Category Archives: Tech (cars, computers, social media, smart phones, video)

Stories where technology of the day became part of our lives

8mm to VHS to DVD ©

8mm Memories by Ron Turner

8mm1962:  A young father uses the latest consumer technology to film his toddler playing a toy guitar.  He looks through the viewfinder with eyes of love.  The boy, feeling his father’s love, responds with enthusiasm as he glows under the bright movie lights.

1982: Twenty years later, the father views this 8mm film on the silver screen in his basement.  He looks at the images of his son with love.  He positions the VHS video camcorder to convert the images to a modern electronic format.

Then, a tear comes to his eye.  He silently reflects on his son, his own role as a father, and their lives over the past two decades.  He is filled with emotion as he remembers the young father standing behind that 8 mm camera, and the little boy with the toy guitar.

He can’t put it into words, but as he privately allows the tears to flow down his face, safely in the basement where his wife won’t see, his heart is filled with his own goodness and his love for his son and his own younger self.

2012:  Fast-forward thirty more years.  The son takes on the project of converting family videos to digital.  He buys a Sony DVD/VHS device designed for this purpose, and spends the better part of a month shuffling videotape and blank DVDs through the box – using a Sharpie to write descriptions on the plastic, and using a box of Kleenex to deal with the emotional fallout of the project.

He comes across this particular footage.  The only sound is the whirring of a projector in a dark room.  Unseen is the man operating the projector and the implied camcorder trained on the screen. The man’s handwriting is reflected on the VHS label.  His love for his son and his feelings about his life are present in every pixel of every image.

That same love was present in 2012 in Texas when the son reviewed those images – somewhat degraded after the conversion, but retaining all of their power and intensity.  He felt his father’s love from 1962, and from 1982.  Mind you, even though the father had passed away in the intervening years, that love was present in his son’s heart in 2012.

It is the same love present in 1962 felt both by the father towards his son and by the son towards his father.  It was present in 1982 when that father revisited the 8mm film in a basement in Detroit – even though the son was far away in California.

Never mind matter and energy; it is love that can neither be created nor destroyed.  Love transcends time and space and life and death.  Love is eternal.

photo courtesy bs wise; video ron turner

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Volkswagen – Everyone Had One ©

Volkswagen Stories by BOBB readers:  Peter, Alastair, Richard, Katie, & Cathe

VolkswagenPeter’s Volkswagen story I’m a certified VW fan-for-life.  I’ve had 13 VWs – three of which were Bugs. I think my Volkswagen love affair began when my parents brought me home in a square-back VW name Monk.

I bought my first VW from my roommate for $50 – I drove it for 2 years, and then gave it to my sister who had it for another three.  The only think I had to do to it was add a front bumper to pass Vermont inspection.  I didn’t have money for an actual VW bumper, so I bolted a 2 x 8 to the front.  Apparently they aren’t very strict about what constitutes a bumper in VT.

The next Bug I purchase at the Coliseum Flea Market in Oakland for $300.  It was a pristine ’73 Super Beetle in a very yellow, yellow.  Unfortunately, I learned the hard way that buying cars at a flea market might not be the best idea.  The guy who sold it was not the guy who owned it.  This make registration tricky … I drove it for about a year before the engine blew.

My final Bug was a ’68 that a friend gave me.  I had planed to build a Baja rig out of it, however, after leaving it a Todd’s warehouse for a while, it was stolen.  Todd later found it by Kelly’s Mission Rock – back when it was a less savory place.  We went to get it and found two guys underneath with wrenches, scavenging bits and pieces.  I asked if they getting any good stuff off “my” car.  The made them nervous and the stared apologizing and stammering.  So much of the car was already missing that we let them continue.  I pulled the plate and the VIN badge and we left.

Always loved the Bugs – Terrific in the VT snow and so simple.

Alastair’s Volkswagen story  – I never had a VW, but I always wanted one. It would’ve been black.

