Week of 12 October 2009
Update: Thursday, 15 October 2009 09:25 -0400
Barbara is due back this afternoon, so Malcolm and I are both happy.
She needs some time away periodically, when she can just relax and not
have to worry about taking care of the house, not to mention me and
I'm still working on Science Room articles, stuff for
Maker Shed, and configuring science kits for Christmas and for Maker
Faire next year. Today, I'm inoculating some prepared Petri dishes,
hoping to grow some photogenic cultures. I'll expose a couple of dishes
to the open air for an hour in the den (where there's an air cleaner)
and outdoors. I was also going to swab the inside of the toilet bowl
and Malcolm's mouth to compare the cultures that grow from those two
sources. The toilet bowl was cooperative. Malcolm kept trying to eat
the swab, so I guess I'll substitute my computer keyboard or my
telephone for Malcolm's mouth.
One of my big problems in writing up these articles and shooting videos
is that I think, write, and speak as a scientist, e.g., "5 mL of
hydrochloric acid was transferred to the reaction vessel ..." instead
of "I transferred 5 mL of hydrochloric acid to the flask", or, better
still, "pour in 5 mL of hydrochloric acid." I sent a copy of a rough
draft of the bacteria culturing insert to the Make team yesterday. Dan
Woods mailed back to say it was comprehensive but needed a little
punching up. And he's right.
I thought of me the other night when Barbara and I were watching one of the Bones series 4 DVDs. Here's a short clip from one of the episodes
that shows Dr. Temperance "Bones" Brennan and her father, who's a
top-notch science teacher, interacting with several kids. As I watched
it, I realized I come across like Bones, when what I need to do is come across like her dad.
before anyone points it out, I realize the "science" in this clip
is totally bogus; it shows reflection rather than refraction (not
to mention a *very* slow light beam), and the reason the light beam is
visible is the Tyndall Effect (scattering of a light beam in a colloid)
rather than the Jell-O "molecules" being "close together".
I know I do go on about fundamentalist religious nutters, but they
really are crazier and more dangerous than most people can bring
themselves to believe. Here's an example of advice for young people
from the Watchtower, published by the nutcase Jehovah's Witnesses.
Note bullet point two. "A well-intentioned teacher urges you to pursue
higher education at a university." Quelle horreur, that anyone would
dare to encourage a young person to pursue a university education. The
Dark Ages called. They want their religion back.
Wednesday, 14 October 2009
I'm cranking away on editing videos. I don't much like the Mac, so I
decided to take another look at some of the non-linear editing software
available for Linux. I think I've settled on Cinelerra,
one I'd considered before but originally rejected because it looked too
complicated. I liked the looks of it the first time I looked at NLE's
for Linux, but it has so many options that I thought I'd never be able
to master it well enough to do simple video editing. From reading
comments from people who edit video for a living, it seems that
Cinelerra compares favorably in features and power with professional
video editing packages like Adobe Premiere Pro and Apple Final Cut Pro.
working with it for a couple of hours this morning, I still have no
clue what most of the features are for, but at least I think I've
gotten to the point where I can use it for simple editing. I'm sure
I'll figure out more of its features as I go along. One nice thing is
that simple rendering of .dv files to .mov or .mpg format is nearly
real-time on my quad-processor system. That is, rendering a two-minute
.dv clip to .mov or .mpg takes only a couple minutes. That means I can
play around quite a bit without wasting too much time.
Thursday, 15 October 2009
Autumn has arrived here in the last few days. Yesterday, the high
didn't make it much above 50 °F (10 °C), with a constant drizzle, and
the low tomorrow night is to be in the upper 30s (~4 °C). Malcolm
always turns frisky with the lower temperatures. Well, friskier.
I'm still shooting and editing video.
Saturday, 17 October
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