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#21892 - 06/03/07 04:37 PM Technology, old , new, and coming soon (maybe)
redewenur Offline
Megastar

Registered: 02/14/07
Posts: 1840
Music Media

The media for music storage has come a long way from the pioneering days of the cylinder. My father was the proud owner of a three foot high piece of oak furniture that housed a clockwork record player. You had to wind this thing up by means of a large handle that projected from the side, and which resembled the handle on my mother's mangle***. It played 78 rpm records delightfully, just needing the occasional turn of the handle when the pitch descended! I can still hear my dad's favourites, Gershwin's 'Rhapsody in Blue' and 'American in Paris', but I went in for the real class, like 'I've Got a Lovely Bunch of Coconuts'.

Eventually, that museum piece disappeared from the house, to be replaced by a semi-portable electronic device that could play not only 78s, but 45s and 33s too. That was great fun, even though the mentioned 'Bunch of Coconuts' didn't sound quite so 'lovely'. At about that time, stereo, which had been pioneered by enthusiasts with a combined passion for electronics and music, was finally finding its way into the homes of Britain, along with telephones and electric refrigerators (the earlier ones ran on gas). So, sometime in the early-sixties, our family jumped on the bandwagon with a stereo radiogram. It sounded pretty good, even though it was the new-fangled transistorised type rather than valve (that was a retrograde step as far as hi-fi was concerned). Several years later, consumer technology had advanced miraculously. The original gramophone needle had evolved from something akin to a miniature steel stiletto, almost a 1 cm long, to a tiny, very low mass diamond-tipped structure; and the best transistor amplifiers were, to my ears, indistinguishable from the best valve amps.

The compact tape cassette became a popular music medium, not through its appeal to hi-fi buffs (it was distinctly inferior), but because of its robustness and portability. Now, of course, we have the CD. It's still not as portable as the cassette, but it combines some portability with excellent music quality - even though there are those, like myself, who insist that the old LPs sounded better.

So, what's next...solid state? I think so. RAM and flash memory are becoming very capacious and very cheap, not to mention very small. Maybe a pack of music cards, similar to a pack of playing cards, would be a convenient way to store and transport more music than we would ever have time to listen to.

***This was during the last days of the mangle. A generation earlier, only those with sufficient affluence to be borderline hoity-toity became proud owners of mangles, hence the derisory phrase sometimes used by squabbling kids: "just because ya mum's got a mangle".
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"Time is what prevents everything from happening at once" - John Wheeler

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#21893 - 06/03/07 10:36 PM Re: Technology, old , new, and coming soon (maybe) [Re: redewenur]
Amaranth Rose II Offline

Superstar

Registered: 12/16/06
Posts: 962
Loc: Southeast Nebraska, USA
Have you checked out MP3's lately? They seem to fill the bill of what you are describing as "more music than we would ever have time to listen to". My son recorded a CD of MP3's and drove 700 miles without a repeat. Of course he drives like a bat out of H***, but that's beside the point.
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If you don't care for reality, just wait a while; another will be along shortly. --A Rose


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#21896 - 06/04/07 01:06 AM Re: Technology, old , new, and coming soon (maybe) [Re: Amaranth Rose II]
Ellis Offline
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Registered: 01/08/07
Posts: 1490
Loc: Australia
Ah rede--- I was the proud owner of a so-called portable radio so heavy because of the enormous battery that it needed 2 strong hands to lift it!!! before staggering about 100 yards (this was well before metres). But it did not need to be plugged in and we could listen to it OUTDOORS provided we angled it towards the signal and we weren't too far away. I was so proud of it.

I have just bought an i-pod/MP3 thing and I made my daughter put the music on it. Although it took a while, I now hope to live long enough to hear all of it. Who has time to listen to so much stuff? There's hours and hours of it!! Possibly weeks.



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#21897 - 06/04/07 01:52 AM Re: Technology, old , new, and coming soon (maybe) [Re: Amaranth Rose II]
redewenur Offline
Megastar

Registered: 02/14/07
Posts: 1840
Yes, (Rose and Ellis), MP3 and WMF are amazing. I recently transferred some classical music to DVD in WMF format at 128Kbps. There are 105 complete pieces, plus 353 of my favourite tracks. That's about 4.34GB; but I notice that I'm out of touch - there are already tiny mp3 players with a capacity of 2GB. I've seen much larger, but some, maybe all, have hard drives.

The data is compressed, though, which means that quality is lost (unless the files are WMA recorded at 940Kbps). In most situations that's not noticeable, but anyone who is, or was, a hi-fi nut, and has had the opportunity to use very high quality equipment in a suitable acoustic environment, the superiority of the mid-20th century 12" acetate LP over the 21st century mp3 is all too clear.

