Saturday, 22 July 2017

Athens for a TLTC project

Athens for a TLTC project

The first week of May 2017 I joined a group in Athens, Greece to shoot some video and 360 images for part of a TLTC (Teaching and Learning for the Third Century) grant.  The UM gave out grants to some worthy faculty projects based on making transformative change in how they teach and how those projects can be of use to other faculty teaching different topics.

I have been working with Yaron Eliav on creating QTVR images of ancient objects in the Kelsey Museum of Archeology.  This trip was to shoot a video about the Apostle Paul's visit to Athens early in his work.  As part of this, I was to capture 360 images so that students could, through the web site, virtually visit some of the sites where we were shooting the video - sites visited by Paul during that trip.

It was fun.  Our video team of Rob DeMilner, Paul Sutherland and myself worked very well together.  We were assisted before and during the shoot by our Israeli producer Rachelli, our Greek fixer Maria, and our Greek driver Tricia.  We also had a person doing makeup, and a couple of people with boats: one an ancient boat and one a modern boat.  We shot video of the ancient boat from the modern one.  We also had a drone operator that got us some very cool shots of the boat and other locations.

I'll be posting some photos and more soon in another post.

Uganda UBC 2

coming soon...

Uganda UBC 1

Uganda UBC visit & Diary

Leave for the airport; flight leaves at 6:13 PM so naturally I need to leaver for the airport at 3:00 PM so as to not make Jeri nervous.  The enormous Denali SUV pulls around to the end of our driveway at 10 minutes to 3, which is 10 minutes early.   So I forgot a couple of last minute things, like putting lotion on my face and hands. It worked out since we had to stop at the ATM on N. Campus so I would have enough USD to buy my Uganda VISA and still have some $$$ to change for local currency if I can not use a card to buy a SIM and/or phone, depending on whether Lester’s (very old) Chinese Samsung will even work in Uganda.  It worked in Ghana, so I am hopeful.  Would not work in Athens, Greece last month.
First leg from Detroit to Amsterdam, about 7.5 hours.  Discovered this amazing secret room at DTW where you can go and check in and check bags and avoid the lines!  I was told that by the woman at the Sky Medallion front desk who said their system was down and that I should just go through that door - that I had never noticed before.  Apparently it is some kind of VIP check-in area.  Pretty cool to see it.

On the flight I sat next to a woman on her way to Stockholm in seat 10J.  We were in the front row of steerage so had to put everything overhead.  Very annoying.  And had a pull out-and-up video screen that would not get straight and kept slipping down.  It was fine as I tried to nap as much as possible, with only middling success.

2 hr. 20 minute layover at Schipol, which was about right.  I was able to spend some quality time in the privy, then find my gate and have a yogurt and granola breakfast.  Our “morning snack” on the flight was only good for the Tilamook cheese and a small yogurt so at least I felt I had something close to oatmeal. 

I hope the hotel breakfast offers oatmeal!

Second leg from Amsterdam to Kigali, Rwanda was also about 7 hours.  Sat in 15A next to a Bioengineering undergraduate major from Texas A&M who was on her way with a group of fellow Aggies to Rwanda to spend the first month taking classes (mostly language classes) and then some others about the biomes machines they were there to install, repair and train the Rwandans to use.  All of us, about half the flight, that are continuing to Entebbe airport in Uganda are staying on the plane for the 1 hour layover here.  Which is when I am now starting this diary.  I left my young Aggie friend with the admonition to “Have fun, Pay attention, go save lives, and change the world!”

That’s it for now.  Just chilling and writing and waiting for our new fellow travelers to board and get on our way to Uganda!

Man, I need to get this autocorrect under control.  It had that poor girl going out to save olives!

Last leg was a short one.  Stayed in the same seat, and this time my companion was a woman from Rwanda named Connie who was on her way to Toronto for her youngest son’s High School Graduation.  They had lived there for some time and both her son and older daughter stayed on.  All we got was a Dutch cookie with caramel/fudge inside and then we were landing.

Took a LONG time to get my SIM card at the airport.  I also changed $60 and got back $250,000 Uganda shillings (UGX)!  This money is like when we were in Turkey ~25 years ago: a crazy exchange rate!  Anyway, buy the time I got done with the SIM card the everyone else had gone through customs so there was no one around, but of course they had to unpack my suitcase.  No idea what they thought they saw on the X-ray.  When I finally got outside to meet the person with the sign with my name on it, they had almost given up on me thinking I had missed the flight, since everyone else had come out and left.  Glad they waited.  Apparently the Hotel pays them for the ride, but I tipped them.  100,000 UGX, as it was the smallest bill I had.  I think that was about $25.  I tipped the bellhop the same, but told him he had to take extra special care of me all week for that.

