Shadow Intimacy

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This is another guest posting by Jim Lynch, our favorite English teacher from Bishop O’Reilly.

In 1998 it was revealed that DNA testing determined that Thomas Jefferson could have fathered as many as six children with a slave in his household at Monticello. That news generated controversy about the circumstances under which those children were conceived. Was the author of the Declaration of Independence – which included the phrase, “all men are created equal” – really a racist hypocrite? Did the third President of the United States cruelly use his social status and political prestige to abuse a woman of color who he owned?

There is no primary documentary evidence – letters, diaries, birth certificates, etc. – from the individuals to clarify the details of their relationship. In the 1990’s, however, DNA testing and some circumstantial evidence suggests that she bore him multiple children. That information ignited a debate about Jefferson’s behavior. He was a slave owner, as were his contemporaries in his new country, and in many other parts of the world as well. Although the evidence provides a near certainty of his paternity, the nature of their relationship remains a speculative mystery.

It is of primary importance to first scrutinize Jefferson’s opinions and judgments regarding the black race. Because he was born and raised in a Virginia family of slave owners, the slaves he knew in that time and place were, as a matter of course, uneducated and isolated from white culture and knowledge. In Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, which deals with similar circumstances, the author’s characterization of the slave Jim offers an ignorant, superstitious and child-like adult whose stunted social development belies his decency, kindness and loyalty.

In such an environment, it is understandable that Jefferson’s would render “a suspicion” that slaves were “inferior to the whites in the endowments of both body and mind.” Despite such sentiments, however, he was a consistent opponent of slavery, a condition he called “a moral depravity” and “a hideous blot.” In both moral and intellectual judgment, he maintained that slavery was the greatest single threat to the survival of the new American nation. Despite owning slaves, he advocated the right of personal liberty and stated that the institution was contrary to the laws of nature.

Since the beginning of slavery in Virginia, the institution had grown and become firmly established. By the time Jefferson was born in 1743, it had existed in the state for seventy-five years, and was thoroughly intertwined into the social and economic fabric. Raised on a plantation, Jefferson came to realize two facts: that ownership of human beings is a despicable evil, and that, “Where the disease [of slavery] is most deeply seated, it will be the slowest in eradication. . . . In the Southern [states] it is incorporated with the whole system and requires time, patience and perseverance in the curative process.”

In a letter to a friend, he wrote, “As it is we have the wolf by the ear, and we can neither hold him, nor safely let him go. Justice is on one scale, and self-preservation in the other.” Throughout his life, therefore, Jefferson sought ways to gradually end slavery by enacting laws banning the slave trade itself, prohibiting its expansion into new territories, and by providing the means for the social and economic assimilation of freed slaves into the population as a whole.

He feared that immediate emancipation would cause violence in the South and prejudice in the North. In addition, he advocated the option of repatriation to Africa, the continent from which slaves had been abducted. He feared an understandable retaliation by freed slaves because of the “unremitting despotism “ and “degrading submissions” they had suffered, and worried that they would not be able to survive economically without necessary education and occupational training. The 1831 Virginia slave insurrection known as Nat Turner’s Rebellion, five years after his death, demonstrates Jefferson’s prescience.

Historical evidence clearly indicates that Jefferson’s life was filled with attempts to abolish slavery and find ways to facilitate equitable options for the recipients of abolition. In 1784 he proposed on ordinance that would ban slavery in the Northwest Territories; in 1798 he drafted a Virginia law that prohibited the importation of enslaved Africans; his original draft of the Declaration of Independence included strong language opposing the slave trade; as President he signed a bill outlawing that trade. In his 1821 autobiography he wrote, “Nothing is more certainly written in the book of fate than that these people are to be free.”

When his wife, Martha, died in 1782, an inconsolable Jefferson continued his efforts to create a national government, as well as to provide a means for a step-by-step elimination of slavery. From 1784 to 1789 he lived in Paris with his daughter Patsy as the United States Minister to France. In 1787, his youngest daughter, Polly, arrived, accompanied by slaves who included James Hemings and his fourteen-year-old sister, Sally. Jefferson funded James’ training to become a French chef, and hired a tutor to teach Sally French, English and writing skills.

He paid both a wage commensurate with French citizens who rendered the same domestic duties. According her son Madison’s later testimony, Sally and Jefferson became lovers two years after her arrival. Oral accounts indicate that she bore a striking resemblance to Jefferson’s deceased wife, Martha. She is said to have had very light skin and long, straight black hair. Such descriptions are not surprising, given that she was Martha Jefferson’s half sister.

