Saturday, November 28, 2009

Some Interesting Finds This Week

I'm putting up my Christmas entry on the first of December (hopefully), so I figured I'd fill the time with some interesting stuff I've come across during the week.

Iced Tea from Taiwan

I had a client give me a couple of these drinks while I was doing some work for him. I usually enjoy trying new things, but I have to admit, I was a little bit afraid when I initially took a sip of the Green Tea. I didn't want to offend him by making a yucky face, but I lucked out - it wasn't too bad.

The reason why I was a initially afraid was because of an experience I had trying a new drink. Many Canadians shop at a store called "The Real Canadian Superstore" and they have an aisle dedicated to "Foods from Around The World". My dad shops at Superstore, and always buys the stuff that has been tossed in the "Reduced to Clear" bin.

One day (when I was a teenager), he came home with a load of groceries. He said "Here, try this drink I bought for ten cents." It was a bottle of Poppy Seed Juice. Of course, not being afraid of trying anything new, I took a long swig. My eyes bulged, and I immediately spit it out in the sink. And there's my dad, sitting there laughing at me. If you've ever eaten a dozen roses, you'll know exactly what it tastes like. On the plus side, my breath smelled like grandma's flower bed.

Anyway, back to the iced tea. I figured I'd look at the ingredients to see what was in it and noticed the instructions. Not only does this drink quench your thirst, but it also predicts the weather:

Service Instructions for RCA DVD Recorder (Model DRC8052NB)

I got a job to transfer some home videos for a friend of a friend, and I've been having trouble with the two DVD recorders I own. They're both acting goofy in the same way, so I emailed RCA's customer service and asked if there was any firmware updates. They didn't give any, but they sent me these instructions on how to reset the unit:

There are no firmware updates for these models.

You can try to reset the unit using the procedure below:

Let the unit sit with the AC power cord out of the wall for a couple of hours. Then hit the power button 10-15 times (with the AC power cord still out of the wall socket!) and then try again.

Really, really bizarre.

Creepy Corkscrew

I bought this creepy looking Sommelier corkscrew for three dollars which came in it's original plastic case. The reasons I bought it were: 1) It's creepy and 2) it looked like it was silver plated (it was sealed in a bag when I found it, so I couldn't really tell). Turns out that it IS silver plated, and some antique websites have valued this thing between $100-$200. Nice!

Book: The Vanishing Redhead

This is just wrong, especially for a children's book. It has a copyright year of 1948, and was published by Raphael Tuck & Sons LTD. I haven't read it. The book is barely being held together by it's original paper and glue, the pages are very yellow, and the printing is a bit blurry. However, I don't doubt that it's chok full of political incorrectness. I could just imagine an ad for this company:

Hey Kids! If you liked The Vanishing Redhead, here are some other derogitory books you might enjoy:

The Magical Nigger
The Faggot God Killed
The Rice-Picking Gook
Spongebob Squarehead's Concentration Camp

Available at a bookstore run by a local Whitey.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Album Review: Group Therapy (8-Track Porn)

If you are offended by anything of a sexual nature, then you shouldn't be reading my blog. Please leave now.
...Now that we got rid of all the pussies, let's continue...

"Group Therapy" is a fun album I picked up a few years ago. It was just sitting out in the open on a shelf with other 8-tracks by Perry Como, Nana Mouskouri, and the Village People. When I saw the title, I picked it up with curiousity. Here's what's on the back of it:

Naturally, I bought it. Turns out it's a "stag album" from the 1970s. It's probably the funniest tape in my collection!

These tapes are a bit difficult to find. This is the only one I've ever seen in real life. There are others out there, and 8-track heaven has a small page devoted to these tapes. You can check them out if you click here.

Now, I'll shut up and let you listen to some of the album

CLICK HERE (if you're over 18 and not psychologically disturbed)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Album Review: Funtown with Petite & Mayor Bob!

