Sunday, 10 June 2012

Sunday Jun 10, 2012 - A Plan that Works and Going Home

Heading home - a sweet & sad feeling all rolled into one.

You won't believe what I needed to do to get the workstations finally ready to go.
Despite rigorous testing at the DMC and Groundworks using QT for video capture for years, QT just would not work reliably.

So we had to go to with  "Plan 9 from Outer Space!"

  -- use iMovie to capture the video

  -- connect a second set of audio cables from the VCR to the speakers because we couldn't
     monitor audio during capture in iMovie

  -- FORCE QUIT iMovie immediately after a 2 hour capture so it would not spend
     30+ minutes creating thumbnails we do not want.

Believe it or not, this actually worked perfectly.

We re-name the resulting ".dv" file with the Tape #, and then at the end of each day we compress all of our captures with the H.264 "TURBO Encabulator" using the "iPod" setting, which is 640 x 480; a compromise, yes - but a thoughtful compromise.

I showed the original DV file and the compressed file to our Ghanaian friends, and they could barely tell the difference when played full screen.  But when I showed them that the compressed file was about 1/10th the size of the original, theirs jaws dropped.

The whole re-wiring process is detailed in here, but it took most of the morning to wire and test.
And after a busy morning doing all of that, it was time for lunch - at Jofel, our favorite spot!

That's Stephen on my left, who was one of the folks  at the Palace that is learning what we are doing.

The palava sauce (on the left) became one of my favorites.  Those are plantains (on the right) with the chicken.  When baked like this it is called Ampesi, when fried it is call red-red.

Meanwhile, back at the Palace:

Once I cleaned everything up, this is what the 3 temporary workstations looked like.  You can only see it in this photo, but each of the 4 workstations has a UPS (4th is in the Tape Room, and stays behind).  Turns out we really needed them as the power has been shutting off - briefly - rather often during our stay and the UPS keeps the VCR playing.  Everything else was running on the laptop battery and so was not affected.

So our gear kept right on working, but each time we had to go find the one remote control in the palace to turn the air conditioners back on.  This was not just for our comfort: we needed to keep temperature & humidity stable so the tapes & VCRs would continue to work smoothly.

          Remember, the tapes have all been kept in an air-conditioned room.  
          Think about what happens to a glass of lemonade on a hot day.

Below is a photo of one of the 3 temporary workstations.

You can see the re-wired audio cable taped to the UPS (left side of photo) to keep it from being messed with.  ADVC-55 analog-to-DV converter and LaCie buss-powered HDD are on top of the VCR, with USB powered speakers being the black cylinders to left & right.  This is the smaller room we are using, and it can only hold one workstation.

I only had one physical adapter for each station, since everything I brought had Edison plugs and would run on 220.  I just needed enough Edison outlets.

It turned out that with the UPS units we got I did not even need the physical adapter: the plugs on the back of that were universal, as seen in this photo: the orange AC cord is plugged directly into the UPS. We used the physical adapter to plug into the wall, mostly because it had a pilot light that proved useful in troubleshooting but also because it had a 3-pin grounded setup.

Rear view of another workstation.  

Note the two sets of audio output cables: one for the ADVC and one feeding the USB powered speakers (blue cable).

This photo below shows the larger of the 2 temporary rooms assigned to us with 2 workstations in it.  Note that all the AC cabling has been secured with gaff tape to prevent accidental unplugging. 

The orange AC cords are also taped at the bottom of the table legs, keeping the run across the traffic area flat and close to the floor.  UPS boxes are out of the way on the floor agains the walls.

You can see the capture window and Filemaker windows side-by-side on the laptop screen

So that's about all.   I'll be putting some video up on YouTube once I have a decent connection, because that's about the only way to get a feel for some of this stuff. 

Here I am hanging out at the Apple Store in Accra, waiting for my flight home, and finishing my blog.   But I already miss Ghana.

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