Archive for the ‘Miscellaneous’ Category

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Bluprint: Getting your forever classes

May 25, 2020

Update 8 July 2020: TN Marketing (the new owners) announced they will be bringing everything back as Craftsy once again. Details: https://help.mybluprint.com/hc/en-us/articles/360045785811-Welcome-back-to-Craftsy-FAQ

Update 1 July 2020: Bluprint announce they are now part of TN Marketing and that all classes will remain: https://www.mybluprint.com/?cr_linkid=fbo_07012020_TNMarketingAnnouncement (In summary from that link: ‘We are excited to announce that your access to your subscription services and individually purchased classes will continue. In addition to classes, your access to course materials and course patterns will also continue. Our friends at TN Marketing have acquired certain assets of the Bluprint business, and the Bluprint and TN teams are working together to ensure a smooth transition. As part of this transition, TN Marketing has agreed to honor previous customer purchases for classes and subscriptions and will preserve your access to Bluprint content.’ How that will happen etc. is unknown at this stage.

Update 31 May 2020: Bluprint have announced in an email to subscribers that ‘…we will provide a way for those of you who have purchased classes to receive a copy of the classes you purchased. For example, we’re working on a solution to give you an extended period to download your purchased classes.’ I have no more information than that at this stage.

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The wonderful Bluprint (ex Craftsy) is closing in the next few months (see the official announcement here: https://www.mybluprint.com/article/letter-to-our-bluprint-customers). I joined when it was Craftsy and you paid for individual classes (I have 60 of them; many I haven’t had time to watch). When Craftsy became Bluprint, it went to a subscription model, but existing customers could still pay for individual classes, which is what I chose to do.

Some time last year they created an app for Android (they’d had one for iPad for a while) so that you could download your classes and watch them offline—great for those long flights to the US from Australia! Here’s how to download for offline viewing on Android: https://help.mybluprint.com/hc/en-us/articles/360021279032-Offline-Viewing. You’ll need to know how to do this to do the rest of the steps in this post.

With the announcement that Bluprint is closing and with no other information yet about access to the ‘forever’ classes we’ve paid for, I decided to see if I could transfer the files I’ve downloaded to my Android tablet to my PC. The problem is that the files seem to get encrypted and hidden and cannot be found in the list of files/folders on my Android tablet. However, purely by accident I found a way to get them—you’ll get an MP4 file for each lesson, but none of the special Bluprint/Craftsy features like captions, chats with the tutor etc. But at least you’ll have the lessons.

NOTE: These instructions are for Android and Windows only. They assume you know how to connect your Android device to your computer with a USB cable and how to view the files on your device using Windows File Explorer; alternatively, you can copy the files to the SD card in your device provided it has plenty of storage space available and you know how to do this. If you don’t know how to do these things, ask someone in your household or a friend who may be a little more tech savvy. Also, I don’t have an iPad or a Mac so I have no idea if they will work there too—you can try, but if it doesn’t work, I can’t help you.

  1. Connect your Android device to your PC and make sure you can see its file system from Windows File Explorer. (TIP: Use a USB [wired] connection—it’s much quicker than Bluetooth for transferring files.)
  2. From your PC, go to the Download folder on your device (NOT the folder on the SD card if you have one installed).
  3. If you haven’t already downloaded the Bluprint app to your Android device, do so now.
  4. Open the Bluprint app on your device and log in, if requested.
  5. Tap Library (one of the icons at the bottom of the home screen).
  6. Tap Own Forever Library.
  7. Tap Own Forever Video.
  8. Tap the class you want to download the lessons for.
  9. Following the instructions here, https://help.mybluprint.com/hc/en-us/articles/360021279032-Offline-Viewing, click the icon to download one or more lessons from the class. TIP: When you first start doing this, just try one or two lessons—you can always download the rest later.
  10. As soon as the download starts, CLOSE THE BLUPRINT APP. This is critical—if you leave it open and the download finishes, the app will encrypt and hide it and you can then only watch it via the app. You can close the Bluprint app by going to the list of open apps and swiping it to get rid of it (at, least that’s what I have to do on my Samsung tablet—your tablet may use a different method).
  11. When the download has finished (the little download icon is no longer visible in the notification bar on your device), switch over to your PC and go to the Download folder on your device (see steps 1 and 2). The files are all MP4s and typically have this structure: 00000_99999_video.mp4.
  12. Select the files and copy them to your PC (you might want to set up folders/subfolders for each class if you have a lot). DO NOT reopen the Bluprint app on your device until you have completed this step.
  13. Repeat steps 4 to 12 until you’ve downloaded all the lessons you need.

