DSLR Mount for Vinylcam

This is my new overhead camera setup for vinylcasting, and it rules. My first iteration was a bit more DIY and while it worked in the short term, I needed a more stable alternative. And the Manfrotto super clamp and heavy duty flexible 520MM Arm were the ticket for sure. I can mount the clamp right onto the front of my desk and then the arm easily bends over the record player for optimum vinyl viewing.

I am able to pull in the DSLR thanks to a recent acquisition of a Elgato Cam Link 4k that essentially makes an HDMI device into a USB input that OBS can pickup. I do love being able to actually take advantage of all the features a DSLR brings to the table, such as advanced lighting, focus, lighting, lenses, etc. In particular, I was able to use the wide angle lens in this event to capture the entire record player. I just tested in out with side 1 of Van Halen II, which was an homage to Grant Potter’s RH!

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Playing with the AVerMedia Live Gamer Portable

During lockdown Tim sent me a care package from the US with some goodies for my various streaming projects. Such as trying to get my Commodore 128 and/or RetroPie to stream through OBS cleanly. Lockdown was lifted in Italy in late May which was well before I got a chance to play with all the various toys, but I recently began exploring the AVerMedia Live Gamer Portable (C875) (or LGP for short) when Tommy asked me about streaming the Nintendo Switch to Twitch. And while more of a theoretical question on his part (he has long since moved on), it was all I needed to send me down a very productive rabbit hole.

While this is a fairly brief (for me) 9 minute video about the AVerMedia video capture card, it’s not all that good. There are a few glaring errors, such as suggesting the Time Shift option in the AVerMedia software RECentral enables you to correct for lag rather than what it actually does: provide a temporary copy of your recording so that you can quickly capture snippets of your gameplay. So, keep in mind that I’m an unreliable narrator at best, a full-blown fraud at worst.*

Anyway, the LGP capture card is a HDMI/Component video pass-through that allows you to capture the incoming signal from a device (usually a gaming console). You can also plug in a microphone to record any commentary directly on top of the video being captured. I’ve not played with the audio recording feature given I’m already doing that in in OBS, but that would be a fun experiment. You have two options for storing the recording, directly to your PC via the software RECentral or you can record without connecting to a PC directly on the LGP’s SD card. One word of caution is that the SD card you use matters, I lost a day trying to troubleshoot why my SD recording feature wouldn’t work only to learn that only certain cards work and they must be formatted in FAT32. I recommend this Reddit post listing the compatible cards.

Once I got the PC-free recording on the SD card working I tested it out with my RetroPie, and you can see the results above. This game of Pac-man was played on a Sony Trinitron TV and it was a thing of beauty. Unfortunately the recording is directly from the RetroPie, so you’ll have to take my word on the CRT afterglow. Nonetheless, the capture looks excellent, and I was afraid there was an issue given the sound was slightly out of sync, but turns out that’s true when playing Pacman on the RetroPie normally, so all is well.

I have more to write about my various experimentations when actually streaming the RetroPie to OBS on ds106.tv, but I’ll save that for another post.


*Acknowledging as much, I’m still not too concerned because this is all part of a larger attempt to get better at producing videos like this, and part of that is technical (figuring out capture cards, cameras, lighting, streaming software, etc.), but just as much is being prepared with focused information—needless to say both elements need work. 🙂

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Reclaim Today: Taking the Studio on the Road

Click image for video

We’re currently building out Reclaim Hosting HQ’s TV studio, and as a result we’ve been doing more Reclaim Today episodes —which is a welcome change. In episode 21 we discuss what a video kit would look like for remote workers like Lauren and I. The idea being the mothership that is Reclaim Hosting’s office studio would be where all the heavy lifting happens, but Lauren and I would need to have tight video setups that allow us to seamlessly integrate for a distributed stream, not to mention the importance of having a solid rig as more and more events and trainings go fully online.

And we even had a view or two, thanks Simon! So the discussion delineates what a remote kit would look like, and below is the list of the equipment I got for my remote setup (Lauren’s differs a bit based on availability). There was more Elgato equipment available in Italy than the US (the company is headquartered just up the valley in Munich, Germany) as the demand for webcams, portable green screens, microphones, etc., is still peaking given the US is experiencing the never-ending lockdown. So, below is my annotated list of my remote video setup:

Elgato Key Light Air (2x): Lighting, lighting, lighting! One of the big takeaways from our discussion with Andy Rush a couple of weeks back was good lighting is everything. So I got two portable, adjustable desktop lights that I can link and control via my phone. These were $130 each, and I got two that sit on either side of my computer (as pictured above) and they do make all the difference but the app is a bit wonky at controlling both seamlessly, so that is something to consider. But I love how seamless they work on the desk behind my monitor on the left and next to the one on the right.