Jefferson’s father-in-law, John Wayles and Elizabeth Hemings, one of his bi-racial slaves, were her parents. The children of that union were, therefore, 3/4 European ancestry. Because slavery was abolished in France during Jefferson’s stay, both James and Sally could easily have opted to walk away from their status and embrace freedom. Instead, they decided to return to Monticello with him, along with the promise that he would free them when they reached adulthood. Any children Jefferson and Sally were to produce would be 7/8th European ancestry. In fact, three of their sons, Beverly, Harriet and Eston, lived as members of white society as adults.

During the rest of their thirty-seven years together at Monticello, Sally had five children, all recorded by Jefferson: Harriet – 1795 (died 1797); Beverly – 1798; an unnamed daughter who died shortly after birth – 1799; a second Harriet – 1801; Madison – 1805; and Eston – 1808. There is no indication in Jefferson’s records of a child born to Hemings before 1795, although it is possible she suffered a miscarriage shortly after returning from Paris. Given the tenor of the times, an acknowledged relationship, let alone marriage, was beyond possibility. Their children were given free run of Monticello, with light work. At 14, they were trained as carpenters or, in Harriet’s case, as a spinner and weaver. Like their father, the boys learned to play the violin.

Although the assertion of Jefferson’s paternity can neither be fully substantiated nor refuted, it is almost certain, based on documentary, scientific, statistical, and oral history evidence, that he fathered Heming’s children. Because Jefferson remained silent on the issue when it became a campaign topic during his political life, we can only speculate on the nature of their relationship. Was the champion of personal liberty a hypocritical sexual predator, or a partner in a loving relationship, and a caring father?

History is replete with stories of lovers separated by racial, cultural, social, religious, ethnic, and family hatred: Lancelot and Guinevere; Abelard and Heloise; Orpheus and Eurydice; Anthony and Cleopatra; Romeo and Juliet; Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson. It is not difficult to believe that Jefferson and Hemings belong on that list. Lest modern analysts disavow the power of the cultural taboos surrounding colonial society, consider the contemporary treatment of Muslim women, who are subject to stoning and honor killings for merely being seen in public with males who are not their husbands.

It is a fact that all of Sally Hemings’ children were given their freedom by their father, a man who time, circumstance and an intimate relationship had convinced that his earlier estimation of slaves as inferior in body and mind was erroneous. Their servitude, he came to understand, had impacted their abilities and deprived them of the means for intellectual growth. Shortly after Jefferson’s death in 1826, his daughter Martha (and Sally’s niece) freed Sally to live with her sons Madison and Eston in Charlottesville.

It is further known that his children were educated and prepared for economic independence while growing to adulthood, and that Sally and her brother James returned to Virginia with him in 1789, rather than live as free individuals in France. Moreover, would a son for whom Jefferson had no parental feelings be named after James Madison, his dear friend of fifty years? Madison Hemings confirmed in 1873 that he and his siblings, Beverly, Harriet and Eston (who later changed his legal name to Jefferson), were Jefferson’s children.

During his long and productive life as a patriot, politician and farmer, Jefferson indulged in studies and pastimes that demonstrate his genius. He was an inventor, a multilingual (Greek, Latin, French, Spanish and Italian), and a musician, whose passions included architecture (he designed and built Monticello), astronomy (he used a telescope to calculate the meridian at Monticello and to view the solar eclipse of 1811), physics, botany, mathematics (he raised the subject to a position of prominence at the University of Virginia), archaeology, and book collecting (in 1814, his 6,487 volumes were enough to restock the Library of Congress after in had been burned down by the British during the War of 1812).

From the time of the European settlement of North America until the Civil War, slavery was a cancer that metastasized until it was impervious to a rational cure. Although the bloodletting of the Civil War was successful in ending the national ignominy, post war black citizens were left with many horrific racial scars. After the cost of 620,000 lives, a legacy of Jim Crow and racial animus were the legacies of the state vs. state and brother vs. brother war. In the painful century and a half which followed, reconciliation and social amelioration have been painfully slow.

Despite serious and ongoing problems between the races, however, the abundance of high profile African-American musicians, novelists, entertainers, politicians, athletes, journalists, entrepreneurs, scientists, intellectuals, and educators – together with the ongoing normalization of inter-racial couples and marriages – are evidence of genuine progress. The cost has been, and in many cases continues to be, high for such improvement, but the progress is self-evident.

