Stable Video Recording and Action Cams

I’ve been playing around with taking videos and video editing. My main issues with taking videos are

  1. poor quality in low light conditions (e.g. indoors or night time)
  2. too much shaking / lack of image stabilization
  3. huge video files
  4. missing scenes / cut off subjects
  5. difficult to bring or to use suddenly while traveling
Cameras

Following are some action cameras worth considering.

GoPro Hero Black 7 ($400)

What I primarily like about this camera is the gimbal-like”Hypersmooth” video stabilization.  It doesn’t use an actual gimbal but it does an impressive job performing as if using a gimbal. However, it’s not as good as using an actual gimbal. The primary downside is the huge price tag at $400.

https://shop.gopro.com/cameras/hero7-black/CHDHX-701.html

Dragon Touch Vision 4 ($50)

This camera costs only $50 and comes with basic EIS (electronic image stabilization). It’s still not as good as GoPro’s HyperSmooth stabilization but it’s significantly cheaper.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07GZNFNYM/

DJI Osmo Pocket ($350)

The DJI Osmo Pocket is a tiny camera with mini holder than offers true gimbal 3-axis stabilization.

https://store.dji.com/product/osmo-pocket?vid=48141

Camera Holders / Selfie Sticks ($40)
GoPro Shorty

The GoPro Shorty is a stick with an integrated tripod.

https://shop.gopro.com/mounts/shorty/AFTTM-001.html

DJI Osmo Mobile 2 ($139)

The DJI Osmo Mobile 2 is a smartphone holder with a gimble. It has many features including the ability to follow a moving subject.

https://store.dji.com/product/osmo-mobile-2

Accessories
PGYTECH Action Cam Adapter for Smartphone Gimbals

https://www.amazon.com/PGYTECH-Adapter-FeiyuTECH-Gimbals-Smooth-C/dp/B06XDBL2VJ

DJI Osmo Pocket Backpack Strap Mount

$20 on Banggood

Comparisons
Stabilization

When you compare GoPro 7’s HyperSmooth image stabilization to DJI Osmo Pocket gimbal stabilization, the latter is better, as expected. If you watch this video at time 5:08, you’ll see that the horizon stays level in the Osmo Pocket video but it sways a bit in the GoPro 7 video as if you are on a boat. For the GoPro, you’d have to get a holder with a gimble to achieve the same level of stabilization.

Low Light Performance

The GoPro Hero 7 seems to have better low-light quality.

Field of View (FOV)

With a wider field of view (FOV), you’ll obviously be able to see more. The GoPro Hero 7 appears to support a wider field of view compared to the Osmo Pocket.

Replaceable Batteries

With the GoPro, you can replace the batteries. With the Osmo Pocket, you have to charge the embedded battery.

Conclusion
Infrequent use

For infrequent use, I’d just get a gimbal for my smartphone that also supports the GoPro Hero in case I ever get a GoPro. After reviewing the Moza Mini-Mi, Zhiyun Smooth 4 and the Osmo Mobile 2. The Osmo Mobile 2 is the best.

Frequent Use

For frequent use, though I like how small the Osmo Pocket, I think I’d get the GoPro Hero 7 since it includes Hypersmooth stabilization, a wide field of view, and supports replacing batteries. To get gimbal-smooth videos, I’d just buy a holder with a gimbal for use with the GoPro.

Scene Capture

When filming with a regular action cam, you have to point the camera at what you want to film. If the person holding the camera doesn’t aim well or is on a moving around a lot, e.g. on a roller coaster, the subject can easily get cut off. To solve this, you could get a 360 degree action camera. They record everything around you regardless of which direction the camera is facing. In post processing, you can choose which direction you want the final video at face at any given time frame. This is called “reframing” the video to convert it to normal a flat video.

360 Action Cams

 

Mounts

When traveling, you don’t always know when you’ll come across a scene you’d like to film. Fortunately, many cameras are small enough to put in your pocket. However, it’s nice to be able to record hands free. There are many mounts and accessories available including

  • Chest mount
  • Wrist / hand mount
  • Neck lanyard
  • Wrist lanyard
  • Invisible stick

At the very least, using a lanyard would be wise in certain situations like on a roller coaster so if you drop the camera, you won’t lose it.

Life Advice

Following is some advice regarding major life issues I would offer to every average person (the majority of people) based on my experience and the experience of others. Unfortunately, these are things they don’t teach you in school.

Invest in real estate

People don’t like saving money and generally aren’t good with money. If you choose to rent instead of buy a house for a long period of time, you will for the most part lose money and not end up with much money. Your rent will keep increasing and the money spent on rent will just be gone – given to your landlord. Conversely, if you buy a house, even with just a 20% down payment, while you may feel like you’ve lost a huge amount of money from paying the large down payment, in most cases you haven’t lost any money at all. You’ve just moved that money from one place (a bank account) to equity in the house. When you make your monthly payments, though some of the payment amount will be lost to pay interest to a lender, e.g. a bank, the remainder of the money will be yours, albeit in the form of equity in the house. Furthermore, the house will likely increase in value which increases your equity in the house. In hot markets like the San Francisco Bay Area, one can realize an impressive gain in house value due to appreciation, e.g. $200K over a few years of doing nothing but paying your mortgage.

