Data Tapes from History

After a visit to the National Museum of Computing at Bletchley Park for the first time, I should really have updated the Katigori blog. But, after being sent this super geeky link about an Apple I’s data tape, I had to share.

I can remember my first computer, a TI 994A, which my brother would happily program in BASIC, though I was too young to grasp the concept, and generally used the computer to play games which slotted in. The link will illustrate this further, and scrolling down the page brings back vivid memories of it. Texas Instruments equipment was there for much of my early childhood, and it was second nature to pull out a hot cartridge to blow on it to cool it down before reinserting it, or playing Avalanche with the classic music and yetis.

The relation this has to the Apple I however, is the tape. I can remember loading one program into the computer from a tape. You’d leave it to run its course before you could use the program. Tapes were also used of course for backups of data, which seems alien now, as I’ve just backed up a collection of files on a 4.7GB DVD. Giga what? A Megabyte seemed impossibly huge then.

So yes, if you feel the need to be suitably geeky, download the data remix as a ringtone, and achieve new levels of geekdom.

Printed Music

Sticking with the bizarre, which has been a theme for Katigori thus far, I was mulling over the thoughts of the unusual sounds printers make while they print. Their rhythmical printing, from the screech of a dot matrix printer (I remember the tractor paper of my Brother printer attached to my Archimedes fondly) to the modern day inkjet and laser.

Clearly a strange child, I would hum along to the likes of this, and the modem sound, when I wasn’t singing the harmonics of the washing machine spin cycle. However, it appears I was not alone. Younnat presents the Dot Matrix Printer Etude for your delectation.

It appears that experimental musician, Sue Harding took it a step further with her dot matrix printers, and made them into an orchestra. It is a “mixture of good luck and control”, she says, more or less, on the video below, which is an excerpt of the first of six episodes of the television documentary Subsonics.

(I wonder if the expressions of the faces of the audience is that of willing to understand, or pain from their ears?)

But if we’re going to be truly retro, and this was almost too amusing, the floppy disk drive is king. It was a natural musician while the floppy was an integral part of a system. So if you’ve wondered what to do with that spare drive and 1.4mb floppy disks you may still have, the answer is here.

If you find anything to better these, do share the link in the comments, to spread the geeky joy.

Music of Epic Geekness

The last.fm blog has the tag line “Music and web geekery from East London.” which sets the tone for this katigori entry. With the wonders of scrobbling your listening information to the last.fm system from all multitude of media players, it appears that a few unusual listening statistics will fall through.

Erik Frey posted to last.fm last September on such “Edge Cases” which are anomalous tracks that confuse the last.fm fingerprinting system. The unusual link to “Burglar Alarm” drew my attention, and to quench my curiosity, I had to click. Yes, you can indeed listen to half a minute or so of burglar alarm sound, which one shoutbox commenter suggests is a good way to end a party. I guess, if you want your guests to leave in panic and a headache, then fair enough.

However, burglar alarm isn’t the only ‘non musical’ entry into the last.fm statistics, and a few clicks through the similar artists reveals more and more of the sound effect recordings that have been uploaded. Just when I thought this was as odd as I wanted, I stumbled across the related videos and had a look at this video:

There’s been many a youtube video of teens playing out the Nintendo or Mario themes, and even Nokia themselves have taken their iconic catch from the crude electronic tones of mobile phones of Y2K onwards, and I admit I couldn’t identify many of the other melodies. But what really took the electronic cookie, was the careful and obsessive pitching of this video:

But, like the Internet always is, the madness and sheer geeky outcomes rarely stop when you think it just can’t go on. No, of course, it had to be taken one step further, and present to you a windows XP song:

Even the mac doesn’t escape…

If you feel entirely geeky, browse the many other remixes, and comment with your favourites. I’m sure there must be more – its the Internet – what you think isn’t possible, usually is.

One Cat's Adventures in Technology and Teaching