Making a video out of text

Recently I discovered an interesting site that will take plain text and help you make a video out of it.  The tool takes in whatever text you enter, converts it from text to speech, and then syncs a generated cartoon video in time to the speech.  I found this mesmerizing.  My mind flashed to the IRC quotes database that I set up years ago and had a small trickling in of content.  “What if I took a funny quote out of there, of decent length, and converted it to video?”, I murmured to myself.  With these careless thoughts, I was driven to pursue the project.

I chose this quick quote off my quotes database, as it was mostly my nutty banter and wouldn’t incriminate others as much.  After creating an account on Xtranormal, I started pasting in the lines for the two characters it limited me to.  Upon the first play, it was less than ideal, plus it only had a static camera angle.  This just wouldn’t do for a quick test of mine.  I threw myself into editing text so the text to speech worked better.  Once it played in a fairly respectable fashion, I started looking at camera angles.  There were quite a few to choose from and I tweaked it all until I was happy, though I have no idea if it was good or not.  Then facial expressions and body language came into play.  I added air quotes, hands on hips and even some devil’s horns.  Awesome.  A few more edits and rendering and I shared it with #orlug with limited viewing and mild success.

Overall, it was a fun project, and I found the tool very versatile, especially considering it was free.  I can’t wait to do some more with a bit better content and animation.  Below is the embedded Youtube upload of the video I created.  Welcome to the future.

Enjoy,
Ben

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Playing with your words

We’ve all done it. The fun of Google Translate or Babelfish. Taking in a word or phrase and then piping it through as many translations as possible to get something amusing and awesome. While listening to a podcast today I discovered an amazing site that takes an English word or phrase and then converts it back and forth between languages (uses Japanese/English currently) until it reaches an equilibrium.  I have seen one occurrence where it fails to find equilibrium, but it was too naughty to ever repeat.  This is fairly fun and the results are more often than not, far and away from the original statement.

Find it here: http://translationparty.com

Here’s what I ended up with for starters:
These kids today just don’t understand.
into Japanese
これらの子供たちは、今日だけで理解していない。
back into English
These kids, just do not understand today.
back into Japanese
これらの子供たちは、ちょうど今日理解していない。
back into English
These kids, I just do not understand.
back into Japanese
これらの子供 たちは、私は理解していない。
back into English
These kids, I do not understand.

back into Japanese
これらの子供た ちは、私は理解していない。

back into English
These kids, I do not understand.

Equilibrium found!
This is a real translation party!

I look forward to any amusing output in the comments :)

Enjoy!
–ben

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Filling your mind with Podcasts

Over the years, podcasts come and go.  You find your niche and stick with it.  Though every so often you get jolted back from your comfortable existence when you are informed of a special podcast that captivates and entertains you.  Alas, why had you not know about this before!?!?!

Below is a collection of podcasts that have interested me and a brief reason why I enjoy it.  Hopefully this will be helpful to you, and who knows, perhaps you can be surprised by one you didn’t know existed.

Buzz Out Loud – I have listened to this CNet podcast almost daily for a couple years.  I find this to be a great all around type tech news feed for me so I can catch up with my news while I drive kids around or sit at my desk.  Great opinions and angles on many stories are presented here.

The 404 – This podcast originally started by hijacking the BOL feed above for a day.  It’s three guys that do all they can to make humor of almost every situation.  Though it’s rooted in tech news, it also touches a lot on culture and current memes.  I’ve listened to this every weekday since day one.

Gamers With Jobs – With the fall of EGM as a publishing giant, the various podcasts that used to come from there (EGM, GFW, etc) either died off or diluted down to a state where I wasn’t enjoying them anymore.  Gamers With Jobs (GWJ) takes over from where the priors left off.  Every week they put in-depth focus into a specific topic and also handle the weekly news and what they’ve been playing.  This podcast is a great listen every time and there is a lot of thought put into the primary subject of the week.

The Nerdist – This podcast I only happened upon by chance, after reading a Twitter post from Wil Wheaton saying anyone would be stupid if they weren’t listening to it.  So being the geek sheep (gkeep?) that I am, I subscribed.  It has been a very entertaining time so far with the 10 or so episodes that I have listened to.  Every week is a new guest to interview and I have learned a great amount about certain aspects of the entertainment industry.  I have also laughed a lot.  Warning, this podcast is very naughty in the mouth, you have been warned.

