Coby TF-DVD7050 7-Inch TFT Portable Tablet-Style Portable DVD Player

Coby Electronics is a manufacturer of quality consumer electronics products designed to deliver outstanding performance for value conscious consumers who do not compromise on product performance. Coby incorporates new designs with innovative technologies to produce great looking and great performing consumer electronics products.PRODUCT FEATURES:7″ Widescreen (16:9) Color TFT Display;Plays DVD/MP3/CD/CD-RW;Built-in Anti-skip Circuitry;Headphone Jack for Private Listening;Compatible with NTSC/PAL System;Multiple Subtitles/Viewing Angles;Convenient On Screen Display.

Shure E2c Sound Isolating Earphones

Experience the ultimate musical experience when you listen with these noise-canceling earbuds. The special design blocks ambient noise, which can interfere with the nuance and detail of music. With a choice of soft foam and flexible sleeves, you can customize your fit to eliminate the distractions of ambient noise. The result is rich and incredibly detailed sound – a musical experience like no other.

Features:

  • Blocks ambient noise
  • Studio quality sound
  • Personalized fit
  • Portable, lightweight construction
  • Secure in-ear design
  • Includes black, nylon zipper tote
  • 2 year manufacturer’s warranty

Engineered by Shure – a leader in professional audio products – these earphones are designed to meet the demanding audio specifications of professional musicians and engineers. Designed to stay securely positioned inside your ear, they make a great choice for your daily jog, workout or other physical activity.

Flip Video Ultra Series Camcorder, 60-Minutes (Black)

The FVULT60MINB 60-Minute Flip Video Ultra Camcorder lets you capture the everyday moments that happen anywhere and share them with friends and family everywhere. It’s simple, portable, and amazingly affordable. Simple editing tools let you make custom-edited movie mixes with music Create and organize your personal video library 1.5 diagonal color anti-glare playback screen for instant viewing and deleting, 528 x 132 pixels screen resolution Video Resolution – 640 x 480 at 30 frames per second Video Bitrate – 4.5Mbps (average – auto adaptive algorithm) Video Format – Advanced Profile MPEG4 Lens Type – Fixed Focus (0.8m to infinity) Aperture – f/2.4 (fast lens for great results in low-light environments) Fast lens for great results in low and bright light, smooth multi-step 2x digital zoom Interface – 8 Buttons (Power, Play, Delete, Record and 4 way navigation) PC Connection – Built-in flip-out USB arm (up to USB 2.0 speed) NTSC TV Out with included cable Battery Life – Up to 2.5 hours with 2x AA Alkaline batteries, Up to 6.5 hours with 2x AA Energizer e2 batteries System Requirements – Intel Pentium 4 2.0 GHz, Windows XP SP2 or Windows Vista, SVGA display monitor (1024×768) and video card, Windows Media Player 9.0, Microsoft DirectX 9.0, PowerPC G4 1.0 GHz, 512 MB RAM, Mac OS X 10.3.9, SVGA display (1024 x 768) monitor and video card, QuickTime 7 or later Dimensions – Height 4.17 x Width 2.16 x Depth 1.25

Of Wangs And Core Dumps

I started learning programming on a Soviet computer called Iskra 226, a few of which were given to our after school program by the kind Navy bureaucrats. I vividly remember finding a BASIC program already stored on the hard disk that cheerfully asked a few questions about the weather and the megatonnage of a warhead and then quickly calculated the size of the epicenter, severity of fallout and whatnot. The teacher was not amused and asked me to delete the program before anyone else had a chance to see it..

Although Iskras turned out to be less popular with other kids who preferred Soviet knockoffs of Sinclair Spectrum which had good graphics and buttloads of nice games that could be loaded from audio cassettes, I preferred the loud monochrome screened monster. You see Iscras had peripherals – a dot matrix printer that sounded like a machine gun and a humongous hard drive that sounded even louder.

Later I learned that Iscra was a clone of a Wang 2200 computer. And even later I learned a bit more about Dr. Wang’s company. So, continuing my Computer History Through Coffee Mugs Series, I present to you a prized mug from my collection:

As it turns out, Dr. An Wang also happens to be the inventor of magnetic core memory, a technology that always fascinated me. Here is a core memory plane from my collection:

Core memory stores bits by sending current to donut shaped rings of ferrite. Wikipedia article explains how this works. Early core memory arrays used a small amount of larger ferrite cores. Later ones, like the one on the above picture used buttloads of tiny little cores. From what I heard, these amazing devices were assembled by third world garment workers. By hand. Under microscopes. If you have any doubt that this is true, take a look at these close-up shots that clearly show that this is done by hand:

Jay Dubya Zee shed some light on how horrible is the job of people who assemble camouflage nets. Think about how much worse is doing something like this:

How much ram is this you might ask? The back of the card holds a label. It says:
Lockheed Electronics Company, Inc.
Data Products Division
Core Memory 8k x 18
8200-0001
2001002326-1A1 HK022
7530

These days core memory is still used in aircraft and spacecraft because it keeps the information when power is off and is supposedly less prone to radiation.

The word wang these days mostly means “penis”, a common name of a Chinese restaurant, is used on t-shirts, as a sentence enhancer or just at random. Also, unexplicably, “wing-wang” is another name for a dollar.

Memory dump files are called “core dumps” to this day because of core memory. Also it is common to refer to core dumps of dilithium and chockolatium.

My Life At Penetrode or Is It Good For The Company?

Every morning the metal handle of the hallway door at work gives me a good ‘ol dose of static shock. This has been happening for the last four years. And only now I realize how “Office Space” this is.

