Tech for ESOL Teachers

Information, Advice, and Reviews for ESOL Teachers

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

APA References Page in LibreOffice

I just uploaded a video how-to on setting up the APA References page in LibreOffice. I did it with LibreOffice 4.2 or 4.3, but everything in the video should work just the same in more recent versions.

The video is at Vimeo and embedded below.

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posted by spackman at 17:36  

Sunday, January 25, 2015

A Year in Video

A Year Out My Window

We don’t have houses behind us, just a divided street with some traffic and then a public park on the other side of the street. Below is a video of the area behind our house, for one full year. The view is from the window next to my desk. Each month is about 20 seconds and the entire video is less than five minutes long. Enjoy and please leave your thoughts in the comments section.

2014-2015 Full Year Time Lapse – Central Ohio from Chris Spackman on Vimeo.

Update, 2015-01-27

I added a full-length, not as fast version. This is a direct link, so depending on your settings, it might download to your computer, or it might play in your browser. It is about 300MB (don’t watch on your phone!) and about 16 minutes long.

How the Video Was Made

So, you want to know more about this video. Read on …

Almost exactly one year ago, I started a small experiment: I put my webcam on the windowsill next to my desk and set up motion (motion detection software) to take a picture every three minutes. I left it running for an entire year. That is a lot of pictures — over 175,000 photos, taking up over 25 GB of space.

Pictures Become Video

I used those pictures to create time-lapse videos of each month, with one picture being one frame of the video. Each month came out to about eight minutes. This was easy to do, actually, because OpenShot, the video editor I used, allows you to import a sequence of images, which it then treats as video. When exporting the final product, OpenShot converts the images to video. To be sure everything was imported properly, I used Krename to rename the images from date format (2014-03-31_17-42-00, for example) to plain old 00001 to 09999, (or however many images there were that month).

Next, I put videos from three months together into a quarter, added the month names at the bottom, and finally sped up the video six times. So, a quarter of the year becomes about a four-minute video.

Then I put all the quarter videos together into the final video and sped that up about four times. The final video is the entire year, in about five minutes.

Caveats

Of course, this is my home computer, my main computer and I had to reboot it occasionally it order to apply security and kernel updates. One of those caused an issue with the webcam being recognized at boot, so for a day or two, the pictures were just blank blue jpegs. With that one exception, the camera didn’t miss more than maybe four or five pictures in a row at any time in the year. So, a lot of pictures, like I said.

posted by spackman at 17:46  

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Justify Both Sides in LibreOffice

One of the many great things about LaTeX is its ability to fill text, that is, to justify flush left and flush right on the same line, with extraneous space all in the middle. Until recently, I had not been able to get any WYSIWYG word processor to do it consistently. Sometimes centering the text, placing the cursor, and then hitting tab would work, sometimes it wouldn’t. Searching on-line didn’t turn up anything — but it is possible that I just wasn’t using the appropriate search terms. Before, fill justified text was a luxury that I didn’t really need. However, current APA guidelines require filled justified text in the running head. Anyhow, after about 20 minutes of playing around (yes, only 20 minutes), I think I have figured out how to fill justify in LibreOffice.

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posted by spackman at 17:00  

Monday, April 25, 2011

Templates in Thunar

I have been using XFCE recently. KDE 4 is nice and all, but a bit flaky and I am tired of kmail and kopete (occasionally) losing settings after point updates. After switching to Pidgin and Claws Mail, and already using Firefox as my main browser, I figured, why bother keeping KDE? So I switched to XFCE, which is lightweight, fast, and full featured. Of course, my must have KDE apps – like amarok, kalarm, and dolphin – still work just fine.

Thunar is the default file manager for XFCE. There are a few things I don’t like about it, but like XFCE, it does what it is supposed to do and does it fast. Like many file managers, Thunar features a right click “Create Document” menu. By default (in PCLinuxOS at least) there is not much there, just a generic “empty file”. So, how to add new items to the “Create Document” menu?

Simple. Create a directory (aka “folder”) called Templates in your home directory (not the “Documents” directory, your /home/USERNAME directory). Next, put the files you want used as the basic for your new “Create Document” files into that directory. That is all. You are done.

Right click in Thunar and you should see the files from Templates listed in the submenu. BUT, they won’t have the extension (.html, .jpg, .ogg, etc.) so be sure you give them descriptive names – like textfile.txt or webpage.html or BlankWhite1600x1200Jpeg.jpg. The actual name won’t matter when you click on an item from the “Create Document” submenu, because Thunar will automagically prompt you to give the file a new name – and this time, the extension will be there.

posted by spackman at 18:59  
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