PapaJohn Productions

Newsletter #177 - Nov 24, 2007
Personal Database
 

 
It's getting to that time of year... when you reflect on things gone by, enjoy the holidays, and plan the next series of events.
 
The usual batch of New Year's resolutions includes keeping better records about your ever-growing piles of information such as pictures and video/audio clips, cleaning up your computer, and doing things better next year. One of the things I've wanted to do, but never got around to it, was to actually show my personal database in action. Databases are pretty boring and dry to chat about. Reading about it isn't sufficient, no more than seeing a storyboard is as good as viewing a movie. But when seeing it in action, my experience is that over half of those who see it whip out the $10 to buy a copy on the spot.
 
It's been almost a year and half since TechSmith offered a copy of Camtasia to Microsoft MVPs... it has taken that long for me to start putting it to great use.
 
This will be a really short newsletter. Most of my preparation went into making a 9 minute screen-capture video... Click this image to see it.
 
Database
 
I offer a free copy of the database to current newsletter subscribers, but you have to send an email and ask for the copy. I sell it for $10 to others.
 
The zipped file I'll email is less than a MB. It contains an executable, 2 DLLs, 3 starter data files, and a starter backup batch file. My website's Manage Your Files > Personal Database page has tutorial-like info about using it. Make a folder and unzip the files into it. There's no setup needed, just open the executable and start entering info.
 
It runs fine on either XP or Vista. I run it from a thumb drive that goes where I do, and back up the data files to 5 or 6 of our networked computers.
 
It's multi-user network compatible. You can put it on a server and open it from as many computers as you want, and open multiple copies. It won't let you conflict with each other.
 

 
Here are...

 
a few usual notes...
 

 
Notes...
 

Thanksgiving was great! As usual there was lots of company and love, and too much to eat. On the techie fronts, my kids and grandkids help me stay up with developments.

 

Our son Stephen upgraded our Tivo to a 282 hour unit. It's a version 2 box that came with a 40 GB hard drive. By swapping it out with a standard 250 GB Western Digital internal hard drive. The process required:

  • getting a special star screw driver to take the case apart to get to the hard drive
  • downloading a special open source Tivo upgrade software package and burning it to a CD
  • using my Vista Ultimate system... not for the operating system... just to use its processing features... unplugged the internal hard drive to borrow the cables
  • plugging the old and new Tivo hard drives into the system, carefully noting which drive was which and setting the jumpers accordingly
  • putting the upgrade software disc in the drive and rebooting the borrowed system so it started up from the disc rather than the hard drive with Vista on it
  • entering some old-fashioned DOS commands to set things up... getting the right command from an online site... the command told the system to backup the original 40 GB Tivo drive and restore it on the new 250 GB drive... there were no prompts saying to be sure you knew what you were doing, and no 'undo' commands. It would have been just as happy copying the new drive to the old and wiping out the Tivo operating system and the collection of saved TV shows.
  • it was a long overnight process for the fairly powerful computer to copy everything to the new drive
  • in the morning, Stephen pulled the two drives from the Vista system, put the new one in the Tivo, and returned my Vista system to normal.
  • Our Tivo unit now says we have 282 hours of capacity for recorded shows

I ordered a wireless USB device to connect the Tivo to our home computer network, and will soon be able to use recorded TV shows in Movie Maker. 

 


 

Our grand-daughter Olivia did her first Claymotion project a few months ago, using a digicam to take snapshots... without a tripod. While Stephen did the Tivo upgrade, we setup and recorded a couple Claymotion scenes using my camcorder. The steps we used were:

  • setup a 'bluescreen'... a laptop with Paint.exe open and a full screen blue colored canvas sitting on a desk
  • the 'stage' for the clay figures was a white plastic board sitting on the flip-down part of a 4 foot ladder, just the right height for the laptop 'bluescreen' in back
  • my camcorder was on a tripod, set to do interval recording... every 30 seconds it automatically took 1/2 second of video
  • I captured the footage, did a minimal amount of clipping out the few parts that accidentally recorded an arm or hand... and added the backgrounds. Olivia wanted the bluescreens to be replaced with a field of flowers and a brick wall.
Here's the link I sent her from this starter session...
 
 
We learned that a white plastic 'floor' reflects too much blueness and parts of it become transparent... for the next shoot we'll use something like black fabric... or go in the other direction and use a mirror as the floor to pickup all the blueness and have clay airplanes or other flying figures be able to go over backgrounds such as that from last week's issue about Virtual Earth.  

 


 
Conclusion and Closing... and What's Next?
 
If you're a newsletter subscriber and a copy of my database can help you manage your information, send an email and start using it.
 
Have a great week!!
 
PapaJohn