Monthly Archives: October 2008

playstation steve

Here’s one post I’ve been meaning to write for a long time.  Because of the firmware updates that just came out yesterday, it kinda poked me to get around to it.

I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned it, but I got a Playstation 3 not too long ago.  That in itself isn’t really interesting news, but it is when you consider I haven’t had a game console in 25 years.  I grew up on the Atari, and man, *those* games were tough.  After that, our parents never let us have one again, though, so I never really grew up with the joys of crippled thumbs.

I do have a lot of computer games, though, I’ve always been really into those.  Monkey Island FTW.  The thing I don’t like about it so much is having to dual-boot between Linux and Windows in recent years.  For one, it makes my desktop a lopsided powerhouse that I never use.  I have a really nice nvidia graphics card in there that can handle any game thrown at it, lots of RAM and a good processor, and 95% of the time I just surf the web and do programming.  It would be kind of cool to have a dedicated Windows box that I could fire up just for games, but I already have too much computer clutter sitting around that I don’t wanna do that.

So, I’d been thinking for some time about getting a console.  The idea of having a dedicated machine specifically for games seemed like fun.  I wouldn’t have to worry about rebooting, waiting for Windows, patching Windows, finding Windows drivers, fixing Windows, and using Windows.  The best part about gaming on a desktop, though, is that you can usually save your game at any point.  I still wish consoles would allow that.

When I got my HDTV not too long ago, I really, really, really wanted to try out Blu-Ray to see what 1080p was like, and if it was worth it or not.  Sony had some nice Blu-Ray players on the market, but they were freaking expensive.  The one I wanted was $400, and I *almost* had grudgingly convinced myself to get it, when I read one review that mentioned how it takes a long time to start up, and how it had moving parts.  Well, moving parts, in my mind, means noise.  I’m extremely sensitive to noise so any whirring coming from my entertainment center makes me want to chuck an AOL CD at someone’s head.

The thing that was interesting was that at the same price point, I could get a PS3 that already had a Blu-Ray player.  Not only that, it already had a network card on it (both wired and wireless I quickly found out) so that it could do the BD updates.  It’d be future-proof!  So, I got one, not at all with the intention of playing games, but instead just to watch movies.

I was really impressed as I started to unbox the thing and learned more about it.  One thing I have always hated about game consoles in general is that they use custom, proprietary input connections that only their hardware will work with, forcing vendor lock in.  If your cat chews on your power cord or if your little brother flushes your controller down the toilet, you have to buy a new one from them.  Annoying.  The PS3 was totally different, though.  The power jack was the standard one that computer power supplies use, so I can swap out that cord at any time.  It has a normal HDMI output port on the back, so I could use my existing one right away.  The SPDIF port was standard as well, and if all that wasn’t enough, the controllers connect using USB!  I was pretty blown away.  In fact, the only thing that was non-standard was a cord connecting to RCA and Component video output.  I didn’t care about those, since I’m using HDMI, but man, that is awesome.

I remember I went out and rented two Blu-Ray movies that night.  One was Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (best Harry Potter movie, evah) and 2001: A Space Odyssey.  I’ve already written about my Blu-Ray experiences in the past, and so far, while it’s impressive, it’s not nearly as mind-blowingly amazing as I was hoping.  So, I still haven’t switched.  On a sidenote, though, I’m really tempted to get Sleeping Beauty.  It’s supposed to be finally presented in its OAR (original aspect ratio).  Plus, it’s about the coolest animated movie there is.  How often do you get to see an awesome dragon fight like that one has?  It’s classic.

So, Blu-Ray discs was pretty much out of the picture.  Oh well.  I started playing around with the PlayStation Store a bit, and that also blew me away.  How cool is it that you can sit on your couch and just buy video games directly from your console, download demos, themes, wallpapers and movie trailers.  Okay, so maybe themes and wallpapers isn’t an exciting point, but the demos is my favorite part.  I’ve gotten burned by a few game purchases in the past, that had I had a few minutes of checking it out, I never would have gotten it.  Strangely enough, that’s actually really rare.  I seem to either have a lot of luck in buying games that I like or something.

PS3 games are so expensive, so I decided that I was only going to buy the ones that I would get *really* excited about and want to play repeatedly.  Which, again, kind of goes for almost all my games … Hmm.  The first one I grabbed (and I don’t remember how .. I think I had a GameFly membership or something) was Dark Kingdom.  Then I got Burnout Paradise, and then Bladestorm.  Bladestorm was the freaking bomb.  I remember playing it non-stop for an entire week, staying up til like 4 a.m. each night.  That was the game that pretty much sold me on my purchase for good.

