Tag Archives: CD

Useless Technology

Raise your hand if you actually still have a land-line in your home – and use it. I have a feeling not many hands will be up in the air. Many people simply don’t see the need to pay for this type of service when they already shell out money for their cellular device every month. We need our cell phones, right? However, if we have those, do we really need a land line as well? The answer – for millions of users – is a big fat NO.

This makes me wonder what other types of technologies are considered outdated or useless. Things such as CDs are obsolete in large part these days. They aren’t gone, no. But they certainly don’t sell the way they used to. With services to listen to and download your favorite music out there, who wants to go buy a disc that you aren’t supposed to rip onto your devices? I’m pretty sure almost no one does, which is why record companies keep screaming about their bottom line.

Head to any electronics department, and you’ll find a number of VCRs for sale. Who the hell uses one of those anymore? If you still have old VHS tapes lying around, you’ve likely converted them into digital media to use on your computer or other (newer) devices. We want to save those memories, right? Those little tapes don’t last forever, and they just don’t play well, anyway.

Another piece of “obsolete” tech I see everywhere are fax machines. Can anyone tell me who still USES those things? I wish they would die a terrible death in a fire or something. There is actually one of these devices in my home. I can’t tell you when the last time was that I used it, though. These days, I scan documents into the computer and transmit them via email. Remember, no one has land lines so how the heck are they going to receive a fax?

What other types of technologies currently being sold make you scratch your head and wonder why anyone bothers? What is obsolete in your mind?

Are Compact Discs Dead?

In just a few months, Universal Music Group is dropping the prices on their CDs to between six and ten dollars each in an effort to boost sales. While the company does have its hand in the music download and streaming side of things, their profit margins are much better with physical disc sales. Up until now, however, it usually cost far more to buy a copy at the local WalMart than it did to purchase the entire album digitally.

In addition to the lower cost, UMG plans to add extra content to physical CDs that cannot be purchased online. Their hope is the combination of the lower cost packed with additional features will bring sales out of the serious slump they find themselves in. I personally love this idea, and will likely buy more compact discs than normal. I do buy music online, sure. But there’s just something about owning those sweet little silver discs that I am hopelessly addicted to. What about you? Will the lower cost cause you to go out and buy more music in hard copy form?

Don’t forget to stop by the software center and see what’s new today.

What 100 Things Will Your Child Probably Never Know?

I came across an interesting article online today. With this week being the 40th anniversary of man landing on the Moon, many adults are nostalgic. Nathan Barry blogged on Wired, talking about the many things that kids today have probably never gotten to see and do – and likely never will.

But Moore’s Law and our ever-increasing quest for simpler, smaller, faster and better widgets and thingamabobs will always ensure that some of the technology we grew up with will not be passed down the line to the next generation of geeks. That is, of course, unless we tell them all about the good old days of modems and typewriters, slide rules and encyclopedias …

I couldn’t help but shake my head as I read down the list. I remember nearly all of these things. I recall the day Dad brought home our family’s first microwave, and proclaimed it to be the biggest piece of high-tech equipment the world had ever seen! For all of you other 30-somethings… remember the first CDs that came out? We happily traded our vinyl in for these little discs. These days, many kids just stare at you blankly when you mention a compact disc, as though you’re talking about some foreign object.

What other similar things do you remember? Leave me a comment, and share your stories of wonder and amazement, about the “best” and “awesome” gadgets and gizmos you recall seeing for the first time.

Take a read through the article, and then sit down with your kids (if you have them). Tell them about some of the advances in technology that you have already seen in your lifetime. Don’t let the strides that have already been made be swallowed and forgotten due to the ones yet to come.

Once you finish that, you might want to wander around on Geeks and Lockergnome. There is some excellent content being posted there, as well!

What was Your First CD?

