Author Archives: Ray

Food Shows

As should be evident to anyone that’s been reading my blog, I love cooking, whether it’s at home, in the bush or even eating out and watching someone else cook. I’m always looking for different ways to make meals enjoyable as well as easy to prepare, so I often watch various food shows on TV and will watch the Food channel on SBS quite frequently. It’s not that I watch all the shows, there are some that I simply dislike, with baking shows being my least favourite. And what person created Cup Cake Wars? I also don’t like pretentious food shows where the host/s use obscure or difficult to source ingredients that require far more skill to prepare than indicated. And I generally dislike any food show that involves competition. I used to enjoy the latter, up to a point, but My Kitchen Rules killed that pleasure after around the third show with their ever increasing emphasis on personality fights rather than cooking. Imagine how pleasant a show it could be if it pitted contestants in good-natured competition.

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Making Movies – Part 6

I mentioned in Part 4 that gear wasn’t the most important thing when producing video and it’s not, but there are things that can make your video production easier and more importantly interesting, as I’ve been slowly finding out. Video production is all about conveying a story through visual impact; movement, light and manipulation of scenes, movement being one important aspect, and not forgetting sound and editing, as I mentioned in Part 5. This is how video provides the story that words provide in a book; you can’t leave it to the reader’s imagination, you have to create the imagination and that’s what I’ve been discovering. To that end, there are tools or accessories available that help you to create that imagination, as opposed to simply pointing a bare camera at things. You could achieve reasonable results with nothing more than a hand held camera, and movies have been done that way, but the results may not be as good unless that’s the effect that you want.

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Kensington Trackball Mouse

For someone that uses a computer a lot and after years of various frustrations using a regular computer mouse for my daily work, I finally had enough of my current Microsoft wireless laser mouse. The wireless on the mouse worked fine, but I was forever having to replace and/or clean the mouse pad, and always looking for an alternative pad that would keep the mouse working properly. No matter what I tried, the surface would eventually begin to wear, develop a shiny or dirty surface and the mouse would stop working or jump about erratically. I was using hard surface pads, but cleaning didn’t seem to make any difference, as the shiny spots that appeared on even the best of surfaces would cause the mouse to misbehave. It got to the point that numerous times during the day I’d be swearing and ready to throw the mouse at a wall because it became so frustrating. It was time to try something new.

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Affordable Electricity – A Fading Dream?

As we slowly risk becoming de-industrialised as effective, efficient and cheap energy sources are supplanted with the complete opposite, we now have to deal with an energy market that treats every customer with utter disdain. Energy providers are like banks, where they assume that existing customers will simply remain as customers because it’s too difficult to go looking for change. In many cases that may well be true, especially with the way banks provide information and when you’re often committed to credit card accounts, loans etc where to change means having to amend numerous payment accounts and experience other difficulties. Even the regular credit card replacement involves some angst as you sort through the necessary changes. When it comes to utilities, it’s a ‘little’ easier as you’re only transferring from one supplier to another and not changing your bank account, but that doesn’t mean it’s painless.

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MJX Bugs 3 – Part 5

Just when I thought I’d finished this particular series, I decided to do an additional modification to the MJX and so it would have been completely remiss of me not to detail what I did and how things worked out. As I mentioned in Part 4, I’d been modifying the camera mount to try and get more stable shots and, even though my flying was improving, there was no way that I was going to produce smooth and steady video with these rigid mounts. I really did need a motorised gimbal and so that’s what I ended up getting, a two axis gimbal (to control pitch and roll) that kind of ticked all the important boxes and didn’t cost a ridiculous amount of money. I thought of getting a three axis gimbal, but with the type of video that I wanted to produce, a two axis should fit the bill quite well.

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Where There’s Smoke

It’s now the beginning of Winter and the cold weather has kicked in with a vengeance. After quite a mild spell during the last days of Autumn, the first days of Winter have been bitterly cold, with mornings in our yard down to 2C and elsewhere below zero. Having all these gum trees in our yard gives us a small amount of protection from the clear cold nights and mornings, but a few degrees difference is neither here nor there, it’s still damn cold. It especially feels so much colder because of the warm(ish) weather we’ve experienced over Autumn and less than a week or so ago. So much for global warming, we seem to be missing out on it big time and even our wood-fired heater seems to be feeling the cold, requiring a lot more nurturing to bring out the heat and warm the house.

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The Gippsland MAMIL

The MAMIL, Middle-Aged Man (or Men) In Lycra, a sub-species of Treadlyagluteus Irresponsibilus* (yes, I made that up), is the bane of road users throughout Australia. Many are a law unto their own, especially when it comes to groups, as they take over streets and roads like the Mongol Hordes of old, ravaging everything in their path. Victoria’s Hell Ride being the most notorious gathering of MAMIL tribal warriors in Australia. Hell Riders have no mercy, razing everything in their path and woe betide anyone that gets in their way. Of course it’s always the fault of others and, as with any primitive tribe, the tribe comes together to support the tribal member. And in Gippsland, MAMILs, can appear at any time, anywhere, taking over the narrow and sometimes hazardous roads, spurning all others.

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Mother Of All Rally Drivers

Possibly the most dangerous time of the day to be on the roads is weekdays between 8:00am – 9:00am and then between 3:00pm – 4:00pm, that’s when the family rally drivers are in their interminable rush to get their billy lids to school. Nothing is allowed to get in their way and speed limits are for suckers. So it is throughout Australia, whether it’s in the suburbs or out in rural areas such as where we live. Not only is it a dangerous time, it almost seems like insanity to be on the roads while these rally drivers are about, competing with other rally drivers that care not one iota for who or what is around them, driven only by the need to get their progeny to their various daycare centres (schools). It’s worse still if there is more than one stage to cover and they are running a few minutes late.

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Making Movies – Part 5

While the story, as discussed in Part 4, is still the most important aspect of video, there are two technical aspects that are pretty much vital to video post-production (compiling the story), software and hardware (a decent computer). As I mentioned earlier, I’ve been using Cyberlink PowerDirector for a while now because it’s not too bad a video editing suite. It’s well priced and, more importantly, it will run on my nearly 10 year old PC. So with PowerDirector and my old PC I’ve been able to produce all of my YouTube videos, but that old PC (Dell Studio XPS) has really been starting to show its age. It’s frequently rather slow, even when running moderate tasks and often running out of memory when doing several things at once. I knew that it was on its last legs as far as any photographic or video editing was concerned and my fears became more immediate when one of my monitors started to play up, which I confirmed was the graphics card starting to flounder. Getting parts for this PC was becoming difficult, so I was now more or less forced into looking at something new and more capable earlier than I anticipated.

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Mobius 2 – A Dash of Action

As I noted last week, just when I thought things were going quite well with the MJX, the dash cam started playing up big time. While the dash cam was working OK while on direct power after the internal battery ballooned and was removed, for some reason video recording suddenly became sporadic and unreliable. One minute it would record and the next, nothing. I lost a lot of practice footage thinking the camera was recording, but when I went to view the footage, I’d have large files on the SD card but all I’d see is a black screen on playback. Basically, the camera recorded nothing, but still used space on the card. Given that the entire point of buying a drone was so that I could take aerial footage on our Cruises and other places, not just to fly the thing around, I now needed another camera and therein lay the problem. What to get that would be drone compatible, provide good video and that was reasonably priced?

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