Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Musings: tunage portage

Well, I finally did it.

I succumbed to the pressures of modern technology and shelled out for an MP3 player. I still have all my vinyl albums and a record player, but the nineties are past, and well, I figured it was time to get with the new tech – at least a little bit.

I got a SanDisk 512 Mb unit and so far so good. I had some issues getting the song’s track numbers to play in order instead of alphabetically. But with a firmware upgrade and some book learning, my unit is all fixed.

And is it light? Like 1.1 oz. or something. The last portage unit I had for tunes was a “Walkman 4”. It was the size of Spock’s tricorder and probably heavier. It took four double A batteries and could rock tunes for almost three hours!

I was proud of it way back when. And yes, I still have it, though I should find a home for it in some museum. Oh, and it still works too, a testament to its robust design. But now, in this modern-er age, it is redundant. I can put all of my Alan Parsons “CDs” onto my MP3 player now and it sounds better than my old walkman ever did.

What a change in technology. Sort of like the horse and carriage to the modern mobile.

Well, maybe not that drastic, but it seems that way to me.

And, the coolest part of all – but you will have to bear with me while I stroll down memory lane a bit – I can load the entire BBC radio version of “The Lord Of The Rings” on it (that’s more than 9 hours) and have a listen with only one AAA battery. Now that, to me at least, is the next best thing to taking your dreams on the road with you.

Now for the rambling – you can tune out now if you like . . .

Way back, it was late 70s or early 80s the BBC did a fantastic radio adaptation of Tolkien’s “The Lord Of The Rings”. And don’t’ be fooled by the smurf version done by Minds Eye – that version sucks in comparison.

I think it was the lovely CBC which played all the episodes in order on Sunday nights or something, and that was the only way you could get to hear it – way back then. It was a magical journey, well done, and anticipated.

A bunch of years later the BBC released it on cassette tape. You remember cassettes? Anyhow, this was a gold mine in a form you could own yourself. How cool was that.

So, a good friend of mine got himself an edition and I got a “ahem” copy of it on cassette too - which took me the entire length of the show to tape because I taped it at one-to-one speed for best audio copy quality.

Now, that version was listened to several times and held a special place on my shelves for many years – until . . .

The version was released on Compact Disc. Once I found that out, I was salivating. On a work trip to the US I found the CD version, which also included “The Hobbit”, bought it and thought I had just purchased the moon. Can you tell I like this BBC version?

And now, years after that, I have ripped those CDs into WMA files and the whole series now sits on a device the size of a matchbox for my audio pleasure. Now I’m thinking, way back, when the radio version was on, I would never have thought that twenty odd years later I would have the entire series on a portage unit the size of a matchbox.

I love tech – when it works . . . Um, end of rambling.

And now I have a projection - In ten years you will have a set of glasses with wireless plug headphones. Nodules (about the size of the smallest flash cards divided by 2) will plug into the side of these glasses. You will have choices of movies, TV shows, and audio content like music or books.

The same content will be downloadable from the ether, as well, at a nominal fee if you don’t want to bother with plug in tech. Actually, I predict, the whole world’s internet contents, in every form, will be available instantly, with a spoken command.

And it will be crystal clear and in a rotating 3D environment - and it will blow your mind.

And some geezer will be blogging about how he used to have DVDs and MP3 players and you, the techno-mages, will read it with your glasses and remark -

- man, what a backward world that must have been. I’m so totally glad I live in this techno day and age.

Now, Bilbo.

Where did you put that ring?

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