I’ve gotten a few more games since then, and they’ve all been great.  Overlord is freaking awesome.  Civilization: Revolution is one of the most addictive games I’ve ever played.  And last weekend I picked up Star Wars: The Force Unleashed and Lego Batman.

Somewhere along the line, I also bought myself a PSP-2000.  That is also a lot of fun.  They had a firmware update come out just yesterday which I installed last night, which finally lets you access the PSN store directly.  It’s really cool, too, it was a bit of a pain having to connect it to my computer or my PS3 to get data.  I wish it had better multimedia playback support, though.

I haven’t found a lot, or any, good games for my PSP yet, though I really haven’t gone looking.  Right now I just have Mortal Kombat and Star Wars: Lethal Alliance (I have this passive goal to get every Star Wars game, ever).  Looking online, it seems like there are a lot I’d be interested in, but I never get around to checking them out.  It’s still a great little console, though.

Overall, there’s just a lot of things that make up what I like about the system — games in 1080p, wireless controllers, UPnP support, large storage device, multi-user support, etc.  Probably the best of them is that this thing has a network connection and can receive firmware updates.  In fact, I think I’ve installed three since I bought the thing, and it gets a little bit better each time.  In my mind, this is how a gaming console should have been years ago.  There’s a lot of potential for this thing too, it effectively fill a lot of multimedia and on-demand roles.  I’m curious to see where things go.

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Filed under Computers, Entertainment, Hardware

clarification

In my last post about my new cell phone, I made this comment, which at the time seemed like some people would find hard to swallow considering my geekiness: “I’m a really slow adopter to new technologies, believe it or not, so this might take me a while to get used to.”

As my good friend Jason pointed out, “That is the world’s biggest understatement.”

More accurately, in his words, “I wouldn’t say slow adopter to “technologies”…. I’d just say, “I loathe change in any way, shape, or form”.”

Heh, believe it or not, it’s really true. I find something I like, I stick with it, and I vehemently won’t give it up until I’m absolutely forced to. Whatever works. :)

As far as the phone, I think I’m gonna take it back and get a brand new … RAZR. Whee!

That or a StarTAC. I can’t decide.

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new phone

The Blackberry Pearl Flip came out today, so I ran out to the store and got me one.  Initial reaction — meh.  It’s nice, but I don’t like trackballs all that much.  I kinda prefer my RAZR where I can just quickly hit one button and it goes to where I want versus navigating menus.  Still, we’ll see, it’s too early to tell.

One thing I do like about it is it can use a WiFi connection to make phone calls.  That’d be nice, since I didn’t get good coverage with my old phone at home — though whether it was T-Mobile, the Kryptonite in my walls, or a funky battery, who knows.

I’m a really slow adopter to new technologies, believe it or not, so this might take me a while to get used to.

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weekend multimedia notes, part two

Well, I had fun last weekend writing up just general notes about multimedia stuff I was playing with, so I think I’ll have a go at it again.

For some reason, this weekend, I got it in my head that it would be a great idea to look at the MP4 format again, to maybe put a few video files in, for portability. Which of course makes no sense, because I’m not streaming or sending my files anywhere at all except from one linux server to one linux client. But, vague issues of necessity never stop me when there’s something exciting and new to learn, so away I went. After playing around for a few hours, I came to the conclusion that things really aren’t quite up to par (for me, that is, the perfectionist), and that there’s no chance of me switching from Matroska any time in the near future.

The first snag I hit was that MPlayer wouldn’t report the aspect ratio or the bitrate on the files. At first I thought it was just happening on .mov files I had downloaded from Apple, but even with MP4s I created myself it was happening. Poop. Bitrate I can do without knowing, I was just curious, but ignoring the aspect when the original source is non-standard causes issues.  Edit: I should have known this, using the lavf demuxer works fine.  midentify -demuxver lavf movie.mp4

I started making a DVD of Star Wars trailers for my little brother (yay, trailers!), and I was reencoding them using ffmpeg. Lemme go off on a bit of a tangent here and say that as much as I love MEncoder, sometimes ffmpeg is just a wee bit simpler to throw out some quick changes. “ffmpeg -i foo.mov -target dvd -aspect 16:9 foo.mpg” is just too easy to remember. Obviously I could create a profile for mencoder, but I do that all the time, and then forget which ones I have. Not too helpful. Anyway, the trailers were actually already cropped so it was more like 2.3259 or something like that instead of 16/9. FFmpeg couldn’t read the aspect ratio, so I had to figure it out myself. I’m sure there’s a simpler way, but I just dumped the Apple trailer into Matroska first, got the ratio from there and then reencoded it. A bit of a run around, but it was fast, simple, and got the job done. Of course it might be a problem if your source material was longer than 90 seconds. Good luck with that.

