Technology and its discontents


Some time back, Partner’s nephew appeared on Mecum Car Auctions (you should watch it sometime, it’s fascinating), driving a couple of the cars being auctioned. We wanted to share the video experience with Partner’s sister, because there were a few good shots of her son in the car.

Probably, with the right connections, we could have plugged into the TV or the DVR and extracted the images.  But neither of us is very good at that, and I have struggled for a long time to figure out how to do it.  We have a conventional DVD player / VCR wired into the system, but I think I connected the units in the wrong sequence; according to the DVR manual, I should be able to record programming onto a videotape, but I can’t. And I’m sure somewhere in the wide world there’s a cord that I could plug into the TV or the DVR to connect it with the laptop, but after buying at least three different cords (and facing blank stares from Best Buy staff members when I labor to explain what I want), I have given up.


So this is what we did:

•   We recorded the show on the DVR.

•   I took my little Polaroid digital camera (which takes videos too) and made a mini-movie of the relevant clip (Partner was behind the remote control on the DVR; it was a two-man operation).

•   I uploaded the clip to Facebook.  It wasn’t perfect, but it was definitely Partner’s nephew, and if I do say so myself, it wasn’t bad.

•   I called Partner’s sister on my cellphone and told her to log into Facebook.  She assured me that she was no longer on Facebook, because she hadn’t logged in for so long.  I assured her that she was wrong.  I talked her through it, step by step.

•   And finally I heard her shriek: “OH MY GOD!  MY BABY!  MY BABY BOY!”

It was worth it.

But I desperately need to figure out a better way to do this.

I am told that the DVR has something like a computer’s hard drive at its heart.  If so: why can’t I dive in there and copy out a file?  It would be so much easier.

And can someone please go beat the bejeezus out of those stupid boys at Best Buy for me?


About Loren Williams
Gay, partnered, living in Providence, working at a local university. Loves: books, movies, TV. Comments and recriminations can be sent to

4 Responses to Technology and its discontents

  1. starproms says:

    Hmmm complicated! ever more complicated each year, so it seems. I’m sure there must be a way to do this. The back of the dvd player has lots of slots right? I would go back to Best Buy, take your dvd player with you – find the Manager – ask him again what you need.
    There is a way, you just have to find it.
    I was proud of myself a few years ago when I managed to copy some vinyl records onto my computer. Clever or what?! I did it by putting some leads into the back of one of the speakers belonging to the music centre. The speakers were separate, boxy things. You remember? Then I plugged the other end of the lead into the computer and played the vinyl record on the turntable at the top of the music centre. I then found I could copy to computer from the tape deck, cd deck and the radio.
    Perhaps you could do something similar?

    • It’s the transfer that’s difficult; things don’t necessarily like to speak to each other.

      I bought a little turntable for about a hundred dollars that let me copy all my vinyl records onto my computer; then I gave it to a friend so that he could do the same. It’s now his kids’ favorite toy, because they’d never seen a turntable before and they’re fascinated with it.

      • starproms says:

        I’m sure they love it. When I was small I did the same with my dad’s old 78’s. He had one of those with the big horn thingy and a picture of the dog listening to his master’s voice. I was even allowed to change the needle when I got a bit older. The needles were only good for so many plays.
        My favourite to play was Paul Robson with his very deep voice. I also loved George Formby who played the ukele.

      • There’s so much music – and other stuff – available digitally now, and even for free. I wanted to write a Beethoven blog, but my new laptop has a wonky disc drive and won’t accept CDs; I found exactly the music file I wanted (one of the piano sonatas) online, for free. And YouTube has tons of music; I found a video of an elderly Hungarian pianist playing the piece too. Amazing what’s happened in the world!

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