Signals

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Ken C. Pohlmann  |  Aug 08, 2017  |  10 comments
I crossed my fingers. I carried a rabbit's foot. I went out in the backyard and found a four-leaf clover. I started eating Lucky Charms for breakfast. I rearranged the furniture in my home theater according to feng shui (good for luck, not so good for sound). I did everything I could. But now I see that I have failed. People like the Amazon Echo Dot. They like it a lot.

Ken C. Pohlmann  |  Oct 13, 2015  |  1 comments
You might recall a recent Signals column about a Google patent application that described an anthropomorphic entertainment controller. The microphones/ears and cameras/eyes of the proposed Chucky-like device really creeped me out. Then a reader alerted me to an Amazon product that has similar functionality. It's not a document in the Patent Office; it's a real thing keeping tabs on people in their homes.

Ken C. Pohlmann  |  Jun 14, 2016  |  1 comments
Do you hate the silvery sound of CDs? Then you can rejoice because a bunch of them just got crushed. Do you think LPs are just scratchy pieces of plastic? Then be happy because a load of them just got crushed too. In fact, a misunderstanding between two bands with automotive-inspired names recently resulted in an apocalyptic day for physical media.

Ken C. Pohlmann  |  Dec 16, 2019  |  3 comments
The year is 1962. You are working at Decca Records and your job is to listen to audition tapes and pass along your evaluation. The next demo tape on your endlessly replenishing stack is from some unsigned band calling themselves The Beatles. You mount the tape on your machine and listen for a few minutes. Then you rewind it and put it back in its box. Pass.

Ken C. Pohlmann  |  Nov 29, 2016  |  5 comments
It’s official. Analog video is dead. On the other hand, analog audio is still alive and well, thank you very much. Why is that? Why was analog video so unloved, while analog audio is beloved?
Ken C. Pohlmann  |  Aug 30, 2016  |  2 comments
All men shall become brothers. At least that’s what Schiller proposed in his Ode to Joy, a proposal tunefully endorsed by Beethoven. In practice, we sometimes act more like distant cousins, or like neighbors who scream at each other and throw dog poop on each other’s lawns because one guy votes democrat and the other votes republican. Local law enforcement knows who we are. And then there’s analog audio guys and digital audio guys.
Ken C. Pohlmann  |  Aug 28, 2018  |  1 comments
The most hi-tech piece of electronics on my (vintage) BMW motorcycle is the magneto ignition or, possibly, the brake light. But I fully admit that electrical engineering has come a long way since 1962. Thus, today's motorcycles have somewhat more sophisticated do-dads. Way more sophisticated.

Ken C. Pohlmann  |  Jul 21, 2011  |  0 comments

Attention all you iPhone weenies: Brace yourself for a dose of reality.

Ken C. Pohlmann  |  Mar 31, 2015  |  6 comments
I’m shopping for a new TV. Should I buy an older technology that performs well and costs very little, or a newer technology that is better but costs more? Specifically, I’m trying to decide which LCD to buy—HD or 4K? Two angels have landed on my shoulders. As you might expect, they have very different points of view...
Ken C. Pohlmann  |  Dec 21, 2020  |  2 comments
2020 was not a particularly good year. In fact it was a horrible year. Normally, at year's end, we're supposed to reminisce about the year. But I think we'd all rather forget that 2020 ever happened. Let's ignore it, and instead skip back all the way to 1984, to a story about a Christian rock band, an LP record, and a very mysterious inner groove.

Ken C. Pohlmann  |  Jun 25, 2019  |  4 comments
All good things must come to an end. Once the coolest thing ever, once the “must have” feature of 1989, once the proof that you too were hip, car CD players are now driving down a particularly lonely highway. Much like 8-tracks and car cassette players before them, car CD players are heading for oblivion.

Ken C. Pohlmann  |  Nov 02, 2011  |  0 comments

Clearly, everything is spinning out of control. More specifically, the End of Days has finally arrived. Exactly as predicted in the Bible, we're seeing foul and loathsome sores, water turned to blood, scorching sun and intense heat, total darkness and great pain, and preparations for the final battle between good and evil.

Ken C. Pohlmann  |  Jul 12, 2016  |  10 comments
It is summer. Soon it will be fall. That means Apple will introduce a new iPhone. Reportedly, the new phone will be thinner, more water resistant, have a better camera, have more memory, and not have a headphone jack. Wait. What?

Ken C. Pohlmann  |  Jul 19, 2016  |  3 comments
If the rumors hold true, the next iPhone, iPhone 7 or whatever Apple calls it, will not have a headphone jack. As Chicken Little noted, "The sky is falling!" Or is it? Is it possible, just possible, that losing the headphone jack could net us a nice step forward in audio playback quality?

Ken C. Pohlmann  |  Mar 04, 2014  |  3 comments
Apple has announced that it is bringing its iOS to a dashboard near you. The CarPlay system will link your iPhone 5S, 5C or 5 to the vehicle’s in-dash controls and display. Think of the phone as the brains of the operation, and the car as the touchscreen, and speakers. With CarPlay, you’ll be able to access the phone’s maps, traffic information, music, and messages. For music streaming, CarPlay will support iHeartRadio and Spotify. Also, as you might expect, Siri will be on board.

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