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Twitter is this generation’s CB Radio March 25, 2008

Posted by Doriano "Paisano" Carta in Blogs, Movies.
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Everyone is going ga ga over twitter these days but it reminds me of a similar communications craze that swept the country way back in the 1970s when I was tiny little Pai. I’m talking about CB (Citizens’ Band) Radio which reached its peak of populariy in 1975/1976 with the hit song “CONVOY” by C.W. McCall. Click this link if you want to hear the song. Here are the lyrics (but you will need to to visit the Cb Slang and Ten-Codes links below to understand most of song!). Here’s C.W. McCall performing Convoy on the Mike Douglas Show in 1976 (Prepare yourself for sheer entertainment! Remember, this was the hottest thing in the land! People couldn’t get enough of it!)

The CB Radio phenomenon was so huge that there was even a movie version of the “Convoy” song in 1978 starring Kris Kristofferson and Ali McGraw.

Where Twitter requires a username to access their system, CB Radio required a nickname or handle for a call sign. For example, in the popular song “Convoy” the nicknames used were “Rubber Ducky”, “Pig Pen” and “Sod Buster”. Where Twitter limits all messages to only 140-characters, CB Radio required messages to be as short as possible which spawned a massive library of short-hand terms known as CB Slang. Here are some examples:

“Convoy” – a group of 3 or more truckers in a line, usually exceeding the speed limit.
“Bear” = Police officer
“Evel Knievil” = Cop on a motorcycleCB Radio users also made great use of the Ten-Codes or properly known as ten signals. These were code words used to represent common phrases in voice communication, particularly by law enforcement and in CB radio transmissions. Here are some samples:

  • 10:4 (Understood, OK, Affirmative)
  • 10:9 (Repeat Last message)
  • 10-00 (Office down, All Patrols Respond)

So the old adage “Everything old is new again” could very well apply in this case too. Sure, CB Radio was strictly an audio communication platform and Twitter is a micro-blogging platform based on text, but there are some valid similarities between the communication crazes that are separated by thirty plus years. CB Radio users were able to communicate from home as well as on the road so they were the first true mobile network. It makes me wonder what will be the next great communication craze another thirty years into the future? Telepathetic holographic communication called MindWarp.com? Who knows.

Final Thoughts: While the CB Radio craze eventually wore off and now considered a fad, I don’t think Twitter will suffer the same fate. I think it will continue to change and evolve relative to the way that we use it. I think it will always be around in some capacity, we just have to wait and see if we’re merely at the beginning of Twitter’s popularity or at its peak. Time will tell.

Future Shock March 1, 2008

Posted by Doriano "Paisano" Carta in Inventions, Movies.
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One of my favorite sites to visit is Paleofuture which covers the wild and whacky and sometimes eerie predictions of the future from days gone by. Here are some of my favorite visions of the future from the past.


The legendary Orson Welles starred in Future Shock (1972) which made some bold statements about the dangers of a technological future overloaded with information! Sound familiar? It’s based on a book by Alvin Toffler.
Here’s a video clip of the Orson Welles introduction to Future Shock:

Here’s part 1 of 5 of the entire film:

Here’s part 2 of 5:

Here’s part 3 of 5:

Here’s part 4 of 5:

Here’s part 5 of 5:

Here’s the author of Future Shock:

1999 AD (1967) has gotten a great deal of attention in the press lately because of the uncanny predictions that were made in the movie. Some of the innovations they covered were things like online shopping, online bill paying, live video chat, automated kitchen, microwave meals, maximized health and more.
Here’s some news coverage of the movie: (You will recognize one of the actors from the movie)

Here’s the intro to 1999 AD:

Here’s a another video clip of 1999 AD which will surely impress you. Remember, this was made over 40 years ago!

Here’s a clip of home shopping, online bill pay, email and even twitter (OK maybe not that one) and more:

Both 1999 AD and Future Shock are part of the Yesterday’s Tomorrow Today DVD from A/V Geeks.

Things to Come (1936) is a movie from 1936 based on the H.G. Wells’ classic. It peers into 100 years into the future of 2036 and while most of the wild predictions were way off (we landed on the moon 50 years sooner than Wells surmised), the anti-war theme and the perils of a new plague were powerful elements of the story.

Summation:

Maybe it’s part of my uber-geekiness but I just LOVE this stuff. There are tons of amazing predictions of the future from our past. Sure, there are many silly and ridiculous predictions (like flying cars), but there are also plenty of fascinating ones as well. I think it’s just as much fun to predict our technological future today.

