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Why Do We Have To Cut These Things So Close?

June 1, 2005 at 11:33 PM

Ugh...Sometimes I just don't want to do projects for people. Why? It's because, though they start out as something small, they end up growing into something far larger than was expected or planned for, and work on them continues until practially the last minute before they must be ready...And it's almost always the same people who asked for these projects to be done.

Around the middle of the month, I started to work on the "Congregational Tribute to the United States Armed Forces" DVD project for our church (using Ulead DVD PictureShow 2.00.0100 SE, which I also used for the Church Dedication DVD awhile back). It was only supposed to have about 50 pictures (which is all we expected to get, if we were lucky), with all pictures in no later than May 8, and no music.

Instead...We got the last picture on May 25th (fortunately, I scanned them as they were brought in, so this part was taken care of after scanning in that last picture), and the DVD had to be ready by the 29th (the Sunday before Memorial Day - we only had about four days to work on it at that point).

There was a total of 122 photographs (originally 128, minus six pictures which were either duplicates or not usable in the slideshow), and, with military-related "filler" images, there were 179 slides in total.

This was a real mess of a project, for the following reasons:

  • People kept calling, and some kept visiting unexpectedly (including an uncle of mine - I'll mention more about that later).
  • I had to put up with arguing between my parents regarding who goes where. Though I was the one to put the slideshow together on the computer, Mom did the work of ordering what picture went where, what caption went under which picture, what songs to use for the slideshows, etc.
  • DVD PictureShow was extremely slow. Part of the reason may have been the size of the pictures (they were scanned at 300 dpi, at full size), though even after resizing (to 1024x768 or less, if image isn't already at or smaller than that size), it was still pretty slow. This really held up getting work done when setting the time each slide was supposed to be left up for (it also seemed to get slower as I did more work, and I ended up closing the program a few times to keep it from going too slow)
  • I had to go to the Pastor's to back up his drive on Tuesday, as there was something wrong with the current one (I'm not sure what happened, exactly, though they're getting a replacement for it soon). However, I was unsuccessful in doing so, as it kept rebooting before I could do anything (sometimes it didn't even boot at all). I'll have to check back on that later, to see if they had any better luck with it at a later time.
  • We were constantly moving photos back and forth, as Mom kept changing her mind about where the pictures were supposed to be (she does this a lot with other things, too, namely stuff for the local Lions Club that Dad and her are in).
  • We had to add music, which we were originally told it wasn't going to have. The reason I hate adding music to these slideshows is that the timing involved in getting the slideshow to end at the moment the song goes silent is very difficult - If it stops short, the song gets cut off; if it's too long, the song repeats.
  • We had to design a cover for the DVD. Thankfully, I had the Church Dedication DVD cover available for a base template (with the DVD's run time, instructions, church name, and date), and just had to change three things (what it was for, the pictures used, and the run time).

The slideshow was finished on the 26th, at 3:30 AM...And just in time, too - It had to be ready by 9:00 AM that same day, so it could be burned to a DVD (I don't have a DVD burner, so I had to copy the .iso file it made to a CD, and give that to someone with a DVD burner to properly burn a DVD from). Unfortunately, after all of the work we put into it, we found out (and it was too late to fix it before Sunday) that two pictures were missing their captions, and the music on all of the slideshows, except for the last one, cuts out early (the last one's music was intentionally silenced a few slides before it was over, due to how we had that particular slideshow set up, so it was unaffected).

How did this happen? Well, it turns out that when viewing the slideshows via PictureShow's "Preview Slideshow", its mock DVD player, and the DVD itself in an actual DVD player (once one was made for us), all of them act differently (I'm really surprised that, between the two methods it has for previewing slideshows, PictureShow can't even keep its own timing straight) - for "Preview Slideshow", the music slowly fades at the end, the mock DVD player has a quick fade at the end, and the actual DVD has no fading at the end, and it gets cut off pretty early, too. This is why I hate adding music to these!