Elgato Wave Microphone: Next up is sound, and I currently have a Yeti mic that has worked for me pretty well, but one of the drawbacks is I tend to keep it off to the side and I find my levels are consistently low and it picks up everything. That said the Yeti may be more than enough for folks, but I wanted to try the Elgato Wave 1 to see if that was different, it just came this morning so I have to follow-up after playing around more, but a potential benefit of the Wave mic is comes with mixing software.

Logitech C920 Webcam: This is the camera I bought after mistakenly getting the Logitech C615, which sucks. While only $15-20 difference, the C920 is far superior. And I think this will be a good solution for most, I am still planning on mounting a Canon DSLR behind and above my main monitor and bringing it in as an input for OBS using Elgato’s Cam Link 4K video capture card. More on this experiment anon, but at $115 for the Logictech C920 (which is $20 cheaper than the Cam Link video capture card, and $1000+ cheaper than a DSLR) it is a very solid and affordable camera for a remote kit.

Elgato Portable Greenscreen: Finally the portable Greenscreen from Elgato officially makes me Elgato brand boy, doesn’t it? I can live with that, I had to pay a few bucks for this from a third-party vendor in Italy given it was sold out here, but not like the price gauging for it my vendors in the US right now. This has yet to come, so I will need to write more once I get it and can play with it, which will invite more posts around actually exploring the possibilities with using a Greenscreen when streaming, some of which Tim highlighted in the this video, and they are so fun!

Posted in reclaim, Reclaim Studio, Reclaim Today | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Laying it Down with the Lo

Azuracast and You

It’s been an absolute joy to watch Scott Lockman (a.k.a Scottlo) imagine, evolve, and build out Strawboss Radio. In short, Scottlo has been building a radio station that features the immense audio riches of the Internet Archive. And his recent post “Azuracast and You” features both a quick tutorial illustrating how to create a playlist using Azuracast (the open source software powering Strawboss Radio) as well as demonstrating the power of radio to teach and entertain by including a 30 minute audio file wherein Scottlo re-creates his work through layers of broadcasts over the 3-4 days of getting his playlist together.

I really think the work Scottlo is doing is quite powerful, he is taking the time and expending the energy to curate arguably the greatest digital archive in the world. What’s more, he is opening up his radio to try and encourage others to curate a scheduled bit of Strawboss Radio, essentially making for radio station premised on a communal curation of the Internet Archive, although I imagine not limited to that by any means. It’s genius, and I love it. In fact, Scottlo and I planned to talk about this very project last Wednesday, and we chatted for about 30 minutes or so, but as it turns out with me I got on another topic of live streaming TV/radio and the broader impact of these technologies for the new era of online learning (which I think it is fair to say in regards to a pre and post COVID-19 moment for online learning). So, Scottlo tolerated my ramblings, in fact, he not only tolareated them, but he provided a really cool frame narrative where the end is the beginning and the entire discussion becomes interestingly bookended with Eleonor Roosevelt talking about what constitutes a liberal. It’s Scottlo doing what he does best, making compelling audio on the air and off. So, thanks for chatting with me Scottlo, and for episode 2 of Laying it Down with the Lo, let’s dig in on the brilliance of Strawboss Radio, there is so much more to say!

Posted in Archiving, audio, Strawboss Radio | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Vinylcast #36: Until the End of the World

On Sunday I resumed my vinylcasting on #ds106radio after having made a bit of a score. I picked up a bunch of great albums which inspired me to return more regularly to playing some vinyl on the radio.

The first album I choose was the soundtrack to Wim Wenders‘ scifi road movie Until the End of the World. The album is chock-full of good tunes with everyone from Neneh Cherry to Lou Reed to R.E.M. to Depeche Mode, etc. In fact, you could argue the soundtrack was better received than the movie ? In fact, during this vinylcast I took a bit about the films reception, the various versions of the film subsequently released, and its garnering greater appreciation in the decades since its 1991 release.

The soundtrack is also interesting in that most folks probably listened to it on CD given in 1991/1992 when it was released the compact disc was increasingly more ubiquitous and affordable. I had the CD in 1992, and one of the things you immediately realized after getting the vinyl is that there are quite a few tracks “missing” that were included on the CD, which highlights the brave new world of digital and more content!

In this vinylcast I play through the album and then also include the songs included on the CD, such as a few of Graeme Revell‘s tracks from the film score, including Patti and Fred Smith, T-Bone Burnett, and Jane Siberry. I also mention this soundtrack really highlights a moment in my life in which the entire course of my future changed in a few short months in the name of love. We all have our stories in that regard, and this is definitely one of them for me.

