Turning #VHS Digital

I was embarking on a project to bridge the analog and digital tonight. I had an old souvenir program from Epcot in VHS format from the mid-1980s that I wanted to share with my class. I remember getting the video during my first visit to Epcot. This was when the majority of gift shops were lined with yellow Kodak film and the FastPass did not exist, but the place was still magical.

The problem is that very few classrooms even have VHS tape decks anymore. So, it was time to bring out some equipment from the archives. I still keep a VHS player in the basement for important times like these. I fully believe that you should keep a player on hand for every different type of media you keep in your house. I still have a cassette tape deck and an actual CD player (you never know, right?). I had purchased a Pinnacle Dazzle DVC100 several years ago so I could convert VHS to DVD. The problem with this old model is that it was designed for Windows XP along with the infamous Windows Vista. I wasn’t about to go buy a new version. Getting it up and running in Windows 8.1 proved to be impossible, but I was able to get it going using Windows 7 along with an updated driver and version of Pinnacle DVD Recorder from their website.

After all the software was up-to-date, it was as simple as running the composite video and audio cables from the VCR out through the Pinnacle Dazzle and into the laptop via USB. Using the Pinnacle DVD Recorder is a pretty straightforward, wizard-driven process. Don’t expect the world’s best video or audio quality when you get done. Expect VHS quality. That’s roughly what you’ll get once you run through the conversion process.

My Pinnacle Dazzle DVC100 purchase from last decade included a copy of Pinnacle Studio 12, which is about 4 versions behind. This, naturally, was not compatible with Windows 8.1 or Windows 7 for that matter. This wasn’t a really big deal as there is an abundance of video editing software on the market today. Pinnacle recorded in .VOB file-format, which was recognizable by Windows Movie Maker. Because it was already on my laptop, I used it to merge two files together (Pinnacle Recorder maxes out at 1GB filesize), crop off the dead space at the beginning and end, and then export to .MP4 file format.

I look forward to sharing this nostalgic video with class next week!

When the Solution is Silly: #CalendarSync #iOS #Google

I was scheduling some appointments yesterday afternoon in Google Calendar on my laptop when I was presented with a dialog box to upgrade my account so that Google Calendar better interfaced with Gmail. It sounded like a good idea, so I naively clicked “YES”. Because my life seems to move in the direction my iPhone tells me, I was scheduling yet another meeting later that day when my heart fluttered. All of my appointments had disappeared!! After a brief panic, I went back to my laptop to find that they still existed through the Google Calendar web browser interface. I felt a little better, but not entirely. Maybe this was the excuse I needed to upgrade to an iPhone 6 from my grubby old 4s. Maybe my phone was trying to tell me something? Well, it wasn’t working on my iPad either. Although Christmas is around the corner, I didn’t want to spoil myself without enough cash to spoil others. More realistically, that little Google Calendar upgrade broke my calendar sync.

This morning, I was determined to fix this issue. My troubleshooting steps, in order:

  1. Double check Google Calendar settings online to make sure my calendar was enabled.
  2. Double check calendar settings on my iPhone to make sure my calendar was enabled.
  3. Google for others who have had this problem.
  4. Find several sources that indicate that Google doesn’t support Exchange connectors anymore for mail, calendar, contacts on iOS devices, including Google Help and Apple Help.
  5. Deleted Gmail account on iPad.
  6. Recreated Gmail account on iPad using Google connector.
  7. Made sure mail, calendar, and contacts were enabled.
  8. No calendar events (boo).
  9. Tried setting up calDAV connector for Google Calendar. No luck.
  10. Disabled calendars, enabled calendars
  11. Turned off wi-fi, turned on wi-fi
  12. Rebooted the device

I’m now getting frustrated. I’ve followed directions and done what I believe to be sound steps in resolving this issue. More Googling left me with a few folks indicating that switching from wi-fi to 3G fixed the problem. This made no sense at all to me, but I gave it a shot. I fired up my phone as a personal Hot Spot, connected my iPad, and opened up the calendar app. The heavens opened up and rainbows of calendar events started showering my iPad like confetti. I’m thrilled this fixed the problem, but this is a solution that makes absolutely no sense. Where is the correlation between network connection and syncing calendar events? If this is a caching issue, then there should be a “clear cache” button someplace.

I’m still boggled this nonsensical solution. They’ve happened to me before and I know they will happen to me again. Start by troubleshooting the easy stuff first, corroborate your Google searching with several sources before attempting solutions, mitigate risk by knowing what’s at stake by performing certain actions, and if all else fails, try that one thing that worked for that one person. Sometimes, the random stuff works and you get lucky. The bad part now is that all those meetings show up on my iPad and iPhone. I guess I don’t have an excuse for missing them now 🙂