Hope to be able to use the Samsung phone to call the US tomorrow, but for now just called Jeri using WhatsApp on wifi.  The Samsung will be quite useful just locally in any case.  Unpacking and off to bed now.  12:35 AM Monday morning.  Up and to breakfast by 8 am, meeting Derek here at 9 am and off to the UBC.  

Uganda UBC 3

UPDATE - It works!  After 3 hours of hard work, the drives came out at Room Temperature.

So on my last full day - Friday June 9th - we drove from Kampala to Fort Portal in the West end of Uganda.  This is the home of Mountains of the Moon University, the hosting institution for all the paper District archive work that Derek has been doing for several years.  The university is named after the nearby Rwenzori Mountains which are also called the Mountains of the Moon.  They top out at 16,762 ft. (5109 meters) which is the height of Africa's third tallest mountain.  They actually found glaciers up there - in Africa!

We were there to install a new DROBO 5c 5-drive enclosure to host all the digitized files of the archive work.  It will provide many TB of storage, allowing for future additions.

Unfortunately, once it was all set up and we were testing it, I discovered that the drives were extremely hot - so hot that I almost dropped the first one I popped out!  I measured the temperature when we got back to the USA and the case for each drive was about 145 degrees F.  You could actually have cooked an egg on it!

Disappointed, we brought it al back with us to figure out what was going on.  After much time on the phone with Drobo and HGST (drives) I was told that it was all operating "within parameters" and no one was going to help.  Drobo did say that if I wanted to ad a fan to the back of the enclosure that was fine with them.

So I did.  I had to make it removable and easy to attach once it al arrives back in Africa, as the fan can not be attached when the Drobo is back in its box.

Here are some shots of the process, and a short movie of the difference in the fan noise.  It is a lot of fan noise.  Next step is to see if the USB fan I ordered will still provide enough cooling and be quieter.

The workbench view.  I cut some screen material to cover the unprotected side of the fan, which faces out.

The protective screen in place, with clearance for the fan blades.

One captive screw in place on the back of the Drobo unit.  These stick out to accept the fan and
still have enough thread showing to allow for securing the fan with with nuts & lock washers.

All 4 screws in place.

The fan and the Drobo ready to be reassembled.

Fan in place and ready for testing.

Sunday, 5 June 2016

1988, in a former life

So one of the things I used to do a lot was record and/or do live broadcast mixes at music events.  I still love dong it but rarely get the opportunity any more.

The letter below (not an email!  It is actually signed!) was sent to me after a particularly fascinating incident at the Montreux Detroit Jazz Festival in 1988.

The author of the letter and the guy in charge of the broadcast on WEMU stopped in where we were mixing the music from the Pyramid stage at Hart Plaza.  After a few pleasantries he asked "So are you using a lot of EQ or something in your mix?"  I said "No, just listen to what is coming out of the speakers.  Why do you ask?"

He said he had been listening to the broadcast on the monaural radio in the TV in his hotel room, and when the broadcast switched from the other stage to ours the sound was awful!  He came scooting right over to our mixing room and started the conversation.

So once he heard what we were actually doing he said it really did sound great; superb, in fact.  After a little bit more genial conversation I had eliminated any doubts from Jim's mind that it was me creating the problem.  I knew that what we were doing was fine: I just wanted to get to the bottom of the issue.

So, being an engineer kind of guy, I started looking for what I thought was the likely culprit: one of the Left/Right lines from our room to the booth had been wired out of phase, effectively canceling most of the audio in our mix and leaving sounding very thin and awful - but ONLY when heard in mono, as it was on his hotel TV.

I followed the approximately 700' of wire all the way to the final broadcast feed mixer, where I discovered that indeed, at the last connector in the line going into the back of that mixer, the Right channel balanced line had been incorrectly wired and was therefore electrically canceling out most of our mix.  And it had been that way for a day and a half.  Apparently the Engineer in charge of the broadcast had not bothered to check the lines.

I gathered up a soldering iron, pliers and a tabletop clamp and quickly fixed the problem.  Ten days later I got this letter in the mail.  Ain't life grand?

Thursday, 19 May 2016

WCBN Tapes at the Bentley Historical Library

In the summer of 201`5 I spent some time at the Bentley cataloguing the tape archive of WCBN.  These tapes had been there for several years waiting for this to happen.  The next step is to find money to hire a student to digitize them - hopefully this summer.

Here is the first photo of that work: a bunch of reels in a box.  I'll add more photos and some video soon.