Monday, February 16, 2009

Back from D.C.

Just got back from my trip to D.C.

I have about 2 hours of high def video that I will edit into a "pretentious" (thanks Gail) movie. I will share a small part of the highlights here eventually. I am going to get imovie 09 first because it has added effects and image stabilization which effectively adds much value to my little pocket camcorder. I love this thing. Everywhere I went people had no idea what it was. I was yelled at twice by security guards who were convinced I was going to snap a flash picture or something, but there is no flash. 

My favorite part of the trip was seeing the National Art Gallery, the National Portrait Gallery, and the Natural History Museum. Time just evaporates in places like these. I kept catching myself completely bug eyed, and hoping that my contacts didn't fall out. I was awestruck by seeing the real paintings and sculptures I'd only seen in books. I still don't understand how they let someone stand a breath's distance away from a painting from the 12th century. What is to prevent some tourist from taking a permanent marker and painting a mustache on the christ child or George Washington? I found it funny that the sole Leonardo DaVinci painting in America is set behind glass. A gorgeous painting. I swear I was going to draw a mustache on it until I saw it was behind glass. I guess all the other ones like the Gilbert Stuart presidential portraits are are just not important enough to hide behind glass, and people can freely mark on them if they want to trade a little prison time. 


















And if you can get through the Natural history museum and you STILL don't believe in evolution... you've got some *serious* problems.

A thank you to Gail for her advice, directions (I saw one tiny little grocery store in Georgetown but not Safeway) and allowing me to spill my guts out about the insanity of the human condition one night after spending several consecutive days visually examining death after death after killing after killing after war after war, otherwise known as "world history". 

I tried to update but the wifi wouldn't let my messages go through.

10 comments:

gail said...

My pleasure, Aaron. Sorry--I forgot to tell you that items purchased in the National Art Gallery's gift shop are actually tax free. I still have some Monet and Renoir plaques that I purchased there that are in still in great condition (from my perspective anyway) from 20 years ago. BTW, did you ever actually *do* what you said you were going to do Saturday night in the Metro? Do tell.... :~)

Aaron said...

Well, I sort of did. I spent a good deal of coin at the acclaimed "legal seafood" in chinatown which included beer, shortly after texting the following message to a friend, "lol, I'm at the hooters in Chinatown, now there's an oxymoron". I never said I ate there. Then I hopped on the train.

I bought the guidebook there and would have got some other stuff but didn't want to carry it back. I am going to see if I can order some prints.

There was a shooting at a metro station, and there was a plane crash during my stay involving Continental.... my airline.

I forgot to add that I was really amazed by the Dutch paintings. The details were incredible.

The contemporary art floor was the epitome of the word "pretentious". 80% of it looked like pure bullshit to me. It is really weird to go from sublime marble statues and beautiful portraiture to some bare wall someone randomly splashed puke colored paint at. In my video I say,"and in this phase of American art everyone basically just gave up and started taking LSD".

Aaron said...

Also forgot, Steve, I literally walk right past L. Ron Hubbard's house!!! And didn't even realize it until later. I was searching for a restaurant.

Not sure I would have gone in though, they would have tried to convert me.

http://www.lronhubbard.org/Houses/Dc/

Aaron said...

It was the first scientology church not his house.

Anonymous said...

Aaron,

I forget which video camera you have. I want to purchase one, and I've been thinking about the following:

1. Flip Mino HD;
2. Creative Labs Vado HD; and
3. Kodaz Zi6.

On the high end, I've been thinking of the Canon Vixia HF100.

Do you have any suggestions?

Also, I'm very interested to see the quality of your posted videos.

Good Night,

Steve

Aaron said...

The flip mino is very similar but slightly lower quality in my opinion for three serious reasons- sound quality is not as good as the kodak, it only has a built in internal memory of about 4gb, and you can only charge it through your USB.

The kodak takes hdsd chips up to 32 gigs which would render about 8 hours of hd and more in normal resolution. It also comes with rechargable batteries and a charger. I have the chips and 2 sets of batteries and I never have to worry about running out of space or batteries. Those things do cost a little extra though.

I just watched the entire imovie '09 intro and I am getting it today. It's only $80 for the whole ilife '09. The image stabilization feature turns your cheap camcorder into a true quality HD camcorder ;-) plus the extra editing features allow you to dub sound from one clip over other clips and fine tune the timing, among other things.

But there is no way to solve the lighting problem with the cheap hd cams. Shooting HD in 60 fps indoors with no extra light source is not very impressive. I am curious to see how my dark footage comes out.

I laughed onboard the plane as I filmed the takeoff out the window. I reached into the seat pocket to look at the Skymall magazine and the entire front cover was an ad for the kodak zi6.

