Bill’s Blog

Just sharing my thoughts (which are my own and not those of my employer)

Archive for the ‘Apple’ tag

Experimenting With Real-Time HD Video Capture

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With dwindling free disk cpace on my MacbookPro, I went looking for alternative ways of capturing video from my HDV camcorder. My guess was that I’d need to buy a 1394 hard drive. Since My Macbook Pro has only a single 1394a connector, I wondered if the bus would support two streams at the same time – one from the camera to the Mac and one from the Mac to the HDD.

I borrowed a friends G-drive. I knew that this solution was more than my budget for this project, but I thought it would give me an idea of what would work. I used iMovie 08 in all experiments.

Experiment #1 – 1394b

The first experiment I did was to capture a 7 minute HDV video with the HDD connected via 1394b. As expected, this setup worked like a charm. The camera was connected to the computer via 1394a and the HDD via 1394b.

Experiment #2 – 1394a

This setup was slightly more complex than the first. Since there is only one 1394a port on my Mac, I had to use the 1394a hub in my Apple Cinema display to connect both the HDD and the camcorder. In this test, iMovie switched back and forth from real-time capture to 3/4 speed HDV capture. In the middle of the test the fans on the computer sounded like a jet engine. Ultimately I was successful at capturing video, but it appeared to be the most taxing of the three experiments.

Experiment #3 – USB 2.0

I was originally only looking at comparing 1394a and 1394b, but for some reason I decided to try capturing video via USB. The camera was connected directly to the Mac via 1394a. The HDD was connected directly to one of the USB plugs on the Mac. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the video capture was successful (and in real-time). This started me thinking…

Extra Credit – Experiment #4

The G-Drive I used for these tests is a work of art. It has two hard disks in a Raid 0 configuration for super fast performance. The success of experiment #3 made me wonder if I could capture video with any USB hard disk. To find out, I connected my own USB drive and tried it one more time.

This particular drive is a Maxtor 250 GB SATA drive inside of an enclosure I got at the local computer store for $31. Again, the camera was connected to the computer via 1394a. The HDD was connected via USB. My 7 min HDV video was captured in real-time.

What did I learn?

  • I didn’t need to spend $150 to buy an external 1394 drive
  • USB is much more capable than I thought

Written by bill

September 6th, 2007 at 10:32 pm

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Marketing done right

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I was listening to This Week in Tech yesterday when Leo mentioned that he received a call about an Apple press event Tuesday (today).  The folks on the show speculated about what it would be about for a few minutes.  Today I watched Engadget’s live blogging of the event.  You all know what they announced.  Basically it was new machines, new software, and new services.

What is amazing is that Apple Steve Jobs is so good at these PR events that they manage to put everyone in a frenzy before the event.  After the event, they send everyone to the store.  Josh left work early to go get a copy of iLife.  Can you remember the last time people got so excited about your company’s product announcements?

Apple knows how to do marketing right.  They build anticipation in advance by announcing the announcement, but keeping the specific secret.  They put their master showman (Steve) in front of the world.  Then they show off cool things that their fanboys just *have* to have.

Hats off to apple for not only making good products, but know how to make people want to buy them.

Written by bill

August 7th, 2007 at 10:01 pm

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What’s with the silence anyway?

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Yeah, ok I’ve been quiet for a while. I’ve been keeping busy setting up a new hosting provider and a new Mac.

The Mac experience is the most interesting, so I’ll start there. Using a Mac inside of a primarily Windows company and you’re pretty much guaranteed some trouble. So two weeks ago I drove over to the IT place to pick up my Mac. When I got back to my desk, opening the box was like a breath of fresh air. I stared at the MacBookPro in anticipation. How long until I was blissfully typing emails and chating with my co-workers? Take a guess…

Friday I started the build process. It completely wipes the drive, partitions it, and dumps the special IT version of OSX on the system. Then it automatically does some configuration like adding the machine to the active directory. Finally, it adds a Windows VM using Parallels. Sounds good, right? On Friday mine got as far as copying about half of the 10 or so GB file before I had to leave work. Two hours wasted.

Monday I started again. This time the file copied and OSX was installed. But, it wouldn’t recognize the network. I spoke with the coordinator for the project and was told to “try it again”. Ok, six more tries and it still didn’t work. Somewhere in there I heard that the connection between a couple of sites was down so the Mac couldn’t be added to the active directory. So I headed out for the long weekend without my mac :(

Tuesday morning I plugged it in and started the install process one more time (if you’re counting, that makes 8). This time it worked! In a completely automated fashion, my machine had installed

  • OSX
  • Office for Mac
  • Parallels VM
  • Windows Build
  • All Windows SW
  • Added to the active directory
  • copied all my data from my old system

I’ve been using the Mac as my primary business machine for four days! It’s pretty cool. The only thing I don’t like is having to use Windows to run outlook. If there was a similar email client for Mac that integrated well with Exchange it would be Nirvana. They way Outlook is configured also has some quirks. My OST files are on a parallels shared file system. When I go into standby and come back, outlook loses itself. I have to shut it down and restart it beforeit can see the mail folders again.

Any suggestions for me? What apps should I try now that I’m using a Mac?

Written by bill

June 1st, 2007 at 10:32 pm

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Here’s a computer I wish Apple would make

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I plan to upgrade my PC this summer. My desktop machine is a 2.4 GHz Pentium 4 from Dell. It still works fine, but with the latest Core 2 Duo processors out, I finally found something worth buying. I’ve been looking into the various options and have decided that I can’t get what I want.

What I want in a new PC

  • Quad Core Core processor
  • 2 GHz Ram
  • Lots of room for hard drives
  • Good video card (not great, just good)

I already own a 24″ monitor, so I don’t need one of those.

I was thinking about buying a Mac, since I am so happy with my Macbook pro. I can’t though. Apple has a hole in it’s line up. The iMac line is decent, but I don’t need another monitor. Even if I look past that, the setup doesn’t allow for additional internal hard disks. And there’s no Quad Core version of the iMac.

What about a Mac pro? That could work. It is almost what I’m looking for. It has room for plenty of hard disks, and doesn’t come with a monitor. However, there still isn’t a Quad Core model out. I could get a dual Xeon, but that’s not really what I want. That means more expensive memory and motherboard.

So, what do I want? Would anything make me happy? YES!

I want a Quad Core MacPro. Price it at $1999. Make it use standard memory and motherboard. Let me add hard disks and memory on my own. I’d probably even buy a Core 2 Duo Mac Pro. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to open up your Mac and add drives?

I still have a few months, but right now it’s looking like I will build my own Windows machine.

p.s. If anyone wants to send me a Mac Pro, I’ll gladly dump my other machines and blog wildly about it. :)

Written by bill

February 23rd, 2007 at 11:29 pm

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