Reclaim Today: Tape Action Outside!

Last night I finally got back on the Reclaim Today train. The show has been on hiatus during September given the new semester was in full swing, but Reclaim Hosting is starting to come up for air and we all know the show must go on!

I’m pretty excited about this episode cause it connects a couple of things we’ve done over the last few years, with this blog being a touchstone. Back in May I got the following email from John Grahame:

Dear Professor Groom,
 

On your bavatuesdays “Total Recall” blog from Feb 28, 2015 <https://bavatuesdays.com/total-recall-panasonic-omnivision-vcr/> you post a jpeg of a 1981 Montgomery Ward ad for Panasonic VCRs. The bottom VCR separates the tuner and the VCR to enable the user to “Tape action outside!” I bought one of those (for about $1,050!) in 1981. I still have it and it still works. Looks nice, too. Do you have any idea if there is anyone out there who would be interested in preserving items like these? I guess I’m thinking in terms of a museum of technology of something like that. I’m 70 years old now and am feeling the need to find ways for certain things I own to have a future.

Thanks,  

Do I have any idea of someone who would be interested? You bet! The post from this here old blog, THE BAVA, was from 2015 and was part of my documentation of the UMW Console exhibit we created at UMW. It highlighted my purchase of an early 80s Panasonic Omnivision VHS player—which was the player my family had while I was growing up. It was (and still is) an awesome learning machine. In many ways it was an anchor of the 80s exhibit in my mind because it brought me back to the video 80s that were so formative. So, John’s email had me right away, and the image he is referring to with the dual unit from a Montgomery Ward catalogue was part of that post:

This was mobile video in 1981! Turns out this machine is a 1980s Panasonic Omnivision with Tuner and Recorder—and the tagline “Tape Action Outside!” provides a sense of the arrival of mass consumer portable video from the early 80s. When John shared the original manual and receipt it felt that much more real, technology with a very personal history.

$1300 in 1982 for this technology

I immediately responded to John with interest and we soon after got on a call wherein I explained Reclaim Video as an extension of the idea we started with the UMW Console in 2015. He was thrilled to contribute, and at this very moment the Panasonic Omnivision PV-4510  is en route to Fredericksburg to discover its new home in Reclaim Video. It’s due to arrive today, so hopefully pictures will follow.

But even better than the machine were John’s stories of exploring video in the early 70s throughout the 1980s. He started exploring video while a student at UMass in 1970 with Sony’s Portapak. I was not familiar with the Portapak and I looked it up after talking with John back in Spring, and it was a relatively inexpensive setup at $1500 in 1967 for this kind of technology (I was way off in the episode thinking I saw the price point at $120 or so, but it sounded as wrong as it was—so never trust me).

Image of Sony's portable video unit "Portapak" from 1967

Sony’s portable video unit “Portapak” from 1967

The Portapak is interesting because as John noted, UMass had ten of them lying around, and given no one was using them he was able to hold onto it for two years and basically turn his mass communication papers into video papers. What’s more, from the Wikipedia article, the advent of this tecchnology during the political turmoil fo the late 60s meant it was being used by artists and activists alike to capture that moment:

The introduction of the Portapak had a great influence on the development of video artguerrilla television, and activism. Video collectives such as TVTV and the Videofreex utilized Portapak technology to document countercultural movements apart from the Big Three television networks. The Portapak was also a crucial technology for the Raindance Foundation, a collective consisting of artists, academics, and scientists, motivated by the potential of the Portapak and video to develop alternative forms of communication.[4] Because of its relative affordability and immediate playback capability, the Portapak provided artists, experimenters, and social commentators the ability to make and distribute videos apart from well-funded production companies.

