Sunday, January 29, 2017

Night Sky Musings

Zeppelin in Combat

Post-Script: I've had an on-again, off-again relationship with amateur astronomy for the last three or more decades. I currently have a short focal length dobsonian-style reflector and two binoculars, the 7-by-50 and a monster-sized 25-by-100 that requires a mount just to use it, weighing in at around 11 pounds. By far the most enjoyable viewing I've had is reclining in the comfort of a lawn chair on a warm summer evening with a pair of stabilized binoculars at hand. Being able to use both eyes, in such a relaxed posture, brings much joy.


Photo made at the Andersen Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum. Typecast via Brother Charger 11 (photo pending).

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Sunday, January 22, 2017

Little White Lies


Post-Script: Typecast via Webster XL-747.

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Sunday, January 15, 2017

The Joe Show?


Post-Script: See the screen shot in the top photo? That's from a frame grab of a VHS tape compilation of The Joe Show, circa 1991. Was I actually wearing a salmon-colored shirt? And what's the deal with that funky hat? And those glasses ... I've seen better looking safety goggles. Boy do I remember that old couch. I think it was from Country Dan's. Massive wooden construction. Country-motif pictorial illustrations on the cushions - that never stayed put, always slid down and fell behind the back frame of the couch (notice the cushion behind me has already slipped down) and had to be continually adjusted. I was also a lot skinnier back then; so was everyone.

Here's more Joe Show goodness. First one of the intro graphics. My old Canon Hi8 camcorder had a feature called "matte," permitting you to take a matte shot of something, in this case hand-written titles, and overlay them, in a selection of colors, atop live video. Here the background was a Christmas greeting card.


Next is from a different episode, me in a different shirt and hat (what the heck's the deal with the hat? And why does it look too small?) with my friend Bob, a co-conspirator. Notice the handheld microphone, which I still have to this day.


These next two frames are from a little "drama" I made, some Z-grade spy drama that was really an exercise in montage and editing, using my then-newly-acquired JVC editing VCR. Note my newer JVC is what I'm using to play back the tape; it was purchased in 2001 and is still like new. These two shots are of my Smith-Corona 100 daisy wheel electronic typewriter. This clip is historically my very first typewriter video.

Watching a handful of these old productions was a bit painful, not only for how dorky I looked back then, but the production values were pretty low. Kind of like a bad SNL skit, absent the talent. Perhaps I'll get one transferred and uploaded to YouTube, for all to enjoy.

Semi-nongratuitous plug to my YouTube Channel, in case you haven't yet visited.

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Monday, January 09, 2017

Leaves of Winter


Post-Script: Sometimes, in order to remain spontaneous, a person has to grab their antiquated dig-it-al camera and go out in virtual pitch-darkness at 8 PM on a January night, with the winter's wind howling and lit only by the dim glims of a sodium vapor light across the street, and make an ISO 12,500 exposure, then remove the color noise and give it some feeling of gritty, monochrome, film-like artiness on the compooter by fiddling with the tone curves. And I was too lazy to fire up the old scanner, so a shot of the typed piece still threaded in-carriage will have to suffice. This is called "arte" in some circles. But probably not here.

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Wednesday, January 04, 2017

A Lizard on a Warm Rock

Winter Sunny Patio Typing

Post-Script: I love these kinds of blog articles, however crude or unpolished they might seem. The idea of being able to spontaneously sit down with a typewriter on your lap and bash out a thought or two with no ulterior motive or agenda is a compelling reason for blogging, like sitting down with a friend for no reason whatsoever except to spend time in idle chitchat. Separated by the miles via the interwebz, this is our version of spending time together. I enjoy reading others' blogs, and try to comment as much as I can.

I know many people find it difficult to continue blogging, with the busyness of life getting in the way. Part of this is a misconception, that we have to compose carefully polished prose, edited and revised multiple times before it can be seen by the public. Ideally that would be true, but sometimes time is a luxury, and yet to put blogging in some kind of priority in our lives means that people get to see us in all our private messiness; warts, typos, misspellings and all. As is fitting with friends.