For those of us who used to own vinyl, buying our first CD was a huge deal. I’d be willing to wager that we also remember what our first CD was, and even when we bought it. The first one I ever bought was The Traveling Willburys. For Kat, it was Ride the Lightning, by Metallica. I had to ask others if they remembered what their first ever CD was.

Sgt. Peppers June 2, 1987 – Matthew Davidson via twhirl

I think it was a Sade album… probably in 88 or 89 – Tad – the fresh maker

Ugh, Aerosmith’s "Get a Grip" which was given to me. Next I think was Counting Crows "August and Everything After" – Haggis (Sean)

REM’s Reckoning I think. – Abby Martin

Genesis Invisible Touch – George Lee via twhirl

first cd single: bush – swallowed, first cd album: songs in the key of X, first cassette: simpons sing the blues, first (and only) vinyl: los lobos – la bamba… *shakes head* – alphaxion

uh.. I think maybe it was music from Miami Vice. – Nine – Like the number

This is too hard for my old zombie brain – Michael W. May

+1 MWM… I have no idea! – Cheryl Jones

Mine: The Traveling Willburys. 🙂 – l0ckergn0me

Nirvana – Nevermind – Matt Musgrave

The Cure – Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me in ’87, I think. – Akiva Moskovitz

Bruce Dickinson – Tattooed Millionaire & Slaughter – Stick It To Ya! What? I was 14 and an idiot at the time. – Mark Wilson

Massive Attack – Blue Lines – Chris Nixon

Tangerine Dream, Optical Race – steplow is Steve

(My first 8-track, btw, was George Carlin, Class Clown) – steplow is Steve

umm, when I was four or five, we got the new Meet the Beatles on vinyl. – Laura Norvig

Anita Baker, "Giving You The Best That I Got", 1987 – Steven Perez

Might have been Speak and Spell by Depeche Mode…Can’t remember exactly. That was 20 years ago. – AlexScoble(Robert’sBro)

Ina Kamoze – Here comes the hotstepper – Mark

Legend – Bob Marley – Peter Simard

Ride the Lightning – Metallica (because I couldn’t afford anything over $10 and it was $10 used) – Justin KoЯn

U2 – The Unforgettable Fire. Really poor audio quality. The first track had so much hissing noise I wondered what was so good about CD’s. – Mark Krynsky

License to ILL – Ryan

Wow, I can’t believe I still remember this… I bought the "Day By Day" jazz album by Najee in 1989… I was still in high school… – Glenn Batuyong via twhirl

P.O.D. – Satellite? I know, I know. You don’t have to tell me. 🙂 – Reuben Thum via twhirl

Journey’s Greatest Hits – Stagekid

LOL. I believe it was Chuck Mangione, Feels So Good. – Brian Norwood

Slayer – Seasons In The Abyss 🙂 – Jérôme

bruce springsteen – born to run – revrev via twhirl

Hmm, I’m wondering how many brain cells back that was! I believe it may have been Talking Heads. +1 for The Cure Akiva! – Jody C

my brother gave me my first portable CD player – along with it he gave me Estefan’s Into the Light and Willson Phillips CD which I can now not recall the name. I was always surprised he picked so well (for my tastes at the time) and that he wasn’t embarrassed to be seen buying them. – pea gives ♥ a bad name

What was your first CD? And, if you remember it, what about your first album on vinyl… or your first 8Track?

How to Listen to Music Without Breaking the Law

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Honeytoast is a regular member of our live community. He wanted to send me his top 5 ways of getting and listening to music legally, conveniently, and inexpensively.

