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Archive for January, 2007

Update on Jack

Posted by BenSpark on January 31, 2007

I just talked to Allison, Jack is out of the coma. He seems to be doing well at the moment. Please still keep him in his prayers for a healthy recovery.

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Photo-A-Day #662 01/30/07

Posted by BenSpark on January 31, 2007

First I would like to say that today;s is my Mom’s birthday so Happy Birthday Mom! I’m looking forward to going out to dinner with Mom Dad and Allison on Thursday night to celebrate.

Also please keep a dear friend of our family in your prayers. I just found out from Allison last night that my sister’s good friend Jack is in a coma. Jack as you may remember ran the Cape Cod Marathon this past year in his best time ever. Please keep Jack in your prayers.

Tonight I am still in Maryland and the demonstrations went well. We had a bit of a connection glitch but it worked out well. The day was long and I was pretty tired but I was able to do all my demonstrations. I got a lot of practice on the new scripts too.

When the demo day was over I went back to the hotel and caught up on Best Week Ever Videos on my iPod. I also realized that I can start another month of PPP blogging and try to get as close to $500 without going over. I end up front loading on posts the beginning of the month and quickly get to $500.00. Now I have two friends who are posting for PPP, Autumn of Autumn’s Space and Maureen of We’re in a Fight.

We went to O’Leary’s for dinner tonight. That is the fish outside the restaurant in the photo today. The food there was so delicious. I had an incredible lobster bisque, calamari and the most delicious crab cake ever. I have not been a fan of crab cakes because what I have experienced of crab cakes in the past just does not do crab cakes justice. This crab cake was almost 100% lump crab meat with so very little filler that I questioned how it all stayed together. Here is a picture of it, it just doesn’t do the dish justice.

I will have to make sure to get crab cakes again in Maryland. They were incredible. This one even beat the ones from Sunday night.

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Photo-A-Day #661 01/29/07

Posted by BenSpark on January 30, 2007

Today’s photo is of Ryan and Susanne. They are here in Maryland demonstrating too. We went out tonight, along with Kate, for dinner at a place in downtown Annapolis. The restaurant was a nice little Italian place called Maria’s. The food was excellent. They had fantastic bread and oil for dipping. It was a very nice place. While there I found out that Kate’s relatives are my neighbors. Small world keeps getting smaller.

I told Ryan about taking a photo a day and while we were at the font desk of the hotel their was this plate of cookies. I took a picture of the cookies and he said, “Why don’t you take a picture of us instead. I don’t want the cookies to win over us.” Well most of the time people aren’t thrilled with me taking their picture and having it be the photo of the day. My friend who have been putting up with me for the past two years have come to expect it but most of the time it is too much to explain the project. So I thank Ryan and Susanne for stepping to and being eager to be Photo-A-Day.

Oh and I did take that cookie picture too.

I didn’t take a cookie because I am trying to be good. After dinner we went to a fudge shop/souvenir place and they had chocolate dipped cookies. I passed those up too and they looked delicious. And I only ate half of my delicious appetizer because I was trying to be good.

Today I began the search for a new compact digital camera. I am not sure if I want to go with another Sanyo or switch to a camera that I can charge on the road with my iGo Juice. The problem I keep running into is that most of the cameras that I would like to get are powered by 2 AA batteries. And the ones that I can charge with my iGo Juice don’t have all the features I am looking for. I basically want a 6 – 7MP camera that can be charged with the iGo Juice, that takes an SD card and has at least a 4X optical zoom and up to 6X digital. It also needs an optical viewfinder. I would either look at Kodak, Nikon, Cannon or HP Digital Cameras. And it also has to be sold directly through Amazon for the super saver shipping and the commission from the affiliate program. I searched for a bit today but still haven’t found what I want. You’d think this combination would be easy but it is not. I’ll keep looking.

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Entertainment on the web

Posted by BenSpark on January 29, 2007

Since we don’t know when The Loop is coming back to TV, I found that The Loop has 7 episodes online that you can watch. This is a pretty funny show. The cast of characters is rather twisted and hilarious. You can check out all seven episodes before this returns.

If you don’t remember Chad Vader when I posted about him way back. Well I have been out of the loop for a little while and missed that Chad has 5 episodes up now. Check out Chad Vader Day Shift Manager.

