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Killer robot
Sep 6, 2010

I was having the most wonderful dream. I think you were in it!


Pillbug

On the topic of single video game toys, my sister got one of these in the early 80s, the Tomy Mini Arcade:



It was like a little arcade standup about nine inches tall, and it played a spaceship shooting game. The ships looked like ships, there were cool colored lights, neat sound effects, and even voices! But before things sound too good, that's because it wasn't really a computerized game at all, but rather more mechanical. The ships were on a backlit plastic tape that gets pulled across the screen at varying speeds, and the sounds on a little record in the unit:



I even found a video of it in operation, though I forgot how noisy the mechanism was:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c6qhegzYmhk

Still, it was pretty awesome at the time. Sure, it was simple and never going to be taken for a "real" video game, but it had lights and colors and sounds that a watch-sized gray screen with black dots flashing on it just wasn't going to match. The arcade box was pretty neat too, with enemy types and scores showed just like on a full sized one.

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Killer robot
Sep 6, 2010

I was having the most wonderful dream. I think you were in it!


Pillbug

Armyman25 posted:

The best part of the console tv was it made a nice stand for the new tv.

My father tells me this was true back as far as when he was a kid in the 1950s. Their first TV was a very nice looking console model that didn't last very long before they replaced it with a new one on top. The old one actually had a good enough cabinet that eventually they ripped out the electronics and just put a couple of shelves in there.

Killer robot
Sep 6, 2010

I was having the most wonderful dream. I think you were in it!


Pillbug

Deathcake posted:

Did someone say Trinitron?


When I moved into my current apartment years back, I had two 21" CRTs, one of which was a Trinitron. Both of which were at least 80-100 pounds. I live on the third floor. I eventually gave them both away on Craigslist, which was a pain too, but at least I never have to deal with them again.

Killer robot
Sep 6, 2010

I was having the most wonderful dream. I think you were in it!


Pillbug

Lumberjack Bonanza posted:

10000000-in-1! This is, of course, an utter lie. In reality, it's just a handful of games broken down into their individual levels and passed off as separate games. You can play it in-browser here.

This wasn't even unique to bootleg multicarts. Back in the 2600 days even legit cartridges Atari themselves sold would say "20 games!" or whatever on the front, and count every single game variant or difficulty level as a separate game. Sometimes there was some significant differences, like Combat having tank games and plane games, but even in those ones it included little difficulty gimmicks as separate games.

Killer robot
Sep 6, 2010

I was having the most wonderful dream. I think you were in it!


Pillbug

Old style PC upgrades!

First, there were math coprocessors. Old CPUs didn't come with any FPU capability, just integer, so math-heavy stuff had to be emulated and was very slow, and motherboards had an extra slot for a FPU sold separately. For example, on the original IBM PCs with 8086 or 8088 CPUs, adding an 8087 FPU would be a fairly significant extra expense, but could make the computer crunch spreadsheets five times as fast as the vanilla model. There were similar for the 286 and 386, but then the 486 is where it got weird:



The 486 had a FPU built in, but a a big batch of them early on had an error where it didn't work. So Intel relabeled them as the "486 SX" which didn't have a FPU, sold them cheaper, and put a socket on the motherboard for a "487 coprocessor." The 487? It was a regular 486DX chip with slightly different pinout, which simply replaced the existing CPU entirely. It worked so well, Intel started deliberately making FPU-crippled chips to sell as 486 SX processors, then turned around to sell the same people a real 486 later.

Then there was this one:



If you had a 386 system, you could plug this one in. It doubled your CPU frequency, added 486 instruction features, and even added a bit of on-chip cache like a 486. It had no math coprocessor though, and wasn't quite as fast as the real thing, but in a day when a midrange computer still cost $2000+ it was a pretty sweet deal. I have one of these sitting around somewhere. Related products were the Intel-made Pentium Overdrive for 486 motherboards, and assorted Cyrix and AMD products meant to give Pentium-level performance on 486 boards or Pentium II performance on Pentium boards. All with their own limitations, but great in those days of expensive computing.

