Once upon a time…

Once upon a time I used to blog. I’ve been busy with several things. I had a BABY! If you know me, then you probably have already met my son. Anyway I’m pretty sure this blog will be restructured to focus on DIY stuff more. I’ve gotten into several different things lately, one project in particular is how to make a spot welder. I’ll spare you the details because you can easily search YouTube for the same guide. Until next time!

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Kony 2012 – Research Before You Leap

People who support Kony 2012 on Instagram keep liking this picture. They don't get it do they?

My facebook, instagram, twitter, and google + (yes I still check G+) feeds blew up with “KONY 2012″ today. Apparently an organization called Invisible Children launched a new video on YouTube. By all means, check it out, it tells the story of a guy in Uganda named Kony. He’s been killing a lot of people by ways of killing and brainwashing children and giving them weapons (to kill their own parents). Watch it below and then make sure you come back here to read more. After realizing that LINKING to the video is actually counter-intuitive to what I’m trying to get across, I have removed the video from my post.

I felt compelled just as you probably do now will, so I shared the video. And then when I saw the end “Act today, buy a kit, share the video, buy a shirt” I clicked the link and almost donated $30 for the Action Kit. I stopped short and did a quick search. Usually putting “scam” after a name of a company can pull up blogs, rants, or forums about any given topic. From the first link, I found another, and then another, and so on so forth. Down the rabbit hole I went. I rechecked facebook and one of my friends who also questioned this whole movement posted more links against the Kony 2012 movement, it just so happens this movement is REALLY OLD. In actuality this Kony thing has been going on for several YEARS and before all this hype Invisible Children started, there have been people who’ve already done research about IC and their practices. There’s no point in elaborating on what others have already found. I’m not bashing the company or movement at all. Now I’m a bit irritated. I posted the image above on my instagram with the hashtag KONY2012 and some idiot named kony2012_news went and LIKED the image. I even posted a link to this post on instagram and someone else with “kony” in their name liked it too. What does this tell you? The movement has essentially brainwashed teens into supporting something they have no real knowledge about!

I’m all for helping those in need by providing DIRECT AID, but when you start to read the links below for yourself, you’ll realize that all the exposure you’re giving this movement is ultimately lining the pockets of the founders of Invisible Children. Why should my money go to a middleman? I just want to inform everyone what exactly they’re supporting. READ FOR YOURSELF AND UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU’RE SUPPORTING. Don’t be a sheep!

One thing that really really pisses me off is the “Cover the Night” portion of the campaign. In order to blanket the city with Kony posters, you have to BUY the posters, stickers, banners etc. In the gallery on the main website, the image of the posters aren’t full sized or high quality, meaning you can’t just download the image and go to print a zillion copies. If you really wanted people to “Cover the Night” with posters, OFFER UP THE POSTERS FOR FREE! Surely you’ll eventually get some people donating but publicity is publicity right? Wrong. They are being GREEDY! 5 posters are $25. Multiply this by the millions of people who will not educate themselves first.

Links are below. Read for yourself and form your own opinion, there are quite a few, but if you’re even too lazy, please watch this video about the problem Africa is having with aid relief (and why it isn’t the answer).

Reddit | Why the Kony Documentary and Invisible Children Are One-Sided
Should I donate money to Kony 2012 or Not?
The Visible Problem with Invisible Children
Visible Children Tumblr
The Invisible Children and Kony 2012 Exposed
The Gauntlet | Barry Responds to Invisible Children Organization
Kony 2012 is a Pro-War Front
Sons of Liberty – Invisible Children Revisited — MUST READ!

