Windows Friendly version of the CVS Camera Video

I’ve gotten sick of people (all on Windows as best I can tell) telling me they can’t see the video of my CVS camera film, so I reencoded as MP4 and uploaded it. I deeply apologize to anyone that subscribed to the RSS feed and will get two copies of it. I don’t know any other good way to do this. I don’t want to take down the original, so I’m just letting it ride. If you had problems with the other one, try this one and let me know if that fixes it for you.

The Gulf Coast

I wanted to post collating some of the thoughts about New Orleans and Biloxi, but my brother has already beaten me to it in a very good post. I’ll admit that I’ve been steaming mad about the whole white people “find”, black people “loot” syndrome.

Now is a moment of grief and rolled up sleeves for relief. Soon, very very goddamn soon, I want an accounting from my government why they have been diverting the money from fixing the known dangers of the levees in New Orleans to invading countries that pose hypothetical and ultimately non-existent threats. Don’t tell me that I want the real dangers in my own country addressed before fake dangers across the world because I hate freedom. The time for the easy evasion is over, time now for those accountable to answer the questions. Time for the conservatives to live up to their talk and take some personal responsibility.

Update: In comments, Rob S expresses dismay at me playing politics with the disaster. He asks “Is the state responsible for the maintenance of each levee or is it the federal government?” These were not hypotheticals, there were people on the ground in New Orleans who had been trying to guard against this day, and found their money previously earmarked moved to other priorities. Here is the quote that made my head boil, via the Daily Kos:

It appears that the money has been moved in the president’s budget to handle homeland security and the war in Iraq, and I suppose that’s the price we pay. Nobody locally is happy that the levees can’t be finished, and we are doing everything we can to make the case that this is a security issue for us.

— Walter Maestri, emergency management chief for Jefferson Parish, Louisiana; New Orleans Times-Picayune, June 8, 2004.

Rob, read that whole page at Kos and tell me if you think I’m overreacting or playing politics.

New Orleans Devastation

I’ve been irked by people who feel it necessary to make jokes about either Katrina and the Waves or Led Zeppelin about this hurricane hitting New Orleans. Well, guess what. The levee did break, Lake Pontchartrain is flowing to the sea, the pumps are failing, 80% of the city is flooded as much as 20 feet, people are drowning in their own homes and there are reports of bodies floating down the streets. Big buildings are burning, overpasses are collapsing, hospitals and shelters are having people choplifted off the roofs. Let’s stop the jokes, this is fucking devastation.

As penance for the jokes, let’s reach in our pockets and give to the Red Cross until it aches.

Update: I’m almost certainly overreacting here and I’m sure no one is taking this lightly, as I implied. It’s upsetting stuff, you know? I was shocked to go to bed with the damage better than predicted, and then awake to find the city slowly getting scoured into the Gulf of Mexico. Sorry, I’m simmering down now.


A threshold was crossed today, one I’ve had my eye on for a long time, watching the numbers. As of today, this weblog has had more comments on it than posts. It’s a little bit of an artificial milestone, because some of those comments are from me (but none from spammers in that count.) This blog has been around just over 3 years, and for the first 9 months it was on a system that didn’t allow comments. For the next year, there were not that many comments – some but not a lot. Most of the participation has been since the podcast began.

Thanks to everyone that back feeds the feedback and keeps the conversation going. That means a lot to me, and I appreciate it.

Video is Up

OK, I just decided to stop fighting it and go with OurMedia for now. The video of me hacking the CVS camera is now posted. I know it is too long, the camera work is shaky, but it’s the first video thing I have ever done and the first time I have ever worked a camcorder. Subsequent ones should be better. Let me know what y’all think.

Update: You can subscribe to the RSS feed of my OurMedia account. Fire it up with iPodderX or FireANT and all will be well.