Related, from the 486-Pentium era there were COASt modules, which literally meant "Cache On A Stick." At the time you'd have a tiny but fast L1 cache on the CPU and a larger, slower L2 cache on the board. COASt had that L2 on a stick like RAM, so you could buy a motherboard with none to save money then upgrade to 256k or 512k cache later. Eventually, manufacturers just started making L2 standard on boards before it finally got moved onto the CPU itself by the Pentium 2 era.

Killer robot
Sep 6, 2010

I was having the most wonderful dream. I think you were in it!


Pillbug

spog posted:

That's such a cool anecdote. You have to give props to their marketing dept for pulling that off.

Yeah, it's one of the more striking examples, though it's not terribly unique: there have been a lot of other processors where the speed, functions, cores, etc have been crippled for discount models, but that was a particularly devious way to build off what started as a tactic to salvage defective chips.

It was even more of a trick on the customer since the 386 also had SX and DX variants, but they meant something completely different: there the SX was cut to a 16-bit data bus instead of 32-bit. It meant motherboards were a lot cheaper to make, but on the down side it supported less RAM (though still more than most people could afford or needed), and had a significant performance impact all the time, instead of a huge performance impact just for certain software like the 486SX.

On an enterprise scale, I recall an old model of mainframe that came with four processors on the top end model and two on the low end. If you bought the low end it still had four processors: two were disabled, and they'd hope you would want to "upgrade" later at which point they'd send a tech in to enable the other processors. Hardware pricing techniques have a lot of tricks to them.

Killer robot
Sep 6, 2010

I was having the most wonderful dream. I think you were in it!


Pillbug

lazer_chicken posted:

To be fair, this is very very common and it makes a lot of sense because it gives them a way to use imperfect chips. Chip yields, especially at the beginning of a new line, are very low. Well under 50%. So if you can disable part of the chip to make it functional, boom, you just turned a loss into a cheaper product that you can sell. So sure, you as a consumer could re-enable the pipelines and possibly get a better product for free, but it's possible those pipelines are non-functional and they were disabled for a reason.

Also the 6800gt had all 16 pipes, it was the vanilla 6800 (12 pipe) and the later 6800xt (8 pipe) that people unlocked. Also ati 9500 non-pro to 9500 pro was a popular one.

Yeah, that's just it. Back with the initial example of The 486SX, it started because there were a whole lot of screwed up processors that would have had to been thrown out, and instead were sold at a discount. Even disregarding the extra money-making scheme of selling "coprocessors" later, once their process improved making deliberately crippled SX chips let them sell both full CPUs at their original high margin asking point, and crippled CPUs at a lower margin but still profitable point to people who wouldn't have bought at full price. Especially since at the time if you weren't big into Doom or massive Excel sheets you probably wouldn't notice the difference. Similar cases tend to work the same way.

Killer robot
Sep 6, 2010

I was having the most wonderful dream. I think you were in it!


Pillbug

AlternateAccount posted:

Weren't a lot of the NVIDIA Quadro cards the same as the GeForces with just a different BIOS and some flashing would get you to the same place?

I remember that, though I think it was a similar case to some of the disabled core cases in that Quadro cards were subject to more rigorous testing, since they were marketed to customers that would care more about the occasional minor rendering error than a gamer.

Killer robot
Sep 6, 2010

I was having the most wonderful dream. I think you were in it!


Pillbug

My landlord only takes checks. I think, still. Since I just got a new bank and they gave me a box of checks that means I have enough for ten years anyway and the box is downstairs, so

I haven't used a check for anything else in years now though, I think. I used to pay some bills that way but now it's all online.

Killer robot
Sep 6, 2010

I was having the most wonderful dream. I think you were in it!


Pillbug

Mister Kingdom posted:

Back when I lived in a natural-gas heated house, I paid with a check. If I paid over the phone, it costs $9.95. If I paid online, it cost $4.95.

When I asked them why they would charge me to pay online and get their money instantly, but not charge me to pay with a check which could take days, they had no answer.

It's a pretty common progression: things meant to save the company money through automation also provide the customer convenience, so instead of being a money-saving measure management gets to viewing them as a revenue stream for a premium product. See also: digital media sales that cost more than a physical copy, banks that charge more to perform operations via ATM than by taking it to a teller. You really need to have the right sort of business management insanity for it to make sense.