Joystiq podcast – This crew is really hit and miss for me.  I do enjoy listening to them talk about games, but I feel like a lot of the time the “Um’s” and inside jokes tend to wear on me.  The humor can also come off as very dryThey don’t feel terribly organized, but do provide insight into the bowels of the gaming industry, and that I like.  It is released on a weekly basis.

Radio Free Burrito – Wil Wheaton’s podcast of random release delivery.  He goes about interviewing people and also talking about his life of growing up in geekdom.  I would only recommend it for the hardest geekery.  It entertains me, but is only released whenever Wil has time, which varies based on how much pay work he has.

Major Nelson’s Xbox Live podcast – This is my big sellout podcast.  Yes, I do enjoy my Xbox immensely, but I take all the fanboyism with a grain of salt with this podcast.  One thing they do have going for them is the ability to hook in fairly high caliber guests for interviews, thus educating me about many behind the scenes activities of game companies and Xbox.  Release is once a week, which feels about right.

NPR: Car Talk – This is a straight feed from the prior weekend’s NPR broadcast of the loveable Click and Clack brothers.  Beyond being a computer/game geek, I am also a car geek and I love trying to figure out what the issue with the car is before it is stated on air.  It is also kid friendly, unlike many of my podcasts.

preGame – This video podcast is a new spinoff from the 404 by Cnet where Jeff and the gang take a pre-look into upcoming games that are about to be released.  I often don’t get around to watching it in a timely manner and it fills up my poor little Nano, but it is fun to see full play action of games played in studio before they are going to be released.

A Life Well Wasted – After leaving the crumbling EGM, Robery Ashley started up this internet radio show.  I wouldn’t call it a podcast, it really is a show.  With high production values, blending in of his own music and really interesting subject matter this show is a real treat in a world of cheaply slapped up podcasts.  The only downside is it takes him months to get all the material together, but they are well worth waiting for.

So there you have it.  This is my little universe of podcast listening and I’m fairly rooted in it.  In the past, I have listened to: 1UP Yours, GFW, Coffee Break Spanish, Kotaku, Engadget, 4 guys 1UP, and a few others I can’t recall right now.  Let me know if you have a favorite podcast you think I might like!

–ben

P.S. – I have toyed around with the idea of working on a podcast for years.  You might say it has been a bit of a fantasy of mine.  Anyone have a lead?  Given the nature of the beast, of course it isn’t for money, it is for the experience.

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My first batch of homebrewed beer

The kit my family got me to start home brewing with.Several months ago, I started expressing interest to my wife about brewing beer at home. I mentioned this in full ignorance, unaware of the process or joys that can be had with this hobby. The only experience I had was drinking beer and one quick tour last year at the Rogue Brewery.  Originally I thought, “Oh, I’ll just pick up one of those Mr. Beer things I see everywhere and go from there.” My wife knew better. She invested a bunch of time in research and came up with a local place to get set up.

On father’s day, the family surprised me with a gift that I had to hunt for. In the morning I was given a set of directions and they had me head out to find my treasure. Upon parking, they blindfolded me and led me to Main Street Homebrew Supply. This place was amazing, and the guys there got me all setup with whatever I didn’t have already at home, which was almost everything. Besides the equipment and the 400 page book about homebrewing, they gave me a one page quick sheet on how to get my batch running. The supplies were ready, but was I?

First batch of hops added (Zeus)A couple weeks later, after much reading and preparations, I started in on making my first batch, with the assistance of my wife (mostly for moral support). The process was much easier than I had anticipated, with every step detailed on the sheet I got from Main St. Brew. Before I knew it I had a nice wort (pronounced wert) fermenting in my 8 gallon bucket.

After about a week, the beer was racked into a second fermenter, called a carboy. This allows the beer to sit longer to cure without having to worry about the taint that can be created by all the spent yeast at the bottom of the brew. At this time I “dry hopped” the brew. This is a process in which you take a small amount of hops in a cheesecloth sack and put it into the mostly fermented beer during racking. Then I left it alone in a cool, dark corner for another two weeks.  My favorite saying during this process, “You!  Go in the corner and make me beer!”

In these two weeks, I made sure the stage was set for bottling. Due to a bit of luck, I had a great many Trader Joe’s beer bottles in my house that I hadn’t gotten around to taking back. These were soaked in a 5 gallon bucket in several batches for a night each in water and Oxy Clean to get all the labels off.