Most people are not good investors, whether in the stock market or in running a business. While it’s easy to invest in the stock market, it’s extremely volatile and more akin to gambling. Running a business is a lot of work which most people can’t handle. Therefore, most people would be better off just investing in real estate and becoming a landlord. While it does require some work, it’s much less than running a business and more predictable than the stock market. Having a rental property would allow you net worth to grow much faster than if you just owned one home as your primary residence. In other words, if you had to choose between buying one dream home for $1M as your primary residence versus buying two average homes, each costing $500K, where one would be your primary residence and the other a rental property, you’ll end up having a higher net worth faster in the latter case as your tenants in your rental property will be paying that property’s mortgage for you.

Compare investing in real estate to stock market

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ScanSnap iX500 – Orange Light Error & Basic Use Instructions

The Fujitsu ScanSnap iX500 document scanner is one of the best sub $500 scanners. Unfortunately, the documentation isn’t good. I tried scanning a document over wi-fi to my laptop, which normally works fine, but one day the blue light would keep changing to orange. I ended up having to uninstall and reinstall the installation software. Fortunately, my scanner’s wi-fi settings were still saved. Here are some tips which I’m writing more as a reminder to myself but which may be of help to anyone reading this.

ScanSnap Icon Color

On Windows, in your system tray there should be a ScanSnap icon. When the scanner is off,the icon is grayed out and the tooltip message says “ScanSnap is not connected.”

Scan over wi-fi to laptop

To scan over wi-fi to your laptop, do the following

  1. Turn on both the ScanSnap scanner and your laptop
  2. Wait for the ScanSnap icon to change as shown below. The tooltip will also say that ScanSnap is ready to scan over wi-fi.
  3. Load a document and push the blue button on the scanner or right-click on the ScanSnap icon and click either Simple Scan (one-sided) or Duplex Scan (double-sided)
  4. The document will pass through the scanner and a window will appear on your desktop asking where you’d like to save the document, e.g. local folder, Google Drive, etc.

Scan over USB to laptop

If you want to scan to a laptop over USB, e.g. if you are having wi-fi problems, do this:

  1. Turn on both the ScanSnap scanner and your laptop
  2. Connect both devices with a USB cable
  3. Wait for the ScanSnap icon to change as shown below. The tooltip will also say that ScanSnap is ready to scan.
  4. Load a document and push the blue button on the scanner or right-click on the ScanSnap icon and click either Simple Scan (one-sided) or Duplex Scan (double-sided)

Web Page Animation Options

If you want to add animation to a website, you can many options. Here are a few I recommend.

CSS transitions

For simple animations, you can just use CSS transitions.

Greensock JavaScript Animation Library

For fancy animations where you still write JavaScript to control the animation, the Greensock JS library is great.

svgator (free trial)

For even fancier animations that allow you to design the animations using a timeline, svgator is a online tool that can do that.

Adobe After Effects (free trial), BodyMovin and Lottie

For super fancy animation, design your animation in Adobe After Effects. Then, download and install the BodyMovin plugin for After Effects. Then, export the animation from After Effects using the BodyMovin plugin. The exported files will contain the animation data as JSON object. It may also include image files as a PNG which, if possible, you should manually export each one as a SVG and replace the PNGs with the SVGs. Then, load the lottie library in your page, e.g. with

<script src="https://cdnjs.cloudflare.com/ajax/libs/bodymovin/5.4.3/lottie_svg.min.js" integrity="sha256-CVhGZIHAj+TzP6acM0j2ko94CaIqfcnqo/y79O+KOcg=" crossorigin="anonymous"></script>

and specify a class on the element where the animation should appear, e.g.

<div class="animation"></div>

Place any exported images in their appropriate folders and update their paths in the animation data JSON object.

Then, in your JavaScript, load the animation. Here’s example code.

See the Pen
JavaScript Animation Using Lottie
by Abdullah Yahya (@javanigus)
on CodePen.

Easily Tighten a Rope Without a Knot

When you need to tighten a rope to hold something in place, e.g. a tent, cargo in a pickup truck, a leaning tree, bed sheets, etc, you might think you’ll need to tie a knot. Not only is it difficult to tie a knot without losing tension in the rope, it’s a hassle and often difficult untying the knot. Ratchet straps are easier to use but are overkill for non-heavy duty situations. A simpler solution is to use a figure 9.

Here, I used a figure 9 to hold a leaning tree in place.

You can purchase Figure 9s at REI. One brand is Nite-ize but there’s also generic ones on Amazon for less.

This are two ways to tighten a rope using a Figure 9.

