Throwback Thursday: The TV Era Prior to Netflix

PrevueChannelIn this week’s Throwback Thursday, yes, believe it or not, there was a time when there was not Netflix. Yes, kids, I know that sounds like a society you wouldn’t want to be any part of.

There was a time — gasp — that you had to sit down to scheduled programming, tethered to the mercy of the television channels and what they were programming then and there. You wanted an episode of Seinfeld? Sure. Only if you happened to be planted on your couch in front of the tube during NBC’s Must-See-TV Thursday Nights.

Binge watching wasn’t a part of the vernacular. If you wanted to do a 1990s equivalent of binge watching, it would consist of either stomaching four consecutive hours of whatever was on the channel you were on, or a VHS tape full of those great Seinfeld episodes you wanted to watch so bad (in fact, I believe I had a tape like that…replete with all the commercials and poor quality you’d expect of a tape that was re-recorded on, over and over, about 2000 times).

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Throwback Thursday: Hacking the Mainframe

If there is sexy side of software testing, it is likely Security Testing. I know this because it’s the only type of testing (aside from game testing) that Hollywood seems to care about. For some reason, the hackers portrayed in movies always are always trying to access vital intelligence contained within the mainframe.

The truth is that mainframes – which are essentially just large scale computer systems – are actually throwback tech and today most companies don’t use them. According to the Huffington Post, “the manipulation of massive amounts of data, once the hallmark of mainframe computers, can now be done by server farms which easily connect to other systems, cost far less money, and require less training to administer.”

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Throwback Thursday: 80’s Tech at its Best

The 80’s brought with it an incredible range of technology that for better or worse shaped the age we live in now. For this TBT, we’ll be having a quick look at some of the more surreal/novel items that came from the land of neon and synth.


The Private Eye, brought to us by Reflections Technology, allowed the wearer to view a 1-inch LED screen with image quality comparable to a 12-inch display. Released in 1989, the Private Eye head-mounted display was used by hobbyists and researchers alike, going on to become the subject of an augmented reality experiment in 1993. To think that this type of wearable technology has only been tapped into fully within the past 3 years is pretty mind-blowing.


The Stereo Sound Vest provides the wearer with a $65 portable speaker solution to provide a ‘safer’ listening option without the use of headphones. With zip-off sleeves, it’s a wonder this wasn’t all the rage.

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iOS 8 Crowding Out Fitness Apps?

This week, Apple released the latest beta of iOS 8 to developers for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. Among other additions, the fleshing out of the new Health App means bigHealthbook changes for developers.

Health, Apple’s centralized health and fitness hub app, in the initial iOS 8 preview was more of a shell, designed to take in data from third-party providers. In the Beta 3 release, however, it can now track both steps and calories on its own. Additionally, you can measure your caffeine intake as well as monitor a lengthy list of nutritional categories.

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Throwback Thursday: The Palm V

Today’s tech Throwback Thursday pays homage to the days when PDA meant Personal Digital Assistant. The long-time leader in that category was the PalmPilot series of PDAs by Palm Computing, a division of 3Com. By the time I got my hands on one of these amazing machines, it was known as the Palm V. You could email, access your calendar and contacts, and organize your to-do lists all in the palm of your hand.
Released in 1999, the Palm V was the first of its kind to have a built-in rechargeable battery. Among other hardware specs:

Processor: Motorola Dragonball EZ MC68EZ328
User Storage Memory: 2MB
Display: 160×160 pixel, high contrast and backlit
Size and weight: 4.5″ x 3.1″ x 0.4″, 4oz

According to this great review from The Gadgeteer, “the display on the Palm V is a marvel to behold” and “the Palm V is downright sexy with its sleek metal body.” Maybe we were more easily amused back then, but I don’t remember ever thinking that 160×160 pixels was a marvel to behold. (Then again, I used to think the Iomega Zip 100 disk was pretty sweet so my judgement for tech marvels isn’t 100%.)

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Google Blows the Door Wide Open for Testers and Developers at I/O

At its annual Google I/O developer conference yesterday, Android_auto_1-520x292Google upped the ante in terms of possibilities for developers and testers alike, by moving beyond mobile into the realm of wearables and emerging technologies. Here’s some of the major areas which should get testers and devs excited.