47 bottles out of this first batch.Finally the day had arrived. It was time for bottling. Boosted by my success so far in not ruining the batch I casually set to work getting everything sterilized and the stage set for the operation. With my wife’s help, we racked one last time to stir the carbonation sugar in and start into the bottling process. Bottling went smoothly, and before we knew it, 47 bottles of delicious looking brew sat on our kitchen floor. Then it was back to waiting again, another TWO weeks for the carbonation to be naturally created from the magical yeast still left in the bottle. I did have a small sip at the bottling phase, and though the beer was flat at that time, it tasted delicious. It did have an amazing hops kick however, which I was worried about, but I figured it just needed time to mellow out in the bottle, or so I hoped.

At the one week mark I couldn’t stand it, and opened a bottle. The beer was only slightly carbonated, and still fairly hoppy. Ok, stop being impatient, wait another week.

Two weeks after bottling I put two bottles in the fridge when I got home, and a pint glass in the freezer. This had to be a romance, a courting of the brew. When dinner was made, I poured my crafted beer into the pint glass. Immediately I was surprised by the massive head that reared out of the glass at me. Slowing down I got the rest of the bottle into the glass and sat there marveling at it. I had done it, with the help of my lovely wife. An actual beer made at home. Amazing.

served.jpgI lifted the glass and savored the cool refreshing beer. The brew sneaks up on you. It comes in mild and smokey and then playfully slaps your cheeks with hops, and a gloved hand. The brew was still quite hoppy, like a mating rabbit in spring, however it had mellowed out enough in the bottle to not be obnoxious. There is an odd aftertaste that I haven’t figured out yet. Almost like sucking on an old Coleman cooler. I’m hoping that the people at Main St. can help me figure it out, as I’ve tasted it before in another homebrew I’ve tried.

Overall, it was a great success. I didn’t have to throw out the batch, and it tastes pretty decent, though my wife still refuses to really drink it. Between the dark amber chest hair taste combined with the drunken bunny hoppyness, it is a bit too strong for her liking. This isn’t a big deal however, because it gives me a chance to try out making a light IPA or Blonde in the very near future.

Brew well,
–ben

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Wishing for more of the suite life

As my three kids get older, it is increasingly more expensive to travel. It’s not just because they want to do more exciting things, which of course they do. It is not just because they eat more as they get older, and they do. No, my issue stems from the fact that most places we want to stay limit you to the traditional nuclear family model. Recently, when trying to setup a quick last minute place to stay in Bend, OR for my family due to a swim meet for one of my daughters, I found it quite difficult to find anywhere that would let us stay in a single room. Most hotel/motel businesses will limit you to four people in a room. With my family of five, this becomes quite costly, as the only real option would be to get two adjoining rooms.

Enter the saving grace of a suite room (or sweet room if you must). At last I was able to find a suite that I could actually afford and was far cheaper than getting two rooms. It ended up being at an Econo Lodge, which isn’t ideal, but there were no other options in the Bend area that met our needs.

No, the suite didn’t look at all like this, even though this is the picture on their website. I’m not sure how many decades old this picture is…but it’s not even the same furniture.

The big question, that I lay out to the internets at large is: Why can’t more conglomerate hospitality companies provide just a couple suites in every location? I am sure that larger families would more than appreciate the convenience and cost savings of such an option. Better yet, offer a small kitchenette so penny pinching families like my own can even manage to travel at all, by saving money in the food department. In these times of economic downturn (*drink*), there needs to be greater incentive to get families out and stimulate the economy with travel! A great way to do this is make lodging more appealing to those whom don’t fit in the two parents and two kids mold. So what say you hospitality America, can we make this happen?

–ben

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A whole new world

It has been years since I first setup borked.us as a personal playground.  Originally I limped along on the ml.org and dhs.org 3rd level dynamic domains, but over time they went away and became too unreliable.

Borked.us was born in 2002, and initially I hacked around trying to find my way through pages of html in vi.  From this grew a hacky, but workable SSI (server side includes) templating system, in a time before PHP became all the rage.  This lasted me until 2010, where I find that it’s lack of CSS, old style and difficult updating has led me to this shiny new CMS solution.

I did evaluate several CMS products.  These were: Joomla, Concrete5 and WordPress.  Out of them, Joomla seemed to be very powerful but also the most unstable and hardest to use.  The plugin addition for Joomla was also a very manual process.  Concrete5 was very sexy and works inline like using MS Publisher with blocks of content, however the features I really wanted were usually a $55 paid plugin, or didn’t exist.  I will say for Concrete5 though, that it is extremely easy to use and add plugins and themes to.  This left me with WordPress.  The WordPress system was mainly created around a blogging platform, that then grew it’s CMS wings later on.  I was familiar with it from using it in The Videogamer project, and found it easy to slip into.  Furthermore, plugins practically installed themselves and the abundance of both themes and plugins were vast.