Richard’s Volkswagen story – I’m guessing just about everyone who was a teener in the 60′s and 70′s has a VW story, many of them love/hate.

 When I was 16 I played a practical joke on a friend and rolled his VW Bug around the corner and parked facing down a hill.  What I didn’t know was that the parking brake wasn’t actually working.  The Bug later slipped loose and smashed into a giant Chrysler.  I spent the rest of the summer painting houses to reimburse my friend. Ouch.  I have section in my store of VW replicas, vans and bugs, which jogs the memory of many customers, and they share their stories, and I would have to say in the collective VW consciousness, there is more Love.

 Katie‘s Volkswagen story – My first car was a blue ’68 Bug.  My dad brought it home in 1976 and told me “you owe me $900″.  He was not into collaborative decision-making. I barely knew how to shift and avoided hills and stops as much as possible in the beginning.  I had that car for about ten years.  It caught on fire TWICE.  The fuel line to the carburetor would rattle loose and poor gas on the engine.  Poof! It had a big black spot on the engine compartment so she became known as SPOT.

On a vacation she broke down one night on the free road.  We hitchhiked into town and came back the next day to find her stripped down to the axles.  They even stole my 8-track player.  Luckily my friend’s mom had a Volkswagen.  We ran home, took her tires and wheels off, ran back, put them on mine and towed her home.  Put his mom’s tires back on her car and she probably never knew.  Eventually I sold Spot to a VW guy who made her into a Baja Bug.  Wonder when she is now?

Cathe’s Volkswagen story – My boyfriend had a VW Bug for over 16 years until someone at the bank (where he parked), had issues and slammed his transmission into reverse, roared back and demolished it.  He would still have the Volkswagen if that had not happened.

photo by shinazy

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From LOL to LMAO to ROFL ©

A Story by Bob Deason

LOLI am on my afternoon walk, letting my mind wander as I usually do while walking, and I start thinking about my friend Retha.  As one of her birthday presents, she received a red, plush version of what is basically a blanket with sleeves in it.  The name of this contraption is the “Siamese Slanket,” because it has four sleeves in it so that a couple can snuggle together while still eating popcorn (or something like that).    However, when her son saw it, he put his legs through one set of sleeves and his arms through the other, and ended up wearing it like a toga, a la John Belushi in Animal House.  As I let my imagination run away with her description of the scene, I start chuckling to myself.  This quickly progresses to laughing out loud (LOL), and then to laughing so hard I have to stop to catch my breath (LMAO).

At this point in my walk, I am on an uphill section of my normal circuit, right in front of a pediatrician’s office.  There are people in the parking lot on their way in to see the doctor, and some others coming out on their way to their cars.  Imagine their surprise to see a heavyset man in his 50’s doubled over in the road.  They can’t tell I am laughing, but it is obvious that I am having trouble breathing.  They immediately think heart attack.

So two people come rushing over, and one person runs inside to get the doctor.  They try to make me sit down on the curb, and I try to tell them I am OK, and that I am just laughing at a story.  But that just makes the whole thing funnier to me, so I laugh even harder (ROFL).  I try to explain, but since I am uttering phrases like Siamese Slanket and Toga Party, they assume that I am hallucinating.

Now the doctor comes out, and we know each other because his office used to be in our building.  He says, “Bob what’s wrong?”  I realize people are worried so I manage to compose myself a little and start to explain.  Turns out the doc has seen the ads for the Siamese Slanket, and he thinks it’s hilarious that someone would put their legs through the second set of arm holes, and he starts laughing, which gets me going all over again.  By now the first responders have figured out that I am not having a heart attack. I am merely a lunatic.  So they grab their children (pediatrician, remember?) and beat a hasty retreat to their cars.

