All the world’s books on a stamp size data storage device

Wednesday, 20 July, 2016

Where are we going to find the space to store our seemingly limitless stock of photos and videos, together with all the other data we need to keep, when our hard drives are forever running out of space?

Researchers at the Delft University of Technology, in the Netherlands, may have found the solution, an atomic-scale rewritable data-storage device, that can potentially hold up to five hundred terabits of data, within a square inch. To put that sort of capacity into real terms, every book ever written, could be stored on a device the size of a postage stamp.

This atomic hard drive, developed by Sander Otte and his colleagues at Delft University, features a storage density that’s 500 times larger than state-of-the-art hard disk drives. At 500 terabits per square inch, it has the potential to store the entire contents of the US Library of Congress in a 0.1-mm wide cube.

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The best time to fly? Well it’s the early birds who get home sooner…

Monday, 17 November, 2014

Since I’m buzzing about the place at the moment… when it comes to avoiding delays while flying, especially domestically, taking flights that are scheduled for earlier in the day, rather than later, might be the way to go.

Like buses and trains, aircraft are also prone to hold ups as the day progresses, as they move from place to place, so travelling first thing, where possible, looks to be a plan.

The later you leave, the greater the average delay you will face until around 6PM when things flatten out and 10PM when we see benefits in leaving later. It makes sense that delays increase as the day goes on because, we understand, the primary cause of delays is waiting for the plane to arrive from another city. The first flights out in the morning don’t have this problem.

Based on US research, but I imagine same principle applies elsewhere.

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How do you sleep if you’re going to chart eight years of sleep?

Friday, 3 October, 2014

Eight years sleep chart by Craig Robinson

This is the sort of exercise that may be a source of misgiving for some, especially for those who have trouble sleeping, or others who perhaps sleep all together for too long… Craig Robinson has charted his last eight years of sleep, complete with start and finish times.

Via things magazine.

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My son changed my life and I have the data visualisations to prove it

Monday, 1 September, 2014

Starting a family and having children is a game-changer. Life is never the same again. But you don’t need me to tell you that.

Instead check out the data visualisations that statistician Nathan Yau prepared, that compare aspects of his life, such as sleep times, waking hours, distances from home travelled, and number of photos taken, before and after his son was born.

Yes, it looks like people take a lot more photos, a lot more, once they have children…

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How frequently do things happen? Quite frequently, possibly

Monday, 24 February, 2014

How often, on average, does something, being just about anything you care to think of, happen? Quite possibly, quite frequently, could be the answer.

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A global population of 100 people would say a lot about the world

Tuesday, 2 April, 2013

If the planet were populated by just one hundred people, how differently we might see it? Some of the data presented by such a world is sobering to say the least, considering the numbers represent percentages. For instance:

  • 23 people have no shelter
  • seven people have a college/university degree
  • 13 people don’t have access to safe drinking water
  • 22 people have access to a computer (seems like a lot more though doesn’t it?)

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You’ll never call the web slow after you see the speed it works at

Wednesday, 11 July, 2012

A three minute video sets out the process of looking up a webpage from a browser, a process that generally takes about one second. Blink and you’ll miss all the action.

And never again (hmm) shall I complain about slow loading websites.

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How many people are you likely to be sharing your birthday with?

Monday, 21 May, 2012

While based on US data giving it a northern hemisphere skew, those of us south of the equator can still get an idea of how common, or otherwise, our birthdays are with Matt Stiles’ birthday heatmap data visualisation.

Why would such data vary north or south of the equator? According to the information used to create this heatmap, a lot of babies are conceived during winter months, theoretically making birthdays more common during the late summer and autumn months in this part of the world.

It also brings to mind something former triple j presenter Adam Spencer (now on 702 ABC Sydney), also a mathematician, used to say, “in a group of seven people it is more likely than not that two of them have a birthday within a week of each other”, or words to that effect anyway.

Another one for the datasexuals, no?

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Making data visualisations, not love, that’s a datasexual for you

Thursday, 17 May, 2012

The metrosexual’s digital equivalent, the datasexual, is quietly, yet surely, making their presence among us known. If you have a penchant for recording, and I imagine, publishing, all manner of personal data, you may even be one yourself, especially if infographics, data visualisations, and the annual – always a joy to peruse – Feltron Reports, float your boat.

The origin of the datasexual in all likelihood started with the humble infographic, which is a highly stylized and well-designed way to talk about all the data out there on Web. The infographic trend was followed by the data visualization trend, which made it even cooler to display data in innovative new ways. These data visualization tools eventually gave us cultural artifacts like Nicholas Felton’s annual Feltron Reports, which made the obsessive recording of everyday activities seem cool.

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If tape is making a come back then cassettes can’t be far behind

Monday, 2 April, 2012

Possibly there won’t be much of a cassette revival, but digital tape may enjoy a resurgence in the IT room as it (still) makes for a surprisingly efficient data storage format.

At 60, in many ways, it’s just getting started. That’s because, unlike the mainframe, tape’s role in the enterprise is dramatically changing. Only a few years ago, with the emergence of cheap, high-capacity disk drives, many pundits thought tape would be relegated to the dusty storerooms of long-term data archive. Gone were the days when tape was used for primary backup and recovery or streaming media. But, with the performance of next-generation tape drives hitting 525MB/sec – and at a price of around $25 per terabyte of capacity – tape is too fast and too cheap to write off. New open file formats are also making it possible to use tape in new markets.

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