A journal of questionable quality

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Monday does good..

camera arrives
How cool is that then? We won a camera in the first yellowarrow competition. An Olympus FE-110. Smart looking little thing it is too. Stunning. How lucky was that? Thank you everyone at yellowarrow.

Made it a rather special Monday. The day had been shaping up to be one of those ones that you really feel uninclined to have. Overcast. Threatening rain - unpredictable wind, all conspire to veto any buggying. Unable to anyway - waiting for stitches to come out. Not a good time to add a harness across the stomach. Did it once before. Once.

Cameras lead to movies (yes, it does take little movies), movies to Premiere, looking at a repeat of Friday. Mini movies all over the place.

But, no, we manage to skip past web movies, accidentally burning a CD to some obscure format that I've never had anything to do with before.

Two actually. One - VCD, apparently unpopular. And, miniDVD, unpopular as well. Not with me they're not. I had been looking at a way to run a bit of .vob content on a CD, a conversion utility of some sort, but was loath to add yet more software to this thing, especially as most of these things are one off projects, which I move on from anyway.

Naturally the entire thing got out of control when I found I could output to home DVD players and have people view them on their television. Why did I not have any interest in this before? Who knows. It obviously didn't do too much for me the first time around.

Now we have plans for an arrow project involving Google Maps, CD's, DVD's, with the inclusion, obviously, of video shots of the areas involved..

And so it goes on, as it always does. My head gets full again. Copious notes. How to involve all of these wonderful toys all at once. There should be upper limits on the amount of things I will try and combine..

So, essentially the upshot of getting a new camera in the post is that I can produce moving images for any device whatsoever, including, I am told, the Playstation, although we are unable to confirm that due to the Playstation being fried.


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That was the weekend.

maps and video pass the time
We will never be drought free. It may, however, rain just enough to keep the ground uncomfortably wet. Providing humidity usually dissipated by massive afternoon storms. A lack of breeze completes the trifecta of negatives when applied to buggying.

Buggying wasn't on the agenda anyway, we're still sporting stitches, but it 'might' have been an available entertainment option. Swimming's out. Don't need to blow this lot of stitches, remove them too soon like the leg incident and stagger about with a hole oozing some hideous stuff for weeks on end.

Time for a bit of self education. Maps should keep me amused until the weather breaks, or my stitches are out, or both. Finally figure how to add the textual markers to the map, after misreading the directions on Google's site and spending an hour wading about in javascript that made no sense at all.

Check out the final product here.

The question is - can we add mini video output to the little text box? We already know they can carry an image, but??

Mini video because of the phone naturally. Now we are in to phone video too. The move to digital almost complete - all this because of a digital camera.

the weekend haul
Launched yellowarrow yw-80rug into the wild. Off the Jindalee bridge The event captured here. Easy enough to see we had been at work just prior. The theory with the arrow is that, someone will find the bottle, resplendent in it's yellow livery, and liberate the arrow within, read the directions and become part of the project.

Went and had a closer look at the other buildings in the disused mental hospital complex - somewhat older than the prison one down the road. Check this for a scene that looks like it's straight out of a concentration camp:

The bathroom for them that needed 'assistance'. We had overlooked that set of buildings because of their proximity to the main road, but it seems the ghost and horror stories that abound about the place have kept most everybody out. That and the 'institution' smell.

Expect this building to feature in upcoming yellowarrows. I think we may have to include a 'hunt' in one of these places as well. People need to have a look at some of the cells. Stunning stuff.

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Friday, February 24, 2006

yellowarrow - the movie

Google Video wins. With the new 'add to site' option I can pull it straight in to the site, or, as you can see, the blog.

Off the road again, explained more fully here, leaves me with too much time on my hands, far too much time.

Spent it messing with the new Premiere Pro. A mighty application. Somewhat too big, arriving as a 1Gb + package, but that seems to be the way of all of them now. It's good, I must admit. I have to say that because I'm on a PC, and what else are you going to use anyway?

Yellowarrow being the current fixation, the first Premiere output naturally features just that.

Of particular note is the fact that I simply used the little Canon PowerShot to grab this, something that has caused it to become a suddenly popular little tool.

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What is this house about?

Mystery house - the redux
Mentioned a while ago on yellowarrow, but perhaps not here, the mystery house seems to be keeping it's secrets.

Why is this house abandoned? Is there some juicy history? A mass murder that I should know about?


For a wider look click here.

