258 comments posted · 5 followers · following 0

8 years ago @ Atomic Toasters - Home Movies, Now In Th... · 1 reply · +4 points

My father got started with Sony's Beta I: our tape library was huge and I learned early on how to create low cost mass storage shelving out of hundreds of feet of 1"x6" planks. Dad wasn't averse to sampling all the available technologies; we used VHS for crappy mass storage, and stuck to Beta for stuff we were serious about watching again. The best Beta units were Sony models, while it was Hitachi's VHS players that had dad returning to the dealer every year or so to repair worn out parts until the sad day we were notified, "they no make the parts for that no more." Though they were trounced in the first round, Sony bounced back with 8MM, aka "Beta's Revenge" and smashed the horrible kludge that was VHS-C. I still have a compact editing rig around here, composed of 2 Video Walkman units and the rare jog/shuttle console which could link them together for picture-perfect splicing of video and audio channels.

DVD really took off right about the time I discovered Amazon.co.jp would sell movies and music direct to you; my total expenditures from 1998-on are somewhere north of 8 million yen, and the burn rate actually became steeper once I cut out the middlemen in the convention dealer's room. In 2002 I eschewed unit counts in favor of a tape measure to estimate collection size. A linear foot contains approximately 21 standard size single DVD cases.

If you can figure out which market to buy from, and which credit/debit card will work for international purchases, you can often save upwards of $20 per imported CD, DVD or BD collection. You'll need the savings on the latter, as the reshuffled region locking will necessitate purchasing a multiregion BD player. Most DVD players are now set to Region 0/All as the factory default. Hint: it's cheapest to buy your Madness titles from Amazon.co.uk, while your DVD of Le Grand Blond avec une Chasseure Noire should come from Amazon.fr for maximal savings on market price and lack of VAT.

Today's cheap mass storage prices would let me archive every single damn thing I own in triplicate on server drives, then send the backups to 2 different regions for safe keeping for less than a new set of 901 Series VI loudspeakers. And if you're paying 50 cents per gigabyte of USB 3.0 storage, you're a special kind of idiot unless it's armored and encrypted. And that rate, you can keep a comprehensive collection of classic movies in your pocket just for those occasional Movie Tavern emergencies.

Speaking of the Macy's parade . . . my SO's daughter has worked hard to be on her school's cheer squad - which was one of many schools given the opportunity to participate in this year's event. The head of the program said yes before clearing it with us, but we weren't about to give her any guff for pouncing on that deal.

See you guys (and gals) in NYC!

8 years ago @ Atomic Toasters - Home Movies, Now In Th... · 0 replies · +3 points

There's a reason those 9-track cabinets were so damn tall for a single pair of reels. Just look "below the fold" to see how long the vacuum pipes were.

8 years ago @ Atomic Toasters - Shutdown: Two TVs!! · 0 replies · +3 points

My 1st gen model ended up becoming significantly heavier once I upgraded it with an Intel Inboard 386 card. I added the +4MB of memory, math coprocessor and a pair(!) of Quantum's Plus Development 20M Hardcards, along with a multi-I/O card and a spiffy EGA video card, which necessitated adding a monitor atop the system case as replacing the internal monochrome screen would have been prohibitively pricey.

That was my first "Frankenstein's Monster" computer. I would eventually create 3 other systems along those lines, dubbing them "Frankie II/III/IV."

I also had fun confounding people who said I had no idea what I was talking about when I mentioned using a 386XT. "All 386s have 16 bit expansion slots; you have a 386AT." "Go ahead and bring your 16 bit expansion card over and try installing it in my case; you're going to need a crowbar and tesseract to make it fit."

8 years ago @ Atomic Toasters - Shutdown: Two TVs!! · 0 replies · +3 points

Oooh, I am jealous! Those were outstanding mini machines - and had a superior selection of games to choose from.

Nearly Lost Knowledge department: the cartridge expansion socket in Commodore computer systems of the 80s could be fitted with a dial up modem. In an interface brain fart of massive magnitude, the programmers decided to parse all lowercase entries as direct modem commands, forcing any on screen conversations to use ALL CAPS as the default. This led to my early obscure (and only appreciated once) joke regarding people on Compu$erve's CB $imulator speaking in all caps as "maybe they're still using a C64 to access the system."

Yes, I would occasionally change my handle to NO CARRIER in order to boot people off the system whenever they did a channel directory search.

8 years ago @ Atomic Toasters - Shutdown: Two TVs!! · 8 replies · +3 points

Having transported a Compaq luggable computer system on several occasions in the 80s, I feel that woman's pain keenly; those damn things are meant to be moved from table to table, or table to car trunk, not terminal to terminal.

I wager most AWA salesmen worked diligently on their pitch, the better to sell one of those things before someone took 20 steps with a demo model in hand and realized just how impractical they were.

8 years ago @ Atomic Toasters - Shutdown: Can It Be Done? · 0 replies · +1 points

As a fan of electronic paper technology, I am pleased to announce my acquisition of the holy grail of electronic reading devices; Kobo's Aura H2O.

Several decades after I wondered how to make an affordable waterproof book, I am now ready to engage in the wonderful pastime of soaking in the tub and enjoying a favorite tome, this time without the risk of immersion.

For normal electronic reading duties I continue to use my beloved Kobo Aura HD, which boasts a significantly larger screen and an excellent long life side lighting system.

9 years ago @ Atomic Toasters - Spaceship! · 0 replies · +1 points

That "Cobra" has been egregiously mislabeled; it is clearly an early generation Interstellar Queen.

9 years ago @ Atomic Toasters - Startdown: Map of the ... · 1 reply · +2 points

Fun and useless old pre-ISP fact: H&R Block's Compu$erve network service was run on a DEC PDP-10, which was an octal-based computer. Since early computers placed storage space at a premium and implementing BCD would have been cost-prohibitive, all account numbers in H&RB's system contained no 8 or 9s, and CI$ account numbers all began with 7. This later allowed long time users of the service to instantly identify newcomers during its final years in the late 80s-early 90s, as the new account numbers both began with the unorthodox '1' digit, and some of them also contained the heretical numbers '8' and '9'.

Users of the CB $imulator would occasionally encounter chatters with account numbers reading 7****,006 or 7****,003: the former were regular employees and were relegated to Band B of the channel listing, while the latter were network technicians who had free run of the system and spent time on the more frequently used Band A.

One night some of the regulars had a long chat with the CEO; we knew it was going to be a special event when account number 70001,001 showed up on the channel.

Useless CI$ CB $imulator trivia: technology columnist John C. Dvorak reserved the CB handle *NUMERO UNO* during his years on the service. I noticed it one evening when his account number showed up, accompanied by the starred handle.

9 years ago @ Atomic Toasters - Startdown: FutureVision · 1 reply · +1 points

Shweet; I love seeing that familiar old triangle logo on glass!

(peering closer) Oh poo; they're putting a halogen capsule in there. I guess no one makes the bare filament under glass any longer?

9 years ago @ Atomic Toasters - Startdown: FutureVision · 3 replies · +1 points

The pedant in me wants to ask everyone who complains about "shitty sealed beam headlights" where they can be found so I can make some more friends in the NOS community; all I'm seeing now are DOT-compliant reflector housings for H4s and full halogen replacement units.