Monday, July 24, 2006

DVD Burning Update, Part Time Employment, New 4 Wheeling Video On The Way, READ ALL ABOUT IT!

First of all I'd like to thank everyone that chimed in with help on my DVD burning problem. I think I've finally got that one licked.

A while back, I downloaded a freeware program called Mediacoder, but I couldn't figure out how to work the darn thing as everything was in Geek. As I was Googling my brains out trying to find a good program for transcoding video, Mediacoder kept popping up again and again, so I figured that I'd better just bite the bullet and put my brain to work figuring it out. I downloaded the latest version, and low and behold, Stanley Huang, the designer, had included a "device mode" wherein you simply click on the button on the bottom of the screen that corresponds to the device that you wish to play the video in, and the program handles all of the complex settings for you! Drag and drop your videos to the file list, click on the "Video Disc Player" icon on the bottom of the screen, click on the start button on the top, and VOILA! It goes to work transcoding the videos into whatever format is appropriate, in this case MPEG2 which is easily handled by even the lousiest of my worthless DVD authoring programs. Sonic still has issues with NTSC vs. PAL formats, but one of my helpful readers pointed me in the right direction to remedy that problem, and I imagine that after I learn a bit more about Mediacoder, there's probably a way to fix that in there as well.

It'll work for cellphones, Sony PSPs, PDAs, pretty much anything you can think of, and best of all it's FREE! If you need to change the format of videos for whatever reason, I highly recommend Mediacoder.

Now on to other news.

I actually worked three whole nights last week! Maybe I won't starve to death after all. Three nights may not sound like much, but three nights at my job is right up there next to 40 hours. It's also the equivalent of about as much cash as I made at my old job working five nights, only it leaves two weekday mornings free for flying! Now if we can keep it up for a while I'll be doing alright, but it'll take a month or so of it to get my savings built back up to what it was before everything fell on its face. The entire idea of "savings" is an entirely new concept to me, I've spent most of my life (and my money) living from paycheck to paycheck. Living mostly debt free is the shit, I may drive crappy old vehicles and live in a ratty assed trailer house, but it's worth every bit of wrench twisting and nail pounding to not have gigundus house and car payments to make every month, and not spending all of my time worrying about how I'm going to pay this bill or that bill and which ones are more important because there isn't enough dough to go around. If I can ever get back to or above my previous income levels while maintaining my current expenses, I'll be able to save up enough money for a newer set of wheels in no time, as long as the family trucksters hang on until then.

Speaking of the family, we had an awesome day 4 wheeling yesterday. For the first time the whole tribe got to tag along, as well as Brian and his family, and a couple other good friends. Hopefully someday I'll find a good deal on a third machine and actually have the cash to buy it, then we can do this sort of thing more often. My daughter is still too small to ride her own machine on anything but the easiest trails, so she just rides with me. I bought a second 4 wheeler for my wife and son to ride a few years back, but the machine is too small for them to ride double on and I'm not comfortable with either of them hauling passengers anyway as they're both rather new to this sort of thing. In order for both of them to go along at the same time we have to rent, beg, borrow, or steal a third machine from somebody else. Jim found a great deal on an old Honda a couple of years ago and picked it up just so we could take extra people along that didn't have a machine of their own, so it was rather easy to sweet talk him into letting my dear bride help him wear it out. Fun was had by all, and as soon as I get the assload of video footage that I recorded pasted together into something worth watching I'll be posting another episode of "Wheelin' With Justin and Jim", this time with a whole host of celebrity guest stars! Until then, here's a few pics to hold everyone over.

Quite a tribe isn't it? Here I give a "shout out" to the treehuggers that would just love to see this be illegal. I can't say that I'd like to have this many people along on every ride, but every so often it's fun to take the wee ones along. How many other family activities do you know of that can hold the interest of an energetic 9 year old from sunup to sundown and still have her asking for more? I figured that after an entire day of bouncing around the mountains on a 4 wheeler, my daughter wouldn't want anything to do with the blasted things for a month or better. When we got home she climbed right back on it, dirty face smiling from dust encrusted ear to dust encrusted ear, just so she could ride with Daddy when he put it away in the garage. Now that's my girl! This kid is gonna be hell on wheels when she finally gets to ride her own machine.

Jim entertains Brian with a selection from his wealth of hilarious stories, while Darren and Nic watch Bigfoot taking a bath in the creek, or something really interesting anyway. Autumn just cant resist the urge to stuff her elbow in front of the camera, she's such a ham. ;)

One of the many rockslides we encountered. The scenery in this area is second to none, that's why I hope it stays as thankfully unpopulated as it has been every time we've been here.

A butterfly stops for a break on top of a flower. Funny how I tend to not notice stuff like this quite as much when my wife and daughter aren't along. ;)

Pictures like this don't need words. Pictures like this speak for themselves. Pictures like this are the reason why I love Montana. Pictures like this are the reason why I'll kick your peachy little ass if I see you tossing trash along the trails.

Autumn and Vanessa sit on the rocks and try to make the scenery just that much prettier. Are these two mother and daughter, or sisters? ;)

Is that darn Jim flirting with my wife again? I am seriously going to have to look for a new co-host for the 4 wheeling show if he doesn't knock that crap off, LOL. ;)

Nic gives the thumbs up to signify that our idea of putting the sandwiches in plastic containers inside the cooler prevented them from being pulverized into baby food while traveling over the rocky trails, while Mom digs out groceries for the hungry young'uns.