It looks like a reasonable house, maybe '70's vintage, doesn't seem to have suffered any structural damage.

What gives?

Photos of the interior would be rewarded with... very little.

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Thursday, February 23, 2006

Google video test

This is the big one - the great Google Video test.



Now, does it happen? Of course it does.
Let it be known the video revolution started with rapid walk through of the house.



Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Arrival of a postcard..

the mail still functions

Cross posted on [ propagandafactory ] as well. (Because I can.)

In amongst all this technology, computers wired for everything, streaming sound and vision at the speed of thought - faster in my case - the thing that stands out about today is that I got a postcard in the mail.

Not just any postcard, but the yellowarrow postcard. A simple postcard let loose in the mail system by a fellow currently in Miami. It eventually arrived at yellowarrow HQ in New York, from where it was dispatched to finally arrive here, at the other end of the World, right around the planet.

Tomorrow it gets back in the post and heads to Germany, to a fellow 'arrower' there, for her to send on to someone else. And so it will go on, around the World, involving itself with other people, different cultures, different languages. But it will still be handwritten. There will be no delete button.

Stunning. Simple. Elegant. A solution to communication problems. Write a letter. Get personal. I always believed that a handwritten letter managed to communicate a bit more than the written message. It contained a bit of the sender, a bit of their mood, surroundings, something. I still believe it.

In the midst of our daily madness, the satellite mapping dramas, conquering the embedding of video, planning other yellowarrow campaigns, all electronically involved, the appearance of Yvonne at the door with a postcard in her hand was a major call to slow down enough to appreciate life.

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Tuesday, February 21, 2006

The great maps test

Below - what do we see?
A suspicious looking satellite image.

The location of the yellowarrow hunt.


Courtesy of Google we have the layout for the CD & arrow hunt mentioned in this post. This time instead of two maps to worry about the entry point and target are combined.

Get to it, find the CD/DVD, and the attached arrow and get it out there.

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Friday, February 17, 2006

Video tests

The video test:

Looks like it works. It's the Dolce and Gabbana wallpaper and the yellowarrow.



Thursday, February 16, 2006

the ups and downs of the day

she hasn't been well for some time
Ailing. Creaking and buzzing into 2006. Seemed to be always going. Such is the beginning of the end for the refrigerator. It took, recently, to emitting a bad electrical smell and then shutting down, probably from excessive heat, for a time them battling, wheezing, groaning, back into life.

We had hoped it might give us service for another six months. We probably hoped that six months ago too. It didn't make it.

Today the refrigerator died. The clue was my sudden disconnection from the internet. No screen. No noise. No fan. No power.

Conclusion: If the lights are on, but the appliances are not functioning we are not in a power outage. We are in a power diminished state. And the cause of that will have to be; the fridge.

Ring Yvonne - out shopping for two weeks of food, a lot of it frozen.

'Do not bring frozen things here', was the suggestion, 'go buy another fridge'.

Some hours later, after an insane delivery method that involved a morbidly obese couple who had no idea how to handle a fridge, nor any inclination to learn, we have a new fridge. A new bigger fridge. The news is good - apparently. The debt overhead is huge, but the downside is melting food.

but, we win a camera
Looking for something to brighten a fridge affected day, looking for anything not involved in cooling produce, anything at all, the inbound email advises that we have won the yellowarrow, 'My City Is..' competition. Brilliant news.

The prize? A digital camera. No kidding, we managed, by plain good luck, to win a camera.

Stunned. Amazed. And happy. A better outcome for a day that began with the loss of a fridge.

The end of the 'My City Is..' competition does not spell the end of the project, obviously, so we have many more arrows to place, many more. Many more projects to take part in, many more geo-indent exercises to plan, and with the help of the mighty Google Maps put into action.

The day begins picking up.

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Wednesday, February 15, 2006

If you go down in the woods today...

Ok, let's play a game:

If you're in Brisbane go to these coordinates indicated here on Google Maps (remember to print the image out - you will need it to refer to) and under the shaded seating area you will find a DVD and an arrow (Hint: look up when you find the shaded area.)

Take them both with you. Play the DVD for the background of the yellowarrow project, and the instructions on what to do with the enclosed arrow.

Now, be prepared, this is not an easy task. The target is inside an abandoned prison. You cannot access the building through the front door, your easiest access is by entering from the courtyard indicated on this map here , or the door indicated by the arrow on the fence post.