  • Subscribe to Rhapsody or another streaming type music source. This is Chris’ favorite, and is by far the cheapest way to buy your music. Sometimes, it can be more convenient with having accessibility from any computer with an Internet connection. The biggest downside to this would be the limitation to using something like a computer, instead of your iPod or mp3 player. Another downside is the loss of quality. Most listeners, like myself, would not have a problem with streaming quality, or slightly lessened quality. Some listeners prefer having the highest possible quality. If you don’t need perfect CD or better quality, and don’t always need to take your music with you, Rhapsody is one of your best choices. You can even take the trial for a ride and see if you like it before you have to spend a cent.
  • Use an online radio. One of my favorites that I am really starting to use is Pandora. It is free, and you can choose your favorite genres and create a station that will play music similar to any particular artist. These are great because if you don’t want to have to pick a song, you can just sit back, and a song that you will probably love will start for you. With Pandora, you can also create multiple stations, so you can listen to a few fast paced rock song before school, some quick Techno songs before work, and a folk or indie song before bed… or even mix them all together on one station. The biggest downside to this is once again, inability to bring the music with you everywhere. However, some online radio stations are providing support for cell phone streaming. Even a PSP with a wi-fi connection can play online radio now.
  • Mix it up a bit. If you’re not too involved in music and only enjoy a few songs by some more popular artists, but like a tune every now and then, try to have a easy, cheap, and convenient way for music. If you’re at home and want a quick song, try your favorite artist’s Myspace page or Website. Most artists have their more popular songs up, which are probably the ones you want to hear. If you love a few different bands, spend a few bucks on their albums to listen to in the car or on your iPod when you want. You don’t have to spend a fortune on these, just to have something to listen to. If you want to get a single song instead of the full album, but still want it for the car, just try the iTunes or online music store. You can burn a mix of your purchased music, or put it on your player for your convenience. You once again don’t have to spend a fortune if you’re just looking for 10 or 20 songs. Even listen to the radio if you want. If you like more popular artists, there’s a good chance that that artist will play soon. If you don’t get involved enough with music to pick one single way to get your music, you should try to mix it up.


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CD Destroyer

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Trying to eat a CD isn’t quite the most effective way to destroy it. Scissors won’t actually work, either. You could spend a lot of money on a shredder, but why would you? You can just buy a CD Destroyer.

Elecom has launched yet another USB device, which can render your CDs/DVDs useless in just five seconds. CD Destroyer is powered by any USB interface that can deliver a 500mA current to the device that makes it usable with any PC or a laptop. The device measures just 60 x 20 x 50 mm and weighs 130 grams. The SCR-CD001 scratches the disk and renders unplayable on any CD/DVD player, and is priced at just $26.72.

Just watch this! I took a completely blank and brand-new CD and placed it into the device. Within seconds, it looked like someone played Spirograph on it. Remember that game? It was so cool! This CD is now completely unreadable! How easy was that?


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Don't Download This Album

I’m not a professional music critic – and don’t pretend to be. However, I’ve gotta tell you that “Straight Outta Lynwood” [SOL] is one of the best albums that “Weird Al” Yankovic has produced to date. Yes, I’m biased – having been a fan of the band ever since the seventh grade. His originals finally, in many ways, outshine his parodies. SOL nails the melodies and harmonies, as expected.

SOL is a bargain at $15: “DualDisc includes PCM Stereo, 5.1 Surround and instrumental mixes of the entire album (with on-screen lyrics option), plus a 9-minute behind-the-scenes documentary and 6 brand new music videos.” I bet you wish your favorite artists did this, too. If there’s anything that’s going to keep physical media alive, it’s jam-packing titles with every bonus imaginable. A few weeks ago, Al unleashed the half-sactioned “You’re Pitiful” online. It isn’t included on the album, though the original artist gave Al permission to do so:

Yankovic recorded the song to be included on his Straight Outta Lynwood album after, according to Yankovic, having been given the James Blunt’s blessing to parody the song. However, following its recording, the artist’s record company, Atlantic Records, allegedly told Yankovic that he could not include the song.

Even after having publicly stated that the band doesn’t make much money from digital purchases (through iTunes or otherwise), Yankovic still treats his fans fairly – he knows that we’ll all buy whatever he creates. In fact, I’ve been known to buy his albums for friends – just because I think that as a serious and smart musician, “Weird Al” is underrated. His musical genius is fully exercised in a few SOL tracks – which won’t leave you SOL.

