Posts tagged ‘computer’

Gold Record Awards Come From the Record Manufacturing Process

By Chad Upton | Editor

When a recording artist sells 500,000 units of an album or a single, their “record” is eligible for “gold certification” by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). There are also platinum, diamond and other levels of these awards that indicate even greater sales.

If you couldn’t tell from the name, the RIAA is a US organization and it only tracks sales in the US. Similar awards are administered in 70 other countries by The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, although the number of sales to achieve each award varies by country.

In 1958, the cast album from the production of Oklahoma! was the first album to receive the official gold record award. Back then, records were records. There were no CDs, MP3s, etc… albums were really only available on vinyl records. Magnetic tapes were not popular for consumer use and 8 Track cartridges were about six years away from creation.

To make vinyl records, an original “master” record is created and depending on the exact process used, the vinyl records are stamped from a master, mother or stamper record.  In those days, these masters/mothers/stampers were generally made from metal. Stampers are used to literally stamp the groves into the records that are distributed. Stampers are generally good for about a thousand uses, so many stampers are produced for popular records. Originally, the used stampers were treated with gold to create the gold record awards.

Today, vinyl records are far from the most popular media for music, but some albums are available on vinyl. Although many albums are not available on vinyl, gold records may still be awarded if they reach their sales goals. The gold records are no longer made from actual records, masters or stampers. They’re now made by specific trophy and plaque makers who are certified by the RIAA.

Today, the award symbolically represents a high number of sales. But originally, it literally represented that many records were sold because the actual production stamper was worn out, gold plated and awarded to the artist.

In the last couple decades, the term “gold master” has transcended the recording industry. The phrase is also used in the computer industry to identify a software product version that is ready for distribution.

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Image: Jim Cassady (cc)

Sources: RIAA, EIL, RecordPressing.com, Wikipedia (Gold Master), emusician

September 1, 2011 at 2:00 am 2 comments

The First IBM ThinkPad Was a Paper Notebook

By Chad Upton | Editor

IBM’s first notebook computer went on sale in 1992. The name ThinkPad was borrowed from a notebook they already made — a paper notebook.

In the 1920s, IBM’s corporate slogan was “THINK!”

For inspiration, employees and customers were given paper notebooks with the word “THINK” embossed in the cover.

While on a coffee break, IBM researcher Denny Wainwright was inspired by the notepad and came up with the name for their notebook computer line, “ThinkPad.” In fact, the idea for the notebook computer was first conceptualized on the paper inside one of the brown leatherette notepads.

In 2005, IBM sold the ThinkPad brand for approximately $1.75 billion. While they’re not known for style, both IBM and Lenovo manufactured ThinkPads are renown for high quality and reliability.

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Photo: Chris Metcalf

Sources: Lenovo, ACL, Wikipedia (ThinkPad, Lenovo)

June 23, 2011 at 2:00 pm 10 comments

Standard Keyboards are Designed to Slow You Down

By Kyle Kurpinski

It’s no secret that you will probably spend a significant chunk of your lifetime prodding at a keyboard, but have you ever considered why keyboards are designed the way they are? Logic would dictate that the layout of the keys should increase typing efficiency and maximize your output. Reality, however, is not always logical, and the vast majority of modern keyboards are actually designed to make you type slower.

The basic QWERTY layout – the default keyboard layout you’re probably using right now – is a remnant of the very first typewriters. As a kid I used to play with my mother’s typewriter and I would frequently jam the machine by pressing too many keys at once. The same thing could happen if a proficient typist hit two or more keys in rapid succession. Due to the mechanical nature of the typebars, jams were increasingly likely with faster typing speeds. The QWERTY layout (named for the six letters at the left side of the top row) was specifically designed to space out the most common letter combinations, thereby reducing jams by stunting the user’s output. By the time newer devices made typebars obsolete, QWERTY had already cemented itself as the primary standard layout. So if you’re using this archaic configuration today (which I admit, I am), you’re actually making yourself less efficient and potentially increasing your risk of a repetitive strain injury like carpal tunnel. Fortunately, there are other options available.

In 1963, Dr. Augustus Dvorak and his brother-in-law patented the (you guessed it) “Dvorak Simplified Keyboard,” which is one of the more commonly used keyboard alternatives. And no, it’s not just for engineers or computer scientists (or at least, it shouldn’t be). Take a look at the Dvorak layout below and compare it to your QWERTY keys. Note how many of the most common letters in the English language – T, N, S, vowels, etc. – are located in the “home row” where your fingers normally rest. This allows you to type the majority of letters with minimal hand movement. Less common letters like Q, X, and Z reside in the bottom row where keys are the most difficult to reach. On a Dvorak keyboard, approximately 70% of the keystrokes will occur in the home row compared to only 32% on a QWERTY layout.

Other alternative configurations are also available, including one-handed keyboards for people who like to type and use a mouse (or other peripheral) simultaneously, but Dvorak is probably the place to start if you’re looking for a quick way to increase your word-processing efficiency. Yes, it will take some vigilance to re-learn how to type on a completely different layout, but the results could very well be worth it. Besides, doesn’t it feel a little funny to willingly use a device designed to handicap you?

If you do decide to make the switch, the software to run Dvorak is already included with all major operating systems and can typically be activated with a with a simple change of preferences. You won’t even need to buy a new keyboard – Dvorak decal sets are available online (usually for a couple bucks) or if you’re ready to scrap QWERTY altogether you can manually remove and rearrange the keys yourself.

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Source: Wikipedia

Image: josue salazar

January 24, 2011 at 2:00 am 8 comments

Desktop Snacking Without a Greasy Keyboard

With more work and less help, it’s no surprise that nearly 70% of Americans eat lunch at their desks. At 61% the majority of people also snack at their desk throughout the day.

All that food is one reason keyboards and mice are have more bacteria than most toilet seats. Also, office toilet seats are usually sanitized daily, when was the last time your keyboard or mouse were?

This tip is helpful because your hands never touch your food. This prevents your keyboard from getting dirtier and it keeps your hands from passing bacteria to your mouth.

1. Pour bite-size snacks into a cup or glass.

2. Angle cup into your mouth so bite-size snacks fall into your mouth.

3. Chew, swallow and repeat from step 2.

Broken Secrets | By: Chad Upton

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Sources: Home Food Safety Org, ABC News

July 5, 2010 at 5:00 am 9 comments

How To Make Your Laptop Battery Run Longer

When your laptop is new, you can run on battery power for hours! But, as the battery gets older it doesn’t hold a charge like it used to. Ideally, you would just buy a new battery, but laptop batteries are expensive. From the manufacturer, they range from $80 to $150. Aftermarket batteries are often 50% – 70% of the manufacturer’s price. I’d recommend searching eBay or Amazon for new aftermarket batteries.

If you buy a new battery, keep your old one. I used to travel almost every week for work and I always had a second laptop battery with me. At times, the second battery was old, and only ran for 45 minutes, but that was a lifesaver on an airplane when you’re trying to finish some work (or watch the end of a movie you brought).

I usually buy the aftermarket batteries and never have problems with them. I did have a problem with an aftermarket power supply cord once; it died after three months. But, even with that $13 loss, buying aftermarket laptop accessories has saved me a lot of money over the years.

If you travel a lot, a second power cord is paramount. You should have one that you always leave in your computer bag, that way it’s impossible to leave behind when you travel. Have you ever tried to find a computer power cord at a retail store? If you are lucky enough to find one, it’s going to cost at least $60. If you can’t find one, and you need one for work — it’s a disaster. (more…)

January 29, 2010 at 1:52 am 5 comments


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