The venerable cassette tape is 50 years old.
According to sources, it was on Friday the 30th of August 1963 when Mr. Lou Ottens of Dutch consumer electronics giant Philips introduced the EL-3300 “Pocket-Recorder” and a new magnetic tape format at the IFA (Internationale Funkausstellung) in West Berlin.
The “Compact Cassette” would eventually go on to revolutionise the way we experienced and shared music. Continue reading
Although it could easily be said that there’s been a marked level of inactivity on this blog recently re-titled to, ironically, “Activity Log”, such a statement wouldn’t exactly be true.
There has been activity. Lots of it. A change in personal circumstances meant that certain external profiles and approaches were refreshed. I’m cleaning out some trash. Even this blog and its launchpad were revised and optimised, and there will be even more changes coming over the next few months. Some stuff has been killed off and buried while other data by way of more old documents, data and hardware was unearthed. All of it will get processed in due course; most of it will get digitized, much of it will get published.
Sure, the least amount of it will shake the Earth’s foundations — this ain’t the kind of stuff that the NSA (hi, guys) will find particularly interesting. Some of it has found its way onto the Internet Archive and elsewhere but most of it is personal and therefore of minor historical relevance only although (and this needs to be said) some of it has ruffled a few feathers. More on that next time.
Watch this space for details.
Photo by hmvh DOT net
My first CD-burner was purchased in mid-1998. It was a Dysan CRW-1622 2x burner which came with two blank discs. A Memorex CD-RW4224 was added as an extra burner about a year later, and it also came with two blank discs. Since then I’ve owned and used numerous CD/DVD-writers, and I’ve bought plenty of discs.
Where am I going with this?
As someone who created a substantial number of CD-R items over the years and spent inordinate amounts of time designing elaborate inserts for his personal audio collection, I gradually developed various tricks and methods that made the final recorded compact disc look as semi-professional a product as possible. For instance, if not using thick high-quality paper for the inserts, one cheap trick I learnt is to add inlay cards to act as stiffeners behind ordinary 80g paper. Continue reading
Other than trashing outdated gadgets and hardware, I’ve also been getting rid of some old software — or rather, deleting data that’s become as redundant as MAD Magazine.
My early web design efforts focused on the subject of jokes and humorous pictures one tends to receive via email, and it was then that I also began collecting pictures of t-shirts with funny slogans (or funny people wearing ordinary t-shirts) to be used for some maintained future gallery-style project. Or something. Someday.
Someday never came — at least not the way I had expected. Continue reading
Let the final order of the old year be the announcement that a new chapter has been added to the archive.hmvh.net section: The Gadget Graveyard, where old technology goes to die.
To some extent, I’m a bit of a pack rat that hates to throw out functioning devices — no matter how old or outdated they are because, well, one never knows when a friend might suddenly come over with a faulty machine and you happen to have that replacement EGA graphics card he so urgently needs. Right?
My wife’s mother is credited for saying that “if you haven’t used it in a year, get rid of it”. She’s obviously never repaired old computers. I’ve obviously got problems, and hoarding old components is just one. Another is that I have all of one ONE computer that still has 16-bit ISA slots. “Just in case” doesn’t cut it anymore. eBay, here we come!
As Earl Green so eloquently put it, “If I somehow need the experience of seeing the physical thing in front of me, I can open a folder.”
This is my folder, watch it fill up.
Photo by hmvh DOT net
If you’re reading this, you might have noticed that the world didn’t end on 21-12-2012 as supposedly forecast by the Mayans. Our little blue marble continues to spin and orbit around the sun although, lest we forget, an asteroid named “4179 Toutatis” did make a close fly-by a scant few days ago. All the hype was for nothing, as was the fearmongering about the possible black hole caused by firing up the Large Hadron Collider.
No, as this past year has proven, humans are quite adept at destroying themselves the old-fashioned way; in 2012 there were more shootings and mass-killings than I can remember: US soldier Robert Bales went on a drunken rampage and shot 16 civilians (Kandahar, Afghanistan), another dimwit shot several “The Dark Knight Rises” movie-goers (Aurora, Colorado), some 19 churchgoers at the Deeper Christian Life Ministry got mowed down (Okene, Nigeria), and a maniac killed children and teachers at the Sandy Hook Elementary School (Newtown, Connecticut). Not to be outdone, a man knifed some 22 children (nobody died) in a village named Chenpeng (Henan, China), some 34 striking mine workers got massacred by police at Marikana (near Rustenburg, South Africa), and a right-wing idiot named Wade Michael Page shoots six Sikhs whom he mistakes for Muslims (Oak Creek, Wisconsin).
The latter incident prompted 2012 to be the first year that real censorship took place at Discogs: Wade had played in a few white power rock bands; their albums were soon banned from the marketplace. Continue reading
Or: The value of tapes
- Collector: A person who collects things of a specified type, professionally or as a hobby.
- Hoarder: A person who accumulates things and hides them away for future use; acquiring and failing to throw out a large number of items that would appear to have little or no value to others.
- Archivist: A person who maintains and is in charge of archives; a professional who assesses, collects, organizes, preserves, maintains control over, and provides access to information determined to have long-term value.
I am all of the above.
I am a collector because I collect a particular kind of cassette. I am a hoarder because I amass many cassettes before I get around to “processing” them. I am an archivist because I make selective backups as well as disseminate and publish facts and data which future generations might find useful.
The (meta)data ends up in a database called Discogs. Scans end up in my personal stash, and the cassettes end up in the trash. Nobody wants those, they’re just plastic matter.
But what of the audio on those tapes, the gist of it all — does that get trashed too?
Sadly, yes. Continue reading
Or: Cassette Project #1 (Another Reprise)
As I wrote in the previous blog posting, Austin Chapman starts with a clean slate.
He has the benefit of exploring new sounds and new music through his new ears based on its reputation and the recommendation of others. Whichever sonic avenues he chooses to explore will be off-ramps from those original tracks he’s been recommended. He will be listening to a lot of good stuff, no doubt, but he will be taking a few wrong turns along the way, too.
Austin doesn’t know this yet. His taste has yet to be defined.
Not so with me: My taste is settled, my preferences defined. I know what I like, and like most people I’ve long learnt to predict the audio contents based on visual cues such as packaging and text. Not only is this skill useful, I’ve honed it even further by forcing myself to listen to more music over the last 15 months than you can shake a baton at.
I’ve been exploring new music by listening to old recordings. Gratis.
There was no need for services like last.fm, drip.fm or Spotify to “suggest” what I might like (or might like to buy) based on past listening or purchasing habits. I didn’t have to be online to do so, nor do I need to waste time managing a bunch of files or synchronising devices so I can listen to compressed audio through pathetic little ear buds or tinny speakers via an overpriced phone while sitting in a noisy train all the while worrying about dropped connections, my precious data plan or when I last charged my iTablet.
But not me. I’m smarter than that, I worked it out. I went retro and asked for tapes. Continue reading