Killer robot
Sep 6, 2010

I was having the most wonderful dream. I think you were in it!


Pillbug

Parallel Paraplegic posted:

So I actually went and looked it up because I was curious and because

Phone time is not set using an Internet connection. The cell towers all synchronize with each other because in order to precisely time hand-offs between towers without interruption everything in the network needs to be within a few milliseconds of each other. Of course nothing says they have to sync to anything but the other towers, though most of them implement NITZ which allows them to push time to phones as well. However, NITZ is optional and a pretty weak standard, so every phone company does it differently or even not at all.

I know my old flip phone (Sprint) would synchronize whenever it powered up, but near as I can tell only then. When crossing a time zone or making DST changes, I'd switch it off and on to set it.

My phones since all seem to keep track of that on their own.

Killer robot
Sep 6, 2010

I was having the most wonderful dream. I think you were in it!


Pillbug

Fozaldo posted:

My first walkman only had ffwrd

I had some of those cheap ones over the years. Only one spindle was driven, the other just a smooth peg.

Killer robot
Sep 6, 2010

I was having the most wonderful dream. I think you were in it!


Pillbug

Terrible Robot posted:

That looks exactly (as in I'm really starting to believe the picture was taken by him) like the fuse-box in my friends house, a genuine Sears & Roebuck Catalog house from 1947. Bewildered the poo poo out of me the first time I had to dick with it.

Speaking of obsolete, it blows my mind that there used to be a catalog, from a SINGLE company, that you could order literally everything you could ever possibly hope to need from, including a loving house.

I remember the Sears catalog still around when I was a kid. It wasn't quite as big and random as the old days, but you could still order pizza, shipped in dry ice from Chicago. And just the general idea of the big, thick, exhaustive catalog even for a more focused clothing store or something today is as obsolete as a phone book.

But yeah, the old days, speaking of kit houses:

Killer robot
Sep 6, 2010

I was having the most wonderful dream. I think you were in it!


Pillbug

Landerig posted:

4 MB of RAM... over the ISA bus. I dunno, maybe useful on a 286?

Once in 1996 or so I got one of these, ancient even at the time. It was on a Compaq 386DX, which had like 2MB of RAM on its main board. So I stuck it on. Lots slower than regular RAM, but it beat page files if you wanted to put Windows on. And then I put on one of those 386 to 486 upgrade chips to do that and double the clock besides.

Then I turned around and sold it to some guy I worked with. It was a lovely excuse for a 486, but it would run Windows 3.1 and that put it ahead of his 8086. Which actually had Windows 3.0, operating at 640x200 in 2 colors.

Killer robot
Sep 6, 2010

I was having the most wonderful dream. I think you were in it!


Pillbug

Patchwork Shaman posted:

I got one of these for Christmas '81. Pac-Man was incapable of facing any direction other than left, and if you backed over something, you would fail to eat it. Also, the watch alarm played "Dixie", for reasons that were never explained.

I had a Dukes of Hazzard watch in second grade or so. It didn't play games, but at least I could explain the alarm.

Killer robot
Sep 6, 2010

I was having the most wonderful dream. I think you were in it!


Pillbug

My grandmother still has an old tub and wringer style washing machine in the basement, and while she's also had a fully automated washer upstairs as long as I remember it still got occasional use into the 80s/90s when the other would break or just for clothes she thought it was better for. For all I know it still works.

Also one of those old treadle type sewing machines, very similar to this one:



They don't have all the features you'll find on a modern machine, but they still do a lot of jobs perfectly well.

Killer robot
Sep 6, 2010

I was having the most wonderful dream. I think you were in it!


Pillbug

Related to weird proprietary physical formats, there's also weird proprietary software formats and codecs. Though like "cheap kids' players" these have some excuse of practical budget. And sometimes there was hardware!