You must be careful. You must not remove any police tape. You may feel more comfortable with a torch inside the building. Remember, you are at a location set between two prisons and a mental institution. Exercise caution.

If you get there and find no DVD or arrow, text me via yellowarrow and I will check the location myself. If it's not there I will place another one some place else.

Now, how good are you?

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Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Speedo strike again

equipment failure - speedo style
Looks like they may have cast a curse on me. Speedo® that is. Probably about to be struck by a lightning bolt anytime now - the sky looks dark enough for it.

A week ago, maybe longer, who cares, I mentioned in detail the unexplained and rapid passing of a pair of Speedo® swimming togsunfortunatelyly named 'endurance'. Endurance was not something they were going to be known for - more the lack of endurance which resulted in the demise of the entire rear seam, something that was unexpected, right up there with surprising, possibly even a bit of a shock.

We got over the incident (well, actually I didn't, and will continue to bad mouth Speedo® every chance I get) by having the offending seam sewn by someone possessing more skill than the Speedo® production staff, and we are now in possession of them again.

the latest
Now, because I must be foolish in the very extreme, I happened to feel the need to own a new pair of goggles. Not a space suit or anything technical, just some goggles that I might use to stop my eyes being burned out of my head by chlorine.

Speedo® Radius. That was the choice. Why Speedo®? Probably because I thought that they would simply be unable to produce a pair of goggles that failed. Basically a stamped out item, nothing to go wrong. Speedo® Radius. Remember the name, remember the model.

Speedo® Radius are reputed to be a 'fog free' goggle. They claim that on the packaging. Good looking things they are too. For a minute there I thought they might even survive an encounter with water. Speedo® Radius - I dare you. Speedo® Radius - anti UV (I swim indoor but you get tired of looking for clear ones), and anti fog.

First time in the pool and these babies are brilliant. I have a field of vision so wide I think I'm at Imax. They fit, they don't leak. I can see through them.

until they start to fog up
Not being one to panic, and getting into some heavy breathing laps, I figure they need a rest perhaps, because I know I do.

Next day - one lap in, and these things are fogging up again. Waiting for the anti fog to boot in. Nothing happening. Remembering that the instructions insisted I not touch the 'anti fog coating' I remove fogged item and wait with them, like an expectant father, poolside, giving them time to do the business of 'de fogging'.

Never happened. Never will happen. I've tried swilling them around in the pool to clear the fog, getting almost a lap before I can't see. I've even consulted people about it to no avail because everyone (besides me) already knows that there is no such thing in Speedo's range.

what you are supposed to do
You are required, when confronted with the problem of fogging in a brand new pair of goggles, to get your arse down to the local pool store and invest in some antifog spray which will set you back about half the cost of a really good pair of goggles. A pair of antifog goggles. Then you area required to haul to a halt when you get foggy and apply the spray to the inside of the product so that they become 'unfogged' again.

The way mine went I would have had to carry the bottle with me and apply it at both ends of the pool. Carry it with me in my newly repaired swim shorts, presumably after having a pocket sewn into them for the purpose.

the conclusion
What do you do to a company that has managed to bite you twice - not once, twice. Twice starts to look deliberate. Twice and things are getting silly.

The only thing you need to remember if you are thinking of swimming - anywhere, is Nike®.

Anything but Speedo®.

You may argue and I will agree, that they are all made in the same place, all made by the same people, but as much as I loath Nike, they have never presented me with a product that failed to deliver. Never. I hate saying that but it is the case.

I have another pair of goggles. Being an obsessive I have several pairs of goggles. All lined up ready for the antifog test.

Speedo® wasn't invited.

I've had to erect posters at my local pools advising of the dangers of using Speedo® equipment. People seem to agree.

Speedo® can't do it for you anymore. They probably never could, we just got used to it.

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Monday, February 06, 2006

Lurching into another week

monday blues
Fooling with a tiny Canon digital that set off a domino type reaction concerning video, web video, in my brain last week has now progressed to the 'you're spending too much time on this' department, after a distracted weekend. Notes litter the car, notes all over the bathroom, writing on arms - all a sign of a dangerous relationship developing between me and video equipment. Unhealthy, even for me.

The decision was to begin the week on a more 'positive' way by staggering down to the pool to burn off the weekend hangover. Not the type you people suffer from - I gave up drinking years ago - just the standard 'I worked on the weekend and now I feel average' type hangover.

Run a bit of water through my brains, clean the video explosion out.

