Williamsport Area Computer Club

Newsletter & Meeting Minutes

November-December 2000

Our next meeting will be held on Tuesday, January 9, at 7 PM, in the Winters Room of the James V. Brown Library, 19 East Fourth Street, Williamsport.

This will be a general meeting with an open discussion period following Club business. Beginners are welcome to bring their computer and Internet questions!

Our last meeting of the real millennium was held on November 14th, 2000. There were tentative plans for a December social, but it was cancelled due to lack of interest.

Our first item of business was the election of officers for 2001. Due to the fact that all of the incumbents were uncontested, Jim Shaffer Jr. made a motion that we waive the balloting process and accept a unanimous voice vote for the entire slate of candidates. Lou Kolb seconded the motion and the vote passed unanimously. Officers remain, President, Geoffrey Knauth; Vice-President, Kathy Kolb; Treasurer, John Yarosz; Secretary, Jim Shaffer Jr.

Committee Actions:

Advertising / Awareness / Public Relations / Home Page:

Computer Recycling (finding charitable uses for old computers):

No items this month.

Computer / Internet News:


November's guest speaker was Rob Colley from Hoyer's Photo. He brought a digital video camera and an iMac to demonstrate, and discussed digital video and still cameras in general.

The latest generation of still cameras from Sony include CD burners that store images on 2.5" CDs which cost about $4 each. A single disk holds about 25 1600x1200 pictures at full resolution, or about 1000 640x480 compressed pictures. The camera also produces low-resolution Quicktime movies. The disks will fit in most current CD drives, but are only readable by Sony's software at present.

The latest Sony video camera, costing about $2400, can store movies with 500 lines of resolution on a CD.

Sony's lower-priced video offerings include a digital 8mm tape camera. It has a FireWire output for high-speed digital transfer to a computer and also includes an analog video input jack, allowing it to be used as an analog-to-digital converter for older video sources such as VHS tape. Panasonic offers video cameras with an infrared light source for taping in total darkness (it works quite well!), 16-bit stereo sound, digital fade, digital zoom, and an image stabilizer on high-end models. Digital tapes hold about 80 minutes of video.

Digital video cameras can be found starting around $699.

Video consumes a large amount of hard drive space. Raw video can take up to 20 gigabytes for 15 minutes. It is possible to compress video a great deal, depending on the desired quality of course. Local photographer Wayne Palmer stores around 8 hours of video compressed to 120 gigabytes for professional use. A fast hard drive is essential. Typical solutions for serious use are SCSI (a parallel bus which runs faster and supports more devices than IDE) and RAID (an array of drives which each store a slice of the data stream) systems. External drives with a direct FireWire connection to the computer are also available. New systems such as the iMac from Apple ship with FireWire support. PCI FireWire cards for Windows-based PCs are available, but it is essential that the buyer be sure that his system can keep up with the video data if he intends to use standard IDE drives. (New motherboards are appearing with 100-MHz IDE support, and even low-end IDE RAID controllers, although many 7200-rpm drives are still only capable of 66 MHz, but 10000-rpm drives are on the way.)

The iMac ships with iMovie software to allow easy editing of home video, and Windows ME also has a simple video editor.

Finally, Rob gave us some tips for using any kind of digital camera. First, if the camera has an optical viewfinder, use it instead of the LED screen to save battery power. Lithium batteries are strongly recommended for camera use. And if you're looking for high-resolution still pictures, a digital still camera will produce better-quality images than any video camera.

Contact Information
Home Page http://www.lycoming.org/wacc
Secretary Jim Shaffer, Jr., jshaffer@uplink.net
Mailing List Send a message to wacc-chat-request@sunlink.net with the word subscribe in the subject. (Note: this is an open list for free-ranging local and computer-related discussions. Anyone wishing to subscribe to the newsletter list should email Jim or use the comments form on our home page.)