This being an example of the MPEG card. Back when MPEG-1 was a popular and high-quality standard, whether for VideoCDs (VideoCD had dedicated players too, but I'm focusing here on MPEG on personal computers) or standalone clips, it took a powerful computer to be able to render them in software. Really playing the full scale 352x240 video wasn't something PCs could manage comfortably until the later 90s, so if you had some 386 or 486 you'd get a codec card to process it for you. If you didn't have that, you had to get buy with even crappier video sources like Cinepak, or the sometimes decent quality but often baffling maze of other codecs that developed over the 90s, when you didn't have much native OS support or easily compiled codec packs besides.

Some of those were commercial too:



MovieCD was an example, you could buy TV shows, movies, what have you on CD to play on your computer, using their custom codec and playback options. I only even know it existed since once I bought an anime episode on a discount rack that way back in the day. Looked pretty good for the time even! Like a lot of these codecs, it also got used for video in a number of PC games, and like some other obscure or less supported ones it can cause problems reinstalling to play on a modern PC.

All of this eventually went away. On the hardware side, DVD killed VCD quickly in the developed world (though early adopters saw another round of PC hardware decoders for DVD, and there was also Super Video CD which used DVD's MPEG-2 but on a CD), and on the software side...well, lots of variant codecs are still around, but the "standard" set today is a lot better quality, and OS support and codec packs have made playing less common formats much easier than it used to be.

Killer robot
Sep 6, 2010

I was having the most wonderful dream. I think you were in it!


Pillbug

Ensign Expendable posted:

Oh man, I wonder what kind of resolution/frame rate these things got. I can't imagine this was even remotely watchable.

I don't know about framerate, but the GBA has a 240x160 screen, and even outside of cartridge size limitations it doesn't have near the graphical horsepower to use a high quality codec so it's going to be even shittier than a modern web video of that resolution and file size.

Killer robot
Sep 6, 2010

I was having the most wonderful dream. I think you were in it!


Pillbug

wipeout posted:

A friend of mine had a 40Meg one on his Atari - I remember it sounding like a washing machine. It seemed like future tech at the time.

The (even then) ancient IBM XT I briefly had in the mid 90s came with a full height 5.25" hard drive with all of 10MB capacity. For those not familiar, stack two optical drives on top of each other, but far heavier. The 5.25" floppy was the same height.

VVVV My university main computer lab used a platter from one of those as a keychain.Like a metal disk the size of an LP, but with a far larger hole in the middle.

Killer robot has a new favorite as of 17:28 on Oct 11, 2012

Killer robot
Sep 6, 2010

I was having the most wonderful dream. I think you were in it!


Pillbug

Ensign Expendable posted:

It's not a DVD, it's a fancy hard drive with hardware DRM. I don't think a DVD can get you the huge resolution you would need for a theatre.

Pretty much. For all that I sympathize about big cool whirring machinery. Really "I have a DVD player at home" gets you no closer to the moviegoing experience now than "I have a Super 8 projector at home!" would in the old days.

But to touch on dramatic machinery, let's visit something bigger and older than a 35mm projector and see what made the material for a lot of the big, heavy, old stuff in this thread: the Bessemer process. It's outside of the 70s-80s personal device core of this but there have been some other forays into the older and bigger stuff, and if you live in old steel country you're going to see remnants of the era, so here goes.




Steel is tricky: even leaving specific alloys out, it needs just a certain amount of carbon in the iron. Too much and you get pig iron which is brittle, similar to cast iron, and has limited applications on its own. Too little, and you have wrought iron, which is more useful but not as strong as even mild steel. Getting the right amount was hard, and for a long time this involved cooking bars of wrought iron and charcoal together in a furnace for weeks, leading to a fantastically expensive product just due to how much fuel it took to keep the furnace running that long and how slow the turnaround was. In the early industrial period, the more refined crucible process was invented with higher heat to work with molten iron. Production boomed, but it still took hours for a furnace to produce 30-500 pounds of steel. A Bessemer converter could make up to thirty tons of steel in ten or twenty minutes, and even the earliest models could produce steel at 80% less than its competition, sparking the widespread use of steel in rails, construction, and just about everything else.

