Archive for the ‘technology’ category

(Anti-)Social

March 1, 2022

socialPicture this, if you will.  Everyone’s electronic devices … phones, computers, tablets … are connected to a massive computer that monitors everything they do and uses that information to control what they believe, think and do.  Or.  Imagine that your devices and everything you do on them is displayed to a team of managers whose job it is to keep you online as long as possible and to drive you to look at certain advertisers’ information.  Sounds like a 1990s science fiction film, but it’s not.  These are two of the images the film, The Social Dilemma, uses to illustrate the ways that social media like Facebook and Instagram are damaging our society through manipulating what we look at based upon our actions online.  The film offers three areas of concern: mental health because studies show a decline in mental health and life satisfaction greater use of social media; decline of democracy because of disinformation campaigns on social media; and rising extremism because the majority of people in extremist groups were steered there by social media. (more…)

Fidelity and Philosophy

July 2, 2018

This is Part Four (and the conclusion, finally) of a post on the journey of my music listening from high-fidelity to mobile phone earbuds and back again.  You should probably go back and read Part 1 , Part 2, and Part 3. Or not.  If you’ve stuck with me through four parts, thank you.  I hope you learned something … I certainly did (which, of course, is one of the reasons I write).

AGPTEKAs of Father’s Day, I was the proud owner of an AGPTEK H3 HIFI High Resolution Lossless Digital Audio Player and a pair of 1MORE Triple Driver In Ear Headphones.   Anxious to try them out, I installed a 128 gB mini-sd card and loaded my music collection, mostly stock MP3 files.  As I mentioned in Part 3, high-resolution  audio should be regarded as a marketing term.  Case in point: my player can’t play in high-resolution unless the music files are … and MP3 files are not.  Still, the difference from my phone and basic earbuds was striking.  Acoustic guitars were crisper and clearer, drum beats were sharper and orchestral passages didn’t sound as muddy.    Since the source was my MP3 files, the improvement in the sound he heard is due to high-quality electronics in the music player and the quality earbuds, not so-called high resolution or even better file formats.  But it does speak to the improvement in fidelity that better equipment can provide. (more…)

Fidelity and Resolution

June 30, 2018

This is Part Three of a post on the journey of my music listening from high-fidelity to mobile phone earbuds and back again.  You should probably go back and read Part 1 and Part 2.  Or not.

earbudsAt the end of Part 2, I was listening to music stored in the MP3 format on my smartphone, happy as the proverbial pig to have my music portable where I could listen as loud as I wanted.   But I kept seeing articles about high resolution audio online.   Neil Young, of all people, made a passionate plea to save music through his high resolution  player and streaming service, Pono (since abandoned).   Other articles sing the praises of so-called lossless compression formats like FLAC and ALAC.  On Amazon, I found pocket devices claiming to be high resolution music players ranging in cost from $25 to almost $4000.  Even given the tendency of audiophiles to equate high cost with high fidelity, that seemed suspicious.   Suspiciously, too, I can find articles claiming high-resolution audio is anything from audio Nirvana to practically a scam.  So just what is high resolution audio?
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Fidelity (Part 2)

June 24, 2018

This is Part Two of a post on the journey of my music listening from high-fidelity to mobile phone earbuds and back again.  You should probably go back and read Part 1.  Or not.

CDThe early 1980s brought a revolution in the form of the Compact Disc, popularly known as the CD.   According to Wikipedia, a CD is a digital optical disc data storage format that was co-developed by Philips and Sony and released in 1982. The format was originally developed to store and play only sound recordings but was later adapted for storage of data.  Suffice it to say that digital meant the music was stored at exactly the value recorded in the studio and that optical meant the music was read with light … no needle to scratch the surface or gradually degrade the fidelity.   CDs were smaller than vinyl records and durable, too, making them suitable for cars and portableindex players.   When recordable versions appeared, CDs quickly supplanted cassettes and gradually displaced vinyl, too, a music companies delivered more music on CDs only.   CD players appeared in cars and in portable units.  Not everyone was happy … some audiophiles lamented that music from records sounded warmer or more realistic.  But the tide had turned digital even though some hardcore audiophiles insist vinyl sounds better.  Older Eyes added a five disc CD changer to his music system. and his CD collection grew.
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Fidelity (Part 1)

June 22, 2018

This (probably) three part post requires an introductory explanation. For Father’s Day, my wife Muri bought me a High Resolution Music Player and a pair of audiophile quality earbuds. The quality of the sound is astonishing, reminding me of the way music used to sound before music moved from large music systems to phones and earbuds. This is a (probably geeky) retelling of that process in my music-listening life, with perhaps some old-guy philosophizing at the end.

