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special interests which were relevant at one time but not so much now

Discussion in 'Obsessions and Interests' started by musicalman, Dec 29, 2019.

  1. musicalman

    musicalman Well-Known Member

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    Hi everyone,
    A few days ago this idea came to me. Who has a special interest in something which, due to the passing of time, is hardly relevant today? I'll give you mine.

    Being a musician, I've always been interested in synthesizers. The one branch that I found most interesting since I was a teenager is sample-based synthesis. This essentially means that different samples or recordings of instruments are played based on what note of the keyboard you press, or how soft or loud you press that note. While that is still popular today and I find it interesting to see how approaches develop in that field, I've been more interested in retro products where memory was expensive so roms had to be as small as you could get away with. I feel like working within these kinds of constraints is really a lost art.

    It's my belief that the big keyboard companies (Roland, Yamaha Korg etc.) had really skilled sound designers and engineers and a handful of proprietary algorithms at their disposal to deal with this. I've always wanted to find my own way of imitating their polish without sounding cheap, and in fact less than 2 weeks ago I found a tool which gets me most of the way there with my own samples, and it's part of an obscure experimental collection of tools which really isn't meant for this sort of thing, but I've found a way to make them work. Ordinarily I'd be sharing this find with my geeky friends, but I do have to be careful who I tell about it; many people have moved on. Fancy tricks to compress samples are no longer sought after, and are in fact frowned upon. Why squeeze a piano down to 10 megabytes of space and be proud of the unnaturally clean compression I managed to do to make it smaller, when pianos which are 1,000 times the size are commonplace, often sound a lot better, and need no compression at all?

    When I think about this, I become at least a little depressed, and sometimes I wish I were 20-30 years older. Old enough to have been around at a time when my special interests had a place. But then I do a double-take. Had I been around during that time, I wouldn't have the tools I have now. Maybe the tools people used then weren't as easy to use. And aside from that, maybe I would've found it harder to learn the basics of audio editing. I learned about those online mostly. In the 90s, such resources were not nearly as abundant, and I likely would not have met my few friends who at least tolerate my odd interests now. For me at least, the chance that things would flop if I were in the past is what keeps me glad I'm in the present :). Besides, there are always little circles to be found for any special interest.

    So, what kind of irrelevant special interests do you have? If you could, would you go back in time and seek out big opportunities to use your special interest?
     
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  2. Misery

    Misery Photo-Negative V.I.P Member

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    Well, I dunno if it entirely counts as irrelevant, but.... old computers/tech/games.

    I grew up using computers. Back in the 80s and 90s. My first one was long before they became commonplace... I remember my father recently telling me that he bought one at the time because he felt that they were going to become really important in the future, and he wanted his kids to have access to them sooner rather than later. As a little kid, I had a PC (though nobody called them "PCs" at the time, they were usually called "IBM computers") and an Atari 2600 console. The 2600 was as advanced as games got back then, outside of arcades.

    Over time, I taught myself how to use the computer. No, I dont know how I did that... it was a long time ago. These machines, they were long before Windows happened. These were DOS machines. I fully learned how to use them, and around age 7, started learning Basic programming. Dont remember how I did that either. From books? I guess? I sure didnt learn that stuff in school.

    Those old computers, they were simple, yet horribly complicated. Windows is extremely easy to use... DOS was not. User-friendliness was not a thing with computers back then, and everything was on floppy disks... no hard drives. I still strongly remember the time when ONE megabyte was a huge amount of space!

    I also still remember what the graphics were like. Usually if I mention the concepts of CGA or VGA graphics, everyone looks at me like an entire bear just crawled out of my ear. They have no clue what I'm talking about. But back then, those terms were very important. VGA was a graphical mode that could handle a whopping 256 colors at once... very advanced. But CGA could handle only FOUR colors, and most early PCs (well, IBM machines anyway, things like the Amstrad were different) used it. I still remember the very specific 3 color schemes it used most of the time:

    1. white, magenta, cyan, black
    2. red, orange, green, black
    3. green, yellow, red, blue

    Most games and such used exactly one of those three color schemes, and the colors were always the *exact* same specific shades and brightness. And even then, there were still plenty of games that those machines would have trouble running!

    But also, there was ASCII, sometimes also referred to as "text mode". ASCII was not a true graphical mode... it could be called a LACK of a graphical mode. 256 possible characters could be displayed. Each could have one of 16 foreground and background colors. It is the simplest of all graphical modes. Look up an old game called Kroz, to get an idea as to what it looked like. Yet still, these machines were so early, that even THAT gave some of them trouble!

