Drone

home-from-droneThis weekend Matt stopped by with his new drone!  Wow, what a piece of technology!  I was a little curious at the start, but much more so once he was flying it and showing us the features.  He bought a rather expensive model (at least in my book), and it has some pretty sweet features and specs, including a nice gimble & camera.  The gimble allows for beautifully smooth movement of the camera while shooting up to 4K video or 12-megapixel snapshots.

He started it up in the driveway, got up between 200 and 300 feet to clear everything tall in the neighborhood, then flew it around.  I must say, it scared me a bit knowing how much that little toy costed, and watching it zoom out of sight over the neighborhood.  It has a decent range, but I still found it scary.  It probably would have felt even worse, had I been the one who paid for it!  He mentioned getting to a certain point where the video starts to cut out…sheesh, now THAT could give me heart issues… but there’s a nifty little “Go Home” feature and calls it back and it comes right back to your location.

After some flying around and recording (both from my cell phone and from the 4K camera on the drone) until the drone’s battery was nearly dead and getting pretty chilly in the 32-degree weather, we came back inside to warm up and figure out how to view the footage as quickly as possible.

I transferred the videos to my PC and could view them there, but we wanted to watch them on the big TV.  It’s 1080p though, so we couldn’t actually view them in full 4K quality.  I used my laptop, which already has a dock connected to the TV, and the video looked awesome!

The video on a MicroSD card is limited to 4GB file sizes, so our footage was split into two files – one about 8 minutes (4GB in size), and the other about 6 minutes (about 3GB in size).  I wanted to use ShareStudio, an app on the PS4, to edit the video, but unfortunately, the PS4 didn’t recognize the video file format that the drone used.

After we finished ogling the fine footage, I dropped the videos into my YouTube channel to start uploading them to the internet.  After a few hours they completed, and the footage still looks quite impressive there, and now we can share them with everyone easily.  Take a look if you want.  Here’s Part 1 and Part 2 from the drone, and my cell phone footage.

I want to be able to edit those three videos into one nice one, complete with cuts back and forth between be shooting the drone, and the drone shooting me, when we were playing with the “Follow Me” feature of the drone, but I tried doing so in Corel VideoStudio, but it didn’t work out so well.  The resulting video, which I wanted to save as a 4K video, was horrible with dropped frames throughout and full choppiness, rendering it unwatchable.  I might try it again at 1080p, just to see if it’s the 4K it can’t handle, or if my PC’s just not powerful enough to handle the job.

 

I’m not old, I’m “classic”

xbox-360-elite-wcontrollerWe recently dug out our old X-Box 360.  We hadn’t used it in a few years, though it was still hooked up to a TV.  Again, like our PS3, the hard drive had gotten full, so things started getting difficult, and it ended up just going unused as we moved on to other things.  I considered selling the console, and even went as far as to gather up all of the info about it, including the 26 games for it that we have on discs, and I posted it on our Slack Team’s site.

But after a day with no response–during which time Kevin discovered about 11 or 12 more games on discs that I had missed–I also found that I have about 70 more games that I purchased as digital downloads from X-Box Live that were on the hard drive!  I should have considered this before posting the ad I guess.

So I took the X-Box 360 and moved it out to the living room and set it up again so I could thoroughly go through the system and catalog its entire contents.  After doing this, and actually finding many “lost treasures” in the form of classic games from my youth, I decided to promptly pull the ad and keep the X-Box 360.  The 70+ digital games alone would be quite a chunk of cash (at least for me) to throw away, let alone the 30+ disc-based games that we had purchased.

I loaded up a few of my classic favorites yesterday, just to try them out, and quickly found myself enjoying them all over again, not wanting to close them until finishing “just one more level.”  The hard drive did start sounding pretty loud after the system was on awhile though.  It’s the system’s original 120GB hard drive.  It’s pretty maxed out with everything I purchased back in the day, leaving 2.2GB of free space on it… barely enough to hold another decent game.   And of course, you know me… I immediately jumped on the interwebs and found a replacement internal hard drive.  The largest internal drive I could find, that matched the older X-Box 360 model I have, was 500GB for $40.  So I grabbed it.  In a few days I should be able to upgrade and then have plenty of breathing room to work with on my “refurbished” X-Box 360.

Just like with the PS3, I justify it by stressing how cheap the games, parts and accessories are for these old systems… And they play all the good old classic games I love.  I hope the 360, as well as the PS3, last for many more years.  I’ll probably try to keep my youth alive as long as possible!  Let the old-times roll!