IMG_7786When I started listening to music, there were two popular forms of recording … 45 rpm discs, popularly known as 45s … and Long Playing or 33 1/3 rpm discs. High quality recordings and players capable of reproducing the sound at a level of quality commensurate with the recordings were termed high-fidelity, or hi-fis for short. Of course, exactly what constituted hi-fi depended upon who you talked to. The Magnavox TV and Music Console in my parents living room was (according to the brochure that came with it) hi-fi but the group of sound equipment aficionados known as audiophiles would find that hysterical. Butw-5m our stereo was good enough for me to develop what would be a life long love of music. In high school, I built a 25 watt Heathkit amplifier which I combined with a set of cheap speakers and a turntable, my first component hi-fi. Audiophiles were still laughing. When i got married in 1968, I bought my first serious system, a Yamaha receiver and turntable and a pair of Heath speakers. (more…)

Oldereyes and the Dark Screen

March 19, 2018

tab aI was slow to join the ranks of people using tablets like the ubiquitous iPad and Samsung’s Galaxy Tab.   I have a laptop, I said.   I have a Kindle.  I can do everything else on my phone.  Why would I need a tablet?   But as I became more connected to digital media like Facebook and online news, via my phone, I got the answer.  Size does matter.  I bought a 7 inch Nexus tablet and it became a constant companion.  When I bought a bluetooth keyboard it even replaced my laptop for many tasks.   When my Nexus died (the early models had quality problems) I bought a Samsung 7 inch tablet which has been a reliable friend.   Unfortunately, with age comes weakening vision … reading the news on the seven inch tablet became too much effort.   Last July I moved up to a Galaxy Tab A 10.1 inch which  I use for reading the morning news. (more…)

Creepy Connections

September 6, 2014

web1By talking to friends … and friends of friends …. I’ve learned that many people my age avoid social media like the plague and look at texting as some sort of affliction that strikes adolescents and turns them into smartphone-toting zombies.  They worry about how much of their lives will be revealed when they go online and won’t order anything over the internet for fear of identity theft.   I, on the other hand, am very connected for an old goat.    I travel with a large backpack filled with electronic miscellanea … a laptop, a  8 inch tablet, and a bluetooth keyboard that allows me to connect to either my tablet or phone and blog anywhere.  I carry a wi-fi dongle that gives me internet access wherever I am.   I am a regular user of Amazon Prime … for shopping … music … books … and cloud storage.   I’m active on Facebook, posting comments and photographs, as well as publicizing Older Eyes Bud’s blog and keeping touch with friends and relatives around the country.  I have a Twitter account but find it pretty much useless. (more…)

And the Pulitzer Goes to …

March 5, 2014

aiI found an interesting article on the Fox News app on my tablet the other day.  Now, before anyone launches into a political bias tirade I also peruse headlines on US News and World Report, Real Clear Politics, The New Republic, and The Huffington Post.  No, not MSNBC.  Every libertarian has his limits.  Anyway, the article reported that 122 articles in technical journals, many in publications of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), were recently found to be computer generated gibberish like, This section provides a complete description of the canceller output spectrum in terms of Discrete Prolate Spheroidal Sequences and their eigenvalues.  Just kidding, of course.   That is a sentence from my doctoral dissertation.  Try this: Application and Research of Smalltalk Harnessing Based on Game-Theoretic Symmetries.  Therein lies part the problem … many scientific papers may sound like gibberish to laymen and even to those in a slightly different scientific field.  That’s why technical papers are supposed to be peer reviewed by people working in the same field.
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Phishing

February 11, 2014

phishingu
Last night, I got an email from a friend with the kind of title that makes your heart stop for a moment … Sad News.  Here’s what it said with the names changed to protect the innocent:

Hello,

This message may be coming to you as a surprise but I need your help.Few days back we made an unannounced vacation trip to Kiev Ukraine.Everything was going fine until last night when we were mugged on our way back to the hotel.They Stole all our cash,credit cards and cellphone but thank God we still have our lives and passport.Another shocking is that the hotel manager has been unhelpful to us for reasons i don’t know. I’m writing you from a local library cybercafe..I’ve reported to the police and after writing down some statements that’s the last i had from them.i contacted the consulate and all i keep hearing is they will get back to me. i need your help ..I need you to help me out with a loan to settle my bills here so we can get back home, our return flight leaves soon. I’ll refund the money as soon as i get back. All i need is $1,950 … Let me know if you can get me the money then I tell you how to get it to me.

Regards
Joe Abbegotz (more…)