email: cavebear2118 AT verizon DOT com

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Getting Back To Normal

Sometimes, when too many things aren't working, you have to pull back and simplify for a while.  And you never know how long it's going to take.

Too many things on the To Do List can get overwhelming. So, you clear the board, make a new list , drop a few things off that can be delayed and start at one thing at a time.  The things that are driving you crazy aren't always the biggest problems.  In fact, sometimes the best thing to do when you get overwhelmed is start at the smallest.

Solving SOMETHING is always good...

So I tackled the messy TV/VHS/DVD problem that was (in the long term of life) a minor problem but one that was becoming obsessive.

PROBLEM:  Couldn't tape old VHS tapes to DVDs.  CAUSE:  Too much equipment and too many connections.  SOLUTION:  Isolate equipment, simplify...

After trying (unsuccessfully) to do things halfway, I disconnected everything.  Set up the old VHS player and the old DVD recorder on top of the stereo cabinet.  Purpose, to make those work with the HDTV separate from all the other equipment (cable box, new DVD/BluRay player, etc).

First thing was to see if any DVD I copied from VHS tape would play.  Most wouldn't.  But one DID, so I knew it could work.  Given that, it was just a matter of figuring out cabling and what had worked once.  Which was maddening because the connections interfere with each other.

It took various attempts over 2 days, and even more simplification.  I FINALLY figured out to get a connection straight from the DVD recorder/player to the HDTV.  I tried all sorts of simple connections, like the 3 red/yellow/white cables.  And the VHS player has only one "audio out".  Well, I had this cable with one plug at one end and 2 plugs at the other, and that sure seemed to match the one VHS audio out and the 2 DVD audio in.  Nope...

I tried everything...  Some tapes even recorded for a few minutes and stopped. But there was still that one VHS Tape-to-DVD that worked...  And the HDTV offers sources of TV, HDMI1, HDMI2, HDMI3, HDNI4, AV, Component, RVU, and Screen Mirroring.  Half the things I tried just went blank on copying or showing on the HDTV, and almost half the others went blank on the copying WHILE showing up on the TV.  So I had to keep thinking.

But only "almost half the connections didn't work, not all"...  I didn't find the one that worked easily, and it's almost embarrassing.  I found an HDMI connection on the back of the DVD player/Recorder.  I stuck it from there to the HDMI3 plug on the HDTV and I got a connection working from the DVD player to the TV not involving the cable box! 

I reasoned from there that if the DVD would play a pre-recorded DVD to the TV, and if I could play a VHS tape through that to the TV, the DVD player/recorder HAD to record a VHS tape onto the DVD player recorder if I could see it on the HDTV!

It did.

I've been recording old VHS tapes that I couldn't find new DVDs to purchase (the viewing quality would be much better).  But there are some VHS tapes I have that simply aren't available for DVD purchase.  I'm copying those first.

And even better, I can copy some old VHS tapes, VHS player to isolated DVD reorder WHILE watching regular HDTV by choosing the source function on the remote.  By which I mean, if the DVD recorder is copying an VHS tape directly, the HDTV doesn't CARE because there is no direct connection between the regular cable source (HDMI1) and the DVD connection (HDMI3).

And as I truly have THAT figured out successfully, I can get on to the other damnable problem about evaluating the insulation work proposal, building the garden enclosure, etc.

Sometimes there are just too many problems to solve, and I get too frustrated solving none of them. Now I think I'm down to the others that are more easily solvable and can move forward.

Sorry I got all weirded out there for a couple weeks.  I had a few too many things to solve at the same time.  You live alone and sometimes that means you don't have experience at juggling several problems at once.  And no one to help you see the obvious things you are overlooking.

And I solved the home insulation work order Saturday.  I had the planner come visit and we went through it line by line.  She had to admit that several lines of costs and proposed work were contradictory.  They didn't need to both blow in insulation into basement wall panels from above the panelling AND drill 3" holes in the panel to do the same. And they now understand that there WILL BE plywood flooring on the joists along the center length of the attic for storage.

She brought up the SMECO website (and I confirmed it on my own desktop).  The contractor IS a partner in the rebate program, and the work IS included as part of SMECO's energy-saving program, and they have a high rating on Angieslist.

Seriously, I was concerned because they cold-called me originally with promises of partnership with SMECO and rebate programs.  Essentially, that's no different from someone knocking on your fdoor promising to resurface your driveway cheap.


They only wanted a 10% down payment (reassuring because a scammer would have gone for 25-50% I think). 

The work was completed Thursday, to my general satisfaction but I will need to see several billing cyclings of bills to see if all this makes any difference.  Hoping for good news on the bill 3 months from now.

The final contractor visit was Saturday.  A person came to conduct a final "negative air pressure test".  They seal the open front door and use a large exhaust fan to measure how much the air pressure inside drops in the air-conditioned part of the house.  They guarantee a 20% reduction (minimum to get a $2,000 rebate from my electric company), and try for 25-30%.

The guy did the initial test and was disturbed that it hadn't reached 20%.  So he searched the basement and found a place where the garage was open to the basement and sealed that (no charge).  He redid the test and was still baffled at failing the 20% guarantee.

Then he laughed his ass off.  He was using the wrong initial test measurement before any work was done!  He was transposing the digits, going from (flawed) memory.  And I had the original data and double-checked his claim AND did the reduction calculation myself.

The insulation and sealing work had achieved a 41% reduction in air leakage!  That doesn't mean my electric bill will go down 41%, there is other electrical usage in the house.  But it does mean that this improvement will pay for itself in 3-4 years and I plan to stay here longer than that!



So glad you're back and that you've found solutions that you're happy with!

Megan said...

Boy Mark - that VHS to DVD problem, while minor in the scheme of your total life, seemed like a complex and frustrating one to start with. But I'm pleased that you got it sorted AND that you've also implemented the insulation project. That's a biggie. I'm sure the cats were 'thrilled' to have the place invaded by tradesmen again.

Welcome back.

Sydney, Australia

Katie Isabella said...

OK. Now. The rest of us need you.