As for drama, it had plenty of that. As in the pictures above, a Bessemer converter is a big clay-lined pot mounted up on pivots. It would be tilted one way and filled up with molten pig iron, full of carbon and other impurity. Then high pressure air was pumped in through the bottom of the vessel, bubbling up through the iron: rather than cooling it, that just burned the impurities, generating more heat and purifying the iron into steel, with a huge plume of flame coming out the top. Watching the flames, or later on analyzing them with instruments, was how you could tell when the process was done. At that point, the air was shut off and the whole vessel tilted the other way to separately pour off the molten steel and the lighter slag, and the whole thing was ready to go. Typically steel mills would mount the converters in pairs: while one was doing the conversion, the other could be emptied and reloaded, for a continuous process.

The Bessemer process had its limitations though. While quality was refined over time it was too quick and imprecise to allow for exact control of alloy contents, it wasn't very good with making steel from scrap or from iron made from ores with different impurity profiles, and once the technology was there to produce pure oxygen that worked much better than air. Some modern steel processes are derived from the Bessemer process, but the original type fell out of commercial use by the 1960s. But it turned steel into something cheap enough to use everywhere, with use of enormous steel furnaces and flashy plumes of fire.

Killer robot
Sep 6, 2010

I was having the most wonderful dream. I think you were in it!


Pillbug

madlilnerd posted:

Silly me not looking up what the definition of a heavy metal is. I know titanium is harmless though, because it's what you put in tableware glazes and toothpaste. What I was trying to say was most ceramics are made from harmful things, which they are. The silica in clay is abrasive on your lungs if clay is allowed to dry out and become air-bourne, lead makes pretty glazes, and so on. Glazers in factories used to make their whole families sick because they'd be up to their arms in glaze all day and take home glaze powder on their clothes.

Really that's true of a lot of hazardous old materials/processes. They pose no real danger to the end consumer in the targeted product, but the people making them in contact with volatile forms or inhaling powders and whatever all day were in real danger.

Similarly, until the 1950s or so X-ray fitting devices were common in shoe stores. Put your foot in, look right in and see how it fits you! People today will gasp and say "oh, all those customers in danger from radiation!" and while it wasn't exactly healthy it wasn't that dangerous if you kept kids from just fooling around with the machine all day: the main risk was to employees who were working next to poorly shielded X-ray machines all day, every day.

Killer robot
Sep 6, 2010

I was having the most wonderful dream. I think you were in it!


Pillbug

HonorableTB posted:

I can't fathom the idea of wrapping a bunch of lamb intestine around my dong and going to work. That's just so grody.

It does sound a bit weird, but hey, weirder than putting that stuff in your mouth?

Killer robot
Sep 6, 2010

I was having the most wonderful dream. I think you were in it!


Pillbug

AlternateAccount posted:

As an owner of these, they are not at all bright. Pretty much can't even see the glow in anything less than near-total darkness. Also I think they emit alpha particles as most of their decay? I can't remember.

Tritium emits beta particles (the whole atom is lighter than an alpha particle), but they're very low energy as beta goes, and can basically be blocked by skin, so like alpha emitters it's only dangerous if ingested. Though they're lower mass than alpha particles still, so are less dangerous when they are ingested. Basically, as radioactive materials go it's as benign as it gets.

Killer robot
Sep 6, 2010

I was having the most wonderful dream. I think you were in it!


Pillbug

MadScientistWorking posted:

Nope. The formation of the FDA as we know it actually resulted from these inane products actually killing off some rather influential figures in the most gruesome way possible. I believe it specifically was someone's jaw falling off.

That was Radithor, one of the radium water products of the 1920s. It's not really related to the many things that endanger workers far more than consumers though, like radium watches or careless X-ray use or various powdered chemicals.

On old keyboards with lots of extra modes and keys I do like this one:



Ctrl, Meta, Super, and Hyper!

Killer robot
Sep 6, 2010

I was having the most wonderful dream. I think you were in it!


Pillbug

Base Emitter posted:

I have a keyboard with a Windows key disable switch, and I switched it off when I got it and forgot all about it. Never missed the Windows key, not sure what it does.

It's Ctrl+Esc, opens the Start menu. Nothing special, just got lots of hatred by 1990s neckbeards because Windows 95!
I was one. Got better. Still don't use it much.

Killer robot
Sep 6, 2010

I was having the most wonderful dream. I think you were in it!