Episode 1

Episode 2

Episode 3

Episode 4

Episode 5

And how about God, Inc. You can check out episode #5 now.

This show is twisted. There is a sales competition to recruit for the different religions and the new girl has a new species approved.

Well that should be enough diversion for one day.

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Photo-A-Day #660 01/28/07

Posted by BenSpark on January 29, 2007

Today I was up at 4:45am and headed down to Maryland. I have two days of demos ahead of me down here. The same demo 4 times in two days plus two hours of lab demos each day as well.

Travel was fine today. I was put in First class on the flight from PVD to PHL. So I guess going into PHL wasn’t that bad. On my flight from PHL to BWI the landing was a little strange and now that I think about it rather scary. We were on target to land and what seemed like the last minute we were diverted to another runway. We basically turned and landed at the same time, as we turned I could see another plane on the runway that we were supposed to land on. I know that we were supposed to land there because there was a pilot and his friend sitting in front of me and the pilot said something to his friend and his friend crossed himself. Just another day in the air.

Tonight I went with the sales person and another Marketing person to Buddy’s Crabs & Ribs for dinner. They had the hugest portions. I had ribs and a crabcake. The crabcake was very good and mostly crab.

You might notice that the crabs below are out of focus. Yep, my camera is on its way out.

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Photo-A-Day #659 01/27/07

Posted by BenSpark on January 28, 2007

Today Allison and I went to Jordan’s Furniture in Reading, MA. We met up with our friend Maureen and her sister Peggy and brother Bob as well as her cousin Julie, Peggy’s friend Heather and Mo’s friend Linda. This photo is of Bob, Linda, Maureen, Allison and Peggy.

We met for lunch at Fuddruckers, which was right inside Jordan’s Furniture. Fuddruckers is know for their large and tasty burgers. We each got a Barry and Eliot burger. Barry and Eliot are the two brothers who are the face of Jordan’s Furniture. The burgers were very tasty and Fuddruckers has a large condiment bar where you can put many things on your burger and make it how you like it.

Allison and I got to Jordan’s Furniture a little early, but not to worry, Jordan’s Furniture is not like any other furniture store. Inside they have BeanTown which is a huge display made out of Jelly Belly jelly beans. The theme is BeanTown because that is a nickname for Boston and all the things there are a play on Boston and Boston landmarks. They have a n exhibit called liquid fireworks and it is amazing. It is water shot out of tubes that is lit up with different colors and set to music. They also have an indoor trapeze that you can learn how to use.

The main reason we went was to celebrate Peggy’s birthday and see Night at The Museum at the IMAX that was also within the Jordan’s Furniture. Was there furniture there? Yes, they have tons of beautiful furniture inside. The movie was very funny and I was entertained. They don’t show trailers for non IMAX movies so I didn’t see the Transformers trailer. Oh well I’ll see it eventually on the big screen.

We also gave Maureen the Soda maker, and she and Peggy are very excited to start using it. Maureen is going to start with PayPerPost posts soon. Her blog, We’re in a Fight is very funny and you should check it out. I wish Maureen good luck as a Postie. And I’m here if she needs any help.

Here are some photos from today. I think my Sanyo Xacti C4 is on its last legs however. It is having a terrible time focusing with the still shots but the video is still going strong except you can now hear the lens making focus adjustments. Well I can hear them as I review clips and edit them with my earphones on. I think it is time to retire my longtime faithful camera. I’m sad to have to do it but it isn’t going to be reliable and I need a reliable camera I can travel with. Anyway, the pictures.

Allison and Peggy each won ducks at the duck boat races.

A Giant Wally the Green Monster

Jelly Belly Ducks.

Today is also my friend Derek’s birthday. So Happy Birthday Derek. I hope you got all the Wii games you wanted.

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I’m Spicy!

Posted by BenSpark on January 27, 2007

Do you remember the Office commercials from Burger King. They guy who makes up his own catchphrase? No. Well, here it is.

and the reason that I am posting this is because I want to tell you about SpicyPage. I have just signed up with it and if you haven’t signed up your own blogs to SpicyPage then you should go and do that now. SpicyPage is basically a site where you add your blog and other blogger or other people in general come to the page and vote on your site, they vote thumbs up or thumbs down whether or not your site is Spicy. I have a few votes for this site and set up spicy counters on both this site and Flatwater Bookstore. So why don’t you sign up with SpicyPage (it is free) and give a spicy vote to The BenSpark and Flatwater Bookstore. Thanks, my voting widget is at the bottom of the page.