It’s interesting to think that the introduction of video to a mass market was as far back as the 1960s, and John’s career as a video producer ranges from the 70s through the 80s when he got to work with Francis Ford Coppola on One From the Heart (1982). While often remembered as the film that sunk Zoetrope Studios financially,  it is also remembered as a pioneering exploration of using video to create a film. Here’s a bit of context from the Previsualization Wikipedia article:

The most comprehensive and revolutionary use of new technology to plan movie sequences came from Francis Ford Coppola, who in making his 1982 musical feature One From the Heart, developed the process he called “electronic cinema”. Through electronic cinema Coppola sought to provide the filmmaker with on-set composing tools that would function as an extension of his thought processes.[1] For the first time, an animatic would be the basis for an entire feature film. The process began with actors performing a dramatic “radio-style” voice recording of the entire script. Storyboard artists then drew more than 1800 individual storyboard frames.[1] These drawings were then recorded onto analog videodisks and edited according to the voice recordings.[8] Once production began, video taken from the video tap of the 35 mm camera(s) shooting the actual movie was used to gradually replace storyboarded stills to give the director a more complete vision of the film’s progress.[8]

Instead of working with the actors on set, Coppola directed while viewing video monitors in the “Silverfish” (nickname) Airstream trailer, outfitted with then state-of-the-art video editing equipment.[9] Video feeds from the five stages at the Hollywood General Studios were fed into the trailer, which also included an off-line editing system, switcher, disk-based still store, and Ultimatte keyers. The setup allowed live and/or taped scenes to be composited with both full size and miniature sets.[8]

John relates his experience filming Harry Dean Stanton and Nastassja Kinski on the streets of Las Vegas without permits on the streets of Las Vegas in video. How cool is that, and here is an image of John (the man with the camera) and Coppola during the shoot:

John Grahame with Francis Ford Coppola while shooting One from the Heart in video

These connections blew my mind, and I knew I wanted to have John on an episode of Reclaim Today once we started it cause this kind of insight to the long history of video during the 60s, 70s, and 80s was a big part of why I was so excited about Reclaim Video, and here is that history being recounted by one who worked intimately within it. What’s more, it provided another moment to reflect on that bit at the end of the documentary Heart of Darkness wherein Coppola has a pretty brilliant of vision of what the advent of cheap, ubiquitous access to video could do for movies as an art form.

The long history of video just became that much more interesting to me, thanks John!

OER 18: Reclaim Video & Cloudron

Now that I’m on the tail end of this trip, I feel like I can finally wrap my head around the last 10 days and gather my thoughts for a blog post. Last week, the Reclaim team met in Bristol for the OER 18 Conference. The entire experience was definitely a mix of ups and downs, but that’s not a result of OER’s doing; I got sick and had to back out of the second day of the conference & my presentation slot. (Ugh, talk about timing.) It was a huge bummer to prepare so hard for something to then not have a chance to share it, but I’m incredibly grateful to be apart of such a solid team that was able to step in for me. Apparently, they rocked the house!

It was always my intention to share the presentation slides & summarize the talk in a post after the fact for reference, so I’ll definitely be doing that as my small way to make up for missing the real deal. But first, I wanted to share other photos and thoughts from the first day of the conference because it was incredible! After running the Domains 17 conference last year, I have a much deeper level of respect for the folks that run these events year after year, especially when they’re done so thoughtfully and seamlessly.

Day One

^On our way out the door for the first day of #OER18!

Firstly, the venue for the OER event was absolutely wonderful. The conference took place on the second floor of a theater that sat right on the water. There was a cafe, plenty of space to catch up with friendly faces, and talks were given in traditional auditorium-like spaces.

Reclaim Video also made a grand entrance by introducing the promo video for domains, new website, and hosting a VHS table situated in one of the main conference galleries. Reclaim Video even convinced Reclaim Hosting to change their look as well. :)

^This artwork created by Bryan Mathers has been a long time coming– it was created back when we were envisioning how Reclaim Video would mesh with Reclaim Hosting. I’ve written a post sharing these details here.