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Background Noise / Webcam Audio Hum

If you have a laptop with a built-in webcam and you record video you (and your viewers) may notice a ton of background noise or annoying hum when you play the video back. Since the webcam often grabs audio from the built-in microphone, what you’re hearing is the vibration from noisy components (fans, hard drives, etc) inside your computer going about the chassis and up through the microphone. It doesn’t help that recording video is an intensive process for most standard issue laptops. When recording, do you notice if the fans are spinning wildly? Here are some tips to correct the audio:

  • Fix it in Post – While this is an easy task for short videos, a video longer than 10 minutes may take hours to render, depending on your hardware specs. It’s like a double edged sword. If you’ve got a beefier laptop, chances are you’ve got better hardware. Better hardware needs better cooling, better cooling means your fans spin faster ANNND we’re back at square one =( Here’s a link to Audacity’s Wiki. Basically you take a sample of the beginning or end of your video where you’re not talking, since you’re silent, but the hum/buzz is still there, it’ll know what frequency to remove. Play around with short clips before you commit to a full render (or fix the audio separately and re-render with the new track)!
  • Cool your laptop – If you notice your laptop fans start to spin when you record, perhaps you need to be cooling it down more. Elevate the laptop so the exhaust fans (usually the bottom) aren’t blocked. They may be in a push-pull configuration, meaning the fans are pushing air out while sucking air in through another opening. Whatever the case may be, make sure you’re not blocking the fan that provides cool air, and make sure it’s easy for the laptop to vent the hot air.
  • Ground your power supply – Some laptops come with the option to use a 2 prong plug or a 3 prong plug when plugging in to a wall outlet. When recording opt to plug in with the 3 prong plug. This helps in several ways:
    • Some power profiles give precedence to different tasks when unplugged, give your laptop the juice boost it may be looking for.
    • It fully grounds your computer. Most humming/buzzing in the world of audio equipment is because of a ground loop.
  • Buy an external microphone – Even a cheaper microphone is better than your webcam/on-board mic. I wish I could provide suggestions, but I’m sure you can find a good one on amazon. Audio-Technica has a condenser microphone for sale that ranks #17 on Amazon for around $25. Check out the video review to hear the difference between the onboard microphone of his camcorder and the ATR 3350. It is a mono mic so you’ll have to dupe the L/R tracks, but in Audacity that’s pretty easy.
  • Buy a video camera (or use your phone’s video camera) – Since you wouldn’t be recording on your laptop, there should be no issues with audio unless you’ve got a really noisy background. Most camera phones these days will let you record video. The microphones are much better too.

Hopefully this quick post has helped you isolate and fix noise issues in webcam recorded videos. While I’ve included free and more expensive solutions, getting an external mic would probably be the most cost effective solution (not to mention the time you’ll save in post).

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“Why did the chicken cross the road?”

We’ve all heard this joke and thousands of different variations of it. What is the typical punchline?

“To get to the other side.”

Hearing the joke for the first time as a child, we think this is a stupid, obvious answer: the chicken crossed the road to get to the other side of the road. However, since childhood we have never really reexamined the punchline. The punchline never said “to get to the other side of the road.”

The other side is death — the afterlife.

Here’s one of the earliest appearances of the joke in print:

Why did the chicken cross the road?

1847 Version of the Joke - Wikipedia

Holy SHIT right?

And yes, you’re reading this because I just “got it” too.

Credit to AeroMental

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10 Things Your IT Guy Wants You to Know

I wrote a post a year ago about the Pet Peeves of an IT guy, but I think I might have marked it private as I realized potential employers may think I’m a risk of “Going Postal”. I recently came across a more “eloquent” Top Ten list from Evil Routers. It’s well said and 100% accurate!

From Evil Routers

1. If you come to me to ask technical questions, please don’t argue when you don’t like my answer. If you think you know more about what you’re asking than I do, then why even ask? On that same note, if I am arguing with you, it’s because I’m certain that I am correct; otherwise I’d just tell you “I don’t know” or perhaps point you somewhere that you could look it up. We don’t argue just for the sake of arguing.

2. When you start a conversation by insulting yourself (e.g. “I’m such an idiot”), you will not make me laugh or feel sorry for you; all you will succeed in doing is reminding me that yes, you are, indeed, an idiot, and that I’m going to hate having to talk to you. Trust me, you don’t want to start out this way.

