Another one bites the dust

As I mentioned earlier, I’m working on a big project to put all my old home video tapes on DVD. I have, at last count, 162 tapes to watch and catalog. On the 145th tape, my trusty old Magnavox VCR I’ve had since high school grabbed a tape, shredded a portion of it, wouldn’t eject, and died. Ok, that’s alright. I have my parent’s nice VCR, which I intended to use for capturing the tapes since it was better anyway, sitting on my desk. Last night, when trying to insert the 157th tape, VCR #2 goes beserk, getting caught in a loop consisting of load tape, fast forward, rewind, eject halfway, repeat. Taking it apart I saw no obvious failures (broken springs, slipped belts, etc.)

I still have to capture all of these tapes (probably 75% of which are VHS). So, it’s the almost the year 2006, and I have to buy another VCR… I never thought I’d do that again. Good news is they’re way cheaper than they used to be.

He’s mobile!

Well, officially anyway… Evan has come up with a variation on an Army-crawl that can move him from place to place, though not very efficiently. Laying on his belly, he pulls himself forward in two inch increments with his left elbow and right hand, while his feet flail away as if he were swimming. I tried out his technique, thinking he may be on to something, but after one trip across the living room I was wiped out. It’s remarkable how long he’ll stick with it though, and its easy to see how much less frustrated he is now that relocation doesn’t necessarily require help from Mom or Dad. It’ll be interesting to watch as he develops his methods in the weeks to come. It’s a good thing we’ve been going to the gym, because we’re going to need to be in shape to keep up with him before too long!

Rose Hosting customer service

I knew it would only be a matter of time before a product or company would upset me, forcing me to write about the experience here. I plan to write about things I recommend as well, so fair is fair.

Three months ago I tried to sign up online for web hosting with A few days later, I hadn’t gotten any information from them, so I called their customer service line for some help. They told me that they had no record of me in their system, so no big deal – I’ll find someone else. A couple of days ago I happened to notice a small charge on my credit card statement, and realized I’d been getting charged for this service. I call, leave a message (apparently they prefer email), miss their return call the next day, and get someone on the phone today. I explain, and tell them I want a refund. Easy enough, I figure…

They ask why I didn’t cancel my service earlier. I told them that I never received a confirmation email, have never logged on to their system, and on my last support call was told they had no record of me. I suggested they check their records to validate my claims. The guy says they don’t log their support calls, and that they did send me an email…

I justed wanted to be done with them, so I settled for a refund of hosting fees from this quarter. has been good to me, both in their actual service (I feel I’m getting my money’s worth) and their customer service. I haven’t gotten that angry with a customer service rep since my dealings with Lingo VoIP (go for Packet8 instead) or the last time I ordered a Dell PC (which I love, by the way) from a particularly hard-selling phone rep.

Home video cataloging

In a true test of human multitasking ability, I’m posting this entry while simultaneously watching two video tapes. For the last couple of winters I’ve been working on cataloging my entire library of home videos, including the two big boxes full from mom’s collection, over 160 in all. I’m down to about two dozen tapes.

It’s a nice trip down the proverbial memory lane, seeing old jazz band concerts, camping trips, band carnivals, Lift gigs, proms, graduations, stop-motion animations, weddings, parades, park district soccer games, musicals… well, you get the idea. The next steps are to organize, capture, edit and burn the results to DVD. I figure these DVD’s will be fun to watch at my retirement party. I’m sure they’ll be done just in time.

A few thoughts:

  • I’ve never seen so much bad hair.
  • Man, Matt can play. Always could, too, as far back as my tapes go, at least.
  • I must be obsessive-compulsive. I recently finished up a similar project for all the audio I had.
  • Thanks, Mom, for capturing so many good memories.

Oops, better rewind… I missed a song change. Perhaps one tape at a time is my limit.

Great Lakes Pop Up Club outing

This summer we bought a popup camper and we’ve been having a great time with it. This past weekend we made it up to Starved Rock for our first club outing, which also happened to be the last outing of the season :(. The Great Lakes Pop Up Club is a fun bunch of folks. We had a great time and we’re looking forward to becoming more involved next year!

They planned a potluck dinner, a pancake breakfast, crafts for the little ones, trick-or-treating, and a good old camp fire. It got down to 37 degrees overnight, but we kept nice and warm!

Lazy Gallery integrated

So that’s what Open Source software is about… what a great feeling! After a little bit of research, I modified Lazy Gallery to support thumbnail caching and to allow it to be included on a WordPress page (which fixes the problem with the tabs, by the way). This was a fairly rewarding exercise, and I learned a fair amount about WordPress and PHP in the process. Right now the code is UGLY, and the HTML isn’t 100% valid, but I’ll get it fixed up and posted before too long.

Photo Album almost ready

Well, after auditioning a ton of photo album plugins for WordPress, I decided simple was best. I set up “Lazy Gallery” from It doesn’t do too much, but it does what I want it to and isn’t crowded with all the extra links for ratings, comments, etc. Those things are great, but I’m going for “Grandma-friendly” :).

There are a few things I’m working on. First of all, the plugin generates the thumbnails in real time, storing only the source image. I’ve about finished a simple caching setup along with some changes to avoid having PHP open and parse the files. It has to open the source file to get the height and width to display under the image, which takes quite a while, and isn’t worth it for me.

Secondly, I need to figure out how to get the plugin a little more integrated. I wanted to put the photo gallery on a tab at the top of the page. Each tab represents a “page” in WordPress. I’m currently using the “Redirectify” plugin to redirect the photo page to the PHP file for the gallery. This works fine except the tab doesn’t show as active when you click it.