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Monthly Archives: May 2009

I swear, my kids are smarter than me. And that’s not just a stupid proud parent speaking. If anything’s wrong with the computer, or I need software help, I turn to them, because both of them have surpassed me in education, in some areas. If it’s any consolation to my ego, I’ll always best them in maturity.

Here’s an example of how savvy the next generation is. I was using Camtasia, a free screen capture tool. The audio came across alright, but the video kept giving me a black screen upon playback. I googled the answer and the main solution was to turn off my graphics accelerator. Mind you, I didn’t even know I had one, til I looked at my system tray.

Lo, there, among the icons, is well, a graphics card icon from Intel. Poked around the control panel, and found Display settings and a little slider to turn the accelerator off. Turned that off, rebooted, and still… black screen. Tried turning it off in lesser degrees, but nothing worked. They say that when one loses something, it’s always in the last place you look. The last place I looked was Youtube.

This user was discussing loss of audio while using Vista. I wasn’t having either of those problems, but then he uttered the magical word: codec. In his squeaky pre-pubescent, high-pitched voice he said “you have to make sure you’re using the right codec.” Now that little tweener sent me on the right path. I tweaked the video codec, and voila! Camtasia started recording video for me.

Thank you, to the thirteen year old kid on Youtube who supplied that hint.

Part two. I played with Camtasia for a good long time, and decided, if this is a good thing, there must be a better thing. Never satisfied, I went a hunting again. I found Ask Toolbar, a Firefox plugin with the same “Ask” branding as “Ask Jeeves.” It’s not only better than sliced bread, it is better than chocolate.

You can visit any HTML site that imbeds flash video, and it’ll suck that FLV right out of there, with the push of the “save video” button. But install with caution. It does not have trojans or any such, but some users object to the other shades of its features.
It works like a charm for me.

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I was perusing comments on some of my favourite music videos. One comment gave me a knee-jerk reaction. It called Afrikaans an ugly language. He’s entitled to his opinion, as wrong as it is. Obviously beauty is in the ear of the beholder. Afrikaans, to my ears, sounds like a mellifluous mix of German and Italian, with its soft gutteral G’s and rolled R’s. When it’s sung, it’s even more pretty.

It takes a genuine xenophobe to condemn an entire language as “ugly.”
Miriam Makeba: “It isn’t a noise, it’s my language.” En, dis my nuwe gunsteling taal.

It’s funny, when I first heard newscasters speak in Afrikaans, my first impression was to agree with one person who described it as sounding like English pronounced backwards!

The person who wrote the “ugly Afrikaans” comment, wrote in English. A good portion of English words derive from Dutch. By extension, he denigrates parts of the very language in which he is writing. Now isn’t that ironic?


LoremIpsum’s profile is also at the DihanSite

Extra notes and tidbits about my second youtube video on Il Divo at Nassau Coliseum, 2009.

I noticed it getting a ltitle cooler later in the concert stadium. Maybe it’s because I stopped moving. I did notice in my videos that there was a sheen of sweat on Urs’ face early in the concert, and that he stopped sweating later in the concert. Did they crank the A/C up for the singers? Something to consider.

I uploaded this video as I recorded it. Raw. No changes or edits. This is the first concert I attempted to record on my new digicam, a Canon Powershot 110IS. I know, I should have practised. While in movie mode, I attempted to zoom in closer. When I hit zoom again, it made the picture look bigger, but it’s just blowing up the existing pixels. So that’s why the picture looked really noisy halfway through this video. Lesson learned, zoom only once during recording. What I did do right, was that in lieu of trying to take stills in low concert light, just put it into movie mode, and extracted stills from it. The resolution isn’t as high since my max is 640×320, but better than my previous attempts at flashless photos.

While being checked through at the gate, the ticket-taker said that he was relieved this was such a well-behaved crowd. I checked the Coliseum listings and a week earlier, Bruce Springsteen and his E street band played there. It must have been quite raucous, compared to Il Divo fans.*

I arrived exactly on time 7:30, and the show didn’t start til around 8:00. I was expecting a warmup act. There was none. It was all Il Divo show. I also expected hoards of souvenir sellers in the Coliseum lobby. Maybe it was my bad timing, and they’d all packed up, but the only time I saw souvenir programmes sold, was in between acts.

After the concert, there were some goofy drivers on the road. I was stopped at the light and the guy behind me passes me on my right, to run a glaringly red light. Then there was a fender bender, on the road to the Merritt Parkway (did I name that right?). I stopped, the car behind me stopped, and the car behind him…did not…stop. I heard that horrendous thump of a car against car, and I didn’t feel anything. The car behind me did not hit me in a chain reaction. There go I by the Grace of God. That must have ruined at least two peoples’ evenings with Il Divo.

At my work, there’s a large sign about avoiding swine flu. In big bold letters “Avoid large social gatherings.” This concert was in Long Island, where a bunch of schools closed due to swine flu, or avoidance thereof. I saw not a single face mask in the crowd.