This happens to me sometimes.  I start laughing at something, and it turns into a full-on, roaring belly-laugh.  When it is over, I feel so good.  I know it has something to do with the release of endorphins, but I just think of it as a release of stress.  Laughter really is the best medicine (LOL).

photo by Bob’s dad

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Zero To 60 In 38 Years ©

Going zero to 60 with Shinazy

zero to 60

As you know from “VW Beetle, aka, The Bug” I owned a bug for 38 years and would probably still be driving it had my sister never come to visit me.  During that visit I loaned her my VW and borrowed a brand new, just delivered, hot car.


Remember your first roller coaster ride – the terror you felt as you slowly inched toward the top of the first drop and the thrill as you zoomed down, hair flying, eyes wide, fingered clinched around the safety bar.  That was my feeling.  I had in my hands the steering wheel of a 200 horsepower street missile, an increase of 150 horses.  I was going to go fast.  I was going to go zero to 60 in a 7.9 second.

Now I could drive in the fast lane, pass cars, go the same speed up hill as on flat ground … I was in car heaven.  I hungered for one of these machines.

But, I wanted to own a home and there was my children’s education to consider. And, did I really want to empty my savings?  No!  However, I could start putting money away for the day when I could go zero to 60 in my own car.

And that day arrived, 25 years later.  On a cloudless, crisp fall day, with my daughter in the passengers seat, I drove off the car dealer’s sales lot in a fierce 400 horse power … Black … Convertible … Corvette!

Remember the driveway length on-ramps where the Bug played bumper-cars, well, that is no longer an issue.  When I push the gas pedal the Corvette responds and I just slide neatly into the traffic.

My first road trip was a visit to Aunt Judy.  In pre-Vette days I would watch every cow and see individual fence posts as I drove the two-lane country road.  In a car that will go from zero-to-60 in 4.3 second, most of the countryside is a kaleidoscope.

Yes, I have the need for speed. I love taking the tunnel that connects Hwy 92 with 280 as fast as my stomach will let me.  This tunnel is perfectly banked and one day I came out of it to five empty lanes, an open invitation to see just what that car could do.  But, that blank canvas was quickly filled with a red flashing light.  Another new experience – my first speeding ticket!

So, I decided Driving was more than just going fast.  The hills here have serpentine roads. In the VW I took the curves with precaution.  In my C6 I take those turns with surgical precision and “pull some G’s”.  This car is a gecko – it just hunkers down and sticks.

But I must confess, on a warm day, with the top down, my hair in a ponytail, I just gotta see, can I handle zero to 60 in under … well, the car can, but me, I think I’m still a VW babe at heart.

 photo by shinazy

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The Smart Phone Saga ©

A Story by Malati Marlene Shinazy

Chapter One:

My cell phone is an important tool.  When cell phone developers became smart enough to develop smart phones, I jumped at the first fiscally responsible opportunity to own one (I.e., I didn’t break my zillion year contract and pay my provider a million dollar fee for the opportunity).

Finally, I had a smart phone.  My son and I upgraded at the same time, so were on the same steep learning curve.  It was his suggestion that developers refer to these devices as smart phones because learning to use them makes us feel… well, rather dumb for awhile.

It took about two weeks to learn the basic functionalities of my smart phone… Then, it started calling people without me touching it.  I returned to the reseller store.  The smart phone had a problem. They ordered me a new one.

Chapter Two:

It took an evening to establish settings for Device #2.  All was right with the world…. for about two weeks… Suddenly Device #2 got so smart it not only called random numbers, it went on and off by itself.  Surely, this one was possessed.  Back to the store, whose manger assured me of the rarity of my experience and graciously ordered Device #3.

I got Device #3 functioning quickly.  A month passed, then two months…  I finally had a Device that worked… Until I dropped my laptop on it and shattered the screen.  Device #3 still worked, I just couldn’t see the buttons or keys.

Quite embarrassed, I returned to the store and activated my insurance for Device #4… This operated like a pro — for about two months… It then stopped working altogether: nothing, nada, nullité.