Later that day, Jim and Tim gave a 15-min lightning talk on Cloudron.io which was super awesome to hear. The point of the presentation was to give a (brief) overview of the ‘app store’-like hosting environment, how we’re considering Cloudron’s potential as a part of Reclaim’s future, and whether or not audience members might be interested in something like this. Though the talk was short, being able to gauge the audience’s reaction was incredibly rewarding.

It’s safe to say that the Reclaim Team left all the more motivated to continue thinking through how Cloudron might be integrated with or (dare I say it) replace cPanel one day. Tim has already begun to build out the beginnings of a Cloudron interface/DoOO alternative, but I’ll save that for another post. ;)

I also felt particularly attached to the keynote at the end of day one given by Dr. Momodou Sallah, a Reader in Globalisation and Global Youth Work at the Social Work, Youth and Community Division, De Montfort University, UK. I was drawn to the work he’s done for and with Global Hands, a Social Enterprise/Charity operating in The Gambia.

I was heavily involved in outreach/charity work throughout my high school & college years, so his talk really pulled at my heartstrings. I also thought it was an incredibly refreshing take on the Openness theme in an OER conference setting. For me, Dr. Sallah’s talk was an important reminder that learning in the open extends way beyond the traditional 4-walled, classroom setting. There’s always more we can be and should be doing to bring underprivileged areas of the world up to speed with not only the latest technologies of learning but the basic necessities of human life.

After his talk, we all made our way outside to end Day One with a beautiful boat tour around the venue:

Super thankful to have been apart of this conference, if only for a day. And a special thanks to Maren Deepwell, Martin Hawksey, and the rest of the OER team for pulling off an incredible event & helping us bring our Reclaim Video dreams to life.

Stay tuned for an overview of the Workshop presentation summary post!

Reclaim Video Inventory

Over the last couple of days, I’ve taken a break from my Documentation April to categorize Reclaim Video’s ever-growing collection of VHS, Betamax, and Laserdisc. I feel like every couple of days (if not every day) we’re receiving a package in the mail enclosing one or two new VHS tapes from Jim’s wishlist. They’re always so fun to open, but then they inevitably pile up on the front desk until one of us as a moment to add them to our excel sheet. Oh yeah, we have been using excel to keep track of what we had, but Reclaim Video has quickly outgrown it. The excel list was hard to look at, hard to search through, and staying organized was virtually impossible.

What’s more, last week we received two (yes, two!) VHS donations from folks in the Fredericksburg community. Suddenly we were faced with a dilemma: how would we add these tapes to our collection without losing track of who donated what? Especially once duplicates of films are involved.. it was just getting complicated. We decided stickers on the tapes themselves was not an option, so a digital log of some sort was needed.

Enter Libib.com!

Tim found this Cloud Cataloging tool that’s made to keep track of books, movies, video games and more. I began playing around with the online version and the iPhone app and was immediately sold. The free version is perfect for anyone looking to log their personal collections, and we’ve made great use out of it for Reclaim Video so far. I imagine we’ll end up upgrading the pro version ($5/mo) to take advantage of its loaning features. We are a rental store, of course.

My favorite part of the app, without a doubt, has been the Barcode scanning feature. I’ve been able to easily scan hundreds of tapes and archive them on our new collection site, inventory.reclaimvideo.com. Movies that are recognized in the database are then automatically displayed with a ton of helpful metadata.

^Example of the metadata pulled. In addition, viewers are then able to leave reviews & I can easily keep track of how many copies are available. I wish more of the metadata was available on the public-facing site, but I’m imagining that’s part of the pro version.

In addition, we can now easily add donations & and organizing them using Tags. It’s beautiful! ^ Collections are organized by “libraries”, so Reclaim Video has three libraries: VHS, Betamax, and Laserdisc.

^Full row of 007 Betamax

Just today I finally finished logging all the Betamax & VHS currently available at Reclaim Video. I took advantage of the opportunity to organize the tapes as well, so the right half of the room is VHS, and the left is Betamax.

^The forward-facing inventory site.