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Together in electric dreams February 10, 2008

Posted by Doriano "Paisano" Carta in Movies.
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I’ve always loved the movie “Electric Dreams” (1984). It was one of the first features films that had the personal computer as one of its leads! Sure, “2001: a Space Odyssey” had HAL but Electric Dreams had a PC called Edgar which more resembled our modern day home computer. “War Games” from 1983 was another film that featured computers but it was more about the massive mainframe systems than the personal computer.

Electric Dreams featured computers that had more capabilities than typical PCs available to the public at that time. It also featured gadgets that either hadn’t been invented at the time or were still in development and not available to the general public such as voice recognition, music composition, Artificial intelligence, home security, 3-D rendering, high resolution color graphics and even the world wide web! In one particular scene at a concert hall scene, Miles’ mobile device was a pager that also played music thanks to the devious home computer. Obviously, it foreshadowed the use of ringtones on cell phones as well as even the iPod.

Here’s the trailer:

The soundtrack is also outstanding. There are several standout tracks. Here is the main theme song called “Together in Electric Dreams” by Giorgio Moroder and Phil Oakley (from Human League).

Here is a track called “The Dual” once again by Giorgio Moroder whose use of futuristic sounding synthesizers only enhanced the movie.

This one is called “Video” by Jeff Lynn from ELO. Note: The nerd in the video (besides Jeff!) is Bud Cort who does the voice of Edgar the computer in the movie. He was Harold in “Harold & Maude”.

Jeff Lynn also contributed “Let it Run” which the computer uses to disturb the neighbor in the middle of the night.

Boy George contributed this sweet love song called “Love is Love”

“The Dream” was another track from Boy George. It’s a song that plays during a dream sequence that the computer has!

Final Thoughts

I find it ironic that Electric Dreams was set in San Francisco considering the fact that frisco has become ground zero for the whole social media/social networking phenomenon. Yet, despite all of the cool geeky stuff in the movie, the best part of the movie to me was always the love story between Miles and his musician neighbor Madeleine, played by a young unknown at the time, Virgina Madsen who went on to earn an Oscar nod for her turn in “Sideways“. It was a most unusual love triangle for sure, between a man, woman and a computer! I think this is an underrated movie and it’s a crime that is has never made it to DVD! Even the VHS is difficult to find these days! How ironic that a movie that was innovative when it came to the future and technology never made it to DVD. Perhaps some day it will. I will be one of the first ones to buy it too!

Second Skin February 6, 2008

Posted by Doriano "Paisano" Carta in Movies, Virtual Worlds.
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SecondSkin is an interesting film about the seven lives of people who are addicted to the popular online virtual worlds like SecondLife, World of Warcraft and EverQuest. It shows a couple who fell in love before even meeting in person, handicapped people who find limitless potentials online and other stories. It truly looks like a fascinating piece of work.

Bubble 2.0 January 20, 2008

Posted by Doriano "Paisano" Carta in Movies, Web 2.0.
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All of the web 2.0 pundits and so-called experts are predicting another bubble burst like what took place in 2000 when the dot com phenomenon came to a cataclysmic end. Who is to say for sure what will happen for sure? In order to predict the future it is always wise to examine the past to study and learn possible explanations for a certain conclusion. By learning from the past mistakes of others, one could possibly avoid the same fate, but it doesn’t guarantee success either. Still, it might be fun to take a stroll down memory lane. Shall we?


Startup.com is a documentary that captured the fate of a dot com startup called GovWorks.com. Many entrepreneurs and universities use this film as a training guide for online businesses. The film has won numerous awards thanks to its voyeuristic approach to the subject matter, giving an inside look at the world of dot com startups that was up till that point totally unknown.
Here is the Trailer and a Charlie Rose Interview with Cast and Crew

Kozmo.com is considered the poster-child for the dot com bust. They offered a one-hour delivery service for items such as Starbucks coffee and Blockbuster DVDs. While the concept was simple and appealing, the execution of the business became increasingly perplexing and astonishingly destructive to its long-term success. Somehow, despite a business model that most financial experts criticized, Kozmo managed to raised over $250 million dollars and burned thru it in record time!

e-dreams is a documentary that chronicles the rise and fall of Kozmo.com. Some have criticized the documentary itself for being to sympathetic to the Kozmo executives, painting them as victims of sorts when they were the primary factors for its historic demise. Instead of pointing fingers they just needed to look in the mirror.