So here we are today.  On the WordPress CMS/Blog platform I hope to update the site a bit more regularally, and give a little life back into a long forgotten domain presence.

Enjoy,
–ben

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Funny Unix commands

When you have been doing Unix systems administration for several years, you start to gather a stash of comical commands that get passed around from sysadmin to sysadmin. The torch is passed between the old and the new, the torch that lights up the day of what commonly can be perhaps a day of drudgery. What follows is a list that I have gathered over the years. Some copied from other sources, some from IRC, some of my own creation. Granted, given the various flavors of Unix and Linux, your millage may vary, but they are fun to read nonetheless.

>From the csh (c shell):

% make love
Make: Don’t know how to make love. Stop.

% got a light?
No match.

% sleep with me
bad character

% man: Why did you get a divorce?
man:: Too many arguments.

% rm God
rm: God nonexistent

% make ‘heads or tails of all this’
Make: Don’t know how to make heads or tails of all this. Stop.

% make sense
Make: Don’t know how to make sense. Stop.

% make mistake
Make: Don’t know how to make mistake. Stop.

% make bottle.open
Make: Don’t know how to make bottle.open. Stop.

% \(-
(-: Command not found.

% rm -i God
rm: remove God? y
% ls God
God not found
% make light
Make: Don’t know how to make light. Stop.

% date me
You are not superuser: date not set
Thu Aug 25 15:52:30 PDT 1988

% man rear
No manual entry for rear.

% If I had a ) for every dollar Reagan spent, what would I have?
Too many )’s.

% * How would you describe George Bush
*: Ambiguous.

% %Vice-President
%Vice-President: No such job.

% ls Meese-Ethics
Meese-Ethics not found

% “How would you rate Reagan’s senility?
Unmatched “.

% [Where is Jimmy Hoffa?
Missing ].

->/opt> man sex
No manual entry for sex.

% ^How did the^sex change operation go?
Modifier failed.

% cp /dev/null sex;chmod 000 sex
% more sex
sex: Permission denied
% mv sex show
% strip show
strip: show: Permission denied

% who is my match?
No match.

% set i=”Democratic_Platform”;mkdir $i;chmod 000 $i;ls $i
Democratic_Platform unreadable

% awk “Polly, the ship is sinking”
awk: syntax error near line 1
awk: bailing out near line

% %blow
%blow: No such job.

% ‘thou shalt not commit adultery’
thou shalt not commit adultery: Command not found.

And from the bourne shell (sh):

$ drink < bottle;opener bottle: cannot open opener: not found $ test my argument test: too many arguments $ "Amelia Earhart" Amelia Earhart: not found $ PATH=pretending! /usr/ucb/which sense no sense in pretending! $ man -kisses dog dog: nothing appropriate $ mkdir "Yellow Pages";fiYellow Pages $ mkdir matter;cat > matter
matter: cannot create

$ lost
lost: not found

$ found
found: not found

$ i=Hoffa ;>$i ;$i ;rm $i ;rm $i
Hoffa: cannot execute
rm: Hoffa nonexistent

The following are ones that I can’t get to work on my BSD 4.3, so I
suppose that they are stuff from ATT SysV or some other such:

% strip bra
bra: Cannot open

% sccs what bottle
can’t open bottle (26)

$ cat “door: paws too slippery”
can’t open door: paws too slippery

$ cat food_in_tin_cans
cat: can’t open food_in_tin_cans

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Reedsport loop ride report

Ride report for April 10-11 2010

I decided a couple months ago I had to try out this BLM road I heard about that was paved and was 70 miles of going through the middle of nowhere. The route is here: http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UT…ff09fc&t=h&z=7

I hadn’t planned on taking a bike that I had only bought one week before on such a trip, but the Concours ZG1000 begged me to buy it and in the week before the trip I had not only bought it but sold my trusty old Honda CB450T. This added a level of uncertainty to the trip that brought about new levels of excitement, and not in the best way.

We started off with breakfast at Genie’s in Portland and then headed down the back roads to below Eugene on 99W going south. Traffic was hell going out of town and it felt really good to get past McMinnville where actual miles could be put down. Right around parallel with Eugene on 99W we had a quick debate of where we were headed, a studying of maps and GPS and headed on our way. Well, the GPS sent us somewhere odd that wasn’t on the Google Maps printout and we used a physical map to get us on track to Crow, OR. After getting onto the roads that lead to BLM road 36 the roads got tighter, corners deliciously twisty and I had to get used to my heavy new bike in a hurry. We kept a good pace into the forested hills.

