Wrapping up a week…

Last Updated on September 30, 2010 by Dave Farquhar

Someone at Google has a sense of humor. See (or should I say 533?) for yourself.
Dan Bowman sent me the link. My response?

+#4+ !$ $0 k3wl! +#4nk$!

Desktop video. I still can’t get my Pinnacle DV500’s composite inputs to work right. The rest of the card seems to function just fine. As a workaround, I tried connecting a DVD-ROM drive and ripping the source video digitally, straight off the DVD. I was able to get decoded .VOB files to the drive, but the utilities to convert them into usable AVI files (Premiere won’t work with VOBs) all had an annoying tendency to crash. At one point I suspected I had a binary compiled for Intel systems, and obviously my AMD CPU won’t like those SSE instructions. So I copied a single 1-gig VOB file over to a P3-based laptop. The utility got a little further, but it still crashed.

And yes, incidentally, I did secure permission from the copyright holders to use their video. As for the legality of what I did in the DMCA era, one of the utilities looked at the DVD and said it was unprotected. It’d be hard to prosecute me for circumventing copy protection when none existed in the first place.

I was going to say we’ve come a long way since Amigas and Video Toasters, but I’m not going to say that. Amigas and Video Toasters actually worked.

Tribute. How’d I forget this? The Silent Beatle died Thursday. Unless you’ve been living in a cave, you already knew that.

The radio station I listen to most often, which can’t decide whether it wants to be a retro station, a New Wave station, a hair band station, or an Adult Alternative station, stepped way outside its format and did a nice Beatles tribute Friday at lunch, playing an hour’s worth of tunes, ending with “The Long and Winding Road,” which seemed eerily appropriate.

I remember when the Beatles boxed set came out a few years ago. I was still in college, and my next-door neighbor, Chip, got it the first day. He and I watched the corresponding TV special, and I remember someone walking in and saying he didn’t know any Beatles songs. I told him he was crazy. The Beatles are so pervasive, I said, that they’re not even just part of our culture anymore. They’re part of our DNA.

So Chip reached over and turned on his CD player and flipped through a few selections. A look of recognition came over his face to most of them. Yeah, he knew some Beatles songs. He’d just never recognized them as Beatles songs. Even young whippersnappers like us knew them and loved them.

The Beatles were history years before I was born, and for that matter, by the time I was born in 1974, even their record label, Apple Records, was in shambles. I have no recollection of the day John Lennon was murdered. The earliest Beatles memory I had growing up was hearing George Harrison’s “I’ve Got My Mind Set on You” on the radio and seeing the video on TV, in 1986. It was a good tune. Not as good as the best stuff he wrote, and it’s largely forgotten today, but what other songs from 1986 do people remember today? Bon Jovi? Puh-lease. It was such a bad year for music that The Police were able to remake their 1981 hit, “Don’t Stand So Close to Me,” and score a minor hit with it. Compared to the other choices we had that year, George Harrison scratching his nails down a blackboard for three minutes would have been cooler, just because it was George Harrison.

And he and the rest of his bandmates knew that. That was cool, because it freed them to experiment. So they had that stack of bubblegum pop hits in the early 60s that everyone remembers today, but in addition to that, they had their psychedelic period and by 1968 they had dabbled in everything else imaginable. Heavy metal? They did some of that. Industrial rock? They even did some of that. When it came to rock’n’roll, The Beatles tried everything. Everything that’s happened since has just been further exploration of territory they already covered.

George Harrison’s last few years weren’t pleasant ones, due to his battles with cancer and with deranged fans. I hope he’s happier now. I can’t imagine him doing anything else but sitting somewhere, making music with John Lennon, waiting for Paul and Ringo to show up.

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