* note. Someone should write a book about the humorous observations ushers say about concerts. At a Josh Groban concert, during a bathroom break, an usher asked my hubby “Who is he, some kind of opera singer?” My hubby was dragged to that concert, so I don’t even know if he had the correct answer to the question.

Il Divo in Concert

In this computerized age, there is no match for the immediacy of a live concert. I could buy music and play it over and over again, and get instant aural gratification. But to sit in an audience with thousands of like-minded souls, all attuned to the musicians on stage, is an experience on a different plane.

Il Divo in Concert

I saw Il Divo last night a the Nassau Coliseum in Long Island, NY. This was the first time they visited the Coliseum, but not their first visit to NY. Il Divo was magnificent. Or, in Afrikaans-style English: Il Divo were magnificent! They were pitch perfect, with not a missed note or hair or crease out of place. Four really classy looking guys with golden voices, singing really classy sounding songs. I love their music, their sound, and their eye candy.

Il Divo in Concert

Digression…Urs signs autographs with his right hand, but from these shots, he’s a microphone switch hitter!

Back to the programme…each of our Divos got to introduce songs or talk to the audience. David, our American Divo was boisterous. Carlos, the Spaniard was a shameless flirt. Sebastian, the quiet Frenchman was reserved and respectful. And Urs, from Switzerland(**) spoke English with an enchanting lyricism.

The Libra that I am, I have a yang to balance the yin. If I have one criticism of the concert, it’s … what is with the perturbing backdrops? They’re singing this one song, in another language, which sounded fine and beautiful. And then I look up, and displayed on the four floating projector panels, are women’s white dresses. Then flames start to lick at the dresses. It would be fine if they were just dresses, but the dresses looked like they were wrapped around bodies, so it was as if the non-existent woman was being viciously consumed by flames. If their intent was to convey creepiness, they hit the target, otherwise it was negatively distracting. It would have been better to lose those backdrops and focus on the singers. I liked a few of the more classic panels, like the starfield and the stained glass.

There were also gorgeous models on the screens. I think that those photos were intended for the men in the audience who were forcibly dragged by their women to this concert! If they’re going to be bored senseless, they may as well be entertained by pictures of pretty women. That’s my theory, and I’m sticking to it.

Il Divo in Concert

Il Divo performed their encore in tuxedos with tails, and their rendition of “Amazing Grace”, and later, “The Impossible Dream”, while signing autographs and shaking hands with the fans. Perfection. I was amused that they were leaning over, signing and schmoozing, but sang in perfect unison, without skipping a beat or waivering a note.

It was overcast and rainy all week. On the night of the concert, the skies cleared — for Il Divo. Bravo, gentlemen!

Here’s my youtube of their banter.


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That was the concert review. Now for a shameless website plug and more hardware geek talk.

Shameless website plug:

Dihan Slabbert Fan Site
If you enjoy powerful vocals in contemporary pop music, I invite you to come have a listen. My fan site is dedicated to the sultry music of a wonderful and exceptional talent. He performs a half a world away, in South Africa, and his name is Dihan.

www.DihanSite.com

It is a flash site, and will take a few seconds to load. I promise you will not be disappointed by the wait because his voice does match his stunning looks! 😉

End of shameless plug.

Geek talk:
Nassau Coliseum Seating Chart Il Divo

If it’s possible to love an inanimate object, I am incurably attached to my new Canon Powershot SX110. It takes the most incredible low light photos. With 10x Optical magnification and image stabilization, it is the ultimate concert camera. The Il Divo photos(*) on this blog page were image captures from an AVI, shot from the distance shown on the venue seating chart above. Don’t ask me how far that is, I am hopeless with distances.

It’s a bit larger than the slim digicams today, with a body that’s a chunky throwback to a compact film camera. But the pictures. Be still my beating heart. The pictures are extraordinary, and the sound is above par for such a tiny device. How I love my cameras. Sigh.

(* Please feel free to steal my photos for your own edification and use. If you’re feeling magnanimous, I only ask for a small favor, a link back to my http://www.dihansite.com. Thank you kindly!)

(** thanks to Lisa for the correction. I am probably the most geographically challenged person you’ll ever meet).

The stars are in alignment now.

1) The transfer to the Linux server worked, within hours, without a hitch.

Okay, there were three minutes of frigid horror. When I first invoked the index.html, the whole site was black. I mean nada, nothing but the favicon icon at the top. Okay, that means at least that part of the html file executed. What happened to my swf?

I do not know how the left field solution came to me so fast. I was just lucky that I’d been reading articles about jumping from Windows to Linux servers. In a forum, someone was asking about a broken script, and the reply was that “you never know with Linux, it could anything from a case sensitive file name to…” Somehow that little bit of information stuck in my head, and popped out at the right time.

I checked the file names in my index file, and lo, there was a subdirectory that has one uppercase letter. The directory name in my root was in all lowercase, so it wasn’t picking up the .js file. I just thank whatever inspiration brought me to zero in on that minute detail, but I changed the directory name, and bingo, it worked like a charm. Saved me a heap of headaches having to really figure that one out.

And no, there is no logical reason for filenames to be case sensitive in any OS, no matter how Linux lovers justify it. Variables named XYz should always equal variables named xYz. Computers may see it as different, but we are humans, not computers.

