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Comment: Re:Hi (Score 0) 179

VM means Voice of Music (http://www.thevoiceofmusic.com/).

VM was a US company that was a major manufacturer of record changers, especially in the 1960's and early 70's. While VM did not sell a lot of phonographs under its own name, and thus may not be well-known to most Americans, it sold millions and millions of changers on an OEM basis to a lot of US manufacturers. Often these had customized elements such as tone arms and trim, and badged with the purchasing company's brand name, so as to appear distinctive to the end user.

VM also produced tape recorders and tape mechanisms to be OEM'ed to other companies, but these never attained anywhere near the sales success of their record changers.

What this has to do with Slashdot, I'm not sure. Oh, wait-- you meant another meaning of "VM". Sorry!

Comment: Re:Into the abyss (Score 1) 202

by WhirledOne (#45296057) Attached to: Panasonic Announces an End To Plasma TVs In March

For that, get an LCD monitor that uses an IPS panel. The vast majority of LCD monitors and TVs have TN panels.
IPS screens are vastly superior to TN panels in terms of viewing angles and color gamut. They're also more expensive, but the cost difference has really declined in recent years, and they've become more common. My 27" Dell Ultrasharp monitor (with an IPS+ panel) retailed for about $1000 when I bought it about 4 years ago (I got mine as a refurb for "only" $599 or so), but it was money well spent.
Once you see a *good* IPS monitor (some seem to be a bit better than others), you won't go back to a regular TN panel monitor.

Comment: Re:Betamax (Score 2) 202

by WhirledOne (#45295663) Attached to: Panasonic Announces an End To Plasma TVs In March

Exactly.

My family was literally the first in town to own a VCR. This was in 1979, well before video rental stores started to appear in our area. ...And indeed, a blank tape cost about $20 and a prerecorded tape of a reasonably major motion picture cost about $80. We had a Toshiba Betamax-format VCR, BTW.
"Everyone" always said Beta was superior, but the only "first-hand" source I ever saw was a Sony advertising poster, though it mostly tried to demonstrate how U-load systems (such as Sony's Betamax and U-Matic) were better than M-load systems (such as VHS). Apparently this advertisement or one like it was the germ of this "Beta is better than VHS" trope.
I have a few early VCRs in my collection, and I can vouch that early VHS machines tend to have "clunkier" load mechanisms than early Betamax VCRs, and this would be much to do with the M-versus-U loading mechanism. I would also not be surprised if a first-generation Betamax VCR using the original Beta I speed (which was quickly discontinued in favor of the slower Beta II speed) offered slightly more resolution than a first-gen VHS machine on SP. However, VHS-format VCRs got better rather quickly, and I doubt that Betamax had any visual advantages over VHS once you got to the early/mid 1980's.
Besides, back in the late 70's when these new-fangled home VCRs appeared, people didn't have TV sets with composite inputs and comb filters, since there was no real prior need for the former and I don't think the latter existed yet. They had sets like our then-new 25" Zenith System 3 console with only an RF input and no special video enhancements. Even if there was a difference of 10 or so line-pairs of horizontal resolution, it'd be negated by the consumer TV technology of the day.

By the way, while maximum runtime was indeed a big part of the picture, it's interesting that VHS originally got longer recording times not because JVC was particularly interested, but because RCA (which was in the process of getting VCRs OEM'ed from Matsushita (Panasonic)) insisted on having a longer running time than 2 hours on a T-120 tape for the American market, so they and Matsushita came up with the "LP" speed. JVC never really endorsed the LP speed, but they then started adding the even slower SLP (later known as EP) speed to the format.

Comment: The Cavity Creeps are attacking Toothopolis! (Score 1) 128

Y'know, it used to be that disasters in SimCity were things like fires, floods, and Godzilla attacks. What now? "Emergency! Market share of Crest(tm) toothpaste among Sims has fallen below 50%!" To respond to this disaster, you have to deploy advertising defenses and retailer goodwill to increase brand awareness and Sim purchasing levels.
Next thing you know, in addition to such city services as police, fire, water, and sanitation, Sims will start demanding such things as Coca-Cola(tm) bottling facilities and McDonald's(tm) restaurants.

