Day 2007:

  • called Mom (and Dad) and chatted for a while
  • ate breakfast at The Egg and I (whose motto on the wall is “Mom always said to have a good breakfast”)
  • rode my bicycle from 80th and Wadsworth to Clear Creek, then to the Platte River confluence, then to Denver, then on a hot and windy path through the city streets to City Park
  • ate lunch at the DMNS cafeteria salad bar (my favorite salad bar in Denver)
  • hung out in the atrium (one of my favorite places in Denver) and finished a synopsis of a sci-fi action movie I may make later this year
  • rode my bicycle to Hooked on Colfax (my favorite coffee shop in Denver) and had a cold drink and a hot pastry, and did more movie related stuff on my laptop
  • caught the 15 RTD bus to LoDo, then rode along Cherry Creek to the confluence with the Platte, and parked at REI
  • bought a few things at REI, and shopped for (but didn’t buy) a new bicycle
  • rode to Market Street bus station and caught the B bus, which was packed with rowdy drunk college kids who had just watched the Rockies game
  • rode from the Broomfield Park-n-Ride home in the drizzle
  • collapsed from riding 26 miles, which is a lot for me, especially carrying around a full load of cargo (extra clothes, laptop and charger, book, stuff I bought at the store, etc.)
  • made a couple tostadas for supper, then got cleaned up, then watched most of “The Shawshank Redemption”

diversity of commuting methods

I just wanted to mention that in the first 4 days of last week, I used 4 different ways to get to work.  Sunday (yes, I needed to go in to work a couple hours on Sunday to get caught up) I rode my bicycle.  Monday, I rode my motorcycle.  Tuesday, I rode the bus.  And Wednesday, I drove our pickup truck.

I thought of how I might get to 5 methods, but it would mean either riding my kick scooter or walking the whole way.  Both would be impractically slow.  I suppose I could take a taxi, but taxi service in Broomfield is notoriously bad and I could get to work faster by any of the other 4 methods.  And a helicopter is out of my price range.

Wheeee!: Awesome Tube Slide Should Replace Stairs – Gizmodo

Here’s another feature that my dream home will have:

Wheeee!: Awesome Tube Slide Should Replace Stairs – Gizmodo

Oh, you’re not aware of my plans for a dream home?  It will feature:

  • photovoltaic solar
  • passive solar heat and hot water
  • a cistern to catch rainwater
  • a partially underground main living room
  • a couple of fully underground rooms
  • a greenhouse
  • and now…an awesome tube slide

And my plan is for it to be located roughly here.