Internet killed the video star

CAT-5 versus VHS: And the winner is...

While ripping what’s left of my VHS collection I was reminded of the tedium of physical media — especially that of visual media: Movies. Videos.

No sooner had I transferred the first batch of videos onto my digital media player’s hard disk did it occur to me how convenient it is to pick a selection from an à la carte menu and play whatever I had fed the device with.  There’s no indecisive head-tilting in front of a shelf of movies, no boxes to put them back into, no rewinding of video cassettes, no tapes getting eaten by an ageing VCR — all that falls away.

In fact, halfway through the ripping process I asked myself, “why am I even doing this?” Continue reading

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One decade at Discogs

Niki Belucci for Discogs!

So today is my 10th Oggsday.

I’ve been a member of for a full decade.

It has become as much a part of my daily online regimen as checking my email or Twitter feed. No other site has grabbed my attention in the way that Discogs has, nor has any other online resource infuriated me in the same manner.

Discogs is as fascinating as it is frustrating.

But why did I sign up for the torture? How did it get this far? Continue reading

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Han shot first

A long time ago...

The Star Wars saga is as much a part of my DNA as is the very air that I breathe.

In fact, it’s so imbued that I happen to have three versions of the original trilogy.

It shouldn’t surprise me then that it would be on “Star Wars Day”, May the fourth, that — as a matter of sheer and utter coincidence — today would be the day when I start ripping my old VHS copies. Honestly, I didn’t realise this until later!

There’s nothing I could add to what hasn’t already been said or written about the Star Wars movies. They are legend, loved so much by so many that George Lucas’ tinkering in the late 90′s was seen not as an act of completion but, rather, an act of vandalism to our collective culture. Han Solo shot first. Period!

Continue reading

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VHS digitisation: Theory before practice

Duplication by any means is prohibited

Ripping a bunch of VHS tapes is a most peculiar undertaking.

It’s a project I’ve been waiting to start for several years — a task which (lack of personal experience with PC-based video work aside) I’ve therefore come prepared for:

  • VCR? Check.
  • VHS tapes? Check.
  • Adequate PC? Check.
  • Video grabber? Check.
  • Digital video playback device? Check.
  • Video grabbing and editing software? Erhmm… waitaminnit!

Being late to this particular party, one could’ve expected that much of the rudimentary groundwork had already been covered by others, with the common pitfalls marked out and FAQs on the topic being widely available. Suitable software should be a pound a GB, and there must be many useful, all-in-one programs for what by now must surely be a common task. Self-proclaimed experts should’ve dished out reams of advice.

No, not quite. Continue reading

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Remembering the Inner Sleeve Record Library


The Inner Sleeve Record Library was exactly that: not a library where one would get books, but one where you could borrow records. Vinyl records. Black gold.

It was located at No. 4, Pretoria Street, Hillbrow, Johannesburg.

Though I remember not the circumstances under which it was first discovered, what I do recall is the sheer delight when I did.

This was the mother lode! Continue reading

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A look back at 1988

View west towards the Brixton Tower

Many a moment from the past is relived while scanning and eliminating reams of old documents and photos.

Based on surviving papers and documents alone, each person’s evolution might be divided neatly into specific periods of their life, usually grouped around locality and what they did for a living at the time. It also goes without saying that most anyone can nail certain past events down to an exact year (or even the exact month) in a heartbeat or can recall the moment that led them down a certain path.

1988 was one such watershed year. Continue reading

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2014: A look ahead

Fodder for the shredder

Last year we moved house.

We transported our belongings from one abode to another.

While packing you tend to discover a shitload of forgotten items that you didn’t know you (still) had, and then you’re faced with the decision, “do I box it, or do I bin it?”

Well, in preparation for the move, we did get rid of a lot of deadweight by way of outdated media, documents and obsolete hardware. And once you’ve arrived at your destination, part and parcel of the unpacking process is the re-discovery of the things you didn’t know you packed, the junk you should’ve rather not packed, and the stuff you weren’t sure what to do with when you got there. Continue reading

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Rewind: 2013

R.I.P. Madiba

Ah, 2013! What a strange year it’s been.

Much happened. On a personal level, there was a crushing degree of uncertainty before the largest project of the year could take off: we moved house. This brought with it a new town, “a new job”, new people, new projects, and a different view of the horizon ahead.

In preparation for the move, we got rid of a lot of deadweight by way of outdated media, documents and obsolete hardware. As they get hauled off to the “Elektroschrott Wertstoffhof”, memories of certain items are being kept alive via digital eulogies, which, surprisingly, have visitors from primarily Arabic countries, India/Pakistan, Poland, but mostly Russia/Ukraine coming by to pay their final respects. Ironically, the vacuum left behind soon got filled by other electronica literally falling from the sky such that I now have more old laptops than I know what to do with. So I nuked one of them.

What also fell from the sky in February and was spectacularly documented by Russian dashcams was the meteorite over Chelyabinsk. Other disasters of the year include supertyphoon Haiyan which wreaked havoc across the Philippines, floods which caused untold damage in southern Germany and Austria, and the Rana Plaza building’s collapse in Bangladesh that killed over 1,100 factory workers. Oklahoma got hit by another tornado. Continue reading

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