Thursday, 24 March 2016

Why I won't be seeing Batman vs Superman at the cinema

I am old enough to remember when, about halfway through a film, the picture would disappear through the cigarette smoke haze and "INTERVAL" would appear in its place and the curtain with the frilly bits would swish and briefly close, as cinema screens had curtains then though on reflection they were functionally pointless, and the lights in the side passageway that led to the corridors in the cinema would dimly go on to reveal a bored person standing there with a tray of ice creams, and you'd have to make a split-second decision about either going to the restroom if you needed it and coming back to find yourself at the back of a long queue for the ice creams behind the grandmother who is paying with small denomination coins which she is having difficulty seeing in the dim light, or running down over the sticky auditorium carpet so you could get at the front of the queue and buy an ice cream quickly and have time to eat it before those lights went off and the ice cream seller disappeared and the curtain with the frilly bits would reopen and the second half of the film would start, but they stopped doing that years, in fact decades, ago now and there's no "INTERVAL" so with long films you spend the last reel starting to feel hungry and your mind drifts and you lose concentration on the film and you find you don't really care anyway as the action bits all finished some time ago and Aragorn is king and the hobbits got rid of the ring finally and Gandalf is still not dead but appears to have magic self-cleaning clothing that gets cleaner and whiter as the film progresses, but instead of focusing on Elijah Wood looking a bit sad you try to figure out the nearest place to the cinema that serves acceptable food and will serve you quickly because you do not want to wait 45 minutes for a glorified and expensive pizza which on reflection is just a very large round piece of cheese on toast and you get impatient but you don't want to leave early as you paid a small fortune to see this film while wedged in a seat so tight that both of your buttocks went numb over an hour ago and you get fed up at feeling like a hostage to watching the film to the end so you know what the hell your dungeon and dragon playing office workmates are talking about tomorrow because it's either hang out with them or hang out with the weird guy who cuts his toenails in an open plan office and keeps a flick knife in his partially open desk drawer and the nerds are safety in numbers, but you start to wish you'd waited a while to get hold of a copy from the dodgy bloke at the market whose friend keeps an eye out for the market inspectors or the police while he sells you a dubious looking copy of the film from a duffel bag while muttering "Nae returns" because if the copy of the film actually worked you could have then watched it in chunks while sprawled on your comfy sofa back home in your superman underpants but instead you sit there hating every aspect of the cinema experience and start saying things like "JUST GET ON THE F****** BOAT FRODO" a little too loudly and impatiently in an otherwise quiet cinema and that is why I am not seeing a superhero film that is 153 minutes long FIN.

Saturday, 19 March 2016

How to use a modem

From a suburban British house in 1984, Julian (password: 1234) demonstrates a modem while Pat (seemingly not allowed to touch the keyboard) lists her uses of the "communal" BBC Micro. Turn on your recorders as this TV clip ends with a data transmission! But how, in bygone online times, have modems been used...

Random pictures:
* A Minicom IV from Zork I and a modem inside a telephone.
* 1958! from Techradar's a history of modems.
* Radio Shack hardware from a Vintage Computer Forum discussion on Are dial-up modems useful for anything?.

Some modem uses from back in the day:
- A Livermore Model B modem is used to connect to a remote UNIX system. Features a Teletypewriter in action.
- In 1985, The Computer Chronicles features modems, bulletin boards, telecommuting, and The Well.
- A few tricks for getting old laptops back online.

More random pictures:
* A naked coupler from Hackaday Retro Edition: Hackadaying at 300 baud.
* The 307 from SQUEEEEE! Microsoft goes retro with pay-by-squawk NFC tech.
* The AT&T Sceptre Videotex Terminal from Vintage Computing and Gamings retro scan of the week Gather 'Round the Videotex.

And more modem uses that remind of vintage online times:
- What does "modem" mean? Commodore C64 man will explain.
- The harsh sound of a Commodore C64 dialup using a Model 1670 1200bps Modem.
- In which Marmalade the cat is undisturbed by his owner dialling up a 1988 BBS (one hour a day maximum usage).

More random pictures:
* Anderson Jacobson coupler from BT pulls the plug on 56K dial-up.
* 28.8 PC Card Fax Modem from Circuit City Flyer - July, 1996 and What Black Friday Looked Like in 1996.
* General DataComm modem from Zenotron on Mystery Circuits.

Previously on MetaFilter:
- Dynamic spectrogram of dial-up modem handshake sounds.
- Imagine turning on your home computer to read the newspaper!
- 300 baud of awesome in a wooden box.
- More modem sounds, linked from a comment by loquacious.
- From this post, Connecting IBM 5155 (IBM portable) to the web.
- From 2007, not_on_display describes DiversiDial.
- From 2006, GuyZero introduces Telidon.

Some more random pictures:
* Konex acoustic coupler from a forum thread about landline phone recorders.
* 300 baud modem from My First PC Weighed 25 Pounds.
* 110 Baud Modem from SCS's 110 Baud Modem which is part of William Bader's IT museum online gallery.

Bonus! YouTube user "Most relaxing sounds and videos" brings us 60 minutes of dial-up modem sounds, noise, 56k, and old internet connections.

[Originally a MetaFilter post]

Friday, 18 March 2016

Step aside Nutella; there's a new spread in town

As Easter approaches and the thoughts of many turn to chocolate, Mars has usurped news of the Creme Egg crodough by announcing that Twix is now on sale as a spread. Available in Asda (the UK version of Walmart), the press release describes it as a “delicious chocolate and caramel spread with crunchy biscuit pieces” that can be “spread over warm toast or a crumpet, dunked with a breadstick, or topped on a cake or waffle”. Early reviews are cautiously positive.

Despite some international confusion over British foods e.g. a crumpet being described as "a kind of thick pancake", there is much interest in this latest addition to the culinary range. There's not just Nutella, that most versatile of spreads; Mars already produces the Milky Way, Bounty (contains fruit), and Malteser spreads. Not to be outdone, Hershey's give us the Reese's Peanut Butter Chocolate Spread (and an example recipe), as well as their own named brand.

Upmarket brands also exist, as well as supermarket own brands , spreads produced by other chocolate companies, and so many more.

[Originally a MetaFilter post]