I’m excited to expand this over time– not only tweet-length messages to the right sidebar, but more laserdisc logging coming soon! It’s also nice to be able to send interested Reclaim Video renters somewhere to say, “hey, this is what’s currently in stock!”

Reclaim Projects

Gosh, the last few weeks have been quite a whirlwind! I’ve got a few blog posts in the queue that I’m hoping to crank out over the next few days, time willing. Reclaim Hosting is juggling a handful of projects at the moment, and my position as Operations Manager as never felt more relevant. I’m incredibly thankful for the Reclaim Team- especially Meredith (and now Chris!)- for being so stellar on support. Their willingness to take on tickets as allowed me to be able to step back from the support roll slightly to focus more intently on managing the projects below.

Workshop of One’s Own

A large chunk of my time over the last months/weeks have been devoted to our second Workshop of One’s Own. This two-day event built for Domain of One’s Own administrators blends conceptual, technical training with strategies for promotion and community outreach. We’re even bringing in the great Alan Levine to work with participants on SPLOTs. The new outline has proven to be quite popular- we’ve more than doubled our attendee numbers from November! Our Workshop last fall had 6 participants, while 14 people will be joining us in Fredericksburg next week. Check out the list of schools below:

It’s going to be a great line up! I’m very much looking forward to meeting and/or reacquainting with these administrators & technologists in person. For anyone following along, feel free to check out our event itinerary here.

Reclaim Video

I gave an overview of Reclaim Video here, but we’ve come quite a long way since that post was published. Jim has done a great job of documenting our progress thus far, but I thought I’d jump into the conversation as well.  Where to begin! Over the last month and a half, we’ve stripped down the once-office space to the basics, created the logo and have painted the walls black and gray with RGB stripes along the ceiling border. During these renovations, I’ve made it my goal to get us prepared as possible to fill the space as soon as it’s ready. We’ve ordered a storefront sign, carpet, t-shirts & stickers, blank VHS tapes & their assorted labels, hard plastic VHS cases, movie posters, and have begun to build out shelves. The other day, Tim & I even drove to Winchester to pick up a display case & front desk that I found on Craigslist.

I know that I was dragging my feet at the thought of building a physical space for 80’s VHS, but I’ll be the first to admit: it has been a blast to create. I wasn’t even a mere thought in the 80’s, so I don’t personally connect with the ‘art exhibit’ factor that the space will bring (as fascinating as it will be). My personal motivation lies with the idea that we’re building a space dedicated to technology that is not new. VHS is not new. This rings true for Reclaim Hosting’s products as well. When I’ve spoken in person or on video chats with educational institutions, this theme is always brought to the surface. What we’re selling– web hosting– is not new. It’s actually very rudimentary. We offer the space and the building blocks to create and explore. So for me, coming to this discovery over the last few weeks has been very rewarding.

I’m excited to continue designing out the space and adding key elements that will make it feel authentic. (Does anyone have a Commodore 64, by chance?) We’re also asking anyone and everyone to donate their VHS tapes to the cause. So if you’ve got ’em, send ’em!

OER ’18 Conference

While this hasn’t taken precedence as much here recently, the Open Education Research conference is this coming April 18 – 19th. After Workshop of One’s Own has passed, we’ll be switching gears to prepare for our talks for the event. Between Tim, Jim, Meredith, and myself, the Reclaim Team has three conference sessions:

// Presentation – Ghost in a Shell: Moving Beyond LAMP Hosting for Open Source Applications: Read abstract here
// Presentation – Strategies for Supporting Your Community in the Open: Read abstract here
// Workshop – Digital Literacy: Reclaiming Your Space: Read abstract here

In addition to speaking, we’ll also be sponsoring the conference as Reclaim Video. (Reclaim Hosting who?) You can read our sponsorship add here.

RH Website Additions

I’ve also had the opportunity to make minor updates to the main website for Reclaim Hosting. Creating the WordPress Multisite Pricing Calculator was definitely a big one. I cleaned up our footer menu a bit, as well as updated this list. (Fun fact: that community list is my favorite page on the website.)

