Saturday, December 31, 2005

MP3 Players

You might find this of interest, if you have ever thought of getting an iPod for your workouts, etc. BUT also want an audio RECORDER in the same unit, AND at low cost. This is particularly attractive to event videographers.

For recreation listening, I own a small $100 MP3 player ... an economy version of the iPod, but made by Sanyo. Only a gig of memory for about 300 songs, but I don't need more as I only store my favorites... the rest are on CDs or my computer. Many MP3 players like this Sanyo have FM radio and can record voice too with a built-in mic, BUT they usually can't record with a lapel mic as they don't have a recording LINE IN connector -- until you reach the higher end ... ie $300 - $500.

Event videographers have many occassions to record multiple sources of audio only -- voice, instruments or just background ... later synch'd to the video. This requires a multi track camera or multiple mics and mixer.... or separate audio recorder. That's not always convenient when shooting on the fly. A pocket recorder is soooo much more convenient.

In the past videographers used digital mini-disk recorders from Sony. It was standard equipment for about $300, until flash memory replaced these disk units. Instead, I bought a multi-track digital audio recorder from Korg ... but its comparitively large and much more complex ... but has great recording quality and mixing features ... I'd like to sell it. Just not right for my needs.

Recently, I recorded a piano player at a reception for background music in a video, but had to use track 2 on my camera, and keep it rolling, as I forgot my Korg audio recorder. Well, an MP3 recorder would have been more convenient. Turn it on and forget it, separated from the camera... synch it up later as background music. Good for audio interviews too. Easy to use. Great digital quality, especially voice interviews for voice-overs.

Well, there is one brand still with a cheap price that has the LINE IN plug for external mics, but its being replaced by new models without this feature, so buy em' now is my advice. Its available new on eBay, and I just bought one for $69 ... (watch out for high shipping costs) ... its the iRiver model T30, but any of the 700 or 800 series will do the same thing. iRiver is a major competitor to iPod.

I really love my little Sanyo MP3 player, and will still use it for recreational listening replacing bulky CD players. Neither have LINE IN recording. So, I'll dedicate the new iRiver MP3 to audio recordings for video productions, and sell my larger Korg digital pro audio recording equipment. A nice, compact, low-cost, digital recording solution.

Saturday, September 24, 2005


Storms just seem inevitable. Some close to home, like this week's high winds and two tornados ... which felled some trees, including one down the road that split a house (left). And the snow and cold are coming, soon. Meanwhile, the Gulf Coast lives in the wake of hurricanes, year after year, and California's existence is threatened by earthquakes, even volcanoes. Nature is awesome.

How we deal with such crisis, not to mention the day to day disasters of wrecks and illness, seems to be a question we and our children must meet head-on, from a very young age. I've seen the range of emotions involved and realize each of us has a unique composure and threshold for pain, stress and aggravation. But I've also seen where two purpose-driven, intentional approaches helps: 1) advance preparations, both physical and mental, and 2) faith in God. How miuch simpler and clear can it be?

You'll notice I did't say self-confidence, which seems like a worthy candidate for coping with crisis. But in my experience, confidence just seems to be a by-product when people exercise the other two steps, and it grows on us without any extra effort. Prepared and spiritual believers tend to spew forth allot of confidence.

I was impressed with what I heard of the pilot's reaction to his faulty front wheel on the JetBlue plane that landed safely at LAX. It was said that he calmly executed the procedures amidst the storm of havoc and mechanical failure surrounding him. It was said that this crew had been well trained for such a crisis, and rehearsed every response again and again in the plane before the final approach. It was also reported that many people on the plane helped that pilot with prayer. What a powerful combination. And ultimately, it was God's will that saved them. And that is my point ...

I heard a jockular monolgue on TV addressed to GOD, following years of natural disasters: "What is it about 'God Bless America" that you don't understand? From sea to shining sea!" Well, it appears this commedian missed the fundamental concept of "...thy will be done." It is a mystery, but it is apparently not God's will to make earth predictable or perfect or even palatable for some. That is a heaven thing, we can look forward to, with faith and preparation.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Grab Shot

Periodically I see a photograph in the newspaper or a magazine that is just arresting! I clip it out and save it as an example of good lighting, or an emotional moment ... well conceived and executed, or just a great grab shot. Sometimes, I record a frame that qualifies too as one of those favorites, although I don't shoot enough stills to accumulate many candidates for a gallery. A small collection is currently at this web address. Here's an example, of a church cross that was otherwise rather mundane in the noon-day sun -- even hard to see atop the church sanctuary. But when the sun began to set, the light changed and the cross picked up a nice glow and reflections. Just one of those shots we might miss ... or see at the right time of day.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Web video Tech Tips

Some tech tips for producing flash video for the web to minimize bandwidth, improve quality.

