Friday, April 25, 2008
I have watched the first 3 episodes of the BBS documentary
by Jason Scott (whose blog
has become required reading for me as of late) and it got me thinking on a subject that has been gnawing at me for some time now. In a nutshell, the film devotes itself to the world of bulletin board systems in the that ran from the mid 70's until the internet incorporated all. The details of the demise of the BBS are not yet known to me as I have not yet finished the documentary. Now I remember these days. In the 1987, after I had finally managed to get my parents to splurge on a sparkling new Commodore 128, I immediately went to work on them to spring for a modem. A modem eventually materialized. I wish I could remember which model it was but I can only remember that it was 300 baud and that it was blue. I still have it back home but home I am not so digging the thing up will have o wait. In any case, I remember starting off accessing "Quantum Link", a BBS service that was designed to run only on C64s and C128s. From there I started playing around with the local BBSs that were by that time quite ubiquitous. Much of that time online was spent waiting for the 300 baud blue beast to finish downloading a sentence. However, it was magical. It was indeed a secret world that required a good amount of know-how and a whole lot of patience to access. For a kid of about 11 with no T1 lines to compare it to, the speed, or lack thereof, was never really an issue. It was a world inhabited by, real or imagined, incredible experts who in my imagination were modifying chips, integrating boards into reel to reel tape decks and altogether performing technical wizardry. When one looks back, the technology was really quite primitive but god damn if these people didn't squeeze every last bit of power out of the machines they were using. I mean, a C64 had 64k of memory and ran at 1Mhz. 1. 64 k will play a couple of seconds of an MP3; barely enough to hear Geddy shout "Thank you! Good night!".
And for me, that was the fun of it. Making the most of the thing. Fighting and struggling and tweaking to make it do some semblance of what you wanted it to do. The process engendered creativity. The act of creating content required such creativity that I and many others were loathe to put all that effort towards something unworthy. I remember putting together a computer newsletter when I was about 12. Most of the time was spent laying out the pages and banging my head against the wall to make the 2 columns stay as two columns. Fonts and font sizes were chosen meticulously, as was clip art. Articles were trimmed or expanded to make them fit into their allotted space because it was simply easier to take out or add a few worlds than it was to reformat the ENTIRE thing to fit the world "incredible" when "amazing" had three fewer letters and would therefore fit the whole article on the page where it just had to squeeze into. In short, the barrier to entry was high. There were little victories and defeats that one experienced in the act of trying to accomplish most anything on these machines. I had a copy of "Beach Head II" that really didn't like the C128's 1571 drive. It simply wouldn't load up. Of course This had to be figured out. I remember borrowing a friends 1541, hooking it up and before I knew it (4 minutes later), I was lobbing grenades at the cannon and engaging in the boomerang match of death - look the game up. The sense of victory was twofold. Firstly, I was able to play the game and secondly, I had succeeded in ascertaining and dealing with the problem myself. This is of course a minor example of such an occurrence but it is the first that springs to mind. I really loved "Beach Head II".
Now everything is all so easy. Now, that is surely a good thing, no hell, a great thing, but a certain vibe is gone. That could of course be because these modern times are no longer wrapped in that warm glow of youth and all its wonder. Perhaps the youth of today will look back fondly on their Youtube video discussions with a similar fondness and remember the effort and time it took to edit their videos the way they wanted them and so on. They probably will. In twenty years we will inevitably look back at today's quad-cores with something akin to a snicker as well.
In short, the old systems have a feel of still being of the analog age to me. I have further thoughts on this in regards to audio equipment and media that I will get to in a post soon. Until then, go read some Garfield minus Garfield
posted by Kermit at 4/25/2008 09:28:00 AM
The Triumphant Return
I'm here, I'm not queer and you're probably used to it. I think it's time to resurrect this old beast. Stay tuned for input.
posted by Kermit at 4/25/2008 08:47:00 AM
Monday, June 26, 2006
Germany: 2 Sweden: 0 - The German reaction
My new favorite band
Monday, December 12, 2005
Good-Radio Free Europe
I do a lot of driving for work these days and I find it amazing how bad German radio is. It offers absolutely nothing. There are three or four top 40 stations that are really just top 10 stations. They have a playlist of about 10-15 songs that never ever change. They also have a small selection of "classic" tunes that they will play. These "classics" however are perhaps the worst part. They will choose 2 or 3 "classics" for a two week span and those are the only ones that will be heard. This list of classics is quite horrid. For instance, right now I am being graced by the gentle musings of Sting, Bryan Adams, and Rod Stewart with the wonderful "All for Love"
from the 1993 soundtrack to the epic "Three Musketeers". Other "classics" include, "Wake Me Up Before you Go-Go", Supertramp's "It's Raining Again", various Phill Collins travesties, "Eye of the Tiger", "I Will Always Love You", "The Final Countdown" which I had thought was reserved exclusively for baseball games with the home team down by a run in the eleventh, and finally some song by Journey that I despise. Once a new hit makes it into their playlist, it will remain there for MONTHS. If you hear it once, you had better get used to it. It's not going away anytime soon.
