Something Old-Something New

It has been too long since I tried to make a movie. A few years ago I became very adept at using iMovie on the Mac and went crazy converting my old Super 8 movies into digital media. Last week when I posted about my first Cattail bloom I tried posting a simple video from my phone. I couldn’t make it work. (I had to take and insert a  still photo of the Cattail to show it off).  So, I left  iMovie open and went to work on it. It took me a full week to re-learn iMovie, but it is getting a little easier, now that I know how to import from my phone, and to turn it into a project on iMovie. All of the stuff that was in the program five years ago is still there, but trying to find it now is not easy. It seems that the millennials working at Apple think differently than do I. I use my own logical thinking sequences to make things happen, and they use the mindless computer functions as the logic to make things happen. Then, they garble the whole thing up with computer speak that only the inventor of the computer and its accompanying language can understand.

I can not understand computer speak and must resort to trial and error to learn what works and what doesn’t. Most time I strike it lucky but then can’t redo the same function, or at least don’t understand what I just did. Mind you, I learned how to program a computer in 1962 on a rather clunky Royal McBee 5000 (the size of a kitchen stove) that needed step by step instructions in binary code to function. Computers and their programs have evolved tremendously since then. Thank you Lord! What hasn’t evolved as quickly is my brain. I think my brain stopped evolving about the same time I realized that programming a Royal McBee 5000 was not going to make me a living. Before facing a real physical Royal McBee 5000 on the job I had learned of computers from the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Illinois. They proudly possessed a hand made (Heathkit) personal analog computer the size of a drafting table which could add and subtract. Hidden behind the walls in another part of the school was a special lab that worked on a thing called the ILLIAC.  We only knew of its existence by rumor as the machine of the future. None of us really gave a damn.

Throughout my career, I fought the temptation to become a computer nerd. As a machine designer I prided myself on being able to visualize, and to hand draw machines. When I entered the mold making business this skill was most useful, I was able to design a plastic part in two dimensions in all planar views. Then I became adept at converting those views into a three dimensional perspective, and finally to convert that into a reverse image which was the picture of a mold cavity. Mold makers loved that. Because when you are machining a mold you are not machining the actual part but rather the hole into which the plastic flows to form the part. My images enabled them to get the job done much faster.

Sometime in the nineteen eighties the company began thinking the wave of the future was Computer Aided Design or CAD. Piggy backing onto that was Computer Aided Machining. Just think, draw the plastic part on the computer, push a button and the mold cavity will be ready to cut. Just clamp a piece of steel onto the milling machine table, install the cutting tool, press go, and walk away to take a break. They(computer salesman) made its sound that simple. Of course our company bought into it. It wasn’t until the late nineties that we came anywhere close to having the right computer, and the staff trained well enough to be able to think in computerese, computer controlled machines, and to give up the old ways. About five years into the program to convert our engineering department into nerdsville we met with the company experts from McDonald Aircraft who were selling the CAD/CAM system referred to as McAuto. I attended the meeting to express my dissatisfaction with their product. I asked the VP in charge if it was true that their aircraft division used this system to design the F15 jet fighter plane. “Why yes of course” was the reply. I said, I am surprised the wings on the F15 stay attached to the fuselage.”

“Why would you say that?”

“Because we use your system to model and machine our product, and at the intersection of the strap body (wing) to the cable tie head (fuselage) the system blows up and we cannot successfully complete the job. I can model and machine the job 1000 times faster using analog methods over the digital method capability.

What our problem was determined to be (note, it was our problem) was that we needed to make a design change at that intersection in order to make the system work. In other words, the system was incapable of replicating the geometry of our successful product, and now we were going to have to change the geometry to suit the capabilities of the CAD system. I was not a happy camper.  Luckily the owner of our company, the man who invented our product and insisted we keep the design exactly as he intended, allowed us to make this critical change and we moved forward.

So with all of the computer baggage behind me I am ceding to Apple’s latest iMovie system  to complete a short video which will become the basis of my new movie called 2020 Monet Vision-Retired. I selected the theme Retired because I fully expect this will be my last garden. I will use my iPhone exclusively to take videos and still photos of the garden as it blooms throughout the summer and use those clips to document this year’s gardening effort. I will post the finished product when it is complete, in the meantime here is the start, or in Hollywood terminology, the Trailer, but it is not really a Trailer because Trailers tell the whole story from beginning to end and my trailer is really just a Tease of what is to come, so here is the Tease.

 

 

 

Things I Have Forgotten

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last week I dreamed I was at work. It has been sixteen years since I have worked for a living, and being at work in the dream was delightful, except for one thing. I couldn’t remember a specific word that I used daily to describe a special property of the material we used to make our number one product. That spoiled my dream. Up to that point I enjoyed being an expert on the material properties. I liked to call myself an expert on the material but I was, and am still far from it, but compared to an ordinary Joe I am an expert. The same holds true for today, I am far from an expert on the use or workings of a computer, but I am further advanced in know-how than the circle of friends I hang with, they consider me a computer guru. I am also one to try to do things with a computer that no one else does, and I get very little help from anyone I know. For example, recently I conducted a class in which the students gave answers to a questionnaire. The result of the answers are meaningless unless they are compiled into an aggregate. I used Excel to do the job. I tried showing the total result to the class via a projector connected to my PC. The results were totally unreadable on the big screen. Nevertheless projecting data on a screen from a computer was impressive. The next week I imported the Excel data into a Power-Point program to display, they were better. I had used Excel in my work but this new Excel was so different it took me some time and experimentation to learn how to work with it. At the end, I concluded that although I finally made some nice graphs that the new Excel didn’t have the capabilities of the sixteen year older versions I had used. In my work I made some really comprehensive and detailed graphs to display data just like engineers did before computers. As the class progressed I kept adding more results to the Power Point until the class concluded. The last session will use the total results to make decisions about improvement projects.