#vinylcast: Until the End of the World 9/13/2020
Posted in ds106radio, on air, Soundtrack, various | Tagged | Leave a comment

WordPress Multisite Privacy Footer

This morning we got a request from Coventry University to have a link in the footer of every site to their privacy policy. I did a quick Google search and one of the top hits was a blog the bava is quite familiar with: Bionic Teaching. Turns out Tom Woodward figured this out in 2018 and blogged it with his usual terse efficiency, and within minutes we had a solution for Coventry. Below is the results of my wrapping up Tom’s code into a privacy_footer plugin that is now network activated on Coventry’s WPMS:

Click image to view the more readable text

So, I wanted to write this so I have a record, but also as a quick thank you to Tom for sharing the work he does with WordPress Multisite and beyond for the world to benefit so freely. It is appreciated.

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A Peek Inside Reclaim Studio

020: Reclaim Studio Live!

On Friday Tim and I streamed/recorded episode 20 of Reclaim Today: Reclaim Studio Live! It is a testament to how fast Tim works given little more than a week earlier we sat down with Andy Rush in episode 19 to discuss the studio he is building at UNF. And Andy’s work inspired us so much that we went shopping almost immediately after that chat and started building out Reclaim Studio. The video below is a first look inside the studio and it is already quite tight.

Click image to play video

Click image to play video

I do have some camera and green screen envy presently, but hopefully my upcoming trip back to the States will allow me to grab a few pieces for my home office rig 🙂 What’s more, if you are considering building out a video streaming/recording studio for your own work, Andy Rush posted an amazing compilation of resources to help guide folks getting started, as well as providing links to various people working within the space. I feel like this is the beginning of a whole lot of fun over the next year, and I very much look forward to dialing in my video streaming, recording, and production game. I might even have to get a Youtube account again so you can like and subscribe for more!

Posted in reclaim, Reclaim Studio, Reclaim Today | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Timmy Explores the Wondrous World of Windows 3.1

You begin the game as Timmy, a young boy visiting a crumbling amusement park known as Midway. But Timmy doesn’t see a pathetic locale where everything is falling apart, but rather a world of wonder, with his thoughts appearing in written form at the bottom of the screen.

The above quote is taken from a now gone review on Hardcore Gaming 101 describing The Residents 1995 CD-ROM game Bad Day at the Midway. I know this because I copied that description for a post I wrote on this blog in 2014 talking about this game, which made an indelible impression on my memory when I first played it on Windows 3.1 at in the AVS offices at UCLA. In fact, the description of little Timmy above is perfect to describe another Timmy I know who found himself in the wondrously retro world of archival emulation thanks to the EaaSI project, or emulation as a service infrastructure. What is EaaSI? Well, Tim covers that nicely:

The Eaasi platform allows you to start with basic images of operating systems, and then layer on software as well as “objects”. So, for example, you might have an object that is a Word Document a professor wrote in 1998. Instead of rendering it in a PDF, here we can actually take a Windows 98 computer, add Office 97 to it, and then have the document load at boot. A true native environment that is destroyed and rebuilt each time you go to view it in a matter of seconds and renders the object exactly as it was intended to be viewed.

What’s beautiful for us is that EaaSI is a container-based environment for emulation-based archiving that Tim got running on Reclaim Cloud, so now he can playing Solitaire as it was meant to be played on Windows 3.1:

All of which led us to jump on a video call and see if we could get the iso of the Bad Day at the Midway CD-ROM to run in the Cloud, and turns out it is very possible, even if you have to fix a few issues like mount your virtual CD-drive and fixing the monitor colors:

“Wow!” indeed. Running a 1995 CD-ROM game on Windows 3.1 via the web on Reclaim Cloud is a new level of hosting inception I can dig on. It seems similar in spirit to the remarkable work the folks at the Internet Archive have been doing for years to emulate various games in the browser. It’s exciting stuff, and the fact we could host something like this is mind blowing.

Posted in Archiving, reclaim, Reclaim Cloud | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

DomainMOD: Getting my domains house in order

I have been having fun watching Tim blog through his recent application experiments on the Reclaim Cloud. What I love is his experiments is they are honest, when he tries out an app he is really not sure if it will run. In fact, I am on the edge of my seat to see if it worked when reading posts like this and this. 🙂 So, inspired by Tim as I often am, I looked through the list of awesome self-hosted apps he linked to in his penultimate post to continue my experimentation in the Cloud. The application I landed on was DomainMOD, which is a tool for managing domains you have registered across different registrars, hosting companies etc. It’s a custom tool for folks like me who have a domain hoarding problem, and it comes at a perfect time given I am continuing to try and get my digital house in order, and with 31 domains registered all over the place, this would be an app I can actually use.

