Apollo’s on-board flight software source code, printed out

Thursday, 4 February, 2016

Margaret Hamilton

Margaret Hamilton, a computer scientist, lead a MIT Instrumentation Laboratory team that developed on-board flight software for the Apollo Moon flights. She is pictured here, standing beside print outs of the source code that was produced.

About the only time I see source code is on a screen, and if I’m lucky, it’s not too more than a thousand lines in length. Very rare is the occasion I see source code in printed format, if at all, and in this case, I suspect there’s somewhat more than one thousand lines of code.

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The Lord of the Rings, too much like work to be able to enjoy?

Wednesday, 3 February, 2016

At last, someone who doesn’t like The Lord of the Rings… to the mind of Remy Porter, J. R. R. Tolkien’s fantasy saga is too much like work, and Middle Earth bares an uncanny resemblance to way too many workplaces.

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I know it’s crazy, but I’m frightened of the sound of the internet

Tuesday, 26 January, 2016

August 1999. I was working somewhere for someone, while looking for web design work. I’d often spend lunch breaks working on my own web projects, until the day an administrator in the division I was part of, told me that I spent too much time on the internet.

“Do you realise you spend more time on the internet than the rest of us (about ten other people I think it was) put together?” I remember my response went something along the lines of, “well you better get used to it, one day we’ll be living on this internet thing.”

Even at that point, there were people who believed the internet was merely a fad, or something for consumption by only those on the fringes of society. Too bad then I missed, at the time, this now incredibly prescient article, or would that be blog post, written by late British writer Douglas Adams that very month:

Because the Internet is so new we still don’t really understand what it is. We mistake it for a type of publishing or broadcasting, because that’s what we’re used to. So people complain that there’s a lot of rubbish online, or that it’s dominated by Americans, or that you can’t necessarily trust what you read on the web. Imagine trying to apply any of those criticisms to what you hear on the telephone. Of course you can’t “trust” what people tell you on the web anymore than you can “trust” what people tell you on megaphones, postcards or in restaurants.

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The flight of the drone through the Northwest Passage

Tuesday, 26 January, 2016

If you’re heading to Sydney Harbour today as part of your Australia Day celebrations, be sure and leave your drone at home, as police have declared the airspace over the harbour to be restricted.

In the meantime however, enjoy this footage filmed by Nansen Weber, using drones, of the Arctic regions of the North American continent.

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A 3D preview of your cinema seat, better than a 3D movie?

Thursday, 21 January, 2016

Looking at a floor plan, that may or may not be to scale, of a cinema while choosing seats for a movie when booking tickets online, can be a distinctly two dimensional process. Unless you’re familiar with the cinema in question, you’re usually left trying to guess what the view of the screen may be like from any given seat.

Wouldn’t it be useful then if we had a three dimensional perspective of the auditorium we were choosing seats in, so we could gauge how near, or how far back, from the screen we wanted to be? It is possible that the day we can do this may not be too far away, thanks to an experimental seat preview technology that is in development.

While the demo may not work in all browsers, it was (mostly) ok in the latest versions of Opera and Firefox, press the play button, then start selecting seats from different parts of the cinema to see how it works.

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What a difference a knitted shell can make to a wireless router

Tuesday, 15 December, 2015

Knitted shell by ishknits

Can you guess what the above object is? A cafe chocolate sprinkler, wrapped in a knitted cover? No idea? That’s ok, I’ll clue you in. What we have here is a wireless router, covered with a shell knitted by Philadelphia based yarnbombing craftivist ishknits.

It’s one of numerous similar such covers created by artists and designers who were invited to participate in Google’s Shells for OnHub project, which has the simple goal of making routers, especially those used in the home, a little easier on the eye.

As a result, people will be more inclined to better place them around their houses, thus allowing for better connectivity between their various devices.

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An actual, real, website hit counter that sits on your desk

Friday, 11 December, 2015

Photo by Jeroen Domburg

There were few websites around in the late 1990s, including this one, that didn’t feature a hit counter. They may not have been the most elegant of elements sitting upon a webpage, but in the days before the analytics tools that we take for granted today came along, they were one of the few ways that website owners could gauge visitor numbers.

But how cool might an actual hit counter, rather than something virtual, that would emit an audible click, each time someone looked up your website, have been? Using a mechanical impulse counter, Dutch software engineer Jeroen Domburg, aka Sprite, recently created such a device, and by following his instructions, you could as well.

This counter would have an additional advantage, though: every time a person requests a page from my site, the counter would give a satisfying ‘Click!’. The more clicks you hear, the more people reading your pages.

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One shoe, many animated looks, that’s ShiftWear

Thursday, 3 December, 2015

Forget amazing technicolour dreamcoats, how about shoes that sport skin-like designs, of your own making if you wish, and animations, that you can change as often as you like? An interesting concept, if nothing else. Shoes like this should really have been in Back to the Future Part II

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The career is dead, long live the careers

Wednesday, 2 December, 2015

The way our children are going to work will differ markedly from the way we are now working, which is something that varies again from the way our parents probably worked:

Robin Chase was the co-founder of Zipcar, the vehicle-hire platform, in the millennium year. Her book Peers Inc, which reflects on that innovation, and the multiple sharing models that have followed, argues that we are already in the midst of a revolution. She says: “My father had one job in his lifetime, I will have six jobs in my lifetime, and my children will have six jobs at the same time.”

If nothing else, future generations stand to become experts in time management… juggling multiple jobs, now that will take some organising.

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3-D print-outs of paintings for the blind and visually impaired

Friday, 27 November, 2015

3-D rendering of Mona Lisa by Unseen Art

Unseen Art is an initiative that plans to make artworks more accessible to blind and visually impaired people, by producing three-dimensional print-outs of well known paintings such as the Mona Lisa, thus allowing these works to be appreciated through touch and feel.

A great idea, and I think many people, whether visually impaired or not, will stand to gain from being able to appreciate 3-D representations of familiar artworks.

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