Welcome to BlogDogIt Friday, February 23 2018 @ 09:16 PM EST

Globally "Not" Understood

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masodo's musings
The "not" face.

not face

It's A Global Phenomenon.

According to a recent study published in Journal Cognition and reported by QUARTZ there has been identified a universal facial expression of negative moral judgment and this look has been dubbed the "not face".

BlogDogit.com wishes to offer the world the "not" text emogee. Featured in the above image the expression for negative moral judgement may now be expressed with the following keystrokes: exclaimation → minus → left square bracket. This produces:  !-[

Thanks to this brand new emoticon we should soon be seeing those judgemental looks of disapproval in every corner of the inter-webs... and it's about damn time !-[

 

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Embed Archive.org iFrames in SMF Forum Hack

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masodo's musings

At Archive.orgIn order to embed video in a Simple Machines Forum (SMF) installation I added the Embed BBCode v.2.0 plugin to my site and was happy enough until the time came where I wanted to embed a PDF hosted by Archive.org.

These PDFs are delivered via "<iframe>" and are not compatible with the plugin. I was able to hack my install to allow safe and effective inclusion of Archive.org hosted PDFs to my site.

Here is how I did it...

First, save a back-up of /Sources/Subs.php

Then Modify ==>  /Sources/Subs.php  

after line 1226,  before:

1227                     else
1228                              $tag['content'] = '$1';

insert the following code (watch the word-wrap - this is two lines between the comments):

// begin masodos MOD to embed Archive.org iFrames
elseif (preg_match('~iframe.+src=(?:&quot;|[\'"])(?:https?:)?//archive.org/stream/(.*?)(?:&quot;|[\'"])~i'.($context['utf8'] ? 'u' : ''), $data[0], $matches))
$tag['content'] = '<iframe src=https://archive.org/stream/' . $matches[1] . ' width=$2 height=$3 frameborder=0 allowfullscreen></iframe>';

// end masodos MOD to embed Archive.org iFrames

 

Of course you will make this modification at your own peril and will not hold me responsible for any ills that may befall you as a result of utilizing this hack but I wish this was available sooner, I would have tried it.

 

I'm using it with much success - See it in action here:
http://www.mtzionindy.org/vestibule/index.php?topic=93.0
Read the popular "Earth's Earliest Ages" by George H. Pember  free online

 

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Smart Tass Commuter

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masodo's musings

Persistence pays (but sometimes only the minimum.) Be that as it may... today I captured on film - (well, actually that's not right) we need to come up with another term to replace "Caught On Film" because it will soon be a phrase that will make no sense to folks... - anyway, I finally took some pictures of this car I have been seeing occasionally on my daily commute for the last year or so.

I have told people about this and have actually attempted to get some snaps a couple of times before (without success.) This zippy little "smart" car is about as easy to get in frame as a hummingbird or butterfly. So although the pictures I have are of basic "Bigfoot evidence" quality, I am sure you will see here that this creature does indeed exist. [Indiana Plates]
 


Click the picture for a larger version.

 

As a side note (or foot note) to this: I made an interesting discovery in my dissemination of this little presentation... Since the pictures I took were basically crap I did what any red-blooded photographer would do; Use Them Anyway. The creation of an animated GIF pretty much precluded me from sharing this on facebook so I resigned myself to sharing on Twitter and BlogDogIt. But, lo and behold, I found when I went to save the image from twitter (to use to illustrate this article) it offered for me to save as an MP4 video file. (Free GIF to MP4 converter, people!) Facebook readily accepted this video file and so this goofy little project has infiltrated that corner of cyberspace.

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Turn Your (Internet Streaming) Radio On...

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masodo's musings

Don't you just hate it when bloggers feel the need to apologize for not posting in a while - as if the absence of a single blog would have any noticeable impact on anyone's day-to-day life? It is usually a waste of words and if anyone really cared what they had to say then that sort of "Welcome me back everyone!" language only gets in the way of what it is they really have to say. So I will spare you all the apology and go right for the excuse: I have been busy building a Streaming Internet Radio Station.

Through the years I have toyed with streaming internet radio so I was somewhat familiar with the technologies when the Church asked if I thought it possible to broadcast the Sunday Morning Services live via the internet. I've heard it said that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing but through the last few weeks the knowledge has increased and the danger is subsiding. I wanted to share a little bit about what it took to get this station on the air in case anyone else gets the "calling" to go to work on "The Master's Radio."