On television they have MTV Deutschland and Viva, both of which are just as terrible. Same as MTV USA-USA. There is not mainstream media outlet that plays anything for anybody with a modicum of musical interest. There is no chance whatsovever of discovering something new. There is now college radion lurking at the bottom of the dial offering oddities and slightly less famous music. There is no modern rock station. No oldies. Hell, there isn't even a classic rock station. The classical station plays single movements from symphonies. Ridiculous. If a person only had a radio and a TV, they would never ever find anything different. The kids here are left to find music all on their own. They get absolutely no help from the outside world. They must rely on networks of friends, magazines, and internet radio. They will never have the luck of being introduced to "The Residents" from WPKN at 2:00 AM while working the night shift at a Shell station. They have to actively search for things. I didn't use to be a big fan of the American radio scene, but now see just how much worse it could be. That being said, the kids do find their music, but I have to say that their taste just doesn't seem as broad as the average music listener back home. It's a shame.
Update: For a taste of how bad it is, check out the list of songs
that you have to choose from on an all request Sunday where you can request any song from a list of almost 500 hits!!
posted by Kermit at 12/12/2005 01:22:00 PM
Wolcott brings something up here that has been bugging me for some time now. Reporters are constantly vouching for fellow travellers and politicians based on their personal relationships with them. For example, when Bob Novak got in hot water over his article identifying Valry Plame as a C.I.A. agent, I distinctly remember other reporters offering little in the way of insight ave for the fact that they had known Mr. Novak for a long time and that he was a man of integrity and so on. People are reticent to make comments on a case beyond these personal platitudes that give the viewer/reader/listener absolutely nothing of substance. The same reporters that can be brutal in regards to the trivial details of some star's life are decidedly tight lipped when it comes to those they know personally. Imus is constantly interviewing “journalists” and this is a theme that consistently rears its head. If a reporter can does not want to comment on a story because it might make for some awkward moments at a dinner party down the road, then they should simply recuse themselves from the discussion. Knowing that Novak loves puppies does nothing to help me understand the issue and I wish that these bobbleheads would stop pretending it did. For a perfect example of what I’m talking about here, check out the November 21st clip from the Imus radio show. He is interviewing Mary Matalin, admittedly a Republican hack, about Scooter Libby. What's interesting is that her entire defence of the man rests on the personal. You just have to take her word for it that e would never have done such a thing.
posted by Kermit at 12/12/2005 10:16:00 AM
Tuesday, October 11, 2005
Just what the world needs, hot cockles.
There was an interesting piece
in yesterday's Times about the business opportunities that are being opened up by global warming. In a nutshell the article discusses the new shipping lanes and oil deposits that will soon be made available due to the melting of the polar ice caps. Some businesses are counting on the fact that within 20 years, it will be possible to open sea lanes through the north pole from northern Russia and Norway to Canada and Alaska. A new Northwest Passage
if you will. The melting of the polar ice is also opening up new possibilities for oil exploration in regions that are believed to hold massive reserves. What is particularly striking in the article however is it seems to be taken as a given that in 20 years, the polar ice will be a thing of the past. At this point businesses and governments are counting on it. The race has already begun for establishing which nations hold claims on what sections of the polar sea and in essence, global warming is now in the interest of many powerful players. The norhtern Russian city and home of their Northern Fleet Murmansk
is now pinning much of its hopes on these new sea lanes. Denmark is also in the game due to Greenland which is technically theirs. What this all means is that global warming will now have powerful lobbying forces behind it and attempts to deal with the issue will soon be able to be painted as anti-business. Read the article. It's a fascinating piece that I strongly encourage you to read.
posted by Kermit at 10/11/2005 08:52:00 AM
Thursday, September 22, 2005
If you've ever spent any time around people from Finland, you may well have heard them speak. Finns tend to speak very good English. Good in the sense that they have good vocabularies and grammar. Their pronunciation is also pretty good in terms of forming the individual words they use. If you tell a Finn to say "dinosaur" it will say it perfectly. (Why the "it"? Please hold all questions until the end.) With said Finn, things start to get interesting when it puts a couple of words together to form a sentence. Again, the words will be pronounced just dandily but you will notice that the whole thing comes off as sounding quite alien. Italians and Frenchies have problems with the allocation of word stress resulting in things like "inTEResting", "EXciting", "EXpensive", and "DEmocaracy". "blowJOB" is another popular one. Especially with the Italians. blowJOBS all over the place. It's like they're giving them away. The Finn does not have this problem. The Finn never stresses a word incorrectly. The reason behind this is simply: It does not use stress in its speaking. None. Zero. Zilch. Words have no stress nor do parts of a sentence. A question sounds the same as an insult which sounds exactly the same as a compliment which sounds exaclty like Wolf Blitzer. (Remember what I said about questions) Listening to a Finn is really tiring because you can never tell where one sentence begins, ends, or when a point is being made. It all blends together into this perfectly striaght line of noise that is virtually impossible to follow or to pay attention to. Everything blends together creating this thing that one has no choice but to ignore. It's like bad computer generated speach, no wait, it's like listening to an automated telephone menu system that interacts. When a Finn is talking to me I am always overcome with the desire to press "0" to be connected with a representative. They are not human and they never shut up. Now you understand the "it" thing and this is where Wolf Blitzer comes in.
