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Archive for the ‘Video’ Category

New Thailand travel video. Go here if you want the full HD 1080 version (be sure to click the gear and change to 1080)

It was hard to make a Thailand video. I was there for 2.5 years, yet only had a little video from really touristy stuff. More interesting scenes like street scenes, food and clothing markets, and nightlife would have been awesome to include, but I never had my camera with me and never made a concerted effort to film anything with the intention of making a video.

More personal video, such as some classroom fun with kids and film around my house might be added at a later date, but for now, the video includes:

  • Bangkok (urban sprawl, traffic, and shopping)
  • The North (countryside and Wats)
  • Wats and Palaces (Wat Pho, Wat Arun, Grand Palace)
  • Muay Thai
  • Sukhothai (one of my favorite places in Thailand)
  • Elephants (footballing, bathing, and painting)

I hope you enjoy it.

On a related note, I lost two (2) HDDs while making this video, and barely managed to recover the editing data (some of which was corrupted).

Why I constantly subject myself to the whim a device comprised of magnetic discs spinning thousands of times a minute, I’ll never know, but I was lucky enough to only lose my main 2 TB HDD (with my software, preferences, and recently-worked on stuff that’s saved to the desktop), and a mere 1TB external with music that’s never been backed up.

Classic “S.M.A.R.T. status BAD backup and replace” error. There ain’t no coming back.

Oh well, easy-come-easy-go. I’m back up and running, with several extra 2TB drives and a NAS box on their way in the mail. Determined not to lose more important stuff, this might be my first step into seriously backing up what I do, perhaps with software such as freenas.

4-bay Probox for NAS. You could RAID or JBOD

Why does it take a catastrophe to spur someone to back up? I’ve always known hdds are unreliable and have lost my fair share in the past, but it seems like as soon as my computer is running smoothly again, it becomes such a nebulous threat– something that happens to other people–and I slowly become more and more negligent about backing up important data until I get bitten again.

Finally, I know I’m late to the game, but I’ve been playing around with Google Sketchup, a free 3-D modeling program that can be used for anything from videogame modeling to architecture to engineering and design. I initially started using it to make a diagram mapping the location of our 20+ sprinkler zones at our house, but I started to make a 3-D model of our house, and have lost hours playing around with its various and user-friendly features.

Sketchup’s the reason you’ve been seeing 3-D models of famous buildings in Googlemaps, and you can use it to add your own house, school, or place of work, down to the minute interior details.

One of Google’s hopes for the product is that people will accurately model buildings and landscapes in order to upload them to Google Maps, which is just a little scary in terms of criminals being able to case joints, etc. I already think streetview’s a little intrusive. But a part of me really loves this–it’s one step closer to having our whole world mapped in VR, which is in turn one step closer to the Matrix.

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We only get rabbit ears broadcast TV in our apartment, which isn’t so bad if you like Soap Operas that redefine melodrama, Royal family/governmental propaganda, totally humorless game shows that more often than not feature men in drag, or infomercials for Buddhist amulets, beauty and exercise products, and miracle pills (many Thai women are terrified of being unlucky, ugly and old).

One saving grace is that public TV airs Attitude Era WWF pro wrestling, which is huge here and I’m pretty sure they don’t know is fake. It’s really refreshing to watch Thais consume the wrestling I watched with the same level of wonder in elementary school, believing every aspect of it is real. “Attitude Era” wrestling got a ton of bad publicity at the time for their (duh) attitudes towards authorities, women, etc. as well as the company’s rampant steroid use at the time, and this led to a severe toning down of the best in sports entertainment…but 10-12 years later in retrospect, the tone of the show isn’t that extreme. The other saving grace are nightly music videos—both Thai and Indian.

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"Do you Smellllll what the Rock is cooking?"

Thai music videos are refreshingly provincial compared to American ones—for me, it’s certainly a welcome cultural difference. As a country, Thailand’s constantly falling in and out of love…I don’t believe this is an exaggerated generalization. Western songs featuring lyrics of heartbreak, melancholy pining, and rumination over lost loves play in convenience stores, taxis, and eateries. If the music videos are any indications, all Thai girls are either impatiently waiting to be courted and proposed to, or else they’re severely and sometimes fatally heartbroken…and the men aren’t much different.

