Saturday, February 19, 2005


Coverting ReplayTV MPEGs to QuickTime

I'm working on a little project that involves converting old audio and video tapes into an Internet friendly format. I captured the video using a ReplayTV and pulled the MPEG file locally using DVArchive. The challenge is that ReplayTV MPEGs have a slightly off format that makes them impossible to open up in QuickTime. The solution was to reencode the file using ffmpegx, a great little piece of shareware.

It took about a half hour to reencode 10 minutes of video on an G5 iMac. I could then pull the .mov file into QT pro and resize it for the Web.

Very cool stuff.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Bodyglove Bluetooth Headset

I’ve bought a bluetooth headset for my cell phone. I’m really pretty sick of using a wired earbud. Unfortunately my phone isn’t a native bluetooth phone. I’ve bought a bluetooth dongle which will solve this little problem.

In the meantime I’ve added bluetooth to my computer and have been using Skype to make VoIP calls using this dandy little headset.

The call time is amazing. I was able to get through an 8 hour work day with out any problem.

Sony Noise Canceling Headphones MDR-NC11

I think the quest is, at least temporarily, finished. I am very pleased by the comfort of these headphones. They are light and small—much smaller to carry than Bose Headphones—with excellent noise cancelling ability. Airplane noise is reduced to a dullish hum. I was very impressed.

The earpieces are soft rubber and come in three sizes from those with the tiniest of ears to the most elephantine. There is a control switch halfway down the cord which allows you to turn on or off the noise cancelling effect or raise/lower the volume. The cord, is if anything, a little too long.

The control switch feels a little cheap. It has an alligator clip which breaks easily, It didn’t make it through a single business trip.

For $150.00, this is a dandy little product.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Video Capture

It seems like my homelife ends up overlapping with my professional life. About 4 or 5 years ago my brother, Alec called me up and asked if I wanted a ReplayTV. I was pretty clueless about what he was talking about--I vaguely remembered the contraption at his home--and said, "Uh sure." Turned out that he had gotten a larger capacity one through some corporate swap out.

This is one of the most addictive contraptions you can imagine. They are hard disk based recorders for television. They actively adapt if a TV show slot moves. Think TiVo, but with more free features.

The latest iteration of this platform is networkable allowing the user to not only get TV guide data over a network connection but to also download shows to a local computer using a free software package called DVArchive. This, in itself, is a godsend. I can take television with me on airplanes and catch up.

Alright, now we enter into what might seem, at first, to be a non-sequiteur. Bear with me, it does relate.

WESTAF gives grants to presenters who bring performers from out of state into one of the 12 western states. We've been doing this for decades. For the past few years we've been collecting the application information online using a Web based system we designed. In the past, somebody would send in reams of paper along with video tapes and audio cassettes. Last year all the panel books were put onto tablet PCs eliminating several thousand page books. This year we're taking it one step further. Using ReplayTV we will digitize samples from many hundred applicants and then we'll use DVArchive to download the samples to the tablets. No more VCRs in our panel process.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Capturing Audio?

I'm working on a project right now which requires that I rip MP3s from old cassette tapes. I love the open source community and have made use of several software packages housed at SourceForge. Currently I'm using a fabulous piece of software called Audacity that really shines as a capture and editing tool.

Noise Cancelling Earphones

I've been travelling a lot in my job. I work for the Western States Arts Federation WESTAF as the Senior Director of Technology. We've been developing some pretty interesting new Web based software, the latest for street Art Fairs. This has had me on a fair number of airplanes.

I am on a quest for reasonably priced noise canceling headphones.

For the trip to Belgium my wife and I took recently, we bought Aiwa Noise Cancelling Headphones HP-CN6 for $50.00.

A deal if they worked well. While they did a great job of canceling noise, within two hours they made your ears hurt. Very uncomfortable.

Today I bought Sony MDR-NC11 and they are extraordinarily comfortable. We'll see how well they work with tons of airplane noise.


Over American Thanksgiving my wife and I went to Belgium for a short vacation.

Brussels by night

Brussels Grande Place

The Grande Place at night

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