The Blog feed needed a little work as well. We were having to manually import featured images, which is way too much overhead and kind of defeated the purpose of a feed. So I changed the structure on the back end, tweaked a few theme settings, and voilà:

^We have images! I’d still like for the entries to show excerpts rather than the post, but that will come. Remember, this is a progress post, people!

Lastly, I’ve created a hidden section called Institutional Documents. It’s nothing fancy at the moment, but it’s becoming a great resource for schools looking to work with Reclaim and maybe need to get a jumpstart on the paperwork. I’ve created a digital version of all contracts and questionnaires that we use, and give folks the option create a downloadable .PDF version at the bottom of each page. We’ll still obviously attach hard copy versions to our conversations, but in the spirit of keeping Reclaim open and accessible, I thought this was needed.

Painting the office & Reclaim Video

This past weekend, the team came together to get some painting done in CoWork and Reclaim Video. (What is CoWork? // What is Reclaim Video?) We made a lot of progress, so I thought I’d share that through photos here!

^Color for two of the walls in Reclaim Video. This shade is inspired from VHS covers that we’ve found similar to this one.

^And the painting begins!!

^Progress…

^We also decided to give the bathrooms in CoWork a quick facelift by painting one of the walls our signature CoWork Orange.

^This made a huge difference. Now all we need is some art in that great big space!

^We made a ton of progress in Reclaim Video as well. Gray on two sides, black on the other. Just wait until you see what we have planned for the top strips. ;) But I’ll give you a hint…

reclaimvideo.com

 

P.s. if you’d like to see the progress happening in real time, I invite you to follow along on instagram: @coworkfxbg & @reclaimvideo.
P.p.s. if you want to see how Reclaim Video originally looked, click here.

Reclaim Video Artwork

If you’re not already familiar with Reclaim Video, I suggest giving Jim’s post a read. But in short, we’ve decided to turn a storefront adjacent to our Reclaim office into a fully operational 80’s-style VHS store. We’ve already begun collecting tapes & VHS players, and have already broke ground on renovating the space: That’s all good and well, but why? Aside from making Jim’s fantasy a reality, we’re actually using Reclaim Video as Reclaim Hosting’s first *official* marketing campaign. I’ll save details about this for future posts, but will go ahead and note that we’re planning on using VHS tapes to get the word out about Domain of One’s Own. It’s gonna be fun. So in an effort to move towards this next chapter, we also felt that a natural next step for Reclaim would also be to update the artwork on our website; to “modernize” from a record label storefront to (you guessed it) an 80’s VHS storefront. Video killed the radio star, right? While the actual campaign, website, and VHS storefront will stay very true to the 80’s aesthetic, we wanted reclaimhosting.com to embody these changes while still bringing about familiarity for our existing customers. We reached out to Bryan Mathers, the awesome fellow who created our existing artwork, about our ideas. Our visual thinking session (i.e. 2 hours of us brainstorming while Bryan drew our thoughts) was insanely helpful. We were able to nail down our goals for the future & our plan for achieving them, all the while paying tribute to the individuals, organizations, and institutions who have helped us get to where we are today. We talked about building capacity, both internally and externally, but making sure this is done the right way. To stay familiar as we grow. Using the storefront metaphor: even though the “start-up” mentality seems fleeting, Reclaim will always and forever embody the idea of a local store that anyone can walk into, ask questions, speak to a knowledgeable human being, and receive quick support. As we grow, we will grow out, not up. Reclaim will never be a large, 20-story corporate building that offloads support to a third-party company across the globe. Reclaim will, instead, have several small mom & pop shops that will provide you with the same service as that original record label store. Enter new artwork:

Logo

^You can see the similarities, right? Same font, color scheme, and even the same record squiggles. It looks like the record logo has been cut in half to make way for the VHS tape, and I love that.

Logo with Tagline

^Same feel but adds a tagline & switches out the colors.

