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Home taping revisited: A mic in each hand, pointing at speakers

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Try listening to the FLAC stream on Radio Paradise (.com) - fantastic quality when played through the old amp & speakers in my home office. I suspect I'm the same age as you, so you should enjoy the music that Bill plays ... and there are no adverts either.

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Got a call once at home...

...answered it and it was the speaking clock. I remember it cause it was odd. That was some time in the 90s.

We don't miss most of the things on the list, they just create nostalgia. If you had to do all those things again you'd long for current times instead. A bit like the Milky Way advert the Red car vs the Blue car. Saw it a few years ago as they bought the advert back. Was very nostalgic. That lasted about 2 viewings at which point it then became as annoying as it was back when I originally saw it back in 89.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Got a call once at home...

"[...] ...answered it and it was the speaking clock."

People played that practical joke when the office had a new automatic exchange that allowed call transfers.

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Go

Re:automatic exchange that allowed call transfers..

Yep. We used to call sex chat lines and transfer them to the MDs PA. Now I'm much nearer her age group now than at the time, I fear I owe her an apology.PP

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Re: Got a call once at home...

Still works though - just reading this has me heading out to the shop to buy a Milky Way. Lovely.

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Coat

Re: Got a call once at home...

"just reading this has me heading out to the shop to buy a Milky Way. Lovely."

They're smaller than they used to be.

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What I do actually miss is..

....taking the specific ring pulls off of Coke/Pepsi cans and then flicking them. Did that all through primary school and a bit in high school. Until they invented the ones we see now that stay on. Used to wonder the streets walking home collecting the old style ones.

Sadly can no long be done as they are no longer made or available :(

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Re: What I do actually miss is..

"....taking the specific ring pulls off of Coke/Pepsi cans and then flicking them."

At some point in the '70s they made soft drink cans with pop tops, two circular "buttons", one large, one small. Normally you pushed in the small one, which relieved the pressure enough so you could push in the large one, then guzzle it down with continuous air flow between the two.

Except I would shake them up, push the small button slightly open against my teeth, letting the extra pressure from the shaken soft drink squirt the liquid out , and completely empty them of liquid, but leaving them still sealed, coz the button sprang back when you did that. I ended up with a large collection of empty but still sealed soft drink cans.

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You'll be fine...

Just stay out of Camberwick Green.

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"such outmoded tasks as buying CDs (No. 10)"

Some of us still do that. Quite a bit of the music I listen to (especially smaller prog bands) are not with record companies and so record and send out to master their own CDs and don't have distribution agreements with the likes of Apple or Google (or Amazon).

I think the only form of streaming that I listen to is Internet Radio (like Morow.com - prog music with no adverts[1] and no inane DJ chat). Well worth supporting!

[1] Apart from the odd station announcement.

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Re: "such outmoded tasks as buying CDs (No. 10)"

Sadly, CDs are rapidly vanishing. Used to buy them in charity shops and car boots for between 50p and £2 which is far better value than downloads. But now the choice is shrinking and, anyway, I don't understand current popular music. Now tend to buy orchestral-- the less challenging classics composers (the Russian Romantics, Spanish and French impressionist and English).

I think CD remains the best/most convenient medium compared to vinyl which is easily damaged and really needs an expensive player. Though I own several turntables, I've transcribed many of my favourite vinyl titles using a CD recorder (which gives better results than a PC, probably due to the quality of the DACs).

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "such outmoded tasks as buying CDs (No. 10)"

"Used to buy them in charity shops and car boots for between 50p and £2"

Our local hospice charity has two shops. One charges £1 for a CD or DVD - the other one charges £1 for 3. They appear to have presumed different levels of affluence/demand for the two shops based on their location. Oxfam and the Salvation Army shops have the highest prices.

I get a crick in my neck trying to read the sideways edge labels - and it is physical contortions to scan the bottom two shelves.

A treasure find is a limited edition CD of an unheard of church choir - from the days when their trebles were all boys. They are useful donations to the Archive of Church Music. Unfortunately the track list is usually the standard mum/gran pleasing Christmas carols.