Oh yes, I think one reason I wanted to play with MP4 was to see if I could get something to play back on my PSP. I have this wild-eyed dream of using my PSP to remotely stream video content from home. Unfortunately, it’s a royal pain in the pooty to even get something to encode for them. I really didn’t throw much effort into it, but quickly tried the first example I found online to encode it using ffmpeg, and it didn’t work. Meh. I tweaked the settings a bit to see if that helped, but nothing worked. Can I just throw in, again, even though it didn’t work for me, that ffmpeg is cool like that — it has a PSP format that it’s preset to encode to, along with a bunch of other ones … see “ffmpeg -formats”.

Actually, ffmpeg’s output was annoyingly confusing, now that I think about it. I couldn’t figure out for the life of me what the actual command line option was for the vcodec and acodec option. Anyone else run into that problem? I seriously couldn’t figure out which one was the AAC option. Aargh! “ffmpeg -formats” would just say aac, so of course I tried that, but it didn’t work. The option was actually libfaac. I have no idea in the freaking world how people are supposed to figure that one out. I read the entire man, and it didn’t really give much help there, either. Bleh.

One nice thing about the older releases of ffmpeg was that you could just say “ffmpeg -i foo.avi foo.mp4″ and it would automatically select mpeg4 video and aac audio for you. I switched over to using just SVN, and it wouldn’t do that for me, sadly.

Oh yes, one more thing I remember about MP4 (I am *really* bouncing around in this post), was that when I first read up about it, I discovered that the format supports MPEG2 video, which got me really excited. What surprised me was that Dolby Digital and DTS are not supported. AAC is the multi-channel choice, it seems. Still, I could live with just having to re-encode my audio. I hate waiting on video. Just a preemptive defense here, but say what you will about my MPEG2 choice of codec, but there’s something to be said about using a video codec that has been around for a long, long time and is extremely well supported in all kinds of software.

Playing with MP4, I found three ways to make one: using mp4creator (part of mpeg4ip package), ffmpeg, and mencoder. mp4creator was nice, but somewhat lacking in features — that is, comparing to mkvmerge (for Matroska). I’m not trying to bash it, since it did exactly what I needed it to do in every case, but it could be a bit more polished. I’m sure that’ll come with time, though. Once I had a movie file with MPEG2 and AAC, it wrapped it just fine, assuming it was named with a suffix it understood (complained on .vob, took .mpg fine). I’ve read that MP4 supports VobSub, and I wonder how someone would about putting that in there. Interesting stuff. I’ll have to play with it later.

FFmpeg I already mentioned. My biggest headache was just trying to figure out how to what the options were. In reencoding an MPEG2 video and AC3 audio to same video and AAC audio, for some reason, the resulting .mp4 file had blocking artifacts on playback. I have no idea how that happened, since I just copied the video stream directly. So, I couldn’t really use that to just quickly create one.

MEncoder worked best of all, even though it screeches at you (using SVN) that the LAVF muxer is broken, everything worked perfectly fine. I used something like “mencoder movie.vob -of lavf -ovc copy -oac faac -o movie.mp4″. No blocking issues, sound worked fine, everything was great.

So, that was my short lived trial with MP4 for the weekend. I’m actually really surprised that it isn’t as well developed / supported as I thought it would be. I thought that this was the hawt new thing in codecs. Like everything else, I’m sure support for it will improve in time. I figured there was a lot more options right now, though. I wish Matroska was supported on more commercial platforms, because I still think it blows everything out of the water.

Anyway, going all the way back to my custom DVD. I’ve been ripping my Star Wars trailers off the DVDs to make a new one of just all the trailers. I have the original theatrical release DVDs for the original trilogy, and unfortunately they don’t come with any trailers *at all*. Super bummer. Episodes one through three, though, have a ton. Episode III has 18 trailers total on it. Sheesh! It was a bit of a pain trying to find them all, too.