3. We’re okay with you making mistakes; fixing them is part of our job. We are NOT, however, okay with you lying to us about a mistake that you made. It just makes it that much harder to resolve and thus makes our job more difficult. Be honest and we’ll get the problem fixed and both of us can continue on with our business. Lying to us and, therefore, costing us twice as much of our time will not win you any brownie points with IT.

4. There is no magic “Fix it” button. Everything takes some amount of work to fix, and not everything is worth fixing or — gasp! — even possible to fix. If I tell you that you’re going to have to re-do a document that you accidentally deleted two months ago, please don’t get mad at ME. I’m not ignoring your problem and it’s not that I don’t like you, we just can’t always fix everything.

5. Not everything you ask us to do is “urgent”. In fact, by marking things as “urgent” every time, you’ll almost certainly ensure that we treat none of it as a priority.

6. You are not the only one who needs help, and you usually don’t have the most urgent issue. Give us some time to get to your problem; it will get fixed.

7. E-mailing us several times about the same issue is not only unnecessary, it’s highly annoying as well. We record issues in a database so that we don’t lose track of them (remember how we ask that you create a ticket? That’s why.) We will typically respond as soon as we have a useful update to make. If your problem is urgent, please do let us know (but see number five).

8. Yes, we prefer e-mail over phone calls. It has nothing to do with being friendly or anti-social, it’s about efficiency. It is much faster and easier for us to list out a set of questions that we need answers to than it is for us to call and ask you them one by one. You can find the answers at your leisure and, while we’re waiting, we can work on other problems.

9. We may, at times, seem blunt and rude. It’s not that we mean to, we just don’t have the time to sugar coat things for you. We assume that we are both adults and can handle the reality of a problem. If you did something wrong, don’t be surprised when we tell you. We don’t care that it was a mistake because, honestly, it makes no difference to us. Please don’t take it personal, we just don’t want it to happen again.

10. Finally, yes, I can read your e-mail, yes, I can see what web pages you look at while you’re at work, yes, I can access every file on your work computer, and yes, I can tell if you are chatting with people on instant messenger (and can read what you’re typing, as well). But no, we don’t do it. It’s highly unethical and, perhaps more importantly, you really aren’t that interesting. Unless I am instructed to specifically monitor or investigate your actions, I don’t do it. There really are much more interesting things on the Internet than you.

I hope this didn’t come off the wrong way because, even as much as us IT guys refer to “users” as “lusers”, we do like (most of) you. Just like you, we’re here to do a job and we try to do it the best that we can. It’s easiest to do that if we all work together, stop pointing fingers, and give other people the space that we would like to get as well. If we can do that more often than not, things will go well and work out for all of us.

P.S. IT guys are easily bribed with food and/or beer (personally, I prefer the latter). That’s a sure way to get your problems moved to the top of the list. *grin*

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How I Lost My Wedding Ring

When: September 24, 2011 – Only 3 months and 7 days after I got married =(
What Happened:
My buddy was having his bachelor party over at LovEvolution at Oracle Arena. I had already done a ton of things that day, the last of which was to get fitted for the tux. It was the very last day I could do so before it would be too late. Another thing on my list was to go and wash my car. I don’t have a water spigot in front of my house so I decided to take my car to one of those outdoor places. Right before you get on 101 near my house there’s an outdoor DIY car wash. It’s a pretty busy street since it’s one of the main freeway entrances out of The City, so I knew exactly where to go since I’ve passed it hundreds of times. I only had $5 in quarters and it cost $2.50 to start up so I figured I’d wash my car in two cycles. First, I quickly pre-soaked and after that I went to soap the bad boy up. I worked in a good rich lather up until the time ran out.

I was in the first stall on the right. You can see the coin machine right in between both stalls.