From .... EventDV.Net

1.) limit camera movement
2.) limit background movement
3.) reduce saturation
4.) Crush the blacks and increase the lumiuence
5.) avoid stereo audio
6.) roll off the low frequencies
7.) use stills if possible
8.) Keep it short
9.) use hard cuts us dissolves, no slo-mo or soft focus effects.
10.) tight head shots vs head and shoulders.
11.) For Youtube and Myspace encode in native Flash 5 if possible.

Saturday, April 02, 2005


My wife might be right. I could be a hopeless techie. Well, 'hopeless' might be a bit strong. I have plenty of hope ... hope for more and better technology that will improve and satisfy our life. And 'techie' might be a bit strong as well, since I never really took a techie class, or was paid by a techie employer. I was a marketer, who simply took a shine to certain tech applications, and made a hobby, then a career out of a few focused apps. But, my ability to write code (assuming that is a definition for the tech) is next to zero ... a smattering of basic, java and html, networking fundamentals and digital studio skills that pass for amateur visual animator-illustrator.

But as I write this using a wireless pocket OGO from the deck of a cruise ship in the midst of the Gulf of Mexico, it occurs to me that the tech tools and toys I've carried in my backpack are a far cry from the printed maps, film canisters, notebooks, and novels that once went along on trips as 'personal companions.' Let's see now ... besides the OGO, today I'm carrying a six-pack of technology including a PDA, digital still camera that slips into a shirt pocket, a palm-size digital video camera, a thin LifeBook mini-laptop PC fully-loaded with office apps and broadband communications (plus a few games), a half-gig USB thumb drive, and an umbrella. Sorry, no iPod. The pack is also filled with trade magazines, from Info Week and Wired to Videography and Church Production. I tosssed in one no-Tech book about kayaking, as I plan to buy one soon.

So, if all that crap is the definition of a techie, I plead guilty. But ... clothes don't make the man. The fact is, I'm going thru a tech withdrawal. Days at sea ... without mail. Huumpf. (This blog is a draft until we near a port with a cell node). There's not even much to videotape out here, which is my core passion.

If that doesn't define me as a techie in pain, what's left ... well, ultimately, we get back to the real core of our being, which is original thought, the spirit of relationships and some physical conditioning. In all honesty, after a little twitching and itching for my tech tools, the lack thereof doesn't bother me too much as I find some respectable options. Walked and ran eight miles yesterday. That's good. Found a little peace with the simple environment of the sea, contemplative thoughts, and casual conversations with total strangers -- more good stuff. It's what cruising is all about. At least until we get back to port.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

FedEx Delivery Notices

Yesterday I am at the computer and I get an email saying that 5 minutes ago a FedEx was delivered ,,, Sure enough. It's at the door. Well, no matter how much of a techy I might be, it's still amazing that my email can be just about as timely as the door bell. That's really good logistics and delights the customer. At least this one. Confirming deliveries can be just as useful as advance shipping notices and order confirmations in the cycle of purchase online.... not to mention on-time delivery.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005


Sailing the Caribbean has been good for us this year ... three Winter trips, with various destinations and activities at each. Since we're in the businesses of travel (and videography), each trip adds to our level of experience and knowledge, and friends from port to port. One thing we've learned along the way is that for each traveler, there is a separate set of R&R preferences and expectations. (ie, "We never thought the art tour would be so much fun!") But what's common to most is their level of satisfaction. Excluding the rare occurrence of weather and travel interruptions, most people seem to find cruising a very positive experience, and a high value for the dollar. whether it's the popular Caribbean, Panama Canal, Hawaii, Alaska, Baltic or Mediterranean. It's hard to say which is the BEST, but for my money and time it's probably the Italy / Greece cruises, only because of the cultural, historic and gastronomic delights on that itinerary. But I would return to ANY of the others in a second ... in fact, I am writing this in the midst of the Caribbean Sea. I would add a few "must haves" for any cruise. 1) First, pick a first class cruise line that offers the right amenities for you ... ship size, meals, excursions and entertainment; 2) we like a balcony. It opens your eyes to the sea; 3) go with family, friends, office group, or focus on making new acquaintances while on tour. It's more fun traveling together, and months and years later they will help you share in the memories and extend the joys of your trip. 4) Finally, try something totally NEW while cruising that might carry over to your life at home ... ie a dance class, health spa workouts, art auction or wine tasting, cooking class, kayaking or scuba, etc. It might extend that vacation for months to come. Bon Voyage.