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Photo-A-Day #658 01/26/07

Posted by BenSpark on January 26, 2007

These are the great awards that were given to the top marketing folks today. They were huge. Our theme was the Oscars and I had to make a Red Carpet themed video.

Today was the big presentation at work. I completed the videos last night/early this morning/first thing this morning. Basically I am now running on adrenaline and the refusal to go to sleep right away. First off, my comedy of errors.

Okay, yesterday I finished up all the filming of the videos. I came home and edited all the pieces into the show and then started a final DVD burn. The DVD finished burning at 1:00am. I then reviewed the DVD. And I discovered that my anal retentive nature paid off in this case. I found that the key video cut off two minutes too early. The key video by the way was an 11:37 video of two top VPs so I could NOT screw this up whatsoever!) I was incredulous. how could this have happened? Well I guess I wasn’t so thorough. I missed a step along the way.

Basically this is how I create these big videos for work. I record all the scenes, download the raw files to my laptop and then add them all into an Adobe Premiere Elements project. Then I want till they are conformed to work with Adobe Premiere Elements. This step takes a while because the videos themselves are large, sometimes 1GB or more. And until they are all conformed they cannot be edited. So I review the videos on the Sanyo Xacti C4’s window. Once the videos are conformed I them pull them in one at a time to the time line.

I then edit and split the clips so that I get just the scenes I want. This is a tedious process but I have gotten more proficient in it. I can now do this step much faster as I learn more tricks within Adobe Premiere Elements. Once I complete a video clip I save the project and export the clip as an AVI movie. Then I work on another clip. When I am done all the clips I take the AVI clips I made and pull them into another Adobe Premiere Elements project. That way if I need to go back and edit an individual clip I can easily go to that clip and edit it and it will update the next time I open the final project.

This is what caused me the problem last night because I edited the individual clip and added a minute and 37 seconds then I went to the final project and never stretched that clip to the new size and I did not reset the DVD markers. So that is what happened.

Once I realized that I made the adjustments and double checked everything and started the DVD burn. The computer failed to recognize the DVD player. I tried again about 3 more times and got the same result. I then shut down the computer and gave it a 2 hour rest, crawled into bed and set the alarm for 3:30am.

I got up at 3:30am and tried again. The first time I tried the DVD burn Adobe Premiere Elements shut off on me. I shut down the computer again and turned it back on. This time I was successful in starting a new DVD burn. I crawled back into bed and set the alarm for 5:30am. At 5:30am I got up and went to the computer, saw that the DVD was still encoding (it has to encode on the PC first and then burn). Great, things were going great. I took a quick shower and then as I made my way back to get dressed I checked the computer and there was an ERROR MESSAGE! The computer had compiled the DVD and then when it came time to actually burn the was an error.

At this time there was no possible way I could burn another DVD in time for the presentation. So I took the DVD I made first and that would be how I would play most of the videos. I would have to play the key video through windows media player and the file I had on my PC. See, it is important to export your clips as movies before you make a final project, if I just did everything in one final project I would have been totally SOL.

I then had the idea of using my iGo Juice 70 to power my laptop as I drove in to work. DON’T DO THIS! The fluctuations of the power of the car while driving shut the computer off and I thought I shorted the whole thing out and was absolutely positively SOL.

Luckily it just got shut off and there was no permanent damage done.

So I got to work and set up everything. I explained to people what happened and we all crossed our fingers that everything would work out.

The reason we wanted a DVD rather than the file is that with a local file that large sometimes there is stuttering and stopping at inopportune and unplanned times. this would not be acceptable. As I stated, the video was of two of the VP’s at work and this was very, very, very important that it come out perfect and show cleanly. So you can understand that I was very nervous.