Currently, we still rely mainly on the old fashioned spinning disc system as the bulk data storage medium. This mechanical equipment is pretty reliable, but it's bulky, uses a lot of power, generates a lot of heat, wears out, and has data access and transfer delays. What I'm really seeing in my crystal ball is the total obsolescence of moving parts in data storage technology, and the obviation of compression for audio data. When that happens, the real audiophiles will take a second look at solid state music.
_________________________
"Time is what prevents everything from happening at once" - John Wheeler

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#21904 - 06/04/07 08:58 AM Re: Technology, old , new, and coming soon (maybe) [Re: redewenur]
terrytnewzealand Offline
Megastar

Registered: 08/02/06
Posts: 1031
Loc: Whangarei New Zealand
Redewenur wrote:

"The data is compressed, though, which means that quality is lost".

But most young people listen to their music through piddly little headphones. No sense in having real hi-fi. I hear the result quite often because the young people I teach play the stuff they want to learn on their systems for me. I have to get them to tee it up though. I haven't a clue how to work them. Took me a long time to get into CDs.

The best thing that's happened for me as a guitar teacher is ultimateguitar.com. You can find nearly anything you want to play there.

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#21905 - 06/04/07 10:15 AM Re: Technology, old , new, and coming soon (maybe) [Re: terrytnewzealand]
redewenur Offline
Megastar

Registered: 02/14/07
Posts: 1840
Yes, Terry, I agree completely that the quality of compressed music meets people's needs, and although it's not perfect, it is very good. My point is not really about hair-splitting perfectionism, only that technology is still at the stage where, technically, compromise is necessary for commercial viability. I think the time will soon come when this particular compromise becomes redundant. Soon? Well, within 20 yrs I'd guess. I think the same time scale may see a major reduction in the use of disc systems for data storage of all kinds, and their total obsolescence within 30 yrs. So sayeth the seer!

"I haven't a clue how to work them." - Neither have I. I think I'm a victim of creeping technophobia. Even cell phones seem disigned to confuse!
_________________________
"Time is what prevents everything from happening at once" - John Wheeler

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#21929 - 06/06/07 07:29 AM Re: Technology, old , new, and coming soon (maybe) [Re: redewenur]
Kate Offline

Senior Member

Registered: 10/16/04
Posts: 334
A bit off-topic but whatever happened to quadraphonic hi-fi systems? Why didn't four channels work in the marketplace?


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#21931 - 06/06/07 08:06 AM Re: Technology, old , new, and coming soon (maybe) [Re: Kate]
redewenur Offline
Megastar

Registered: 02/14/07
Posts: 1840
Good question, Kate. I was prospecting for a hi-fi system in 1970. In the course of shopping around, I listened to a few quadraphonic systems. With vigorous music, like jazz, the effect was amazing - foot-tapping just doesn't begin to describe it, it was totally energising! I suppose I was deterred by the cost, and the space and room design required for four respectable speakers. I suspect that those were the reasons for its general failure to take off.

An additional point for me was the fact that I listened to a lot of classics, which benefited more from a high quality stereo sound stage.
_________________________
"Time is what prevents everything from happening at once" - John Wheeler

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#21940 - 06/06/07 08:26 PM Re: Technology, old , new, and coming soon (maybe) [Re: redewenur]
dr_rocket Offline
Member

Registered: 12/06/06
Posts: 196
Loc: Palo Alto, CA, USA
Hi All,

Been busy lately, but the term is almost over.

I realize that you are talking about music players in this thread, but I was thinking this might not be too far off topic.

There is one bit of technology I would like to see. That is an electronic book. I know that there are models out there, but these have many drawbacks.

One problem is that mostly current works are offered and not much else. I suppose that the selection will increase over time, but I am not holding my breath.

I already have an enourmous number of books in my collection. Some are rather difficult to get. Others are a bit obscure and still others near impossible to even find much less acquire.

What would really make my day is to find a way to quickly scan a book (or a couple thousand) into a hand held elctro-book and spend the day at the beach instead of in a library.

What do you all think?

Dr. R.


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#21942 - 06/07/07 01:35 AM Re: Technology, old , new, and coming soon (maybe) [Re: dr_rocket]
redewenur Offline
Megastar

Registered: 02/14/07
Posts: 1840
Hi dr_rocket

Although the topic kicked off with music media, it's really about all technology.

A few initial thoughts:

I think it's a reasonable guess that the publishers of conventional books would have no difficulty in producing eBooks in any desired current format. Currently, the obstacles in the market are, probably, a technology that isn't yet fully fledged, a public majority that recognises that fact and prefers 'real' books anyway, and huge commercial inertia from the industries involved in providing the latter.

