Saturday, December 20, 2008

Christmas Note

Christmas is rapidly approaching, and we've chosen to share our greetings electronically. We send our best wishes for your happiness, health and peace throughout the Christmas holidays, and for 2009. We've also enjoyed holiday greetings from many of you already, and appreciate the thoughfulness and news updates. Time certainly flies by, so here's a 1-minute summary.

We're still working, we're always between trips, and we enjoy our kids and grandchildren in so many ways. Our plans for next year? More of the same. No, it's not dull. We are certainly blessed, with our lives, resources, friendships and family. There's much to give thanks for this Christmas, and we know you feel the same way. So, have a great celebration throughout the holidays, and keep the faith.

Meanwhile, we'd like to share one of our favorite places with you ... the Hawaiian Islands, through a brief slide-show (which we've also turned into a printed book via ). Just click on the URL below ... and then:
-- click the ORANGE link in center-bottom to 'View Photo Book,"
-- then click on 'SLIDE SHOW.' (Disregard the sign-in, or any commercial stuff)
-- select the icon for 'Single Page View' next to 'Options' at the top right
This 25-page album includes captions and photos from paradise. It certainly shows God's handiwork. Enjoy --- and consider the beauty of our planet wherever you are, and the need to preserve it. Best wishes for a joyous Christmas, and a very happy New Year. Hope to see you soon.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Preserve Old Photos

I recently acquired an Epson Perfection V500 Photo flatbed scanner, for use solely with slides and negative strip films, but it will also scan prints. (I already have a Canon photo print scanner ... which will scan 6 prints at a time, which is great for volume jobs.)

So ... if you're archiving family images from slides, this Epson might do the job. I intend to scan hundreds of slides I made as a kid, and later when we started our own family ... it was all slides in those days. The scan quality is SUPURB.

The Epson does a few more useful things ... ie enhances colors and over-exposed backgrounds; and automaticallly removes dust particles and scratches that get all over slides and look awful when enlarged. So, this is a time-saver, avoiding PhotoShop. The downside? Well -- I see only one ... it takes awhile to scan and enhance just four-slides at a time ... several minutes each, not seconds.

But this is a great way to archive and index old photos. A good investment at $179 on Amazon. The tech specs are: 6400 dpi for 17 x 22 inch enlargements, Digital ICE scratch/dust removal, Easy Photo Fix to restore faded colors, and a free copy of Adobe Photoshop Elements (worth $100 by itself).

Monday, July 07, 2008

Family Kayak Trip

A group of cousins and grandson spent July 4th on the water near Mercer, Wisconsin -- good times had by all.

Monday, June 02, 2008


Google has a lookup system for cellphones (I suppose any phone) ... for business lookups. Just call 1 800 466-4411 -- So, when you get connected, say to the prompt for WHICH CITY, " -- ie Shoreview, Minnesota. Then for the WHICH BUSINESS prompt: ie Radford Video Creations." It will then connect you, or you can say "Text Message" and it will send the details of the address and phone to your SMS messaging system on your cellphone as a permanent written copy. This is good stuff ... FREE and FAST. Too bad it's not for residential too. You can find this all on the web at

Monday, February 11, 2008

Camera Shoulder Rig

Here's my 'fat-and-poor-man's solution for "hand-holding" a 6-pound+ Canon High Def Camera ... frankly, it didn't work well. Camera is way too front-end heavy. Our bigger bones and muscles in the shoulder and back absorb and balance the weight of large cameras MUCH easier than lighter hand-held units. And of course ... the rigs for steady-ness are another story -- addressed by SteadiCam, Steady Tracker and Glidecam units .... I'd just like to hold the damn thing without cramps or a tripod in mobile situations.

I considered several commercial options -- from $69 to $600, and more. Then I bought this one for $69 and modified it. ... a simple PVC pipe arrangement in a Y shape (see photos) -- called a SpiderBrace at Frankly, it's totally useless for my purposes, since it had no counter-balance, and the camera is front-heavy. I added the 2.5 lb weight at the back (right), and the stick which clipped to the belt for added support.

