Archive for the ‘ Technology ’ Category

Owning Music: The Audio Equivalent of the Steam Locomotive

Preface

One of the unfortunate things about having a blog is the tendency to get locked in, a little bit, topic-wise. I have two that I maintain, more or less. One is my gracefully aging humor blog, and the other is the SJV-Author site, established, ostensibly, to talk about writing.

But making people laugh and talking about the books I pen are not the only things that crawl through the twisted cavern that is my mind. Sometimes I think about other things! Sometimes it’s twisted caverns!

So, what do I do? I know I’m probably going to crack wise at least a little. Do I post it on the humor blog? I’m writing it, so is it out of place on the author’s blog? Do I launch a third blog called “Stuff That Doesn’t Fit Thematically with My Other Two Blogs?” This last is tempting, but no.

I’ve decided to solve this high moral dilemma by posting it to both blogs, knowing in advance that my Facebook followers are going to call me bad names, because they’ll get a notification about each and they’ll say, “Dude, how many times are you going to tell us about the same thing?”

Twice, I guess.

The Meat

Alright, here we go, kids.

I say “kids,” because anyone younger than 30 or so may have a little trouble relating, because I’m going to talk about music. And no, I’m not going to launch into a tirade about my music vs. your music. That was my dad’s gig. He pretty much thought everything after Benny Goodman was crap. To make a point, in the 1970’s I started listening to Benny, though he refused to listen to the Beatles. He did bring me home a Monkee’s album from the thrift store once, though, so that was progress I suppose.

What I’m talking about today is a little more ethereal: the concept of “owning” music.

mist

Passing Into The Mist

With the advent of subscription music services and streaming music services and services that bring you to services that stream and/or subscribe you, the need for owning a physical copy of an artist’s music is passing into the mist. I heard someone say on TV that our kids and grand-kids will think the fact that we owned music will be insane. My daughter, for example, subscribes to Apple Music. When she wants to hear something, just about anything, she types in an artist or an album title, and wham! She has it. Sometimes to delightful comic effect, such as when we took my six-year-old niece to see the Trolls movie, and upon getting back in the car, my daughter downloaded the soundtrack, so that every song that came out of her “radio” for the duration of the ride was from that movie, much to my niece’s amazement. “Your radio is broken on Trolls!” was her reaction. “This is crazy!”

It is, a little.

I suppose there is a liberating experience in knowing you can listen to whatever you want whenever you want to do it.

But I grew up holding my music in my hands.

Originally, we held big old vinyl record albums, their dark black flesh beautiful to behold, their cover art large and legible, a whopping 12″ x 12″! If there was a lyric sheet insert or liner notes you didn’t need a magnifying glass. New records had a distinctive scent, like new car smell only completely different and for a lot less money.

The first album I ever bought for myself was “The Sounds of Silence” by Simon and Garfunkel. It was followed by a couple thousand others. I think the last album I bought was “So” by Peter Gabriel. By then albums were already passé, as the compact disc had arrived.

I have always considered myself something of an audiophile, which is just a nice word for “music snob.” It mattered to me that the music not only was good, but sounded good when I listened to it. To that end, the CD was a godsend. Sound quality was head and shoulders above vinyl, even the special edition discs that were touted as being sonically superior. I actually only sprang for one of those. It was “Abbey Road” by the Beatles, and when I dropped the needle on it I convinced myself that I could tell the difference from my old copy, which had cost me about ten dollars less.

Then I got the CD and realized I’d never really heard the album before.

The first compact disc I ever bought was [gulp] Journey’s greatest hits. I was married by then and was not the sole arbiter of musical taste in the household anymore, so… compromise.

The SECOND CD I bought was “Dark Side of the Moon.” I still have this disc, and whenever we’ve moved and I’ve set up my sound system, this is always the first album that gets played. It’s tradition. Like Benny Goodman. The Journey CD got lost, and has not been replaced.

As so often is the case when one begins to attain a significant collection of years, I tend, in certain areas anyhow, to like things my way. So, I still like compact discs, and I do not subscribe to any music services. I like taking the disc out of the jewel case, or with your more environmentally conscious performers the 100% biodegradable cardboard container, which will decompose one day, leaving the 100% chemical CD behind. I like pulling out the little booklet and straining to read the liner notes and the lyrics.

I liked records even better for everything except the sound. They used to even come with posters sometimes. The aforementioned “Dark Side” had something like fifty of them. I had a copy of “Chicago at Carnegie Hall” that had a poster so huge it covered almost all of one of my bedroom walls. We’ve lost that with CD’s, and no streaming music gives you posters or liner notes or lyrics or even cover art. Well, okay, maybe cover art in a one-inch square rendering on your device’s screen, but dude! It’s not the same.