    But I loved these things. And you know what, I'd choose them over the current stuff any day. Think about it: With Windows, you never know what in the bloody hell it's doing. It just does whatever stupid crap it wants in the background. 99% of which is stuff I dont want it to be doing. But DOS.... DOS did what you told it, and ONLY what you told it. It could not multitask. It could not do things on it's own. You typed in commands, it executed them, and that was IT. You had REAL control. And it's the same with video games.... these days, some video games have actually gotten literally dangerous. Large, greedy publishers prey on people with addiction issues, or children who dont know better, and use nasty schemes to drain as much cash out of people as they can. And they get away with it. There are stories of families having their entire bank accounts drained, due to someone being addicted, or children buying and buying without really understanding. Or worse stories. But back then, when you bought a game, you just plain got the freaking game. No tricks, no psychological manipulation, no bits of the game that were chopped out so they could be sold seperately to you later. That stuff didnt happen. Your only concern was making sure that you had the required specs to run it.

    And you know what, it was the same with the internet. Yeah, 56k modems were sllllloooooowwwwww. But I miss AOL. The sheer scum ratio of the current internet is outright mindblowing. But it was very, very different back then. Hell, AOL didnt even use what we normally term as a "browser" back then... it was a VERY different experience. And I miss it. It was.... so much less trouble.

    And lastly... arcade games. I freaking LOVE those, but the golden age of arcades ended... with the Great Video Game Crash and the industry collapsing... in '85, I think it was? I was only 4, so my experience with arcades from then on was sporadic. But I still loved the things. These days though, arcades are nearly nonexistent.

    Now, the nice thing is, alot of this stuff is easy to go back to. Some advances in technology are all about going BACK to older stuff. All those old Atari games? Or NES, SNES? I have them.... ALL of them. Literally all of them, stored in an archive on all 3 PCs that I own. It's the same with arcade games. *ALL* of them, within a certain time period. I believe it's.... everything prior to 2009? Arcade games had already gotten awful by that point, so it's the old stuff I'm really after, but still, I have absolutely everything up to that year.

    And new tech allows me to finally get the proper experience with those. I dont mean just emulators. I mean virtual reality. With the Rift, I can generate a virtual arcade, complete with like 30 fully working arcade cabinets, whenever I want, using whatever games I want. It's freaking incredible. The first time I showed this to my younger brother, he came out of it nearly in tears because, as he put it, "that's just too amazing... it's almost too much". Same with the console roms, a seperate program recreates a bedroom from the days when CRT screens were the thing, and you can run like 20 console roms at once... it's incredible. Of course, to run any of that at the highest level of graphical awesomeness takes one hell of a powerhouse machine, which fortunately I have. I use these programs frequently. My love of the old stuff like the Atari 2600 never waned.

    For those, at least, I'm grateful for current tech. And of course I have other games and such that I love from recent times. But still, I miss how it used to be. And I'm so freaking tired of Windows. Give me DOS any day. You know what though? Even with Windows, there was a time when it didnt suck. Windows 3.1, I actually got that as a gift, when I "graduated" from junior high, to highschool. It was a far cry from what Windows 10 is today.
     
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  3. paloftoon

    paloftoon Well-Known Member

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    Look for new interests, maybe ones that do or kind of build off of your old ones. There are many possibilities in life. Keep looking!
     
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  4. Progster

    Progster Gone sideways to the sun V.I.P Member

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    For me that would be bands - I went through a Rush period where I went out and bought every Rush CD I could find, and listened obsessively, then did the same with Jethro Tull. At some point this played itself out (pun mercilessly intended :) ) I then move on.
     
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  5. musicalman

    musicalman Well-Known Member

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    Misery I can totally relate to those interests and concepts. I'm not as much into tech/games, but I am interested enough to understand where you're coming from. There's something nice about old technology that does what it is directed to do, and doesn't have all the power in the world to do a million complicated things at once. It keeps things simple and sensible.

    I'm not really old enough to have experienced Dos. My first version of Windows I ever used was whatever was on the school computer in 1999/2000, but I didn't really start using computers seriously until around 2003 when XP was the big thing. I loved XP as many people did, and I grew up with it. I've so far been able to handle the upgrades, though each one gets harder. I can totally relate to what you're saying about Windows just doing whatever it wants. Pretty much everything does that now. Maybe it's not such a good thing, but I've come to accept it. I'm not quite savvy enough to understand everything that goes on, but I do turn stuff off if I can. I just know I couldn't keep up with everything so I am resigned to it doing its own thing sometimes, for better or for worse.