  1. White and Nerdy: Computer geeks should love these lyrics twice as much as they did “It’s All About the Pentiums” – with references to Wikipedia and MySpace included. Even if you don’t like “rap,” you’re going to love these lyrics. And honestly, which one of us isn’t white and nerdy?! I think I have a new personal theme song. Great way to start the album. Even Ponzi LOL’ed a few times when she first heard it. Five stars.
  2. Pancreas: Out of all the songs on SOL, this one is probably my favorite. It begins a capella, flowing and weaving in a classic “Beach Boys” sound. I’m not sure I’d consider this a complete style parody, though I wouldn’t have been surprised to hear something similar on a TMBG album – which is probably why I love this track so much. If you don’t find yourself strangely attracted to the final refrains, there’s something seriously wrong with you. “Insulin, Glucagon, Coming from the islets of Langerhans.” I can’t get it out of my head. Er, pancreas – if you will. Five stars.
  3. Canadian Idiot: For the second parody on SOL, we have a parody of Green Day’s “American Idiot.” Much like in “Lasagna” and “Pretty Fly for a Rabbi,” Al is finding gold in stereotypes. It’s a fun song, though I must admit that I find myself enjoying the R&B parodies more than punk/rock music these days. Still, I’m not anxious to skip to the next track – if only because the original song is catchy to begin with. If you don’t know anything about Canadian culture, you probably won’t be impressed by this tune (but I bet your Canadian friends will be). Four stars.
  4. I’ll Sue Ya: Speaking to the trend of crazy lawsuits appearing in the headlines every other week, Al gives us a “Kid Rock” style emulation – littered with popular brand names and outlandish experiences with them. I’ve never been attracted to “angsty” music, but this beat is to my liking (far more than an earlier “Young, Dumb, and Ugly”). If there’s a low point on the album, I’d say this is it – unless you happen to be a fan of the genre. Despite my indifference, I don’t consider it to be a “skip track.” I wholly expect these lyrics to show up in a future email joke thread – and please don’t take that as a suggestion. Three stars.
  5. Polkarama!: I look forward to the polkas on every album, always believing they’re not long enough. This accordion-heavy montage does not disappoint. While I couldn’t necessarily name every polkafied artist strewn throughout, I was definitely familiar with every lifted lyric. I think his combination and range of styles (R&B, Rock, Alternative) speaks to Yankovic’s continued range expansion and broad appeal. If you’re not into a wide range of pop music, you might not appreciate Polkarama! half as much. It’s not my favorite polka (as I appreciate his classics more than the newer ones). However, it’ll certainly satiate my polkanerve until the next one bounces in. Four stars.
  6. Virus Alert: Another Yankovic classic has been born – very upbeat, very addictive, original, and extremely replayable. If I played this tune back-to-back with “Hardware Store,” it’d make for a smart mix. Al’s falsetto feels natural and really fits inside this composition – with the lyrics being equally as amazing as the music itself. I find myself hitting the rewind button for this one – and not just because it’s about technology. I’m blown away by the song’s entire structure, particularly during “If you even get infected. turn off your computer, and make sure it powers down..” Can’t help but sing along. Too much fun. Five stars.
  7. Confessions Part III: You might remember Confessions part I & II, so this is. what you’d never expect from a third one. Usher probably should have stopped with one, but I’m glad that Al made it a soul-bearing hat trick. The original song was ripe for satire – strong enough to support a parody. We’ve all been in love, and we’ve all done wacky (read: inexplicable) things in those relationships. Of course, I don’t know if any of you like to dress up like Shirley Temple and beat yourselves with a hockey stick – but you should enjoy the open confessional nonetheless. Four stars.
  8. Weasel Stomping Day: Oh. My. God. This is Dr. Seuss in Bizzaro World! Close your eyes and try to imagine this one, folks. Not sure why Al references mayonnaise for the second time on the same album, but. that’s not the point. What sound does a weasel make when it’s stomped? There’s no safer way of finding out, I can assure you. The song is festive, but leaves the listener with a gigantic question: just exactly when is Weasel Stomping Day? I’d personally like to nominate July 27th if it hasn’t already been suggested. Let’s all celebrate! Five stars.
  9. Close But No Cigar: Another Yankovic original – and likely his best non-parody relationship-centric song to date. “And I loved her even more than Marlon Brando loved souffl‚.” “And I was crazy like Manson about her…” “She got me all choked up like Mama Cass.” – Dennis Miller would be proud. The music, in and of itself, has an addictive pop quality to it. Then again, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. I really like it, but I don’t think I love it. Four stars.
  10. Do I Creep You Out: I make it a point to watch the first few episodes of every American Idol season. Taylor Hicks kinda looks like Jeff Barr to me, though. I enjoy a good ballad every once in a while, so this serves my ears well. It’s over in less than three minutes, which is fine by me. My guess is that this track served as a substitute for the Blunt parody, though. I wanna lip sync this at my wedding reception – if only for shock value. Four stars.
  11. Trapped in the Drive-Thru: You can always count on one extended track on a Weird Al album. This time, it was a pointed parody of a pointless R. Kelly rambling. In many ways, Yankovic did a better job with it! I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that some of these lyrics were based on actual events in Al’s life. I can tell you that Ponzi and I had the “Olive Garden” argument recently. Art imitates life. Although, Ponzi sold my bunny slippers on eBay last week. Five stars.
  12. Don’t Download This Song: Yes, it’s what you think. Imagine if “We Are The World” was dedicated to the plight of the millionaire musician. The anthem is long overdue. You might have seen the video when it was uploaded to the Internet a few weeks ago. Aptly, you couldn’t easily download the encoded video. Listen to the very end – he screams “Ya cheap bastard!” Heh. The physical media was quite affordable, actually – filled to the edge with value. Four stars.
  13. You’re Pitiful (Unreleased): He starts singing early, but that flub wasn’t edited out before the song was released and distributed to fans (in an unofficial capacity, as mentioned earlier). It’s too bad Atlantic had a stick up their ass about not including this in SOL, because it would have fit in well. Since I don’t listen to much popular music these days, I wasn’t tired of the “You’re Beautiful” sound by the time I heard this track. Xbox geeks will love the Halo 2 reference, but I still crack up every time I hear “farty pants.” Five stars.