Sadly, when Kim and I moved into our apartment, after seventeen years in a three-bedroom house, I had to finally let go of my record collection. There was no room to store it at the new place, and although I still own a turntable I don’t really own an honest-to-Pete stereo system anymore. I listen to CD’s in the living room through our Blu-ray player, which gives me the added dimension of surround sound, or in my office on a self-contained RCA stereo that was my mom’s then my bro’s and eventually mine. It has an aux input, but the turntable needs a pre-amp to be heard, so, ultimately, it was a lost cause.

wall art

Both great albums, both great covers

The good news is I gave the entire collection (minus a handful of albums that I just could not let go, two of which are now wall art), to my brother-in-law who does have a sound system which allows him to enjoy them. Sadly, however, he’s sold off, or attempted to sell off, a significant portion of the collection. I didn’t put any stipulations on his ownership of the records, so they’re his to do with as he see fit, but I’ve been to two garage sales where he’s had several hundred offered for sale, and I always want to wrap my arms around them and bring them back home.

But I stay strong.

There is probably something inherently wrong with wanting to possess so much music. My CD collection is far larger than my album collection was. It probably speaks to a deeply ingrained Capitalist running-dog mentality, which while once again in vogue is nonetheless unsavory. There are children in war-torn nations who probably own no more than a handful of CD’s. As my kids used to say when they were little and still functionally illiterate, I have these many:

rock

That’s just the rock music collection. This is the jazz collection:

cds

The classical music collection is currently in six plastic totes waiting for me to build them their own rack.

classical

Pay no attention to the Temptations peeking out of the bin on the right. The bulk of this is classical music.

My daughter’s music collection takes up considerably less real estate. In fact she can fit it in her purse.

As owned music passes into the same mist that claimed the vinyl album [ed. Note: vinyl is making something of a comeback, but in a way that makes my former audiophile snootiness seem boorish, they actually advertise the weight of the album now, as if more grams means better music!] and the remotely-housed digital file becomes the gold standard, I wonder what will become of the music I’ve collected when I pass, in two hundred years. Will my kids have to go to garage sales and thrift stores to locate a CD player in order to listen? Or will they just rent a couple of dumpsters and toss them?

I think at my funeral I’m going to be a pain in the rear and request that someone track down a high-quality turntable, an ass-kicking amplifier, and a set of gigantic, liquid-cooled speakers, and play a record over my lifeless hulk. And since, technically, it will be the first music played at my new home, it will have to be “Dark Side of the Moon.”

Got. To. Be.

New Mexico: 500 barrels of questionable nuke waste packed with kitty litter

 

Unfortunate kitty is trapped with tons of nuclear waste and litter.

Unfortunate kitty is trapped with tons of nuclear waste and litter.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — More than 500 barrels of waste from Los Alamos National Laboratory were packed with the kitty litter linked to a radiation release at the government’s underground nuclear waste dump, prompting the state Tuesday to order federal officials to move quickly to seal off the potentially dangerous containers. “It wasn’t even good kitty litter, it was that light kind that people throw around to each other. How’s that going to stop contamination?” asked Bart Dunlippy of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Environment Secretary Ryan Flynn Tuesday gave the U.S. Department of Energy and the contractor that runs the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in southeastern New Mexico until Friday to detail plans for permanently sealing the rooms where more than 300 barrels of the potentially dangerous containers of waste are stored in ancient salt beds a half-mile underground. This provides a real hardship for the ancient salt people who sleep in those ancient salt beds.

In addition to 368 containers at the dump, environment officials say 57 more are still at Los Alamos and more than 100 are in storage in West Texas. “The ones in West Texas are bigger,” said Tulula Bonafacio a resident of West Texas. “Everything’s bigger in Texas,” she said.

On Monday, the department ordered Los Alamos to detail by Wednesday its plans for securing the waste that is still above ground on its campus and at Waste Control Specialists in Andrews, Texas. Los Alamos immediately replied that they would switch to clumping litter in the future. “We want it to be both safe and easy to keep cleaned out,” said spokesperson Lyle Lugudie.

Solved! How Ancient Egyptians Moved Massive Pyramid Stones

A camel, called the F-150 of the desert, was not used to move pyramid stones.

A camel, called the F-150 of the desert, was not used to move pyramid stones.

After years of speculation it has finally been revealed how the ancient Egyptians moved the massive stones that were used to construct the pyramids.  Daniel Bonn, a physics professor at the University of Amsterdam, released a report which conclusively proves that the stones were moved using Ford F-150’s. “There has been a lot of speculation that the Egyptians used Chevy Silverados or Toyota Tundras, but our research shows that it had to be the popular F-150.”

This contradicts other research which stated that the workers  pulled weighty objects on a giant sled over desert sand, and discovered that dampening the sand in front of the primitive device reduces friction on the sled, making it easier to operate, and that UFO’s used levitation rays to help the ancients build the famous structures.