Shortly after passing a forest prison work camp (who would have known?) we came to a wood carved and painted map that didn’t seem to agree with anything I had printed out from Google Maps. After using a trusty folded map and comparing it with a GPS we took a left and proceeded up the amazingly twisty road to the summit there. This BLM did tend to keep you on your toes, perhaps doubly so in spring. There were a couple times we came around the corner to find a partially covered road with a fallen tree or a landslide. There was also a fair amount of moss growing on the road and I was certainly glad that it wasn’t raining for that part of the trip.

We made it up and over the summit without incident. Where the ground leveled out again (about half way along the route, 35 miles or so from any town) we made a quick stop for some pictures and for the two people riding BMW GS bikes to romp on a muddy road. After starting up again we came around a corner to find a guy in full black leathers wrestling with a red Suzuki Intruder that had a stuck throttle. We stopped to see if he needed help, checked out the situation and found that the throttle grip appeared to be partially broken and wouldn’t return to idle correctly. I hacked together a fix with a broccoli rubber band that I had randomly brought attached to his throttle plate and he was able to have it return to idle again after a revving. He seemed anxious to go (never even caught his name), and wanted to go the opposite direction we were headed. He asked what he owed us, I said how about a handshake and wished he had a safe travel back and he rode off. I really hope he was able to limp that bike back the 35+ miles to Eugene.

The rest of the ride down the BLM road was fairly uneventful. We made a stop for some pretty waterfalls and a couple pictures. About 10 miles out of Reedsport it started to sprinkle. By the time we got to Reedsport proper it was a decent rain. We made the decision to get dinner in the dry and then hunt down some place to camp. This proved to be a good decision as the rain let up while we ate and there were only wet roads to the first open campground we were able to find: Tihkiwama Lake. Camp was setup and the realization occurred that it was only 6:30pm or so and there were many more hours of hanging out to be had. I popped back into Reedsport for a 6-pack of IPA. This proved to be a very wet decision though, as it rained the entire ride there and back, hard. I arrived back to camp with a 6-er and huddled around the campfire. Though we were under a heavy tree canopy the rain finally won and doused our fire so we then sought refuge in one person’s tent and talked for a bit before going to sleep.

I woke up early, like 6:30am early and couldn’t go back to sleep. The yellow tent I was in blazed like seven suns. I prepared for a rainy day of riding with silk long underwear, wool socks, long sleeve shirt and a wool sweater under all my usual gear. I was packed and rearing to go again. The sky was overcast but the clouds were high, as were the hopes of the riders for a rainless riding day. We headed out and went a bit north before stopping for breakfast in a small town that I can’t remember the name of. We agreed that if it was raining by the time we hit Tillamook that we’d shortcut our ride and head back on highway 6 instead of 53 like we had planned.

The ride up 101 was great. There wasn’t that much traffic and we ate up the miles. The pavement was mostly dry and the bikes hummed with the passion for coastal corners and passing lanes. Just shy of Tillamook we were at about 120 miles for the day so far. I was leading and made the executive decision to pull off at one of the only rest areas I had seen the whole trip. After a nice stretch and chat about the route and weather, we decided to head up to Nahalem, have lunch and then soak up some highway 53 lovin’. With an interesting lunch at the cafe downtown in Nahalem, and served by the 2010 Tillamook County Dairy Princess, we headed out to gobble up highway 53. This was the first time any of us had been on this road so the pace was spirited but safe. There is nothing as lovely as seeing a sign at the start that warns of extreme corners for the next 12 miles. There was a pack of sportbike riders headed down the hill as we were headed up. Other than that there was basically no traffic.

We tootled back on highway 26. I found myself trying to make sure I stayed focused. It’s easy to let you mind start wandering once you get back on familiar roads. Plus I was really sore. This bike is about 250 pounds, 550cc and 2x as much HP as my old bike. The riding position is also a bit lower on the bar end. I may need to make some modifications to the bars, we’ll see. The rest of the ride back on 26 was uneventful, however there were a couple spirited passes in the passing lanes. Then with a silent mimed wave to my fellow riding companions I pulled off and rode my steed into the garage in Hillsboro.

Excellent fun weekend ride. Just long enough to get in some great riding, but short enough were you don’t have to worry about unpacking and setting up that wet tent for the second night of sleeping

–ben

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