While doing all this it became clear to me that I would like to show the Power Point presentation to more people. I thought I could just plug it in and play it in a loop over and over to use as a backdrop during a dinner. After much experimentation I learned that Power Point is not capable of looping.  To do what I wanted to do I would have to make a movie of my presentation. Not a problem I thought, I am very familiar with iMovie having made a dozen or so movies from my old super eight films. Except the latest iMovie program is now five years newer than the one I used forcing me to learn how to use iMovie all over again. In the process of learning, I discovered it would be easier to save my Power Point slides as jpeg images. You don’t want to know how much I swore at Apple while learning that to be necessary.

As I developed this movie using bland data I added my organization goals into the mix, now the movie was really bland. To spice things up I decided to add some canned videos before, and after my bland data, short, colorful, and informative videos one before and one after. The movie got better, except that the videos would not draw everyone into the presentation, so I added home video snips from my organization activities. This added personality to the thing and tied it all together. Making the movie was becoming easier as I repeatedly experimented with the various elements.

When I had a finished product to my satisfaction I found the loop feature in iMovie and added it; wallah mission accomplished except it wouldn’t loop.

I was giving up at this point and said it is time to burn this project to disk so I can play it on any kind of player. I set it up to burn using iDVD. I’ve used iDVD successfully many times. This time I let the computer run for twenty-eight hours before I finally shut it off to try something else. I examined the disk and there is no evidence of any transfer. I tried playing the disk and it showed up empty. In the back of my head I kept wondering if using videos from YouTube had anything to do with it. Yep it does (most likely because it is copyrighted material). I removed the videos, and the movie burned albeit with out some key entertainment. In desperation I tried showing the original file which I had saved as an MP4 on my projector and it played, but it won’t loop. I gave up and have not touched it since. Maybe it will come to me in a dream.

Today, I was delivering food to a family in need with my Lions Club and the word popped into my head, hygroscopic! That is the property of nylon that gives it the ability to gain or lose moisture from the atmosphere. Then the words nucleated, amorphous, crystalline all popped into my mind; my dream is now successfully finished.

Have you ever heard the adage “I have forgotten more than you will ever know?”

 

Secret Places Where Features Hide

Each year I try to make my garden different. Even though there are elements that cannot change easily like a pond, hard-scaping, and all the perennials. There is however, plenty of opportunity to paint a picture in the blank spaces using different colors and plant materials. This year one of my goals was to plant a garden that would deter rabbits. I think I succeeded, that is the rabbits have given me the impression that I have succeeded. The episodes of Wabbit Wars have been sparse because the Wabbits have not been able to get to me as often.

My color palette is yellow and orange. I elected different varieties of Marigolds and sought out other species of yellow flowers to mix in like the gold Celosia, Lysimachia, Lantana, Marguerite Daisy, and Orange Joy Asiatic lily.  Close planting and weekly foliar fertilization helped the plants spread out and finally fill in the canvas. A seven minute video of the same plants would be terribly boring, so I decided to add some interest with winter scenes and an escape to the desert while I waited for Spring to arrive.

Yesterday, I posted a trailer using a new version of iMovie. It was my training session on how to use this new version of a program I was very comfortable with. The new version made posting on YouTube easier, but I felt it harder to compose the movie. There are so many short cuts built into this version that I had trouble doing things that make a movie a movie. The older version is more oriented to real movie makers. This new version targets a person interested in speed. I am sure all the features of the old version are in this new one, but I’m too old to want to spend all that time looking for the drop downs and secret places where features hide. In that regard, iMovie is a lot like Windows, it is the same stuff reorganized to make it look new and to make you work to find things. In a way, iMovie 10.0.4 is like my garden, it has many exciting things to see, but one must explore to find them.

Personal guided tours of the garden are available upon request. My favorite time to give a tour is between January and March, I spend less time touring and more time imbibing.

Please enjoy my garden called “The 2014-Monet Vision, Golden Glow”

A

 

Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks

iMovie

Image via Wikipedia

Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?  I am living proof that it is possible. This post represents two new tricks.

First, I have learned how to convert my old super-8 home movies into DVD through the magical program iMovie. Second, I’ve added the ability to add audio and video to this BLOG.

The video  above is my first try at making a video and the first try at uploading into this masterpiece of personal aptitude and creativity, Grumpa Joe’s Place.

I have also added a new dimension, Grumpa Joe’s Place Productions, and will soon be boring you with new video’s from the past, and offering full length films for sale.

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