My dad seemed a bit frustrated when I showed him my first two videos. Using a camera less than half as expensive as his, I was able to film in HD (his can't) and edit it. His burns onto little discs, can't edit. He just got it last Christmas.

I don't know anything about the vado HD.

Anonymous said...

Aaron,

There's no need to purchase iLife or anything else.

I want to educate you about three important resources.

First, I recall that you said that you'd created your own torrent. Torrents aren't just for downloading movies, but software and many other things, besides, such as iLife '09. The best place to search for it is on www.piratebay.org. Most people use the BitTorrent client uTorrent, which you can find here: http://mac.utorrent.com.

Browse the recent Mac torrents on PirateBay. You should be able to find every piece of software that you can think of.

Once you download the software, you'll need a serial number or an outright "crack," to break whatever copy protection scheme the application might be using. There is an application called "Serial Seeker" that's used to read in "Serial Box" files that are updated monthly. The Serial Box files contain serial numbers to popular applications. Always try to find the latest month's Serial Box. You don't need to download the Serial Seeker app, itself, very frequently. They do occassionally update it, and sometimes older versions won't read recent Serial Box files, but in general, Serial Seeker should work for a long time before you need to look for an update.

By using PirateBay, and Serial Seeker and Serial Box, you have a way of getting most of the software that you'll ever need for your Mac. For instance, I was able to download iWork '09, iLife '09, Adobe Master Collection ($2,500; it includes all of their substantive software, e.g. DreamWeaver, Photoshop, Illustrator, Acrobat, et al.), Microsoft Office, Mathematica, VMWare Fusion, and on and on.

Second, you can use www.easynews.com to download software, music, books, movies, and so on, although you have to pay for it. (It's a very nominal cost.) It's not quite as easy to use as torrents, but still rather straightforward, and it has the advantage of offering very fast downloads, unlike torrents, which of course combine fragments from many peers sharing parts of files.

Third, for books, the two best options depend on the type of book that you're seeking. If you want a computer- or business-related book, look for it on www.knowfree.net. If you want academic, history, and more intellectually inclined (expensive and priceless) books, look for them at www.gigapedia.org.

Both of these sites provide links to servers where you can download the actual files. These servers, such as rapidshare.com, charge a nominal fee, but they also let you download several files each day for free as an inducement to pay for a "real" account. Happily, many links from the above two sites point to other servers from which you can download freely to your heart's content.

I strongly urge you to regularly monitor the books at Gigapedia, because they're of very high quality and can save you dozens of thousands of dollars.

Finally, I should mention that in making use of these options, you should learn a bit about how files are typically encoded (e.g. compressed). You're probably familiar with .zip files. There are also--perhaps more commonly in this domain--.rar files. To unarchive (uncompress) these, you'll need a utility such as http://www.zipeg.com, http://www.xs4all.nl/~gp/MacPAR_deLuxe/, or http://my.smithmicro.com/mac/stuffit/index.html. If you're interested in StuffIt, pursue the PirateBay option as described above.

I strongly recommend browsing through some books on Mac OS X Leopard, which you can find at knowfree.net, and educating yourself about the Mac. Then, there are certain websites that I think would be helpful to read, such as lifehacker.org (Mac and PC), appleinsider.com, mactips.org, and macnn.com.

I don't recall how much RAM you have. You can check by selecting the Apple menu, and then "About This Mac." If you have at least 2 GB, you can either partition your hard drive so as to boot into Windows, should the need ever arise, or you can use VMWare Fusion 2.x, or Parallels 4.x, both of which are available via torrents. All you need is to download an installation CD for XP or Vista (64 bit), install it under VMWare or Parallels, do a little cracking to undermine Microsoft's galling attempt at copy protection, and you'll have a fully functioning virtual Windows machine that can run any software app not natively available on the Mac.

Remember that you can find a great number of things via torrents, such as perhaps Shinzen Young's work. I still plan to send that to you as soon as I'm able, which may be as early as this weekend.

I will mention two more useful suggestions. First, go to Barnes & Noble and read carefully from this book (if you can find it):

http://www.amazon.com/Mac-OS-Leopard-Killer-Tips/dp/0321501934

Second, if you need to purchase a paper book, either because you can't find it online or want a paper copy, be sure to look for the cheapest price possible using a site such as:

http://www.cheapestbookprice.com

I hope that all of this information will not only help you, but save you an enormous amount of money. My views about copyright are nuanced and perhaps the subject for a future post.

In the future, if there's interest, I will post about Firefox and some of the free software that's indispensible, as well as suggestions on how to get the most out of it.

We are Anonymous.
We are legion.
We do not forgive.
We do not forget.