Nic does his best to not put any more scratches on Dad's old brain bucket. If the blasted kid would quit doubling in size every few months, I'd buy him a shiny new one so he could earn his own beat up old helmet like his old man had to.

One very happy Daddy, and one very happy, very dirty, little girl. Enjoy times like this with your kids, don't make them have to use drugs and get in trouble with the law to look for a good time. Lord knows they'll never find anything good on that road, but sometimes kids think they can anyway. I can't guarantee that my kids won't ever do anything stupid, I did for sure, but times like this enjoyed as a family can't hurt.


a-fire-fly said...

That's awesome Justin, thanks for sharing.

Chuck said...

Thanks for the pictures & story Justin. I always appreciate them.

Montana is the most beautiful state I've ever been in & like I keep threatening, I'm coming back some day cos Karen's never seen it.

Ken Hayes said...

Looks like yoo had a great time. Once again thanks for the ride with you and your family. I grew up in Montana and this brings back good memories.

Justin said...

You're absolutely welcome fire-fly, just wait till the video comes out. We're planning a big premier party with searchlights and a red carpet and everything. Ok, not really, but we might crack a Ranier or two and blow something up just for shits and giggles. ;)

Glad you liked it Chuck, and if you ever do make it back, look me up. I'd be happy to show you and the Mrs. around.

You're quite welcome as well Ken. I managed to find myself in Missouri one time in a moment of extreme weakness, LOL. It's not THAT bad of a place. I liked it a hell of a lot better than Nebraska that's for sure. I don't know what part of Misery you're in, but I spent some time up in the Northwest corner several years ago visiting some folks we know that live there. Lots of Amish folk in those parts, and lots of little Amish stores out on the backroads selling all sorts of homemade goodies. I think I gained 20 pounds, man those gals could cook. ;)

Vince said...

Glad to here that the video thing is getting sorted out. One more tip from some recent experience I had since my last post: my burner started producing coasters left and right. The burns seemed to go OK but failed the Nero verification test. Turns out that the computer was running a bit warm. I took the machine out to the garage and attacked it with compressed air, created quite the dust storm, and all has been right with the world since. I think what happens is that the CPU will clock itself down if the temp gets too high and if that happens during a burn you get some corrupt data.

Justin said...

Thanks for the tip Vince. This computer is about a year old, and I've been noticing some accumulations of dust around all of the cracks and crevices, as well as an increase in noise when I'm doing something that places a high demand on it, ala transcoding video. I knew you could fry your processor if it got too hot, but I didn't know it would throttle back due to heat. I've been making idle threats to the tune of pulling the case off and blowing it out for months, but now that you tell me about this little tidbit perhaps I can finally find the motivation to actually do it. Thanks again.

Anonymous said...

be careful that dust could be my old dead relatives, and they finaly found a place to rest-

Justin said...

Ummmmm . . . . . OK . . . . . I'll be sure to treat the dust with . . . . respect?

RSM said...

So cool. We're looking into getting quads for the whole family since there are tons of great trails around here. I can't wait. Looks like you guys had a great time. Those kinds of days make all the bullshit worthwhile.

Justin said...

Welcome to the addiction RSM. I'd have never thought there were any trails in your neck of the woods, learn something new every day. I've never been to the East Coast, I tend to avoid highly populated areas at all costs, but some of the pictures I've seen of the leaves turning colors in the fall back there are absolutely breathtaking, I'm hoping you post some pics actually. (hint, hint) I usually tend to classify the East Coast as one of those places that would be great if there wasn't so many East Coasterners, or whatever they're called, LOL, but if a person were used to that sort of thing I suppose it isn't so bad. If you looked at the pics I posted a while back of where I grew up, it shouldn't be any mystery as to why I like a little elbow room. ;) Thanks for stopping by RSM!

Mahndisa S. Rigmaiden said...

08 04 06

Justin: Those are EXCELLENT pictures. What a wonderful story. It is my hope that some of the folk in my family will appreciate the outdoors one day. So far, only me and my husband go four wheeling and but my family isn't as active in nature. How neat, what wonderful values to instill in the kiddies especially. Have a great day:) One day, one day I tell ya I have GOTTA make it to Montana!

Mahndisa S. Rigmaiden said...

08 04 06

BTW: Your birthday is coming up within the next three weeks right? Well happy early birthday:)

Justin said...

Disa, you just had to remind me about my birthday didn't you? I'm approaching old farthood at breakneck speed as it is, the last thing I need is another birthday! LOL.

I don't know what it is that makes some people have a love for the outdoors, and others not, but I imagine it's a lot to do with how, and more importantly, WHERE you were raised. Growing up in rural Montana, there wasn't anything else to do except hunt, fish, target shoot, and ride dirt bikes. We only had one channel on TV and it didn't come in half of the time, and home video games were a new invention that didn't garner a whole lot of interest for a kid with a motorcycle, a .22 rifle, a dog, and a zillion acres of ground to explore with them. I see kids everyday that grew up in town and couldn't give a rat's patooty that there's millions of acres of mountains just a half hour drive away that they could be out exploring, and I think it's kind of sad. I don't want my children to grow up that way.