This is an album I initially purchased at the neighbor's garage sale when I was around five years old. Of course, my copy has since been scratched to shit and went up in the house fire. I got this copy at a thrift store (naturally).

Mayor Bob (Bob Swarts) had a local television show here in Winnipeg. The other main characters (puppets) were Petite the dog, Marvin Mouse, and a wooden dummy named Archie Wood. The show was cancelled A couple years after I got this album. A couple years after the show was cancelled, Mayor Bob died. (As a side note, the show was basically replaced with another one called "S'kiddle Bits" hosted by Joey Gregorash)

This album is music piracy at it's very best. If you look at the track listing, you may recognize some of the songs on it. The truth is, these songs are ALL the original recordings by the artists who made them popular (the exception is Put Your Hand In The Hand). You'll also notice that there is NO CREDIT given to the musicians who recorded these songs. Instead, they're all credited to either "Marvin" or "Petite"

Marvin's songs are all unaltered recordings (with the occasional audible tape dropout). However, to achieve Petite's higher pitched voice, the original 33 RPM record releases are played at 45 RPM!

To give credit where credit is due, here's the track list with the CORRECT musicians credited:

1) Zippity Do Da - This one is actually Marvin Mouse's voice but I don't know the backing track
2) Walking My Cat Named Dog - Norma Tenega
3) Raindrop Keep Falling On My Head - BJ Thomas
4) Snowbird - Anne Murray
5) The Thing - Phil Harris
6) England Swings - Petula Clark
7) Loving You Has Made Me Bananas - Guy Marks
8) Please Don't Eat The Daisies - Doris Day
9) You're Sixteen - Ringo Starr
10) Put You're Hand In The Hand - (I'm guessing this is Anne Murray's version)
11) Gonna Boogie Tonite - Tony Orlando & Dawn
12) Sing High, Sing Lo - Anne Murray

As we can see, Mayor Bob had a hard-on for Anne Murray albums.

There is no copyright listed (probably a good thing) and there is no year of release. I can only guess that this came out in the mid to late 1970s given that Mayor Bob mentions that You're Sixteen "came out recently" (it actually came out in late '73). However, Sing High, Sing Low was released in 1977.

For your enjoyment, I've taken a page out of the book of Mayor Bob and have put Side 2 up on the net for your listening enjoyment. I think Side 2 has the more interesting songs. Unfortunately, to meet Houndbite's 15 minute limit, I've cut out the intro and closing music, and cut the shitty "Put your hand in the hand" song short. Other than that, it's fun listening to the stupid dialogue between the songs, and Anne Murray singing like she got fucked up on speed and sucked on a helium balloon.

Click Here to Listen!

On a side note, if you can find the full version of "Loving You Has Made Me Bananas", get it. That song is cool, and Mayor Bob chopped off the beginning.

I also had another album called "Petite Sings", but I'm still searching for a copy that doesn't look like it was used as a crazy carpet on a gravel hill. I do, however own a copy of the Christmas album in mint shape. Perhaps I'll post about it when Christmas is just a bit closer.

If you have the tolerance to watch a full episode of Fun Town, there's one here.

Friday, November 13, 2009

My Oldest Piece of Computer Hardware

I've been home sick most of the week, so I figured I'd kill some time by writing a new blog entry. What I'm about to show you is the largest, most useless thing I own, and I'm quite proud to own one. I've come across many ancient pieces of computer history in my time which included cylinder hard drives and magnetic tapes galore, but this item is quite special...


It's a punched paper tape reader made by Decitek / OK Tool & Machine Corp. It measures 23" x 21" x 11" and weighs approximately one ton. This particular machine has 8 sensors for data reading, making it one of the more technologically advanced versions (HA HA HA). So, how the hell did I end up with this thing?

My previous workplace manufactured electronic circuit boards. They used this thing to control a wire wrap machine. Wire wrap went the way of the dodo back in the 1970s in favor of printed circuit boards. My workplace held onto this equipment because the boss didn't like to throw anything away. You should see the crap that collected in that place.

