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Managing a rotating tape library
Recording movies off of cable is the best way to ensure always having a movie on hand that you want to see. But there are some common pitfalls associated with recording. In this section I’ll tell you about my rotating tape library, both how and why I manage it the way I do.
-Rotating tapes vs Permanent tape
-The tape shelf
-Setting up the tapes
-Recording a movie
Rotating tapes vs Permanent tape
There are some movies I want to keep a copy of forever… but most movies I just want to see once. For these movies I’ve set aside a pile of tapes specifically to be reused over and over again. I watch 3 or 4 movies a week and have a rotating pool of about 100 tapes. At any given time 10 of them are loaned out and another 10 to 15 are waiting to be used. While one tape is capable of holding several movies I’ve found that this generally makes it harder to find the movie I want to watch and if I loan it out it NEVER comes back. So, I recommend one tape - one movie.
The tape shelf
After a fair amount of trial and error I’ve determined that the best way to store tapes is bookshelf style only instead of standing up I lay them on their “spines”. With a sheet of cardboard in between I can stack two courses on top of each other without adding another “real” shelf. This way you can get twice as many tapes into the same amount of space without having to stack them more than one tape deep. With all of the movies logged on MoviesOnCable.com you don’t even have to be able to flip through them to see what you have. So, this “end-wise” method of stacking works out well.
Setting up the tapes
When a new tape is put into circulation after removing it from it’s packaging there are 3 steps to follow:
1 - Throw away all labels, stickers, etc.
2 - Write a unique tape number on the bottom edge of the tape box
3 - Write the same number on the “top” window of the tape (use a Sharpee). This is important because, for some reason, keeping a tape and a box together is almost impossible!
Once new tapes are set up or when existing tapes are ready to be “recorded over” put them somewhere near your VCR. The plan is to have a ready supply of usable tapes on hand to record at a moment’s notice. I keep mine in a cupboard right under the TV.
Recording a movie
A movie’s coming on, you grab a scratch tape throw it into the VCR and hit record!
I keep a Sharpee marker by each VCR so that as soon as I hit record I can write the name of the movie right on the tape box. Once the movie’s done I put the tape in it’s box and stack it next to my computer. When I get around to it, I look up the movie on MoviesOnCable.com, give it a “Library Number” (the number written on the tape and box), click “Add to Library” (see Library Tools on the Movie Details screen), and put the tape on the shelf in numeric order.
MoviesOnCable.com allows you to print covers for the tapes in your library. I don’t generally put covers on mine, however, unless the movie is going to be loaned out. This is because I don’t look at my own tapes. Instead, when I want to watch a movie I go to my library page on MoviesOnCable.com. There I can see what I have on tape without having to flip through all the tapes and try to remember which movie is which.
But, like I said, if a tape is leaving my house, I make sure there’s a cover on it. I’ve found that covered movies come back quicker and more reliably than movies with no covers. It’s well worth the effort!
MoviesOnCable.com allows you to share your collection with friends. You know how it works though, once a movie is loaned out remembering who’s got it can be impossible. So, if you’re loaning one out make sure that in addition to putting a cover on it you log it out of your library and put your friend’s name in the “loaned to” field. This way when you look at your Library Page on the site you can filter out the movies that are currently loaned out.
Once I’ve watched a movie and I’m ready to get rid of it I logon to MoviesOnCable.com and look it up. Either from the library screen or using the search box. In the left hand column, just under the Outside Links any friends I have that want to see the movie will be listed. At this point you have to decide whether or not to save it for them. If you don’t, click on the “Remove from Library” button, cross out the movie title on the box (I keep another Sharpee by the computer), and put the tape back with the scratch tapes.