This afternoon I played around with Blender a bit. It's a free and open source, cross-platform 3d modeling and animation program. I was able to follow this tutorial and make a simple model of a person. If you want to jump right into animation, check this one out. If you're willing to spend a couple of hours getting familiar with the user interface and moving around in 3 dimensions, you could make some pretty cool stuff with this. There's a whole animation festival with entries that all come from Blender.
I ripped the movie Friday to an iPod compatible file using HandBrake and Sara and I watched the first half of it on the tv connected to the iPod. Unlike the home movie that I tried before I could see no compression artifacts. It looked pristine to me. HandBrake must do a very good job of encoding. I couldn't tell the difference between it and watching a DVD (on my 27" tv). Now I can carry my entire music collection and 40 DVDs in my pocket.
Santa Claus came to my house today, riding in a white FedEx truck. He brought me a small package that held my new toy, a white 60GB 5th generation iPod. I ordered it on Sunday afternoon and it arrived Tuesday at about noon. I just did the standard free shipping, but it made the trip from Shanghai, China to my front door in just about 36 hours. I ordered one for my brother, too. It's a Christmas+birthday present from our parents. His is a 30GB white but I ordered it separately because he had it engraved. I managed to copy a few songs and one video onto my new iPod before I had to go back to work. I showed the video playback to a few coworkers and they were surprised at how good the video looked on the little screen. I haven't tried it on a TV yet. I'll be right back. I played back a movie I made in iMovie and it looks pretty ok. I could see some compression artifacts if I looked for them. But I did have to look for them. I would say it's very watchable. By the way, I didn't pay $20 for an Apple iPod A/V cable. I used this little trick with the standard cable from my video camera.
I don't get gadgets very often (Exhibit A: I still have no cell phone), so I'm pretty excited. I do need to find a case. I already put some tiny scratches on the metal part on the back of the device. In a very related story, is anyone interested in a slightly used Toshiba e350 Pocket PC with case and SD card? If I don't hear anything in the next week it's going up on eBay.
My fellow Digg.com users. Digg this, if you would:
I want the word to get out about this software. I was going to post about it there at some point, but someone beat me to it.
Last night while I was posting obituaries on AdrianJournal.com I started thinking about how expensive a funeral is. I think the casket itself can get into the thousands pretty easily. All that for a box you see for a few hours then bury in the ground. I would rather be put in a simple, cheap pine box. (Even that could cost almost a grand.) Then my family can spend that money on something better. Then, as I typed along, my thoughts turned to the funeral home people. They probably make it very hard to get anything but an expensive coffin. I'm sure they would give a guilt trip on anyone who didn't lay down cash for the best stuff. Then, for some reason, I wondered if people ever make their own casket. Sort of a morbid project, yes, but no one could deny burying you in the one you custom made for that special day. I did a quick search to see if there would be help for such a project. Internet, you didn't let me down.
I don't think I'll be undertaking a project like this, but it's good to know that the internet has this information.
Gizmo, the open source Skype replacement has been upgraded recently. I last tried it at 0.8 and I wasn't overly impressed. I remember some stability problems, especially. I just download the new version (1.2), so if anyone wants to try it out with me, let me know. Maybe we can use the built in recorder to do a short podcast or something.
Firefox version 1.5 was released this afternoon. They have a new website: Mozilla.com, but all the old urls still get you there. New features include automatic update, faster browsing navigation and drag and drop tag reordering. I've wanted that last one for a long time. there are some extensions that do it, but having it built in is nicer. The best thing for me is that the Mac OS X version is going to work a lot better. Up until now it's been kind of a second-rate port.
I'm giving a presentation at the Cass County Public Library in Archie this Thursday about buying a computer. It will be for the non-technical crowd, buying a computer for a kid or getting into computers for the first time. I'm hoping to help them sort through everything you need to think about when picking out a computer. My iMac G5 will be making an appearance, but I'll have a PC there, too. I'll be extolling the virtues of Mac OS X (the librarian recently switched to Mac on my advice). If the attendees don't take my advice, then we may have to do a seminar called How to secure Windows XP in 9 easy steps. If they skip that, too, then maybe they would come back for How to remove spyware and viruses from Windows in 47
If you're in the area you can catch the How to buy a computer presentation at 6:30 pm, Thursday, December 1 at the Archie branch of the CCPL.
Emma has been learning more about computers lately. She can handle a mouse and navigate through several different kids' websites, playing flash games and watching cartoons. She can also use bookmarks and the back button in the browser, which puts her ahead of some adults I know. To help her get to her favorite sites I made a little page with images that link to the sites. I add this to the bookmark toolbar and she can do the rest on her own. Here's the site:
Feel free to use it if you have a little one who might enjoy these games.
Earthcore by Scott Sigler is a novel that was originally published via podcast. I subscribed to it in iTunes and I've been listening to it. It's not a great novel, but it's pretty fun. For me it's been worth the free download. The author reads it and releases a new chapter (or group of chapters) every week. Actually he finished podcasting Earthcore and ended up getting a publishing deal. So now there's a print version and another podcast novel on the way. If you have some time to kill in a commute or something, subscribe, download the episodes and give it a listen. Find out more at scottsigler.net/earthcore.