In 1962, President John Kennedy gave remarks at a White House dinner honoring Nobel Prize winners of the Western Hemisphere. “I think,” he said, “this is the most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge, that has ever been gathered together at the White House, with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone.”

From 2008 until 2016, an African-American First Lady and a bi-racial President dined together in that residence. Because he lived at a time when such an accommodation was impossible, the third President of the United States dined alone in the executive mansion. Jefferson’s shadow intimacy two centuries ago was the price he paid to serve a young country not yet able to fully understand, as he most certainly did, the full value of human freedom, or the cost of failing to do so.

Jim Lynch
Fleetwood, PA
September 7, 2018
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If you’d like to provide any feedback to Mr. Lynch, he can be reached at jimadalynch(at)gmail.com. You’ll need to fix that email to use it, by substituting the @ symbol for the (at) characters.

Cyber Security Specialist Certificate

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Aims Community College Offers New Cyber Security Specialist Certificate

GREELEY, CO – Aims Community College invites the public to learn about the new Cyber Security Specialist certificate to be offered at the Greeley campus.

Aims’ new Cyber Security Specialist certificate is designed to prepare students for entry into the field. Courses will provide a comprehensive overview of network security and knowledge necessary to protect data confidentiality, integrity and availability. Students will learn about threats to computer networks, including vulnerability assessment as well as incident response, disaster recovery and computer forensics. The classes will also help to prepare students to take the CompTIA Security+, Cybersecurity Analyst (CSA+) and the Advanced Security Practitioner (CASP) certification exams.

Computer Information Systems (CIS) instructor Kenny McDaniel will lead the presentation on cyber security, which is the body of technologies, processes and practices designed to protect networks, computers, programs and data from attack, damage or unauthorized access. Attendees will learn how to apply to Aims, including information on financial aid.

“It is an exciting privilege for me to help create this program and instruct students in these courses,” said McDaniel. “With such great demand both nationwide and in Colorado, students have an opportunity to gain the knowledge and experience necessary to begin a career in a high paying field.”

About the Aims Computer Information Systems (CIS) Program

The Aims Computer Science program offers training in web development, networking, database administration, and mobile and desktop application development. Students can earn an A.A.S. degree in Computer Information Systems or Web Design and Development or earn a certificate. More information is available at www.aims.edu/academics/cis.

About Aims Community College
Aims Community College is one of the most progressive two-year colleges in Colorado. Founded 50 years ago in Greeley, Aims has since established locations in Fort Lupton, Loveland and Windsor. Curriculum now includes 4,000 day, evening, weekend and online courses annually in more than 160 degree and certificate programs. Aims Community College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Aims Community College is an Equal Employment Opportunity Employer and an Equal Opportunity Educational Institution. www.aims.edu

The Golding Rule

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fliesThis is another guest posting by Jim Lynch, our favorite English teacher from Bishop O’Reilly. I still remember reading this book in 1974 as one of our class assignments. I just purchased the Kindle version and I’m planning to re-read it on an upcoming vacation.

The Golding Rule

One of the standard assignments in my high school British Literature curriculum was William Golding’s Lord of the Flies. Written in 1954, the novel concerns a group of pre-adolescent English boys stranded on a tropical island without adults, after an abortive attempt to evacuate them to safety during a nuclear war. Within a brief period of time, these children of a sophisticated Western European nation with a proud tradition of culture and civilization turn to bloodlust, savagery and murder.

After the classes finished an exhaustive discussion of the novel, I always called for a personal and secret written response to a few pointed questions. On scraps of paper they’d respond to the following: 1. If you and your entire class were stranded on a similar uncharted island for the rest of your lives, without hope of rescue, name the person in the class for whom you would vote to be chief. 2. Excluding identification, is there any potential Jack Merridew (the antagonist who become a bloody dictator) in the class? 3. Without rescue, would the eventual outcome your stay on the island be positive or negative?

Invariably, their responses led me to wonder if we had read the same book. In their eighteen-year-old naive camaraderie, an overwhelming majority of my students: 1. Named a popular athlete or student council president as chief, 2. Refused to allow for the possibility that any of their peers could become ruthless savages, and 3. Thought that their acquired wisdom would allow them to overcome and solve any difficulties that arose. “Gilligan’s Island” anyone?

