People of a certain vintage couldn’t help feel a twinge of sad nostalgia earlier this month with the news of the death of Lou Ottens, the inventor of the cassette.
In the very early 1960s, when working as an engineer on the new product development team at Phillips, the Dutch electronics manufacturer, Ottens had a mishap with an old-school, reel-to-reel machine that saw a bunch of tape uncontrollably unspool on the floor This caused him a great deal of irritation, prompting him to assign his people to come up with a better solution. He set out to build something much more user-friendly.
By 1962, working at the offices in Hasselt, Belgium, a goal was set: Could a reel-to-reel mechanism be shrunk to the size of a wooden block that could fit inside a shirt pocket? After another year’s work, the Compact Cassette — two tiny reels inside a plastic case — was unveiled at the Berlin Radio Show (the Funkausstellung) to great amazement.
The audio quality wasn’t great. The tape was just 3.81 mm wide and moved at a glacial 1 7/8 inches per second, originally enough for 30 minutes of recording time per side. But since the vision was to use the new format for simple office dictation duties, that wasn’t a problem.
The cassette created much industrial jealousy, too. German manufacturers Grundig and Telefunken, as well as several Japanese electronics companies, were working on their own version of the cassette and adoption of Ottens’ invention wasn’t assured. It wasn’t until Phillips made a licensing deal with Sony in 1965 that the Compact Cassette became the de facto standard for the planet.
Pre-recorded cassettes first appeared in 1965 under the name “Music-Cassettes” with the release of 49 titles. Better tape formulations followed as ferric oxide gave way to chromium dioxide and then metal particles. By the 1970s, cassette machines were an essential part of any audio system both in the home and in the car.
Sales really took off in the 1980s after the introduction of the Sony Walkman and other portable music devices and for a brief time, the cassette was the best-selling pre-recorded music format. As late as the early 1990s, cassettes outsold the compact disc (another format that Ottens had a hand in inventing).
Over the decades, more than 100 billion cassettes entered the global marketplace, including billions of blanks that were turned into mixtapes. But with the rise of CDs, file-sharing, iTunes, digital music devices, and streaming, the need for the cassette disappeared.
Good riddance, I say. Cassettes served their purpose in the era before digital. Now it’s time to get rid of the cursed things.
Why? Let me count the ways.
They jammed. Melted in the sun. The hinges on the cases broke if you looked at them funny. The transparent cases didn’t stay transparent, cracking, scratching, and clouding up. Even the best and more carefully recorded cassettes were plagued with hiss and relatively poor frequency response. Many pre-recorded cassettes sounded awful. The J-cards (what passed for artwork with pre-recorded tapes) often held zero liner notes. They fell into the footwells of cars and got kicked under seats. Glove compartments were littered with them.
Mixtapes had to be made in real-time, meaning that between selecting the music to record and committing it to tape, it took at least 90 minutes to make a 60-minute mixtape. And then there was the frustration of trying to fill up each side of the tape as much as possible so you didn’t have a bunch of silence right at the end. (I became something of a ninja master of gauging how much time was left on the side of a tape just by looking at it.)
Most of those who are nostalgic for cassettes weren’t around when we had no other choice when it came to making our music portable.
But for some reason, the cassette continues to be fetishized as something that needs to be preserved. There’s this weird nostalgia for a piece of technology that no longer serves any kind of useful purpose. They have zero reason to exist.
Yes, there have been reports of a boom in cassette sales, but don’t believe the hype. MCR/Nielsen Canada doesn’t even track sales of pre-recorded cassettes. Its weekly sales and streaming report follows CDs, digital albums, digital tracks, streaming, and vinyl LPs. Cassettes are lumped into a category called “other.” Of the 3.8 million pre-recorded pieces of plastic sold last year, cassettes were only a tiny fraction. Last week’s report shows that 1,787 “other” units sold year-to-date in the country — and that figure also includes music DVDs.
Yes, there’s Cassette Store Day (est. 2013) each fall, but its success is light years away from what Record Store Day has done to vinyl. Last year, there was an increase of 103 per cent in cassette sales in the U.K. which sounds great until you realize that brought the total number to about 100,000 units in a global recorded music industry that’s worth US$20 billion. Big deal.
But who are these people who insist cassettes are great? They can be broken down into several groups.
- Luddite Hipsters: For this group, the inconvenience of cassettes in the digital era allegedly demonstrates how much more they love music than everyone else. “See what I’m willing to endure for an authentic music listening experience?” They go on about the care that goes into creating mixtapes, saying that they’re compiled with more of a human touch than another digital playlist. Fine. You go with that.
