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Taking Pictures During Liturgies

Note: I wrote this article back when I was studying to be a priest in the Archdiocese of St. Louis; I am no longer a seminarian (or a priest), but I will continue to update the article over time so it can be of use to my fellow photographers.

Picture of Holy MassAs a seminarian, I often participate in very big liturgies at the Cathedral Basilica or other places at which many families are present. Invariably, there's always a few picture-takers who end up disrupting parts of the Mass or other liturgical functions in one way or another, and they usually don't even know they're doing it. Nor, more importantly, do they know how to not disrupt the liturgy!

Pictures at a Concert in a Theater, Strobist-Style

This article will explain how I recently shot a youth concert at a small-to-mid-size theater, using principles learned from the Strobist website (if you are a photographer, and you haven't seen Strobist, check it out. Seriously.). Whenever you're shooting a concert, there are a plethora of problems that you'll have to overcome. I will show you what approaches I used to overcome diverse, and often poor, lighting, while maintaining the atmosphere at the concert.

DIY: Greenscreens and Backdrop or Background Stands

This article will explain how to design and assemble bluescreens, greenscreens and backdrops for photos and video, as well as how to easily and inexpensively build a portable frame to support these backdrops (or other things like quilts, etc.) out of PVC pipe or metal conduit. (NOTE: Please be sure to read some of the extra notes at the bottom of this guide for optimal performance).

How to Avoid Spyware, Adware, Viruses, etc.

This article will help you to discover ways to avoid malicious software that can cause your Mac or Windows PC problems.

Most Windows users will encounter malicious software at some time or another. But the frequency of these encounters can be greatly reduced by keeping in mind some general tips.

Tips for Avoiding Malicious Software

You should keep in mind a few important things while using your computer to check email, install programs, browse the Internet or chat:

Cleaning Your Desktop or Laptop Computer

This article will help you to properly clean your computer, monitor, keyboard, mouse, trackpad, etc., to keep them looking and working like new.

Keeping your computer clean can not only make it look great, but it can also help your computer to run great. I've seen many really dirty computers (both inside and out) that have problems simply because they are dirty; dust, grime and electricity don't mix well. It is also very hard to see what's on your screen if you have a layer of dirt or grime. And don't get me started on sticky keyboards and mice! Ick!

The following are essential items for cleaning your computer:

My Mac is Running Really Slow - Help!

This article will help you to diagnose common problems such as lack of maintenance, permissions conflicts and Hard Drive glitches that cause your Mac to run slowly.

There are two main routes to take to make your Mac as lean and mean as it was when you bought it (or even more so!)—hardware upgrades and software maintenance. One of the easiest things to do is to purchase additional RAM. As a rule, I say you can never have too much RAM. If you don't have at least 2GB of RAM, you should immediately upgrade. In addition to RAM, you should consider getting a faster hard drive (an SSD drive is what I recommend–more on that later). If your Mac is more than five years old, however, you might want to consider purchasing a new one, especially if you're running newer applications or the latest version of Mac OS X.

The following are essential utilities for keeping your Mac running smoothly and for fixing little problems that may crop up (Click the links to go to their download sites):

My Windows PC is Running Really Slow - Help!

This article will help you to diagnose common problems, such as Spyware, Adware, Viruses, RAM and Hard Drive problems, that cause your Windows PC to run slowly.

Over the course of time, everything becomes dirty and needs some cleaning. Computers are no different; many different programs do many different things on your computer, and 'dirt' can result. It's a good idea to clean up your computer from time to time, and it's usually not very hard to do! Be sure to read through this whole article to find advice for keeping your PC running smoothly far into the future.

Converting High Definition Movies to Watch on Mac/PC

NOTE: I have since written a newer article that makes it MUCH easier to do just about everything, making use of MakeMKV. The new article: Ripping Movies from Blu-Ray, HD-DVD and DVD, Getting them onto Apple TV, iPad, iPhone, etc. &mdash I am leaving this article up for historical purposes, though, as there is some good information in here still...

This article will help you to convert HD-DVD and Blu-Ray movies to QuickTime compatible files so you can watch them in high definition in iTunes, Front Row, or QuickTime Player. The guide will also help you to be able to convert the videos into other formats so you can preserve the surround sound and the highest picture quality.

Blu-Ray and HD-DVD Logos

Converting the HD-DVD or Blu-Ray

1. Copy FEATURE_1.EVO and FEATURE_2.EVO to hard drive by decrypting them using AnyDVD, DVDFab HD Decrypter, or some other decrypter. Some DVDs use different naming schemes, but the files you need are the two largest 'EVO' files.

NOTE: I have only been able to work on HD-DVDs, so Some of the steps here don't work (or only partially work) with Blu-Ray, but I hope you can find some inspiration for getting your blu-ray files to work with Quicktime, if you so desire. Google can help you find how to get the blu-ray files ready for demuxing/conversion. Soon I will get myself an external Blu-Ray drive and start tinkering around with Blu-Ray movies... but for now I'm happy simply working on HD-DVD.

NOTE 2: I simply used the Xbox 360 HD-DVD drive, as I found one cheap locally (through Craigslist), and it works via USB 2.0. It's also quite compact! If you do so with Windows XP, you'll need to load a driver to enable support for the UDF 2.5 file format HD-DVDs and Blu-Ray discs use.

Laptop Temperatures: What's safe? How do I avoid overheating?

A question oft asked on the Apple Discussion boards (and other online computing forums) is: "My laptop seems really hot on the bottom* - is this safe?" This page will attempt to answer this and many other questions about iBook temperature concerns.

Why is it important to control (to a certain extent) your computer's temperature? Because a computer is like a car: if it's too cold, it won't run, and if it's too hot, it will overheat. As with all physical objects, a computer must obey the laws of physics, and when the temperature is too high or too low, things inside the computer won't work well. The optimal operating temperatures for your specific computer should be listed in the computer's manual.

Temperature Monitoring Software

There are many free software programs to help you monitor your Mac's temperature (whatever model it may be). My favorite is Temperature Monitor (free). Temperature Monitor allows you to see all temperature sensors in windows, the Dock, the menubar, or your Dashboard.

Pro-Life Witness at Democratic Kerry Rally

Seminarians at Kerry RallyOn Friday, October 8, 2004, members of the Kenrick-Glennon Seminary community traveled to the America’s Center to witness to the Pro-Life cause. Wearing sweatshirts that proclaimed ‘Dedicated to the defense of all human life,’ the seminarians attempted to attend the Democratic Watch Party and Rally (at which John Kerry would later be present) and pray for the senator to stand for what he believes as a Catholic.

While in line to go through security scanners, the seminarians were informed that the Democratic Convention Committee would not allow them to enter, as the party was being held in a private, rented venue (the America's Center), and the Party Organizers didn’t think the seminarians had the spirit that was necessary for admittance. (Earlier in the day, security personnel had told the group that they would allow signs).

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