After each and every such class response, I’d attempt to bring my students’ utopian vision more in line with Golding’s theme. In the summer of 1972, I reminded them, Tropical Storm Agnes wrought devastation to the town surrounding the very school in which they now sat. Many of my students were evacuated from the flood zone. After the Susquehanna’s raging waters finally subsided, I rode through the town in a panel truck, picking up flat tires from huge pay-loaders and delivering repaired ones, as an employee of a local tire company.

On every street corner, I’d continue to point out, were members of the National Guard carrying locked and loaded M-16’s, with orders to shoot looters on sight. Pennsylvania’s governor had declared a state of emergency, and the local police force was temporarily out of commission. Why would such an action be necessary in such an area filled with friendly family neighborhoods and small businesses? What could have been the governor’s reasons for such a move? After moments of silence, the only response ever offered was a variation of, “That was different.”

I then would offer a theoretical proposition. Suppose, I said, representatives of the police in their municipality had gone on the local news and indicated that protracted and unsuccessful negotiations for a new contract had broken down. Consequently, all members of the police department would go on strike as of midnight next Friday. Would the crime rate in their town, I asked, go up, go down or remain the same on that weekend? Once again I encountered initial silence, followed by, “That’s different.”

Reminding them that Golding crafted his story as a microcosm of larger society, I then asked why their parents paid hefty taxes to support a criminal justice system. Beyond police protection, I said, why do we need courthouses, magistrates, judges, lawyers, and prison facilities? Because there are bad people in society, they would respond, and we have to protect ourselves from them. And all those bad people, I’d remind them, once sat in classes just like this one and had every opportunity to work hard, play by the rules, and choose happy and productive lives.

Ultimately, I would conclude class discussions of the book with my hope that my students would reopen the discussion at their 25th class reunion, and my belief that, by that time, the seeds planted in their consciousness by Golding would have germinated in the soil of their maturity. While I appreciated their idealism, I found their naivete unsettling. I only attended one such class reunion, but the alumni were having such a memorable evening catching up and sharing family photos that I was loath to raise the issue with anyone.

I seriously doubt, however, that the needle would have moved to a great degree in the direction of a pessimistic view of the human condition. While the signs are abundant, most prefer to avert their eyes and focus on family and friends, rather than the larger world. Despite media websites, and twenty-four-hour cable news, people tend to push unpleasant intrusions into the background.

Iran’s hell-bent quest for atomic weapons; Russia’s incursions into the Ukraine; ISIS’s mass beheading, burning and drowning, and its goal of a world-wide caliphate; domestic terrorism; a $19 trillion national debt with 93 million American adults unemployed; massive illegal immigration; race riots in St. Louis and Baltimore; soaring homicide rates in urban areas – let the people we elected deal with such things, while we are busy attending to our own problems. When it appears that crime is a little too close for comfort, we’ll simply have an ADT sign planted in our front yard and a deadbolt installed on our front door.

Most people believe that if we live by the golden rule, we’ll all get along. And for those few in society who don’t abide by that principle, we have police departments and a criminal justice system. The ugly reality that we don’t want to face, however, is that only a larger framework of laws makes it possible for anyone to abide by such an idealistic rule. For those who choose to live by a more primitive code of behavior, the golden rule is a fairy tale.

People likely to ignore criminal law are only restrained by the penalties involved in breaking the law. When the laws cannot be enforced due to natural or man-made disasters, all bets are off, and the ranks of those few begin to swell. According to historian Will Durant, “Pugnacity, brutality, greed, and sexual readiness were advantages in the struggle for existence.” Those “relics” of our emergence as a species, he cautions, are still firmly embedded in our DNA. The systems of laws that have evolved over millennia were put in place to protect us from ourselves.

While most us are focused on mortgages, soccer practice for the kids and paying the bills, however, those laws are beginning to fray around the edges, along with many commonly held social mores and practices. As the federal government looks the other way in the face of millions of illegal immigrants streaming across our southern border, and of mayors establishing sanctuary cities in defiance of federal law, society has also changed its views on acceptable behavior. The melting pot has been replaced by separate, “multi-cultural” groups with individual agendas.

Even when people do venture outside their home and work bubbles to offer an opinion on larger issues, they are subject to censure for being politically incorrect. They aren’t successful because they have invested time and energy in education and career, but because of their “white privilege” (African-American success is often attributed to being an “Uncle Tom”). In the absurdity of political correctness, domestic Islamist terrorism has been transformed into workplace violence, illegal immigrants have become undocumented immigrants, drug addicts are dubbed chemically-challenged, prostitutes are renamed sex workers, and an illegitimate baby becomes a love child.