By now, my original smart phone was no longer available. Device #5 was an upgrade.  “Not so bad,” I thought, “At least I secured an out-of-cycle upgrade without paying a million dollars.”

How naïve to think Device #5 would last longer than it’s predecessors.

  • Bigger? Check.
  • Faster? Check.
  • Stronger? Check.
  • Reliable?  Ahh, that would be a loud, NO!

Unceremoniously, I went through Device #6.  Its death didn’t even surprise me.

What did surprise me was the scolding I received from the provider when I called to question why Device #7’s charging port wouldn’t hold onto my chargers.

“Silly woman,” chided the customer service rep. “Why’d you wait so long? It’s now out of warranty.  You’ll have to return to the store where you purchased the original phone.”

I imagined the voice of Hal, the super computer who takes over the spaceship in the 1968 film, 2001: A Space Odyssey.

I can see you’re really upset about this.

I honestly think you ought to sit down calmly, take a stress pill, and think things over.”

Upset?  Try… Livid!

Device #8 arrived last night.  It took 1.3 minutes to get it running.

Eight smart phone devices in 14 months!!  

And now we wait for …

Chapter Three

=  =  =  =  =  =

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photo by shinazy

VW Beetle, aka, The Bug ©

VW owned by Shinazy


It’s December 1969. I’m writing a check for $1,700, making me the proud owner of a Tan Volkswagen Beetle, equipped with a powerful 54 hp engine and an Automatic Stick Shift transmission. Yes, VW made automatics, actually semi-automatics, I still shifted through the gears, but no choreographing my feet, as there was no clutch pedal – Hallelujah. However, this improvement decreased the power, but it was easier to operate. And operate it I did, for the next thirty-eight years.

My VW reflected my personality, became my middle child, and a character in my history.  My daughter is a few years older than my VW and twelve years older than her brother, so most of my adult history involved undertakings with my three children.

One of my daughter’s birthdays, I hauled eleven pre-teen girls and my friend, Jean, to play miniature golf.  As I stood in the driveway staring at the Bug, then at the mob of girls, then the car . . . How was I going to get all these bodies into such a tiny space?  Could I use dad’s college-students-crammed-into-a-phone-booth technique to continue the birthday celebration?  What about everyone’s comfort and survival?  Like logs in a cord of wood I stacked the girls, they thought this was the best thing we did all day.

Creating childhood memories was as much fun for me as it was for my children.  Being mom gave me another chance to play, be silly, experience life.  I also wanted to create holiday traditions.  Every Christmas there was the excursion to the tree farm. Folks in the parking lot with their trucks and station wagons would stare as I lashed a tree, longer and wider than my Beetle, onto the roof and proceeded to secured it with lines and knots that would hold the Titanic to any dock.

The Bug was more than my tree toting truck. One Labor Day, returning from Volcano, CA, roasting in stop-n-go traffic, my son and I decided a water fight would be a welcomed activity.  While sitting inside the car – a plastic interior has its advantages – we splashed each other until we looked like it had rained.  There we sat, all wet and smiling and cool.  We stopped at every gas station to refill our bottles … and the battle continued.

Although there were many joyous experiences, the lack of power was always an issue.  When my son finally weighed 100 pounds I stopped parking the VW in the up hill direction. It’s hilly here so this parking technique was …if not impossible, at least, impractical. Whenever it was the two of us in the VW, I would have him walk to the corner and wait for me; I’d eventually get there, and then, there was the incident when his grandmother was a passenger and he had to give the VW a push to get the bug moving.

During the entire thirty-eight-Bug-driving years I lived in the San Francisco Bay Area where freeway on-ramps were driveway entrances to bumper-car traffic.  And, around here anywhere I went I encountered undulating streets. All this resulted in me driving in the slow lane watching cars flash by at the posted speed limit, while I visualize my car passing the slower car ahead.

