The Deliverator – Wannabee

So open minded, my thoughts fell out…

Archive for January, 2005

Scanning marathon begins…

Posted by Deliverator on 22nd January 2005

Rented the LS-4000 again for the weekend and have begun scanning an even larger pile of slides than last time. I have been trying to rent the LS-5000, which is supposedly marginally faster, but it has been booked each time. The last batch of slides took ~22 hours, so even a marginally faster scanner would be nice. Still, I don’t think this batch is going to take much longer. My workflow has gotten better, partially because I have a better understanding of how the various slide types – that my grandparents used over the past 40+ years – have aged/distorted in color. I am able to nail the proper correction very quickly, without having to rerun the preview scan multiple times. I have also brought down multisampling to 2 (I used a setting of 4 last time) as it didn’t seem to make a big enough difference in quality to justify the additional scan time.

Posted in General, Photography, Tech Stuff | No Comments »

A sigh of relief…until next weekend

Posted by Deliverator on 19th January 2005

Just finished up the first part of a massive scannning project. A couple weeks ago, my grandmother discovered a huge box of slides (most 20-50 years old) while cleaning out some closets. There are some real gems in the bunch, and thankfully, most of the slides were created using the Kodachrome process, which is one of the best slide formats for long term archival. Still, it was obvious on first inspection that some of the slides had undergone some pretty bad color shifting and damage due to dust and scratches and environmental storage factors. I suggested to my grandmother that we could scan all the slides, correct the damage and have a permanent, unchanging archival copy of all the best and most sentimental family pictures. She and I spent an evening sorting through the slides and picked out the best of the bunch. The following Friday, we went to Glazer’s Camera and rented a Nikon LS-4000 slide scanner. Glazers has a deal where if you rent something after 3 pm on Friday and get it back before 10 am the following Monday, you can have it for the whole weekend at the daily rental price. I ended up spending ~22 hours last weekend doing nothing but scanning and color correction and managed to get 131 images processed before having to return the scanner. I will have to rent the scanner for at least one more weekend to get the rest scanned. All in all, it took me somewhere around 30 hours to sort through, scan, color correct, crop, restore, batch convert the images into several different formats/resolutions and lastly, create a slideshow DVD with chapters. My guess is I will have at least a few more hours of work getting the ~10 GB of data created thus far backed up to multiple sets of data dvds and getting them into our safe deposit box and getting the data sheduled for automatic backup to at least 3 hard-drives on my network. I have been kinda sick and tired this last week with a cough that won’t go away and this project has worn me down further, but I really want to get it finished. Come this Friday, I am renting the scanner again and am going to try to finish off the remaining pile.

Once more into the breach, dear friends, once more…

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reflecting pools

Posted by Deliverator on 16th January 2005

I stayed up till near dawn to finish reading “The Etched City” by first time novelist K.J. Bishop . My head is still reeling, although still firmly attached to my neck (if only, just). The Etched City starts off as an otherworldly western, but just when you think you have the basis for the story, the plot changes venue and you find out that the story was all prologue to something much grittier, stranger, darker and haunting than you imagined. As the story progresses, the world takes on layers of rational complexity and mythic uncertainty. It is really difficult for me to classify the genre of “The Ethced City.” In the last few years, after having encountered the works of authors like Neil Gaiman and China Mieville, I have begun to feel that there is a new genre of literature is emerging. As yet nameless, this new genre blends the fantastic and horrific (in the victorian sense) together with equal ease, adds a generous dash of myth and plops it all down in a cityscape that is both familiar and alien. A suitable, although inadequate title for this new genre might “The Urban Epic Myth.” Trying to balance as many (often contradictory) themes would play hell with and most likely crush the confidence of the most seasoned authors, to see it done by such a newly forged wordsmith for page after page with such apparent ease was one of the greatest pleasures I have had in bed in quite a while! ;)

Bishop displays such utter mastery of the english language in describing characters, places, thoughts, etc. that it leaves you sincerely wondering what she will do next to top herself. Whatever it is, I eagerly look forward to reading it.

