Extinct audio format gets a museum

The Eight Track Museum opens on Monday in the Deep Ellum arts district of Dallas. If you're under 40 you may have never seen or heard an 8-track audio tape. The 5.25x4x.8 inch plastic tape cartridge was big and bulky, but it became wildly popular in cars in the 1960s. An 8-track cartridge contains a continuous loop of quarter-inch tape. The ends of the tape are linked by a metal foil splice, and the tape is divided along its length into 8 channels, or tracks (hence the name).

Bucks Burnett, 52, is the force behind the creation … Read more

Were cassette tapes the MP3s of their time?

I was never a fan of cassettes; they were the MP3s of their time. Neither format ever sounded good to me.

Prerecorded tapes from the record companies were the lowest of the low. True, they were less expensive than LPs in the '70s and '80s, but you could make much better-sounding cassettes yourself by dubbing LPs to cassette.

Cassettes were only slightly more durable than LPs and were definitely subject to wear. Also, while the cassette you made might sound decent enough on YOUR cassette deck, there was no guarantee it would sound OK on anybody else's machine (tape … Read more

Why does digital sound better than analog?

Digital audio won the popularity contest years ago, and nowadays almost every sound you hear coming out of a speaker is digitally encoded. Sound is always digital, whether it's on your phone, computer, radio, TV, home theater, or in a concert hall. I'd go so far as to say most people never hear analog recordings anymore. Unless you're a musician, or live with one, virtually all the music you hear live or recorded is digital.

Digital audio eliminated all of analog audio's distortions and noise-related problems. In that sense digital is "perfect." When analog … Read more

Why does analog sound better than digital?

Music was forever changed in 1983. Up to that year we had lived in a digital-audio-free world, where musicians and the music industry flourished in a state of pure analog bliss. Vast numbers of people actually listened to music--without doing anything else--on a regular basis.

An analog recording corresponds the variations in air pressure of the original sound. A digital recording is a series of numbers that correspond to the sound's continuous variations, but the numbers have to be reconverted to analog signals before they can be listened to. No wonder analog and digital sound so different from each … Read more

EMC doubles-down on the mainframe

I'll bet that, until November 10, you'd never heard of a company called Bus-Tech. Now that EMC has made Bus-Tech yet another acquisition target, you're wondering why. In a statement Wednesday, Frank Slootman, president of EMC's Backup Recovery Systems division, positioned Bus-Tech in mainframe backup and recovery: "The addition of Bus-Tech will enable us to deliver a suite of next-generation mainframe backup products that are highly differentiated in terms of performance, integration and supportability."

Since its founding in 1987, Bus-Tech has occupied a place in mainframe channel protocol conversion--a relatively small niche. Now Bus-Tech … Read more

Here it is: The official BOL baby-making mix tape

OK, everyone. We heard your suggestions for the best mix-tape songs, we pored over your mix-tape tales--the hilarious and the heart-breaking--and we chose one lucky winner to receive the very special iPod Shuffle, featuring our hand-picked selections. There are mix-tape classics, outrageously cheesy ballads, hopefully a few surprises, and some truly great songs. Oh, and baby-making jams. Brian Tong made sure of that.

Now, to the winning entry. Tim from New York sent in this mix-tape tale of woe (which I edited for spelling because, you know, that's just how I am):

Just thought I'd let you guys … Read more

Android Atlas Weekly 3: Android iPhone 4 killer and Android viruses (podcast)

Motorola has big plans for its iPhone 4 killer, including a 2Ghz processor. Norton Security is out to defend against Android viruses, but do they exist? What's the deal with the Droid 2, the Droid X, and the HTC Aria? Join Justin Eckhouse along with guest hosts Bonnie Cha and Wilson Tang for a special Android Atlas Weekly from New York.

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Sprint Overstates Early EVO 4G Sales

Motorola Droid for Verizon gets a price drop

Droid 2, Droid X prepped for summer launchesRead more

It all adds up

Judy's TenKey is a three-in-one desktop calculator that has some interesting extras. It can be a standard full-function calculator, an adding machine, or a scientific calculator. A scrolling tape shows you just where you are in a running tally of calculations and automatically recalculates totals when you change something; multiple undos extricate you when you change something you shouldn't have. You can customize the look, add sound, and more.

An optional demo walks new users through the many features and settings Judy's TenKey offers. It starts by explaining how to hide the onscreen number pad, since most … Read more

The 404 Podcast 524: Where you should avoid racist polar bears

On today's episode of CNET's The 404 Podcast, the guys share the mics with longtime friend Clayton Morris of "Fox and Friends" and co-host of the Grizzly Bear Egg Cafe.

Anyone who listens to our show on a regular basis knows that very little preparation goes into each episode, but we always have a great time with Clayton, and today we spend the first half of the show talking about Jeff's appearance on NPR's All Things Considered, where he spent some time speaking with host Robert Siegel about his concerns over racism in multiplayer video games. After Wilson spends some time drooling over Siegel's baritone radio voice, Clayton tell us about his humble beginnings in the broadcasting industry and even does a few spot-on impersonations of New York's local television anchors.

After the break, Clayton tells us about his brief but educational sojourn into the armpit of the Internet that is Chat Roulette. Acting as the illegitimate child of Omegle and Skype, the site uses your Webcam to pair you up in a video chat room with a stranger on the Internet.

Clayton and the three of us attempt to describe the most common shared experience on CR: what might seem like a completely innocent Web site used to create new friendships across the world quickly falls flat on its face as you're faced with the worst the Web has to offer. Racism, misogyny, nudity, and pornography are just a few of the scenes you'll witness, so enter at your own peril, and don't forget to breathe...it's just a Web site.

EPISODE 524 Subscribe in iTunes audio | Suscribe to iTunes (video) | Subscribe in RSS Audio | Subscribe in RSS VideoRead more

Apple pushes iTunes for Valentine's Day (podcast)

For decades people have been making mix tapes for their love interests. There was a time when that meant gathering up all your favorite CDs or vinyl albums to make a tape, but now it's easy to create a playlist in iTunes or any other music player.

This Valentine's Day, Apple is making it even easier. The company has a section on iTunes where you can purchase albums or collections of love songs for setting that special mood.

In a recorded interview, Alex Luke, Apple's director of programming and label relations, explains how you can give the … Read more