On many university campuses, students are warned about “micro-aggressions” for using “trigger words” which remind the hearer of past traumatic events: “Selling someone down the river” is a racist reference to slavery; acting like a “hooligan” and being put into a “Paddy Wagon” are slur terms for those of Irish ethnicity; calling a rioter and looter a “thug” is code terminology for the “N word.” If you have doubts about man’s role in climate change, you are branded a “global warming denier” (with the added insinuation echoing a holocaust denier). Charlton Heston aptly referred to political correctness as “tyranny with manners.”

Durant’s comment on this phenomenon is instructive: “Civilization gives way to confrontation; law yields to minority force; marriage becomes a short-term investment in diversified insecurities; reproduction is left to mishaps and misfits; and the fertility of incompetence breeds from the bottom while the sterility of intelligence lets the race wither at the top.”

What too many fail to recognize or acknowledge in the sophisticated, technologically-advanced 21st century is that civilization is a razor-thin veneer. Despite our scientific discoveries and breakthroughs, we remain captives of our primitive ancestors in our essential nature. Man is only an evolutionary link between primitive apes and truly civilized human beings.

Having served in the Royal Navy during World War II, Golding witnessed the worst of human behavior, with the cost of more than 60 million dead – six million of whom were cruelly obliterated in the concentration camps of a cultured and Christian European state. The trauma he witnessed occurred a mere twenty years after the seemingly minor and avoidable events leading to the outbreak of World War I, which claimed 37 million military and civilian casualties.

Golding knew that those civilized British children in his novel represent the distressing reality about where humankind actually stands in its slow development as a species. Through his work, he speaks to the necessary, if unpleasant, fact that the golden rule is only possible within the context of the Golding rule: we must never fail to recognize and remember that civilization is built on the rule of law. Treating one another with generosity, kindness and decency is contingent upon our willingness to subordinate ourselves to the hard-won lessons of history. Without that commitment, we run the horrific risk of setting, not an island, but the world on fire.

Jim Lynch
Fleetwood, PA
August 2, 2015
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If you’d like to provide any feedback to Mr. Lynch, he can be reached at jimadalynch(at)gmail.com. You’ll need to fix that email to use it, by substituting the @ symbol for the (at) characters.

How to Convert Video Tapes to DVD Format

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About 10 years ago I helped to develop a product that converted videotapes to DVDs. It was called the HP DVD Movie Writer. It was sold for several years under the HP model numbers dc3000, dc4000, and dc5000. Those products are obsolete now, and the software drivers and application software haven’t been updated to work on the more modern operating systems like Windows 7 and 8. I still maintain the FAQ webpage for it and so I periodically get questions about what to use these days to convert analog video tapes to digital formats when customers find their Movie Writers are no longer supported. I’ll attempt to answer that question in this article. The HP DVD Movie Writer was introduced at a time when few computers had a DVD writer included, so it made sense to bundle a DVD writer with a video capture device along with the necessary software and offer it as a solution.

Converting videos from tape to DVD can be very laborious, and most people are primarily interested in preserving the video in a format that is likely to outlast video tape and be playable on devices that people are still using years from now. The VCR player has been relegated to the closet in many homes years ago and videotapes are gradually degrading, so it’s important to get them copied to a digital format if you want to preserve these videos for your children and grandchildren. You may also want to convert them so that you can upload them to a video sharing service like YouTube.

Most video capture products available today come with software that will help you edit the videos, and that can be fun and produce amazing results, but it requires some effort and a bit of learning to edit a video. The way most home videos are shot make them hard to watch because they have no story line along with little or no narration and so they tend to sit on a shelf forever after being watched once or twice. After watching a few home videos, it really gives one an appreciation for all that goes into making up a video that is entertaining to watch. But it’s still nice to know your old videos are still there ‘just in case’ one day you get ambitious and want to create a nice video for your family to have and share with their children. As time goes by, it will get harder to find a player you can connect up to a TV to play them. Capturing analog video tapes to digital files is essential if you ever want to watch the videos again at some point in the future.

Now that many computers include DVD writers, when people ask me what I recommend for converting video, I generally tell them to use a USB video capture device from a reputable company. Very inexpensive video capture devices are available now, some for less than $10 from no-name Chinese companies that you can buy on Amazon.com or Ebay. I’d stay away from them as they usually come with very poor documentation, no support, and minimal software included. I’d stick with a device from a well-known company that has been in the business for a while like Diamond Multimedia. The Diamond VC500 is one of their more popular products that has been around for a while and in general gets good reviews.

vc500 box contents

The box contains the capture device, a setup guide, an install CD and a video cable.

