19 October 2012

Amazing Week, Day 4: Mobile phones

Let me start out by saying that I’m not even going to talk about the fancy things modern phones do, like browse the web and recognize voice commands. I’m just going to talk about how amazing it is that you can wander anywhere in the industrialized world, someone can call your phone number, and somehow that call will find you wherever you happen to be, via a phone that can be as small as a packet of cigarettes. ... Read more

17 October 2012

Amazing Week, Day 3: Video cameras

Part of Amazing Week 2012 Back around 1981 I first got a chance to play with a video camera. It was a Sony HVC-2000P. It was about the size of… well, I can’t think of too many modern items that are that size. A box of cereal, perhaps, with a can of beans glued to one end to represent the lens? It weighed about 2.5kg, so imagine the cereal box had a couple of bricks in it. ... Read more

16 October 2012

Amazing Week, Day 2: Internet shopping

Part of Amazing Week 2012 During my teenage years I developed a taste for electronic music, of the kind that generally didn’t go anywhere near the charts — except for a few years in the early 80s. Several times a year I would travel up to London and trawl around all the big record stores. The Virgin Megastore, the HMV Store, Tower Records in Piccadilly Circus, sometimes more. I’d go through the racks from A to Z, looking for anything on my list of obscure wants. ... Read more

15 October 2012

Amazing Week, Day 1: Digital audio

Part of [Amazing Week 2012][1] In 1981 I was watching the BBC TV show “Tomorrow’s World” when the CD player was first introduced to the UK. The presenter demonstrated the system, and showed how dirt and dust would simply rinse off the disc and it would still be completely playable. He talked about how the disc was read by a laser and would never wear out. I later read more about the system in hi-fi magazines. ... Read more

7 October 2012

In defense of not voting

Harper’s Magazine this month has a spirited defense in favor of not voting: Try to imagine, if you can, candidate Barack Obama in 2008 running on a platform of balancing the budget and appeasing Wall Street by reducing Social Security benefits, restricting Medicare and Medicaid entitlements, increasing the retirement age, and never challenging the established hierarchy of the Democratic Party but rather returning members of the old Clinton regime to positions of power in his administration, especially those advocates of unregulated capitalism who did so much to bring on the economic crisis in the first place. ... Read more

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