Themes include reminiscing over the early days of a relationship, boys swooning hard over a femme fatale, rescuing high-heeled ditsy women from a puddle-splash or other such public humiliation, and lots and lots of photographs at Thai historic and national landmarks. Especially popular are public transport romances (e.g. the one that got away in the Metro). Women snuggle up to their boyfriends as they speed through the city on a motorcycle, they fall into boys arms after being yanked away from a speeding car, etc.

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"Pancake," one of Thailand's celebrities de jour.

Thai women are more (overtly) interested in knights and shining armor (although, come to think of it, the Twilight series is making a strong push back in this direction), and Thai men are more than happy enough to oblige—maybe it’s a fair trade for women (no matter their age) over here having to dress up like they’re going out clubbing for every situation; casual, professional, or otherwise. Outfits that would raise eyebrows at a Halloween party over in America are commonplace midday here…it’s like a big competition. Is that a kindergarten teacher or a pole dancer? It’s a toss-up.

Although it seems sappy, these videos refreshing break from the more materialistic, in-your-face American rap and hip hop videos that emphasize a more aggressive and physical pursuit of women as another commodity or trophy. At least with Thai videos, the women are the ultimate goal rather than a trophy representative of something else. Thai women also seem to be a jealous lot: with love triangles being a popular topic for music video and soap opera plots and stories of Thai women cutting off their boyfriend’s privates abound.

bts

Bangkok Traffic Love Story; a tale of star-crossed lovers who just miss each other in various modes of Bangkok public transit. Click for the great trailer.

On the other hand, Indian music videos are massive productions–over-the-top colorful sexual and sensual spectacles, concerned with physical beauty, decadence, or a one-night pursuit of a woman, who is either leather-clad in a hyper-futuristic club or dripping in gold, draped in intricate and ornate vaguely-traditional Indian dress and rolling on a candled floor in some exotic slice of Indian history. Apparently, Indian men are extremely passionate. They feel emotions powerfully and not afraid to show it– dancing really expressively, crying, or even killing themselves if they can’t be with the woman they fall for. Still, the women in these videos are the goal rather than a prize to gloat about.

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Devdas--still my favorite Bollywood flick to date.

Anyways, good TV.

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This afternoon, sifting through some old toys, I discovered a childhood favorite, the Tomy Big Loader (which they apparently still make). Overcome with nostalgia, I quickly assembled it and found it just as fascinating as I did as a toddler. I recall intently watching this toy doing the same circuit for hours on end. Besides appealing (and probably contributing to) my love of construction vehicles and trucks, the Big Loader seems like a really ingenious, educational toy that can teach a child about the importance of order, loops, and connectivity.

Basically, a battery powered vehicle runs on a track and assumes the shells of a several different construction vehicles as it catches, tips, scoops, and dumps loads of black balls into hoppers, through chutes, etc. The Big Loader’s a really neat toy because of how compact and well-engineered it is, and I’m pretty sure its repetitive, orderly, and interconnected activities taught a young Andrew (ages 3 and up) valuable sequential and associative thinking skills.

I wonder if a toy like this would hold up with today’s youth. Obviously, you could design a game or program that teaches similar (or even more interactive) sequential thinking skills, but there’s definitely something to having the real-life plastic version in front of you when learning a concept, and tactile, aural, and visual stimuli are very important during developmental stages. The Big Loader’s colors are vibrant, the whir of the engine is delightful, and you can physically change the course of the vehicles.

I made a brief film of this fantastic toy in action. Hopefully, a video showcasing its ingenious engineering will fortify its place in my memory as one of my favorite toys.

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AR-15

Jon and I decided to go to the range last night. This particular range allows me the cathartic experience of firing at zombie-shaped targets combined with a great inventory of firearms to drool over and the opportunity to gorge myself on such meals as “The Pursuit of Happiness” or “The Founding Fathers” at The 1776, their very own cafeteria.

Saturday nights are:

a) Date night (which is a lane, some ammo, and two dinners for a great deal, but we didn’t want to test their progressive humor at a NRA-certified location).

b) shotgun night, where I’ve never felt more unsafe.

c) Rifle night; which is what interested us, because we could rent one of their AR-15 assault rifles.

ar15

AR-15s are basically the prototype for M4s, M16s, and various other assault rifles. Semi-automatic versions are available to the public, and apparently, even though the internal mechanisms between civilian and military models are relatively different, a somewhat handy person can insert “Drop In Auto Sear” or “lightning-link” modifier in order to make this gun full-auto (this is probably really illegal).

