In my spare time I volunteer as a digital literacy trainer in our local library. Recently I put together a training wiki that featured a number of YouTube videos on a variety of topics including word processing. I could not find exactly what I wanted to introduce my students to LibreOffice so I decided I would create my own. I considered a number of options for doing that but finally setttled on “Simple Screen Recorder” which is an open source software released on the GPL3 license. I liked it because unlike the other programs I had considered it had a very simple interface but produced high quality video files which I could easily upload to YouTube and then share in my wiki. “SimpleScreenRecorder” allows a user to capture the whole screen or just a self selected rectangle. Files can be saved as Matroska, Ogg, WebM and MP4.
I liked “SimpleScreenRecorder” because it was so easy to use and it provided exactly what I was looking for. I have used other proprietary screen capture programs which cost a hundred dollars and more while not providing a more intuitive interface. “Simple Screen Recorder” has a number of features that I liked including: graphical interface; the ability to record an entire screen or just a portion of it; synchronization of audio and video; pause and resume and the use of hot-keys for starting and ending recordings.
I installed it using instructions provided on their website. They provide instructions for Linux Mint, Ubuntu, Slackware, OpenSuse and others. I also found RPMs that allow it to be installed on Fedora. Once installed the user opens a terminal and enters “simplescreenrecorder” on the command line and the program starts. After a welcome screen the user is presented with some very simple choices about area to be recorded. I chose a rectangle and could easily select it with a “cross-hair” type selection tool. At the next screen I was presented with choices of the name of my recorded file along with the format. I chose MP4 for video and MP3 for audio and then I began my recording. The source code for Simple Screen Recorder can be found at, https://github.com/MaartenBaert/ssr.
Here is a short YouTube video I created with “Simple Screen Recorder” to demonstrate how easy the program is to use. You can report bugs and submit feature requests on GitHub: https://github.com/MaartenBaert/ssr/issues or if you don’t have a GitHub account you can send requests directly to Maarten Baert via email.
In a couple of hours I’ll be driving to Mt. Irenaeus. It’s become a second home for me in the past fifteen years. Today they are celebrating their thirtieth anniversary. I’ve only been involved there for fifteen of those years. Nonetheless, there will be many familiar faces from all over the area and from all over the United States and maybe some other countries too. The Mountain as most of us refer to it is one of those unique places where the spirit of God transcends everything. It’s peaceful and though there is a chapel it’s not “church” in the traditional sense of the word. It’s really community and everyone involved there is a member of the community. Though its roots are Roman Catholic and Franciscan and their mission statement proclaims that they are “Joining with Jesus Christ in Making All Things New,” they welcome everyone regardless of faith or not.
All who participate in the mission of the Mountain join with Jesus Christ in “making all things new” by creating and nourishing a community that transcends a particular place, opening to all peoples, ages and cultures.
Today I’ll be actively involved in that transcendence as we celebrate thirty years of life and ministry at the Mountain.
It’s been two years since I retired or almost that long and in that space of time I’ve found time to do as much or more than I ever did before. Since January I have been writing for Opensource.com and today I found out that two of my interviews made it to the top ten interviews on the site for the first six months of the year. That’s gratifying but also humbling too. I remember praying a few years ago about finding a job where I could research and write and that is exactly what I am doing. Add to that I am part of a much larger whole. I am part of a team of selfless souls who make the community of moderators and content managers at Opensource.com.
In addition to my recent work with Opensource.com I’ve found lots of other ways to give back to the community. I’ve recently become involved in a local food pantry which is operated by Catholic Charities of Buffalo. The patrons come from around the Franklinville area and it too is an answered prayer although one of a more recent nature. My prayer life has deepened and I’m more relaxed most of the time than I ever have been. The open source community of which I am a part invites the humanitarian, compassionate and contemplative within me and I see it’s application everywhere. Recently I was given a chance to refurbish two ten year old computers and I installed Lubuntu, which is a version of Ubuntu Linux on them. Yesterday I was thinking that there might be an opportunity to help some lower income members of the community with these two older computers. Exactly how they might be deployed I’m not sure yet but there is an opportunity to give back in yet another way.
I’m grateful for each day. Peace.
What is a Bar Camp? That’s what I wanted to know a week ago. Lots of reading about them but no experience. That changed about 11:00 am yesterday morning as I sat in Room 1400 at The Golisano Computer Center at Rochester Institute of Technology. I saw first hand why this is an unconference because prior to 11:10 am there was no schedule for the day. Instead on a wall in a hallway was a list of rooms and time slots from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm with an hour for lunch. I came expecting to be surrounded by geeks and I was. But, I was also surrounded by a lot of other free thinkers who came to present on a myriad of topics including “How not to talk to an atheist.” That was the last talk I attended. The first talk I listened to was a guy who talked about how to live with perfectionism and how to recover from it. Along the way there was a presentation on Open Maps and my own presentation about my experience writing for Opensource.com and how I found a way to give back to the open source community. I want to thank the organizers of BarCampRoc. I know I’ll be back and encourage others to consider BarCamps and EdCamps. There is an EdCamp coming to Central New York this summer. Follow this link to more information about EdCampCNY.