60 laps - 3klms later, obsessing madly about what I have decided may be a faulty freestyle stroke, running for an expert - in my case anyone who can swim without sinking - getting stroke adjusted, my mind finally falls free of the 'video revolution', much to everyone's relief (including mine).

Leaving the gym I am pleased to note the wind in the correct sector - North/North East - for kite buggying, making Tuesday a potentially decent day as well - shaping up nicely.

Back home, showered and back in the chair, the day can officially begin. Uploaded a new arrow. After noticing that Brisbane's two premier, but competing FM radio stations share the same building precinct, not to mention the same owner, I figured on bringing attention to the fact via the yellowarrow network. A job completed.

update overload
The trouble begins, as it always does, with software. And, the reason that software causes the trouble is that I keep looking at software sites, unconvinced, as I remain, that I have the latest and greatest of everything - something that keeps us rather poor, but with a serious tax deduction status.

We don't have the latest. I stumbled across this news today. Naturally, now that the entire World has taken on a video slant, I find that I am one model behind on Premiere and After Effects. Disaster. Wallowing in self pity. Reaching for credit cards. Trying, really trying, to convince myself that they are not required.

But, they are.

What really pisses me about updates and new versions, is the sheer size that they are coming at - what happened, just because we all have a bit more disc space you software people have to set out to use it for us? Just because I have a Gig of RAM doesn't mean you have to find a way for your bloody programs to use it.

Amazing. Breathtakingly arrogant. Especially the major software houses.

But, I couldn't help but note that the monster of all software, Adobe, with their new acquisition of Macromedia, have managed to incorporate a few vital things in Premiere 2, including the option of outputting to .FLV, which is where the video obsession started...

And, After Effects, Photoshop for motion graphics, is a must have at any time.

Deal done. Hmmm, deal about to be done - I have a new resolution to sit quietly for 24 hours before I race out and throw money at stuff - it's something to do with living the life of a normal mortal.

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Thursday, February 02, 2006

Video and other distractions

Fresh from the speedo drama
Having emailed Speedo worldwide, inviting them to comment on my recent 'incident', then posting the same content in as many forums as I could find left me feeling better, but looking for distraction.

Buggying, sadly out for the day - now turning into the entire week as the weather systems manage to turn everything on it's head. Something to do with a recent 'almost' cyclone that has been taking it's time to move away from the coast. I may have made that up. Whatever the reason the fact remains that the wind is blowing 180 degrees from where I want it.

Swimming 2.5 klm yesterday on the newest of the new Speedos means I am a bit muscle tight to do the same thing today. I also figure I managed to get away without splitting the arse out of the new ones for one day - might be pushing to expect them to hold together for two days - rather hang out for the original pair getting resewn and strengthened. Seems a safer option.

That left a day of fooling with toys. Not an unpleasant way to go after all. Put up another yellowarrow from last nights cruise through the city. It turned out not bad considering I did a quick handheld pop.

While fiddling with the little Canon - the thing I'm still surprised by, the baby 'Powershot A520' for them that need to know, I stumbled across the video making setting - something that had slipped my mind. I have been a bit wary of video since the experiment with the web cam made me look like a furry beetroot. This little camera makes some reasonable video - if you're looking for a quick few seconds here and there it seems to be able to cope.

The results, pumped through the Flash Video converter, coming out as a .FLV file look pretty reasonable - sparking an idea for the refresh of the site - maybe video menu systems - in ubiquitous Flash? Seems it would be easy enough to put the hotspots in, have the thing driven that way, meanwhile...

..I veered off badly
and begun looking for the exact locations for a few of the arrows, some we intend to make another, local project, out of using GPS coordinates as well as arrows and images. The more you investigate things the more possibilities come racing to the fore, usually causing enough distraction to make me forget what I started with. Happens all the time. I'm OCD, apparently it's normal for me to do that.

Seems, if you follow my reasoning, that there would be no impediment to having the entire 'treasure hunt' (there will be a better word) use all of the technologies: Google Maps, yellowarrows, as well as audio and visual stuff, naturally starring me, delivered via the web, or some sort of geo-caching involving CD's / DVD's...

All this because of the weather and a suspect pair of Speedos?

On the subject of coordinates

Why is this house abandoned? Is there some juicy history? A mass murder that I should know about? It looks like a reasonable house, maybe '70's vintage, doesn't seem to have suffered any structural damage. What gives?

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