Every few years, when I just could not take it any more, I’d decide to “buy a fast car.”  After a few months the urge would pass and I’d continued to be passed, but it all stopped in 2007. Oh, did it ever … zoom, zoom.

My sister wanted me to end this story with these words: “And my sister was soooo thrilled when she no longer had to ride with me in this classic car?”

Little does she know it was her visit that started the twenty-five year plan to go from zip to zoom. But that’s another story.

photo by shinazy

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TECH Thursday: Google Privacy – How to Remove Google Web Data History

  by Shinazy

Today Google has one Privacy Policy and now all the info Google gathers on us from various Google products and services, e.g. gmail, google+, google docs, YouTube, Picasa, will be in one place.

Although we are unable to eliminate the Google eye-in-the-sky, by removing Google Web Data History  we can limit some of the data that’s gathered.

Here’s what I did yesterday:

  • I signed into one of my Google accounts – gmail
  • In the upper right corner, I clicked on my photo (or avatar)
  • In the menu that appeared, click on “Account settings
  • Scroll down to ‘Services
  • To the right of ‘View, enable, or disable web history”, click “Go to web history
  • Enter your Password
  • If you see your web history listed, then near the top of the page, click the gray area titled “Remove all Web History”
  • Click ‘OK’

All your web history should be gone!  And, near the top of the page, you should see “Web History is paused,” which means your web history will no longer be tracked.

You can reverse your decision by clicking the blue box titled ‘Resume’

I’ll keep you posted if I uncover more ways to shade our personal information from the all-knowing Google.

photo by courosa

TECH Thursday: How to Change your Facebook Cover Photo

     by Shinazy

Two weeks ago in the Tech Thursday story titled, Facebook Timeline Is Coming, I mentioned that my favorite word related to the Facebook Timeline was the word HOVER.

To create or change your Timeline Cover Photo – the big picture that splashes across the top of your page – you must HOVER in the area where the Cover Photo would appear.
  • In the Cover Photo area you will see above the  Update Info Activity Log  a box that reads  Change Cover
  • Click on the upside down triangle 
  • You will then see
  • If you select  Choose From Photos, these are pictures you previously posted on Facebook  
  • You can select  Upload Photo, which should take you to where you saved all your pictures on your computer
Once you selected / uploaded the picture you want for your Cover Photo you can move your photo Up and Down to position how you want it to appear to your friends.
  • Put your curser on your Cover Picture and hold down your mouse button, then move your mouse up and down, your Cover Picture should move

  • Then click   Save Changes
Voila !    You now have a great big photo displayed on your Facebook Timeline.
Have fun with this feature.  I change my Cover Photo to match the picture used with each BOBB story.  So, if you watch my Facebook Timeline Cover Photo it will let you know a new story has been published on Bitchin’ Ol’ Boomer Babe
Let me know if you need help with any of the Facebook Timeline features; I’m here to help.

photo by stoneysteiner

TECH Thursday: Facebook Timeline Is Coming

by Shinazy

Yes, it’s coming.  

We may not like it, but over the next few weeks it will arrive.   

It is Facebook Timeline and when you decide you like it, it will function as your personal ‘website’.  

To get a head start, I changed to Timeline and went through the Help Center, step-by-step. Below are my notes:

Our ‘TIMELINE’ is just to the LEFT of the listing of our friends

  • Hover over – this is an important action.  In order to do many things in Facebook’s Timeline, I needed  to Hover over something to see what I was looking for.  So, remember, when frustrated, Hover over items.
  • To Hide A Story
o   Hover over the story and click ‘Hide from Timeline’.  The story will stay in your ‘Activity Log’ which only you can see, or
o   Click ‘Delete Post’ and it is gone forever !
  • To Add A Story
o   On the left side of the screen, you will see this
o   Click the type of thing you want to add:  a Status, Photo, Place, Life Event
o   Write what you want to say
o   Using the 3 tiny icons at the bottom left, you can Tag a Friend, Pick a Date for the story, and/or Add a Location
o   Decide who can see your story
§   IMPORTANT !!  Life Events are Public until you change the ‘Audience’