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Re: "such outmoded tasks as buying CDs (No. 10)"

"Sadly, CDs are rapidly vanishing. "

Many bands will sell cd's at their shows. The last time I saw The Fixx, I picked up a self-produced CD and was able to get all of the band to autograph it. It's more expensive than the download, but the band keeps the lions share of the money and I get a tangible recording that won't go poof if my subscription lapses. BTW, the band re-recorded the tracks as somebody else had the Mechanical rights to songs on the previous albums, but it also meant that the songs had a few new arrangements. Good value for a fan.

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Call the speaking clock...

Goodness knows how many times I must have done that - every time I set up a new server and every time I was at a site and they complained the clock was out.

And of course there was also the spoof business card "Want a good time? Dial Guildford 8081"

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Bodging the 60's

Wow, did nobody think of soldering a few wires to the speaker in the portable record player and running them to a 3.5 mm socket? At a pinch you could even strip an earplug wire and use that with the plug already attached. Just put it in the AUX IN on the portable (or the EXT MIC with careful control of volume) and you're all set to record without acrobatics. The tone might be terrible, especially into the MIC socket, but you didn't get much tone out of tape players anyway.

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Re: Bodging the 60's

We did do this. And then there was a market for mix tapes in the playground after the question was invariably asked, "was it recorded by mike or (gasp!) was it recorded by wire?"

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headphones and a mic

Back in my high school days in the 70's, before I had an actual tape deck, I remember lashing together a recording setup for a portable tape recorder much like the one in the article's photo. Stuffed the (monaural obviously) microphone in between the padded headphones (you know, the ones that were like holding a teacup over each ear, only 4x heavier), holding them closed by wrapping string around them. Truly a (non)Hi-Fi experience.

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I still make mix tapes, kinda

I still have boxes of vinyl records, tapes and CD's along with Laser Discs that I've mostly ripped. My mix tapes are now Playlists on my iPod (now an iPod is old school). I don't put that stuff on my phone so I'm not running the phone battery flat playing music. I'd have to keep a power back with me since I need the phone for business as a phone.

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Speaking Clock and other old technologies

The speaking clock goes back to before WW2. A person actually spoke the time and the recording was transferred to large glass disks that were used in the playback unit. We take time synchronization for granted these days but back in the good old days it was more or less manual -- you listened for the pips and pressed the button on the last one.

I started home recording with reel to reel tape but it wasn't that convenient or particularly cheap -- records used to be relatively cheap so there was less incentive to copy them. Records got a lot more expensive after CDs were introduced, the extra costs being due to the additional processing costs of making a CD (!) so that plus portability gave us an incentive to use cassettes even though they're not particularly high fidelity. Being an engineer I was always aware of the future even if it wasn't practical to have it at home -- I first worked with digital video in 1979, for example -- so it was a matter of waiting around until the proper stuff turned up.

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Shirley

while a generic Gene Hunt kicks me in the nuts and calls me a "nonce".

Wouldn't it have been Jack Regan?

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Tape longevity

I still have a BASF audiocassette of an elementary school Christmas program that I sang in back in 1977, painstakingly recorded in the school gymnasium by my father using an even older monaural SoundDesign cassette deck and a handheld mike, complete with my parents' comments and fidgeting.

It still plays fine, and the sound quality is probably about the same as it ever was. This is one of the few things that has survived from a much more innocent, hopeful time in my life, and is precious as gold. Somehow it doesn't even seem right to make an MP3 or other recording of it, though I probably should someday for safety's sake.

It's amazing how old analog media like this is so durable, when not mistreated, similar to actual paper books, while a (supposedly forever) digital stream or recording can apparently be so easily corrupted or lost. Not the least of reasons for this is that analog equipment doesn't recognize errors but will just reproduce what you have, for better or worse. It may degrade in time, but there will still be something there. The power of digital is how easily you can make an infinite number of copies, even it they're much more ephemeral on an individual basis. I also have a wire recording made by my father when he was in the service in WWII and I have little doubt that it would be playable, if I had anything to play it on.