Pillbug

m2pt5 posted:

Since XP, it's the modifier key for a bunch of handy shortcuts. For instance, Win+R opens the Run dialog, Win+Left/Right arrow snaps the current window to that side of the screen, and so on.

You know, I actually take that back, yes. I use Win+E a lot to launch Explorer windows come to think.

Killer robot
Sep 6, 2010

I was having the most wonderful dream. I think you were in it!


Pillbug

b0nes posted:


Is this being used anymore? I always assumed it was an East coast thing, I cant remember seeing any of these in California.

I imagine in mild climates there's not so much reason for them, but where you have temperature extremes they save a lot of energy over what hot/cold air can blow through open doors. The last set I went through was in a building only a few years old.

Killer robot
Sep 6, 2010

I was having the most wonderful dream. I think you were in it!


Pillbug

TotalLossBrain posted:

That looks like a the control room (real or simulator) of a Nuclear Power Plant. And despite modernization upgrades to those control rooms, they still look like that. Modern computers and software are incredibly difficult to get through NRC licensing.

And a lot of times when you have control systems around for decades they might upgrade the computers, but not the interfaces. I visited the Titan Missile Museum in Tucson once, an old early ICBM bunker.



Lots of controls, and when the places was built in the early 1960s all of those cabinets were full of electronics. Ten or fifteen years later the computer systems all got overhauled with new stuff, which did the same functions while only filling a couple of racks in there. Had the whole site not been shut down as part of 1980s modernization programs they probably would have put in some tiny board, but still wired it to all the same controls.

I also got this stuff there:



Old canned water from civil defense programs. It's really not that different from a lot of beer cans of the era, I gather, and might have come off the same bottling lines as such. Before there were even pull tabs and you needed to punch an opening with a churchkey opener.

I don't remember those days, but I do remember this era:



Pull tabs that ended up tossed on the ground where you could cut bare feet, flat-sided steel or bimetal cans. And brown 7-Up labels, I don't even remember that. It looks so foreign now that I'm used to sculpted aluminum with stay-tabs. By the way, I heard stay-tabs took literal years of design and experimentation before commercial adoption. Not that they're that complicated in principle, but they needed to make them with a minimum of materials and with a basically zero failure rate to not upset customers. The cans have also gotten thinner and lighter over the years, for related cost-savings reasons. When you make millions of something, every gram shaved off by better designs and manufacturing processes saves money. Remember these 2-liter bottles?



Specifically the separate opaque plastic bottom. 1970s-80s manufacturing processes weren't up to making a single piece bottom that both would stand up stably and not crack or break under pressure when treated as roughly as people treat plastic bottles. Once they got that working right, they ditched the base and 25% of the plastic needed. Plastic caps came along later, and still more recently they moved toward shorter caps that use even less materials. Modern bottles have a lot of performance margin too. They're tested to take 100psi, and they're durable enough to take dozens of reuses and repressurizations if you do homemade soda or something.

Also, remember 10 and 16 ounce glass bottles with styrofoam labels, before they got around to making single-serving plastic bottles?

Yes, I love the march of packaging technology. Well, other than the ones that increase shelf life at the expense of making things drat hard to open. And I mourn the obsolete technology of instant-win contests that don't require you to go to the company website and register to enter the number on the cap.

Sagebrush posted:

Now, if you'd seen Cerenkov radiation in the air, instead of in a protective water pool, you're pretty special. If you saw Cerenkov radiation in air more than a week ago, and you're still alive to talk about it, you may be the only one on the planet.

I remember reading about a fatal accident at an irradiation facility, where the worker realized something was wrong when he walked in the chamber to free a stuck mechanism, and there wasn't that cheery blue glow deep down in the pool. Instead he was standing right next to a bunch of cobalt-60.

Killer robot has a new favorite as of 06:42 on Nov 15, 2012

Killer robot
Sep 6, 2010

I was having the most wonderful dream. I think you were in it!


Pillbug

JediTalentAgent posted:

Along these lines, do you or anyone else remember the what the "extra large" drink cups at places used to look like? Rather than the normal cup and lid that we have everywhere today, some places used to have these strange cups that were round at the bottom like a regular cup then would become more boxy as along the top.

