Sunday, August 23, 2015

Everyone's doing it?

A few months ago, I made a post regarding the use of Google's Chromecast and how lousy it is.

To refresh the mind, I'll make some points about it:

  • HDMI fob that plugs right in to a flat screen TV (providing you have an updated screen).
  • Must have Google Chrome as an internet browser if you intend on "mirroring" what you see on your tablet, smartphone or computer and watching something from Youtube on a bigger monitor.
  • If you do not have Chrome, you can download the Chromecast app, but it's buggy. You also have to download every other app in the world when you want to watch a movie or stream a TV show (Enter the likes of HBOGO, Netflix and Hulu [plus] here).. regardless of how you're using it.
  • Where it becomes buggy:
    1. On "older" computer models (we're talking 2 year old computers here), by using the Chrome browser as your stream, it buffers every few minutes.
    2. Using the Cast app on a smart device, you have to jump through some hoops to validate any other app you intend on using (ie you have to sign in with your Internet Service Provider if you want to watch something on HBO - these "premium" station apps need a valid cable subscription).  

Saturday, August 8, 2015

A general (and societal) "we"

I realized yesterday how "we", as a technological field and general society, are screwed with our machines. Sure, it's a fact that electronics are upgraded every six months and there's always something new, but for the people who have been using the original machine, there's not a lot that can be done.

Case in point:

A customer came into my work yesterday with a shoe box full of old 8mm video tapes to transfer to DVD (as well as DVC tapes). The actual 8mm camcorder is hard to find these days, unless you want to buy it used. The "new" option goes for over $550, while the "used" is selling for less than $200. It's like eBay, in a way, since you're getting the video camera at a "previously loved" discount. By comparison, the miniDV camcorders are being sold as used, right out of the gate. The price for these recorders are ranging below $400, although, I saw one that's being promoted as close to $600. Such a price difference, and yet, they're becoming obsolete (thanks to the "new and improved" memory stick / internal hard drive video cameras).

Plus, what are you going to do with the camera, now that you bought it? Hook it up to the VCR you no longer own, and transfer it yourself? What's going to happen once you get it to tape? Maybe you were one of the lucky ones who decided to stay on the up and up and get a VCR and DVD combo. But even still; new TVs are becoming smarter than the user. The ports are limited to what you can hook up, as most people are getting away from clunky machines (although some players these days have HDMI ports instead of using the red/yellow/white RCA cable).

The other option, once you buy that used camera, is to have a computer with an optical drive / burning drive (good luck finding a laptop with a disc drive lately). Invest in video editing software (some probably won't come with a USB video capture device, so you'll need to buy that separately too), learn how to use import your kid's school play, and then edit it. Now what? What to put it to DVD? How about putting it on your social network page? There are different options for that as well (all fairly easy once you get the hang of it).

If all fails, you can always look in to a straight DVD Recorder, but even then, they're falling by the wayside. Fifteen years ago, these things used to be the hip new gadgets. I have owned plenty of them, as sometimes you just need an update or end up giving it to someone and they destroy it (thanks a lot, friend!). I like these recorders because they can not only record old home movies, but they double as a standard DVD player. Best of all the worlds. That, and you hook it up to your cable box, you can use it as a DVR (providing you want to use DVDs. Otherwise, I know those hard disc drive recorders are still around and some of the new ones can probably hook right in to your computer if you want to transfer them yourself and make your own DVDs). I'm still using a Sony recorder, although it's "so old" that it's being sold as used. Things happen, but it's still a decent machine (and the comments about taping from premium channels are true, although I've found that when we're paying for the services, I can record the show, When we are getting the "3 month free" service, I can't).

Anyway, to go back to the customer:

When I explained to him that his 27 tapes were going to be over $600, he decided he didn't want to do all of them. Let me point out, he has a government job, so it's not like he's flipping burgers. He just said he couldn't afford that price in one fell swoop. If we were to combine any, sure, it would probably knock a hundred dollars off the total price, but it's still not a warranted amount.

I can completely understand that, as I've been in his situation with other stores. However, when the opportunity arises, to use the vast internet as your buying resource, why not look for something more feasible? Okay, fine; buying used is not everyone's cup of tea. But if you can spend $500 on the electronics for home use, and still be able to use one of them for some form of indefinite use (i.e. the DVD recorders), why not spend it?

I digress; we ended up agreeing that I would transfer $350 worth of video, which is 15 tapes. Once he gets more money saved, he'd do the other 12. I have no problem with that. I just feel like it'd be a better business venture had he looked into buying for home use (or at least let me attempt to sway him with proper examples).

I think it also becomes more of an issue for those people bringing in shoe boxes and saying they want to start on these, and once these are done and they save up more money, another shoe box will be brought. The cycle will continue until all 100 tapes are done. My question is, why spend up to $400 each time you bring in your old tapes, when you can just invest in something to do it at home? Sure, it keeps me in a job and keeps me getting paid, but there have been times I've researched (and researched, and researched some more) things before giving in and paying a (high) price in a retail store. We are in the age of better technology and before everything goes completely tits up, you might as well jump on the end of that bandwagon.

If you're afraid of the technology or feel you don't have time to sit and waste learning something or feel your time isn't as valuable, then I think you need to reevaluate your life. Some of these people are the same humans that spend a lump sum on what I feel is "unnecessary crap" and don't bat an eye. The people who have to get their hair colored every X amount of weeks, gel nails put on their fingers, buy (or lease) the $50,000 car... the list goes on, and yet, they don't want to spend the money to transfer their video tapes.

Everyone wants their items N O W! and now wait around for it. I think that's part of the downfall of our society and generations to come. We've all been too accustomed to getting what we want, at such an immediate rate, that two hours is 118 minutes too long. It's all in the nature of the beast, and from the way things are going these days, it's just going to get worse. Like my previous post, the only thing I can suggest, is to do your research before jumping in to anything.


Saturday, August 1, 2015

Do some research?

I've mentioned previously in other posts that my job is to transfer video work. One of the things we also offer is the transfer of audio to CD. It's a good service, but in today's technological day and age, the way we go about it is pure laziness.

My boss owns a Teac LP-R550USB CD Recorder with Cassette Turntable. It's a great little invention, allowing any user to be able to transfer their old cassette tapes or vinyl records to CD. All you need is to get a some blank CD-Rs, all your old music, and can start recording. It's the new way to make mix tapes, or at least get all the old songs out of the attic and have the ability to replay them.

It all sounds easy enough to use. Insert the blank CD into the CD tray, put your record or cassette tape in the proper places, press play for the song to start and record to start the recording. There's a stop and pause button as well for the recording, so you can decide what you want to include. If you're really into it, you're going to want to make sure each track is separate.... or at least that's what I would want.