- Curiosity: They’re being sold by artists as tchotchkes and collector’s items. How many of the pre-recorded cassettes are actually being played? How many people even have a working cassette machine around the house? And have you tried to buy a new one lately?
- Emerging Nations: Cassettes can be rugged when it comes up to the heat and dust in some locales. As recently as 2019, I walked into a store in Bali that was loaded with pre-recorded cassettes for sale.
- Japan: It may be the land of the electronic gadget, but walk into any small store and you’ll find packages of cassettes for sale. Parts of Japanese culture are very conservative and continue to hang on to the old ways. (Tip: Need a fax machine? Japan is your place.)
- Prison Releases: Enough people are incarcerated in the U.S. — about two million as of 2020 — for convicts to be a viable music market. CDs are forbidden in jails because they can be turned into shivs. MP3 players are allowed but without internet access, they’re useless. Vinyl? Hardly. The only remaining option is the lowly cassette. Companies like Fortress Audio and Duplication.ca offer blank cassettes made with clear shells (to prevent smuggling) and without any screws (to reduce weaponization) specifically for prison use.
- Chart competition: Want to boost your position on the music charts? Offer your new album in an extra format. Your hardcore fans will stream the record, buy the vinyl, pick up the CD, and grab the cassette. If your fanbase is rabid enough, cassette sales could account for another 1,000 to 10,000 sales, enough to make a difference in your chart position.
If cassettes are your thing, please enjoy.
But as for those of us who care about true portability, high fidelity, and convenience, please keep your tape fetish to yourself.
Alan Cross is a broadcaster with Q107 and 102.1 the Edge and a commentator for Global News.
© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
Electronic Arts announces Battlefield 2042 | Battlefield Portal Game Creation Sandbox – guru3d.com
The creation suite includes Settings, custom modes, and a Logic Editor so you can build your own signature spin on Battlefield’s sandbox; you’ll be able to change team ratios, tweak victory conditions, restrict weapons, and even put different factions from different eras in Battlefield’s history against one another.
Battlefield Portal is a community-driven platform within Battlefield 2042 that will let you create and find fantastic experiences made by the series’ creative and passionate community. Those who want to focus on discovering what others have created will have easy access to an entire world of unexpected battles featuring some of the series’ most famous eras mashed together in distinct, exciting experiences.
On top of the content available in Battlefield 2042, Battlefield Portal also lets you play with maps, weapons, vehicles, and more from some of Battlefield’s greatest experiences, all reimagined at modern visuals. We’re excited for you to be able to relive content from Battlefield 1942, Battlefield : Bad Company 2 and Battlefield 3.
DISCOVER. CREATE. SHARE.
With Battlefield Portal, we are aiming to put as much power as possible in your hands, allowing you to create your own signature Battlefield experiences that you’ve always dreamed of playing. It’s really up to you: discover, create, share. To allow you to do this, Battlefield Portal comes with game-changing Settings that will allow you to build the experience you want.As an example of what you can do with the Settings, here’s a small selection you can use in Battlefield Portal at launch.
- Factions – for the first time in franchise history you can battle across different Battlefield eras, choosing which soldiers, weapons and vehicles can compete on the battlefield. Want to pit an 1942-era team against foes outfitted with modern weapons and tech? Go for it.
- Mobility – using Battlefield 2042’s Settings, you can disable/enable players’ ability to Aim Down Sights, go prone, and more. We’re giving you the options that allow you to play these Battlefield experiences as authentically as possible or to instead enjoy them with the conveniences of modern gaming experience. For example: If you want a more authentic Battlefield 1942 experience, you can switch off sprinting and disable health regeneration.
- Visibility – if you want to create a more Hardcore mode experience for your players, why not disable everyone’s Heads’ Up Display (HUD) and the minimap?
- Arsenal – Tired of getting dusted by sniper rifles or blown to pieces by tanks? You will be able to restrict weapons, specialists, gear, and vehicles that players have access to in your match.
- Scale – You can control the max number of players for each team as well as which weapons everyone has access to, creating as much balance or chaos as your heart desires. Why not pit 10 players armed with assault rifles against 50 players armed only with knives? Go wild.
And this is just only a tiny portion of the options you’ll be able to adjust with these Settings. There will be some limitations such as not being able to build a Battle Royale mode (yes, we knew you would ask). But we mainly look forward to seeing you discover what’s possible with all these options at your fingertips.
From more tactical, realistic simulations to off-the-wall battles, the power is yours to shape Battlefield’s playground. There are many more Settings that will be available at launch and we can’t wait for you to discover them and to see the kind of experiences you can create.
In Battlefield Portal, you will be able to create Experiences for other players to join where you can run custom games or preset modes, such as Conquest, Team Deathmatch, Rush, and other fan-favorites available at launch. When creating Experiences, you can also add AI Soldiers as a team or select to use them as backfill, meaning when you launch the experience, AI will fill out that match (though you can opt out of using AI Soldiers entirely in Battlefield Portal).
