Friday, March 30, 2018

Fun With Vintage Audio Cassettes

At one time the lowly audio cassette was the cat's pajamas for home recording. This was after the 8-track but before the compact disc. People even recorded their own music and that of friends, and naively assumed that these treasured recordings would be around forever and ever.

Fast forward (heh) thirty years and guess what! The specter of excessive friction has entered the scene, wherein those tiny hubs inside the audio cassette will not turn and no amount of jockeying, rock-and-rolling or fast forwarding will remediate the situation. One could cry out in anger and hurl the apparently useless time capsules into a nearby yard for the dogs to have their way with ... or possibly, just maybe, a glimmer of hope exists in the C-Zero cassette.

What, you have never heard of the C-Zero cassette? There is no reason that you would have unless you are a tape duplicator or consumer of such arcane services. These are the empty plastic shells that purveyors of tape duplication services stuff with various lengths of audio tape. One can reportedly take the non-playing tapes and transfer them to new, low friction C-Zero cassettes and, voila!, problem solved. I will test this hypothesis and report back here when the truth of the matter has been established.
CD burner (top) and JVC audio cassette deck (bottom)

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Farewell to Facebook After A Decade

After pulling the plug on Facebook this morning, I ran across this article. Food for thought, I guess.

The cult of Facebook: You can log out any time but you can never leave

From my perspective, there are more reasons to leave Facebook behind than to continue a presence on the service. I have been on or around the internet since 1988 when I had an account as a contractor at David Taylor Research Center in Carderock, Md. This was prior to web browsers, multimedia, and even the domain name service (DNS) which was released on the DTRC network around the time I worked there.

I had been using dial-up bulletin board systems (BBS) and eventually building computers to host them and designing or at least configuring ones based on Wildcat or The Bread Board System (TBBS) software. These companies rapidly disappeared or changed their product lineup when web servers emerged in the mid-90s. Along the way I had user accounts on the following dial-up services:

  • The Well
  • GenNIE
  • Prodigy
  • AOL
  • CompuServe
  • MySpace

and was a regular reader of USENET postings via various news readers. I was also a member of a user-driven service called FidoNet that had postings from around the world.

Needless to say, I am accustomed to leaving one service behind and waiting until the Next Big Thing happens. Facebook has broken trust with its users, an act that is magnitudes worse than the censorship of Prodigy or the outrageous unsolicited propositions on MySpace. For the present I am content with local community sites and the Nextdoor system which tries to be local. You can find my videos on Vimeo, photos on Flickr and there is a podcast site which I will talk more about when there is something to download from there. [slide on over to the Media page on this blog for a compendium of links!]

Keep your eyes on the road and encryption strong!

[and here is the confirmation that the account is scheduled for deletion "within 14 days:"]
[another link ... this is even better and harkens from way back in 2014:]

Monday, March 26, 2018

Become A Citizen News Reporter

I have been learning to use an app called "Filmic Pro" on an iPhone lately. Also available to Android devices, this handy program turns your smart phone into a smart camera as well. Various features to control the look of the video are placed at your fingertips and it even helps control any unwanted movements, i.e., shakiness that may result from lack of a tripod.

A 2nd program is made by the same people to remote control the phone from a tablet if you like. Purchase both the apps as a bundle for $20 at the appropriate online store. More details and info on related accessories at

This is a short video captured using an iPhone 7 and Filmic Pro. It was edited on an iMac with Final Cut Pro, an Apple editing suite but similar results can be had with a variety of tools on Windows or Apple computers.

Later I will post an interview-style video using miking placed directly on the "talent" (person being interviewed). To my ears it improves intelligibility to place the mike closer this way but you need some other components to get the audio onto the phone.

Have fun capturing the news! And stay tuned for suggested ways to share your news. Many do not even require a Facebook account!