Mt. Zion General Baptist Church on the South Side of Indianapolis is a quaint chapel and education center with a diverse congregation and very much in touch with the world outside of their doors. From their active Facebook presence to a preacher who has forsaken the classic pulpit for a freestanding, lightweight iPad on a floor stand, it might be safe to say you are likely to find the Luddites squirming in their seats even more-so than the sinners when 10:30 Sunday morning rolls around.

Microphones have long been a staple of those whose labor has them taking the stage and as a result a sound control booth has been installed in the rear of the sanctuary. The hymnals have all but been replaced by the projector that shines the sing-along song lyrics on the large screen in the front of the hall. And while the booth was equipped with a computer what it lacked was a connection to the internet. So the plan was simple: 1.) Connect the computer to the internet. 2.) Connect the mixer board to the computer. 3.) Stream the output of the sound system to the world.

In addition to broadcasting the Sunday show live each week we decided it would be a good idea to record the show for rebroadcasts throughout the week. Rather than having a Radio station that featured dead-air a large percentage of the time it was also decided that we should be streaming something 24 hours a day / 7 days a week.

I will spare you all the step-by-steps it took to get this thing going but I would like to discuss some of the bigger hurdles that had to be crossed in the realization of our goal to get this broadcast "on the air." First of all, to everyone who ever snickered at me for still working in the world of the Windows XP Operating System I say "he who laughs last, laughs best" -HaHa!

"Back in the day" it was no problem to record or broadcast the very sound coming from the speakers of your computer, but were you aware that computer manufacturers along with Windows 7 have removed that ability from the modern system? Neither was I. This meant that although I could record the broadcast as it was coming in through the input on the computer I was unable to play the file back out for later rebroadcasts. There were several workarounds for this however, from using a cable to take the output from the headphone jack and feed it back into the "Line-In" jack,  to a $500 DJ Software package. Neither of these approaches appealed to me especially in light of my knowledge that this was a built in feature of a Windows XP - Pentium 4 machine.

The Church's technology director donated a newer Dell machine which was running XP to the project but as its integrated audio was already a victim of the "Thou Shalt Not Stream" edict I was forced to dust off an old SoundBlaster PCI expansion card and install it into the server to add "Wave Out" to the software mixers. We were therefor ready to rock-it old school!

The most popular server software for Streaming Internet Audio is - without a doubt - "Shoutcast" which I installed and configured but after a brief trial run soon learned that the features provided by the second most popular streaming server "Icecast" would be better suited for our situation. While Shoutcast worked just fine for general broadcasting I encountered a problem where listeners were getting dropped when making the transition from prerecorded to live audio. Icecast is designed to seamlessly transition listeners from one source to another and as such has become our choice. Both of these software packages are open-source and freely available.

In my previous forays into Streaming Internet Radio I had only ever used a rather questionable bit of software known as Winamp since it had a plug-in that would turn it into a streaming audio source, connectable to the server software. I had come to know Winamp as being a bit intrusive into the host system so decided I would scour the internet for another option from the world of open-source and came across a gem of a program known as "butt" (ha ha, I know, right?) B.U.T.T. actually stands for Broadcast Using This Tool. Not only is this software aptly named, it is probably the only sourcing software you would ever need (provided you could get your sound card to deliver it the noise it needs.)

Although butt has the built-in ability to record the stream as it goes out, I was only interested in recording the Sunday Morning Service for later broadcast so I turned to MPlayer to piggyback and dump the stream to a file at the required time. Once the pieces were in place it was time to automate things. If you ever use a computer for repeated tasks and are not automating these tasks (at least to some degree) then you are missing out on one of the best things about personal computing. This custom project "cried-out" to be automated and before too long I found myself in the middle of a fun little logic puzzle / programming challenge.

Since I am no stranger to the DOS command line I knew I could get this thing running with batch files. What I was not quite aware of was how troublesome it is to get the Scheduled Tasks feature of Windows to play along and run batch files without fail. When it was all said and done however, I learned many valuable lessons and ultimately delivered on my promise to bring Streaming Internet Radio to MtZionIndy.org.

Tune-in, won't you?

If this sounds like something you are into and need help working through some of the "finer points" feel free to leave any questions you might have in comments or email me for more information.

 

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PJ Has Created A Monster

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masodo's musings

Big Biting Pig ProductionsI can't decide if Big Biting Pig Productions is truly getting better with every project or if I am just becoming that much more of a fan. Whatever the case may be, I came away from my viewing of PJ Woodside's Frances Stein with a fresh appreciation for that crafty band of horror-bent denizens of Madisonville, Kentucky.