WebVan is another perfect case study for demonstrating how to take a sure-fire can’t miss business idea and totally blow it up into millions of pieces in no time at all. For those of you who don’t remember, WebVan delivered the groceries you ordered online right to your house! Here is one of their TV Commercials:

I loved WebVan because we used it on a regular basis in Atlanta, GA. Their website was excellent and easy to use. The food was usually fresh and almost always in stock and available. Heck, even the fish was fresh and tasty! Still, I know something was wrong when I noticed all of the shiny new vans zooming around town and all of the ultra expensive palm pilots (hey, this was way before the iphone, kiddies!) that every driver carried around including portable printers for receipts! When I saw their warehouse on a television special my mouth dropped open and I knew they were doomed. We later learned that WebVan spent over $1 Billion just on their warehouses alone!

Eventually, WebVan managed to offer their services in nine U.S. markets, but had planned to service 26 before they went bankrupted in 2001. The autopsy of their financials would become historic for examples of blatant excess and carelessness. One example being the purchase of 115 Herman Miller Aeron chairs (at over $800 each)!

Here is a mockumentary of WebCan called IceVan:

Final Thoughts:
I’d like the end this piece with the clever Bubble Song that everyone’s seen by now but still worth a glance:

Triumph of the Nerds January 17, 2008

Posted by Doriano "Paisano" Carta in Education, Movies.
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“Triumph of the Nerds” (1996) is my all-time favorite documentary on computers or technology ever! I remember the first time I watched it and how informative, entertaining and inspirational it was to me. I was still a break and fix technician and I recall being extremely inspired to do more with my career in I.T. I immediately took a leap of faith and quit my hardware technician position with a major Value Added Reseller in Atlanta to become a Network Administrator which was a bold move at the time and the best thing I ever did in my career. It changed everything forever and I can say that this geekfest on PBS had a great deal to do with it. I still love watching it. I think it is still relavent today and a must see for anyone who is interested in computers and technology. It covers the birth of the information age and documents how we arrived where we are today and where we are headed in the future.
You will see young Bill Gates and Steve Jobs and learn exactly how their respective companies got started and the truth behind their incredible successes and failures. I believe even you Microsoft bashing Macheads will change your view of Bill Gates and company after watching this movie. Even if you despise what Microsoft has become and loath their products, you will develop a healthy respect and appreciation for the way they achieved success not only for themselves but for the entire computer industry itself. Far too many of us are guilty of forgetting the facts and all that Microsoft did for technology. It has become en vogue to mock and ridicule the modern day behemoth. It’s not fair of us to rewrite history in this manner. We must not lose site of all the good that Microsoft has done for technology and believe or not, continue to do! Insert gasp here.

So, sit back and grab some popcorn and your mountain dew and enjoy a techno classic called “TRIUMPH OF THE NERDS” in its entirety.

Here is the movie in three parts

Triumph of the Nerds – Part 1 of 3

Triumph of the Nerds – Part 2 of 3

Triumph of the Nerds – Part 3 of 3

Official Website

Purchase the DVD on Amazon

The Sequel

Nerds 2.0.1: A Brief History of the Internet (1998) is the 3-hour documentary sequel to Triumph of the Nerds, written and hosted by Robert X. Cringely. Nerds 2.0.1 was broadcast two years prior to the 2000 dot-bust of Silicon Valley. It documents the development of the ARPANET, the Internet, the World Wide Web and the Dot-com boom of the mid and late 1990s. Notice how the title pre-dated the whole Web 2.0 craze by almost a decade!

Wikipedia on Nerd 2.0.1

Official Website for Nerds 2.0.1

Recent Documentaries on Silicon Valley

In Search of the Valley is a 2004 documentary about three friends who went to Silicon Valley and interviewed some of the giants of computer history.

Trailer http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mGj-ZxgMMao

Wikipedia History of Computers chronicles the historic events in the history of computers.

Wikipedia History of the Internet offers up a detailed timeline of the major moments in the history of the Internet.

Pirates of Silicon Valley January 15, 2008

Posted by Doriano "Paisano" Carta in Fun, Movies.
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In honor of Steve Jobs’ keynote speech today at MacWorld 2008, let’s watch Pirates of Silicon Valley !

One of my favorite geek movies! Noah Wyle (ER) is an excellent SteveO and Anthony Michael Hall (Sixteen Candles) is a good Bill Gates.

Sure, the writers took major liberties with the truth, but it’s still great fun! Here are some resources if you need to more fact from fiction: Wikipedia.

Here’s the trailer:

Here’s a great scene from the 1999 classic where Steve Jobs confronts Bill Gates and calls him a thief for stealing their idea for windows. I love it when Steve says “Our stuff is better” and Bill Gates replies with “You don’t get it. That doesn’t matter!”

Here’s “Pirates of Silicon Valley” in its entirety plus a few special treats such as the trailer, Steve Wozniak discussing the validity of the movie and Noah Wyle impersonating Steve Jobs at the 1999 Mac World.

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