Showing posts with label tools. Show all posts
Showing posts with label tools. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Tools

Warning: Geeky stuff first, then more normal stuff after...

I made a video today with Adobe Premiere Elements. I bought the program a long time ago, inspired by the good stuff Ned's been doing with it. But the older I get, the more difficult it is for me to retain stuff and to "get" stuff and so I haven't really done a lot with it.

Ned came over and worked with me for a day and I thought I'd absorbed a lot, but after he left, I realized I hadn't. Things don't stick in my brain like they used to, which is very frustrating.

However, I have this new camera and it takes nice video, but I can't convert this high def video to a format where I can edit it in my very basic Windows Movie Maker. I knew I was going to have to learn Elements in order to be able to edit the videos.

Today I sat here and willed myself to do something with Elements--and I did. I managed to get a video put together, after great frustration, I was even able to add transitions (those soft fades that I use between scenes) and I was able to save the video into an .avi format.

But the .avi format was 962 MB in size (the hard drive on my first computer was 60 mb) and I am still of the era when compressing video down to a smaller size was very important. I was able to bring my Elements video into Movie Maker and got it compresssed down to about 11.8 MB. I don't know if compression is as important today as it was years ago when I first started posting videos, but old feelings die hard.

But I'm proud of myself for having taken the video tools available to me and figuring out how to make them work for what I wanted to do.

(I didn't post the video because it was the complete video of Ashley's going-away party and I posted the unedited, uncompressed short version a couple of weeks ago)

I am old enough that when I took biology classes in school--even in high school--we were taught that the thing that separated man from the animals was tool making. Human beings were the only animals who had figured out how to use tools.

Today we know better.

I'm not sure if Jane Goodall was the very first person to discover that chimpanzees use tools, but if she wasn't the first, she was probably the first person that people actually paid much attention to. On 60 Minutes Sunday night, they interviewed her, returned to her Gombi preserve, and showed early films she had made which showed chimpanzees using twigs to retrieve ants from a log.

She said that she had gone into her project originally intending to find out that chimpanzees are just like human, only kinder. But after watching chimps attack other chimps, and after being nearly killed by one of the groups she had been studying for a long time, she sadly realized that chimpanzees are just like us, warts and all.

After 60 Minutes we watched a Nature special called A Murder of Crows (according to James Lipton's book "An Exultation of Larks," a group of crows is called a "murder of crows).. If you can find it, watch it. You'll be amazed. Crows are incredibly intellligent birds. For example, they learned that the best way to crack a nut was to drop it from a height onto concrete. They learned exactly how high to fly so that it dropped by just cracking, not shattering the outer shell, so that the nut remained whole. More than that, in this particular place, the concrete was on a street and they learned to time their drops with the stoplight, so that when cars stopped for a red light, they could drop the nuts, fly down and get the meat out before the light changed.

There were several such examples, but the one that boggled our minds was a crow who learned how to use a stick to get a treat that was left in the back of a cage. He would pick up a stick that had been left some distance from the cage, take it to the cage, stick it in, pull the treat forward and eat it. They later made it harder. The stick he picked up was too small, but there was another cage that had a larger stick in it, so the crow used the small stick to get the larger stick, and then the larger stick to get the treat.

I just love stuff like that and you see over and over and over again how much more intelligent animals are than we thought they were.

Proof of how animals are far more intelligent than we dumb humans are is that you won't find a single animal running for public office or spending zillions of dollars trying to buy power and prestige and boring the heck out of other people who are forced to listen to their stupid messages over and over and over again.

Lucky animals.