    As for video games, I never have been great at gaming due to my visual impairment. However I like to read about games and listen to them being played. I also don't particularly like the idea of purchasing additional content in games and it being done in such a way that it can drain your wallet dry. When I do play games, I make sure that if you need to replenish things, that you can do so in the game and aren't forced to buy items. Having patience to grind in the game far outweighs the satisfaction of blowing a few bucks here and there on more stuff imho. Of course, games aren't obligated to present you with that kind of fair opportunity, or you might get stuck in a situation where your only choice is to buy, so I still get a little nervous about that, so normally I stick to games where you buy once and play. I'm fine with DLC, so long as you only need to purchase it once. I'm pretty weird and cautious about knowing where my license is stored when I buy software/games. I want to know for certain whether it's attached to my computer, Windows installation etc. or if it's tied to an account so I can just pick it up again even if I switch computers.

    I don't have a particularly nostalgic reason for looking back on older games and consoles; I grew up with the PS2 iirc. But unsurprisingly I have an interest in the old sound chips of those consoles you mentioned. By the time we get to the ps3, most developers are using some form of streamed music instead of using the console's sound chip to synthesize it, so that's kind of where I stop being interested at a technical level. In fact the playstations have always been able to play streamed music, but a lot of Japanese games seem to have it sequenced on the sound chip for some reason. I'm not complaining, it often does sound good and it's technically more interesting to me, but it seems a fairly bizarre choice especially when the music is static and there isn't a lot of fancy stuff going on. But from Atari 2600 to just before the playstation, you couldn't just stream audio, not unless you spend all your CPU cycles on it and or hack one of the sound channels to do things the designers probably didn't intend. And then of course you have the issue of cartridge size; streamed music takes up quite a bit more space than a program that performs musical instructions.

    Anyway you've heard me ramble enough about my quirky interests haha.
     
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2019
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  6. Wolf Prince

    Wolf Prince My future job title.

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    Parades and fairs for me. They got too expensive.
     
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  7. Bolletje

    Bolletje Potato chip wizard V.I.P Member

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    When I was a kid and a young teen I’d spend all my weekends in my room listening to the radio. I’d be waiting for songs I liked to be played so I could record them on tape with my recorder.
    In my twenties I had a subscription to a monthly music magazine that had hundreds of reviews and featured articles with up and coming stars. I’d spend my weekends writing lists of all the albums I wanted to listen to, then going to record stores and listening to all those albums to decide which ones I wanted to buy. I racked up a huge music collection and spent the whole month listening to new music, until the next issue of the magazine came. My friends used to come to me for tips on what to listen to.
    These days I still listen to music a lot, but I just put on a playlist of stuff I like and don’t really look for new music anymore. I sort of miss the ritual of going to the record store. I might have to subscribe to that magazine again so I can get back into the hobby of finding new music, but I’m not sure I’ll like it as much because most pop music these days is unappealing and not interesting to me.
     
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  8. Tom

    Tom Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    I don't think a special interest has to be relevant. It is something done for enjoyment. It it must be relevant then it is something more like a profession - which does involve keeping up with the times in certain ways.
     
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  9. Streetwise

    Streetwise very cautious contributor V.I.P Member

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    what is relevant to one person is not relevant to another and what is not relevant to another person is relevant to another person.
     
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  10. Peter Morrison

    Peter Morrison Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Special interests can easily be interrupted by new special interests. Routines change as life passes. There are only so many hours in a day to indulge passions and interests, and that's after obligations and scheduled events are taken care of. I've always had an obsessive approach to hobbies and interests. I can think of them as "binge hobbies". I spent a lot of childhood time with stamp collections, airplane models, architectural design on graph paper, collages on wood, and encyclopedias. I thoroughly enjoyed the concentration and learning that came with the intensity of the hobby. I have even gotten hooked on this forum. I suppose my OCD is still alive and well. I've learned to temper it a bit without feeling I am being denied a certain pleasure. It has its place and it's good for me.
     
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  11. paloftoon

    paloftoon Well-Known Member

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    Well, in musicalman's case, I think the relevance actually does matter.
    There is an implication that he wants something he's interested in (that some others are) so that he can have an "in" to build friendships with other people. I think this is a wise way to think. Keep looking!