This year was PJ's turn to head-up the project and not only did she decide to bring us a completely original take on the beloved "mad scientist" genre, she made the very bold move of casting herself into the shoes of lead/title character (in addition to wearing hats of writer, co-producer, director and likely any other role one can ascribe to a master of independent film production.)

Big Biting Pig ProductionsI must confess that in the days, weeks and months leading up to the release of this picture I was a little nervous regarding PJ Woodside assuming such a monumental role in the success or failure of the project. I have seen every film released by Big Biting Pig Productions (make that 9 now) and am very familiar with spotting PJ on screen in one supporting role or another but would never have expected her to be our leading lady. Simply put... What was I thinking? PJ was the perfect choice to play the brilliant (but whacked-out) suffering scientist driven to madness, ultimately by the effectiveness of her discoveries.

Big Biting Pig ProductionsFrances Stein plays as much to the heart as to the horror. Fans of PJ's work will be quick to tell you that she is not content with knocking your socks off (which this film certainly does) she must grab you by the "gray-matter" and pull you to the edge of your seat. You will want to experience this story first hand so my advice to you is to avoid any synopsis or (other) reviews and get thee to a screening of what is sure to become the talk of the indie horror circuit. This one will become already is a classic.

Followers of Big Biting Pig Productions will recognize many familiar faces on screen and/or names when the credits roll. If you do not do as I did and applaud as those credits roll I would be very much surprised.

Thanks and congratulations to entire cast and crew on yet another successful release.

Be sure to see: GIFed Mad Scientist

 

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Too Uncomfortable for Comfort

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masodo's musings

The NeighborhoodI really have to admire the skill with which Kendall F. Person (publicblogger.com) adds excitement to an already exciting event. By directing each of the artist competing in the perennial best of the web show (known this year by the cosmic/magical title "A Star Is Born") to submit performances for round three in genre that fall outside of the artist's admitted comfort zone, Kendall has leveled the playing field and delivered to fans of the show a deeply entertaining gimps into the minds of the contestants. Add to that, the fact that for this show a "Panel of Judges" was assembled as a further means to thwart anyone's assumptions regarding the outcome for week three of the competition.

Kendall PeaceI was approached by Kendall via a pre-existing social media connection we share and asked if I would consider joining the panel; a task I readily accepted and one I would almost immediately regret having accepted.

Now don't get me wrong, I am a long time fan of The Neighborhood at ThePublicBlogger.com and am always happy to contribute to the content in terms of comments and discussion but little did I realize that in addition to steering the artists outside of their comfort zone he had every intention of putting this judge right alongside the competitors - a front row seat you might say - too close for comfort...

In addition to finding myself in the "Lead" position of the four member panel of judges, I was also informed - as-a-matter-of-factly - that I would be required to record a brief audio or video statement to the competitors and submit that along with the results of our voting process. I accepted this caveat outwardly with humility and resignation while internally I was coming to terms with the fact that in so doing I too would be required to step outside of my creativity comfort zone. Positively brilliant!

InfinitelyRemoteIt should be of no surprise that I am more in my element with words that are considered and then written and would always prefer to remain behind the camera than to venture onto its shinier side. The video I dutifully submitted required my spoken word and myself on camera as "me" and to share that self with the world. Adding to the pressures of stepping-out from behind that curtain of mystery which webmaster wizardry provides, loomed a deadline that gave only 14 hours to judge the performances and create the video and - oh yes - sleep.

You probably will not be able to tell from this presentation but trust me when I say, this is some of the greatest fun I have had blogging in quite some time. I would never have thought that that blogging efforts would impart to me feelings akin to those felt on that fateful day when I stepped backward off a 60 foot cliff to experience the thrill of rappelling for the first time. But it has, and I have Kendall F. Person to thank for the assignment. I can honestly say I have a new appreciation for what those performers that now find themselves competing in the spotlight of "A Star Is Born" must be feeling.

Not that I am destined to enter the Vlogosphere or anything, but I do hope you Enjoy!
 

 The Video: https://youtu.be/0Aag2AIcUhs

Awesome Music Featured With The Very Kind Permission of:
Rob From Amersfoort
From the album:
Failed Entertainment
This Is Not A Good Day
  If You Don't Like It - Give It Back

Robs Webstek - with history, art, old photographs, maps and more... by Rob From Amersfort

Thanks Rob!