Some trends in technology worth watching include: by 2006 cable subscribers with digital service will outnumber those with traditional service (Veronis Suhler Stevenson); consumers already buy more DVD players than VCRs by 25 vs 7 million units (Consumer Elec. Assn); by 2007 more people will be watching digital TVs than analog ones (Forrester); sales of home theater in a box (surround sound) systems will grow 41% over the next 4 years (Consumer Elec Assn) -- nt net, the wired home is emerging in many ways, leveraging the power of the net.


As a former journalist, I couldn't help but get dragged into this debate that apparently has found its way into the courts. The topic was raised in a recent article of USA: Today at: . As tempting as it may be to agree with my conservative Minnesota neighbor who publishes the immensely popular Power Line Blog, I have to draw the line when it comes to labeling bloggers as true "journalists." For my 2 cents, sending email just ain't journalism. But, let's start with the definition ... which would include the notion that a journalistic person keeps a 'journal' -- and importantly uses that journal to pursue an occupation. This occupation therein implies a certain (but arguable) level of responsibility, trust and accountability to either an employer and/or an audience. Well, OK -- I may be on thin ice here as definitions have no end of exceptions, so let's try to keep this simple. A 'journalist' in my book has answered a vocational interest to report on life's activities as a career, AND is accountable to an employer and audience with clear professional standards and ethics, plus considerable training and skill -- therein defining it as a profession. From a purely professional perspective, the skills of such a calling are most often learned, while advancement is earned. As in any profession, achieving such attributes will normally gain peer recognition, respect and levels of reward. While a seriously committed blogger might indeed satisfy some aspect of a journalist's attributes, the reality is -- most don't. Most couldn't cut it in a newsroom. Most appear to simply be thinking out loud, rambling with very little linguistic discipline, and less training or accountability to anyone for responsible reportage. This would lessen the chance that a professional journalist or the general public would equate the casual blogger with the virtues they EXPECT of a journalist, in terms of trust and reliability, accuracy and relevance. But of course the opposing argument has some merit too ... that well-paid and trained journalists have been disloyal to the profession through irresponsible reporting -- but that's another story.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005


Have you installed Firefox yet, to replace the Internet Explorer browser?   Web-analysis app maker WebSideStory says that on Jan. 7 Mozilla's Firefox had 4.6% of the market, which was 2.6% in October... that is a rapid growth rate in two months, chipping away at MS 90+% market share!  The problems of security holes, spyware and popups, and of linkage (aka reliance) to other Microsoft programs, has plagued the user community long enough, and it's nice to see an alternative. 
I've installed Firefox .com (free), and configured it for my particular requirements.  I especially like the Smart Keywords search (type "dict<word>" in the Location bar), and the Find Bar (which finds text as you type without covering up anything.)  It works as advertised, and is a nice option to the Microsoft juggernaut.  Jim

Thursday, January 06, 2005


From San Juan, destinations are St. Maartin, Antigua, Barbados, and St. Lucia in the southern chain of islands. The ship itself is among the most magnificent -- part of RCL's Radiance class (Serenade of the Seas) .. just big enough to offer every ammenity and service, yet less crowded than the super-size voyager class, which carries about 800 more.

We devoted our time on St. Maartin entirely to scoping out the art tour for a future (Jan 29) group cruise we manage. With our guide Pamela, we visited the hilltop studio of Antoinne Chapon (a view to die for), lunch at Boo Boo Jams on the famous Orient Beach, Donnas' Gallery of French style oils, Ruby's nature island art and yummi candies, another spacious roadside gallery of island scenics, and a potter. Thisis really a fine tour for only $40 ... and not only offerse some of the most acclaimed artists, but takes us inside their cribs for an intimate visit.

On Antigua, the big attraction are the beaches .. over 360 of them, white sandy beaches and clean blue waters. We spent the day on just one, where the photography was heavenly. Weather was a big cloudy, and stayed that way as we landed on Barbados for snorkle diving, and an awesome tour of Harrison's Cave. Our night-vision infra-red Sony camera lit up the caverns and their calcium pinnacles in brilliant detail (pictures to be linked here later). And just as beautiful were the flowers in bloom at nearby Andromeda Botanical Gardens. And the final day at St. Lucy was spent on the warmth of the beach ... a sunny day with a light wind ... what more could you want in a Caribbean vacation. Back tomorrow for a day at sea, and a few more sumptuous meals, as we depart with the sounds of the steel drum band in the background of our minds. SEE OUR PICTURES AT: