(updated 11/17/2012)

Tips, news and views, for 02-20-2006...


To email PCN, try cam at concordnorth dot ca...


Topics...

Snopes, animal names, Schulz quiz, password checker, Google Pack, "channel-turners", who's calling, video conversion...


02-20-06...

Video conversion...

VHS tapes can be digitized by using a better video card with input, in a very fast computer. The incoming files will become very large, and may require tedious editing. A one hour tape may take 50 GB of space, meaning 150 GB may be required to manipulate it. After the digitization, the file can be used to create a DVD. Other issues may come up, in that the audio may be extracted apart from the video and sync errors will occur during the process.

An alternative is to send the tapes to a video house that can do the conversion for you.

I used Sight and Sound to convert some 8mm film. They are very reasonable, and will certainly quote the job you have in advance to give you an idea what you are up against.

You may also find consumer devices like a VHS player that has a DVD burner component. I believe Panasonic has such a one, in which you can run a VHS tape and have it burned onto a DVD in real time.

Once you have the DVD copies in hand, make numerous copies. The shelf life of optical media may be up to one hundred years, but no one really knows.

Media hype...

Now, don't be thinking that now that you have digitized all your movies, photos and documents and put them on DVD, that you won't have to do conversions to other storage types in the future. Consider that, while optical media may last up to one hundred years, who's to say that your DVD drive will, or that these files will be recognizable by any computer to come? Of course, it is good that this memorabilia has now been digitized, as that makes the transfer much easier, but it is inevitable that these files will need be transferred again and again, if they are to last generations.

Putting your eggs all in one (very large) basket...

If you are using CDs or DVDs (to store up to 8.5 GB of data on a disk), be sure to make more than one copy, for if there is a failure of the media you may loose a significantly large amount of your work. While it may seem tidy and convenient to hold all your data in one place, this poses an age-old risk. Compared to the potential loss of your time and perhaps of your record of unrepeatable events, a few more dollars in backup media just make good sense. And remember to keep a set or two of copies securely elsewhere, so that a fire or other catastrophic event does not ruin all your copies at one time.

PCN recommends brand name media over no name media, on the supposition that the brand names should have better quality control of their product.


02-20-06...

Who's calling...

Did you know that you can call (your area code)-958-2622 and find out what number you are calling from? This could be quite useful in a place with multiple numbers and poor markings on the phone jacks, or if you are in an alien place and want to receive a call back to an unmarked telephone.


02-20-06...

Channel-turners...

TV commercials can be quite entertaining. I'm sure we all have our favourites, and share many in common. They are like mini-shows, sometimes mini-series, and often contain notable visuals and soundtracks. An example might be the United Airlines commercial that plays like a short cartoon about business travelers. The music may be familiar to you - do you know what the theme is? Rhapsody In Blue, written in 1924 by George Gershwin.

To view some of the better commercials, visit this site. You can view the commercials in Media Player, thought you may need DSL to get the content in reasonable time.

Then there are certain commercials on TV that just plain bother me. Or, more likely, they bother many people. I call these "channel-turners". I might be comfortably watching some show and not actively flipping, but when one of these channel-turners comes on I just turn the channel and may not come back.


02-20-06...

Google Pack...

Google, the current high flyer of the Internet world, is offering something called Google Pack to Windows XP users. Google Pack is an assemblage of free, otherwise-downloadable software that can improve and enhance your PC's abilities.

From the Google Pack web page...

Google Pack is:

Of particular note are : Google Earth, Mozilla Firefox, AdAware Personal, Adobe Reader 7, all available free on an individual basis form other Internet locations.

Of interest are : Google Talk and Trillian - alternatives to Yahoo and MSN instant messaging.

Also included is Norton Anti-virus 2005 Special Edition, with a free six-month subscription. While this may seem attractive at first, it can be expected that renewals will not be free, and PCN's experience since 2004 has been that McAfee Anti-Virus is less trouble to install, use, and uninstall.

To learn more, visit this site...

PCN's advice - stay away from alternative toolbars, screensavers, media players, that simply add clutter to a PC. And avoid having a variety of "organizers" for your pictures and music. It becomes a tug-of-war after awhile, with all these competing software packages vying to help you manage your files. Why not simply learn how to properly use Windows Explorer and organize your files, your way?


02-20-06...

Microsoft password checker...

Are you using strong passwords? Your online accounts, computer files, and personal information are more secure when you use strong passwords to help protect them. A strong password is one that is at least eight characters, includes a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols, and is easy for you to remember but difficult for others to guess.

Check your passwords here...


02-20-06...

Take the Charles Schulz quiz here...


02-20-06...

Who's who, and what's what with animal names...

A herd of cows, a peep of chicks, an ambush of tigers -

Try this site to learn more...


02-20-06...

Snopes.com - rumour has it...

The Internet has facilitated many things, including the passing on of rumours and urban legends. Snopes.com has a comprehensible catalogue of these that make for an interesting read.

Snopes' approach of explaining the likely origins of the modern urban legends gives one insight into our history and unchanging human nature while either confirming or dispelling the story's truth.

Some of the more modern versions include retouched photos, for "seeing is believing" - like this story of a South American camper that was eaten by an anaconda.

At the farewell party thrown after the filming of the final episode Green Acres, did the cast and crew barbeque and eat the porcine actor who played Arnold Ziffel?

Did Marisa Tomei win an Academy Award because presenter Jack Palance announced the wrong name?

Is McDonald's the world's largest purchaser of cow eyeballs?

Find out this and more at snopes.com.


© Products of Concord North Ltd. Home