I'm sure Joe Public would be easily wooed if the following features existed: physical flexibility, light weight, high quality speech synthesis, full colour image reproduction in matt and gloss, dictionary, thesaurus, internet cross-referencing, and interactivity including speech recognition.

Meanwhile, maybe, for copyright reasons, a suitable scanning device would not become readily available.
_________________________
"Time is what prevents everything from happening at once" - John Wheeler

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#21959 - 06/07/07 04:46 AM Re: Technology, old , new, and coming soon (maybe) [Re: redewenur]
Kate Offline

Senior Member

Registered: 10/16/04
Posts: 334
BTW, I still call a radio set a "wireless", as my dear old mum used to!

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#21960 - 06/07/07 05:12 AM Re: Technology, old , new, and coming soon (maybe) [Re: Kate]
redewenur Offline
Megastar

Registered: 02/14/07
Posts: 1840
I remember that too, with some sentiment. It's interesting that the word has been brought out of retirement to be applied to the new IT networks that use radio waves. I wonder if the same will happen this time around. 'Wireless' is quaint, but I think 'radio-net' and 'radio-lan' fall off the tongue more easily!

Incidentally, I seem to recall that there was a special name for the the old valve TV, but it was only used when it took too long to warm up...
_________________________
"Time is what prevents everything from happening at once" - John Wheeler

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#43473 - 05/02/12 07:18 PM Re: Technology, old , new, and coming soon (maybe) [Re: redewenur]
Bill S. Offline
Megastar

Registered: 08/20/10
Posts: 3570
Loc: Essex, UK
Quote:
many people like old technologies heartily like your mum.


Me too. They're easier for us oldies to cope with. Aint that right, Rev? laugh
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There never was nothing.

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#43475 - 05/02/12 10:33 PM Re: Technology, old , new, and coming soon (maybe) [Re: redewenur]
Bill Offline
Megastar

Registered: 12/31/10
Posts: 1858
Loc: Oklahoma, USA
Who says old technologies are easier to deal with. I'll show you just as soon as I figure out how to use my cell phone.

Bill Gill
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C is not the speed of light in a vacuum.
C is the universal speed limit.

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#43479 - 05/02/12 11:54 PM Re: Technology, old , new, and coming soon (maybe) [Re: redewenur]
Bill S. Offline
Megastar

Registered: 08/20/10
Posts: 3570
Loc: Essex, UK
"Cell phone". What's that? Something you use to call home when in the nick?
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There never was nothing.

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#43485 - 05/03/12 04:58 AM Re: Technology, old , new, and coming soon (maybe) [Re: redewenur]
Ellis Offline
Megastar

Registered: 01/08/07
Posts: 1490
Loc: Australia
'An electronic book'! What an amazing thing rede! I can't believe these thoughts on an electronic book were written only 4/5 years ago.

Already e-books are part of even my life. I don't like them like though and do prefer paper books for lots of reasons, but I have loaded some onto the i-pad (and that is of course the electronic newspaper as well)! I was very happy to find that my difficulty in reading books on the i-pad screen was common to about 15% of the population, and not merely a Ludditteish sort of thing peculiar to me. I should , apparently get new reader with a flat screen.

All of which were non-existent 5 years ago.

I was looking after a 3-year-old yesterday, and guess who worked out why the DVD (now obsolete of course, in favour of Blu-ray) would not play Thomas the Tank Engine. Here's a clue- it wasn't me!

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#43487 - 05/03/12 06:57 AM Re: Technology, old , new, and coming soon (maybe) [Re: redewenur]
redewenur Offline
Megastar

Registered: 02/14/07
Posts: 1840
Several months ago I bought an e-book reader with a 9"x7" display. It uses 'electronic ink' and ambient light, so power usage is very low - no power is needed to keep the page open and visible. It's b/w not color, which is no disadvantage if, like me, you want it for text only. I'm told it can store a few thousand books but so far I've got as far as loading less than a hundred, which have been on my hard drive for a while. It has many features that I might rarely use, but one of the best is adjustable font size. Another is auto-bookmarking - if you switch back and forth between many books it will remember your current page in each of them.

Since dr_rocket's post, above (#21940 - 2007-06-07), there's been an explosion in ebook publishing. There's still no way to rapidly scan and transfer the content of a paper book to the e-book reader, though. I envisage something like a microwave oven; just place the book inside, press button B and, in no time at all, Moby Dick has been copied from platter to PC (or e-reader).
_________________________
"Time is what prevents everything from happening at once" - John Wheeler

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