Yeah, the old days kind of sucked in many ways, but it makes me a little sad that current generations won't know the rite of passage that was making a mix tape (or even CD) to give to the person you had a crush on.

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Didn't hack it?

I used to wire up RCA jacks to the clockwise pin of the volume control pots of my equipment so I'd have line-out jacks. The best spot for line-in was usually trial and error by touching another device's line-out to anything that looked like a DC blocking capacitor near the microphone amp. The same soldering iron used for that wiring would be used to burn RCA jack mounting holes in the device too. I didn't have a lot of tools.

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Anonymous Coward

We dumped the VHSes at a charity shop.

Now that's just cruel...

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Unhappy

couldn't do it

Back in the dim and distant past (1980s) I started working in recording studios in London. The first thing that was drummed into me was not to take any cassette copies of anything - on pain of losing your job.

Of course no-one else took a blind bit of notice but I'd had the fear put in me.

If I was rewiring Trident studios copy room now and the masters of David Bowie's 70's recordings were lying in a box, I would take copies.

At the time I just put the quarter inch tapes on and played them full blast all night while wielding the soldering iron.

30 cassette machines and I didn't make one copy....

Prat.

I must say that, working in the eighties, there wasn't that much I wanted to keep. Soft Cell, Tears for Fears and Frankie Goes to Hollywood didn't excite me much but there was much worse (Einstürzende Neubauten springs to mind) out there.

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Coat

C30 C60 C90 Go was on there

OMG, mix tapes. I was a bit retentive about my mix tapes, never wanting any silence between tracks. I was lucky enough to have a 1/2 way decent stereo, separates dontcha know. So would record a track from the TT, take the tape out, wind it back a bit with a pencil and record the next track. I found the time it took the record head to engage was enough to produce a nice fade between tracks. (yes, I would play the start of the track several times and use the position of the label as the marker for where the music actually started)

I also made a series of mix tapes for my car. I couldn't decide on the order, so wrote down ALL the tracks on paper, cut them all up, put them in a box and then recorded in the order I picked them (tombola style) out of the box. With approx 30 tracks to an average C90, I made a total of 4 tapes. Still have them - just no tape player :-(

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An illustration about what's wrong in today's musical world

"This video contains content from WMG. It is restricted from playback on certain sites or applications"

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I hated recording...

My old man used to live near a FM radio broadcast antenna. Very near.

Under it. Neighbor to it.

You turned the LP player on: you could hear the radio.

You turned the tape deck on: you could hear the radio.

You turned the amp on: you could hear the radio.

You turned the shelf speaker for the PC on: you could hear the radio.

You stretched a piece of copper and bit it with your dental fillings: you could hear the radio.

So you couldn't record anything. At all. Unless you wanted some random song or the evening news playing in the background, no you couldn't.

One day, he bought a stereo system that would PURPOSELY speed up the LP, and speed up the cassete tape recorder at the same rate. You could take 23 minutes to copy 45 m. worth of music.... with the freaking radio songs played at half speed, off-tune, in the background. It was haunting to hear some tunes at half speed.

I don't miss the experience of trying to filter a FM broadcaster out, that was violating every single local FCC rule.

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Re: I hated recording...

My old man used to live near a FM radio broadcast antenna

Not wanting to doubt you, but that sort of interference sounds more like AM radio than FM to me, unless the FM was seriously out of kilter, overmodulating and hitting some last-ditch kind of limiter and thus effectively also broadcasting AM as a byproduct.

I don't envy you and I would be wary of buying a house too close to a major transmitter (or an HV transmission line), for all sorts of reasons. I'm told, for example, that at some TV broadcast locations in the UK, there was enough power coming from the aerials (presumably in the days before digital) that fluorescent tubes in the buildings below would glow without needing to be switched on. This is a well-known trick under HV lines.

I worked in local radio in the 1990s. We had four transmitters on three sites, but the FM ones were 2kW and 500W and the AM ones were 300W each, so even when some local low-life decided to try to make away with the feeder to one of the AM aerials they were never (as far as we knew) caught - would have expected the bolt-cutter-wielding perp to have presented at A&E with some nice RF burns...

M.

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