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Another reason to host your own blog…

Posted by Deliverator on 14th January 2005

Livejournal, one of the biggest providers of free blog services, has suffered a power outage. They are now in the process of rebooting and restarting/synchronizing services on over 100 servers. This process may very well take several days, and for a site of Livejournal’s size, this is a huge blow in prestige. I have worked in several mission-critical live site data centers (MSN and Office) and know the sort of shit that must be flying right about now…

Our data center (Internap, the same one we’ve been at for many years) lost all its power, including redundant backup power, for some unknown reason. (unknown to me, at least) We’re currently dealing with bringing our 100+ servers back online. Not fun. We’re not happy about this. Sorry… :-/ More details later.

Update #1, 7:35 pm PST: we have power again, and we’re working to assess the state of the databases. The worst thing we could do right now is rush the site up in an unreliable state. We’re checking all the hardware and data, making sure everything’s consistent. Where it’s not, we’ll be restoring from recent backups and replaying all the changes since that time, to get to the current point in time, but in good shape. We’ll be providing more technical details later, for those curious, on the power failure (when we learn more), the database details, and the recovery process. For now, please be patient. We’ll be working all weekend on this if we have to.

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Of Sliders and Slides

Posted by Deliverator on 13th January 2005

I have been making a number of trips to the airport this week and it has really thrown my schedule for a loop. I got up at 3:30 this morning to drop my dad at the airport and two days before I got up at 7 to drop Jason at the airport. My natural tendency is to go to sleep at around 3:30, so these trips really did a number on my system. Before leaving, Jason and I had a chance to watch “Harold and Kumar go to White Castle.” This is one of the funniest movies in recent years, imo. The movie chronicles the misadventures of two ethnicly endowed buddies as they attempt to satisfy their massive hankering for White Castle hamburgers (known as sliders, for what they do to your digestive system) after getting stoned. Harold and Kumar has some great and memorable comedic scenes (The whole bit with Neal Patrick Harris was great, as was the jailbreak scene). I could have done without some of the lowbrow humor (battleshits and the boil covered toe truck driver come to mind). At times, Harold and Kumar seems like a smartly written movie that is intentionally trying to be dumb. I would have loved more of the subtle racial humor that I feel was the movies strongest selling point.

In other news, I have spent the last few days sorting through dozens of boxes of my grandmother’s slides in preperation for a weekend scan-fest. I am renting a Nikon LS-4000 slide scanner from Glazer’s Camera this weekend. I have rented this scanner twice before. It costs $45/day to rent, but If you rent it late on Friday, you get to keep it for the whole weekend. I have contemplated buying one used on Ebay, but can’t really justify the expense for the ammount that I would use it. Anyways, the LS-4000/5000 is a very nice slide/negative scanner that is still among the best on the market. One of its defining features that set it apart from consumer level scanners is a technology called “digital ice” that helps correct problems relating to dust/scratches. The scanner uses an infrared scanning element to detect the presence of dust and can then switch to an alternative scanning mode in those regions. It will also interpolate missing pixels to fill in scratches. It is amazing to see the beautiful scans that can result from slides that look aweful to the naked eye.

Posted in General, Media, Movies, Photography | No Comments »

Circling the drain

Posted by Deliverator on 11th January 2005

I have maintained a 6 gallon “Eclipse” freshwater fishtank for quite a few years. When I was growing up in Minnesota, my brother and I had a 20-30 gallon tank that we filled with misc. creatures/fish caught in the creek across the street. Given our inexperience and general lack of responsibiliy, I am surprised at how well that tank managed. What I have come to realize is that larger tanks are much easier to keep in a state of homeostasis. I have wanted to move to something larger for quite a while, and the hell I went through last night has provided the impetus. My tank had been getting rather nasty looking (although not bad for the fish) in recent months, with lots of particulate nastyness working itself into the gravel and a marked increase in algae blooms. I have tried to manage problems in my tanks through non-chemical means. For example, I have tried to keep algae down through the use of algae eating fish & snails, scrubbing of tank walls, limiting sunlight and limiting food sources.