Wolf Blitzer, or as he's known in my houseehold, Paul Wolfoblitzer, is a Finn in Wolf's clothing. His voice has virtually no inflection and sentences and paragraphs just merge together into blather. For some reason I always feel like he is about to rev it up and explode a bit, but then I realize I'm just projecting. I am the one who wants to explode. He could be talking about dead bodies floating down Bourbon Street or he could be telling me why I should stay tuned for the next segment of Late Edition. It's all the same. Non English speakers who flip onto CNN International must get confused when they hear this robotic drawl with pictures of corpses on the screen followed by more of the same drawling with the backdrop of smiley happy people. Unbearable. The man uses no punctuation either. I will close with a written interpretation of this guy.
new york city was virually destroyed today following a nuclear explosing downtown what caused it and who is reponsible those are questions we will be covering here today it was a tragic day for the nation as the big apple was blotted off the map what will the international reaction be around the corner also our online quesiton of the day should we retaliate with nuclear strikes against those reponsible and is gin a fruit we're looking forward to hearing from you the viewer on these important questions of the day you'll be pleased to know that my beard has managed to escape the carnage unschathed as it has done for the last 15 years i like my beard and others have also remarked on it's tempering of my clean cut image by injecting a modicum of scruffiness to said image there will be an online poll on this later you don't want to miss that on to the state of emergency in new york but first these messages we'll be right back cnn the most trusted name in news
Somebody get this guy a blowJOB.
posted by Kermit at 9/22/2005 10:11:00 AM
Tuesday, September 20, 2005
athiest agnostic athiest agnostic athnostic agthiest
no more!! Join the new Him. All hail the FSM!!
No really... go click on over. Your soul is at
steak and it needs a side dish. Arrrrrr!
posted by Kermit at 9/20/2005 04:05:00 PM
I knew spending all that time on Google Maps
would pay off
posted by Kermit at 9/20/2005 02:24:00 PM
Verry merry unelection to you
Germany had an election and no one won. Now all the politiker will argue for weeks in an effort to form a government. It may well take a month or they might just have another election soon. How efficient. However, I'm still a little jealous because having no government is better than the one my country has.
posted by Kermit at 9/20/2005 11:58:00 AM
Gotta love Drudge
The place never fails to offer up something ridiculous. Under the headline "Indianna School Converted to Swingers Club..." posted no doubt to avert people's attention from other things, the link leads to a short little ditty
that as usual showcases our ability to freak out over nothing. The first line gives these people away:
Residents of a southwest Muncie neighborhood thought the 110-year-old former school with purple doors had been vacant these past 14 months. So neighbors were surprised to find out the building _ which was last used as a bingo hall _ is home to one of Indiana's seven swingers clubs.
"I thought it was empty, to tell you the truth," Mary Neal, who rents a house across from the club, told The Star Press. "That shocks me. I'm just floored. There are a lot of kids that walk around here."
Ok so that's 2 lines but the point is that these people are convinced that this place that no one even knew about for over a year will destroy their families, corrupt the childern, and serve as a constant temptation for unsatisfied couples everywhere. See if you label everything a problem, then you'll have problems everywhere. Big fun.
posted by Kermit at 9/20/2005 11:46:00 AM
Friday, September 16, 2005
Not that it's any of your business but...
Sorry to have gone missing for so long. Well, actually I'm not. It was totally worth it. Got to take a trip back home to the good old New of York and haunt the haunts. Afer reurning, I had but 5 weeks of vacation left. What to do. What to do. A week of despondently puttering around the house, reading books, interrupted only by the daily trudge to a beer garden to wallow in my misery, feet up on the chair across the table, nurse a couple of weiss beers, all the while cursing the gods (You don't capitalize the plural) for smiting me with their wrath. Then it was off for two weeks to drive through most all of this decadant continent. First The Netherlands. Boring. The Belgium. Ditto. France. Old. Monaco. Richer than me. Italy. Cheaper than Monaco. Switzerland. More mountainous than Italy. Lichtenstein. A rather interesting pla... oh that's it?
Austria. Always good to pump you up. Then back to the land that's uber alles. $ 1000 poorer and still 2 weeks left. Joined a baseball team. Practiced a lot. Cue beer gardens again. And finally sweet heaven, back to work this past Monday. What the hell was I bitching about?
posted by Kermit at 9/16/2005 02:06:00 PM