Since my phone was in the same pocket I had the quarters in and I didn’t want to get my phone all wet and soapy, I shook off my hands while standing right in front of the machine. Worst. Idea. Ever. The next thing I knew, I was listening in horror to the clang of metal bouncing off of the ground. *Ting* I tried to spot it in mid air… *Ting* I can’t see it, where did it go!?! *Ting* I stood there for a second, waiting for the next bounce. It never came.

I stood there cussing at myself, “WHY DIDN’T YOU TAKE IT OFF?! YOU’RE SUCH A F***ING IDIOT! SHIT SHIT SHIT SHIT SHIT!” I had no idea where to even START looking! An outdoor car wash is the equivalent to HELL for losing small shiny items. There were puddles and potholes full of water everywhere, there was trash blowing around in the wind, there were piles of dirt and garbage here and there, and not to mention the amount of traffic constantly coming and going. To add insult to injury, a car pulled up behind my stall. “Oh F***ING GREAT, now I have to FINISH rinsing my car so I can move out of the way!” I said to myself. I quickly added more money and hosed off my car as fast as I could thinking someone would just pick it up and keep it. After I was done I moved my car to a parking spot and then started my search.

I looked in the immediate area but couldn’t find it. 15 minutes in, I’m sure it was pretty obvious I had lost something. The look on my face must have tipped people off. I kept my head down at the ground tuning everything else out, as if to channel the power of my other senses to my eyes. I ignored a few more people staring at me and was reluctant to tell anyone lest they keep my most valuable possession for themselves. I stood at the machine next to the stall I was using and replayed the hand shaking motion: both arms went up in front of me about chest level, and then I brought them down hard, letting momentum carry my arms behind me. I then proceeded to look in the direction I thought the ring would’ve traveled. It’s round, it would’ve rolled. How far it rolled was the ultimate question.

Finally I asked for help. The next person, a Hispanic guy probably in his forties, noticed I was looking for something. I felt that I could trust him, so I told him I lost my wedding ring as I pointed to the white line on my finger. The look on his face was priceless, almost as if he knew exactly what I was going through from experience. “Oh boy, good luck!” He replied. He started looking too.

As I was looking in the stall I had previously used, a lady started to pull in. I moved out of her way and when she got out, she asked what I had lost. I explained the situation and her reply was equally amusing as the previous person. “Oh my gosh!! You better head to Zales!!” She quipped.

About 45 minutes after I searched and paced the car wash lot, I decided it was time to call Stef to tell her the bad news.
“Thank you for calling Moth…” She answered as I cut her off.
“Hi it’s me. I love you, please don’t be mad at me.” I said.
“What happened!?” She asked, worriedly.
“I’m at the car wash. I lost my ring.” I said in a somber voice.
“Oh NO!” I could hear the sadness in her voice. Thankfully she was very understanding. She told me to keep looking. I explained it had almost been an hour. I looked along side the fencing, sifted through the urban tumbleweeds, retraced my steps, plunged my foot into several murky pothole puddles, etc.
She reassured me, “Well you have to keep looking. You KNOW it’s there somewhere. That’s like losing $1,000. I’ll pray for you.” I know I know. Back to searching.

Stef called me 15 minutes later. She said she was on her way to help me look. Her coverage came in and she told her what happened so the store would be fine if she left for a little bit.

When Stef arrived, she parked across the street from the car wash. By that time, the Hispanic guy had already left after once more wishing me luck. A few more cars had used the same stall I had used and were probably already home telling a story to their families how an Asian guy was being weird at the car wash. I showed Stef exactly where I was standing, showed her the hand drying motion and she set off to look.

One person who had offered to help went back to his truck. He mentioned the manager was on the premises and his office was in the back somewhere. I told him what happened and he gave me the guys name. I went to the back office, explained that I wanted to leave my name and number in case someone turned it in, but he cut me off. “Well, I can tell you that if anyone finds it, they ain’t gonna bring it to me, that’s for sure.” I knew that in the back of my head, but I left him my number anyway. He came out with a bunch of quarters and helped us search.