Rather than a lid, the top folded in like a milk carton with a plastic tab holding it together and you punched out a hole to put your straw through.

I remember exactly what you mean, but damned if I can find a picture. It took ten minutes to find a clearly illustrated 80s soda bottle, for that matter. I think I mostly recall those from KFC, or maybe Red Barn, but I know a lot of places had them. Since they could crimp shut on top it was more solidly covered than a typical cap.

Killer robot
Sep 6, 2010

I was having the most wonderful dream. I think you were in it!


Pillbug

Jibo posted:

Correct me if I'm wrong here, but aren't these for disaster relief and they only churn them out as needed? I remember Anheuser Busch gave a poo poo ton of water to the 2004 tsunami relief.

Pretty much, so far as I know. Though that's exactly what the situation was with Civil Defense stores, just those were produced before the disaster. I don't know if canned water.

Zack_Gochuck posted:

What advantage does a can have over a plastic bottle in that situation? Just curious.

Cans stack better and ship/store better than plastic water bottles, and converting canning lines to water production for disaster supplies goes back a long time before bottled water was a mainstream retail item. When it's a beer brewer doing it, cans are cheaper to produce and ship than bottles too, though the thin plastic used for water bottles is probably cheaper than either so I doubt that's a current concern.

Killer robot
Sep 6, 2010

I was having the most wonderful dream. I think you were in it!


Pillbug

GWBBQ posted:

My department at work had a Dell laptop with a fingerprint scanner. Cuts on my fingers didn't seem to affect it, but every month or two I would have to reregister my prints because it would stop recognizing them. I doubt my fingerprints are changing that rapidly, so at least at the consumer level I wouldn't trust it at all. Even with "better" (more expensive) stuff, I would have to see a lot of convincing evidence before I would trust it.

The lingering issue is that fingerprints are by no means as constant, unalterable, unique, or easy to read as a century of mystery fiction would have you believe. Which doesn't mean they're useless, so much as that "Fingerprints are ironclad proof of identity!" is just so rooted in popular wisdom. And that's before how easy it is to bypass it.

Killer robot
Sep 6, 2010

I was having the most wonderful dream. I think you were in it!


Pillbug

I never was foolish enough to think I would never fill a hard drive I bought, just that I'd be comfortable with it for a while. The first I had new was a 2.5GB though, and it sure felt big compared to the 360MB total storage I'd had before that. And it came on sale with a free 8MB SIMM! Enough to run a decent Windows 3.11 machine, though tight for Win95. I formatted it into five partitions, because cluster size efficiency in the FAT format was still a thing.

I do admit that I never imagined at the time how soon a CD would seem like such a tiny amount of data in such an inconvenient format.

Killer robot
Sep 6, 2010

I was having the most wonderful dream. I think you were in it!


Pillbug

Flipperwaldt posted:

There was a time when you needed to do that with some soundcards in the ISA era, to set IRQ and DMA. Which was inconvenient.

Perhaps, if it wasn't mentioned before, I can suggest autoexec.bat and config.sys as obsolete technology?

I've spent hours of my life messing around with those to get things running. LOAD HIGH, SET BLASTER and poo poo. I'm glad the dream that was Plug 'n Play somewhat came true eventually.

Sound cards, network cards, modems, video cards, motherboards with big rows full of jumpers. Not to mention that all those boards and cards were stuffed full of row after row of components because circuit integration was much less mature than it is today. Want to set your CPU to 40MHz? Better hope you have the manual to figure out what that row of jumpers needs set to.

Then when they came out with jumperless components, people didn't trust them. Admittedly because they were sometimes kinda lovely. Likewise things like integrated IDE controllers, sound cards, or similar devil-machines.

Other obsolete configuration things: having to manually enter your hard drive properties in the BIOS. Cylinders, heads, and sectors, or even picking from a fixed list of presets for common drive sizes.

Killer robot
Sep 6, 2010

I was having the most wonderful dream. I think you were in it!


Pillbug

univbee posted:

If I'm not mistaken, because SCSI typically had high-end controllers with on-board processors, they were also useful back in those days where your main CPU's processor cycles were precious.