One thing that surprised me was that with all the trailers on the Episode I disc (seven), I noticed that one of them was missing. I can’t believe I even know that. I guess I am a nerd. But there’s this one really memorable trailer which starts off with Anakin pod racing, and it’s incredible. I’ll have to find it somewhere else, I guess.

As much as I’ve written, believe it or not, I did all of this within about four hours time. It was a fun weekend. In fact, I wasn’t even on the computer until Sunday afternoon. Good times.

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trailers, trailers, trailers

I’ve spent a lot of last month cleaning up a few tweaks, bugs, and to do items on getting my media center completely setup, and one of the things on the list was to get movie trailers ripped off of my DVDs.

There were two things that surprised me: how many DVDs had trailers that I didn’t expect, and how many trailers that I expected to, didn’t.

I really wish that *all* the DVDs had trailers for their movies on them . In my mind, this is the most basic feature that they should all ship with.  Sadly, it’s not just one studio that I can pinpoint the lack of archival foresight on — it’s across the board.  Even then, it happens on all kinds of DVDs, both special editions (which is a total misnomer, if it’s the only edition) and normal releases.  What’s even more annoying is when they have trailers for other movies (not talking about just Disney here), but not their own.  There’s really no fast and hard rule of which ones you can predictably guess which DVDs will have them or not, and so it leaves me with the unenviable task of just checking every disc.

The first thing I did was just take a quick glance at the back of every cover to see if it lists trailers in its features.  This is where I got really surprised by the movies that did have them, that I wouldn’t think they would bother.  Case in point: The Glass Bottom Boat, The Rescuers Down Under, The World’s Greatest Athlete.  So far I’ve got about 43 ripped, which I’m probably about halfway through the “regular” editions, so there’s probably another 40 or so to rip.  My collection is about 150 or 160, so about half the DVDs have their own movie trailer on there.  Not really great percentages, in my mind.

Next up, I need to dig through the special editions.  Because of how I find the trailers — I lazily just use lsdvd to list out tracks that are between under 60 minutes long, and then just cycle through those tracks with mplayer — the multi-disc ones and SE DVDs are harder to find because there are so many tracks with deleted scenes, featurettes and stuff.  Plus there’s usually more than one disc.  On a normal DVD there’s normally between one to four possible tracks, but on the SEs, there’s up to 30.  Makes it kind of tedious.  It’s always worth it though.  Really good releases like Star Wars usually put out a lot of the trailers they created.

Time for a little tangent of history and nostalgia, though.  When I worked at the movie theater as a projectionist (I was also an usher, worked at box, in concessions, and later as a manager … good times), we would build the movies manually.  There are two types of trailers, though: teasers and trailers.  Teasers are really short previews that are generally just between 30 seconds to a minute long and will come out in theaters months and months before the movie is actually released.  It’s just that, too, a teaser of things to come.  Trailers come out much closer to the release date, and are between 2 to 5 minutes long.

Also, the reason they are called trailers is because back in the good old days, the trailers would come at the very end of the movie.  If you’ve ever seen an old movie, you’ll notice that they did elaborate credits and titling at the very beginning of the movie, and when it finished, you would see “The End”, and that was it .. it was *done*.  Not another 15 minutes of credits and notices and soundtrack rehashes and bloopers and copyright notices and special thanks to.  The reason for that was because the trailers really were trailing the movie.  Because of how a film is put together, or built, it’s a lot simpler if you just  put the trailers on the end.

The movie arrives at the movie theater in a couple of cannisters (generally two) split up on a couple of reels (usually about half an hour or so per reel).  The projectionist gets to stay up late putting the film together from three or four reels and puts it on the huge platter.  Before they build it though, they pick which trailers are going to go on there.  Well, the projectionist doesn’t.  Actually it’s all wrapped up in licensing deals with both the studios of who releases the film and the ones who want their trailers on what.  What will happen is the teasers and trailers will go on first, then the movie theater chain will usually have some kind of “help us not go poor and spend money on our 800% marked up popcorn and candy in the lobby while thin animal characters dance to a chorus of Butterfingers and a river of soda” and then after that, there’s usually a trailer by the studio that released the movie right before the actual feature film.  Oh, and sometimes there’s a Dolby / SDDS / DTS / digital theater ear candy insert somewhere in there too.

