Cat Training

If you’ve ever been owned by a cat, this post will make you laugh until you cry! Thanks, Cage. 😉

Cage Dunn - Fibber, Fabricator, Teller-of-Tall-Tales

“And how is the new cat going?”

It’s a question with an answer that involves a lot of eye-movement, a mouth like a gulping goldfish, and weird noises.

Can a cat be trained? In all my experiences with cats, whether mine or within the household I lived in, or fosters, I’ve had only one cat (before now) that was a bit difficult – and that was in one area only (he shredded our lounge chairs, but only the backs and only at night so we didn’t see him do it, so of course he could look innocent when confronted).

This new cat isn’t a mature 5.5 yo. He’s a kitten. With sharp teeth, sharp claws, and a daredevil attitude that’s managed to get him into trouble at least three times – that we know of.

The first one was trying to bust through the front door. A security door with…

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A sweet start to the day

No, not a biscuit or a cake. This

Morning all!

-Meeka saluting with a coffee-


PC deep clean and a new video

I didn’t intend to deep clean the inside of my pc today, but it was starting to overheat a bit, and the fans were becoming a little too loud, so I dragged out the paint brushes and the vacuum cleaner and got stuck into it. Now I’m knackered. If anyone wants to know how to clean their own desktop pc [can’t do it to a laptop] you can find the post here.

One reason I had to reduce the noise of the fans [in the pc] was because the microphone was starting to pick them up when I recorded my latest how-to video. That’s the one down below:

The how-to is for gaming, but I’m slowly honing my skills for the creation of self-publishing videos. The one above may look simple but the editing was brutal. I stopped counting the snippets of video at 50 and didn’t count the voice-over and overlay snippets at all. I did, however, learn how to make my own circles and arrows and overlay them on segments of the video I wanted to highlight:

Unless anyone particularly wants to hear the -cough- dulcet tones of my Aussie accent, leave this one for the gamers. 😉

Time for a long delayed breakfast,

cheers,
Meeks


Is ‘art’ still art if an AI makes it?

The picture above was generated by an AI [Futurism].

“The artwork, titled “Théâtre D’opéra Spatial,” depicts a scifi-inspired scene of an opera performance. But Jason Allen, who submitted the artwork, used AI image generator Midjourney to create it.”

https://futurism.com/the-byte/ai-generated-painting-wins-state-fair-fine-arts-competition?utm_souce=mailchimp&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=09012022&utm_source=The+Future+Is&utm_campaign=81882d0b81-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2022_09_01_09_33&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_03cd0a26cd-81882d0b81-247165549&mc_cid=81882d0b81&mc_eid=bbf5c06f50

Further along in the article, Jason Allen talks about how he set up the parameters for Midjourney [the software/AI] to use. Then he chose what he considered to be the best from three outcomes. And it won first prize at the Colorado State Fair.

When I first read this article, my initial reaction was horror. How could a piece of software, no matter how sophisticated, produce something this…beautiful? But the more I thought about it, the more I realised that it was the parameters set by Jason Allen that had created an image of great beauty, so in that sense, Midjourney was simply another tool.

I admit an AI is a bit more high tech than a paintbrush, but the creativity still came from Allen.

What do you think? The beginning of the end for artists? Or just one more tool?

cheers,
Meeks


Queen Elizabeth II

I just woke up and learned that the Queen had died. As an Australian, there could be only one person who fit that description – Elizabeth II.

I’m not a monarchist, but I remember singing ‘God Save the Queen’ at school in the ’60s, so she has been a part of my life for…most of my life. It seems to me that she was a good person, and that is how I will remember her.

Vale.

Meeks


Wikipedia

I know Wikipedia has its detractors, but in my not-so-humble opinion, it’s one of the few, truly good things in our digital world. It’s an attempt to promote the caring, unselfish, generous parts of human nature, by ensuring that information is available to everyone, everywhere.

