Friday, November 02, 2007

DVD Burn


There may be millions of them out there... hundreds of millions... just waiting to fade away. I have a few dozen, so I'm taking steps to save them before they are gone. I'm talking about those old VHS tapes. My oldest is from 1983.

Back then I had a camera about the size of the professional packs you see on the sidelines of football games. It weighed about the same as a baby and was just as fussy. The pictures it took were impressive on a 19" TV then, but not much to speak of now.
I ordered a neat little device through Dell for about $80, including shipping and taxes, that converts the analog signals from the tape player [I still have one that works... though I discovered the other one wouldn't even turn on anymore].
Just play the tape with the output cable hooked to a box 3" x 5" and the output from that hooked up to the USB port on my computer. Start the software included with the device and record the videotape as a MPEG2 file ready for use in a DVD.
That's the easy part.

The device also included some software for creating DVDs with titles and effects and text and transitions and editing out uninteresting stuff.
I installed that and tried it with the first tape file I had converted. It was a bit slow loading the file and didn't seem to like switching from one editing feature to another... often simply causing "this program is not responding" messages from Windows Vista.

I uninstalled and reinstalled the program and after a ridiculous number of tries, finally got an edited "project" completed. At about 3 pm I gave it the command to "produce" the DVD.

This morning at 8 am, I checked my computer for the new DVD, but there was just this little progress window that showed 0% complete. You'd think with a new dual core Intel 2 ghz processor and 2 gb of memory with lots of gb of hard drive space that this would be a snap to process... 0% complete.
I'm waiting to hear back from tech support, but it will probably be from India and a person with an accent so thick that you need a dozen audio filters to get a clear signal.

Meanwhile, I went back to the original tape and the recorded individual segments that I had tried to edit from the first file through the less-than-capable software. After creating the files, I renamed them so that I knew what the contents were [the conversion software assigns incomprehensible codes as names] and then loaded them into Windows DVD Maker. At this point, the burning process is about 43% complete... but at least it is working.
You can say a lot of things about Microsoft, but at least their products work. Maybe they don't offer all of the features that the software which doesn't work offers... but it works.
I guess I got what I paid for... an analog to digital device that cost $80 and works... and a DVD editing software for free that is worthless.


I could have saved myself some additional grief by running through the list of programs loaded on my computer.
I found that not only was the Windows DVD Maker software loaded, but its companion program, Windows Movie Maker, which from what I can see, pretty much does what the other software that either didn't work or didn't work well, only does it faster and better.

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There is always an easy solution to every human problem—neat, plausible, and wrong.
Henry Louis Mencken (1880–1956)
“The Divine Afflatus,” A Mencken Chrestomathy, chapter 25, p. 443 (1949)
... and one could add "not all human problems really are."
It was beautiful and simple, as truly great swindles are.
- O. Henry
... The Government is on course for an embarrassing showdown with the European Union, business groups and environmental charities after refusing to guarantee that billions of pounds of revenue it stands to earn from carbon-permit trading will be spent on combating climate change.
The Independent (UK)

Tracking Interest Rates

Tracking Interest Rates


SEARCH BLOG: FEDERAL RESERVE for full versions... or use the Blog Archive pulldown menu.

February 3, 2006
Go back to 1999-2000 and see what the Fed did. They are following the same pattern for 2005-06. If it ain't broke, the Fed will fix it... and good!
August 29, 2006 The Federal Reserve always acts on old information... and is the only cause of U.S. recessions.
December 5, 2006 Last spring I wrote about what I saw to be a sharp downturn in the economy in the "rustbelt" states, particularly Michigan.
March 28, 2007
The Federal Reserve sees no need to cut interest rates in the light of adverse recent economic data, Ben Bernanke said on Wednesday.
The Fed chairman said ”to date, the incoming data have supported the view that the current stance of policy is likely to foster sustainable economic growth and a gradual ebbing in core inflation”.

July 21, 2007 My guess is that if there is an interest rate change, a cut is more likely than an increase. The key variables to be watching at this point are real estate prices and the inventory of unsold homes.
August 11, 2007 I suspect that within 6 months the Federal Reserve will be forced to lower interest rates before housing becomes a black hole.
September 11, 2007 It only means that the overall process has flaws guaranteeing it will be slow in responding to changes in the economy... and tend to over-react as a result.
September 18, 2007 I think a 4% rate is really what is needed to turn the economy back on the right course. The rate may not get there, but more cuts will be needed with employment rates down and foreclosure rates up.
October 25, 2007 How long will it be before I will be able to write: "The Federal Reserve lowered its lending rate to 4% in response to the collapse of the U.S. housing market and massive numbers of foreclosures that threaten the banking and mortgage sectors."
"Should the elevated turbulence persist, it would increase the possibility of further tightening in financial conditions for households and businesses," he said.

"Uncertainties about the economic outlook are unusually high right now," he said. "These uncertainties require flexible and pragmatic policymaking -- nimble is the adjective I used a few weeks ago."

December 11, 2007 Somehow the Fed misses the obvious.
[Image from:]
December 13, 2007 [from The Christian Science Monitor]
"The odds of a recession are now above 50 percent," says Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's "We are right on the edge of a recession in part because of the Fed's reluctance to reduce interest rates more aggressively." [see my comments of September 11]
January 7, 2008 The real problem now is that consumers can't rescue the economy and manufacturing, which is already weakening, will continue to weaken. We've gutted the forces that could avoid a downturn. The question is not whether there will be a recession, but can it be dampened sufficiently so that it is very short.
January 11, 2008 This is death by a thousand cuts.
January 13, 2008 [N.Y. Times]
“The question is not whether we will have a recession, but how deep and prolonged it will be,” said David Rosenberg, the chief North American economist at Merrill Lynch. “Even if the Fed’s moves are going to work, it will not show up until the later part of 2008 or 2009.
January 17, 2008 A few days ago, Anna Schwartz, nonagenarian economist, implicated the Federal Reserve as the cause of the present lending crisis [from the Telegraph - UK]:
The high priestess of US monetarism - a revered figure at the Fed - says the central bank is itself the chief cause of the credit bubble, and now seems stunned as the consequences of its own actions engulf the financial system. "The new group at the Fed is not equal to the problem that faces it," she says, daring to utter a thought that fellow critics mostly utter sotto voce.
January 22, 2008 The cut has become infected and a limb is in danger. Ben Bernanke is panicking and the Fed has its emergency triage team cutting rates... this time by 3/4%. ...

What should the Federal Reserve do now? Step back... and don't be so anxious to raise rates at the first sign of economic improvement.
Individuals and businesses need stability in their financial cost structures so that they can plan effectively and keep their ships afloat. Wildly fluctuating rates... regardless of what the absolute levels are... create problems. Either too much spending or too much fear. It's just not that difficult to comprehend. Why has it been so difficult for the Fed?

About Me

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Michigan, United States
Air Force (SAC) captain 1968-72. Retired after 35 years of business and logistical planning, including running a small business. Two sons with advanced degrees; one with a business and pre-law degree. Beautiful wife who has put up with me for 4 decades. Education: B.A. (Sociology major; minors in philosopy, English literature, and German) M.S. Operations Management (like a mixture of an MBA with logistical planning)