Over the last month of so, I have been attempting to get my tank visually looking better, while trying to not impact water quality. I have been changing out 1/3rd of the tank water on a weekly basis, stirring up the gravel to get the particulate muck back into the water where it could be dealt with by the filters, scrubbing the tank sides and replacing the filter more often than usual. The tank was finally looking good last night, except for two volcanic, algae covered rocks. I took the rocks out of the tank and soaked them in bleach for a few hours to clear off the algae. I rinsed the rocks off thoroughly, then let them soak in a basin of hot, fresh water for a 15-20 minutes. I then dumped the water, refilled and repeated the sequence a number of times. I was satisfied that I had got the bulk of the bleach off the rocks, but boy was I ever wrong. I placed the rocks back in my tank and within an hour my beautiful Angelfish was showing signs of acute distress. My guess is the rocks were porous enough to trap some bleach inside. I got the rocks out of the tank right away and used some chlorine neutralizer. I transplanted the Angelfish to a 2 gallon tank, but I fear the damage is done. The fish is lethargic and is having difficulty maintaining its position. My guess is that it will be floating at the top of the tank by the time I get home. The good news is that the other, smaller fish in the tank appear to be doing fine.

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Pear PC Tweakage

Posted by Deliverator on 9th January 2005

I spent some time today tweaking Pear PC and OS-X for performance. Here are some tips for those of you who might be fooling around with it:

  1. Set available ram to something obscene like 1.5 GB in the Pear PC config file and then disable the page file within OS-X. This places all the burden of memory management on the HOST pc, vs the emulated machine that is operating at 1/15th of normal speed.
  2. Disable real-time virus scanning on HOST.
  3. After starting Pear PC, go into task manager and change Pear PC’s process priority to “High” or “Realtime.” This will greatly improve Pear PC’s responsiveness, but make sure you have nothing resource hungry running on the HOST machine, or your system could become unstable.
  4. Disable Aqua and other visually intense OS-X elements for a good size speedup. The video.x driver is still pretty minimal at this point and only emulates a 2 MB PCI graphics card. Many of the graphical bugs that some people experience (like all black color palettes in photoshop) are likely problems with this graphics driver.

Anyways, I hope you all are having fun with PPC (I know there are at least a few). If you need help, I am happy to lend you my config file or a disk image of my OS-X installation to get you started.

Posted in General, Tech Stuff | 2 Comments »

CVS is your friend

Posted by Deliverator on 8th January 2005

Well, after much tweaking and consulting of forums, I got OS-X panther up and running in Pear PC. I was even able to get network and samba support going, so moving data back and forth between the client os (OS-X) and the host (XP) should be much easier.

I spent a good ammount of time creating a win32 build environment to compile a newer version of Pear PC for the source CVS (The release version on the official page is rather old and lacking in some key features). After spending a great deal of time doing this, I found out that Richard Goodwin has a site hosting precompiled nightly win32 builds. I downloaded the latest one from the .4-pre SDL tree this evening and have been playing around with it.

The new build is definitely a lot snappier than the official release and has added some MUCH needed features, like native cd-rom support! The official release only supports .iso files and doesn’t have any obvious way of switching out .iso files during run-time. This makes it very difficult to install any software that ships on more than 1 cd (like OS-X itself).

OS-X, not just for Macs anymore....

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I always knew that operating systems were fruity

Posted by Deliverator on 7th January 2005

I have been playing with Pear PC for the last few days. For those of you who aren’t in the know, or are too lazy to click a link, Pear PC is the most promising attempt at emulating the Power PC hardware platform, to date. There have been other MAC emulators, such as SheepShaver and Basilisk II, but Pear PC is the first emulator capable of running OS-X. Pear PC is available for both Linux and Windows (although the Windows version lacks a few features) and is capable of running OS-X, Darwin and various types of PPC Linux. I have already installed Darwin and am working on an OS-X Panther install, right now.

Cross your fingers

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Gunsmoke – The Cure for the Common Sanity

Posted by Deliverator on 6th January 2005

Today was my first day of class at BCC this semester. This semester I am taking Video 210 – Video Editing and Streaming. Unlike last semester’s class, which had a lot video production elements to it, this semester is almost entirely editing. Our first assigment is to take raw footage for a gunsmoke episode and turn it into a tigthly edited sequence suitable for broadcast. We watched the raw footage and three edited versions in class. I was very impressed with some of the editing. It will definitely take me quite a while to piece together something of comparable quality. I just know that Gunsmoke will drive me nuts (or more nuts) by the end of the semester.

I really need to find myself a Mac, or I will be living at BCC this semester.

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