Not too long before I switched jobs, they did an extensive cleaning of the place. The paper tape reader along with a piece of the wire wrap machine were slated for the BFI bin. I happily threw the other piece of this machine into the dumpster, but I didn't have the heart to throw out the reader, so it ended up in the back of my truck (along with a few bags of pre-cut wire)

One of the reasons I didn't keep the entire machine is because it was incomplete, and the other piece of it was larger than the this thing. I also had no desire to keep a phenomenal amount of shit in my garage.

Here's the back of it. I believe that this is actually a rack mount reader put into a case along with a specially designed interface for the wire wrap application. To my dismay, the cables to connect this thing were nowhere to be found. When powered up, this thing makes a sound like nothing else I've ever heard. It sounds like.... well, like a computer lab from the 1970s.

When I peek through the vents on the top, I see a 25 pin male connector. I'm led to believe that it's an RS232 port, but without a paper tape (nor the desire to take this thing apart), I cannot prove this. It would be nice to have a paper tape to try the thing out, but they cost a small fortune on Ebay. Perhaps I'll run across some one day when I least expect it.

It's too bad I don't have the punching machine because I have a BASIC computer program in one of my old computer books that will write text on the tape:

Could you imagine installing Windows off paper tape? It would take months to do it, and probably hundreds of rolls of tape!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Garage Jukebox v4.0

I just sent off a nasty letter to Photobucket for putting some sort of shitty Disney Pixar flash crap on their main page that's preventing both Opera and Firefox from loading it properly. I had to log in by pressing the 'stop loading' button before the Disney garbage loaded up. If this continues, I'll be using something else to host images. I'd use the thing included with blogger, but it's not as flexible as hosting them somewhere else. Anyways...

Yes, I built another jukebox. However, this one isn't for me. I built it for someone else, and it's a bit different. Version 3.0 is still running reliably in my garage.

I chatted with them some time ago about building one for them. The request they had is that it didn't take up a ton of room, so I kept that in mind while building it. So, here it is:

It's another desktop PC which is about 1/3 the size of a regular tower which is exactly why I used it. It's a Pentium 233 MHz with 128M of RAM. I think it's a 6G hard drive in there, but don't quote me on that.

The thing with the blue LED sitting on top is an FM transmitter that I modified to power off the USB port as opposed to AAA batteries. I'm not including this with the computer, but I may keep it in mind for the future option of building it internally.

I built this computer to work WITHOUT a monitor, keyboard, and mouse. Instead, everything is controlled by a usb number pad which feels more like a remote control:

The computer is running Damn Small Linux version 4.2. The reason why I went with this version is because I initially wanted to control everything through the power button on the front, and this version of DSL supported ACPI. Unfortunately, the computer was too old to support ACPI, so I had no choice but to add on something to control it, and the number pad was perfect!

I was able to alter the designation of the keys on the number pad through the configuration file ".jwmrc-keys". This is a configuration file for the window manager. I re-assigned the following keys:

up - Vol up
down - Vol down
left - Previous track
right - Next track
5 - Pause / Resume
. - Rescan drives for MP3s
0 - Play audio CD
- - Unmount / eject all drives
+ - Mount / load all drives
* - Shutdown
/ - Update system

Of course, I'll have to include a legend since I'm not re-painting the keys. But if you look at the number pad, you'll see that this is a pretty straight-forward control give or take a few commands. The keys I made a point NOT to use were backspace and enter, since I'd need them to modify the system if need be.

The "update system" key is a really cool feature I built into it. I know my scripts aren't perfect and could use some tweaking, which is why I added this. What happens is you boot the thing up with a flash drive in it that contains updated scripts. After it boots, it automatically plays an audio file off the flash drive telling you to press the / key to update your system. If you don't do it, it repeats this message over and over again. Once you press the key, it executes a script on the flash drive that copies over all the new files. Once it's done, it plays an audio file telling you your system has been updated, and tells you how to proceed with normal operation.

And now, let's look at some pictures!


