January 15, 2020

Let It Whip.

In 1983 my Dad decided to get a little bit ahead of the technology curve and purchased a VHS VCR for our 19-inch television. The TV was a vintage 1976 Zenith set that sat on the bookshelf in the Family Room and was our main television. It would be a few years before cable television snaked its way out our road from town, so we relied on a rooftop antenna with a motorized rotor that allowed us to tune in various stations. We generally stayed with the “basic four” of the era, NBC, CBS, ABC, and PBS. However, living close to Lake Ontario I could get that antenna on the roof swinging around and we also received CKWS from Kingston (CBC) and CJOH from Ottawa (CTV) clear as a bell. Once in a while I could tune in more distant Rochester and for some reason during one particular thunderstorm I flung the antenna around enough and I could grab the NBC station out of Orlando, Florida for a few moments.

The VHS VCR was made by General Electric, could handle both VHF and UHF channels, and looked a lot like this guy, albeit with a cover that flipped down over the channel selector on the right.

It was just this evening that I discovered Panasonic actually made this VCR for General Electric. I never knew that while growing up, but I can tell you the very first show I successfully recorded on it was the premiere of “Jennifer Slept Here” starring Ann Jillian.

There were no video rental places in town yet, but our local Rite Aid offered video rentals for $0.49 (49 cents) a night. I discovered a video featuring “Stars On 45”, the studio musicians that made medleys of older songs to a relentless four-on-the-floor beat-clap-beat-clap rhythm track, occasionally interrupted by Stars On 45 Jingles and interludes.

The Stars On 45
Keeps on turnin’
In your mind
But we can work it out
Remember ‘Twist and Shout’
You still don’t tell me why
With no reply..y…y…y

The video had none of the singers that were on the tracks so popular on the radio at the time, but was rather a one-off stage performance that featured the famous medleys and a whole bunch of other songs.

I remember my sister moaning and groaning when I decided to monopolize the only television in the house to watch the video, so I decided to wait until the next day, while Mom and Dad were at work and she was off doing whatever she did after school.

Towards the end of the performance the singers did a mash-up of Devo’s “Whip It” and The Dazz Band’s “Let It Whip” with a bunch of dancers moving along in very 1980s choreography. Chains and batons were flung around, people moved seductively, feathered hair waved.

When the three (at the time) scantily dressed guys came out I discovered a wonderful feature of the new General Electric VHS VCR made by Panasonic.

It had a PAUSE button.

My sophomore year had just kicked off, I had all these wild thoughts going on in my head, whereas I just knew I was suppose to be pausing on the (at the time) scantily dressed girls but I was really grooving on pausing on the (at the time) scantily dress guys.

Worried someone would come home while the VCR was on PAUSE, I quickly finished the video. I then decided to Be Kind and Rewind and then went up to my green painted bedroom with blue, green, and black plaid carpet and decided to think about what I just PAUSEd about.

I’ll let your imagination fill in the details that could evoke a blush.

While I was working today I found myself singing “Let It Whip / Whip It, Whip It Good” and realized it was from this video I hadn’t seen in 37 years. I was happy to find it on YouTube.

No need to PAUSE, I’m not a sophomore in high school.

A New Era.

Microsoft ended Extended Support for Windows 7 yesterday. This means if your computer is still running Windows 7 you will no longer receive updates for the once popular operating system.

As of two months ago, 28% of traditional PCs were still running Windows 7.

It seems like it was just yesterday that I was watching the “Windows 7 Host Your Own Launch Party” video, introducing what was to be an incremental upgrade to Windows. The goal was to make the masses forget Windows Vista as quickly as possible.

Just today I’ve seen several computers running Windows 7. Folks fell in love with the operating system and have been hesitant to switch away. After all, why get rid of something that works?

Even folks are rapidly moving toward a “mobile first” platform when it comes to personal technology, there are still plenty of PCs around, especially in business.

I guess it’s beyond time for businesses to make the decision, Windows 10, Linux, or something from Apple.

I don’t think there’ll be any Launch Party Guide Videos to help users make the transition.


I talk a bit about how sometimes it feels like advances in technology are basically destroying our society as we know it. My primary belief to support this is because technology is advancing faster than society’s capacity to handle this growth. The population hasn’t evolved quickly enough to keep up with the new technology being released to the masses.

This being said, I am fully amazed and appreciative of the fact that I am able to watch the latest NASA spacewalk at the International Space Station in real-time from my desk at work on a second monitor while writing code. The signal is coming from over 350,000 kilometers away, being pushed to Twitter and Periscope and instantly available on a computer the size of a 1/3 of a pizza box but more powerful than anything that was even dreamed of when we first started exploring Space.

This helps me maintain my sanity and faith in humanity. We’ll get through this and the disparity around the technology-people connection will eventually balance out (though it’s taking way too long).

We need to move forward. We have a whole big Universe to explore.