Class materials etc.:

Many classes have separate PDF documents that list materials, have patterns/templates/designs etc. You’ll need to download these separately. The easiest way to do this:

  1. Log in to your Bluprint classes via the browser on your PC.
  2. Click Materials under the name of the class.
  3. Click the materials lists etc. from the Download panel on the left of the page.
  4. Save the PDF to the folder/subfolder you created for that class.

Space and data issues:

These MP4 files are BIG, up to 500 MB (half a gigabyte) for each lesson, so for a 7-lesson class, you could be downloading 2 to 4 gigabytes of data. Here are some tips:

  • Do NOT download over a mobile phone connection—instead, use your home WiFi
  • If you have limited space on your device, clear out the downloaded classes from the Bluprint app after you’ve transferred them to your PC. To do that, open the Bluprint app, tap Library, tap Downloaded, tap the top right checkbox near the number of episodes, then tap Delete all. That will delete all the lessons for that class. Repeat for the other classes you need to remove from your device.

Troubleshooting:

If you download a lesson and forget to close Bluprint, all is not lost even though the lesson is no longer in your Download folder on your device. Just go back into the Bluprint app, find the lesson again, and tap the check mark that says it’s already downloaded—you get the option to Play or Delete. Choose Delete. This deletes it from your device and you can download it again. Don’t forget to close the app so that you can grab it from the Download folder before the app encrypts and hides it again.

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Get through a recorded webinar faster

April 4, 2020

Tip for getting through a long recorded webinar:

  1. Check if there’s a setting for speed (YouTube definitely has this).
  2. Change the playback speed to 1.25 or 1.5 times normal speed, or whatever is comfortable to you.

The voice and the visuals will be much faster, and you can get through an hour-long recorded webinar in ~30 mins. This is particularly useful when the presenter speaks slowly, or spends a lot of time on one slide.

Obviously, this doesn’t work in a live webinar, just a recorded one, or YouTube videos etc.

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Save a WebP file as another image file format

February 9, 2020

Back in 2010, Google introduced an image file type called WebP that has a smaller file size and is optimised for viewing online. However, not all image software opens WebP files, and older browsers may have trouble too. If you can’t open such a file, there’s a simple way to save the image (in Windows), then convert it to a file type (e.g. PNG, JPG) your image software can understand.

Here’s how:

  1. Right-click on the image in the browser, and select the option to Save image as (different browsers will use different wording—you’re looking for the option that lets you save the image).
  2. Save the file to a location on your computer.
  3. Go to that location, right-click on the file you just saved, then select Open with.
  4. Select Paint. (Yes, Paint—the program that’s been in Windows since forever!)
  5. In Paint, go to File > Save As.
  6. Select the image file type you want to use (e.g. PNG or JPEG).
  7. Give the file a name (or use the original), navigate to where you want to save it, then click Save.
  8. You’ll get a message that any transparency will be lost. Click OK.
  9. You can now open your newly saved file in image software that supports the file type you chose at Step 6.

More information on the WebP format and browser and software support for it: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WebP

[Links last checked February 2020]

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Family Tree Maker not connecting to Ancestry.com

August 12, 2019

This post is for me in case this happens again in the future.

I couldn’t connect my Family Tree Maker (FTM) software to ancestry.com—the username and password were correct, but FTM kept telling me one of them was invalid. I even reset my password on ancestry.com but still I couldn’t connect. Then I remembered that I’d set two-factor authentication (2FA) on my ancestry.com account—perhaps that was it?

I disabled 2FA on my ancestry.com account, and was then able to successfully connect my FTM software to ancestry.com. I don’t upload my family tree to Ancestry, but like being able to search for a person’s details on Ancestry via the web search area in FTM.

Seems like they may not play nicely together if you have 2FA turned on.

Update August 2019: In the comments below, Jason says you need to append the authentication code sent to you to the end of the password. I haven’t tried it yet but will next time I’m back in Family Tree Maker and want to search Ancestry.com from there, Thanks Jason!

