April 2010 Archives

I was recently asked by several people to recommend digital camcorders. While I've previously recommended tape-based HDV camcorders, I'm now recommending SHDC flash memory based camcorders for most people. Flash memory is now very cheap and so is hard drive space.

I personally use a Canon Vixia HF100 high-def digital camcorder to tape meetings and talks here at school.

CanonHF200.jpgThe current model is the HF200 which is listed at around $750. You also have to budget for a
16 gigabyte SD card ($50~), tripod ($100), and microphone ($50).


If your budget is less, then I think the Canon Vixia FS21 at $400 would be
just fine. You lose high-def but if you're just uploading to the web,
then high-def is overkill. You'd still need to get an 8 gigabyte SD
card, tripod, and mic.


Be sure to buy a good tripod as most cheap tripods have plastic heads that herk-and-jerk when you try to pan or tilt. If you've ever used a good fluid head, it's hard to go back to el-cheapo tripod. Personally, i wouldn't touch a tripod under $300, but I realize that's not in most people's budgets.

The AVC format that these cameras used makes it fairly easy to dump the video to your harddrive and then onto a DVD for archival purposes. AVC isn't terribly great for intensive editing since it's highly compressed, but it's not terrible either with today's fast CPUs.

I'm in an anti-Mac rut these days.

Getting ready to give a fancy presentation to medical types and just realized that Pages has no way to type an italic x with an over bar over it as in arithmetic-mean (x=1.0). The image below is a GIF picture -- you can't write the x on the left hand side of the equation in Pages!



What century are we in!  It turns out that x-bar isn't a standard Unicode glyph and so programs have to support it themselves, which Pages doesn't.

I know Steve Jobs doesn't do math, but is some basic math support too much to ask? I'm not asking for LaTex, but I am asking to not be made to seem absolutely daft.

Alright, so maybe I am a little obsessed with time lapse photos. But still, I think this is pretty cool. It's a cheap but not so cheap ($139.95 on Amazon) waterproof camera that you stick in the ground and leave to gather time lapse photos. Seems there would be a number of uses for something like this, and they do have a sample video of someone using it to make a video out of some people putting up a Habitat for Humanity house.

Via Cool Tools.

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I was trying to access the Department of Labor (USA) in order to get information on employment conditions for people with disabilities and the DOL.gov site requires a password -- even for the top page?

Weird. I ended up getting the data from BLS.gov.

Cornell's ILR school has organized the BLS data in a much more accessible fashion: http://www.ilr.cornell.edu/edi/disabilitystatistics/

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I'm happy to announce that my second film is now available via Amazon and CreateSpace:

A Japanese Funeral

A young man dies unexpectedly at the age of 39. Over the next three days, we witness Japanese funeral rites with a twist - the man and his family are Christian. This short (14 minute) ethnographic film chronicles the events from the moment his body is brought back from the hospital to after it is cremated.

Amazon link: A Japanese Funeral ($19.95)

Unfortunately it's only available as a DVD and not streaming. For some inexplicable reason, Amazon won't stream films that are less than 20 minutes long and my film is 14 minutes. Strange, as I'd think shorts are a natural for streaming?!

I have a website for the film as well: http://www.videoethnography.com/funeral

I've recently been looking at recent statistics issued by the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) regarding Americans with Disabilities employment discrimination cases.

All charges of employment discrimination under the ADA have to be channelled through the EEOC so this data can be considered authoritative. Of course, many claims are settled even before they go to the EEOC so that data is not visible.

The data is available here: http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/statistics/enforcement/ada-charges.cfm


Appalling Figures

In 2009, there were 18,776 charges of employment discrimination under the ADA that were resolved by the EEOC. Of those, 11% were settled and 6.5% were withdrawn with benefits. Not all settlements are positive for plaintiffs, but let's be optimistic and say that 100% were. Of the mere 5.1% of cases that EEOC found reasonable cause, only 2.2% of cases were successful.

So a whopping 11+6.5+2.2 = 19.7% of cases brought before the EEOC had positive outcomes for the plaintiffs.

(The EEOC counts 22.6% as "merit resolutions," but I'm unsure how they get their data since the missing 3.1% would likely be the 3.0% of unsuccessful "reasonable cause" claims).

Or put another way, 80.3% were found for the defendants, the employers.

Put another way, only 5.1% of cases were found to have reasonable cause to go to court and the EEOC won just less than half of these, resulting in only 2.2% of cases there were actually "won" by the EEOC in litigation.

Put another way, it sucks to be disabled in the United States.

What about the big bucks won by "professional litigants?" The EEOC shows that $67.8 million in benefits were won in 2009. With a total of 2065 + 1217 + 408 = 3690 people settling or winning benefits, that's an average of just over $18,000 each.

Not enough to pay your lawyer, or even six months of wages.

Like I said, it sucks to be disabled in the United States.

Or put another way, it is great to be an employer in the United States. Plenty of workforce flexibility.

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