Saturday, July 21, 2007

27 years, 18 months and 3 days

Spot the pattern in 27 years, 18 months and 3 days? I've been thinking about patterns this week. It was our 27th wedding anniversary, one of only 3 wedding anniversaries that match the pattern 1, 4, 27... people never get to the next in the sequence... 256! So what links 27 years, 18 months and 3 days? They are all related to activities this week. The first is obvious it's our wedding anniversary and we went away to a hotel in the mountains to get out of the heat, only to find that even up in the mountains it was 36 C. However, the break was excellent and we had a great time together.

18 months and 3 days each relate to what we call 'Cyprus time' meaning late. 18 months is the length of time we have been trying to open a bank account for the organization here on the island. You wouldn't believe how complex it has been. Getting documents from the UK, getting an apostile attached by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to show they are legal documents, getting a letter from our bank in the UK, then the Cyprus bank losing all the documents that had taken time and money to acquire. But at the end of last week I was in the bank withdrawing money and the manageress said that she had found all the documents and we could proceed. So I went in on Wednesday morning to meet her. No luck, she said come back next Monday. I really hope on Monday we shall solve all the problems and get the bank accounts opened properly.

The money was being withdrawn to pay the deposit for the Mac Pro computer for the edit suite mentioned in the last post. It would take 4 days they assured me for it to be delivered. 4 days 'Cyprus time' meant in reality 8 days. But that is pretty good considering it came from Holland. It arrived today. So I spent this afternoon with my youngest son getting everything working on it and now we have a really very good working video editing system. The whole thing is now digital: the camera records digitally on mini DV tapes, is pushed from the digital video recorder to the computer using Firewire, the computer monitor uses DVI and the video monitor HDMI and then we make DVDs from what we filmed. I was not sure if the DVI and HDMI bits were going to work [I only trust things I have done, not things that 'should work']. But it all works well. And... we completed the broadcast DVD for the Farsi dub we have been working on for months and months.

Oh, and by the way, this is what the Mac Pro looks like [image curtesy Wikipedia]. Apple always seem to make their computers look different. The handles/wings on the top and bottom for instance... I ought to run a competition for the best guess as to what it might be if it wasn't a computer. The fans seen behind the grill [which run almost silently] make it look more like a device for testing a jet engines [obviously you have to imagine the scale of the thing much bigger than it really is]. We used to say 'answers on a postcard to...' but in this digital world I guess it should be 'answers by SMS to...' Anyway leave a comment if you have any great ideas as to what alternatively it might be.

Actually the real competition is to find the key to the sequence in the first paragraph: 1, 4, 27, 256. I set this as a challenge to the two programmers in the office [one who loves maths]. He eventually got it. But can you?

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Video Editing

You'll have to click on the photo to see the annotations, but below is a picture of the new video edit suite that our friend wired all the jack plugs for. I ordered the new Macpro this week and it should come next week... Cyprus time... we'll see! When it does come the final few wires on the desk can be hidden and it will become even neater to work on.

A few weeks back I helped film a musical for a friend of mine and Tim (my son) is busy doing the audio editing and I am spending evenings and spare time video editing. We recorded the musical with three cameras on one night and one camera on two other nights so there are five cameras to choose from... but I have to ensure that they are all synchronized with the audio, which is easy for the cameras recorded on the same night but tricky for the other nights. Tim recorded the audio on a ProTools system in 16 tracks and this week he brought the drummer up and re-recorded all the drums as the live recording of the drums was not good enough.

The video edit suite is working 24/7 right now as during the working day its busy making... and hopefully finishing a Farsi dub of an Arabic film. There are two versions needed, one for satellite TV companies to broadcast and a second for distributing as a DVD in Iran and around the world. The DVD for distribution I hope will be bi-lingual Arabic/Farsi, which will be interesting to make as not only does the audio need to change with the language but also all the opening and closing captions.

The new big website is progressing very well. We got it to the stage where we could demonstrate the system to all our partners and show how it will work. There is a saying in programming that the first 90% takes 10% of the time and the final 10% takes 90% of the time. This will certainly be true in this project. We demonstrated the system, but it is only 10% or less working... there is still 90% to do!

The website is going to be very very different to anything else about in Arabic. Its a web 2.0 site - the first we have been involved with making and so there is a lot of learning. 'What's web 2.0?' I hear you ask. There is probably somewhere a good definition of Web 2.0 is significantly more interactive and media oriented. People are community related in Web 2.0 and rather than a one way flow of published information, there is an interaction of provider and audience into what is a seamless community.

The video project is moving slowly too with a totally new story idea being developed. Its something that slightly stresses me... this is one of the more interersting parts of my work, yet I have little time to develop it.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Juggling people and projects

Its been a crazy week... good week, even great week, but crazy. Its been a week of juggling activities... I looked up juggle in online dictionary. Interesting definitions. #3 is the definition I mean, but I was juggling many jobs at the same time!
n 1: the act of rearranging things to give a misleading
2: throwing and catching several objects simultaneously
v 1: influence by slyness
2: juggle an account, for example, so as to hide a deficit
3: deal with simultaneously: "She had to juggle her job and her
4: throw, catch, and keep in the air several things
I have had two friends out from the UK [both staying at our guest flat], one is doing an audit of our financial records, which took a lot of questions to be answered by me. Part of the audit was to complete out 'asset register' which meant that we had to go round and check every computer/server/IP switch/monitor etc etc etc was correctly in the list of items we own.

Alongside this the other friend has has been wiring loads of jack plugs onto cables to complete the wiring of our video edit suite.. which involved me showing her how to do it and supervising all the wiring. And then she started redecorating Peter's office while he is away so that he comes back to a nice fresh office.

Alongside that I have had a colleague over from Egypt [and is staying at the office] and we are working on a new and very large website, which has totally new and unique features. Its a complex 6-9 month project. When finished it will [we hope] be very good but its a lot of work and there were loads of questions from him to me.

Alongside that I have been supervising our trainee programmer/designer on two projects, he is helping with this big project and writing a system to enable us to schedule duty periods of our monitoring system.

Alongside that I have been talking with another colleague [also staying at the office] about a video project we hope to shoot late this autumn... and he had a friend from a course he had just been on over to visit... [and is also staying at the office.]

Alongside that I have been responding to requests from Peter for more promotional materials to be copied and sent over to the UK.

Alongside that, with Peter away, I am duty engineer for his turns of duty...