Digitize old photos and videos

Here is a list of hardware and software that I use to digitize old home movies, tapes, and family pictures:


35mm film scanner: Pacific Image PowerFilm Plus 35mm Film Scanner

Document / picture scanner: Brother ADS-2700W

Flatbed scanner: Epson DS-50000 Large-Format Document Scanner

Audiocasette player with a 3.5mm output jack

Laptop / computer with 3.5mm input jack (headphone/microphone)

VHS player

USB VHS to Digital Converter

Soft tip silicone air blower


Video capture: OBS Studio

Photo editing: GIMP

Audio capture: Audacity

Digitizing these precious memories makes them available for future generations. They are much more useful to everyone online than they ever were sitting in a box.

Replace unavail disk in ZFS

I had an issue where I removed a drive in my ZFS array and replaced it with a new drive which the OS gave the same device name (/dev/sdd). I had a hard time getting zfs to replace the drive until I discovered the -g flag for zpool status (thanks to this stackexchange post.)

That did the trick! Simply running zpool status -g showed the GUIDs of each device, which I could then use to properly use zpool replace on:

sudo zpool replace Poolname 12922644002107879117 /dev/sdd


Fix makemkv not compiling in Arch

I’ve had my Arch Linux desktop system for several years now. Over that time, cruft has built up. It bit me today when I tried to install makemkv. No matter what I tried I could not get it to compile. Configure constantly failed an this step:

checking whether LIBAVCODEC_VERSION_MAJOR is declared... yes
configure: error: The libavcodec library is too old. Please get a recent one from http://www.ffmpeg.org

I had to systematically delete anything containing ffmpeg, then re-install ffmpeg, in order to finally get it to work.

Get a list of installed packages containing ffmpeg:

yay -Ss ffmpeg | grep Installed

Remove ffmpeg-containing packages:

yay -R chromaprint-fftw grilo-plugins gst-plugins-bad cheese gnome-music gnome-video-effects totem ffmpeg-compat-54 ffmpeg-compat-57 ffmpeg0.10 ffmpeg4.4 vlc libavutil-52 faudio

Install makemkv:

yay -S makemkv

My “nuke all ffmpeg from orbit” approach worked. After I did so, makemkv compiled!

Fix cron output not being sent via e-mail

I had an issue where I had cron jobs that output data to stdout, yet mail of the output was never delivered. Everything showed fine in cron.log :

Aug  3 21:21:01 mail CROND[10426]: (nicholas) CMD (echo “test”)
Aug  3 21:21:01 mail CROND[10424]: (nicholas) CMDOUT (test)

yet no e-mail was sent. I finally found out how to fix this in a roundabout way. I came across this article on cpanel.net on how to silence cron e-mails. I then thought I’d try the reverse of a suggestion and add MAILTO= variable at the top of my cron file. It worked! Example crontab:

0 * * * * /home/nicholas/queue-check.sh

This came about due to my Zimbra box not sending system e-mails. In addition to the above, I had to configure zimbra as a sendmail alternative per this Zimbra wiki post: https://wiki.zimbra.com/wiki/How_to_%22fix%22_system%27s_sendmail_to_use_that_of_zimbra