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Comment Re:Stalking Horse? (Score 1) 136

You see Blackberry has a unique position in the market, it being not just the manufacturer but also the network operator. Thus for most normal Blackberry users (non-corporate),

That's actually an interesting point. In years past, the Blackberry fanboys used to tout how secure BB devices were when used with a BB enterprise server. It appears now that this claim was never true.

Blackberries have to connect to a BES in order to work, IIRC. For a corporate user, that would be the company's own server. Joe Public would normally connect to a BES run by RIM and under their control, and thus amenable to government intercepts.

Comment Re:Why... (Score 1) 76

Did nobody just backup those tapes the moment CDs became widely available?

Recordable CDs didn't appear for nearly a decade after the CD was introduced, and when they did they were insanely expensive. What they usually did was record to a newer tape, or some newer format like DAT, DASH or ProDIGI. None of these strategies would really pan out properly, however.

A new analogue copy would work, but we now know that between 1975 and 1995 Ampex tapes still had the sticky shed problem, which is exactly what we're trying to solve. With DAT the machines are intricate and fragile, being essentially tiny video recorders and AFAIK they haven't been made for some time. They're harder to keep working than say, a Studer A80 or MCI which mostly use off-the-shelf electronics and still have quite a large supply of parts and decent OEM support.

DAT also recorded at 48KHz instead of 44.1 so an eventual transfer to CD would be lossy owing to sample rate conversion, or plays back at the wrong speed, but there were quite a few DAT machines made so you could still do the transfer. Assuming the thin, fragile videotape in the DAT cartridge hasn't deteriorated.

DASH... machines sometimes turn up on ebay but are probably just scrapped because no-one wants them. Being digital they won't have 'the tape sound' so even the retro nuts like me won't touch them. ProDigi machines are like hen's teeth.

So no, a 1980s format conversion could potentially have made things even worse. Indeed, one of the favourite formats for budget digital recording was... Betamax.

Comment Re:Cryogenic storage (Score 1) 76

Freeze them all and wait until a 3d Printer can scan and reconstruct them at the atomic level...

My Quantegy tapes say to store between 4-32 degrees C (40-90 F). RMG and ATR don't seem to specify a temperature range, but I suspect cryogenic storage is going to do very bad things to the plastic. Also note that temperature does have effects on magnetism - e.g. the Curie point. Effects of low temperatures I don't know about offhand.

Comment Re:Not a new problem, of course (Score 3, Interesting) 76

couldnt the tape be still framed one at a time in a modern scanning format to bring it back? (the video portion at least) im not sure how to pull the audio but being analog wouldnt there be a way to pull that as well?

The audio would be pretty easy to pull off - it's going to be a straight linear audio track so you could probably just stick it in a regular 24-track studio recorder. Pulling the video is the hard part because practically all 2" video machines use a segmented scanning technique with the head-wheel angled at 90 degrees to the tape. If these are helical scan, the tracks are going to be laid down at 15 degrees or something weird like that, and you'd need to build a custom video head for it. Maybe it's possible to take a C-format head and machine a suitable drum for it, I don't know.

Earlier I asked if it was an IVC recorder - however, reading it again he said that only 4 existed so I'm pretty sure they were recorded on an Ampex 8000, a 1961 helical scan machine that Ampex made prototypes of but never went into full production with or something. So yes, that's going to be a rare bird indeed.

Comment Re:Not the first thing (Score 1) 188

Was there anything before BetaMax with Sony's fingerprints on it?

Umatic. That did pretty well - there's probably even people still using it. Betacam also. It's easy to forget now that up until about the mid 1990s, Sony was the shit - their equipment was in practically every TV studio or production house because it was top-notch. It's been said that merging with big content companies was really when things started to go downhill and the rot set in.

If I remember right, DAT didn't originally have the copy bits either. It was added because the studios pitched a fit over the idea of people being able to make a lossless CD-quality copy and did their level best to kill the format dead. Remember when the film industry sued over the fact that a Betamax machine could record their films, and tried to kill off the industry? They were going to do the same again, and it was part of the settlement over that which gave DAT and MD their copy protection garbage.

