Monthly Archives: January 2010

Where is all this data going?

Since I started this blog a few weeks back I have had many random thoughts I wanted to blog about. Keep saying I’m too busy, or this is not meaningful enough. Well just had another one and thought I’d try to get it down.

Mind is Racing
It has been one of those days where my mind is racing with various thoughts. I have a few things I wanted to accomplish and a few items to finish from yesterday. So here it his almost lunch time 11:15 and I have not had anything to drink since I arrived at 8AM. Need to get a run in and then get back for a 1:00 meeting so I needed to slam down my PB&J and head to the gym.

I’m walking to get some water in my big ol jug and I noticed the Iron Mountain guy emptying the secret recycling bin for docs to be shredded. After emptying the bin he has a very nice rugged scanner device and he scans a bar code on the inside of the bin. This was not a major event in itself but as I’m waiting for the water to fill in my jug my mind started to wander.

I’m sure him scanning that bar code recorded some data in a database somewhere. I stared to think, how is that data used? It’s not like each document dropped in the bin is recorded that it was in that bin. I’m sure it’s some record to make sure the bin was touched in x number of days or some other super valid business reason.

Recycled Data Anyone
It just struck me to then think as I enjoyed the PB&J and Garden Salsa Sun Chips how much darn data is captured every second of every day. How much of it potentially serves no actual business value at all? So 2 things come to mind. What data are we not capturing we should. Also can we engineer a way to turn useless information into energy to solve the energy crisis in the US. Fun to think about, but then I remember I had things I actually had to get done and there is no way I could solve this global issue of useless data collection today.

Maybe I can revisit this next year.

Advertisements

Giving

As I wrote about in my goals post I am training to run a 1/2 Marathon. Training is going well but there is another much more important piece to this. There is a reason I’m running besides the health benefits of training and my need to compete. I only started doing this running thing because I was inspired by someone.

Why I Run
Jen McDevitt is a close friend of mine that lives a very interesting life. She is a brain cancer survivor and the strongest person I have ever known. You can read about her story on these various pages:


Or Simply Goggle her name and you will find lots of other great stuff. I would have never even thought about running 13.1 miles if it was not for her. She has dedicated her time to working on raising money for brain cancer research. This is one very small piece of what she is involved in.

Recent Giving Events
Down below I’ll ask for your support via donations but I didn’t want to take away from the the recent tragedies in Haiti. People all over the world are really giving a lot of time, money, prayers, etc. You can donate to the Red Cross here for that cause.

I have had another great story about giving that is very personal to me. Just this week my 5-year-old daughter Caleigh did a very huge deed. She donated her hair to make wigs for cancer patients. This was very touching to me that a 5-year-old grasps this concept to want to partake in such a cause. Great job Cales! Here is before and after picture of her. So Cute.

Caleigh Before & After

Giving feels good

The Pitch
So I’m running in Nashville in April to support Jen and her fight against brain cancer. For this we have a fund-raising effort in support of the Tug McGraw foundation. I would be honored and grateful if you so choose to help support this wonderful cause.

YOU CAN DONATE HERE

Video Editing

The History
I first started my video camera career upon the arrival of my first child who is now 9. The camera was a gift from my mother and step father. He was big into photography and video cameras and it was great gift for the new family. I still have that very first 8mm tape. For 9 years and 2 additional children later my mound of tapes has grown to be quite a collection.

I vowed at some point to get these videos onto my computer to do some video editing make cute little moves to share with the family etc. This was long before YouTube was what it is today. Once DVD’s became the standard video format over VHS I had dreams of creating a DVD. I continually tell myself when I retire in 30 years I’ll have plenty of time to work on this project. My concern is that I’ll have 1000’s of tapes by then and hopefully I’ll be playing golf not sitting in front of a computer.

I must admit, it was easy to tape every single moment of the first child’s milestones and every step for the first couple of years. I’m sure there are some priceless moments buried in the hours and hours of tape. As my wife and I decided to add on to the family the amount of taping has drasticly reduced over the years. The juggling of 3 children leaves little room to tape. I tried to keep the tape rolling but I’m sure I missed more on #2 and I’m positive I missed a bunch of poor #3.

So I finally decided to start acting on the task of getting some of this video digital so I can edit out the shots of my leg for 15 minutes, etc. This is not an easy thing to do, especially for a first timer. I have learned a lot on this journey thus far and hope to capture some of this here to share my defeats and my small victories.

