Radio Shack, R.I.P. :(

Made what might have been my very last trip to a Radio Shack recently. This might sound a bit silly, but you would be sad also if they had had as much influence on your life as mine over the years. You see, back when I was growing up, Radio Shack was the place for young geeks (before geek was sheek) to get the things they needed to explore electronics, computers, and many other things. I grew up spending all the money I could scrounge up purchasing “P-Box Kits”, various components, and just about anything else I could afford there.

My first computer was a Tandy Color Computer, which I purchased after winning a dump truck drag race (seriously I did). I even worked at a Radio Shack while attending college which was quite a bit of fun.

Sadly over the years, Radio Shack seems to have lost their purpose, falling into becoming just a lame store selling a few items that no one really wants. A store that used to have whatever the electronic enthusiast needed just down the street shrank to just one or two locations that had anything useful in my area. Most of the stores no longer carried the things I was interested in.

After hearing how bad RS was financially, and that several stores would be closing, I stopped by just to check it out. I went to one of the few stores that still sold electronic components in my area. Sadly, I didn’t find anything I really wanted other than a fairly good deal on batteries. On top of that, I learned that RS is selling their customer list as a part of their liquidation. Sad day indeed….. R.I.P. Radio Shack.


30 year old mailing lists…

Approximately 30 years ago I learned about “mailing lists” being sold for profit. Out of curiosity, I created a few fake company names just to track how they might proliferate. I hadn’t thought about this in a a very long time until recently I started receiving mail addressed to one of these companies I created so long ago. It is amazing that after thirty years, and eight address changes, mail addressed to one of the companies “Pelican Productions” started showing up in fairly large quantities at my current address. I almost feel bad for the companies that paid money for some mailing list from that long ago.

A nostalgic look at answering machine messages.

Not all that long ago, answering machines were a really useful tool that we all felt we had to have. I’m talking 1990’s, when not everyone had a cell phone, and people actually looked forward to reviewing their answering machine messages when they got home from work.

Back then (when it was so… important :), my wife used to cringe at my tendency to have a little fun with the recordings we had on our machine. I remember a few messages that provoked some serious and humorous responses. One time I had a computer synthesized voice that said “Brian and Sheila are no longer available, I have taken control….”. My mother was really disturbed by that one. On another occasion I had one I recorded (in my best Voice Response System type voice) which said…. “You have reached the Blankenships, Press #1 if you are calling about home improvements, Press #2 if you are selling lawn treatments, and if you are the Courier Journal calling to get me to subscribe to the daily paper, please hang up now!”. That one got lots of laughs, and one rude comment which I imagine was someone soliciting subscriptions which happened almost daily at the time.

I also created some humorous audio clips which I used for several answering machine messages. I ran across some of these recently and decided to share them. I plan to put one of them (probably pickcurl.wav or vru.wav) on my current answering machine at home (yes, for some reason I still have a home phone albeit it is VoIP). File links are provided below for your amusement or use on your own answering machine or voicemail.

pickcurl.wav – a mashup of Star Trek TNG and Curly from the Three Stooges.
timon.wav – Funny clip from a song in The Lion King
various.wav – a bunch of things thrown together
vru.wav – a ridiculous set of instructions on how to leave a message. I didn’t create this one, and I can’t remember where I found it. It is still funny today though, and I think it might be the first one I put back on my answering machine.