Call for…

11:21 AM
Blogging a bit on a Saturday afternoon before work. Thought I’d share a bit for our 4 known blog readers. By name: Evil Jim, Katie, Summer & Antony. If anyone else is reading the blog, hey let me know so I know I have more than 4 people reading. The e-mail is reallycoolsite@aol.com.

The other day Josh on the Screen Savers shared the link for the Universal Church of Life as the site of the night. They’re known for ordaining nearly anyone. As a gag I went though and got ordained. Then I shared with a friend. She did it and shared it with her friends. Her friends all did it and shared with their friends. Evil Jim did it and shared with his friends … and now I have a feeling they’re having a run on ordained ministers from my friends. Not as big as the screen savers run mind you, but it’s going to be interesting when I start meeting friends of friends and we all have been ordained as ministers in the Universal Church of Life. LOL.

I don’t know if I should tell the computer story or not. I’m bored and in the mood to write and have nothing else to do. Later on I have to do a whole heck of a lot of work so … oh hell, here goes the abridged story.

Last week: Project was to put in some more ram and a new video card.

After successfully putting both in my system was still majorly funky. Still getting random crashes, running out of RAM, you name it. We’re talking a system that now has a great graphics card and 512 megs of memory. I had been having trouble with bad clusters and sectors on the primary hard drive so Thursday morning (the morning of Jim and the GOO and Ray going nuts, recanting his game boy advance review and playing with action figures on the air), I miss doing screen shots because I decided to do a surface test.

Surface test comes up with “dude, your hard drive is dead.” Okay, I wish it were to use those terms, but that’s what essentially it said. I called Dell and they had me do a diagnostic. I got a woman with an Indian accent who either didn’t get my wise cracks or just chose to ignore them as we passed the time waiting for the darn thing to finish. After it didn’t finish in a half an hour, she had me hang up and call back when it did. Second call to dell had the hard drive fail the diagnostic and the tech tell me that there’s no way my system should be functioning. He sent me a new hard drive.

Since DELL has the great overnight replacement parts policy, I was now stuck. I had let my 2nd hard drive fill up with stuff that I wanted to keep but hadn’t yet put on cds yet and there wasn’t enough space to back up my primary drive to it. So I went out and got a 30 gig hard drive at staples. I took out the second hard drive, backed everything I needed from the first up to it, then waited for the new DELL hard drive to come in overnight mail.

When the drive got here, to my surprise, DELL had upgraded me to a 40 gig hard drive. I’m hoping this was for free. I’ll know when I get my credit card statement. I replaced the dying hard drive with the new hard drive and went about with getting my data back.

What about the 2nd hard drive that I took out of the system? Well … there’s a product called the Quickdrive from h45 technologies (h45.com). It essentially is a case and a USB cord that turns any nearly EIDE hard drive into a USB drive. If you can find one they’re neat little things to have. I ordered a new one of those and it should be here any day now. So once it gets here I’ll have 40 gigs as my primary hard drive, 30 gigs on the back up, and 20 gigs on a USB device. The USB is slower, but hey, it works and I can back everything up to that disk and use it on my laptop if my main machine was ever to fail again. I’ve actually used the product in the past but retired it after an unfortunate accident involving a cat, a missed litter box, and a USB cord that was lying on the floor. Cat urine and parts don’t mix.

So after getting the system back I turned my attention to getting this site up and going again. That’s when problems hit. The ATI All-in-wonder-Radeon is a marvelous card. It has better DVD quality and game quality than the GeForce 256 and the old ATI PCI Capture card I took out of the system. Unfortunately it has one problem: the software for video capturing will not allow you to do easy single stills from live feeds.

The old card was great. All you had to do was click and the thing would capture bmp files in a sequential file name (ie cap001.bmp, cap0002.bmp, etc.), if that’s what you wanted it to do. It would retain the size settings you wanted for every capture and even save it in the directory you wanted to save it in automatically. THIS WAS A DREAM. Unfortunately the new software doesn’t. Sure you can save it sequentially to your hard drive in bmp format, but the formatting of the captures is a weird 740xsomething pixel setting. The kicker here is THERE IS NO WAY TO CHANGE IT.

The work around that they provide is to save everything to a clipboard like gallery. You then individually click on the shots you want, choose a file name for them and a file size, and it will save it for you. This is a major pain in the rear end. The other day I tried while Sumi was underwater on Fresh Gear. Not only did all the screen shots in the capture area nearly kill my system, it took nearly a half an hour to process just 100 shots. There was no way I was going to do this again.

Becky and Phil on call for help provided some help by doing a segment on stills software. The two products they showed this week were good but I couldn’t really get either to do what I needed them to do. So I searched again and found a product called Video Match from http://www.gromada.com/. This program is shareware ($45 after a 30 day trial), and what it does is it converts files from movies to nearly any format you can think of. With it all I have to do now is take mpeg-1 movies of the techtv folks, import them to Video Match, then have the software produce stills for me in the proper size and file format. It’s a dream. You can set it for 2 stills a second (instead of 29 frames per second), to save on hard disk space, and it really is doing a bang up job for me.

Part of me wishes that ATI GOT A CLUE and didn’t “enhance” their software by disabling essential features and that I didn’t have to replace a free program bundled with the card with one that will cost another $45, but hey, that’s life.

With that, I’m out for now. I need a nap or some caffeine. Still not sure what.

k9