Is this an Error 40 (Err 40) message? If yes, and not sure this applies, try cleaning the battery contacts with a soft cloth. I have searched for the error message but only found information as it relates to Canon DSLRs.
FireWire is the preferred method for transferring video to the computer. Most older camcorders will not transfer video via the USB cable. As far as capturing the video goes you can use a video editing program to capture the video.