Anyway, the cool thing is this.  When theaters are done with the movies, they ship them back to Hollywood, but they get to keep the trailers.  They usually take them off just because they don’t know if they’re going to need them for another film or not, but they always remove them from the film regardless, as they are essentially their property anyway once the studio sends them to them.  The thing is, that nobody wants the teasers back, and every theater I’ve worked at will have a cabinet full of *years* worth of original 35mm film teasers and trailers just sitting around collecting dust.  I collected them for a few years, cherry picking the good ones — I distinctly remember having one to A Bug’s Life and The Prince of Egypt, but I know I had a lot more … dozens, I just can’t think of any — but eventually I got bored with it, when I realized I’d probably never buy a projector just to load them up and watch them.  I think I just gave them away or something.  I’m sure you could still buy some on ebay.

That’s the history part.  As far as nostalgia goes, I remember absolutely loving movie trailers even when I was a little kid and would go to the movies.  It was always an exciting part because with a good trailer, it would suck you in so much that you’d completely forget what movie you were even there to see.  That still happens to me today, and I’ll show up at a movie early just to catch the trailers with the true theater experience.  I love archiving them, too, because even now when I watch them it’ll get me all fired up to watch a movie.

Back to ripping trailers, I finished up ripping the “normal” ones, and started poking at the discs which I knew I didn’t have a trailer but I thought for sure there should be one on there.  The first one I grabbed was Peter Pan (which is actually the first DVD in my collection, which I could go off on a whole other long post on the story behind that).  The disc is supposed to be a special edition, and I trudged through about 15 tracks of commentary and grip buys talking about their jobs to verify that there was indeed, nothing on there.  Stupid Universal Pictures.

I remembered, though, that Apple’s trailer website had one on there, so I hopped off and wondered over to my desktop to search their website.  I clicked on the page to view the trailer, and it opens some page that says its trying to open up iTunes.  Aaaaaaaaaargh!  (Warning: Apple rant.)  So, annoyed, I reboot my computer for the first time in at least a month to get into Windows and load up iTunes to see if I can get this sucker or not.  I have to say that it really ticks me off that Apple, being a minority in the computer field, would think to remember what it’s like when stuff isn’t supported on your native platform and at least make it possible so I don’t have to use their own stupid software to access content.  I can’t blame them for making nice software and hardware, but when it comes to vendor lock-in, they are 10 times worse than any other software developer.

It gets worse, though.  The iTunes store did have a lot of movie trailers, but the downloads were near worthless, at least by today’s media standards.  For each trailer they had only Small and Medium varieties to download.  In some rare cases they had HD ones as well, which are the only ones even worth bothering with.  The Medium ones were so blurry and came in at a really low bitrate that it was pretty much a complete waste of time.  On one hand, it was fun to be able to get them, but they were annoying to watch.  The HD ones looked really nice, though.  I only got about 5 of movies I wanted, but that kind of made the trip worthwhile.

Well, this post ended up a lot longer than I wanted, but oh well.  Trailers are fun, that’s about it. :)  I wish more DVDs had them.  As a matter of archiving, they are almost a lost art.  It’s really hard to find originals online (and I’m not talking about YouTube), and while historians do a good job of keeping the actual films around, it’s a shame that trailers don’t get any love.  Maybe I should start a repository.

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Filed under Entertainment

pimp my mythvideo: coverfiles made simple

his being my third patch to fix some mythvideo nags, I’m actually starting to get comfortable going in there and trying to find this stuff. It’s still incredibly difficult to try and figure this out, since there’s little documentation and I vaguely understand C++, but it’s fun to attempt and cool to succeed.

This patch fixes an annoying problem I’ve had for a long time — it’s a royal pain setting a cover file for a video. A cover file would be the actual image that shows up in the gallery view for a media file. Without one, you just see a blank little icon which is pretty boring.

Folders are really simple — you just add folder.jpg (or .gif or .png) to the directory, and it will show that. Individual files are a bit tricker. If you were just using the interface, you’d have to first go into the Video Manager to let Myth scan the directory of files, create an entry in the database, then go find the file, edit the entry, and set the coverfile manually.

I originally wrote a script to do that part for me. I would just create a JPEG image for each media file, usually with the same filename, but a different extension, and code in a check to see if both exist, update the videometadata table. All the time, I kept thinking though, it would be so much simpler if Myth would just check to see if the file existed like the folders, and display it. That’s exactly what this patch does.

I pretty much just copied the same code from the part where it looks for the folder icon, and did the same thing. If, for example, you have movie.avi, just create movie.avi.jpg (or .gif, or .png) as the coverfile and you’re done.

