Another Saturday night

Watching old movies and uncovering filming locations on Google Maps. This one, from Tension (1949) was tricky and required diving into my Los Angeles list on Groceteria.

West 6th Street at South Alexandria Avenue (southwest corner), Los Angeles:

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It’s good to have a hobby, I guess…

It works now…

So just to set the record straight: While the email issue still baffles me (but seems to have worked itself out), it turns out the iTunes issue was to some extent my own fault–an artifact of creating a separate library for video on an external drive. Once I figured out what had happened, it was relatively easy to fix by recopying my media folder and doing a global find and replace in one XML file.

This sort of makes me wonder (again) how people who are afraid to go under the hood of their computers and do things like edit XML files get by sometimes. But the answer is that they probably just don’t get themselves into situations where they would need to do so in the first place.

Anyway, all my music lives where it’s supposed to now for the first time in years and has been pretty much de-duped, etc. All I need to do now is fix lots of dates and determine which “protected” items from my ex’s account that were never converted to DRM-free versions I need to re-acquire (not many, it seems…).

In which I nag about Greensboro history

This is a really great post and I love anything that will push locals to know more about the history of there they live. That’s always been important to me wherever I’ve lived. But there are a couple of factual issues I must address because I’m OCD that way. I’m posting this here where a maximum of twelve people will ever read it because there doesn’t seem to be a comments option on the article (EDIT: There actually is a comments option but it doesn’t show up in the mobile version and also involves Facebook platform apps).

It’s kind of a stretch to suggest that Glenwood was ever the “center” of high-end shopping and social activity in Greensboro and to compare it to Friendly Center. Glenwood was, at best, a nice streetcar suburb with a small neighborhood shopping area, most of which still stands (albeit in some disrepair) along Grove Street. Similar districts still exist on Tate Street by UNCG, at Walker and Elam Avenues, and other areas. It was more analogous to today’s small shopping center with a grocery store and a drug store (think Golden Gate, for example) than to a major shopping area like Friendly Center. There was, I believe, a popular recreational area in Glenwood as well.

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Also, the downtown bypass was not really a precursor to the Greensboro beltway; they were both planned around the same time and were to have coexisted. The one downtown just got funded and constructed several decades earlier. If I’m not mistaken, most of it was built more or less as planned, with Murrow Boulevard feeding into paired one-way streets (Fisher and Smith, then Edgeworth and Spring) to create a surface-level “loop” bypass. The part that was not constructed (and it’s probably a good thing) was the southern leg that was to be built as a major expressway, running parallel to Lee Street all the way to the Coliseum area. This part was scrapped for lack of demand and funds in the 1970s. The big mound of dirt and awkward traffic pattern at Lee Street and Murrow Boulevard live on as a reminder of the interchange that would have been there.

Last but not least, it’s “O. Henry”, not “O’Henry”.

So ends my unsolicited history lesson for the day…

Digital spring cleaning

So…

  • WordPress updates complete.
  • Old and dormant sites, mailboxes, and SQL databases eliminated.
  • Extraneous backups deleted.
  • Eighteen months of log files removed.

I’ve eliminated 2.4 GB of stuff and have a much cleaner working environment. This pleases me.

I make no promises that this process will significantly improve the quantity or quality of content on the sites. But it may.

The geek is back

I’m a librarian working with digital collections in the IT department. By definition, of course, the geek never really went anywhere. But I haven’t been working on personal projects so much lately, or at least not web-based ones. So this weekend, I updated all my WordPress installations for the first time in a year. I’ve been continuing the process of adding Google Maps links (automating them through CONCATENATE statements in Excel and this bit of wonderfulness) to all the location spreadsheets in Groceteria.

And tonight, just for the fun of it, I came home from dinner and began installing a new archival collection management system that I’m hoping will give me much better results than flickr for serving up photos and media with richer metadata.

For a really long time the thought of working on things like this at home after working with digital collections all day didn’t seem too appealing. Throw in the inertia of a major depression as well and you end up with some unfinished projects and some dying websites. To be fair, I did finish the big video project, although it took a really long time.

Does this mean that I need a life? Or am I just finding the old one again and realizing it still fits?

Only time will tell…

The H.264 thousand dollar question

So as the video project winds down for the holiday (and because I’m almost done), I’m finding that the stuff from 2010 to the present is taking much longer and requiring much more hand holding than the older stuff. And why is that?

