Posted in Freedom Friday

Technology Love

I have a love-hate relationship with technology. I mean, I enjoy playing with new toys and all, but the effort to get them to work exactly how I want them to work kills my love for them. Especially when I find they’ve suddenly become obsolete. Here’s a brief narrative of my experience with technology as part of my Freedom Friday series.

Hogan's Heroes (Photo Credit CBS)
Hogan’s Heroes (Photo Credit CBS)

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…

Whoops, wrong narrative. Let’s try this again.

Back in the Eighties. Gosh, that does sound like a galaxy far, far away. Anyway, back in the Eighties, I became a lover of the VHS tape recorder. I’d get excited knowing I could tape my favorite program and watch it over and over again. And over and over. I can’t forget how many times I watched a certain episode of Hogan’s Heroes. Why? Well, because I could, of course. I treasured that tape. Looked after it. Coddled it. Then again, I was a geekboy with very little friends. Not really, but you get my point.

Then I discovered I can actually record programs without my being home. I couldn’t believe the instruction manual. All I had to do was program the timer on the display and I can enjoy an evening out playing mini golf with friends while the VCR taped an episode of David Hasselhoff’s Knight Rider. Yeah, yeah. Laugh. I liked the show. What can I say?

David Hasselhoff in Knight Rider (AP Photo/NBC)
David Hasselhoff in Knight Rider (AP Photo/NBC)

That evening the mini golf was a bust. It had rained. I then thought, well, at least the evening wasn’t a total loss. I still had my Knight Rider. I eased in the comfort of my couch, flicked the remote, dimmed the lights, and greeting me was a documentary of the lifespan of a wasp. Fascinating. Where’s my show? Maybe I forgot to click on the TV/VCR switch. Am I getting PBS? Nope. I can see the timer on the display going forward. Second by second. Where’s my show!

It wasn’t the first time I had missed what I wanted to watch because of something that went wrong on the device. It wasn’t only me either. My dad would sometimes forget to change the timer from A.M. to P.M. He’d get lovely shows like three-hour marathons of Korean infomercials spanning the length of the tape. Livid? It isn’t the word I’d use to describe the nuclear meltdowns the VCR would initiate in our household. Oh, and let’s not ignore the chewed-up, mangled tapes the little sucker would spit out those wonderful days whenever the tracking heads were dirty. You might as well have placed crime scene tape at the entrance of our home.

No matter how bad those memories sound, I haven’t described the worst of the worst. If anything stuck in my mind as the epitome of time-recording nonsense in the VCR age, I would have to say it was Daylight Savings Time. All I wanted to do was record my program after 12:00 A.M.. Nothing complicated. Easy peasy lemon squeezy. Huh, did I have a lot to learn. It wasn’t until later years that I learned the phrase “spring forward, fall back.” Before then, I was at the mercy of the programming lords of the universe.

For instance in Canada, DST doesn’t kick in until 2:00 A.M. I chuckle knowing the pain this caused. Every Spring and Autumn I was all over that timer. I was always an hour either late or early. Could never figure it out. Of course because it was late at night the programs recorded were less than appropriate for family consumption. The next day, I’d find things on my tape like catching the start of Buxom Bikini Babes from Biloxi staring at me. Believe me, not fun when your mom’s in the same room waiting for a classic movie.

Good golly, thank goodness we now have the internet where we can stream anything we want whenever we want. I don’t know how I survived the early days.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, on sale October 22.

Do you have a technology mishap you’d like to share? Any other memorable moments?

Posted in Freedom Friday

Snow

TV Noise (a.k.a. snow)
TV Noise (a.k.a. snow)

In keeping with the Freedom Friday theme I began last week, where I get to tell you more about what goes through this little head of mine. I want to talk about snow. You heard me the first time. Snow. Although, not the snow you’re thinking of. I’m referring to the snow we may have seen on analog TVs when the cable’s gone out. Some of us may remember blank VHS tapes also featuring this wonderful spectacle of black and white dots.

If you haven’t seen it, then I’m not sure what picture I’ve attached to this post.

Common atmospheric sources for this electromagnetic noise are radio waves from local electronic devices or cosmic microwave background radiation (CMB or CMBR for short). That last point I can only describe as a residual image from an early stage of the universe’s development.

Yeah, the definition freaked me out, too. Anyway, I wondered about this static the other day.

Poltergeist
Poltergeist

For instance, a couple of prominent movies come to mind featuring snow. The first one is Poltergeist. This is the movie where the little girl watches TV, and all that’s playing is snow. I had to look for it on YouTube to remember how the scene went. A few things happen in regards to her late night viewing of her interesting choice of programming. The girl then turns around and says, the now famous line, “They’re heeere.”

I’m not going to spoil who “they” are.

The Ring
The Ring

The other movie is The Ring. If you haven’t seen it, skip this paragraph. It’s about a group of teenagers who find a VHS tape in a cabin in the middle of the woods. They play the tape, which first begins with snow, then after watching it they find in seven days they’re going to die. If you have a soft stomach for this kind of horror flick, I wouldn’t recommend it. But if you love edge-of-your-seat suspense like The Sixth Sense, this movie’s for you.

So, back to what ran through my mind. What if scientists could scoop all this electromagnetic noise, put it back together and recreate a model of the instant the world came to being. Wouldn’t that be something? Of course, not a physical model. A virtual model.

A step further would entail scientists taking that methodology, piecing together the past, and move it to piece together simple molecular structures.

You guys are quick. You know where I’m going with this.

Temporal Transporter
Temporal Transporter

What would stop science from creating a transportation device akin to the transporter featured in Star Trek? It wouldn’t be too far off. I mean, we already have the Kindle/Nexus/Galaxy tablets and cell phones, ideas that originated from the show. Who’s to say the transporter is not next?

Huh, all because of snow.

What do you think? Are we close to Star Trek’s transporter making an appearance this century? Or will we have to wait? I’m interested in what you have to say.