Monday, December 22, 2008

Another tape tech format era closes: VHS

Alas, one more dying gasp of popular 80s technology -- the VHS tape. A quote from an LA Times article describing the last VHS distributor in the US:
After three decades of steady if unspectacular service, the spinning wheels of the home-entertainment stalwart are slowing to a halt at retail outlets. On a crisp Friday morning in October, the final truckload of VHS tapes rolled out of a Palm Harbor, Fla., warehouse run by Ryan J. Kugler, the last major supplier of the tapes. "It's dead, this is it, this is the last Christmas, without a doubt," said Kugler, 34, a Burbank businessman. "I was the last one buying VHS and the last one selling it, and I'm done. [....] Just before Halloween, JVC, the company that introduced the Video Home System format in 1977 in the United States, announced that it would no longer make stand-alone videocassette recorders. The electronic manufacturer still produces hybrid VHS-DVD players, but it's not clear how long that will last.[1]
I've seen the 8-track come and go, the cassette, and now the VHS tape. Kugler also goes on to prophecy about the life-span of the DVD. An interesting article on the overview and epilogue of the VHS tape.


[image] 3Critical (Accessed 12/22/2008)

[1] Geoff Boucher "VHS era is winding down" Los Angeles Times Dec. 22, 2008

[ & ] Some excellent cut-aways of the VCR tape mechanism can be found here and here.

[ & ] Although in Russian, and Japanese, a similar look at the mechanism of the casette tape can be found here and here.

[ & ]
And, of course, the groovy 8-track should also get its due.


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Saturday, December 13, 2008

Artificial Hand (from Aiko project)

One of the more intriguing projects to come of out building life-like human robots is the research on component body parts. Here is an excellent video showing state of the art fore-arm muscle control which can be directly tied to an artificial hand.[1] The hand project is tied to the Project Aiko Fembot.[2] Of course, fanboys know this has all been predicted for decades, ever since Luke Skywalker's "fix".[3]


[1] "Fembot Aiko serving human with smaller hand" You Tube August 25, 2008 (Accessed December 13, 2008)

[2] Mary Anne Simpson "A Perfect Female Companion: Project Aiko " December 12, 2008

[3] "Luke Skywalker's Prosthetic Hand" Kwenn's Database (Accessed 12/13/2008)


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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Steven Chu, the right choice for secretary of energy

I can think of absolutely no better guy I'd want in charge of American energy policy than Professor Steven Chu, the Nobel Prize winner who heads the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. This video of him speaking in 2006 shows exactly why.


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Saturday, December 06, 2008

Hey baby, check out my large...

Nice quote, from an interesting article:
"[B]iologists believe intelligence, as manifested in things like artistic and musical ability, is such a reliable indicator of underlying genetic fitness that it has been chosen by members of the opposite sex over the millennia. In the ensuing arms race to show off and get a mate it has been exaggerated in the way that a peacock’s tail is. This process of sexual selection, Dr Miller and his followers believe, is the reason people have become so brainy."[1]
Of course exactly what notions of intelligence are being selected seems pretty hazy, but even these might be identified, or identified as to which notions in what historical era of ancient or modern human development were pertinent for such selection.


[image] Chilmark Research

[1] "Balls and Brains: The quality of a man’s sperm depends on how intelligent he is, and vice versa" The Economist Dec 4th 2008 (Accessed 12/6/2008)

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