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Oh Joy, a New Technology

I’m having growing pains with this camcorder project–and that’s a good thing. I’m seeing technology from the point of view of someone who just wants to push a button and make things happen.

It all seemed so simple. Buy a camcorder (Sony DCR-HC96). Buy a DVD burner (Memorex 16x). Camcorder has software (Sony’s); DVD burner has software (Nero Express). Create a one-minute movie (that was the easy part; Sony even has an “Easy” button), then let the hip bone connect with the side bone, and voila! I will join the world of happy camcorder consumers, those same people frolicking on the covers of the boxes I purchase!

But there is no voila. There is staying up to 2 a.m. processing the same files over and over again and falling asleep on the couch, covered with partially-initalized DVD disks and two cats who think it’s fun that I’m finally nocturnal.

I don’t WANT to learn about DV AVI files; I don’t WANT to know why Sony doesn’t include a Firewire cable with its camcorder; I don’t WANT to go numb with disbelief in the aisle at Fry’s that has DVD+R, DVD-R, DVD 8 or 16, DVD-RW, or DVD-AEIOU, while I wonder which of these formats, and which brands, will produce a simple DVD of Sandy giving a sermon, and which will cause the DVD players of the search committee members to emit a high screech and eject the disks unviewed. I see the sales clerks skitter away when I walk toward the DVD aisle; I stand there amidst other equally numb citizens caught in technology’s cross-fire. I bleed with them.

And I really, really don’t want to know why Nero Express software can produce a DVD from an AVI file it imports from my camcorder–which it does with breathtaking kludginess, squeezing widescreen so even our fat cat looks svelte–but it can’t burn a DVD with files imported with Sony’s native capturing software, even though it reads them just fine. I don’t care. I don’t CARE.

I just want my DVD!

Not only that, I’m savvy enough to have found a camcorder bulletin board, which means I am now Walking in the Valley of the Shadow of Well-meaning Advice. I almost wish I weren’t tech-savvy enough, and that I didn’t have enough troubleshooting experience, to understand when the advice is not very good.

No, I’m not going to repeatedly defrag my nearly-new laptop, and yes, since I’ve said I have 60 gigs of free space, a fast processor, and a gig of RAM, and I can burn one set of (tiny) imported files but not the other, I am going to stick with my initial assumption that it’s probably not the computer, just as, when I worked on airplanes, if I saw jet fuel pouring down the side of the plane, I strongly suspected a leak.

Nor do I think buying a four-pin Firewire cable (which Sony unhelpfully calls iLink) is going to resolve this problem–though again, I’m dumbstruck that Sony’s own manual would say Firewire–oops, iLink–is preferred for transferring film, but then provide the consumer with a cheap USB cable and mislead same hapless Joe with its own strange nomenclature. I can see some poor sucker wandering around Fry’s asking for an “iLink” cable and getting dumb stares. Do they laugh, there in the Sony camcorder division? Do they mock us? Are we funny to them?

I just want my DVD!

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