Community Experiences are created when you make a match, and will remain online while the Experience has players active. At launch you can also expect basic Admin Tools usable by creators of Experiences, such as the ability to ban usernames which continue across Experiences you create.
If you end up liking another player’s Experience, you can Follow that player to keep track of when they’re running matches. As a creator, you’ll be able to share your own creations and give others permission to build upon them with their Settings and logic edits (more on that below). Some of the most creative and popular player-created Experiences will be featured in official curated playlists, making it convenient for you to find fun and inventive new matches the moment you load into Battlefield Portal.
CREATE YOUR EXPERIENCE
One of our biggest goals with Battlefield Portal is to give you the freedom to explore Battlefield your way by letting you create your own Experiences. For those who wish to go beyond the multitude of Settings, Battlefield Portal will also have a Logic Editor that lets players use streamlined visual scripting logic to have even more control when it comes to creating your experiences. While anyone can use the Logic Editor, it’s aimed at those who have prior knowledge of visual scripting logic.
While the Settings will allow you to change many specific conditions with the flick of a switch, the Logic Editor will let you define rules, victory conditions, consequences of specific in-game events (like setting a reward or punishment for a player scoring a kill), and even more to create custom game modes that aren’t possible to create with the Settings alone.
Battlefield 2042’s progression is synchronized and will allow you to contribute to your experience gains by playing throughout the various available game modes
We’ll be talking lots more on progression later this year, so stay tuned!
Alongside the creative suite, Battlefield Portal will also launch with reimagined content from 3 of Battlefield’s most popular entries. This content includes more than just the maps themselves but also brings over weapons, gadgets, vehicles, factions, and classes from each respective game — all reimagined at the visual standards of Battlefield 2042. Long-time Battlefield fans will once again be able to take up their M1 in a fully reimagined Battle of the Bulge or shoot across the sky in a F/A-18 Hornet at the Caspian Border.
attlefield Portal will allow you to relive some of the series’ best moments in stunning new visual detail or use weapons, gear, factions, and maps from those games to build your own experiences.
You will also be able to use Battlefield 2042’s full arsenal of Specialists, vehicles, gadgets and weapons in Battlefield Portal to help you build unique experiences.
Here’s the full roster of reimagined maps that will be available at launch:
- Battle Of The Bulge (Battlefield 1942)
- El Alamein (Battlefield 1942)
- Arica Harbor (Battlefield: Bad Company 2)
- Valparaiso (Battlefield: Bad Company 2)
- Caspian Border (Battlefield 3)
- Noshahr Canals (Battlefield 3)
In addition to the classic maps, Battlefield Portal’s eras will also feature fan favorite weaponry such as the M1 Garand (Semi-Automatic Rifle) and the M416 (Assault Rifle) weapons. Classic vehicles such as the Spitfire and B17 Bomber will also make their return to the Battlefield franchise. We’ll be including a wide array of gear and soldiers that will be reimagined at Battlefield 2042’s visual fidelity too.
Battlefield Portal will allow you to mix eras against one another, letting you create new and wild Battlefield experiences. Ever wanted to see a dogfight between some Spitfires and a helicopter? Making it happen is as easy as tweaking some options in Battlefield Portal’s Settings. It’s your playground: Go wild.
Below is a top-level look at what you can expect to use when Battlefield 2042 launches later this year. Within Battlefield Portal, you will be able to use everything listed as tools to craft new modes and experiences using Battlefield Portal’s Settings and Logic Editor.
- 40+ Weapons from 3 Theaters of War;
- M1 Garand, Panzerschreck, G3, M416 and more
- Plus the inclusion of Battlefield 2042’s All-Out Warfare Arsenal.
- 40+ Vehicles from 3 Theaters of War;
- The Spitfire and B17 Bomber make their return alongside modern hardware such as the Quad Bike and Little Bird.
- Plus the inclusion of Battlefield 2042’s All-Out Warfare array of vehicles.
- 30+ Gadgets from 3 Theaters of War;
- Reconnaissance items such as the MAV and Radio Beacon will be available as gadget selections alongside the Defibrillator and EOD Bot!
- Plus the inclusion of Battlefield 2042’s Gadgets.
- Classic Factions will be making their return in Battlefield Portal as you remember them, allowing you the ability to mix and match between 7 different armies from the Classic titles as well as Battlefield 2042’s Specialists.
- Armies such as 1942’s UK, US, and Germany as well as Bad Company 2’s US and Russia will feature exclusively in Battlefield Portal.