Yesterday I received word that Fr. Robert Struzynski, OFM had been greeted by Sister Death at 5:00 am. I knew it was a matter of time since Fr. Bob had been taken off life support because he had suffered a brain hemorrhage and was unresponsive. Nonetheless, even when it is expected the departure of a friend is marked by sadness. As I thought of Fr. Bob during the days leading up to his death I remembered our first meeting on the “Peace Path” at Mt. Irenaeus. We were both taking a meditative walk in the woods and though we didn’t speak there was a silent greeting that passed between us. Later at lunch we met more formally and shared a meal together. The next time we met when I was a guest at St. Patrick’s Friary in Buffalo, New York. Then in 2005 Fr. Bob came to Mt. Irenaeus and it was from that point until now that our friendship grew. One of my many memories of him was at a Sunday brunch following one of his homilies. I told him how meaningful his message was to me that day. I don’t remember the exact content nor context but I do remember the quote from Karl Rahner that he shared, “The Christian of the future will be a mystic or will not exist at all.” That quote continues to resonate with me.
In 2006 I became minister of the St. Irenaeus Fraternity of the Secular Franciscan Order and Fr. Bob shared his vision that involved a more active involvement between Secular Franciscans and the students of St. Bonaventure University. We continued our conversation on this topic and we both thought of how this could be effected. In the spring of 2009 when I was on my way up the hill to Mass at Holy Peace Chapel I told Fr. Bob that I was thinking of retiring. He told me, “The provincial said I can’t retire until I’m seventy-five.” That brief statement invited me to rethink my decision. Then in August 2009 I became a St. Bonaventure University graduate student. We continued to discuss many other topics including Fr. Bob’s very active involvement with the Cephas Ministry and how he was sharing that ministry with St. Bonaventure University students.
In May 2011 I graduated from St. Bonaventure University and as I entered and processed through the Reilly Center I was greeted by Fr. Bob and the other professors each in their doctoral robes. That was a very moving experience. We had many occasions to share in the time that followed. After the Easter Vigil service this year while we were sharing coffee and treats at the House of Peace at Mt. Irenaeus Fr. Bob told me how much he enjoyed what I shared and that he was leaving Mt. Irenaeus. He was going to St. Anthony’s Friary in Butler, New Jersey. I thanked him and told him that I would miss him very much. He sent me a card with his address and asked that we remain in touch and then he left in early June. Nearly four months elapsed and finally in mid-October I wrote him. I told him that I had retired but that I was spending my time volunteering at a number of places including the Warming House. He wrote back and I’m very grateful that I saved the letter. It’s priceless now! Rest in peace Fr. Bob! Your spirit lives on within us all.
Since September I have been volunteering at least one day a week at St. Bonaventure University’s Warming House. My friend Br. Kevin Kriso, OFM recommended it as an activity I might like as I transitioned into retirement. Unsure of myself at first in the new surroundings and lacking confidence in my culinary skills I decided that I could best help by washing dishes. Dinner for twenty to thirty people provides along with the cooking pots and utensils to feed them provides enough to keep one busy in the dishwater. The young ladies who serve as Meal Coordinators invited me to make desserts. At first I was hesitant even though I used to bake with my Grandmother when I was a child. No-bake cheesecake, muffins, apple sauce bread, apple crisp and more have made me more confident in the kitchen. Yesterday, Arielle suggested that I could make pumpkin cake and provided me with a list of the ingredients. Two cups of margarine melted, four cups of flour, three and half cups of sugar, four eggs and more along with plenty of stirring resulted in a delicious dessert. Arielle’s delicious turkey soup and fresh chocolate pudding made for an appetizing meal.
The Warming House is the oldest student run soup kitchen in the United States. Meals served there surpass anything I have seen or tasted in other such kitchens. The patrons who come each day bring forth the best in all of us. I am impressed with the cooking skills of the coordinators too. Each day they put together a tasty meal from what they find on the shelves of the storeroom and cooler. But, the Warming House is more than food. It is an community of people, young and old who come together for the common good. It is at its heart very Franciscan and emblematic of the Incarnation itself. It is tangible evidence of the goodness that resides in the hearts of all creation. Those who serve are served by those who come to eat. I am grateful to be a participant in this wonderful experience of love.