There must be hundreds of other people on my floor who get that same static shock every morning. I wonder how wide spread is it. Do you get a daily dose of static shock from a door handle where you work?

Maybe it’s some form of thought control. Or maybe they generate electricity that way. Who knows..

I am so ordering my red Swingline

I am thinking about starting a protest website GAA – “Geeks Against Annoyances”. The top 4 things on the agenda will be:
1) Wall warts
2) Cheap Ass Go Off Every 10 Minutes Car Alarms
3) Fluorescent Lamps Of Death
4) Door handles that shock you at work.

Oooomp-acity

I’ve been reading a few books about the US electrical code and such. Here’s a short quiz:
Volt – Voltage
Ohm – Ohmage
Amp(ere) – ???
I used to say Amperage (and the dictionary shows that I am correct), but most books call it Ampacity. Why not Voltacity or Ohmmacity? I have no idea.

The Sonic Quality of My Fridge

I recently learned that there is such a thing as “hospital grade” electric outlets and plugs. Apparently they are slightly more robust and have stronger, springier contacts that keep power cords from unplugging. Here’s an example of a Hubbel brand 20 amp outlet (that’s why it has a T-shaped slot) and surge protection (that’s what the light is for, I guess).

The prices range from 8 to 70 bucks per outlet. Of course audiophiles could not pass by such highly priced electrical components.

Greg Graff writes in this Usenet post:
“I was stunned at what a hospital grade electrical connection could do in my system. Much tighter/deeper base (which is saying something for the WATTS), larger/deeper soundstage, fuller midrange, and a sigificant increase in dimensionality. “

That’s nice, Greg. But some are a bit more skeptical :

“Personally, I use the hospital grade plugs on almost everything, because I used to work at a technician at a medical center and salvaged several dozen plugs off surplus equipment. I strongly recommend them if you don’t pay anything for them. I doubt they’ve improved the sonic quality of my fridge, though…”

I wrote about audiophiles before in my article Brilliant Pebbles, Lost Marbles or The Proud Audiophile.

The Glory Of Bakelite Phones

I bought a nice old black bakelite rotary phone on eBay for a dollar. After cleaning the phone from half a century of crud and splicing in a modular jack I plugged it in. Guess what – it still works!


(image taken from this auction)

Ahh, the forgotten sound of the clickety-clack of the rotary dial. Do you still remember it? And this phone _will_ work in a blackout. I think I’ll buy another couple of phones just to rip out the rotary dialer and play with it. I wonder if the robotic dialer they showed in the first Matrix movie was something that actually existed. Dialer pens on the other hand existed for sure:


(image taken from this auction )

The Carpet Gremlins

I subscribe to two weird magazines. One is Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. The second one, as I learned right now is defunct. So I subscribe to one weird mag.

In any case, the magazine was called “Listener”. It was a renegade audiophile magazine. This magazine was against Home Theater and solid state electronics in general. They concentrated on vacuum tube (valve if you are British or thermionic if you are really old) technology and analogue sound in general.

You see, there is this group of people who believe that analogue technology is far superior to digital in sound reproduction. They say that solid state devices will never replace the vacuum tube and CDs will never replace LPs. Those who do use CDs prefer to use tube amplifiers.

It may surprise you to know that there are literally hundreds of companies that manufacture only turntables. There is a bunch of Russian and Chinese companies that still manufacture and sell vacuum tubes, Sovtek being the most famous. Lots and lots of companies are making vacuum tube amps. And I am not just talking about DJ equipment and guitar amps. No, they are making honest to god consumer stuff. Somebody even made a motherboard with vacuum tube based sound card or something.

Of course vacuum tube stuff is expensive. There are systems that cost in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. There are cheaper ones, going for just mere thousands. And then, on eBay, you can purchase old cheap equipment for hundreds.

But some audiophiles don’t stop at that. No, no, no. Once they get going there is no stopping them. They purchase vibration free platforms not just for turntables, but for ALL of their equipment. They say that vibration muddies up the sound. They buy cables made of exotic materials. They buy special power supplies that “scrub” the electricity. See a hilarious cartoon about this here. Oh, but some even run their equipment entirely from batteries.

There is no stopping this maddnes. Check this out:

This made me laugh hard.

Juice!

My electric bill last month was $148.95 . It says there that I’ve used up 797 KWH. That’s 26.6 KWH per day. That means that on the average I consume 1.1 KW. That’s 1100 W every hour, 24 hours a day. It’s like having 36 light bulbs on at the same time. All the time.

The only things that work full time are refrigerator (84 W on the average, lets say 200W while it’s hot), TIVO (40W), aquarium pump (30 W) . One AC was on during the night most of the time, another for a couple of hours in the evening.

I have a suspicion that:
a) my KWH meter is connected to something of my neighbor’s.
b) the old 220V AC is eating an enormous amount of electricity
c) all of the power supplies for cell phones, hubs, router, a/v components are leaching a shitload of juice

I really wish there was a portable KWH meter that I could hook up to any device and calculate the _actual_ energy consumption. But looks like there is no such thing.
Ok, this is pretty idiotic.

I really got to do something about this. Maybe I can get a better rate then 15 -16 c per KWH. Maybe I can find the mooching device that eats all my juice. I need to try and check the readings on my meter myself. Here is how. Neat.

Now, this is pretty idiotic. If not, more idiocy can be found on the other end of the spectrum.

Also, I don’t think I have good surge protection for my stuff, and the wiring quality is pretty dodgy. Which reminds me, my renter’s insurance ran out and I really need to renew it. Crap.

Well, at least this post helped me to get my thoughts in order.