- The return of Factions to Battlefield Portal, we will also mean that we are bringing back soldier archetypes as you know them to be within their relevant titles. As an example, Battlefield 3’s Assault, Engineer, Support and Recon roles make their return in Battlefield Portal.
Alongside all of this reimagined content, Battlefield 2042’s weapons, vehicles, gadgets, and Specialists will be usable in the creative suite, giving you even more content to build or discover as you explore the many possibilities within Battlefield Portal.
Bergqvist says the enhancements afforded by the Frostbite engine have made these versions of Battlefield 1942’s maps even more intense and faithful to DICE’s initial ambitions over 20 years ago. “Destruction in Battle of the Bulge is so cool. We are being true to what the original designers had in mind. We’re just able to go further now, and seeing that is awesome.”
We envision Battlefield Portal to be a powerful platform driven by the community’s sense of creativity and wonder. Through our live service we intend to continue delivering updates for you to use as tools to build and share your experiences or to discover as you peruse Battlefield Portal. We’re looking forward to seeing the thrilling experiences you’ll be creating! Once it’s in your hands, stay in touch and let us know what’s fun for you and what other features you’d love to see in the future.
With continued updates delivered through Battlefield 2042’s live service, such as new Specialists, maps and weapons, we have the intent to make them available in Battlefield Portal. “As we add new updates to Battlefield 2042, they will be available for Battlefield Portal players and creators, giving them even more options to create the kind of the experiences they desire as the game grows,” Bergqvist says.
Battlefield Portal launches as part of one of your three core experiences included in Battlefield 2042 on October 22, 2021 on Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4 and PC.
AMG GT R Faces Fearsome Porsche 911 Duo In Three-Way Drag Race – Motor1
In the world of Porsche, attention is currently focused on upcoming 911 models for the 992-series generation. Oh how quickly we forget about the cars that came before, but this recent drag racing video from Cars With Pilot Tseno on YouTube reminds us just how good the 991.2 911s still are.
This three-way drag race sees the previous-generation Porsche 911 GT3 RS and 911 Turbo S challenge a Mercedes-AMG GT R, but it’s not just a simple line-em-up format. No less than six races are held on this empty runway, representing real-world conditions. That’s important, because we know the 911 Turbo S is easily the quickest of the bunch on paper. But when it comes to an unprepped surface, can it properly use all its 580 horsepower (433 kilowatts) to defend itself?
Before answering that question, four races are held between the contenders. You probably know the stats but just in case, here’s a refresher. The 991.2 911 GT3 RS runs a rev-happy 4.0-liter flat-six pumping out 520 naturally aspirated hp (388 kW), while the AMG GT R uses a twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 making 577 hp (430 kW). It seems like an unfair fight at first, but the GT3 RS is considerably lighter and it carries the majority of its mass over the rear tires. That translates to a significant traction advantage which carries the GT3 RS to an early lead in each race. The Merc comes on strong at the other end, but is it enough?
We’d love to build these preliminary contests into something extraordinary for the final two three-way races with the Turbo S, but neither challenger has a prayer against the boosted 911. In both races, the distance to second place is bus lengths, which means the real drama in this competition is between the GT3 RS and the AMG GT R. Which one takes the overall second-place crown? Out of six races, both the GT R and the GT3 RS score victories over the other but one holds a clear advantage. Any guesses on the victor in this GT R-versus-GT3 RS battle before you click the video?
Corning's newest Gorilla Glass is for smartphone cameras – MobileSyrup
Corning has unveiled a new Gorilla Glass set, but it’s not for phone displays — it’s for smartphone camera lenses.
According to Corning’s announcement video, traditional smartphone lenses have an anti-reflective coating on the inside that allow light to enter and hit the sensor, producing an image, but these traditional coatings still lose on some of the light that reflects back, never registering on the sensor.
Corning’s new product, the DX and DX+ for camera lenses, reportedly can capture 98 percent of incoming light (in comparison to 90-92 percent with traditional camera glass), allowing for a more detailed and crisp image, all while protecting your smartphone lens from scratching or cracking.
While this sounds wonderful, Corning points out that the glass isn’t something new. DX and DX+ have been used in smartwatches since 2018, but the design has now been modified to meet the demands of a smartphone camera lens, i.e., letting in as much light as possible.
Additionally, Corning demonstrated how the new DX and DX+ hold up durability-wise when put against a standard AR coating and Corning’s regular Gorilla Glass and also claims that the DX+ is near sapphire, which is known for its immense durability.
Although no particular phones with Gorilla Glass DX/DX+ have been revealed, Corning said in its press release that Samsung will be the first client to employ a Gorilla Glass DX lens cover on a future smartphone.
Image credit: Corning Gorilla Glass
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