Life in Tacoma, Spring

Life In Tacoma

The alley behind the house is useful for family activities.

The whole family gathered around to help the older brother carry out his project.

Technical Hurdles

First I had to figure out the working of the movie editing software on the old XP that I work on. To make the full-screen texts, I chose white on black because that looked cool, like the old silent celluloids that I used to see on TV in the '50s.

The next step was getting them on line. I could have just put them on Youtube, but I decided I wanted to host them on my own website, because the emerging html [browser] code was making that easier to do. Also, I wanted to learn best practices for this, as it could come in handy for future jobs.

My wife said, "Why reinvent the wheel?", a legitimate question, But in the background, my thinking was, "Why does everything have to be posted on Youtube? With new html tools, we are beyond that. It's like back in the '50s, when all music had to be on AM radio. "

No matter that spiritually we're living in the Dark Ages.

Anyway, putting the film up on the website meant making it readable in all major browsers. Different browsers read different video formats.

But the helper website,, has a good example that I adopted. The code offers successive video formats until the browser picks one that works. Of course, I had to convert the file into three different formats, and put each one out on my website. That part was simple, since I already had conversion software.

And then there's that case of older browsers (such as IE8), that cannot handle the new code. For these, it just drops through to Youtube, so I had to upload a contingency version there for that purpose.

After that, there was still some back-and-forth. It turns out that in making my .mp4 version I chose a compression ratio that is not standard for most of the browsers. So they would pick .mp4 but it wouldn't play.

So after I redid all of this, there is still a minor problem: When the webpage loads, and waits for the user to start the movie, IE9 doesn't display a still from the movie like I expected it to. But I figured out that that's because the beginning frame of the movie is totally black: it's the opening of the title screen before it fades in. Something to keep in mind for a later time.

In spite of all this rigamarole, the "modern" code, HTML5, makes hosting your own videos a lot easier than it used to be. Just a few years ago, to do this you had to have your own extra dedicated server running.

About This Video

A few days ago, M. sent us two short clips together with an explanation about the project. I decided it would be nice if I put them out there so anybody could watch them without having to open and download email attachments.

I wanted to combine the two clips into one, and post it online. That took me a while, as I am a novice in movies,

After some fooling around, I got what I wanted. The liveliness and clarity of the original clips made it easy for me, and I did not excise anything.

Once I got everything up, there was another problem: My website hosting service,, went down. It was temporary, but it was annoying.

One angry bluehost customer on a rant blog crabbed that this was "just the last straw" and he was going to move all of his sites to because he was getting so much better service there.

The owner of is the guy who goes to Africa and shoots down aging female elephants just for fun. Putinesque. That's the site that uses sleazy strippers in its ads. It was recently featured in the Superbowl halftime circus. I can't remember any worse media experience, unless it was the weeklong corporate-funded funeral of Ronald Reagan.

I would never use I actually had to work on a website hosted there, and I moved it out of there as soon as I could: It's the worst, most disorganized web-hosting service I have ever seen.

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A lot of work for a one-minute video, huh?

And all of this doesn't matter in the real world because only about five people ever saw the video, in the continuing Facebook scramble for attention.

Of course, these issues pale in comparison to the major problems facing the world on every front right now.