Fun fact: I know someone who played through Loom on CD in full quality but without having a sound card in his machine, simply by plugging speakers into the front audio out port on his CD drive. He also played Monkey Island 1 on CD this way and got the Redbook music, but all the sound effects in the game like sword clashes were pumped out of his PC Speaker.

On the first, somewhat. There were a lot of dumb/simple SCSI controllers too, whose owners seemed to assume still made their computers objectively better. Likewise how even when the transfer rates were higher, they were still well ahead of actual drive read/write speeds so it only mattered if you were writing to multiple drives as it was.

On the second, it was interesting that way. That mentioned separate cord on the IDE drive was just an analog audio out that filtered through the sound card anyway. Playing CD audio like Redbook, the CD-ROM functioned just as an audio CD player rather than something delivering digital data at all.

Killer robot
Sep 6, 2010

I was having the most wonderful dream. I think you were in it!


Pillbug

Kalos posted:

My father used to wear one of those. Should I turn him in?


Coaxial still gets some use, you just don't really see it anymore in home or office networks because ethernet is easier to work with and does everything you'd need in that environment just fine.

Yeah, I remember coax being really popular for small networks up until the mid/late-90s or so just because hubs were still expensive, and just don't ask about switches or routers. Once hubs/switches became common and cheap most people never looked back.

Killer robot
Sep 6, 2010

I was having the most wonderful dream. I think you were in it!


Pillbug

Parallel Paraplegic posted:

I find it interesting that they didn't sue, actually. I mean, nowadays companies sue each other if the other guy's phones so much as copied their "rounded corners" and all that. Back then a company made a near-clone of a controller for a best-selling videogame system for what is arguably a competing system and the multinational corporation that made said videogame system didn't give two fucks.

I imagine that some was that there were fewer patents for things like "rounded corners" or "interacting with a computer using one's fingers" or whatever other stupid stuff twenty years ago. Not zero, sure, but fewer.

Killer robot
Sep 6, 2010

I was having the most wonderful dream. I think you were in it!


Pillbug

Sunshine89 posted:

The B-36 is a cool piece of obsolete technology itself.

The B-36 is just enormous. Here's it beside the B-29, which was a pretty huge plane itself in its day:



Some years ago I visited Pima Air & Space Museum in Tucson, where they had this sitting out in the work area, waiting to be restored and put on display:



I need to visit there again some time when I'm in AZ. Checked Google Maps and looks like it's right out in the center of the yard now if you zoom out, though the close-up shots are older photos with it still out to the side half assembled.

They had/have three B-52s too, which are also just huge to walk around/under. Those are neither failed nor obsolete: they've been in service 55 years, and are going to stay there another 30.

Killer robot
Sep 6, 2010

I was having the most wonderful dream. I think you were in it!


Pillbug

DNova posted:

I can't even believe the razor thing is real. I've SEEN those slots in medicine cabinets before but I never scrutinized them. They just drop into the loving walls? What kind of person thinks that is an ok solution to anything?

It's going into a relatively sealed compartment in the wall, razor blades don't rot or anything, and it would take many years of accumulation to fill the space. On the flip side, it means there's no need to put razors in the trash where they might cut people/bags/pets, and no need for a separate razor blade only trash dispenser that is either tiny or takes years to fill. A better question is, what kind of person has a genuine, rather than "this feels kinda counterintuitive", objection?

Killer robot
Sep 6, 2010

I was having the most wonderful dream. I think you were in it!


Pillbug

Gilgameshback posted:

It would probably take decades at least to fill a wall - safety razors blades are really tiny and thin. You can get 200 into a space about the size of a deck of cards.

Yeah. Which makes it exactly like storing your piss in bottles apparently.

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Killer robot
Sep 6, 2010

I was having the most wonderful dream. I think you were in it!


Pillbug

I had an XT in the mid-90s myself. Only for six months or so before I upgraded to a still-old 386, but it was still a lot of fun to play with at the time. First hard drive was a 10MB full height one, though I soon upgraded it to a pair of 30MB half-height, and added a 720k 3.5" floppy so I could swap files more easily off more modern computers. (XTs wouldn't support high density floppies without extra controllers.)

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