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Monitoring bushfires

January 29, 2019

Nowhere in Australia is immune from bushfires, but some places are deemed safer than others. The block of land I live in south-western Western Australia is relatively safe (no trees near the house, lots of hardstand surrounding the house, etc.), but nearby (within one kilometre) are high-risk areas of bushland and homes on hilly land that is just covered in trees, grasses, and native plants. I have a fear of bushfires, so over summer I listen for aircraft activity beyond what’s normal (‘normal’ is maybe a couple of light aircraft a day) and check various websites etc. to assess the danger. The risk on some days is worse than on others—particularly those days with strong easterly winds and high temperatures, and if there’s been no rain for weeks. Once the wind swings around and comes from the west, I start to breathe easier as the danger to my property from that direction is much less.

Here are some of the local and national sites I use to check various conditions and situations, in case it helps others who live in Western Australia:

  • a weather site (wind speed and direction, temps)
  • the Emergency WA website (https://www.emergency.wa.gov.au/) for all sort of emergency reports in the state (the zoom-in feature is great)
  • the Department of Fire and Emergency Services (dfes_wa) Twitter feed for updates and links to emergency situations (https://twitter.com/dfes_wa)
  • occasionally the MyFireWatch website (http://myfirewatch.landgate.wa.gov.au/) and the Sentinel website (https://sentinel.ga.gov.au/)
  • FlightRadar24 (https://flightradar24.com; there’s an app too), which is a plane spotter’s goldmine, but which I use to identify planes and choppers going overhead (most are just standard light aircraft, the RFDS planes, and the rescue chopper), but occasionally they are firefighting aircraft.

This sort of monitoring was not possible just 20 years ago. Google Maps and the ability for services to overlay other satellite data and create instant warnings has changed the game. Technology working for good!

The image below is a screenshot I took from FlightRadar of two firefighting aircraft battling a bushfire near Collie on 20 January 2019. By clicking on the aircraft icons on the map, I get the information on the left about the aircraft and the flight paths for the past hour or so.

Flight paths of two firefighting aircraft helping put out a fire near Collie, Western Australia

Update 5 February 2019: We had a bushfire close to our place (within 5 km — too close for comfort!) and I found that the FlightRadar24 website gave me accurate, real-time information on what the firefighting aircraft (including the massive air crane, ‘Georgia Peach’ [N154AC]) were doing. The Emergency WA website was only being updated every few hours, but with FlightRadar24 I could see what sorts of resources were being deployed to control this fire. And from the flight tracking I got some questions answered, like whether ‘Georgia Peach’ could refill from the ocean (she could)—she actually refilled her 7500-gallon tank at least 10 times (it takes her about 45 seconds to do this, which is pretty amazing). In the first screenshot below, you can see ‘Georgia Peach’ heading down from Perth and taking on her first load of sea water just off Myalup. In the later screenshot, you can see that she’s made the first of many sorties to refill off Binningup. The two Dunn Aviation aircraft (yellow water bombers) can’t take on sea water, so had to return to Bunbury Airport each time to refill with their fire suppressant, adding precious time to their ability to be effective. The Rotowest chopper circled the whole time—I suspect it was the spotter aircraft guiding the others where to best deploy their loads.

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Using VLC to split a video file

December 23, 2018

These notes are for me, for when I next need to do this (I always forget steps 7 and 8)! They are based on this CNET article in case it ever goes missing: https://www.cnet.com/how-to/how-to-create-video-clips-in-vlc/ and only apply to Windows.

Actually, the title of my post is a little misleading—as far as I can tell, you can’t split a video using VLC, but you CAN record sections of it, which is effectively the same. If you have a very large file, you may have to do these steps twice or more, one for each section you want as a separate file. (If anyone knows how to cut or split a video file using VLC [similar to how you can split/cut an audio file in Audacity] and without doing it in real time, let me know in the comments and I’ll test it and update this post with that information. I also couldn’t find a way to save the recorded video [original was mkv] as anything other than MP4—if anyone knows the VLC setting for that too, I’d be most grateful.)

  1. Open the video with VLC media player. Do not press Play. If it starts playing automatically, pause it.
  2. Make sure you can see the Advanced Controls (View > Advanced Controls).
  3. Use the slider to get to where you want to start recording the new video.
  4. Press the Record button (the one in the Advanced Controls panel with the red dot).
  5. Press the Play button.
  6. Let the video run to the point where you want to stop recording. It will run in real time, so you could be waiting a while if it’s a long video.
  7. Press the Record button again. This stops the recording and saves it to your hard drive. Yes, Record both starts and stops the recording. (The original video will continue playing in VLC if it hasn’t finished—you can stop or pause it if you don’t want to finish watching it.)
  8. IMPORTANT: By default, the recording saves to your default Videos or My Videos folder in Windows (what it’s called depends on your version of Windows). You can change this location: In VLC media player v2.2.4 (the version I have), you do this here: Tools > Preferences > Inputs/Codecs > Record directory or filename — click Browse, and choose the folder where you want your recordings to save.
  9. The file name will start with VLC, have date and time information from when you started the recording (e.g. vlc-record-2018-12-23-11h30m16s), and the original file name. Rename the file as required, then copy it to where you want it to go.