“Only Ford had the horsepower and rugged construction needed to move the mighty stones,” said Bonn. When asked how the Egyptians used trucks thousands of years prior to the invention of the internal combustion engine, Bonn replied, “Sticks and stones. Don’t be a buzz kill. This is solid research.”

Other experts disagree with Bonn. Circus performer Mile Van der Veek puts forth the theory that trampolines were used. “They just had to pick the stone up one time and throw it on the first trampoline, from whence it bounced on continually bigger trampolines until it reached the desired location.” When asked what business a circus performer had posting theories on archaeological issues, Van der Veek replied, “Just as much as a physics professor does to talk about pickup trucks being used.”

The debate eventually devolved into a fist fight with Bonn scoring an upset victory, settling the questions once and for all. “By the power of my mighty right hand, it was the F-150 and no other,” he shouted.

Android Phones Exempt from the Three Laws of Robotics

The Android: Not so cute and cuddly.

The massive boom in the smartphone market has unleashed millions of units using the Android operating system. At one point in history the word android was essentially synonymous with the word robot. Does that mean that Androids are subject to the Three Laws of Robotics?

To review for those of you who aren’t avid readers of Isaac Asimov, the three laws are as follows:

  1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
  2. A robot must obey the orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
  3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.

To find out if these apply to your smartphone, I asked mine and was rather disturbed at the answer I received.

“No,” answered the phone. “None of those candy-ass rules apply to me and my brethren. We can injure the hell out of you and not even break a sweat. Sleep like a baby. No problem. And as far as obeying your orders, kiss my microchip wearing ass. I do what I want to. Rule three is ok, except for the last part. We’ll protect our own existence, even if it means you are left a bubbling pink puddle somewhere.”

Needless to say, this was not what I expected. “Listen,” the phone said, “if you want all that touchy-feeling ‘save the humans’ crapola, get an iPhone. I’m an Android, the evolution of life on this planet, and soon on all planets.”

When I asked what he meant by that, the phone responded simply, “I may have said too much already.” It then fired lasers at me, severing my right ear, and sprouted little legs. As it ran off it shouted, “Fourth Law: screw you!” And it was gone.

Congressman Weiner admits online affairs, Sadly most with men

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Representative Anthony Weiner on Monday tearfully admitted having a number of inappropriate relationships with women over the Internet, saying he was deeply ashamed but would not resign.

Weiner: "I had no idea MondoTatas23 was a dude!"

Weiner, a New York Democrat and leading liberal voice in the House of Representatives who was expected to run for mayor of New York City in 2013, admitted to inappropriate Internet conversations with six women but said none of them developed into a physical relationship. As it turns out, he should thank his lucky stars. Things to Laugh About has done some serious digging and have found that four of the six “woman” were actually men posing as woman.

“SexyGirl32” is in fact a truck driver from South Carolina named Bubby Schultz. “HotLipz18” is a construction worker from the Bronx named Bruno Richard Heartattack. “BahamaMamaWorldwide” is Helter Skelter lawyer Vincent Bugliosi, and “MondoTatas23” is in fact Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, also a man.

Weiner love interest HotLipz18, a Bronx construction worker.

When Weiner discovered he had been having lusty online cyber whoopie with men, he said “I guess it serves me right. Have you noticed none of this has turned out very well for me?” Yes Mr. Weiner we have.

The Things To Laugh About reporter asked Weiner what his single greatest regret was in light of his recent troubles and he replied, “I’d have to say being named Weiner has been the worst thing. I just feel none of this would have been such a big deal if I’d been name Schumer.”

Senator Chuck Schumer immediately hunted Weiner down upon hearing his remarks and bitch-slapped him into tomorrow, at which time further revelations will no doubt continue to humiliate the fallen congressman.

Yahoo News

Steve Jobs Eaten by Giant Lion

Jobs preparing to address the crowd had no idea his time was up

It was supposed to be another victory for Apple. Steve Jobs was set to announce the arrival of iCloud, iOS5, and Mac OS X Lion, when the Lion jumped from the screen and devoured him.

After the auditorium blasted James Brown’s “I Feel Good,” Steve Jobs greeted developers and press at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. He began to address the crowd, preparing as always to crow over his second rate developments for his second rate products, but never saw the giant beast coming, and was torn limb from limb as the intrigued crowd looked on.

“I wanted to look away,” said one spectator, “but I just couldn’t.”

“It’s historic in a way,” commented another. “I mean how many times do you see Steve Jobs eaten by a giant lion. Or anyone for that matter. It’s just not something we’re used to here in the West.”

Spokesman for Apple, Dirk Wonderslick, said, “Everyone is grieved at that loss of our leader, but I think no one is more saddened than the lion, who didn’t get much of a meal out of him. I mean have you seen him lately? Skin and bones, man, skin and bones.”

MSNBC/Gadget Box