Author Archives: Richard Evans

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Richard Evans

Streaming my DVD collection

DVD JukeboxSomeday.

As 4 TB external drives approached $100 gave in to temptation, although my desktop has nowhere close to that capacity.  So what to do with all of the storage?  After weekends of swapping discs, finally have exact images (standard ISO format) of my DVD collection backed up.

Initially the idea was to stream them, a personalized Netflix of titles I cared enough about to purchase. There exists software for this, of course, “Plex” most notable, however none are designed for complete images.  They first require converting the movie to another format, sacrificing quality, then streaming.  In this process also losing DVD menus, an art form themselves, along with extras, which any self respecting film lover values.

Even Windows now supports the “mount” option for ISO files to create a virtual DVD drive.  From that point the images can be played with VLC or favorite media player, using an HDMI cable for TV to be an extra monitor.  I had that set up already, having “cut the cord” some time ago, and to stream from Freespeech.org and such.     Regardless of the impracticability of streaming .ISO wireless at this stage, remain convinced I made the correct choice to back up rather than convert.

While backing up came across incredible, free cataloging software (“Filmotech”) that scans folders and indexes titles.  Then movie details and cover art can be imported from IMDB, DVD Empire and similar sites on the net.  It also supports associating a player with the  listing.  Selecting “play” for a title mounts the drive and starts to show the DVD.  The only thing missing is a remote control.

An unforeseen benefit of cataloging the collection is exposing titles I believed owned, but either let someone borrow indefinitely or lost.  Recently have noticed events reminding me scenes from “Broadcast News,” “Stand and Deliver” and “Running on Empty”, and was instantly aware those were no longer in the collection.

After experimenting found “DVD Shrink” to be the best free software for making exact disc copies. Although it is no longer supported and, as its name implies, was designed to make larger discs fit over-the-counter 4.7 GB blanks. When “no compression” is selected and target disc size is changed to 8.5B, the program makes an exact copy.  Removing region encoding is still an option.

Perhaps an existential question now is how I might backup my backups. Am concerned I’ve approached a level of geek where figuring out ways to appreciate my collection is more enjoyable than watching it.

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The Chicken Electorate

kfc-1It is a tired analogy among progressives that anyone voting with the GOP   not among the top 1% are like chickens electing Colonel Sanders.  This is especially evident in Kentucky, where the “Kynect” health care exchange is a hit.  Refer to it by its Other name (begins with “O” and ends with “care”) and Kentuckians cluck along blissfully.  I suggest that the Dem candidates in 2014 are also accurately labeled chicken.

Maher summed it up best, emphasizing that Obama had given us “healthcare, not herpes”.  Among other positives that could have been brought to our attention are lower gas prices, the stock market at a record high, a depression averted, two women on the supreme court, Bin Laden dead and unemployment dropping from over 10% to less than 6% (“if you’re a Fox News viewer trying to do the math, that’s less”).  Instead they ran away from an opportunity to reinforce these realities, if not any chance of wining.

It was barely mentioned in the Georgia gubernatorial race that the incumbent had, out of spite and party loyalty, denied healthcare to his state by refusing the gift of Medicaid expansion.  In the U.S. senate race, Michelle Nunn avoided discussing a minimum wage increase, strengthening the middle class, wall street reform or any popular aspects of the democratic platform. Instead her narrative was emphasizing bipartisanship and avoiding Obama like Ebola, denying his proven ability to energy the  base.  The very base she needed to turn out the vote needed for a win.  Both candidates ignoring family legacies, as if no one would notice their last names.

Looking ahead to 2016, the networks are desperately attempting to set up another Clinton vs. Bush race.  Here I’m confident the narrative won’t go their way.  Need I remind that Hillary not only failed to get the nomination in 2008, but fell into a distant 3rd?  Already Bernie Sanders and other dark horses are quietly emerging, ready to a least discuss real issues, like past elections bought and paid for by corporate wealth.  Wouldn’t a Sanders/Warren ticket be nice.


“Here’s Your Dinner, Mr. Koch”

While I’m not among those in a panic, the Ebola scare has brought to light so many duplicitous shortcomings in a government “for the people by the people” that it was impossible to resist elaborating.people

The first U.S. diagnosed case, Eric Duncan, appeared in Texas, another state that refused Medicaid expansion for no reason other than spite.  His estimated health care cost is around $500,000.   This reminds anyone with memory longer than the span of news cycle that the CDC (along with the federal government) was shut down a year ago for related reasons (hate/spite).  The National Institute for Health (NIH) has stated, if not for budget cuts, there would be a vaccine now.  Partisan politics also denied us a Surgeon General during this time.  Has anyone from the supposedly liberal media asked governor Rick Perry whether he could reconsider expanding Medicaid if the crises worsened?  Of course not.  They’re too busy interviewing fiction writers.

Nurses who treated Duncan were afraid to complain about inadequate preparation for fear of losing their jobs.  Members of Nation Nurses United have no such reservations.   Those dependent on minimum wage jobs aren’t likely to risk calling in sick, even if they could pay to see a doctor.  It is possible Duncan was turned away on his first hospital visit because he lacked insurance.  While not wishing disease on anyone,  wouldn’t it be poetic irony if this manageable disease returned full circle to bite those at the top of corporate food chain?

“Here’s your dinner, Mr. Koch.”   This has potential to be most demonstrable result yielded from two generations of failed  trickle down economics.