He put a few quarters in the machine and sprayed water into the deeper puddles. He said the drains below the car stalls were 10 feet deep and no way in hell would he let me go down there. I told him I distinctly heard the ring roll and fly behind me, so looking down there wasn’t necessary. While he looked in the general area I had already looked, I set off across the street in the off chance it actually made it that far. The distance was about 50 feet so I knew it was a long shot. I figured if a ring is round, given the amount of force and momentum I gave it, it would keep rolling until something either stopped it (a car driving down the street) or that it came to rest along the curb where Stef parked her car.

I started searching along this curb where this silver Volvo was parked.

I used my shoe to brush away the debris along the curb and scanned up and down alongside it. Nothing. I looked up and saw Stef searching in the distance. I looked for the car wash manager and couldn’t find him. He probably went back to his office. I kept looking along the curb and my eyes gazed upon a storm drain. Maybe it fell in? I got on my hands and knees and my heart dropped.

The storm drain my ring fell in to. Across the street.

“BABY I FOUND IT!!!” I yelled at the top of my lungs! She ran over to me and looked down the drain. My ring was sitting on top of a single sheet of those blue shop towels, smack dab in the center of it, as the towel was floating on a pool of water. I was so excited and tried to lift the storm drain cover. Seriously, I tried. While Stef stood watch, I ran back to the office to look for the manager. I banged on his window screaming, “I found it I found it!” I told him it was in the drain and I needed some sort of stiff wire. He brought a spool of wire and I tried to fish it out. The wire wasn’t rigid enough, if I pushed it to much, the paper towel could break and the ring would’ve been lost forever. The manager went back to his office to find a pole of some sort. Minutes later he came back with a conduit pole. I fed the wire through, secured the wire to the pole and make a hook at the end. Ever so slightly I tried hooking my ring, keeping in mind I only had one shot. There was a point where the ring almost fell off, but I hooked the sucker like it was a Championship Stripped Bass.

I thanked the guy a zillion times while he constantly replied that he only had the materials and that I was the one who found it. Honestly though, without his help my ring would’ve been stuck there for good. I’m still in disbelief. Right when I didn’t hear my ring bounce anymore, I started praying to God that He help me find it. God made my ring roll across the busy street street about 100 feet, clear of any cars (keep in mind it’s a busy road), fall into a drain and ON TOP OF A PAPER TOWEL! He didn’t stop there though, he made sure the paper towel was a super absorbent shop towel. Any other towel would’ve broken down instantly (even Bounty) when I started prodding at it with the pole and wire. Moral of the story? Don’t wear your wedding band when you wash your car and trust in God for EVERYTHING.

Since this happened several months ago, I decided to actually measure the distance from where I stood to where the ring was. I used Google Maps and used the scale. Check out the picture below, it’s pretty amazing. Nearly 100 feet.

Notice the scale, each colored band is 20 feet!!

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backup backup backup

They say if your data isn’t in at least two locations, your data isn’t backed up. I just realized that I updated my active theme. In doing so, I lost my snarky “footer” image and a bunch of customized columns and widgets I created. Actually, the widgets are still there, but the image is gone. The auto update process probably unpacks the zip file and copies the folder on top of the previous. I’m so sad right now. I’ll have to recreate it, but I left my camera at home and I’m wearing the wrong shoes. Rats!

I contacted DreamHost to see if they had a backup. I was pleased to see in the cpanel that there were 3 restoration options with varying degrees of age. The first was one hour to one day old. The second was one day to two week old. The last was two weeks old or more. I forgot to mention one keyword they used for each option: usually. I tried each option and received restoration failures for every single one. Zilch, nada, nil, zero. This entire blog is about 1 gig only but DH states they don’t guarantee ANY backups. Since my site doesn’t receive much traffic I guess it’s not the end of the world. Expect a “How To” down the road about creating a cron job to automate the backup process to your home computer… Until then, keep an eye out for my footer. =(

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