Photo via Apple iPod Touch. Typecast via Brother-made Webster XL-747.

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Sunday, January 01, 2017

Voice-Cast Blogging

Voice-Cast Blogging

There is this thing I'd like to call the alternative writing community. It's the group of people who write with alternatives to the computer and word processor, like typewriters, fountain pens, and Alphasmarts for instance.

There is also an alternative writing technology using OCR software and scanning typewritten text, to create a text file. But I'd like to suggest another, alternative method of writing, which is dictation. I'm writing this using the Notes app on the iOS platform, using the microphone input keyboard method.

For anyone who's tried typing lengthy text using a phone sized screen keyboard, you know it's a chore. Even with predictive text entry, you have to make constant corrections.

Several weeks ago, I discovered that it was easier to use the microphone text entry method than trying to thumb in text by hand. I still have to make a few corrections, but they're much less than before and my speed of text entry is much faster.

What works the best for me is to speak slowly and distinctly each word, in a quiet environment. I have very few problems using it this way, although some people might think it sounds strange the way I'm talking, almost like a robot voice. Also, the microphone text entry only excepts so many lines of text before it buffers and stops, at which point you have to hit the microphone button to continue. But still, I don't think I can hardly type this fast and this reliably.

Because I have a digital field recorder, I thought at one point I would start doing podcasts. But now, with this microphone text entry method, I can use it to create the text for a blog article.

To use the microphone text entry on an iOS device, just to the left of the keyboard is a microphone symbol. Press it, then begin talking. For punctuation you can use the words for period and comma. Note that I had to spell out those words in the previous sentence because otherwise it wanted to use the punctuation instead.

Note that you can also use this same microphone text entry method with many android smart phones.

On my iOS device, I noticed that the microphone button was only active when the device was connected to Wi-Fi or the Internet. This might be because my Notes documents are backed up to the cloud.

When you finish each portion of verbal text, you hit the done button below the audio field and the software will auto correct your spelling and punctuation. So, it's not a continuous writing experience, but more like a sporadic start and stop method. But still, being able to write by talking is a much different experience.

"Who is he talking to?"

"Oh he's just dictating into his iPod."

You might not want to use this writing method late at night, when the family is asleep in bed. Although it's not really any louder than having the TV sound on.

To get the text into a Blogger article, you highlight and copy the entire Notes document, then paste it into your Blogger browser window.

Alternatively, you could try microphone entry directly into the Blogger window, but you wouldn't be able to edit it as easily.

I've made this observation before, but smart phone text entry via tiny keyboard seems like a step backwards in technology. It was Alexander Graham Bell who first discovered voice communication, and now we seem to be going backwards into primitive text entry instead. Imagine a mobile phone where all you can do is talk. Oh, I think they call that a flip phone! Such an advanced device!

No, it's not as sexy as typing a blog article or using a fountain pen but it's awfully convenient. And I do think that spoken text has a different feel to it than hand written. So that's it. Any of you bloggers who have smart phones should try this out and let me know in the comments below how you come out.

Post-Script: I should point out that working with Blogger using an iOS device is a bit more complex than what I suggested. For line and paragraph breaks, you need to insert the code "< b r >" after every paragraph and break. I do this by hand, in the Notes app, prior to copy/pasting the finished piece into Blogger. Also, to get my photo at the top of the article, I first mail it to my Flickr account (the image is a screen shot taken during the voice entry), then go to the desktop version of Safari and grab the HTML code for the image and paste it into the top of the Notes article. Then I resize the image by changing the height and width values to fit my Blogger template (using the calculator app to scale the correct values). Once that's done, I copy/paste the entire Notes document and paste it into the Blogger text entry field. Easy-peesy. Sort of.

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