[Link last checked December 2018]

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Naming names: part 2

April 15, 2016

There’s a reason you should use quite different first and middle names for your children AND use names that are different from their parents/grandparents… Your descendants ancestors searching records for genealogical information will thank you for it!

Below is an image of the information I found in some South Australian records — I’ve confirmed the names and years of birth based on the parents’ names, but I can’t confirm dates of marriage/death etc. as there are SO many names the same, or variations of the same names! What a mess!

johann

Note the names of the parents… and then the names of the children. Note also how there are male and female variations of the same name (Johann/Johanna/Johanne and August/August), and repetitions (brothers: Johann Freidrich and Johann Friedrich William; father and son: Johann Gottlieb; mother and daughters: Johanna Caroline, Johanne Caroline, Caroline). Some of the repetitive names may have been the result of infant deaths, but it’s very hard to confirm this with so many names the same.

It’s possible that ‘Anna’ was christened ‘Johanna’ based on the pattern here. I think Maria and Hermann got off lightly.

See also:

[Links last checked April 2016]

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What a rip-off!

January 2, 2016

It’s like the airlines WANT local air services to fail…

What am I talking about? The exorbitant costs of flying between Perth, Western Australia and other locations within Western Australia — exorbitant compared to the costs to fly to the main cities on the east coast of Australia and to Los Angeles. Such charges mean people will choose not to fly to closer destinations and will either drive or not visit at all. And then the airlines will complain that they don’t get enough patronage and will close routes; these tourist destinations will complain that not enough people come to visit to make their industry sustainable; and investors won’t build hotels etc. at these destinations as not enough people go there. It’s a vicious circle.

In yesterday’s West Australian newspaper, Virgin Australia took out a full-page to advertise a fare sale to six destinations — Geraldton and Broome (both within my state); Melbourne, Sydney, and Brisbane; and Los Angeles. At first glance these fares seem like a good deal, but when you do the math, there’s something decidely dodgy going on.

Based on the fares and the distance to each destination, a one-way flight to Geraldton costs more than ten times the cost of a flight to Los Angeles! The table below shows the approximate distance to each destination; the one-way airfare advertised by Virgin today; my calculation of the cost per kilometre (red is bad, green is similar to the LA cost); what the airfare would cost if it was based on the same per kilometre rate as the LA fare; and what the difference is between the advertised cost and the cost per kilometre for that distance.

flight_costs

If the flights from Perth to Geraldton and Broome reflected the 4c/km of the flights (yes, you have to change planes at Sydney, Melbourne, or Brisbane) from Perth to Los Angeles, then, at approx $15 and $70 respectively, many more people would be likely to visit those destinations for a holiday, thus injecting huge amounts of money into those economies. If you fly, there’s a good chance you’ll rent a car/use a taxi, spend several nights in accommodation, spend money at restaurants and in shops, visit tourist destinations, etc. If you live in Perth, why would you fly to Broome for $199 (one-way), when you can fly across the continent to Brisbane, Sydney or Melbourne for $10 less each way? Every time someone in our local tourist industry sees ads like this, they must have moments of quiet desperation and frustration, and must wonder why they stay in the industry when the monetary attraction to travel further afield is so great. (And no, I won’t even mention the fares to Bali from Perth…)

Yes, I know that the real cost of a flight is more than just the cost per kilometre, and that it costs a lot more just to get off the ground and back onto it than it does to be in the air, and that different aircraft have different fixed costs. I don’t know these costs so I haven’t factored them in. But based on the costs that I do know and can calculate, we’re being penalised if we want to fly within our own state.

It just doesn’t make sense.

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You’d think they’d try to match what was there before

October 28, 2014

Spotted in Houston…. Not only is the lower case ‘g’  wrong,  but its size has altered the kerning between the first name and middle initial. Maybe they thought no-one would notice it on the upper concourse between the hotel and the convention centre.

image

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I like this quote

August 31, 2014

Attributed to Henry Ford: “Quality means doing it right when no one is looking”

henry_ford