If you go to Japan be sure to send someone a telegram

Friday, 22 August, 2014

How to describe telegrams when there may be people here reading, who have no idea what they are? A text message that can only be sent in print format, perhaps? In earlier days much of the world’s communication was carried out by way of telegrams, but not any more obviously.

Unless you are in Japan, that is, where the mode is still in use, for a variety of reasons:

Japan is one of the last countries in the world where telegrams are still widely used. A combination of traditional manners, market liberalization and innovation has kept alive this age-old form of messaging, first commercialized in the mid-19th century by Samuel Morse and others.

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Windows 94, is that what we could call Microsoft’s first website?

Thursday, 21 August, 2014

Microsoft website, 1994

Did Bill Gates really utter the words “I don’t believe in the internet” in 1991? Whether or not the Microsoft co-founder said such a thing didn’t stop the company launching its first website just over twenty years ago though.

Maybe Gates said he didn’t believe in easy on the eye web design instead, if the inaugural front page of the Microsoft site, above, is anything to go by. Mind you, he wasn’t alone in that regard, that’s what much of the web at the time looked like.

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Will driver-less motorbikes also soon be taking us for a ride?

Tuesday, 19 August, 2014

We all know that driver-less cars, if they are not already cruising the streets near you, will be soon. And I guess if we’re going to have cars sans drivers, it makes sense that there will one day be driver-less motorbikes as well.

But for what purpose though? Automated courier, or pizza, deliveries perhaps?

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How old is the oldest industrial complex? Older than you think…

Wednesday, 13 August, 2014

After taking some time to look through the History of Information it seems to me everything on Earth is older than I had previously thought. For instance the first known, so far, industrial complex dates back more than two and a half million years.

We’re sure not talking car manufacturing or the like here though, but organised production activities of some sort.

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Seen, but not always played, vinyl records in the digital age

Wednesday, 13 August, 2014

Sales of vinyl records have been rising steadily in recent years, a trend that can in part be attributed to various gimmicks, including discs being issued in colours other than black, embedded with images, or featuring tracks hidden under their labels.

What’s interesting though is a fair chunk of record buyers have no intention of ever playing them, they’re simply buying vinyl for the sake of buying vinyl

Along with the success of Record Store Day as a reliable gateway for young vinyl buyers, record stores also point to the ubiquity of download cards that come with new vinyl LPs as a sales driver. The claim makes sense given another aspect of young consumers’ buying habits that stores and labels didn’t anticipate: Recently, London-based ICM Research found that “15 percent of those who buy physical music formats such as CDs, vinyl records, and cassettes never listen to them – they buy them purely to own.”

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Will the internet learn that I’ll always be 29 on my next birthday?

Monday, 11 August, 2014

Well, thanks to the internet, and social media, having a birthday seems to be becoming a hazard to our well being… depending on what you do, and, sorry to say, don’t do:

But let us call this what it is: birthday harassment. Social networks can use your birthday to determine what people are important to you. Brands use your birthday as an excuse to tell you they exist. The data tracking and governing algorithms that are part of your everyday internet experience become more visible on your birthday.

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The Wikipedia writer whose said to pen ten thousand articles a day

Friday, 25 July, 2014

Sverker Johansson, a Swedish physicist versed in economics, linguistics, and civil engineering, is also a prolific writer, who has penned well over two million articles for Wikipedia, and it is said that on a good day he can publish ten thousand pieces.

An incredible feat I imagine, even if he has a little help from a bot, an algorithm powered application that does much of his drafting, and the likes of which will probably take over disassociated one day…

His contribution to Wikipedia’s knowledge database of 30 million articles in 287 languages makes up 8.5 per cent of all the content on the site. His claims to authorship are contested however, as they were created by a computer generated software algorithm, otherwise known as a bot Johansson has named his Lsjbot.

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An illustrated catalogue of computer viruses

Thursday, 24 July, 2014

The Computer Virus Catalog, an illustrated guide to the worst viruses in computer history, may feature some pretty nasty examples of malicious code, but at least this catalogue of them is easy on the eye and informative.

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Ditching simple passwords isn’t all that simple

Wednesday, 23 July, 2014

The use of simple, or weak, passwords isn’t so bad, nor for that matter is using the same password on multiple websites. Only in certain circumstances though, for instance where the web service you are using is deemed to be “low risk”, say a group of Microsoft researchers.

Email and bank or finance applications are obviously examples of high risk websites that require complex pass codes, but it might be – and who knows – that the password for your tennis club’s online discussion forum isn’t.

While the use of strong, or complex, passwords is encouraged, there’s a limit to how many we can remember though, and forgetting, and then having to reset, too many of these codes can soon become more trouble than they are worth.

The trio argue that password reuse on low risk websites is necessary in order for users to be able to remember unique and high entropy codes chosen for important sites. Users should therefore slap the same simple passwords across free websites that don’t hold important information and save the tough and unique ones for banking websites and other repositories of high-value information. “The rapid decline of [password complexity as recall difficulty] increases suggests that, far from being unallowable, password re-use is a necessary and sensible tool in managing a portfolio,” the trio wrote.

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Are digital technologies a threat to documentary film revenues?

Tuesday, 15 July, 2014

Digital technologies are making it easier for documentary filmmakers, especially those who are emerging, to produce and distribute their work, but what are the chances of audiences ever seeing these productions? And if more documentaries are to be distributed solely online, what future, if any, will these sorts of films have?

Thanks to cheaper digital production equipment and a seemingly endless line of new distribution options, documentary filmmakers are experiencing boom times. But who’s getting the bucks from this bang? “An individual can pretty easily and cheaply put their film online; whether anyone sees or finds it is another matter,” Michael Lumpkin, executive director of the International Documentary Association, told TheWrap. “There have been a constant parade of new platforms to watch movies online. But I think for filmmakers, not enough of those opportunities are actually financial opportunities.”

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