Newsletter #177 - Nov 24, 2007
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.
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
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
a few usual
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
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.
was a long overnight process for the fairly powerful computer to copy
everything to the new drive
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.
Tivo unit now says we have 282 hours of capacity for recorded
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
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
a 'bluescreen'... a laptop with Paint.exe open and a full screen blue colored
canvas sitting on a desk
'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
camcorder was on a tripod, set to do interval recording... every 30
seconds it automatically took 1/2 second of video
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
Here's the link I sent her from this
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
If you're a newsletter subscriber and a copy of my
database can help you manage your information, send an email and start
Have a great week!!