Comment: Pennies? That doesn't make cents. (Score 1) 362

by WhirledOne (#42469821) Attached to: Canada To Stop Producing Pennies In 2013

Pennies..? I didn't know Canada was still using British monetary units. I suppose the sixpence and shilling will be next to go..?

I thought Canada's primary monetary unit was called "dollars" and the secondary unit was "cents". ...Either that, or it's Canadian Tire Money, I forget which.

Note: The U.S. and Canada do not produce pennies at all(unless their mints are producing coins under contract for other countries that use such units). They produce one-cent coins called "cents". The Whitman "Red Book" wouldn't lie to me, would it? A "penny" is a British coin, originally worth 1/12 of a shilling, or 1/240th of a pound sterling. Since Great Britain changed over to a decimal currency, the "new" penny is a much smaller coin and worth 1/100th pound. The use of "penny" in the U.S. and Canada to refer to a one cent coin is technically just a common slang term.

OK, that all seemed a bit picky. But, hey, someone had to point it out...

Just thought I'd put in my two groats' worth.

Comment: Re:640KB, actually. (Score 1) 70

by WhirledOne (#42385087) Attached to: Book Review: Burdens of Proof

Y'know, I wondered if anyone was going to point out something along those lines. Actually, IIRC, the original maximum "official" memory capacity of the early 64K PC1 was in fact 256K if you only used official IBM memory expansion cards, but the memory map officially allowed up to 512K of RAM (and was supported by some 3rd party expansion cards). A few years later, IBM apparently realized that there wasn't really a need to reserve the entire remaining 512K of addressing space for ROM and device-specific RAM (such as video RAM), so they "unreserved" a block of 128K, thus bringing the official maximum to 640K.
Even then, it was still possible to get beyond 640K of base ram by adding RAM in the "holes" unused by ROM on your particular PC, and using an appropriate driver in MS-DOS so that DOS would know about it. Examples of such "holes" in the memory map would be the space reserved for PCjr cartridge ROM, or the MDA video RAM space if you didn't have an MDA (or the CGA space if you had an MDA instead of a CGA). When VGA became commonplace, there was a shareware driver out there that would map the 64K VGA "window" to MS-DOS use, and switch the card to CGA compatibility mode. This gave you 704K of usable base RAM in DOS without any additional hardware, and was great for text-mode or CGA-mode only software where the VGA modes wouldn't be needed anyway.

Comment: Re:Why? (Score 1) 599

by WhirledOne (#42296999) Attached to: Why <em>The Hobbit's</em> 48fps Is a Good Thing

Bingo. Also, while NTSC has 525 scan lines, some of them are "invisible" since they're part of the vertical refresh interval. That leaves, oh, just over 480 scan lines for the actual picture. Since it's an analog signal, horizontal resolution is not measured in pixels, but in line pairs-- essentially the densest arrangement of pairs of black and white vertical lines you can have across the frame before they are no longer distinguishable as individual black and white vertical lines (and look like a solid gray area instead). Normal NTSC TV receivers top out at about 270 line pairs unless they are equipped with a comb filter circuit, but the NTSC broadcast signal itself is good for somewhere around 320 or 340 line pairs. Double the line pair number to get an approximate "pixel" count for a digital equivalent, and you get about 640 pixels. Hmm. 640x480 pixels. Where have we seen that before..?

BTW, in the days before color, the video amplifiers in some early 525-line B&W TV receivers had bandwidths that covered the full 4 MHz video channel, giving them even better horizontal resolution than NTSC color would allow. This results in the odd experience of being able to "see" the colorburst signal (3.579545 MHz) when viewing a color NTSC program on such sets, which appears as a fine grid-like pattern of shimmering dots on the screen.

Comment: Re:Japan, not China... 1960's (Score 1) 279

by WhirledOne (#42176019) Attached to: Some Apple iMacs "Assembled In America"

As others have mentioned, the "Usa, Japan" story is an urban legend. That doesn't mean that you've entirely misremembered your own "little transistor radio," however. Many of the early small transistor radios were in fact made in the USA. It wasn't until the early 1960's that the American radio manufacturers pretty much gave up that market, and contented themselves with selling re-badged Japanese-made transistor radios. [Some high-end Zenith and (perhaps) GE transistor radios were made in the USA for a while longer, though]

The bogosity meter just pegged.

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