Anyways, here’s a short clip of us shooting it:

In other good news, as of 5 days ago, Tennessee permit holders are allowed to carry their guns in bars, finally laying to rest the myth that guns and alcohol don’t mix.

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What I’ve been up to

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I haven’t been particularly busy since graduating Middlebury College (which is one of the reasons I started this blog), but I’ll comment on a few things that have been taking up air time on the Andy variety hour.

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NH--not messing around

I embarked on a long drive home from Vermont with Bill (Will Clary), visiting the homes and family of many friends and completely a short (but very challenging/breathtaking) hike in New Hampshire. I must say they aren’t kidding around in that state–after spending a day in the New Hampshire wilderness, you realize why NH folks are so tough. Bill and I got hailed on (this is June, mind you), lost and hypothermic at night, soaked from waterfall climbing, demoralized by inability to produce fire…all in about 4 days. All in all, even though the weather refused to cooperate (which is apparently par for the course in New Hampshire), we had a terrific hike and left with a newfound respect for the Live Free or Die state…it’s like Vermont’s cooler older brother.

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In Memphis, I’ve been studying for the GRE because I’m planning on taking the test in a few weeks as it’s valid for 5 years and I don’t see myself getting much better at test-taking any time soon. I’ve been mostly quizzing myself with words that commonly appear on tests like this, as it is apparantly the only way to significantly improve your score in a short amount of time

dota

It’s always surprising to me how many words I know on vocabulary lists thanks to videogames. A few examples from the GRE list that appear in Defense of the Ancients: stygian, alacrity, impetus, maledict . I guess words on lists such as these are often archaic, which is exactly the type of vocabulary that comes up in videogames, especially fantasy videogames. So, yet another thing for which we have videogames to thank.

I talk about it all the time, but I’m positive DOTA keeps my memory fresh and my mental reflexes sharp as it has so many possible scenarios in which a player is required to know an exact strategy or counter. Ronny and I have been playing in the competitive TDA league, and it’s always a joy to see such a vibrant and competitive environment. I’m no mathematician, but a 5v5 game with over 90 characters to choose from, each of whom can outfit themselves with 6 of over 100 items, creates a significant number of scenarios in which every player must expertly recognize, assess, and counter cooperatively to win the game. It’s a mental workout, and even after playing this game for over 7 years, Ronny and I are hardly a team’s shining stars.

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Street Fighter's Sagat practices Muay Thai, Thailand's national sport.

Also, I’ve been playing around with Rosetta Stone Language Software, dabbling in Chinese, and now Thai. It’s really hard…I imagine the software’s really effective in teaching romance languages and english-alphabet languages, but learning a foreign language with a different alphabet/characters with only audio and photographs is pretty difficult. I’ve been accepted into a Teach English as a Second Language course in Bangkok and am planning on flying over there in about a month to travel and teach. Although I don’t know that much about Thailand, I’ve always felt drawn there from what I’ve seen about their culture, temples, and religion in media. It will certainly be an adventure.

Other highlights include…

+trailering my dad’s cobra to a racetrack in Virginia. Here’s a short clip of how fast it goes from standstill:

+setting up a (sort of) 24 hour webcam in my room.

+playing around with FL studio, formely known as Fruity Loops. I dabbled with hip hop and techno before I decided to type in one of the classical piano pieces I used to play. It actually took a while to plug in every note on the grid the program provides, but it’s played exactly as it is written.

+playing around with MythTV, open-source software that helps you a) make a DVR box & media server out of any computer and b) distribute the media to as many computers, tvs, streams, etc. as you see fit. It’s really pretty sweet and gets complicated rather quickly.

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4th of July

Just got back from a 4th trip with my high-school friends at Jon’s Pickwick house. I had a great time out on the lake jetskiing/boating, eating more than any person should, and ignoring every warning on the side of fireworks boxes.

Plus, I was able to drive everyone there in my ’79 suburban, which felt very nostalgic as it was the truck I drove all throughout high school (and learned to drive on). Every drive, it feels like it’s on its last legs, yet with over 350,000 miles on it, it rarely disappoints.

that's my old truck on the right

that's my old truck on the right

Here’s a quick video I made showing some of the driving/explosion footage:

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