FM’s static-filled history

I have just purchased a new book called “The Network: The Battle for the Airwaves and the Birth of the Communications Age,” about a subject that interests me greatly. The relationship of the brilliant engineer Edwin Armstrong and David Sarnoff, the CEO of RCA. Sarnoff saw the potential of radio broadcasting that was made possible by Armstrong’s AM circuit wizardry, and used it to build the mighty NBC network. He failed, however, to see the significance of Armstrong’s invention of FM, to the point where the FCC had to force Sarnoff into accepting FM for TV sound.

It’s a classic modern tragedy of an independent inventor being crushed by a giant corporation. Keeping in mind that Sarnoff also rolled over Philo T. Farnsworth, the inventor of all-electronic television, I do not yet know if the book’s author, Scott Woolley, sees Sarnoff as having been completely in the wrong. Based upon a segment on last Friday’s Marketplace, I get the impression that Woolley might favor the view that Armstrong should have accepted reality and given up the fight.

Good and cheap

One of my e-mail accounts was getting clobbered with spam, upwards of 150 pieces at a whack. The reason was that a while back, in order to enter a comment on a Web site, I stupidly agreed to let it access my Facebook account. I have since disabled the application platform on Facebook, and that seemed to have fixed the problem [perhaps not!]. I wanted to add a comment to a Consumer Reports list of favorite laptops, with the assumption that being logged into my CR account would let do that but, no, it requires the FB integration that I no longer have or want. So I’ll post it here instead.

At this moment I am working on a HP Pavilion 14-ab166us notebook computer. It is running Windows 10 on a Hyper-threaded, dual-core i3, with 6GB of memory, a 1TB 5400 rpm hard drive, and a DVD reader/writer, with the Cyberlink Power MediaPlayer included, so I didn’t have to bother downloading it for $15 from the Microsoft store.

So far no problems. Screen resolution is only 1366×768, but that’s fine, as I’m more concerned about color and gray quality anyway, which was why I bought an X-Rite ColorMunki Display for $150 a couple of years ago. The only significant compromise is this particular HP won’t do 5GHz Wi-Fi. Bluetooth works great for external speakers, and the internal B&O speakers are much better than the ones in the Acer netbook that the HP is replacing.

Staples had this notebook on sale with a $50 rebate (that HP has confirmed it’s processing), taking the total price down to $330 — which, for me, is the right price for a general-purpose machine these days. A few months ago I bought a Dell mini-tower from Staples with a quad-core i5, 8 GB of memory, and a 1 TB 7200 rpm disk. That deal came to only $300! Staples may be struggling as a company, but they have been beating Amazon on computer deals.

The Mountain, Framingham

I drive past the Bose corporate offices every day on my way to and from work. I wouldn’t exactly call Mountain Drive a mountain. It’s only a hill overlooking the Massachusetts Turnpike, but the Bose address is The Mountain, Framingham. I’ve never been inside, but c|net recently was able to take a peek.

Before Bob Maresca was named the CEO of Bose he lived in the neighborhood behind mine. That was when I had the porch turned into a sun room and I bought a Bose Wave for it. I don’t know if Maresca still lives there, but I assume after his promotion he was able to afford a bigger/better house.