  1. High definition video takes a lot longer to encode than standard definition. That one’s a gimme and it’s made worse by the fact that I really need to buy a new computer. Apple hardware lasts a long time but this one is really past its prime.
  2. Pre-2010. most of my stuff was identical formats at identical pixel dimensions. That’s really easy to batch and doesn’t really have to be hands-on at all.
  3. Post-2010, though, I use many different devices, all spewing forth different resolutions, codecs, audio formats, and wrappers. I merge all my video into one file per day and combining all this stuff has been challenging. I have a program that can edit and merge many types of MP4 files without re-encoding, so there’s no loss of quality and it’s much faster. But it doesn’t work for all of them.
  4. Some MOV files are pretty much MP4 files wrapped up with a different file extension. Change the extension and they’re fine. Not all, though.
  5. It’s especially cumbersome to mix DV files at VGA resolution with more compressed HD video files that have different dimensions. Mind-numbingly so.

The process is basically just as confusing and annoying as watching cable or broadcast TV on different devices for the past five years or so. But soon I’ll have nice MP4 access copies of all my home video (I’ve shot a LOT of video over the years) and I’ll be able to plug a hard drive into the Roku and watch them with ease on the TV in the living room.  but I’ve had. Assuming I ever want to see them again after this.

I could also stream them wirelessly but Ive had…um…mixed results with this.

On a vaguely musical Sunday


Nick Heyward
On a Sunday (1983)

It’s cold and it’s raining but the predicted icy Armageddon has not yet occurred. All the same, I’m staying inside cooking, watching movies, playing with databases, and otherwise being geeky and warm.

  • I don’t really either like or dislike this song but why is it that every time I hear it I think it’s the second coming of The Outfield? I guess the Saturday Night Live sketch a couple of weeks back helped me make the connection. Or not…
  • I do kind of like this “new” two-year-old song by Bear Hands although I’m not 100% sure why.
  • Despite the fact that I’m not really doing Christmas anymore, this is always worth a look.

OK. That’s enough. Back to my blankie now…

Randomly Monday night

It doesn’t matter how many times I look out the back door. There’s not going to be a cute orange cat there. And that sucks.

Happier thoughts and subjects:

  • I just booked my room for New York in January, although I may extend my stay by one more day since I got such a good deal. If anyone wants to hang out, please let me know.
  • Pondering my post-Christmas travel plans as well and whether I should continue my Virginia Beach tradition into its second year or opt for a different beach…or no beach at all. I really do like winter beach trips and Virginia Beach is a good choice because there’s a city there too, just in case I get bored. I opt for the cheap oceanfront room where I read all the books I didn’t have time to read the rest of the year.
  • In case you were wondering, I’ve had a really successful soup season this year. Okra seems to be the running theme.
  • For your amusement, the top twenty Toronto music videos of all time, at least by somebody’s count.
  • I’m finally getting back to the home video project. I finished digitizing all the analog stuff earlier this year and now I’m making MP4 derivatives from those masters for easy access on the Roku, etc. It’s much easier and “batchable” than the initial project was and I hope to be done by New Year’s. This will also make it easier for me to post old video on the site and/or YouTube if anyone cares (which I kind of doubt).
  • Despite my rotten state of mind Saturday night, my friend Jeff dragged me out to College Hill and other assorted destinations and I actually had a really great time. The secret to doing that in Greensboro is to remember never ever to go to the queer bar.

There are eight million stories

My new obsession this week is Naked City. I’ve been recording it off MeTV and now I have this (probably ill-advised) urge to buy the complete series on DVD in November.

It’s no big secret that I’m a sucker for old cop shows, specifically the ones that were shot on location in interesting urban areas, like The Streets of San Francisco (probably the best of the genre), Adam-12, Homicide, Cagney and Lacey, etc. Aside from being entertaining of their own accord, I love that they provide such a time capsule of what these cities really looked like at a specific time in the past, with diners and neon signs and dumpy furniture stores…and not an artisinal cronut stand in sight. It also helps that Naked City seems pretty consistent in its geographical accuracy; when they say they’re at Second Avenue and East Fourth Street, they really are. It’s always kind of a crap shoot on other shows.

Naked City is especially interesting, though, because it aired a good ten years earlier than most of my favorites and during a time when filimg on location was really unusual for a weekly TV series. It also has a sophistication that was lacking in most dramatic series of the time (it shared a creator with Route 66). All of this is making me wonder if it might actually be worth owning. I know you’ll be on the edge of your seats till November so I’ll let you know my decision as soon as possible.