Videographing

I really enjoy Youtube, the never ending selection of interesting and entertaining videos is great. Of particular interest to me are the likes of CGPGrey, VSauce and Veritasium, with explanatory videos on a wide variety of topics. It’s always been something at the back of my mind to try out. But not being the world’s greatest producer, I’ve never given it a try.

Last week (I wrote this several weeks ago) Veritasium released a video showing 5 peculiar traits of nature, with the promise of explaining them in upcoming weeks, as well as the challenge to try figure them out for oneself and to post this online. The first subject was something I’d seen demonstrated in a previous episode of QI, and figured this was my chance to test out my viedographing (my dictionary doesn’t like that word and instead suggests rephotographing as the nearest real word) skills.

I believed I had the basic understanding of the concept at hand, got my GoPro, Cellphone and webcam setup to get some footage. Prepared some lighting and a pen and paper and figured the principle is fairly straightforward, and I’d be able to explain it in 5 minutes flat, one single shoot. Oh boy…

About three minutes in to my production I started to realise my failings. No script to work to meant I kept on having to think of what came next, and the examples I wanted to use took time to prepare as I tried to remember some of the basics of 2nd year Strength of Materials. I somehow developed a sore throat in that short space of time, and silences not interrupted by my throat-clearing were interspersed with long thinking “Umm”s.

I stopped recording after three short minutes, not even halfway through my expected explanation. Cutting my losses and reviewing the horror of my creation. Ignoring the terrible quality of the resulting video, the experience gave me a very good understanding of why I hadn’t tried this before, and an even greater appreciation for those who do this successfully. But it is definitely something I want to try again, maybe with a bit more preparation.

I made a mistake

I’ve been wanting to get myself a TV for a while. I moved into a fully furnished place at the beginning of the year, with free DSTV and thus a TV. But it was an old 74cm CRT. Massive thing (honestly, I weighed it and it’s 49kg), but not the greatest picture, especially with my PS3.

So I’ve been looking for the past month or two and was pretty much waiting for a sale on a Samsung or Sony, say R5,000 for a decent 42″. Then about three weeks ago, Hi-Fi corp have a sale on a JVC 42″ smart TV (JVC LT-42N630SA), with wi-fi and a bunch of other features. Great I decided. It only cost R4,000, and I was willing to take a slight quality knock for the lower price and smart TV capabilities. Sadly the TV was sold out before I could get to the store.

Then this week I see the same TV is on sale again for R5,000. Fine I decide, let’s just get it, although it’s more expensive, you would pay quite a premium for the same functionality in a Samsung. So I went and bought it. Oops.

It’s not that¬† it’s a terrible TV, it’s just really not great. The process was fairly painless, but shucks. I can’t remember how long it took to startup the first time I turned it on. I’m quite sure it was in excess of 2 minutes. I have a lot of complaints about this TV. the biggest one being it’s usability. Everything just takes forever (or doesn’t work).

  • Under normal conditions it takes 25s to start up
  • The “Google TV Remote” app to use your cell as a remote is not allowed in South Africa (ie you can’t use it), Even though there’s a brochure for it in the box.
  • The preloaded Youtube app doesn’t work.
  • Menu and interface is logical, but very laggy, and unpredictable at times.
  • Pushing buttons on the remote doesn’t always seem to do anything.
  • The system update button kills the ‘settings’ app each and every time.
  • Video quality on my RF in was terrible
  • You can’t change the picture mode (4:3, 16:9, original, etc.)
  • Sound quality is below average
  • The whole time while connected to Wi-Fi or a USB device, the icons show in the bottom right corner (I tried for a few minutes to turn this off but couldn’t find a way)

What it has going for it

  • It does have Wi-Fi and a ethernet port, so it should be capable of more.
  • Picture quality was decent
  • The TV is pretty cheap.
  • It is a good looking, well built TV

But in the end I took the TV back. I couldn’t deal with it. Hi-Fi corp gave me a full refund without any issues. I had a look at some other TVs, but in the end went to Game and picked up a Samsung 40″ for a few hundred rand less than the JVC.

And most importantly, I’m happy with it. It responds quickly and without hassle. It may not be ‘Smart’, but it can still play files from USB, and there’s always my PS3 I can use.

My posts (in the middle of my blog)

My posts are stories. Although if they’re not an opinion post, I generally like my posts to give some information. Make it easier to find to someone else out there, but the style I write in is a story. My website isn’t a technology blog aimed at getting hits. I write because I enjoy writing, and most of my posts are inspired by some experience I went through. I realise that to lots of people seeking information it may be annoying to sift through my meaningless life stories to find out what they want, but it’s how I write and for the time being I don’t see that change.