Ultimately, I trashed the whole thing, and went to --- and bought their 'extreme' version for $350. So far so good ... great shots in motion while walking, running, spinning and dutch angles. Only problem is the weight on my weaking wrists.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Electronic Prep for Travel

We're on the road again ... the count-down has begun for final prep to go 'down under' ... 18 hours of flight, plus transfer times ... whew. The leg from LA to Auckland, NZ is 12 hrs .. then to Sydney. So, I needed some serious in-flight distractions. Enter -- the electronic toy chest. Have plenty of mags and books in the backpack. But we decided AGAINST our laptops (that's a first), since we scored free use of computer time on the cruise ship ... a major bennie at 50 cents a minute! Whew. (And anyway -- I didn't want to risk damage to the laptop, considering a client road assignment in February, where I'll convert news videos to the web.) So ... not only are we disconnected in long-flight, but I can't even spin disks. So, what's a poor travel geek to do -- assuming the inflight movies don't keep me amused?

1) MUSIC: Thumb-size iRiver MP3 player ... loaded with about 200+ songs (mostly golden oldies), selections from NPR classical concerts, and a few talk shows. Good for starters and down-time.... especially exercise workouts aboard ship. But I need more.

2) MOVIES & MANUALS: An 8-inch wide portable DVD player, which plays movies, but unfortunately not computer DVD Roms with teaching manuals. (I considered movies on my PDA, but that's too small ... and a pain to dub and load.) I really need to use this trip to study about 12+ hours of software lessons for the new Adobe CS3 Suite of authoring tools, which are on DVD-ROM. This is a formal tech course by Total Training and Adobe. THE Problem: playing a computer disk DVD-Rom, on a portable DVD movie player. Not an easy conversion, and it's allot of content -- time is critical now. Well, it so happens that I have a so-called "scan-converter" ... which takes the signal from the RGB plug going to the computer monitor, passes it thru the black-box, and back to the monitor -- diverting a 2nd signal to an S-video connection or an RCA output. So, I just hook that to a stand-alone DVD recorder, with the audio output .... and dub the courses (in real time) ... all the 12 hours of lessons from DVD-Rom disks, to common DVD movie disks, in full resolution, bypassing all the (uh, encryuption)... oops, gave away a dubbing secret. Fortunately, there isn't much interactivity. I had to be sure to neutralize the screen saver and monitor power timers... then just let it tape on LP for four hours per disk of lesson content. Yes, it's minimal quality, but small screen.

3) iPAQ PDA ... well, I need some games, Yahtzee, Sudoku, Monopoly, Casino games, etc etc.... and in a pinch, it is wireless Internet receiver, for airports, etc., and collects all the news and mail from home. Pocket-size. I shouldn't need it on the ship if I use their machines. Very small screen.

4) CAMERAS: another compromise to travel light, but must bring back 'usable' memories. For sure, the Aiptek HD camera goes with me, for videos. Granted, the audio sucks ... so the MP3 player might save the day there, with it's mic recorder for on-site narratives, if needed. I could also use the Aiptek for stills, considering it's high 8MP resolution, especially when I need a pocket camera ... like a river raft ride. BUT ... it has no zoom lens or wide angle. So ... I'm also bringing my trusted high-quality Sony F828 digital still camera, for the keepsake photos, when I have the luxury of a camera hanging around my neck... or both. It's allso 8Mp... but far superior glass and zoom, etc. Cost 10X more. I'll be leaving all the other pro video gear at home. Just not right for a cruise ... travel light.

5) CELLPHONE: decided against international expense for calls. Will send email. But I have it along anyway -- just in case, it will work most anywhere, and also connects to the web and email. Ultra-small screen. Yuuch.

So ... a few small electronic devices to save my hide on travel -- all smaller than a laptop, AND it all goes in the backpack with snacks and mags. Only hurdle is power ... batteries. All are rechargeable. And I bring spares. Yes, I'm covered for music, movies, and manuals ... to get thru long flights, news and email. When I'm not sleeping, reading, eating and of course -- being a tourist. Stay tuned for further news ... from 'down-under' on the RadBlog at: