More media madness, obviously!

Earlier this month I finished my wife’s artist portfolio website. Check it out here.

Obviously it includes a store.

Obviously you check out the competition while setting up shop, and obviously it doesn’t take long to discover the stranger side of Etsy. Even books have been written about certain regrettable products.

One of the more interesting items I stumbled across was this Hi-Fi rack.

Wouldn't mind the reel tape player, though (image via Etsy/SilverBeardLampCo)

Just look at it. It’s gorgeous!

I have no idea what’s supposed to be “audiophile” about a few threaded steel rods and stained wooden boards you could buy at the nearest hardware store and put together in a weekend for a fraction of the asking price but hey, at least it’s functional and flexible.

It’s a popular design I had come across some years ago while looking for inspiration for the rack I built recently. While it certainly looks good (wait until you start running cables) and has its practical aspects, the design’s major drawback, though, is that the equipment is exposed to dust. I wanted an enclosed shelf over and above some place for records.

Obviously a work in progress: Behold my huge record collection!

This brings me to the next point: Vinyl records.

The most recent archaeological dig in the basement archives revealed two boxes packed full of records. They’re all that’s left from previous sorting rounds and should now be regarded as the “interesting” ones. A few of those have actually made it into the “secondary collection” (the stack on the right side in the photo above, a work in progress).

The boxes also include an unusual number of records released by financial and religious institutions, and I’m currently stumped by a certain record with Christmas carols sung by lepers and orphaned/abused children put out by a Ponzi pyramid scheme organisation. Now there’s a cliché if ever there was one!

I’m undecided about whether that qualifies it for a spot in my collection.

Like many others, it’ll probably just get consigned to the rubbish heap (or recycled as raw material for arts and crafts) once they’ve been digitised/scanned and fed to the Discogs database monster. Some may even fetch something on the marketplace. And there’s at least one more box of CDs and tapes waiting for another day.

Why the sudden desire to clear out the space?

Too much stuff, obviously! And I need it for more media.

This most recent harvest has given me new ideas for another exciting project.

One can never have enough horror movies. There are more behind this front row.

It’s obvious that I have a troubled relationship with physical media.

Or there’s something else wrong.

All photos by hmvhDOTnet unless specified otherwise.

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Canis fidelis verum vox

So there’s this puppy, and it likes to chase cars.

Not just any car, mind you, this puppy goes after certain black cars and occasionally silver cars too. It has no interest in other colours because pink or green cars cannot be taken seriously — but also because dogs are colour blind. The puppy is informed; it learns what is desirable from the adverts and reviews it sees in the newspapers laying on the floor while it is being house trained, and because it observes the adult dogs in the neighbourhood chasing after similar cars.

However, our puppy never quite manages to catch up because cars are fast.

As the puppy grows up it gradually gets side tracked by other interests and new chew toys. Pussies, too, become an instinctive pursuit. Still, our dog looks up and occasionally gives chase when it sees a flashy black car go by — but loses interest after a few metres.

“Nah, another time,” it thinks to itself, “every dog has its day.”

One sunny day our dog was basking in the front yard as a particularly flashy black car cruises by. The dog gives chase. The car slows down. The dog catches up. The car comes to a stop. The driver leaves the engine running and jumps out to quickly drop off something at a neighbour’s house.

Yes, the dog has finally caught a car!

So now what? Seriously… what’s a dog to do with a car?

Oh, this dog knows. It jumps in the seat, closes the door, and drives off. The dog is happy.

Would you download a car? (Screengrab via Ford@YouTube)

Or is it? After a few spins around the block the dog returns the car and scurries off home. It is not fulfilled. It wants more. A flea bug has bitten. The dog wants a better car.

That dog is me. I finally “caught my car”.

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The legacy of Lou Ottens

As has been widely reported in the media, Lodewijk (Lou) Frederik Ottens, the Dutch inventor of the Compact Cassette as well as the Compact Disc died last month.

He passed away on the 6th of March 2021 at the age of 94. At least he got to C90!

Lou Ottens in 2007 for an interview with De Ingenieur (image via WikiCommons)

Truth be told, Mr. Ottens didn’t really single-handedly “invent” the compact cassette; he was in charge of a team of Philips engineers in Hasselt, Belgium who wanted to develop a portable tape recorder / dictation device and the associated tape cartridges for the home consumer. This was achieved by simplifying, miniaturising and re-imagining several existing concepts and products. It was in mono.