Actually, you do have to put the file in the database first, since it still checks to see if there is any metadata for it at all. That is extremely simple, though, either by script or UI navigation. The UI will just add new ones quietly, and you can quickly exit out. The patch will still use your coverfile in the videometadata table too, if there isn’t a similar filename that it can find, so you can apply this and it won’t break your existing setup.

As usual, the ebuild is in my overlay. This one is mythvideo-0.20.2_p15087-r3.ebuild. I’m going to eventually document these a bit better and file bugs with upstream. I know I’m using an “old” version to patch it onto, but the reality is that SVN hasn’t changed at all since that revision, so even the latest version bump is the same code.

I also spent the weekend working out a number of small kinks in my system and setup. I drafted up a new “wishlist” that I have of stuff I’d like to eventually get fixed, and it’s getting smaller all the time. Right on.

As far as mythvideo patches, though, I only have one last small annoyance that, while it doesn’t really bother me, does kind of throw me for a bit of a loop so I’d like to see if I can fix it. The bug is that folder names and file names are sorted differently. I can’t remember which is which off the top of my head, but one of them will ignore prepositions like “The”, and “A” on the front of titles and sort by the second words. So “The A-Team” would show up near the top of the list. Maybe it does that on both file and folder. Anyway, I don’t like it. It’s a bit confusing. I tried looking for where it does that, but I haven’t had much luck yet.

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Filed under Gentoo, MythTV

general conference weekend

My church’s general conference (a huge weekend of meetings where all our church leaders are gathered and speak to the entire worldwide congregation) was this weekend, and it was pretty good.  I started off really strong, looking forward to it a lot, but lost some steam as I usually do — it’s hard for me to sit through long meetings.  I guess two hours isn’t that long, but hey,  I find it hard to sit through 7 minute cartoons.

Two (of the five) sessions were really memorable for me.  The first one, when President Monson got up and spoke, he mentioned that there were going to be five new temples built.  One of them was in Cordoba, in Argentina.  I was so excited when I heard that.  I served my mission in Argentina (99-01), in Patagonia (Neuquen mission), and while Cordoba isn’t that close to us, it’s really awesome to learn that the country is going to get it’s second temple, after the one in Buenos Aires.  I’d love to fly down there for the dedication.

It got me thinking about my mission, though, and the people I worked with, and how the Lord really looks after even the least of us.  There is so much poverty and sadness in the areas I served, but the saints try hard to live the gospel.

I imagine the temple is going to be one of the smaller ones, and it reminded me of this small city in my first area.  My first city was Esquel in the province of Chubut.  Near us, there was a really tiny town called Trevelin which couldn’t have had more than a couple thousand people.  I remember walking down this long stretch of barren road, where buildings were dotted across the landscape, sometimes half a mile apart or so, and out in the middle of nowhere, was a little LDS chapel.  The Church only had a small branch in Trevelin, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a smaller, prouder little building that they had.  Generally speaking, the Church doesn’t build a building unless the membership is either strong or large, and they are paying their tithes, so it really stood as a monument in mind to the faith of these very few members in that little town.  I really wish I had a picture of it, I remember it so vividly.

I do have a picture of us going to the falls there once, which the city was actually famous for.  I don’t have a scanner at home, so it’ll have to wait for now.  I do have a picture of me in my first area, though.  This was actually taken the day I was transferring from Esquel to an even smaller town, 25 de Mayo in La Pampa.

Notice the heavy coat.  It was freaking cold, there.  I remember wearing about five layers of clothes and still feeling like my bones were turned to ice.

Anyway, the rest of conference was good.  I’ve caught about half of every session so far, and I’ll catch up watching the rest during the week.  I did actually make it to the General Priesthood session on Saturday night, which was really good.  In fact, this is the first time in like four years that I actually made it to a church to watch the thing, since something always seems to happen every year, like I’ll get sick, or fall asleep or whatever.  I went with my friend Scott though, and it was great.

There was this one guy who got up, I can’t remember his name, that delivered this really powerful direct talk.  It was just awesome.  He talked about how the way to cast out Satan in our lives is the same things that worked to cast him out of Heaven in the premortal life.  Ah, the memory is fading, and the talks aren’t online yet or I’d quote him directly.  I remember there were three things, and one of them was the bearing of testimony.  Ah, I’m blanking.  Ah well, the archives will eventually be here.

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