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The Collective Working to Save VHS Tapes Before They Decay

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Even if you are still holding on to a VCR, your VHS tapes won’t last forever. Videotape is magnetic, and as a result, the data recorded on it won’t be readable forever. Magnetic tape’s life expectancy is only between 10 and 30 years [PDF]. Some archivists and enthusiasts, though, are trying to combat this inevitable loss, according to NPR.

The XFR Collective (pronounced like “transfer”) is a nonprofit organization devoted to digitizing “at risk audiovisual media.” Its mission is partial to work that is rarely seen, marginalized, or otherwise unheralded, whether it’s documentation of police brutality in minority communities or old public access television features that few people probably saw in the first place.

The people who spend their time saving the collective's video and audio tapes in a more permanent form are volunteers, and the media is then uploaded to the Internet Archive (with the permission of its creators). So far, the XFR Collective has transferred 155 tapes and 67 hours of video from VHS to digital format—all in real-time so that the individual transferring the data can troubleshoot and monitor the progress of the recording.

Unfortunately, digital forms can become obsolete, too, and these videos may eventually need to be transferred to yet another format, like film. The digital versions of these home movies and small-time television and film programs might just be a stop-gap to keep the data alive until a more lasting solution comes along.

[h/t NPR]

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Getting Calls From Your Own Phone Number? Don't Answer!
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There’s a new phone scam that could affect you, according to Washington’s KIRO 7 News. In addition to keeping your eyes open for calls that come from area codes like 473 or involve people claiming to be Equifax representatives, you now have to watch out for your own phone number.

Scammers are manipulating your phone’s caller ID to make it look like you’re getting a call from your own phone number, then posing as someone from a wireless carrier like AT&T or Verizon. They tell whoever answers the phone that their account has been flagged for security reasons, then ask for the last four digits of that person’s Social Security number. The FCC has been aware of these scams for at least two years, but they seem to be ramping up once again.

In general, you shouldn’t give out any part of your Social Security number over the phone on an incoming call. If you’re suspicious, you can always call your carrier back using the official customer service phone number on their website or on your bill. But it’s best not to pick up at all. If you receive a call from your own number, don’t answer or press any buttons. Instead, file a complaint with the FCC.

[h/t KIRO 7 News]

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Samsung’s Star Wars Vacuums Offer Everything You Want in a Droid
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Hate housecleaning but love Star Wars? Samsung’s got the solution. In anticipation of December’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi, the newest film in the Star Wars saga, Samsung has transformed a limited number of its VR7000 POWERbot robot vacuum cleaners into two familiar faces from George Lucas’s legendary space opera: a Stormtrooper and Darth Vader (which comes with Wi-Fi connectivity and a remote control).

In order to create a unique device that would truly thrill Star Wars aficionados, Samsung consulted with fans of the film throughout each stage of the process. The result is a pair of custom-crafted robo-vacuums that fill your home with the sounds of a galaxy far, far away as they clean (when you turn Darth Vader on, for example, you'll hear his iconic breathing).

“We are very pleased to be part of the excitement leading up to the release of The Last Jedi and to be launching our limited edition POWERbot in partnership with Star Wars fans,” B.S. Suh, Samsung’s executive vice president, said in a press statement. “From its industry-leading suction power, slim design, and smart features, to the wonderful character-themed voice feedback and sound effects, we are confident the Star Wars limited edition of the VR7000 will be a big hit.”

Be warned that this kind of power suction doesn’t come cheap: while the Stormtrooper POWERbot will set you back $696, the Darth Vader vacuum retails for $798. Who knew the Dark Side was so sparkling clean?


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