  • To Change the Privacy Setting on this story
o   Click the upside down triangle to the left of the word Post, a drop down menu will appear.  Now you can select Public, or Friends, or Only Me
  • To Change the Privacy Setting on ALL your post
o   I recommend you go to the Help Center.  (You cannot undo your change and I’d rather you hear it from / hold Facebook accountable if something goes amiss.)
  • To see what your Timeline looks like to others
o   Find this     it is to the left of your Timeline
o   Click on the upside down triangle and click on ‘View As’
o   You can also type in the name of a friend
  • Cover Photo
o   I had no trouble loading my new picture from my computer
o   I can change it any time I want.
  • Privacy
o   Go to “Home” (upper right corner), click on the upside down triangle, –> Privacy Settings
§  See “How Tags Work”, click on “Edit Settings” –> change “Maximum Timeline Visibility” from “Public” to “Friends” –> Done
§  To change all past posts from “Public” to “Friends only”:  Go to “Limit the Audience for Past Posts,” click “Manage Past Post Visibility”
      –> Read ALL the words, then decide what you really want to do.

My opinion of the Facebook Timeline: 
  • Yes, it looks different and it will take me awhile to know automatically where to look.
  • It’s easier to jump to the past via the Timeline slide bar. 
  • I like that I am able to ‘Edit Thumbnail’ and ‘Scale it [to] fit’.
  • Via the ‘Activity Log”, I like that I can control what’s on my page and in my Timeline.  And of course, I starred all the Bitchin’ Ol’ Boomer Babe postings.
  • I need to remember to HOVER.
  • I’m still unsure about how the post from my friends will look in Timeline and how easy it will be for me to comment.
  • It’s great that the Facebook Timeline lets me post stuff to the past.
  • The Help Center is helpful.

Let me know if you are having difficulty with any of the Facebook Timeline changes and I’ll help you and post the answer here in BOBB, so we can all learn.
Good Luck to us all !

   photo by Danja

TECH Thursday: Introduction to Facebook’s Timeline, coming to a computer near you

by Shinazy

Facebook.  For some of us Facebook is just two four-letter words, for others it is the local café, and for others still it has replaced letter writing and postal stamp buying.  Regardless of our personal feelings about it, like the telephone – (remember that black thing that sat in the hallway nook tethering us to within 3 feet of the wall) – Facebook is here to stay.  And like the telephone, just when we finally figured out how to friend our friends, post on our wall, leave comments on our friend’s wall, what does Facebook do?  . . .  It changes!

Get ready for Facebook’s new profile layout: Timeline (hey, another double four letter word.)  It’s coming, like it or not, so we might as well figure out what’s it all about.
Think of Timeline as your digital diary, scrapbook, journal, memoir, album, chronicling your life events, or as much of your life as you want to expose . . . errrr, I mean post.
Early boomers will remember the television series, “This is Your Life”      Think of Timeline as your version, as it can pull from your past, telling your life story.
General info about Timeline:
Instead, of the single-center column, you will see two columns: a large one, similar to what you see today, and a smaller column to the right for speedy navigating.
Any dated information you previously entered will appear on your Timeline: your birth date, graduation date, birth dates of your children, grandchildren, work history dates, etc. You can add photos and captions to photos, or remove anything you would rather delete from your life story.
When computers first entered our lives, a wise person said to me, “If you want something that will remain the same throughout your lifetime, buy a fork.”
So, you see four-letter words can be something we embrace.
Stay tuned for the nuts and bolts of Timeline.  I’ll also cover: the “Activity Log”, cog / icon / badge, other stuff on the main page, “Life Event”, and . . .  PRIVACY tips.

photo by stoneysteiner