How to Finish Wood With a Protective Coat

I recently worked on a project to replace my stair’s handrails. I bought the unfinished handrails at Home Depot and then stained them easily as follows.

Applying Wood Stain
  1. Using a brush, applied one coat of Minwax Pre-stain Conditioner
  2. Using a brush, applied one coat Minwax Stain (Gunstock color). While the stain was wet, I wiped it with a paper towel to prevent some areas to be thicker or darker than others. Though wiping with a towel lightens the stain, it is an important step. To achieve darker stains, just repeat the staining and wiping process.

Note: Applying anything wet, e.g. stain, to wood will cause the grain to rise resulting in bumps. If, after the first coat of stain, you notice bumpiness, then sand it down with 220 grit sandpaper until the bumps are gone and then restain the wood. This first coat following by the sanding process serves as a sort of “primer” to prepare the surface.

The tricky part was getting the protective finish coat on. I wanted a shiny, smooth, glossy handrail. After trying different products and processes, here’s my advice.

Lacquer vs Polyurethane

Lacquer is sticky and seemingly more toxic. My eyes felt weird even though none of it gone in them. A bit of lacquer got on my hands and cleaning my hands were a hassle and temporarily messed up my skin. The fumes were so strong I could smell some of it in other rooms of my house. Cleaning the brush used to apply the lacquer was impossible so it had to be thrown away.

Polyurethane is also toxic but the water based kind is easy to clean by simply rinsing with water and it doesn’t smell as much. I was able to easily rinse my brush so I could reuse it for additional coats.

Conclusion: Don’t even bother with lacquer. Just stick with polyurethane.

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Battery Voltage and Capacity

Following are typical alkaline battery specs.

Battery Type Voltage Capacity (mAh) Typical Drain (mA) Typical Battery Life (h)
D 1.5 13000 200 13000/200 = 65 hours
C 1.5 6000 100 6000/100 = 60 hours
AA 1.5 2400 50 2400/50 = 48 hours
AAA 1.5 1000 10 1000/10 = 100 hours
9 Volt 9 500 15 500/15 = 33 hours
6 Volt Lantern 6 11000 300 11000/300 = 37 hours

Battery Capacity: the capacity of a battery, measured in mAh, is how much amps the battery can provide in one hour. The larger the capacity, longer the battery will last. Read More

Picking a Security Camera

I don’t like monthly fees so when home security companies offered their services to me, I quickly said no. Instead, I bought a security camera. Now I have 3 brands of security cameras and they all have their pros and cons. If you’re in the market for a security camera, I think any one of the 3 below will do you well.

Nest Cam

https://nest.com/cameras/

Pros:

  • Offers 24/7 cloud recording with the ability to easily scrub through the timeline
  • When browsing the timeline, you can easily find motion points indicated by markers
  • Ability to create a time lapse
  • Ability to create custom clips up to 1 hour long
  • The 4K models allow for zooming in on subjects
  • Once set up, you can leave it alone. No batteries to charge.
  • 1080p video resolution

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Requires a power cable
  • The narrowest part of the power cable is 7/8″ in diameter so if you need to drill holes in walls, they’ll need to be at least 1″ in diameter.
  • Requires a monthly fee of at least $10
  • Some models only support 720p video resolution

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Headings

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Lorem Ipsum is simply dummy text of the printing and typesetting industry. Lorem Ipsum has been the industry’s standard dummy text ever since the 1500s, when an unknown printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book. It has survived not only five centuries, but also the leap into electronic typesetting, remaining essentially unchanged. It was popularised in the 1960s with the release of Letraset sheets containing Lorem Ipsum passages, and more recently with desktop publishing software like Aldus PageMaker including versions of Lorem Ipsum.

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Lorem Ipsum is simply dummy text of the printing and typesetting industry. Lorem Ipsum has been the industry’s standard dummy text ever since the 1500s, when an unknown printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book. It has survived not only five centuries, but also the leap into electronic typesetting, remaining essentially unchanged. It was popularised in the 1960s with the release of Letraset sheets containing Lorem Ipsum passages, and more recently with desktop publishing software like Aldus PageMaker including versions of Lorem Ipsum.

This is heading 2

Lorem Ipsum is simply dummy text of the printing and typesetting industry. Lorem Ipsum has been the industry’s standard dummy text ever since the 1500s, when an unknown printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book. It has survived not only five centuries, but also the leap into electronic typesetting, remaining essentially unchanged. It was popularised in the 1960s with the release of Letraset sheets containing Lorem Ipsum passages, and more recently with desktop publishing software like Aldus PageMaker including versions of Lorem Ipsum. Read More

How to Enlarge a Hole in a Wall

The other day I was drilling a hole in a wall to run a 3-prong extension cord through. I thought a 1 inch spade bit would do to create 1 inch diameter hole. Unfortunately, the plug end of the cord was still too big to fit through the hole. I couldn’t enlarge the hole using a hole saw bit

because that requires some material for the center shaft to bite in to.  Read More