Cord Cutting 101

11/17/2014 ADDENDUM: CBS has started a 24/7 Digital News Network at http://cbsn.cbsnews.com/

It’s been a bold experiment, so am sharing results after 6 months without cable TV.

AntennaTVlogoA few prelims. I might not have considered cutting the cord elsewhere.  In downtown Atlanta,  with only an indoor digital antenna, receive all the networks and several flavors of PBS.   Also their sister stations, with odds-and-odds like “Bounce” and “Antenna TV,” running old movies and sitcoms.  I haven’t at all missed the movie tiers, what I believed might be sacrificed, nor a DVR, realizing I never watched most of what was recorded anyway.

The networks are stunning in raw HD,  significantly cleaner than through a box.  I’m disturbed visiting anyone using a converter without proper cables.  Equally upsetting is when the necessary equipment is in place, then someone chooses the lower standard definition channel range.

Anyway!  The unforeseen advantage has been content discovered streaming.  Network favorites like “Extant” are available anytime with fewer commercials,  as are “The Daily Show” and “Colbert Report”.  I also appreciate “Free Speech TV” and “C-Span”.  Any sports I cared about,  Roland Garros and Wimbledon, required only a modicum of tech savvy to configure Tor for a European IP address.  There’s no shortage of content.

Although there is community Wi-Fi,  for reliable streaming am still beholden to Comcast.  Add Netflix and the monthly “entertainment bill” isn’t quite negligible.  There are cheaper internet tiers, but am not brave enough to test them.   Yet it was not only possible but preferable living without an extra remote control. Google is slowly rolling out fiber,  so imagine a future where access is fast and affordable enough to kiss cable providers goodbye, with a “screw you, too.”

 


The Kindness of Strangers vs. Bully Mentality

streetcarUntil last weekend my knowledge of A Streetcar Named Desire was pretty much limited to “The Simpson’s”  musical satire,  A Streetcar Named Marge.  As it turns out,  that is a fairly thorough representation.  Also hilarious.  However Tennessee William’s own words do offer more.

I’ve never been able to grok the bully mentality.  In my life have certainly made mistakes, callously put my own interests first and unintentionally harmed others. Though like Blanche (Marge), never deliberately set out to harm another.  I’m a lousy chess player, in part, because I lack the ability to strategize offensively.

Yet there are those naturally inclined to inflict physical or emotional pain and even derive pleasure from it.  Some of the bullies I grew up with are now model citizens.  Have they learned a masquerade acceptable to society, and beneath still lies the malicious core?

“Some things are not forgivable. Deliberate cruelty is not forgivable. It is the most unforgivable thing in my opinion, and the one thing in which I have never, ever been guilty.”
― Tennessee Williams, A Streetcar Named Desire

 


Cities Without Sidewalks

Green_Day_-_Jesus_of_Suburbia_coverCobb county is evil. Cities with no sidewalks.  Headquarters for giants Lockheed Martin, Home Depot  and UPS.   The district that gave America Newt Gingrich.  Most recently the county acquired the Atlanta Braves under suspicious circumstances, with plans to build a 600 million dollar stadium and no concrete funding.  No form of mass transit serves the area.  I’m not certain how low wage stadium employees are expected to get to work.  It isn’t too different from other suburban Atlanta counties that began in panic of “white flight” and continue sprawling.  Cobb best represents them all.

Meanwhile urban renewal continues in downtown Atlanta with completion an interior beltline of greenspace. While not privy to statistics, my impression absorbing local news is suburbia has no less crime than downtown.  More often it appears near or outside the perimeter.  While no soothsayer, my prediction for decades future is that those counties will decay as Atlanta proper improves.

I was compelled to compose this  diatribe/rant  watching the disturbing case of Ross Harris, a web developer at Home Depot accused of intentionally leaving his son to die in a hot car.  While isolated, believe it reflects a  growing sociopathic corporate culture.

The two highest achievements of the human mind are the twin concepts of “loyalty” and “duty.” Whenever these twin concepts fall into disrepute–get out of there fast. You may possibly save yourself, but it is too late to save that society. — Robert Heinlein


Some People Play “Candy Crush” …

... still others play angry birds

… others “Angry Birds”

Lately have acknowledged my observations lean toward narcissism.  As if I’m a moral authority in a position to cast condescending judgement on society.  Well, if the brand fits.  Although I own only 3 pairs of shoes, all more than a year old.  So perhaps I’m a frugal elitist.

I can’t help be perplexed by number of people playing games on their phones,  or otherwise well adjusted folk sending invitations on Facebook.  I’ve barely made a dent in books I’d like to read before kicking the bucket.  Perhaps because I’m a child of the eighties, had my fill of arcade games growing up.  As graphics got more sophisticated, requiring less imagination,  lost interest.   I am still intrigued, however,  by what goes on behind the controls.

Microsoft Virtual Academy

… MVA

My latest obsession might be more rewarding than earning a high score.  I stumbled onto Microsoft’s “virtual academy”, offering developer oriented training using Microsoft tools.  Arguably the site is a move to promote their products, however the material goes beyond platform, offering generic lessons on languages and techniques that could be used anywhere.  There are even business oriented sessions on enhancements to Excel and productivity innovations.  It is difficult to avoid Microsoft outside of academia.

I still get a competitive thrill when my profile makes the MVA “Top Students” list.  A questionable honor as anyone could cheat.  There is no limit to number to the number of times self-assessments can be taken.  Points are earned for simply watching lessons;  learning isn’t required.


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