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.


posted by spackman at 17:36  

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Steam Machines: Let the Bashing Begin

Valve’s Steam Machines are finally starting to come out. Officially, I believe the launch is next month (November 2015) but a couple of sites have come out with reviews: Engadget loves them and ars technica is not as enthusiastic. Both review SteamOS and the Steam Controller on (I believe) the Alienware Steam Machine. Both also talk a bit about Steam’s Link – a small set-top box to stream Steam games from another computer on the local network.


posted by spackman at 16:12  

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

User Creation Turned Off

All, I have had to turn off the self-sign-up on this blog. As you can see, I do not update the blog very often. Even so, I get four or five new sign-ups every day – spam bots, I assume.

So, if you would like to have an account here, please just email me and I will set you up. Include your name, the user name you want, and the email you want to use. (Of course, your email will remain private – I will only use it to email you your login information.)

Also, in your email, tell me what the square root of four hundred is.

This question above is just a simple are you human? test.

Unfortunately, I had to wipe out all existing accounts – there were just too many (over 1500) for me to go through each one by hand, looking for the handful that belonged to actual people who actually posted here occasionally. My apologies if you were one of those people. I changed the ownership on any such content to user “yoshiko”, because I know she is a real person and I know that she has not published anything here (yet). Again, I apologize to everyone whose content was reassigned, but I do not have the time to go through user by user.


posted by spackman at 10:15  

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.


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  
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