Expect us.

Anonymous said...

PS I found this to be absolutely extraordinary:

http://www.time.com/time/photogallery/0,29307,1838306,00.html?xid=rss-topstories

Aaron said...

Well Steve, I can't completely condemn you as I would like since I am not completely guilt free. My general rule of thumb is that if I would actually buy it because I want it, I probably will. If it is something that is mildly interesting that I would never buy I check it out. I have never taken software. The whole idea of getting the codes seems like an extra step that bothers me even more than robbing a company of a valuable product people toiled away at, especially in a time like this and especially when you (not me) make over 100k with no mortgage payment.

Plus, I simply don't live on my computer. It isn't my job. I will check some of this stuff out though.

I did get ilife '09 and I tossed my mighty mouse for a cheap one that actually right clicks (for fuck sake). Maybe you're right, I should have stolen ilife09 just to recover my lost assets.

Anonymous said...

Aaron,

If I were a billionaire, it might be a different story. With things being as they are, however, let me try to explain my perspective.

I don't personally know anyone who buys software. Microsoft makes its money through volume sales to large corporations. How many individuals do you know who would pay $400 or more for a full license to Vista Ultimate, and to have Vista bite them on the arse with DRM? With Microsoft, even if you pay for the software, you're far from home free. Very often, there are problems with validation (and revalidation) whenever there are any hardware changes (e.g. upgrading your graphics card and hard drive and RAM in a desktop computer). It's simply not worth the hassle and lost productivity.

Regarding software piracy in general, I think that one ought to look at the digital landscape overall. I'm running short on time, so I will make this very brief.

Digital works are infinitely replicable. Whether there is one copy of Microsoft Word sold, or one billion, the cost to develop it was the same. If a poor person doesn't have enough money to buy Word but would be productive and add value to society with it, it doesn't make moral or political sense to condemn him for pirating it. Simply learning how to use it creates possible future value for prospective employers.

What about the case with someone making $200k/y? First, remember that the goverment takes most of that away, so the person would be quite lucky to make $100k in real money that can be put in a bank. Software is expensive, for the most part, yet essential. Who has the money to actually pay for it? Corporations, not individuals.

What about ebooks, such as those found at Gigapedia, the site that I most worship on the entire web? It's literally like a massive online library of the world's treasures--again, infinitely replicable. Please realize that numerous companies take freely available texts (such as those of Thomas Paine), and publish them for, say, $15 in book form. This harms the environment and rips readers off. "Paper" libraries are great, but digital libraries are so much better, and they will inevitably supplant paper libraries. As you can imagine, I oppose to the upmost degree anything that would stand in the way of disseminating hard won knowledge to everyone interested in learning. It is immoral.

What about compensating the creators, the researchers and writers? Rarely do they make the money that they deserve (just like you). Instead, their employers exploit them. Again, this is not fair. Knowledge is too valuable to hoard. To do so is self-defeating. We need as much help as we can get in disseminating it so that the minds in the world can literally become enlightened.

I am not the only person to think this. I'm joined by a long list of Nobel laureates who, for instance, oppose publications only being available to paid subscribers of journals. That is an insult to humankind! All scientific knowledge should be available to anyone interested in it. It imperils us to do otherwise.

As for music and movies, most of the money is made through live performances and in theaters in the first month. There is more than enough money to go around. If anything, record labels exploit artists.

In brief, I believe that copyright laws are unjust and self-defeating. Regardless of what's written into law, how people behave is radically different, and people behave in radical opposition to the written law on issues of copyright pertaining to music, movies, software, and electronic books. You can no more put a stop to this than you can prevent people from speeding down the highway, which is just as illegal (although it would be highly desirable to end the latter for safety reasons).

In any case, it is people like you who are harmed by paying for software, but you don't seem to know it. You've paid a fortune for a Mac. How dare Apple want more money for something that is infinitely replicable? In a sense, it is high past time that they began to pay you back. They are at no loss for money, I assure you.

Microsoft is an evil system--literally, an ecosystem of evil not far removed from Scientology. While it's true that Ayn Rand was to philosophy what Lafayette Ronald Hubbard was to Scientology, we must include Bill Gates and Microsoft somewhere in the mixture, too.

I've (begrudgingly) paid for expensive software developed by very small companies from time to time. I support those who try to make a living at providing a desirable software product directly to consumers. But I oppose the leeches, the bloodsuckers who interpose themselves between the creators and the consumers and swindle both.

Hardware and tangible goods cannot be replicated infinitely. We should pay for them and not steal them. But intangible goods are infinitely replicable. They have an entirely different purview.

In summary, in brief philosophy is this:

Pay for the hardware, but "steal" everything--literally everything--else.