So, the first step was installing, and while it is a pretty straight-forward PHP/MySQL app, I noticed there was a Docker container, so I tried that out and it was dead simple. I spun up a Docker Engine instance in Reclaim Cloud.

After that I created a domainmod directory in the /home directory via command line:

mkdir /home/domainmod

And then from the /home/domainmod directory I ran the following two commands

git clone https://github.com/domainmod/docker.git
docker-compose up -d

And that was it, DomainMOD was up and running and after that I spent the morning adding my domains to the interface so that I could track them more accurately. The app has the option to integrate with the APIs from the various registrars I currently use, i.e. eNom, Logicboxes, and OpenSRS, which is nice. I did a manual import to begin, but I was quickly able to get an overview of all my domains, annual cost, what’s private, where DNS lives, associated registrar, as well as a category (right now I have 3: personal, ds106, and Reclaim).

I am clocking just about $600 a year on domains, which is $50 a month. The custom domains really killed my wallet. I may have to do some pruning, having all the jimgroom TLDs may not be all that necessary, although the bava.blog, bava.tv and bava.rocks are absolutely essential 🙂 I’ll have to continue to play a bit with DomainMOD given I have a fairly involved blog post where I want to track the registration of each of the domains over the years as a kind of personal history of my personal web since 2003 or so. But until then I am winning on the Cloud!

Posted in reclaim, Reclaim Cloud | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

Azuracast: One-click Web Radio in the Reclaim Cloud

Yesterday was a win because I finally focused for long enough to work through creating a one-click installer for the open source web radio application Azuracast. I’ve had a couple of conversations with folks around web radio this week, and I have to say it was cool to hear them suggest web radio is one area they want to explore. I love the whole idea, and I figured Reclaim Hosting could do its small part to make installing and hosting Azuracast that much easier. I have played with the software a bit in Reclaim Cloud to create Reclaim Radio, stand-up Strawboss Radio for the inimitable @scottlo, and finally to migrate #ds106radio to Azuracast. So I had installed the software using their Docker container a few times now.

The trick was to take the installation commands and create a one-click installer for Reclaim Cloud. Tim has already created quite a few, and he wrote-up a bit about the approach for creating packages on the Reclaim Community forums that was a very useful starting point:

Jelastic has documentation at https://docs.cloudscripting.com/ on how to develop these packages which take the form of a yaml or json file. You can also browse all of the packages currently available via Jelastic’s Github organization at Jelastic JPS Collection as well as recent additions I’ve built and added to the Marketplace at Reclaim Hosting’s Github. The repos contain a manifest.yaml file which has all of the necessary code. In more complex scripts that file may call other scripts within the repo to do various things.

One method I’ve had a lot of success with is creating a generic Docker container and then running a build script to automate pulling down and running the particular software project.

Tim points to the example of the manifest file for RStudio he created as a model, which is where I started. I created my first Github repo in the Reclaim Hosting account (which is a proud moment for me 🙂 ) and I got started. And, in fact, it was pretty simple, I had to update the application name and other details, but the only real significant change to the RStudio manifest he shared was to the actions section:

    cmd[cp]: |-
      mkdir -p /var/azuracast
      cd /var/azuracast
      curl -fsSL https://raw.githubusercontent.com/AzuraCast/AzuraCast/master/docker.sh > docker.sh
      chmod a+x docker.sh
      yes no |./docker.sh install
      #Checking of container is up and running
      until [ "`/usr/bin/docker inspect -f {{.State.Running}} azuracast_web`"=="true" ]; do
        sleep 1
        print '.'
      echo OK
ssl: true
skipNodeEmails: true
success: |
  **Azuracast URL**: [https://${env.domain}/](https://${env.domain}/)

This is the finished product, but to be clear it took some finessing of my attempt by Tim to get it to work. The big thing was that the Docker container asks questions about the custom domain and SSL certification to creating and environment file, so that had to be forced in the script with the line yes no |./docker.sh install. The other thing is the test to make sure the container is running until [ "`/usr/bin/docker inspect -f {{.State.Running}} azuracast_web`"=="true" ]; do needs the name of the application for that Docker instance, which is azuracast_web, so that was another thing Tim helped me figure out.

That said, I can see how creating these one-click installer can be pretty do-able with the right container, which is pretty awesome. Even better, it is not necessarily limited to us creating these manifests, as Tony Hirst demonstrated with his Jupyter Notebook work, anyone can do it and share appropriating for others to use, where or not it is in our marketplace. So, all that said, I finally have my first attempt at an installer for Reclaim Cloud under my belt.

Posted in reclaim, Reclaim Cloud | Tagged , , , , | 7 Comments