I did the cover in Publisher 2000, on the 27th, just like I did with the Church Dedication DVD. The labels I used, unfortunately, only had templates for Publisher 2002 (which wouldn't work for me) and Word (which was very glitchy). It was pretty much hit-and-miss with trying to get the template to match up, but I got them pretty close to where they were supposed to be - they're not perfect, but that's as close as I can get on such short notice. We went to church to try out the DVD, and (ignoring the timing issues) it works OK.

For Sunday, they first did what's usually done for Memorial Day there (the three pledges: one each for the U.S. Flag, Christian Flag, and Bible). After that, they had a youth group from Ford City bring up the flags and a cross (about the size of one of them), and do a sign language/act during the song played at the time. After that, we had a pastor from another church substitute for our Pastor (who had knee surgery the day before, though he could still attend the service.

The last part was the showing of my DVD, which went well - the congregation (well, those in the congregation who knew me) complimented and thanked me for a job well done on the DVD project. Some want a copy of the DVD now...And this time around, someone's lending me his external DVD burner so that I can do this at home! So I'd be ready for when the DVDs are to be burnt, I went ahead and fixed up the two pictures which were missing captions (one was missing it entirely, and the other was an uncaptioned backup copy that I accidentally put in place of the captioned one), and fixed the timing issues on the slideshows that I couldn't fix beforehand. After this is done, I'm getting rid of this program - It was not made for projects like this, and there's got to be better programs out there than DVD PictureShow.

I'm very happy that people liked how it turned out, given all the work that went into it, but the various things we had to deal with, that we shouldn't have had to deal with at all (the main two are the photos that were given to us weeks past the deadline that was stated in the bulletins awhile back, and the adding of music when we were explicitly told it wasn't going to have any), makes me want to not do this kind of work anymore...Especially when this tends to happen rather often with projects like this. I can handle having problems like this occur once in awhile with the projects I do for others, but there's not really any good excuse for having it happen this often, and with the same people, too...

...OK, that's enough about about the DVD project ^_^

In other news: Remember what I mentioned about my uncle coming over earlier? Well, he did so because he wanted to look up job information and submit his résumé to a few sites (he doesn't have access to the Internet at home, but he does have a Yahoo! E-Mail account)...And appears to have signed up somewhere using my Adelphia E-Mail account instead, as I got a message with his account information sent to my address. I talked to him about it, and he doesn't know how it happened, as he thought he put in his own (in that case, I'm not sure why it happened, either).

As the account information message had his username (which was the E-Mail address) and password, I logged into that to see what was going on here (though his site account isn't mine, the E-Mail address is...And the username/password combination was readily available for me to log in with >=) ). I noticed the E-Mail address listed in that profile was mine, and I also noticed that it can be changed...So I'm going to ask him about getting it changed it to his Yahoo! address. If he still needs us to receive it, though (as I don't think he checks his account that often), I'll have him set up a message filter to forward messages from that job site to our address, for the time being - this way, once he has Internet access again, all he has to do is delete that filter, and I won't be bothered with those messages anymore =)

Not too much has happened this week, except:

  • I've slept in quite a bit, which makes up for the time I spent awake at night trying to get the DVD project finished.
  • Around the house, a few trees (and some large branches) have been cut down recently. Some of them are fairly close to our house, and that could be a problem should something happen to them. Also, a bulldozer is being brought in to help uproot the stumps, as well as level out the land in front of our house - it used to have a big slope out front, but a lot of dirt was brought in awhile back to help level it out somewhat, and we're only just now getting that fixed up (it sticks out, as the area around that is grassy, as was the slope itself before the dirt was brought in - hopefully we'll get some grass growing on that part of our yard after this is done =P).
  • Once again, I've had to make a few last-minute changes for stuff for the Lions Club that Mom needed me to fix. I'll be glad when both of us can be done with the work that's supposed to be done by other people in the club, rather than the Secretary and a non-member who ends up getting stuck with creating typed copies of what the Secretary has had to write down (as well as projects that should never have been assigned to either of us in the first place).

It's still gone better than the past few weeks, though - At least the DVD project is all taken care of now =)

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