Little could he know what legacy his personal frustration with open-reel tapes would leave.

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Revision: 2020

2020 was a year of infamy.

Corona, corona, corona and more corona peppered with travel bans, lockdowns, quarantine, curfew, face masks and social distancing… urgh, 2020 was a reviled year! Aren’t we all excited and happy now that it’s over?

Bullshit! The fat lady has yet to sing.

2020 will probably go down as the year of SARS-CoV-2 but sorry, we’re still in the middle of the very same pandemic. We still have a stretch to go — as the lack of regular New Year’s celebrations have shown.

Don’t hold your breath. The year you think you’re remembering ain’t quite done yet.

Still, 2020 started like any other year. We optimistically rung it in with celebrations, fireworks and a few Chinese lanterns that descended upon the monkey house at the Krefeld Zoo in Germany. Around 30 primates died in the resulting inferno. Many Australians, in turn, spent New Year’s on the beach in order to escape raging bush fires.

Finn steers a boat to safety

Oz was ablaze again. Happy New Year!

A house burning in Lake Conjola, New South Wales, on New Year’s Eve

A few days later, the USA assassinates Iranian General Qasem Soleimani and nine other people with a drone air strike. Iranians are peeved. Thousands attend his funeral where 56 mourners die during a stampede. Iran responds by firing ballistic missiles at international military bases in Iraq, killing exactly nobody. A few hours later, Iran accidentally shoots down a civilian Ukrainian airliner shortly after take-off in Tehran, leaving 176 people dead. More people demonstrate following the government’s initial denial of the error.

Prince Harry and wife Meghan decided to “megxit” the British royal family, and as of the 31st of January the UK is officially no longer part of the European Union.

And that was just January. That’s how it started.

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Webris, netsam and the demise of Flash

Webris and Netsam are the names of two internet companies. This is not about them.

Instead, “webris and netsam” is a term I use to describe material and debris left over by internet-related tasks — you know, the kind of stuff you download during a specific project and hold on to in case you might need it later or because it’s too good to delete.

Then you either forget about it, never use it, or standards have changed.

Here, for instance, is a bunch of clip art and icon packs that I rediscovered in my “web design” folder. The oldest file is dated 1998, and the smallest of these 32px .GIF files is 453 bytes in size. These sizes were appropriate for current displays — twenty years ago!

A collection of 32px web-friendly icons and clip art

Back then designers cared about loading times or file sizes because nobody in their right mind would force a site’s visitor to download a huge photo only to display it as a small thumbnail due to the hosting and bandwidth constraints of the time. Conversely, excessive HTTP file requests on account of each of the multiple little icon files was to be avoided — hence image maps, and now CSS and Font Awesome. Things have progressed.

A collection of site-specific icons and logos

Then there are icon sets designed for providing attractive links to social media sites.

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Offline, online, offline, online

Hi! How’re you doing?

I’m fine. Thanks for asking. I’m better now.

No sooner had the ink of the previous post dried did the blog go offline for a day — at least that’s what the alert message said. A day later it came back, and then it went down again for three days.

All I know is that my hosting company were working on something on the back end because I had two hosting “products” at the time — one of which was a promotional goodie that went bad and took on a life of its own. I didn’t want it, I cancelled the trial.

That was in August. And that was just the beginning my troubles.

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Meta blogging

This blog, in its present form managed via WordPress, is ten years old this year.

According to popular blogger Anil Dash, one of 15 Lessons from 15 Years of Blogging is that “Meta-writing about a blog is generally super boring.”

And he might be right.

Any housekeeping writing about how it’s been a while since you’ve written, or how you changed some obscure part of your blog, doesn’t tend to age very well and is seldom particularly compelling in retrospect. The exception are genres like technical or design blogs, where the meta is part of the message. But certainly the world doesn’t need any more “sorry I haven’t written in a while” posts.

Yet this is exactly what I’m going to ramble on about now.

When this blog (in its current incarnation) was launched, the web was quite different.

It was all about written content, with a few pictures added for fun and demonstration. Bloggers wrote about this, that, their hobbies and life in general, with no real regard about whether their words were read and with even less interest in becoming self-important influencers with huge hero images. Web pages were static, had a fixed width (or none at all), and text had a set size (or relied on browser defaults). Images were kept small because of bandwidth and loading time considerations.

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