Ironically DAT was mostly used by recording studios to replace 1/4" mastering machines. Which seemed like a good idea at the time, even thought it wasn't - e.g. if you want a 24/96 master or 24/192 you'd have to go back to the 1/4" tape anyway because DAT topped out at 16/48, and that you're more likely be able to keep a 1/4" machine in working order than a DAT unit.

Oh, Sony also came up with DSD as an alternate way of archiving master tapes. As SACD that kind of flopped, but you can still get DSD mastering machines, e.g. from TASCAM.

Submission + - JetBrains Moving to Subscription Model (

esarjeant writes: For many Java developers, IntelliJ has been our predominant IDE, JetBrains is looking to make this easier with an annual subscription program. This will let you develop with pleasure while you pay for an IDE every year rather than when you're ready to upgrade. Fortunately, if your subscription lapses it looks like you'll have 30 days to check all your stuff in. How does NetBeans look now?

Comment Wait what? (Score 1) 294

meaning you won't be able to watch movies like The Hunger Games and World War Z through the service anymore

Well, this would have been a big loss indeed. If I had been able to watch those movies through Netflix to begin with, not being in US.

It's absolutely mindblowing how much distributor-to-distributor backstabbing goes on in US and it just doesn't matter here because they never got around to get their stuff here in the first place. Obligatory XKCD.

Comment Re:taskbar (Score 2) 56

just installed Kububtu 15 with plasma. yikes, there's no task bar or "start"-like menu anymore. How do I get back those interface features I'm comfortable with?

You may need to add a few widgets to do this, I think you can right-click to bring up the appropriate menu. It was a bit of a nuisance but in about 10 minutes or so I was able to get a reasonably good start menu and taskbar. It was disappointing that it didn't import the profile and layout from v4, though.

I could probably look up exactly how it was done, but right now I've switched to XFCE for the time being, because Plasma 5 crashes if you look at it funny. This on an nVidia card with the proprietary drivers so I think there's more to this than a bug in the Intel driver.

One important thing to note is that Plasma 5 drops support for the little systray icons, apparently they were powered by the XEmbed system which is considered deprecated. This means things like Dropbox and WINE applications which use the systray won't appear. There are workarounds for this (alternate libraries that implement a systray) and in the case of Dropbox it looks like they've recently added support for whatever new library or protocol replaces it.

Comment Re:NES vs. DOS (Score 1) 52

I don't think Command and Conquer, Warcraft 1&2, Star Control 2, Ultima 6-8, Wing Commander, and/or X-wing and Tie Fighter came out for SNES

Ultima 8 was AFAIK DOS-only. There was a SNES version of Ultima 7, but it was largely considered a joke. For one thing, Nintendo couldn't stomach the plot, which was about investigating a series of rather gruesome murders, which somehow mutated into 'kidnappings' in the SNES version.
The original game was about 20MB all told, pushing the limits of what was technically feasible on the PC at the time (it used "unreal mode" which allowed the 16-bit game engine to access a 32-bit address space, but couldn't work under Windows or EMM386). As a result it was chopped down significantly, losing the ability to recruit party members or even select the player's sex.

AFAIK they never even attempted to port Serpent Isle, aka Ultima 7 part 2. Given the apocalyptic ending I can't say I'm surprised.

Although Doom without multi-player is kind of pointless.

Depends. If you've got a hundred odd add-on levels for it it's got a lot of staying power. 'Course the console versions didn't have that either.

Comment Re:Tape recorder rewind, vinyl scratch (Score 1) 790

That high pitched gibberish when you rewind a reel to reel tape recorder.

Interestingly, that sound went away before reel-to-reel did since the machines started muting the output during fast wind.
A happy day for me was getting a machine with a jog shuttle so I could do that on demand:

To do two things at once is to do neither. -- Publilius Syrus