Now gluten-free!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Walkman vs. iPod

13-year-old Scott Campbell swapped his iPod for a Sony Walkman for a week and detailed his experience for BBC Magazine:
When I wore it walking down the street or going into shops, I got strange looks, a mixture of surprise and curiosity, that made me a little embarrassed.

As I boarded the school bus, where I live in Aberdeenshire, I was greeted with laughter. One boy said: "No-one uses them any more." Another said: "Groovy." Yet another one quipped: "That would be hard to lose."

My friends couldn't imagine their parents using this monstrous box, but there was interest in what the thing was and how it worked.

In some classes in school they let me listen to music and one teacher recognised it and got nostalgic.

It took me three days to figure out that there was another side to the tape. That was not the only naive mistake that I made; I mistook the metal/normal switch on the Walkman for a genre-specific equaliser, but later I discovered that it was in fact used to switch between two different types of cassette.

Another notable feature that the iPod has and the Walkman doesn't is "shuffle", where the player selects random tracks to play. Its a function that, on the face of it, the Walkman lacks. But I managed to create an impromptu shuffle feature simply by holding down "rewind" and releasing it randomly -- effective, if a little laboured.

I told my dad about my clever idea. His words of warning brought home the difference between the portable music players of today, which don't have moving parts, and the mechanical playback of old. In his words, "Walkmans eat tapes". So my clumsy clicking could have ended up ruining my favourite tape, leaving me music-less for the rest of the day.

Read the rest here.

This trip down memory lane gives me an idea. I still have a bunch of unopened blank cassettes lying around the house, so maybe I'll make my wife a lovely mixed tape for her birthday. If she can't find her Walkman, all she would have to do is hook the boom box up to the computer, convert the audio to mp3 files, import the songs into iTunes, and then copy them to her iPod.

Yeah, nothing says "I love you" like a mixed tape!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

"Mama, Don't Take My Kodachrome Away!"

It's a sign of the times. First, we learned that Polaroid film was going the way of the dodo. Now, Kodak has announced that after nearly three-quarters of a century it will be retiring its Kodachrome film at the end of this year. Paul Simon just might have to suck it up and get himself a digital camera.

Things like one-hour photo processing and instant cameras really caught on during the 1970s and '80s. Many old-school photographers weren't happy with such developments (pun intended), but I for one loved being able to see how my pictures turned out the same day I took them. What could be better?

Like most spoiled Americans, I like things now. (Yesterday would be even better.) Thanks to digital photography, it's a real treat to be able to determine immediately whether or not a second or third shot is needed. No more wasted film and, more importantly, no more waiting.

However, as nice as instant gratification can be, there are some things about taking "regular" photos I will miss: Selecting just the right film for the occasion. The chemical smell of a freshly opened package of film. Loading the camera. The tell-tale *click* when snapping a picture. The unmistakable whirring sound of the film rewinding after the final shot. Dropping off the film to be developed and the subsequent anticipation of seeing those pictures for the very first time. Those experiences will be lost forever.

But this is the age of digital, and I'm content to keep up with the times. So, Mama, if you're going to take my Kodachrome away, how about a new Flip video camera?

For a fitting tribute, check out The Kodachrome Project.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Britain Introduces the "Anti-Stab" Knife

From Times Online:
The first "anti-stab" knife is to go on sale in Britain, designed to work as normal in the kitchen but to be ineffective as a weapon.

The knife has a rounded edge instead of a point and will snag on clothing and skin to make it more difficult to stab someone.

It was invented by industrial designer John Cornock, who was inspired by a documentary in which doctors advocated banning traditional knives.

Mr Cornock, 42, from Swindon, said that the knife will cut vegetables, but will make it almost impossible to stab someone to death and will reduce the risk of accidental injuries.

He said: "It can never be a totally safe knife, but the idea is you can't inflict a fatal wound. Nobody could just grab one out of the kitchen drawer and kill someone."

The knife is expected to sell for around £40-50 and has been tested with "very favourable" results by the Home Office's Design and Technology Alliance -- set up to research products that can deter crime.

Leave it to the Brits to come up with yet another giant step backward in the area of self-defense.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Polka Is Officially Dead

Before you roll out the barrel, you might want to read this:
    After 24 years, polka has had its last dance at the Grammys.

    The Recording Academy, which bestows the Grammy Awards, announced late on Wednesday that the polka category would be eliminated, saying in a statement that it had been cut "to ensure the awards process remains representative of the current musical landscape."

    To many in the polka world, that read as a kind of industry code meaning that their genre -- once capable of supporting artists with million-selling hits, but long since relegated to micro-niche status -- had slipped off the mainstream radar entirely.

    "It's devastating," said Carl Finch of Brave Combo, a band from Denton, Tex., that has won the Grammy twice. "Polka is so misunderstood, you know, the butt of jokes. Having a polka category was the most important step to legitimacy that we could ever hope to achieve. To have that taken away, it's like it was all for nothing."

I see the death of polka as a good thing. Hopefully, I won't have to do that stupid "Chicken Dance" at weddings anymore.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

America's Love Affair with Cars Is Over

P. J. O'rourke eloquently describes the end of the affair:
    We've lost our love for cars and forgotten our debt to them and meanwhile the pointy-headed busybodies have been exacting their revenge. We escaped the poke of their noses once, when we lived downtown, but we won't be able to peel out so fast the next time. In the name of safety, emissions control and fuel economy, the simple mechanical elegance of the automobile has been rendered ponderous, cumbersome and incomprehensible. One might as well pry the back off an iPod as pop the hood on a contemporary motor vehicle. An aging shade-tree mechanic like myself stares aghast and sits back down in the shade. Or would if the car weren't squawking at me like a rehearsal for divorce. You left the key in. You left the door open. You left the lights on. You left your dirty socks in the middle of the bedroom floor.

    I don't believe the pointy-heads give a damn about climate change or gas mileage, much less about whether I survive a head-on with one of their tax-sucking mass-transit projects. All they want to is to make me hate my car. How proud and handsome would Bucephalas look, or Traveler or Rachel Alexandra, with seat and shoulder belts, air bags, 5-mph bumpers and a maze of pollution-control equipment under the tail?

    And there's the end of the American automobile industry. When it comes to dull, practical, ugly things that bore and annoy me, Japanese things cost less and the cup holders are more conveniently located.

Read the full article here.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

UFO Saved Earth from Destruction?

On June 30, 1908, there was a sudden, violent explosion in the sky over the Tunguska River in Siberia. The blast, 1,000 times more powerful than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, leveled 830 square miles of forest.

To this day, no one knows exactly what it was. Countless possible explanations have been put forward over the decades: a meteor or comet exploding in the atmosphere, a passing black hole, a falling chunk of antimatter, a scientific experiment gone horribly wrong, and the ever-popular UFO crash.

One Russian scientist takes this last theory to an entirely new level:
    According to The Sun, Dr. Yuri Labvin, head of the Tunguska Spatial Phenomenon Foundation, has found quartz slabs with strange markings that he thinks were part of a UFO control panel.

    He made the discovery near the site of the so-called "Tunguska event" -- a massive and so-far unexplained explosion that devastated more than 100 square miles of Siberian forest in June 1908.

    Dr Labvin claims the slabs provide evidence that a spacecraft deliberately crashed into the meteor to prevent it slamming into Earth and wiping out life on the planet.

Does Hallmark make a "Thank You" card for that?

Related Posts Widget for Blogs by LinkWithin