Ponzi listens to artists like Chamillionaire, R. Kelly, and Usher all the time – so hip hop music regularly flows through our halls at home. It’s because of this that I find SOL so interesting and fun. Had my tastes not been influenced by my fiance’s choice of music, I don’t know how I’d feel about the album.

The included videos are somewhat fun; “Weasel Stomping Day” (Robot Chicken) and “Close But No Cigar” (Kricfalusi!) really hit it out of the park. I’m disappointed that “White and Nerdy” didn’t make the DualDisc, though – I was hoping to watch a higher quality version of it. If the visual extras don’t win you over, then perhaps the instrumental tracks and 5.1 surround sound recordings will. SOL is an absolute bargain at $15.

Perhaps other artists should start copying Al – filling their physical albums to the brim with value. Wouldn’t that be a hoot?

Ethan Kaplan

Confirmed Gnomedex Discussion Leader: Ethan Kaplan. No relation to Pud, Ethan is the Director of Technology for Warner Bros Records. That would mean he’s largely responsible for a lot of the geeky stuff that happens over there. I can’t imagine any Gnomedexer not owning at least one Warner Bros music product – go look at your CD shelf right now (or iPod, for that matter). With music playing such an intregal part of our lives as consumers, we’re looking forward to discovering what the other side has to say about all this new-fangled technology. Are they coping, choking, or creating new opportunities for everybody in this circle?