That’s why I just donated $10 AUD out of my fortnightly pension:

I use Wikipedia a lot in my research, not as my sole source of information, but often as the jumping off point when investigating a new area of knowledge. Why? Because any new area of knowledge is bound to have its own terminology, it’s own ‘language’, and until I get a feel for how that language works, it’s hard to dig down to the bits I’m really interested in. Wiki gives me a way to untangle the thread, to make a start.

If you use Wikipedia in your research, or if you ever look things up just for fun, think about how much harder things would be if Wiki no longer existed. It does not pester us with ads. It does not sell space to special interests. It just asks for donations.

In a way, Wikipedia is the single, biggest crowd funding experiment in the whole wide world. It’s us, taking control away from the vested interests that seek to manipulate us at every turn. It’s freedom…for us.

If you have some loose change, please donate to keep Wiki free:

https://donate.wikimedia.org/wiki/Ways_to_Give

cheers,
Meeks


How I create my videos

I’ll start with a caveat: I’m still learning the ropes when it comes to creating and editing videos, so please take the info. in this post as a starting point only.

Onward! Okay these the tools I use:

  1. KLM microphone
  2. Action! video capture
  3. Corel Draw X8 for any precise graphics
  4. Good old Paint for quick and dirty graphics
  5. Corel VideoStudio Pro 2021 for video editing
  1. The microphone: Before I started doing voice overs, I did some research online and found all sorts of stuff about how to set up an area for audio recording. I also read up on the kind of equipment you would need. In the end, I bought the cheapest microphone Amazon had to offer – it was on sale – and I try to record when there’s no background noise [Offspring puttering around in the kitchen, dog barking, cat wanting to be fed etc]. That’s it. Not professional quality but…good enough.
  2. Video capture software: I love Action! because I own it outright – no recurring subscription fees – and it’s sophisticated enough to allow me to take good quality footage. Plus it was relatively cheap.
  3. I’ve owned and used Corel Draw X8 for a very long time. It’s a great program and I love it.
  4. Windows Paint has been around for a very long time too, and it’s perfect for quickly resizing a screenshot, or adding some arrows and labels, or cropping out the bits I don’t want. And it’s free. Can’t argue with that.
  5. And now to Corel VideoStudio Pro 2021…. I don’t love it. Keep reading and I’ll tell you why.

Before buying the VideoStudio editor, I tried out a number of editors, but not the Corel one. So it was an impulse buy based on Corel being a trusted brand… and it was on sale. I had trouble from the start. Installing the software and getting it to run ate up days of frustration and online searching. Once I had it running, I had trouble learning it because, although it looks pretty, the interface is weirdly unintuitive. It’s also inconsistent. It’s supposed to be great for beginners but I had trouble learning it. I’ll leave it at that.

One thing I do like is the ability to edit multiple tracks, which look something like this:

Once I have captured the actual video with Action!, I import it into VideoStudio and drag it to what’s called the ‘timeline’. The timeline can include all the tracks shown in the screenshot.

The first track to go on the timeline has to be the video track [for me]. This is my raw material. Once it’s on the timeline, I can snip out the bits I don’t like to get an overall feel for the length of the finished video and what I want/must present in that time.

The overlay track is where I place still images, or even snippets of video, that will create a ‘picture-in-a-picture’ effect. In the example above, my self portrait and the pic of Warrandyte both overlaid the video going on in the background.

Narration was always going to be important in my videos so it really helps that I can create short bits of voice-over [usually about one sentence worth] which can then be positioned at the precise locations that fit the visual narrative.