Geeky Christmas Things

For the Christmas season, I’ve been playing with my options for using the living room TV for background entertainment when we don’t want to watch actual TV.  Here’s what I’ve settling on using.  Since I have a laptop (Windows 7) connected to the TV (LG 55″) via HDMI, I set it to having the TV as its main display.  I use Google Plus Images to download my albums “Christmas 2008”, 2009, etc., up to 2013.  This is extremely easy on G+, but next to impossible on Flickr.  Once those were downloaded, I renamed each photo (an entire folder at a time) to “Christmas 2013 – Photo xxx” (it auto-numbers them).  Then I created an executable slideshow using Slide Show Builder in FastStone Image Viewer, adding all of the photos from each year, set the transitions, and added caption text to the bottom left corner, which I set to include the photo’s filename and timestamp.  I set each photo for 15 seconds, and built the exe file.  There were a total of just over 600 photos.  I can optionally add music to the slideshow as well, but I left this out, since I prefer to just play an Amazon Music Station or my own music instead.  This turned out really nice.  Amazon has several different “Christmas” channels to choose from, as well as many other channels for whatever type of music I’m in the mood for, or I can easily play any of my own music, which Amazon has stored for me.  Amazon with hold up to 200,000 songs, I believe, which is certainly plenty for me.  And with Amazon Prime, all of the free music and stations is just a bonus.

I must say, it did take most of this month’s spare time (when I wasn’t playing Ingress) to find the best options for each of these tasks.  For example, I had no easy way of controlling the mouse and starting the music and slideshow without standing 6 inches from the TV until I found a decent “air remote” to use.  I needed an easy way to start and stop the slideshow and music on the computer in the living room. Eventually I found this. It has some great reviews and sounded perfect, so I went with it. It works great, exactly what I needed.

I also tried to find all my Christmas photos on Flickr and download them, which is ridiculously difficult to do, for some reason.  I tried using DisplayFusion first to simply randomly show Christmas photos straight from the web (using either G+ photos or Flickr), but as it turns out, there’s a limit to how many photos you can stream in an hour.  If I set it to only switch photos every minute, it works ok, but the other problem (with both photo services) is they both only seem to go back a couple hundred photos or so in my photostream.  This results in only being able to view recent photos, pretty much showing only this year’s photos and a few of last year’s.  This is when I decided to do everything local and just download exactly which photos I wanted to display.

So there you have it, my geeky Christmas slideshow.  We’re enjoying all of the old memories now, and look forward to this year’s festivities, which are starting today.  Now on with the holidaze!

Mayhem at it’s finiest…er funniest

Minions of Anarchy

Jay sent me this image recently, and with Sons of Anarchy finally over now, I thought I’d post it here (click it-or here-for the full-sized image).  This was one of my favorite TV shows of all time, no doubt.  Right up there with the Sopranos.  In case you never watched it, it has nothing to do with minions or Hostess Twinkies… It’s about a gang of outlaw bikers that run guns in California.  It was created by Kurt Sutter, who is now married to Katie Sagal.  There are 7 Seasons of the show, and it all wraps up with a very awesome final episode, which just aired this week.

Monday Night Features

Watched two things last night:

The Wil Wheaton Project: A wacky little talk show hosted by Wil that I enjoyed. Probably not for everyone though. Of course, I’m a TMZ fan as well, so I like the off-the-wall wacky humor, making light of current events. Wil’s new show is kinda like “TMZ for geeks”, in which he highlights everything current in the geek world–mostly in TV and movies this week, but I’m sure he’ll be all-inclusive, geek-wise, throughout the season. Yesterday was his first episode. I hope it does well. I’ve followed him for years, since he was in Stephen King’s “Stand By Me” in 1986.

Non-Stop: Very exciting movie that takes place in-flight as an unidentified terrorist threatens to kill a passenger every 20 minutes until $150 million is transferred to his bank account by the Air Marshal on the flight. They communicate through the entire movie by text messaging, with the texts appearing in popup bubbles on-screen as they are received. Unique approach. Especially when the air marshal ends up viewing a phone with a cracked screen–the on-screen text message bubbles were shown with cracks, I guess to show how difficult it was to read the screen. Some parts were a bit over-the-top, but it was still a great Monday-night feature for us.