A week and five days away.

My LaptopA week and five days from now I should be on a bus half way to Winter Park. If you ever read my journal, you already know this. So yesterday concluded my heavy weight training. From here, it’s low-weight/high-reps, lotsa cardio, and a slightly better diet.

My body isn’t the only thing I want to work on before I go. I intend to bring my laptop so I can clear the photos and movies off of my camera each day. The problem is that my laptop’s card reader isn’t currently working. I have a Dell Inspiron 630m with an integrated card reader running Ubuntu 6.10 aka Edgy Eft. What the hell is an Eft? Anyway, the Linux kernel that comes with 6.10 is 2.6.17. The kernel that supports my card reader hardware is 2.6.18. So, to get my card reader working, I have to do something I’ve never done (by myself) before: compile a new kernel. I’m nervous as I really don’t want to blow my laptop up. I *could* just use my external card reader… however, it irks me to have hardware on my laptop that I can’t use. Can we get three cheers for open source software? Still, it beats Windows XP any day of the week.

I’ve also been making the last of my purchases. Today I snagged a Demon Wheelie Bag for $60. I really have no idea what the quality of the bag is. Most wheelie bags I’ve found start at $100 and quickly run up to over $200. I barely missed a $150 bag for $50 on craig’s list recently (arg). Anyway, here’s hoping the Demon bag is good for the money.

I also took some time to try on helmets. I’m glad I went shopping instead of getting on online. I tried on a dozen helmets, easily. I found two that fit well enough to consider buying, and only one that I really liked. The best fit for my head was the Giro G10. (I would link you directly to the helmet on their site, but like so many companies, Giro doesn’t realize that using pure flash prevents people like me from promoting their products with a direct url link… less dumb please!). The helmet runs just over $100 (about $110). The built in headphones were another $30. That puts me at about $150 for a really nice setup. I was hoping for $15. Still, if I damage my head, it will probably cost more than $150 to patch it back up. I’m just having a hard time putting the money out. For this trip, I might just borrow a crappy helmet from a friend.

ZR700 w/my picAnd this brings me to my last purchase consideration. I would like to get a hand-held video camera. I’m on a tight budget. I think that a good zoom will be a pretty important feature. Given that the slopes are usually white, I don’t think I need to worry about low light quality. I originally thought I wanted a mini-DV cam. With all this in mind, I was originally completely sold on the JVC GR-D650. For less than $350, I can get 25x zoom and a pretty sharp picture. Then, for a comparable feature set, and slightly less money, the JVC was pushed aside for a Cannon ZR700. I still get the 25x zoom, but for less than $300. (By the way, if you’re reading this and you’re looking for a comparable camera with better low light, check out the Cannon Elura 100). However, all this research was focused on a miniDV cam. I’ve recently considered checking into other media and ended up reading this:

Given their ease of use and the fact that they potentially eliminate the need for media, it’s a wonder that hard-drive-based camcorders still haven’t replaced DVD-based camcorders in the post-MiniDV world. After all, a camcorder the likes of Sony’s Handycam DCR-SR40 can store as much as 440 minutes of MPEG-2 video in its highest-quality setting on its built-in 30GB hard drive. Dropping to the lowest-quality option bumps that up to 1,250 minutes.

The upshot is that the video is ready to move to my computer with ease. I imagine that this would save me a lot of time. I have no idea what kind of software tools have improved the miniDV to digital video file process, but the last time I did it required recording the digital video file real time. That’s no fun.

The downside is that the low end camera runs a couple of hundred dollars more. There’s also the fact that the camera has a hard drive. I don’t know if this is an issue or not. Hard drives traditionally don’t like being bumped hard, and this might happen if I wipe out while I have the camera with me. However, iPods also have hard drives, and snowboarders love them. In fact, I’ve never heard of an iPod’s hard drive being damaged when someone fell with it. (Does this happen???)

Anyway, if anyone has a camcorder recommendation, please let me know. I’ve got a week and five days to decide if I’m gonna spend the money.