Update #2: I waited all day to tell folks about this to make sure OurMedia didn’t take a dump, but it seems to have right as MAKEZine linked here. Here is a Torrent of the video as well. To answer a question in the comments, this is in H.264 format or codec. I would have to learn more to know diddly squat about video codecs, but that’s the one I used.

Update #3: OurMedia seems to be back.

Update #4: For those having problems with original, there is a more standard encoding available now.

Small Favors

Reports are that Katrina weakened in the gulf and is down to a category 4, with winds of a paltry 150 MPH. That’s down from 190 MPH yesterday. Still, I wouldn’t want it to hit my house. Here’s hoping that the flooding isn’t bad, the levees don’t break, that the path is through the lightly populated areas and that as few lives as possible are lost and ruined.

Email Drifts

I had been so proud of myself for catching up on the email a few months ago, and as of this morning I was losing ground again. I found myself at 121 mails in the in-box, and have whittled that down to the 60’s as of this evening. I must get back on top of this. Being caught up on things feels much better than the free-floating anxiety caused by being behind.

Survivor’s Guilt

As I said early today in the podcast, I feel twin emotions watching hurricane Katrina bear down on the Gulf Coast. One is great sadness for what is almost certain to be devastating and runs the risk of ruining the lives of or even killing my friends in that area. I lived there for several years and have a great love for south Louisiana. The thought of having that magical place scoured by 190 MPH winds makes me want to puke.

The second emotion is a horrible, guilty feeling – that I’m glad it isn’t going to hit Myrtle Beach. I’m not proud of this feeling, but it is true. That also makes me want to puke.

I also hope Poppy Brite and Chris DeBarr changed their minds and got their asses the hell out of their house. I sure don’t want to read their obituaries in a few days because they were worried about feral cats and violating a stupid rental car contract.

Update: Poppy and Chris did indeed evacuate after all. Thank fucking dobbs.

Clambake Episode for August 28, 2005

Here is the Bittorrent link and direct MP3 download for the EGC clambake for August 28, 2005.

I talk about hacking the CVS one-time use camcorder and creating a videoblog about the process; I mention that I have coined a new term for people who can use these hacks but not originate them – “solder kiddies”; I discuss the travails in finding a place to host these video files; I play an excerpt from Mental-Escher; I play a song by CamTarn; I play an ID from Ronnie Marler and a promo from the Dragon Page guys; I talk about money, in personal terms, in venture capital, at PodShow and whether flow of big money into podcasting is a good thing or not; don’t give up your control; I bought a Carribean Free Radio shirt and it is great; I talk a bit about Jonathan Coulton and play another of his songs;

This episode is sponsored in part by the fine folks at iPod Observer! Don’t forget, you can fly your EGC flag by buying the stuff package.

This show as a whole is Creative Commons licensed Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 1.0.

Links mentioned in this episode:


Video Teaser

Recently I went down the street to a local CVS pharmacy and bought one of the one-time use camcorders, the ones you can hack to get your videos onto your computer. I actually have a videoblog that I recorded with the camera about hacking the camera, for a nice bit of recursion. I documented the process of getting the cables, doing the soldering and then using the programs to extract the files. Just today, I used the program that lets you change the resolution and record time on the camera, which as you buy it are both set artificially low.

However, it will be a little bit of time before I can have the video posted. I edited it in iMovie but because I made some rookie mistakes (and because the default settings blow) I need to get it redone. The biggest mistake I made was not changing the setting that requires it to be fully downloaded to start playing. I joined OurMedia to post it, and uploaded the first cut but it was a really painful and slow process. I’m not so sure about using this service. You create an OurMedia account and an Internet Archive account and tie them together. At this point, I have an OurMedia username, an associated email address and a password, plus an email address and password for the IA. Doing practically anything was a confusing mess of figuring out which of these sets of credentials were required at any point. I think 3 was the minimum tries to log on to do anything substantial. Then, after I finally got it uploaded it was unbelievably slow for anyone else to try to download. As someone said to me about it – you get what you pay for. Just this morning, I got an email asking videobloggers to not upload anything to OurMedia for the next week. Sigh.