Well, the first video that I made with the help of a great team of people went off without a problem. Then it was time for the Key video. It started with a couple of shaky parts and it stuttered once or twice but about 3 minutes into it things settled down and played perfectly. Although when it was messing up I nearly stroked out. But the crowd loved it and laughed really hard. I also had to run the presentations for all the speakers from off stage. That went fine but I got nervous that I would mess up so I was a basket case inside.

Then the President of the company got up to talk and suddenly the door to the side of the stage opened and a very high up individual came in and told me to go out and get the CEO from the crowd for something important. There was no way I could get to the other side of the stage without going out on stage until I saw some curtains all the way back so I sidestepped along the back wall like a thief in the night and climbed the other set of stairs and came down the side and got the CEO. He just walked across the stage while the President kept talking. I ran back up the stairs shimmied across the back wall again and went back to my post. It must be good to be the guy in charge. So with that potential catastrophe averted I went back to my post.

After the presentations I was taken upstairs to the room where our CEO, Vice Chairman and President were having a meeting. I was to now show them the videos I had made. They were not at the presentation at the time of the showing of the video. I was more nervous to get called into that room than I was about the whole day of presentations that I had just completed.

Well I showed the videos and they went over well, there were lots of laughs and I was asked if I did this all myself and I gave credit to my team but also explained that I had done the Key video on my own. You know, other than the acting. They seemed pleased with the work that was done. They certainly laughed pretty hard throughout the video. Now I have to make a bunch of copies of the DVD, one for each of them. How amazing is that.

I just hope I give my computer sufficient time to recuperate before I get that project started.

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Fuel My Blog

Posted by BenSpark on January 26, 2007

I want to tell you all about fuelmyblog. This is a site where bloggers can submit their sites to The Great Wall. The Great Wall is a page of 625 blogs in a 25 X 25 grid (it is 625 I did the math, with a calculator, just to be sure). But fuelmyblog has three other grids ones for More, Business, and Life. That brings the total to 2500 possible spots for blogs. The good thing about this is that you can only have 1 square on the wall for each of your blogs. I hate it when there is no limit like that and the first people in the know get all the spots. And the spaces are not all taken either. I can’t believe that. You can still get a spot on the main page. Go to fuelmyblog now and sign up.

I am listed with fuelmyblog for both this blog and Flatwater Bookstore, my entertainment and general consumer blog. I have the two spots in the bottom right hand corner of the main page. The Tiki Drew picture is linked here and the Viking Drew South Park picture is linked to Flatwater. I have gotten many hits from fuelmyblog and I know this because they have a cool feature where you can view clicks from fuelmyblog to your blog. That is a handy feature to have.

Kevin runs the site and he has been working very hard on promoting the heck out of it. There is going to be a weekly radio show and guess what I am going to be featured on the show. Yes, me, can you believe it? On January 12, 2007 I was contacted by Kevin because Then BenSpark was featured as the Blog of the Day. It just so happens that Kevin’s wife read The BenSpark and liked the Photo-A-Day stuff and she chose The BenSpark as the Blog of the Day. Well, I sent a few e-mails back and forth with Kevin and we talked about the upcoming radio show and I’m going to be on it. What is really awesome is that Kevin is in London and so I’m going to be on an international radio show. How sweet is that? I can’t even imagine how these things have come to pass. Just setting up a little blog 3 years ago because I needed a creative outlet has done so much for me over the years. I have connected with some fantastic people and I am so excited to connect with many more.

If you want to enhance your exposure on the Internet start by signing up with fuelmyblog today. Spaces are filling up fast but you can still get on the front page.

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Photo-A-Day #657 01/25/07

Posted by BenSpark on January 26, 2007

So today I had homemade French Meat Pie. This year my Mom, Ellen, Allison, Donna and Carissa worked on making meat pies. They made about 24 of them. We had one in the freezer and since it has gotten cold out we took it out the other day to have for dinner. Since the average pie has 8 slices we had it for dinner, lunch, dinner and lunch again. Today I must have microwaved my piece too long because when I was done I ended up with the Glad logo imprinted on my pie crust. Actually this happened after the microwaving was done and as I walked to my desk (no rest for the weary had to do more video stuff. All done tomorrow) The container basically imploded and the Glad logo was squished into the crust. I sat down and took the cover off the container and saw this, so I had to take a picture of it. Tomorrow I will get the decorations in the auditorium because everything is decorated so nice.

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