Archive for October, 2009

Help with Which Video Media (Dead Camcorder)

Help with Which Video Media (Dead Camcorder)

About five or so years ago we bought a Mini-DV digital camcorder.  About a month or so ago it died (accompanied by that characteristic smell of electronics burning).  I’m now left with 3 or so hours of MiniDV tape which I have not uploaded to computer and many more hours of archival tape which I can’t access (although for these I do have a virtual backup).

Now, given that these are family videos I have an interest in being able to access them in the future.

My immediate problem was the 3 hours of tapes which I currently can’t read.  I initially thought about buying another MiniDV camcorder – but they are now very hard to come by (unless you want to buy a high definition device, and, in that case, they seem to be the preferred option).  I then thought I should ask around to try to borrow one for a weekend, upload those three tapes and then return them.  However now I am coming back around to the idea that, as family video, the expected lifetime of these videos ought to be measured in decades (millennia if they become valuable historical records!).  Therefore it would be better to have a mini dv camcorder to access the original tapes rather than borrow one.

This implicitly assumes that magnetic tape will have greater longevity than a hard disk or flash disk.  Is that a fair assumption? (my experience with recorded CDs is not good for backups about 5 years old)

Moreover, hard disk and flash disk camcorders all seem to use lossy encoding to store the videos, so I’m a bit leery of using them.  Finally, I think I need to anticipate that my children/grandchildren may have super high definition playback devices so maybe I should be investing in a high definition MiniDV camcorder now.   That would at least solve my problem of recovery of the last 3 hours of tape, and recovery of archives in the future, but would also be quite expensive.  I need to find an answer promptly if I want to record Christmas this year.

Has anyone else tackled these problems?
[update (8 Nov 09)]:  Charles reports Mini DV has better image quality than the other options.  Googling around on the web gives me MTBF rates for hard drives at 3-5 years (!!) (apparently this is made up of a small number of drives that fail very early, and a larger number that last much longer), Mini DV at a couple of decades (if it’s fast forwarded+rewound every 6 months/12 months), DVD at 100 years – although I think they’re kidding themselves, I would give DVD, esp. home burnt DVD,  less than 7 years. While people comment on Mini DV failing on multiple recording on the same medium, my usage mode is to record once per medium.

Peer to Peer … Lending (?!)

Peer to Peer … Lending (?!)

Serendipity led me to some sites today which deal with (the, to my mind boggling in its possibilities, idea of) peer to peer lending.   The concept seems to be, rather than give your money to a bank, who gives it to someone else and makes a profit, returning a little bit to you, a p2p lending site matches you up with someone who you give your money to, giving you the profit, returning a little bit to the lending site.  This means that you are taking on more risk, and also sharing more in the rewards.  On the borrowers’ side, it can mean access to capital at a reduced rate, or on more favourable terms (eg if you have a reputation for being a good payer/some other good reason to receive the money, but would be ruled out by a banks’ bureaucracy).

Are banks the next music industry?

Windows invents encryption – Oh please

Windows invents encryption – Oh please

Apparently according to the SMH:

“Queensland police fear criminals will use high-tech encryption software on Microsoft’s new Windows 7 to bury pornographic images and files deep within computer networks.” [emph (hyperlink) in original]

I won’t hyperlink this but the address is  And, by the way, the article conveniently hyperlinks the underlined section to an article on Windows 7 launching:

Clearly, lack of Windows 7 hasn’t stopped ‘criminals’ from evading police to date (as the article explains in paragraphs 2 and 3).  A Microsoft representative is quoted to the effect that bitlocker really truly is unbreakable… – but it has never hampered law enforcement… –  but it doesn’t contain a backdoor.

The ‘news’ item then ends with a paragraph outlining Windows 7’s new features (wtf???)

So, I’m inclined to call baloney on it.  Fair call?  What do you think?

Joining the list of KDE4 Haters

Joining the list of KDE4 Haters

Have just spent way too long trying to get icons onto the panel which, when clicked, launch a video player in a specific directory.  Why does it have to be this hard?

PS: and having just done it, one of the icons reset itself for no apparent reason.

PPS: Apparently it’s easy – right click from the start menu for a submenu.  Drag and drop works only intermittently.

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