Saturday Night: A Photo Essay

saturday night redux
No one is admitting to finishing the chips.

Please note: This post has been modified since its initial inclusion on the site.  In the place where there now appears a lovely artist’s rendering, there used to be a photograph.  One of the subjects of that photograph complained – I’m not saying which of the two individuals depicted it was – but, in order to keep the peace, I have taken down the offending photograph and replaced it with the sketch above.  In order to understand the balance of this post, just replace the line sketch in your mind with an incredibly crisply focussed photograph.

I love this photo for two reasons:  one, it tells the whole story of Saturday night just before dinner (at least ’round these parts);  and two, it was taken using no flash, a tripod, and a whopping twenty second exposure.  That tells you everything you need to know about the amount of movement that was going on around here in the hour or two just prior to Canada’s semi-final meeting with the Russians in the World Junior Hockey Tournament (a game which Canada ultimately won 6-5, but only barely – in a shootout, after tying the score with 5.4 seconds remaining in the third period).

Technical Note: Over the last couple of days, I’ve had occasion to visit this site with a number of different browsers – I generally use Firefox (v. 3.0.5) on The Digital Overlord, but Spouse’s new HP notebook has a Vista-friendly version of IE Explorer and Spouse’s other new toy, an iPod touch, uses a version of Safari to access the ‘Net.  I have noticed with both of these devices that – at times, anyway – photo captions entered seem not to be handled very elegantly, or at all.

I’d be grateful if anyone visiting the site would let me know – in the comments below – what type of browser they’re using, and whether the caption on the above photo came out as planned:  the picture itself should be centred in the middle column, with a brief caption centred below the picture.

Sony DCR-HC26 Video Capture Problem

sony_dcr_hc26_camcorder Once I finished the cabinets up yesterday afternoon, I transitioned from “handyman” to “geek” mode and started working on a little video for the charity event Spouse and I are helping to organize; it’s essentially a commercial for the event that I’m going to put up on YouTube.

I spent the late/afternoon and early evening shooting the footage I needed (it’s not complicated, believe me, and the “actors” are compliant enough types – little plastic figurines from the Homestar Runner series of web-toons).

That part of the “shoot” was easy and fun enough;  I had rigged up the workshop like a little studio, complete with a bristol-board background that I hope will do service as a (very low) budget “green screen” for some fun chroma key effects (superimposing the “actors” on a couple of amusing stock photos, etc.).

After dinner, I headed upstairs and connected my Sony DCR-HC26 to the computer to “capture” the footage I’d shot into my video editing suite of choice.  I have captured video successfully from this exact camera (using this very same cable) many times before without any appreciable difficulty, but on this occasion (probably because I’m working toward a deadline), the technical ghosts and goblins ran rampant over me.

Historically, I have connected the camera to my computer through an IEEE-1394 compliant, “Firewire” type cable.  The cable has the smaller “4 pin” connector at the end that attaches to the camera, and the normal size “6 pin” connector at the end that plugs in to the computer’s IEEE-1394 port.  Video capture has been smooth, fast and reliable, with few (if any) dropped frames.  Typically, with my video capture software package already running (and waiting expectantly for a “capture device” to be connected), I plug the cable in to the camera first, place the camera atop the desktop machine (it’s just a convenient surface to rest the camera on while capturing), then connect the cable to the computer.  Finally, I power up the camera and within a matter of seconds, Windows usually detects the camera, loads the necessary drivers and I’m good to go.

The silence was deafening.

HIR:tb is back, after a brief but spirited match with an ambitious and highly mischievious bunch of technical gremlins.   For the past couple of days, anyone attempting to access the site either got an error message (early in the Crisis); a blank browser page with a cryptic message in the title (late yesterday, my way of trying to tell you I’m aware of the problem and trying to make fix it up all better now); or a more explicit message (complete with animated graphic!)  that was basically the equivalent of one of those Please Stand By test cards that the local UHF station would put up whenever drunk Uncle Billy showed up and tripped over the cables in the control room  at channel 77.

The source of the difficulty was an attempt at upgrading the software that functions as this blog’s engine:  wordpress.  I am not kvetching, complaining or whining here (seriously – wordpress is freeware and I applaud the efforts of all those out there who spend their spare time tinkering away with code to permit dummies like me to have fun with things like this blog), but by way of explanation to those wondering what was going on around here in the technical department, suffice to say that there are challenges involved in maintaining the nuts and bolts of this site, which lives on a server.  Ever had a problem with your own computer when you installed a new piece of software or updated an existing program?  This was the same idea, except that to accomplish the update, I had to start monkeying around with the files on the server via FTP (instead of just double clicking on an installer program like you might use in Windows) and generally doing things about which I had only a very limited and vague technical understanding.  I was armed with a set of instructions from the WordPress site, but the said instructions are woefully overmatched by the task at hand, in view of the depth and breadth of my ignorance.  As a rough analogy, it was much like a simple cobbler setting out to perform an appendectomy, having reference only to the following medical diagram:

cavityAnyway, at last, our electrical nightmare is over and I can resume the important business of musing about John Ferguson Jr.’s successor, complaining about the commercials aired during football telecasts and generally thinking (metaphorically) out loud.

The interesting thing, though, is that I missed you!  You, my Internet friends who write to tell me that you saw my blather and chose to read it.  

My apologies for the brief interruption of our social intercourse. 

I couldn’t help noticing that the WordPress site indicates that there is yet another update that I need to do – a security patch to the upgraded software I just managed to beat into some semblance of obedient submission.  I think I will wait until the weekend to give that one a shot – I don’t think I’ve got a good butterfly-ectomy in me right now.

Remember what SNAFU means?

Bear with us here at HIRTB for a couple of days. There is a situation that has developed with the HTML code in the wordpress theme that used to control the manner in which this site is presented. This “situation” developed when I got a little bored at half time of the Pats-Bolts game and began trying to “improve” the site.

The HIRTB tech department is on it, but let’s face it, the HIRTB tech department essentially consists almost entirely of half-wits, bumblers, fuck-ups and losers, so the time line on that fix may be a little flexible.

To resolve the difficulty temporarily, I have installed a completely new theme. Feel free to rant and/or rave about it in the comments section. As always, both pointing and laughing are allowed, just not at the same time.