Quarter Life Crisis

The world according to Sven-S. Porst

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Video FAIL

505 words

Gee, I just attract FAIL on all sides. Apple FAIL is the standard of course and my MacBook has its cracked handrest and quite frequent temperature FAILs. But now even my trusty old VCR FAILed.

The bitter irony being that I totally wanted to phase the thing out. I just wanted to copy over a few more remaining videos that I and my parents have with about three tapes to go before I would have voluntary sold (or more likely dumped, who’d buy a VCR these days?) the machine. And that would have been that. I would have been happy with the machine. It always worked well for me (except for the time when I had accidentally activated the child-lock I didn’t even know it had) and its time is over. And now, a mere three tapes before the end of its duty all it gave me was static.

OK, I thought, a case of recording FAIL many years ago. But at the same time the machine made noises that sounded like it creased the tape. Uh-oh! And it didn’t play back the tapes I copied to the computer yesterday. FAIL!

Loosening four screws later I saw that the tape wasn’t properly moved around the ‘head’ in the machine anymore. A more detailed view revealed that a little plastic cogwheel that drives the mechanism moving the tape into position is broken. Of course there’s no reasonable way to get that fixed. And likewise my attempts to manually move the relevant parts to the correct positions just led to more broken creased video tape.

Unfortunately the mechanics in a VCR are quite complicated, clever and have to work with the correct timing when the tape is pulled out and positioned. I didn’t manage to simulate that well enough.

VCR mechanics

Seeing the mechanics in there made me think ‘just imagine Apple built VCRs; the damn thing would have broken ten years ago…’ simply because there are so many possibilities for mechanical failure in there, an iPod or a MacBook seems much simpler.

The next problem was that I want to encode my previously digitised videos to MP4. When going the H.264 route that takes around 9 hours for a single pass encode of 4 hours of video. As my crappy MacBook will simply turn itself off when it feels too hot - my attempts to do this always ended in me finding the machine shut down so far.

I consider this a problem. Not just because it renders the machine mostly useless but also because this hardware FAIL is totally unacceptable with Mac OS X.5, a system which not only lets you do multi-tasking and multi-usering but which also has Spotlight and Time Machine built-in. Two technologies which totally rely on having a good grasp of the file system’s state. And even if no serious harm is done to the file system by a random shutdown, it’s quite a hassle to have the system go through all of it after the restart just to learn the previous state.

August 18, 2008, 0:13

Tagged as fail, vcr, vhs.

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