 

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Luna Sanguinis - Study

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masodo's musings

Updated Post: Now Featuring Music By Jens Lekman & Annika Norlin


 

Blood Moon

This postcard is from me [Jens Lekman] and the always amazing Annika Norlin. We wrote this together in a few hours and recorded our vocals in the voice memo apps on our phones...

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Sound Trek

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masodo's musings
Sounds Like a Plan

While the original unedited video I shot at the Church Cookout / Water Balloon Fight was a lot of fun to watch its sound quality was pretty awful mostly because the location for the event was the windy courtyard situated between the Church and the highway. Even the portions of audio that were not offensive had very little to offer in the grand scheme of this "documentary" and so I decided to edit all clips with the sound removed. I figured once I had the video where I wanted it I would seek out music to accompany the footage. This was somewhat the opposite of what I had done for the Rockin'4God video where I had first completed the soundtrack and then built the visuals around that.

Rockin'4God was a major project that did not surface until nearly three weeks after the event; for this production I assigned myself the arbitrary deadline of having it finished before one week had passed. As it turned out I met that deadline with a few hours to spare.

I almost turned to Cinelarra on Centos to work on this project but I have never really taken the time to become comfortable there since I installed it awhile back. Instead I called upon those open-source utilities I have grown to know so well over the years: I am referring to VirtualDub, Audacity, MPlayer/Mencoder, ffmpeg and good-old-fashioned DOS batch files.

The Samsung HMX-F90 camera I use produces MP4 files in-camera and I was recording in HD 1280 X 720. This was probably a waste since I end up converting everything down to 720 X 402 anyway (to better match the poor performance of my Pentium 4 editing station) but staying true to the maxim "Garbage in. Garbage out." I wanted to give this project every chance for success. 

The first step after uploading the original files to the computer was to batch-remove the audio and down-sample each clip to get those files I would be taking into the video editor. I turned to Mencoder for this task and created the following batch file to process all MP4 files in its same container directory:

desound-720.bat

for %%t in (*.mp4) do <pathto>mencoder.exe %%t -vf scale -zoom -xy 720 -nosound -ovc lavc -lavcopts vcodec=mpeg4:vbitrate=2084 -ofps 30 -o "%%t.NS.avi"

This command resulted in the creation of files named the same as the original video clips but with the appendage of ".NS.avi" - these files being ready to go for editing in Virtual Dub.

I knew going into the editing process that there would be five major segments in the telling of this story:

  1.   Opening Titles
  2.   Pre-War Preparations
  3.   Cookout
  4.   Balloon Battle
  5.   Post-War Cleanup
  6.   Closing Title

I created six folders in the projects working folder to correspond with these segments. As each clip was edited down to their essential bits they were saved in their appropriate folder and given a new name corresponding to their segment membership and the order in which they were shot (e.i. OT_001.avi, PW_001.avi, CO_001.avi, etc...)

The title cards were created in PhotoShop and saved-out as JPG files of the proper dimensions to match the video. These images needed to be converted into AVI video files so they could be incorporated into the film. I have found ffmpeg to be the perfect utility for this operation and have created the following reusable batch file to handle the task:

pic2vid.bat

rem Usage pic2vid <input_img> <seconds-N> <fps-N>

<pathto>ffmpeg.exe -loop_input -f image2 -i %1 -r %3 -t 00:00:%2 -vcodec libx264 -an %1.avi

The Awesome Power of DOS - 15 seconds @ 30 fps

This allowed me to create a video clip from a still image that is compatible with Virtual Dub. It must however be converted from within Virtual Dub (saved-out as AVI) to give it the same characteristics as all other video clips.

When a video clip has been edited in "V-Dub" it must be saved as AVI using "full processing mode" configured to use the desired compression codec/scheme - I saved all edits for this video using ffdshow codec as I find it results in a very compact file size while still retaining a high degree of quality.