The VC500 costs around $35 and has software included with it that lets you capture and edit the video as well as produce the DVD. Capturing simply converts the video on your analog tapes into digital files, known as MPEG files, which typically end with the extension MPG. For preservation purposes, this is the most important step, that is, getting the videos into a digital format. Editing involves cutting up the mpg files and add things like title blocks, transitions between segments, dubbing in music or narration, and in general, making your videos more watchable. It’s what we take for granted when we watch a commercially produced video. A well-edited video is a joy to watch.

DVD authoring is what allows you to set up a navigation menu and chapters so that when you put the DVD in the player, you can more easily select which part of it you want to watch. You don’t have to split up the video on the DVD in chapters, of course, it just makes it more convenient to watch, especially if you have multiple events stored on the same DVD or if you want to be able to watch it in segments.

The software included with the Diamond VC500 is compatible with all modern version of Windows from XP to Windows 8. One of the programs the VC500 includes is Showbiz from Arcsoft, and that’s the same software HP shipped with the HP DVD Movie Writer. I found it easy to learn and use and it can do everything you will need from capturing and editing the video to authoring the DVD. Showbiz has been around for a long time and has all the features you’d need if you want to edit the video as well.

vc500 software splash screen

The install CD has an easy-to-use menu to help install the software on your computer.

The items included with the VC500 include the software installation CD, the video capture device which attaches to a USB port, an AV cable that connects to your VCR or analog video source, and a Quick Start Guide. When you insert the installation CD into your computer, you will be prompted to install up to 3 programs. I first installed the driver, then the software called EZ-Grabber, and then Showbiz. There was also a program called Dyyno Broadcaster that was installed, but I don’t think that I will use it. It appears to be an on-line video sharing site like YouTube, but with a program to make it easier to share your videos with others on the Dyyno website. You need to set up a login on that site if you want to use it. In reality, I believe you could get by with just installing the driver and Showbiz, since Showbiz has the ability to capture video like EZ-Grabber as well as editing and DVD authoring. But EZ-Grabber may be easier to use if all you want to do is get the files in digital format for playback on a computer.

Arcsoft's Showbiz 3

Arcsoft’s Showbiz 3 is an easy-to-use video capture-edit-DVD authoring package.

If you have a lot of videos, make sure to have plenty of hard drive space available since capturing video consumes about 3 to 4 GB per hour of video. You can capture in lower resolution to save space, of course, but for the best quality capture, I’d recommend MPEG2 720×480 quality since that is the native format of DVDs. There’s not much point in trying to capture analog sources at HD quality since they are not high resolution sources and so it won’t help make the image look any better. And I wouldn’t worry so much about editing the videos or making DVDs right away, just get them all captured to MPG files, rename them to something that will let you know what’s in the file possibly with the year they were shot such as “1992-hawaii-vacation.mpg” and that will help you to organize them into easy-to-find files for when you do want to create your DVD masterpieces. And I’d recommend you keep the original mpg files even after you’ve made DVDs, since that way you can always cut and splice segments of video together to create new DVDs should the need arise.


When you burn a DVD, make sure to use the write-once media, not the re-writable media, even though re-writable media sounds like it’s more flexible. The name for write-once media is DVD+R or DVD-R. Rewritable media is called DVD+RW or DVD-RW and it’s really better for storing computer data like a backup that you may need to overwrite in the future than it is for making playable DVDs. The rewritable DVDs are not as compatible with DVD players as are the write-once DVDs because their reflectivity is lower. Also, make sure to get a known brand of media like Verbatim, Maxell, or Sony because name brand media is supported by most DVD writers. Store and no-name media brands of media may be cheaper but do not always record or play back reliably.

I wrote up this entry because I got a lot of questions over the past few months about video preservation so I wanted to give people a link I could point them to so that I’d have an up-to-date recommendations for a product that I know works and provides an economical solution for analog-to-digital video conversion. Some people use a service for converting video tapes to DVD, but you’ll probably spend as much per tape you have converted as you will for the VC500. So if you get a capture device you may learn a valuable skill and have some fun in the process. Who knows, that next viral video may be on your shelf, just waiting for you to capture it and upload it to YouTube for audience to appreciate it. 😉