And finally there’s the music. I included music in the how-to video to provide continuity, but also to get rid of the ‘dead air’ you get in-between bits of voice-over. Essentially this dead air is the non-sound you get when the microphone is not recording. It’s quite disturbing when you first hear it. A very, very soft music track in the background just smooths the transitions from one audio clip to the next. If I could record everything in one hit, I wouldn’t need that smoothing, but I simply couldn’t do it, no matter how hard I tried. Ums, ahs, oops, coughs, and other gremlins would always creep in, even when I scripted what I wanted to say. It’s actually a lot easier deleting a blooper and re-recording a single sentence than trying to do Hamlet without a break. 😉

So that’s what I’ve learned to-date. I would recommend the KLM microphone and Action!. I would not recommend VideoStudio Pro 2021. That said, I would advise you to buy a video editor that is sophisticated enough to offer multiple tracks, including voice over, and does it without any fuss or bother. Do I know of one? No, but perhaps people will chime in, in comments.

cheers,
Meeks


Why, and how, to use the Youtube video editor

I’ll start with the ‘why’. Once you upload a video to Youtube, any changes you make will require that you:

  1. delete the original video, and
  2. upload the new, updated video

Why is this a problem? Because any views or comments you get on the old video will be lost.

The only exception to this is if the changes you want to make are minor. In that case, you can use the in-built Youtube video editor to make small changes to the existing video.

What kind of changes? Let me show you in this 4 minute, how-to video that I created:

I decided to have a little fun with the ‘speaking bits’ so used one of my gaming avatars to ‘animate’ the boring bits. Ahem…

In the example shown, the ‘tail’ of the video was too long. The tail is the bit right at the end which is where you want to display end screen information:

These ‘elements’ encourage viewers to see other videos you’ve created, or subscribe to your channel. The last thing you want is for viewers to switch off without seeing more of your content.

So the end screen elements are very important, but they can only be added after you upload your video. This makes getting the timing right a bit of a challenge. I’m sure professionals know precisely how long to make the ‘tail’ of the video, but I always seem to make them too long.

According to my research, end screen elements need to be on-screen for a minimum of 5 seconds. Anything less than that and they simply don’t appear. The maximum time they can appear is 20 seconds, so you need to find the sweet spot and time your ‘tail’ to match.

After much messing around, I finally got my end screen elements to appear just after the ‘blow kiss/goodbye’. And I had to use the method shown in the video to do it. 🙂

And finally, this is the video that made me scoot down this rabbit hole in the first place:

I’m having a lot of fun creating these gaming walkthroughs, but I’m also learning the skills I’ll need once I start making how-to videos in earnest.

cheers,
Meeks


A possible end to Covid-19

Over the last, almost three years, we’ve learned that Covid-19 is capable of changing rapidly and blowing through our immunity, whether natural or vaccine induced. This means we can’t expect ‘herd immunity’ to kick in and finally cause the virus to die out. So how do we get rid of it? Is it even possible?

A new study detailed in this New Atlas article makes me cautiously optimistic. Apparently, researchers have discovered an ‘epitope’ that stays pretty much the same across all the mutations up to BA.1 and BA.2. It may also stay the same for BA.4 and BA.5, the two variants we’re battling at the moment, but the research is lagging a bit behind on them.

Essentially what this means is that there may be an area of vulnerability on the virus that doesn’t change every five minutes. If a suitable vaccine can be created to target that vulnerability then scientists may have found the ‘master key’ to all variants.

But… The thing with fast moving mutations is that blocking off this ‘master vulnerability’ could make a hitherto unproductive mutation become productive, by default. This hypothetical mutation could make it easier for the virus to infect frogs or cats or some other host. If that’s the case, it could simmer in a different environment and possibly cross-over again at a later date. Or…best case scenario, it could settle into an animal host and stay there.

Either way, I’ve got all my fingers and toes crossed that science does find a ‘master key’ against Covid because I really would like to see friends and family in the flesh again.

cheers,
Meeks


The tiniest Aussie van-house

I’ve been fascinated by the idea of Tiny Houses for years, but this one literally blew my mind:

I’m not sure I’m tidy enough to live in such a…neat…space, but I totally fell in love with the aesthetics of it.

Still smiling,
Meeks


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