Why the Change
My revitalized interest in this area was sparked by my involvement in my son’s football team as an assistant coach and self appointed game film editor. As the only computer guy on the coaching staff it was a natural fit for me. One of the biggest challenges was that one of the other coaches had a very nice HD Sony Video camera similar to this one. Sony HDR-CX100 AVCHD HD Camcorder He also had a close friend that came to every game and did a great job of taking game film. So it was up to me to take the film and cut DVD’s for the coaches.

My first challenge was figuring out how the HD camera saved the files and how I could get them onto my computer. I did a lot of web searches on HD video etc. In the end this Wiki page was the most useful AVCHD I then had the challenge of reading and editing the HD files. I had the free Pinnacle Studio Express that came with my video capture device but this did not recognize the AVCHD file format.

I ended up downloading a free trial of this software avs4you It worked pretty well and I created my first few game filmes with the free version and the giant watermark on the screen. This did the trick so I finally plopped down the 59.99 for the unlimited subscription for the AVS Video Converter and all the other great tools they offer. The challenge with this was the once you install you are stuck on that PC and the license is not transferable. Bottom line it did the trick for 4 months and I created some decent game films to share with the other coaches and Parents on DVD and YouTube. I even used this to create a sweet end of year 30 minute highlight film for the end of year party.

The Setup
So where am I at today? Well the computer that I used AVS software on has been reformatted and I needed something to use going forward. I’ll start with some basic specs of what I’m currently using for this task. In later posts I’ll detail out my progress and some of the history on how I got to my current process. I have to admit for a technology person this setup is pretty weak. Although I work on computers and databases on a daily basis when it comes to spending my cash on this stuff at home I struggle to invest too much. As they say the plumbers faucets are always leaky.
• Acer S285 Intel ® Pentium® 2.8GHz 2GB RAM
• 1TB Hard Drive
• Windows 7
• Sony 8MM Video Camera
• Pinnacle Dazzle DVC170 Simimlar to this Dazzle DVD Recorder

• Pinnacle Studio HD 14 Pinnacle Studio HD V14

As I get some videos converted I’ll share more details and hopfully help another aspiring family video film editor out there. I’m also curios to hear from folks on how they are setup to get there old 8MM films digitized.

Happy New Year Goals

Breaks are Great

I recently took some time off over the holidays. I was off for 12 entire days in a row. A few of those days were holidays and weekends but there were some working days mixed in. The unique thing about this time off was that I was almost completely disconnected during this time. This was a refreshing change from how I normally take time off. I didn’t go anywhere really, just spent most of the time at home. We did take a 2 night trip about an hour away but that’s not really traveling is it?

Really Disconnected?

I did check the blackberry everyday just to see if anything came up and would have jumped on if needed. This did not happen however. I didn’t catch up on Twitter, blogs, etc. Did the occasional checking of local news as I don’t read the paper but that’s not work. The beauty of this time was that when I came back to the office on 1/4/2010 I was totally refreshed. I feel a new sense of urgency, organization, desire, and drive. These are important things to have anytime but are most critical to starting the new year off right.

Setting Goals

With that said I’m in goal setting mode. A few things I need to accomplish in the pending days are finishing up reviews for 2009 and then set some very measurable goals for me and the team for 2010. In addition I of course have my own personal resolutions or objectives for this year, much like some folks I follow Ted Krueger (blog / twitter), Tim Ford (blog / twitter)  which I’ll share in this blog entry. My main reason behind blogging about goals is that I have read that if you write something down and publicize it, you have a better chance accomplishing it. So I’m testing that out this year.

So here we go

1) Continue to work on my writing skills and continue to contribute to the online SQL community. Blog at least once a month this year.

2) Rededicate myself to health and fitness. The holidays always get me off track but I’m dedicating to start running again and get involved in more sports and training opportunities. My ultimate goal is to beat my time (2:31:15) by 5 minutes in the 1/2 marathon on 4/24 in Nashville, TN.

3) Get more involved in the SQL Server community.

  • I started this blog with that being hopefully part of my involvement.
  • I have also started using Twitter and hope to continue to be active in that area. I attended my first SSUG meeting in Dec and want to continue down that path in 2010.
  • Finally I have signed up to attend SQL Saturday #31 in April.

In Closing
So I have committed to this and I need to get going. Enjoy and hope you have some goals of your own this year.