Website Header

^LOVE this piece. We’ve still got our record albums, but this time instead of those having the application names, they now have some of our shared hosting server names, which just so happen to also be band names. We’ve also made room on the shelf for some VHS tapes, or popular tools in cPanel. Intermixed with those are a few DIY tapes, which I’m all about. Want to build your site on WordPress or Omeka? Or perhaps use your own HTML? Maybe watch a Zombies movie instead?

Up Close

^Here’s an up-close version so you can see titles a bit better. (Just now realizing that MediaWiki is one word, so we’ll get that fixed. :)) Which got us thinking…what if every domain was a VHS tape?

Blank Tape

^Tim had the brilliant idea to use this as part of our new splash page when someone signs up for a domain. Their newly registered domain could automatically generate on the tape when they refresh their page.

Interactive Video Tape Versions

To say the least, I’m thrilled with the work that Bryan has done so far. And I’m pumped for what’s to come! If you’ve got ’em, I would love to hear your thoughts on growth, metaphors, or art in the comment section below. And stay tuned for more artwork. :)

RH Youtube

After filming bits and pieces of Workshop of One’s Own, plus Reclaim Hosting’s upcoming marketing campaign, Reclaim Video, it has only seemed natural to revamp Reclaim’s Youtube Channel as well. You may remember seeing episodes from Tim’s Reclaim your Domain video series— it’s my hope that we’ll be bringing these back & adding to them over the next few months. I’d love a larger video presence in our community support documentation and DoOO admin documentation, so continuing this video series seems like the perfect place to start.

View GIF

Current Playlists:

+ Reclaim Your Domain: An introductory video series that walks you through all the steps of getting an account on Reclaim Hosting and immersing yourself in the tools available to build out your domain on the web.

+ Support Guides: An archive of support guides that will be embedded within our documentation.

+ Getting Started with WordPress: WordPress-specific support guides.

+ Workshop of One’s Own: Recorded talks from the Workshop of One’s Own event. We’re hoping these will look a little more advanced after our Spring ’18 workshop. 🙂

Continue reading “RH Youtube”

Workshop Clip: Supporting DoOO

Clip from my session, Supporting Domain of One’s Own, during day one of Reclaim’s Administrator Workshop. During the 45-min talk, we cover strategies for approaching support tickets, user FAQ’s, and common errors.

Now I realize you can’t really see the screen in this video– oops. Hoping we’ll be able to fix that for next time! Still wanted to share this clip as I think it does provide useful information & discussion for DoOO admins.

Documentation guides written for this portion of the workshop are linked below:

Supporting DoOO Full Category
• Fix for Changing Site URL in WP Dashboard
Approaching a Support Ticket
Unblocking/Blocking an IP in CSF
Common Troubleshooting Fixes
HTTP 500 Errors
Understanding .htaccess
Fixing Permissions

It Came from the Domains Stacks!

Bryan Mathers is experimenting with animating his art—which is lucky for us—and he has taken the “Domains Death Star Eye in the Sky” poster he created for Domains 17 and gave it life:

But he even got crazier than that in the following video gem (be sure to make it full screen before viewing!):

How cool is that? Embedding that animated brilliance into a stack of records to help define and promote the insanity that will be Domains 17.  Are you ready? Are you animated? Are you registered? No? Let’s take care of that now.

Domains 2017 will be Intergalactic

One of the joys of being on the East Coast of the U.S. right now is waking up to gems like the above video from Bryan Mathers. I already blogged about Bryan’s poster for the Domains 2017 conference, so seeing this 15 second spot Bryan created was heavenly. Between the Beastie Boys “Intergalactic” background music, the roving, pulsating bubble and the rising mechanical hand (reminiscent of the monster on the Queen’s News of the World album cover) I was in heaven. I’ve been criticized for my focus on marketing and promotion, but it’s hard to argue with when it looks this good! Domains 2017 is going to be intergalactic, indeed.