I’m worried about the hosting, because this runs the potential to get slashdotted or Make-dotted or name-your-inadvertant-denial-of-service-via-blog. I don’t want to use up the bandwidth on my regular box on this, I don’t want to put it on a system where bandwidth overage charges will cost me money, yet I also want it to be downloadable in under 17 hours. I suppose I could just put up a torrent of it and let it ride, which also will not be zippy at least at first. What to do, what to do. Any suggestions?

George Carlin Music Commentary of the Day

White people ought to understand … their job is to give people the blues, not to get them. And certainly not to sing or play them! I’ll tell you a little secret about the blues: It’s not enough to know which notes to play, you have to know why they need to be played.

– from the George Carlin Day Calendar for August 26, 2005


Just to let everyone know, there is no need to send me any more invitations to Google Talk. I’ve gotten a dozen so far, and I was already set up on their Jabber server before I got the first one. I can’t use their client because – surpriiiiiise, surpriiiiiiiise – it’s Windows only. When I read the HOWTO on MakeZine I added it to my Adium list last night.

I appreciate everyone thinking about me, but please save us both a few seconds and don’t send me the invite. Thanks.

Update: It appears that the mails are unavoidable and just happen when you add someone with the Google Talk client. Wow, what a pain in the ass! This stopped being cute with the third identical email from Google.

Clambake Episode for August 21, 2005

Here is the Bittorrent link and direct MP3 download for the EGC clambake for August 21, 2005.

This episode is a celebration of the first birthday of this here clambake. I play the opening of the very first episode; I play a song by Ronnie Marler; I thank the audience for hanging with me; I play a song by Jonathan Coulton; I talk about the podcast from the locked out CBC workers; I play a song from the Gentle Readers; I discuss big headedness and smugness in podcasting and respect for the audience; I play a song from Camper Van Beethoven and then we are done.

This episode is sponsored in part by the fine folks at iPod Observer! Don’t forget, you can fly your EGC flag by buying the stuff package.

This show as a whole is Creative Commons licensed Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 1.0.

Links mentioned in this episode:


Duke Podcasting Symposium

Add to my previous post about all the blogging/podcasting/new media conferences this one that I had missed, the Duke Podcasting Symposium on September 27 and 28. Of the four conferences between now and January, three of them are within a three hour drive for me. I’d like to go to this one because it looks interesting and there are many folks attending that I’d like to spend time with, but I can’t go to everything. The worst part is that it is on a Tuesday and Wednesday. Losing those two work days is a deal breaker for me. If I were some sort of unemployed podcasting layabout I’d go to them all.

Happy Birthday to the Clambake

Today is the one year anniversary of the first episode of the audio version of the Evil Genius Chronicles. I published an episode this morning that I actually did yesterday that has no birthday content whatsoever. I was on the edge of not publishing this one and instead redoing it. The sound was a little off, particularly at the beginning. I have a new Behringer UB802 mixer, and hadn’t noticed that the EQ setting for the high range was all the way down. That led to my original voiceover sounding muffled. Ironic isn’t it, adding better stuff is an initial hit?

I may or may not do another episode today with a little (very little) birthday related content. If it happens tomorrow, I shan’t cry. I was taken a little aback because I thought August 22nd was the day until I checked the records. Thanks to everyone who has been listening all this time, participating on the comment threads, sending me email, buying the stuff packages, supporting the musicians and generally being involved with the EGC community. Forming a community was never a primary goal (and it still isn’t) but I’m delighted that one has sort of formed spontaneously and I think is actually the best, most positive outcome of the whole magilla.

Thanks too to the sponsors. Thanks to iPodderX, who sponsored me for a long time and whose support provided the seed money that kicked off the stuff packages. Thanks to iPod Observer for being the current sponsor and helping out with the expenses. I appreciate it all.