This is after all a personal blog. I put my name on it. It’s right there in the domain. It’s something I just noticed the other day, but something I felt like writing about because else I’d forget I had this thought. So here it is. That was in January and I’m only now posting this.

I enjoy typing, it’s therapeutic, but I struggle for topics. Sometimes I’ll sit at my PC and wish I had something to write about, just so I could sit and type for a while. You’d think the first thing to pop into my mind would be to finish my thesis, but often I just want to type without thinking too much.

My posts sometimes contain useful DIY information; but they’re not structured in your typical fashion. I require that you read my story, no matter how uninteresting.¬† I get to decided this.

Often I’ll have articles sitting behind the scenes. Drafts. A topic I though of to write about, but just never got round to completing. Sometimes I’ll complete one. Sometimes I’ll just delete it after a few months cause I see I won’t be posting it. It’s usually only a few lines long.

Maybe when I finish my thesis I’ll have more time for thinking and writing. Maybe.

But I get to start German language classes again tomorrow. And Friday I get to go on holiday for a few days. So that’ll be fun.

BMW Driving Experience

response

To say that I enjoyed myself would be a massive understatement. But I knew that going in :D

I was up in Joburg the other day, and took the opportunity to have some fun at Zwartkops with BMW. About 4 years ago I had the opportunity to do the Audi High Performance Driving Course. At the time they had courses which they offered around SA. So when they came down to Cape Town I was given the opportunity to join them at Killarney. This was an amazing time, and at the end of the day, my (as of yet unrealised) dream of being a rally drive was reinforced.

Last year I wanted to do a course again, and looked to Audi as they would often travel to Port Elizabeth to do a course there. Sadly their relationship with the Four Rings Academy came to an end, meaning that the only way I’d be doing a course was if I managed to get up to Joburg. Something that doesn’t happen too often in my life.

Jump to this year, and all of a sudden I had an excuse to travel to Joburg. Naturally I looked around a bit. Mercedes and BMW both offered courses in the area. Mercedes only had a full day course (roughly R4,500), but they weren’t offering it on the days I was going to be in Gauteng.

BMW offered several different courses, the most appealing being their High Performance Course (also an Advanced HP course which includes a few hours on the skidpan) and luck would have it they were offering it on the exact day I had free in Joburg. I was supposed to do the course with my girlfriend, but sadly her work decided to make her do other less exciting things, so I had to replace her with an old varsity friend for the day instead.

Helmet and race suit not provided

Helmet and race suit not provided

The course is about R2500 (extra R700 for the skidpan, regretting that now), registration at 07h30, theory from 08h00, and you’re on the track in some form from 09h00-12h00ish. This entails four sets of laps, usually three or four laps each time. Standard fare on the course is a white, M trimmed BMW 335. You can opt for an M-course as well which gives you access to the M1, M3 and M5 (costs a little bit more, but only two people per instructor). Three people per instructor/car, and you take it in turns doing your sets around the track. In between sets they give a couple of demonstrations, from braking to launch control.

The theory covered progresses from sitting position, through cornering, oversteer/understeer, some tyre info and finishes with a nice BMW promo-ad. The theory is both informative and also the basis for what they try to teach you on the track. Each session on the track they try to add a new element, requiring more focus, but improving your driving round the track each time.

In comparison to what I did with Audi, the courses are virtually the same. Theory covered was identical, with a slight variance on the brake/turning balance noticed. Time on the course; Audi separated into sessions at the different corners, which then culminated with piecing all of them together in a few laps. Whereas BMW did sessions of laps at a time. I preferred the BMW method as it felt like less stop/start and was a bit more challenging trying to remember the whole track in one go (not that Zwartkops is particularly long).

id_moduls2

“You haven’t crashed until you’ve hit something” – BMW Driving Instructor

But seriously, as much as you learn and improve during the day, trying to be as fluid as possible through the corners, it’s just a blast. Great to do with a friend and have some good laughs. While I think the experience will be slightly different from instructor to instructor, I don’t think you can go wrong.

I went in to the Audi course expecting to be able to drive like mad, and was reigned in. As such I went in to the BMW course with that expectation, but instead we were given what I felt was more freedom, and was able to give the car a good thrashing round the course. And the car takes it like a champ. These are stock 335s, straight off the shop floor, while it is a performance vehicle, it’s not specifically designed for the course, it has standard brakes and steering systems, but goes like a bomb.

If you’ve ever thought about maybe doing a course, but the cost kinda put you off, go for it. You’ll have a great time. I have no regrets for either course I did. Both times I left, and all I wanted to do was get back onto the track and do more laps. It’s kinda addictive, always trying to push and, although you’re not actually timed, do a better lap than the one before.

You even get a certificate at the end :)

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