2) I was not able to do the redirect through the “content – Site Redirects” because I could not for the life of me tell what parameters they wanted. So I just created the .htaccess file, uploaded it to my root, et voila!

Useful site for redirection: http://www.javascriptkit.com/howto/htaccess.shtml

3) My preloader for my little swf files is working. The traced bytecount was wrong, and preloader graphic kept showing up when the actual movie was running. I deleted the preloader graphic from frame 2, but it also disappeared from frame 1. I fixed it with a little sledgehammering and addiition of a keyframe.

Three solutions in a row. I should retire while I’m ahead.

A few words on the Afrikaans training. How many months has it been now? Six, I think. I can write like a second grader, and read at the third grade level. I’m not trying too hard, but it’s become a daily habit to read, listen to or watch something in Afrikaans.

When reading Dieburger, I look up twenty words or more, which, oddly is an improvement over looking up every other word. I can easily understand articles written in a conversational tone.

The sounds and audio flow is no longer foreign to my ears. I can pick out individual words and look them up. I have to actively listen when hooked into Radio Sonder Grense. http://www.Rsg.co.za. Radio announcers are the easiest to understand because of their enunciation.

Writing long sentences is still hard, and the spoken, hopefully, will come when I catch onto the written.

To add another level of difficulty to my task, I’m at the beginning of learning spoken Russian through the Pimsleur method. Now, instead of English, I’m starting to substitute Afrikaans words, when I can’t remember the Russian words. If I get too confused I’ll just drop the Russian, to learn later.

I must be going through a mid-life language crisis — so many languages, so little time! [insert eyeroll here]

Just checking what you folks are looking for when you land in my blog.
“Kurt Darren’s Loslappie translation” was a search term. I give it my best shot.
Apologies in advance for butchering the translation.

LOSLAPPIE (Ek Wil Huistoe Gaan) (Loslappie, I will go home)

O ek wil huistoe gaan na mamma toe
Oh, I want to go home to my mama,

Die rivier is vol my trane rol
The river is full, my tears are rolling.

‘n Bokkie wat vanaand by my wil lê
A young ‘buck’ who wants to lay by me tonight, (*1)

Sy kan maar lê, ek is ‘n loslappie
She can lay because I’m an easy guy (*2)

Ek wens ek het vlerke soos ‘n engeltjie

I wish I had wings like an angel.

Dan vlieg ek deur die tronk se tralies heen
Then I fly through the jailhouse bars

Dan vlieg ek na die arms van my moeder
Then I fly into the arms of my mother.

En daar sal ek bly tot die dood
And there shall I stay til death.

Koor (Chorus)

Ek wens ek het vlerke soos ‘n arend
I wish I had wings like an eagle,

Dan vlieg ek maar verewig oor die see
Then I fly forever over the sea

Dan vlieg ek na die arms van my moeder

Then I fly into the arms of my mother,

En daar sal ek bly tot die dood
And there I shall lay til death.

(*2) There is no English for “loslappie”
I’ve read an interpretation of “male tart.” Literally “los” “lap” = “loose”+”rag”.

Edit: By the stats on this page, it’s amazing how many people are interested in the translation of this song. Translations, with help from Izelle!

(*1) Literally “bokkie”=”young buck”, colloquial/slang “bokkie” can also mean a sweetheart.

Nope, we ain’t talking retirement plans.

I have a basic HTML site with multiple pages. I am creating a flash site with just one page, the index.html, that executes a swf. The problem is multilayered.

1. How do I redirect visitors from one of my old HTML pages to the index.html page? In the good old days, it used to be a simple javascript redirect. But not anymore, apparently. Using the 301 permanent redirect is the proper way to go. It preserves page rankings.

The 301 comes in many flavors: PHP, ASP, etc. I can’t do any of these. The best I could attempt is making the .htaccess file (only on Linux). Which leads to my new dilemma. I am hosted on a Windows server on Godaddy. Cue ominous music.

2. When I signed up for Godaddy, they asked me a crucial question. If I’d taken the time then to study for the answer, I wouldn’t be in half the pickles I get myself into. Every time I hit a brick wall having to do with coding, the solution was qualified with “only if you’re on a Linux server.” At the time, Linux sounded foreign, and I thought my site needed to live on a server that matched the OS on my own computer. Nope, they don’t have to match. For my straight HTML site, the Linux server offers more flexibility.

Luckily, GoDaddy makes switching easy. After googling the solution, I just had to “upgrade/downgrade” plan, and select “Linux” instead of “Windows.” The change will effect in72 hours.

For a few teasing moments I considered switching domain hosts entirely, maybe try Hostmonster. But I’ll stick with Godaddy for now and see how I like Linux.

3.I have site statistics code on each of my html pages. What is the analogy in a swf file? How do I know if people are spending time ogling photos, watching the videos, or listening to the audio page of the website?

The answer to that is Google Analytics (one word?). There’s a component that I can use in the Actionscripts that dumps data to an html file. I’m still not sure if and how it works in AS2. Lots more reading required.