I mounted the USB hub in the card slot instead of the floppy drive this time. The reason for this is I picked up a few of these USB hubs for $3 a piece brand new, and I need to use them somewhere. Two ports stick out the back, and two ports have been extended to where the floppy drive is. There is a total of ten ports (nine if you exclude the one needed for the USB hub). I even took great care to put the floppy eject button back.


The DVD drive is a bit beat up, but it's all I currently have kicking around.

I didn't winterize this computer with a Compact Flash card because I don't have the parts to do so. If the person I built this for wants it winterized, I'll be happy to do it if he pays for the parts.

I had to use a jumper in the back to connect the USB hub to the USB card. The one in my garage has a fifth port internally which is why I was able to get away without a jumper cable.


Overall, I really do like this machine! However, the plans I have to upgrade my current garage jukebox go beyond this.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Albums You've Never Heard Of: Part 2

I've got a couple of cool entries in queue, but I gotta eat up some time until those projects are ready. Nevertheless, let's forge on in the search for great local artists. Unfortuantely, I think I'll have to keep searching after these next three albums...

Smoot - The Pain

Smoot sounds kinda like some sloppy jazz punk band with a Dave Grohl wannabe on vocals. The lyrics are okay, but I really can't enjoy this garbage. Remember when your mom would bake cookies? Remember what the electric mixer sounds like, beating on the sides of the bowl? That electric mixer can keep a better beat than this slop-wad of a drummer. The sound quality of this recording is mediocre at best.

Track listing (side 1 and 2 are both the same):

1) Smoot's Noodles
2) The Pain
3) Hot Coals on Bread
4) Kristjan's Noodles
5) Champions of the World
6) Mellow Rolled Gold
7) Granola Is Tasty (With Yogourt)
8) Sauce
9) Techo Aggro

Listen to "Champions of the World" (I think this is the love ballad)

Ramp Rage

Packing seven entire songs (and one crappy bonus track) into nine minutes is quite a feat. I was tempted to upload the entire thing to Houndbite (who's audio file limit is 15 minutes) but I highly doubt anybody has the attention span to listen to seven shitty songs about skateboarding. If you don't believe the songs suck, just read the enclosed lyric sheet.

On the plus side, these guys play better than Smoot, but the singer should stick to skateboarding rather than singing.

Sound quality? Let's just say that recording onto a boombox would be a step up from whatever they used to record this (probably a computer with a cheap webcam microphone.)

Track Listing:

1) Park Rat
2) Getting Hit Is Fun
3) Tail Theory
4) Concrete Wave
5) Take It Back
6) Facists Don't Skate
7) Sk8ers Fight Back

Listen to "Getting Hit Is Fun"

1997/1998 WMES K2 Class - I Love... and Other Favourite Songs

This is the worst. Period. Getting my hair caught in a belt sander is less painful than listening to this. There's nothing quite like professionally recording a cluster of tone-def little kids, and then sending the kids home with tapes of themselves to drive their parents fucking ballistic. There's one really loud kid in there who thinks he's king shit of singers. I'm normally against beating kids, but I want to pummel this little snot until he's a sack of unwanted chicken by-products.

When I picked up this tape, I had no clue what it was. I screamed in agony after hearing the first song. It's enough to make me want to go back to selling magazines for the Jehovah's Witnesses if it will stop the pain.

There is no track listing, and I have no desire to torture myself by jotting it down by listening to this life-threatening test of endurance.

Sound quality? Crystal fucking clear. It wouldn't be so chalkboard-scraping if the tape was dragged along the side of the highway for a couple hundred miles.

Go ahead and try to sit through the first song:

Listen to "I Love"

And that brings us to the end of yet another adventure in crappy semi-professionally produced albums. I've accumulated more, but this is by far the worst batch so far.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Candid Pic: 09/11/01

I took a course yesterday in a nice office full of cubicles out in La Broquerie, Manitoba. This is a picture of the toilet I used while there...

Microsoft really does run the world!