Once everything had been edited down and converted I used the following batch file to gang process the collection of clips into four distinct segments:

joinclips.bat

<pathto>mencoder -oac copy -ovc copy -o WBM1.avi Title001c.avi PW1_0005-001.avi PW1_0006-001.avi PW1_0007-001.avi PW1_0008-001.avi PW1_0009-001.avi PW1_0012-001.avi PW1_0013-001.avi PW1_0014.avi PW1_0015.avi

<pathto>mencoder -oac copy -ovc copy -o WBM2.avi PW2_0014-001.avi PW2_0015-001.avi PW2_0016-001.avi PW2_0017-001.avi PW2_0018-001.avi PW2_0019-001.avi PW2_0020-001.avi PW2_0021-001.avi PW2_0022-001.avi PW2_0023-001.avi PW2_0024-001.avi PW2_0026-001.avi PW2_0027-001.avi

<pathto>mencoder -oac copy -ovc copy -o WBM3.avi WAR_0028-001.avi WAR_0029-001.avi

<pathto>mencoder -oac copy -ovc copy -o WBM4.avi PWR_0031-001.avi PWR_0032-001.avi PWR_0033-001.avi PWR_0034-001.avi PWR_0035-001.avi PWR_0036-001.avi PWR_0037-001.avi PWR_0038-001.avi startend.avi TheEND.avi

This resulted in four video files: WBM1.avi (Opening & Pre-War), WBM2.avi (Cookout), WBM3.avi (Battle), WBM4.avi (Post-War & Closing)

With these chapter videos "in the can" I was now ready to scour the internet in search of musical accompaniment for each unique segment. I now knew the length of each portion and took my search to Archive.org knowing that they would likely offer a grand selection of public domain music from which to choose. When I would come across something that seemed it might work I would play the video in one Mplayer instance while simultaneously playing the audio selection in another Mplayer instance. Using this technique I had located several pieces of music that would serve the purpose.

Foley ToolWhile previewing the video in this way - with an ear bent toward the audio accompaniment - I spotted a scene wherein Pastor Mike slipped and fell (albeit gracefully) in the wet grass. It was at this point I thought how fun it would be to synchronize the sound from a slide-whistle - ala cartoon comedy. I figured I could lay this sound down in Audacity (where I planed to build the audio track anyhow) so again I ventured out to the internet to find that familiar slide-whistle "fall-down" sound and before I knew it I was hunting down water balloon breaking sounds, various splats and splashes, and any other sound effect I thought might take this production to a new level.

Using VirtualDub to time required sound effectsOnce all the necessary sound effect files were assembled they were converted to WAV format and normalized to common levels converted from stereo to monophonic where necessary and then re-converted to MP3 format to be used in the sound track. The obvious next step involved listing each sound to apply and its precise timing information. I started jotting these times on a legal pad but soon began to feel that a timeline style form would offer a more instinctive way to make these notations. After searching the internet for a pre-made form and finding none I decided to whip something up in CorelDRAW to do the job. Now the internet contains at least one option for the downloading of a timeline work sheet [download: AV-CueSheet.pdf]

In all there are nineteen separate sound tracks utilized in the making of this video. The screenshot below shows the finished audio layout as a clickable image map. Hovering over each track will display its function while clicking a track will play its associated sound file. In order to create the finished tracks as efficiently as possible a count was made of how many of each sound effect was required and that number of copies was placed within its assigned track with approximately 2 seconds between each instance. The job then became one of working down each sound track row and adjusting the timespan (as measured from 0 starting point) by inserting precisely measured silence between each until all sounds were positioned at their exactly prescribed position along the track. Each of the various sound tracks were completed one at a time until the job was complete. Several adjustments in volume were performed throughout in a effort to balance many competing sounds.

 Click on the pictured tracks below to hear their mp3 audio file.

Audacity Map Click To See Larger (Non-Mapped) Image Music - Ride of the Valkyries SFX - Dripping Faucet SFX - Filling Bucket SFX - Ker-Splash SFX - Highway Sounds Music - WINDLASS AND CAPSTAN Music - HICKSVILLE Music - Wolverine Blues SFX - Cart Wheels Combo SFX - Ambient Noise Music - CUSTARD PIE CAPERS SFX - Mini-Splatsh SFX - Mega-Splatsh SFX - Geyser SFX - Bird Whistle Music - FRED KARNOS ARMY Music - Pop Corn SFX - Slow Motion Splash SFX - Splatsh

 

The finished audio job was exported as MP3 to a single file that was mated as audio source for the silent video file in Virtual Dub. Since there was no video processing to be done the export was accomplished using direct copy of source audio and video. The entire blending of audio to video took less than two minutes to process.

The published video ["The Water Balloon Fight Movie"] represents the first and only version of this project. I am sure I could spend many more hours tweaking this and adjusting that but I am very pleased with this video and have learned a trick or two that may factor in to my next video project. I can hardly wait to find out what that is going to be.

 

 

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