Brain dump, June 2022

As much as I’m relishing the decline and fall of crypto, I’m not as keen on the decline and fall of the U.S. economy. There seems to be a particularly head-in-the-sand-style disconnect between the state of the economy and how it’s being covered in the news. My savings are down about 25% for this year, as well as the savings of most of my friends and family. Prices are up by at least 20% overall, for pretty much every class of products. I have no idea how the reported “8% inflation” numbers are arrived at.

And yet, when I open the news, the headlines read, “Could a recession be on the way?!” “Stocks plunge, stoking worries of recession!”, etc. I understand that the technical definition of a recession is two consecutive quarters of negative growth, but what is it called when there’s a recession’s worth of decline in a single quarter?

Digitized a few old VHS tapes for a friend. This was done using my trusty Sabrent USB-AVCPT adapter, which accepts either S-Video or RCA input, coming from a VCR borrowed from another friend. This adapter is quite old, and therefore is no longer supported on Windows 11, but thankfully still works perfectly in Linux without any custom software. To perform the conversion:

  • Launch VLC, select “Media -> Convert/Save…”, then go to “Capture Device”.
  • Select “TV – analog”, then for the Video input select /dev/video2, or whatever the last video device is, and for the Audio input you must paste the name of the ALSA/pulseaudio device that corresponds to the adapter.
  • The audio device can be found by going to the Playlist in VLC and looking at the list of “Devices” on the left. From there you should be able to find the audio device and look at its properties, which will give you the device name.
  • Back in the Convert tab, once both Video and Audio devices are typed in, click Convert; this will take you to the final step before conversion. Make sure to enable “Deinterlace”, since the output from VCRs is usually interlaced.
  • Select a suitable “Profile”, such as “H.264 + MP3”.
  • Select a “Destination file” to which the video will be written.
  • And finally click the Start button (and simultaneously the Play button on the VCR)!
  • When the tape is finished playing, click the Stop button in VLC, and the video will be complete.
  • Be kind and rewind the VHS tape before ejecting it. Immediately upon ejecting the tape, throw it in the trash.

When selecting the “H.264 + MP3” profile, I tweaked the video quality to be 2 Mbps, since the default was a rather low 800 kbps, considering that we’ll have 720×480 resolution at 30 fps (NTSC). I would have liked to see a playback of the video while it was converting, so I enabled “Display the output”, but this didn’t seem to work, and just got stuck on the first frame. That’s fine, since I just let the tape play until the end and then checked that the conversion was successful. Each tape was converted to around 2 GB of video.