But first . . .
THEY’LL / BE HOME / FOR CHRISTMAS . . .
Michael Albert: ‘You might want to tell your readers about this. American Airlines has a program where you can donate your frequent flyer miles to military personnel flying home on leave from service in Iraq. Other airlines may have such programs as well. I think it’s a great way to help out the service people who often make significant sacrifices for the people of the US and Iraq. I had a few thousand miles that I never would have used anyway. I was happy to find something useful to do with them. Here’s the URL.
REAGAN AND AIDS
Daniel H.: ‘Please pass along my thanks to Chip Ellis for his link clarifying that Reagan did in fact make a couple of passing references to the AIDS crisis a bit more than a year prior to the date popularly documented (Oct ’85 vs ’87). Reagan’s October ’85 comments – coming a week after Rock Hudson’s death and nearly four years after the term AIDS was coined – were probably considered somewhat appropriate given that up to that point there were more than 22,000 known cases of AIDS and more than 12,000 deaths from the disease. I was gratified to see that Ed Meese confirmed that the administration did also, in fact, have policy discussions about the disease prior to ’85. This does certainly strike me as fairly appropriate since by the end of Reagan’s second term more than 60,000 US deaths would be attributed to AIDS along with more than 100,000 full blown AIDS cases and more than a million Americans HIV infected. I’m sure that Chip’s well documented proof of Reagan’s late ’85 comments will do much to quiesce those who might feel that Reagan was silent for too long.’
BUSH AND AIDS
LP TO CD
Erik G. Sten: ‘Sorry for being late on this topic but I do have a terrific recommendation: Sony’s EZ Audio Transfer & Restoration Kit. I used it to transfer my LPs to CDs. It works for tapes just as well. It’s moderately user-friendly.’
VHS TO DVD
Tom Grady: ‘Joe might want to visit http://www.dvdrhelp.com to find out all he’ll ever need to know – and then some – about recording various kinds of video to just about any type of shiny disc.’
Sergei Slobodov: ‘Sure you can do it yourself, but, just like cooking, it’s only worth doing if you enjoy the process. Otherwise, you can get the VHS to DVD conversion done professionally for as little as $19 per 2-hour tape (see e.g. world-conversions.com), or about $10/hour, probably less than your housekeeping lady is making.’
John Stevens: ‘There are numerous ways to convert VHS to a DVD, just as there are a bunch of ways to rip and burn music CDs. The basic process is to use a video capture card in your PC to capture the analog video to the PC and then use DVD authoring software to edit the video and burn to DVD. Most PCs don’t have a video capture card so you would have to purchase one. If you already own a Digital camcorder and have a PC with a firewire connection there is another easy solution. Connect the Digital Camcorder to you VCR and copy the VHS to the camcorder. Then connect the camcorder to you PC via firewire and you are in business.’
Matthew McClure: ‘I work for Pinnacle Systems, whose business is to provide solutions for people like Joe. Pinnacle’s Studio Deluxe comes with a breakout box that converts the analog on the tape to digital so you can store the video on your computer. Then you can use the accompanying software to edit your video. It’s easy to use: it automatically detects where each scene starts and stops, and you can just drop a thumbnail representing each scene onto the edit timeline. Editing enhancements — like 3-D scene transitions, sound effects, titles, background music, DVD menus, and video effects such as slow and fast motion, color correction, emboss and posterize – let you to add a professional touch to your home movies. Then you can save your video as DVD quality MPEG-2 files that you can burn to a CD or DVD, post to the web or email to friends and family. For more information, click here.’
Doug Simpkinson: ‘Joe could use a ReplayTV [or a TiVo]. A ReplayTV has inputs on it to allow you to hook up a VCR to it. You can then record your video tapes onto the ReplayTV, and treat them like any other show you’ve recorded on your PVR.’
AS FOR BOREALIS
Sergei Slobodov [veering onto a new topic in his e-mail from above]: ‘As for Borealis, I have also looked through their patents and claims in more detail, including references to publications in refereed journals. I have also tried to find a quick proof that their original patent is nonsense (as I boldly claimed before) and wasn’t able to. There is a chance that under some conditions they can indeed lower the ‘work function’ of a material, possibly leading to some useful applications. So, just like Dana, I would also soften my original harsh verdict. It is indeed possible that the technology they developing is within the realm of possibility, although it’s definitely not nearly as innovative or groundbreaking as they would want you to believe.’