Android TV

Google announced Android TV, which will combine live TV programming, Google Play services and Android apps, and will have cross-interaction with your Android-powered devices. Just think, that latest House of Cards episode on your Netflix queue is just a touch of your smartwatch away from being streamed to your TV.

Android Wear

This will be Google’s platform for everything wearable, including smartwatches. According to Mashable:

“Wear will integrate with Android L (Google’s new OS) and Android TV. When downloading a new app to your phone, for example, the Android Wear version of the app will automatically download onto your device. Subsequent app updates will also be automatically downloaded.”

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Throwback Thursday: The Simplistic Joys of AOL Instant Messenger (AIM)

A/S/L? LOL, OMG, JK! Many people cite cell phones and texting for the rise of communication via acronym, but those of us raised on instant messages know that we owe that honor to AOL Instant Messenger (AIM). Those of us ‘in the know’ will never forget the siren song of signing in, hours of fun spent in chat rooms and those embarrassing screen names created at the peak of our angst and awkwardness.

“AOL Instant Messenger was born out of the Buddy List feature that was part of the AOL dial-up service. In 1997, AIM became a stand-alone service that allowed users to send messages to each other.” There was a time when AIM had the largest share of the instant messaging market in North America, especially in the United States (with 52% of the total reported as of 2006). However, with the introduction of GChat, Skype and Facebook, AIM, the once favored Instant Messaging tool in North America, has seen a significant decline in its user base.

However, let’s not mourn the decline of AIM, but rather celebrate some of its awesome features.

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Throwing Back Thursday to 1986: The World Cup and Technology

For the next few weeks during the World Cup, Throwback Thursday will feature a World Cup from the past, along with some of the major technological achievements that took place during the year of that event.

With the World Cup in full swing, here’s part 2 of our Throwback Thursday Football special as we revisit the year 1986. Held in Mexico during May-Jumexico-1986ne of that year, Argentina won their second title and made a goal voted ‘Goal of the Century.’ In addition, the ‘Wave’ was popularized during the Cup due to its global broadcast exposure, and spread worldwide from there.

This brings us to the technology of the day:

The IBM PC Convertible – Ostensibly the world’s first laptop. Released on April 3rd 1986, the convertible retailed for $2,000, and featured power management as well as the ability to run off of batteries. At 13 pounds, it had a built-in handle and used a 3.5” floppy disk which went on to become the standard. Its CPU ran 256kB of RAM, utilized dual floppy drives, and had a 640×200 screen resolution. The machine was capable of hooking to a small printer and video output module as well as an internal modem, however, no internal hard disk was included.

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Amazon’s New Fire Phone: A Tester and Developer Playground?

To the average user, the Amazon Fire phone unveiled yesterday may be nothing more than a shopping and content-driven machine (see Kindle, Fireamazon-fire-phone-announced TV, etc.), but under the hood, there’s a lot of exciting possibilities that just opened up for developers and testers alike. Let’s take a look at two of these major possibilities.

‘Firefly”s audio and video recognition capabilities open the possibility for apps

And not only just apps, but an entire new app ecosystem. Firefly, according to TechCrunch, allows users to identify anything they hear or see in the real world using the phone’s camera and sensors, including text, movies, barcodes and music.

So not only could there could be a whole new class of brand-new apps doing brand-new things competing with Apple and Google’s app ecosystem, but existing apps could be radically different on the iOS app ecosystem versus that of Amazon’s.

A hypothetical example, if you will. I’m a movie guy, so Fandango is a popular app on my iPhone to look up movie times and information on these films. If I pointed my Fire phone at a trailer that I thought was interesting to get more information on its cast or when it was coming out, it could essentially eliminate the search engines as we know them and make Siri look like a kid’s toy.

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iOS 8 Beta 2 Now Available to Developers: A Step Up?

Apple, hot off the heels of its announcement of iOS 8 and release of the first beta earlier this month, has made available its Beta 2 of the new OSApple_iOS to developers today.

According to ZDNet, Apple has corrected some stability issues that plagued the first iteration of iOS 8 beta including crashing on launch when restored from a backup. Additionally, there are still several known issues that Apple is working on, including reduced battery life and other issues with iCloud and Keyboards.

For those that have downloaded the beta, is it more polished and stable than the first? Which areas are you hoping Apple improves upon prior to the GA this Fall? Let us know in the comments below.