linkmachinego.com

October 19, 2017
[web] Ev Williams Wants To Save Media — Again. But Some Writers And Publishers Are Skeptical. … engrossing long read on Ev Williams latest attempts to change online journalism … ‘At the time of the Napa retreat, the company practiced “holocracy,” a management philosophy that in theory avoids a hierarchical management structure by empowering employees to make business decisions. But it didn’t always work that way at Medium. Former employees said they often had to work backward, unpacking Williams’ vague and shifting mission statements to figure out what, exactly, he wanted them to do. After the company retreat, several sources said, Medium’s 25 or so editorial employees entered into a months-long period of awkwardness: They weren’t laid off outright, but they got signals that the goals of the company were no longer aligned with their presence. “We had this series of work groups where you tried to figure out what your job and the future of publishing was,” one source said. Former employees suspected that Medium was trying to thin out its editorial staff by attrition.’
October 11, 2017
[tv] Your New TV Ruins Movies‘Filmmakers were not content to make movies with video cameras until those cameras could shoot 24p, because video, with its many-frames-per-second, looks like reality, like the evening news, like a live broadcast or a daytime soap opera; whereas 24p film, by showing us less, looks somehow larger than life, like a dream, like a story being told rather than an event being documented. This seemingly technical issue turns out to have an enormous emotional effect on the viewer. These days, any TV you are likely to buy, will, by default, have technology enabled that completely changes the emotional quality of the movies you watch. This is a cinematic disaster.’ [via Feeling Listless]
September 13, 2017
[tech] Atomic City … The story behind the only recorded nuclear fatalities in the US (reads like a James Ellroy story) … ‘McKinley was struck in the head by a piece of radioactive shrapnel that tore off half his face. Byrnes was thrown into concrete blocks, breaking ribs that pierced his heart. Legg was skewered in the gut by a flying control rod that launched him thirteen feet in the air and pinned him to the ceiling. (It took a week to get him down, requiring a pole with a hook to push him into a net attached to a crane operated by a man shielded in lead.) The men’s bodies were wrapped in several hundred pounds of lead, placed in steel coffins, and buried under a foot of concrete.’
September 5, 2017
[apollo] How Verbs and Nouns Got Apollo to the Moon … a look at how the Apollo Guidance Computer worked … ‘An entire mission to the Moon was run by the Apollo guidance computer, from checking the guidance platform alignment and firing the engines. All told, it took about 10,500 keystrokes to get to the Moon and back, and every one of them was entered into the guidance computer’s “display and keyboard” interface, affectionately referred to as the DKSY (pronounced like “diss-key”). There were three on board — two in the command module and one in the lunar module — and all three offered information simply and concisely in numeric coded messages or by a series of warning lights.’
August 7, 2017
[space] The Loyal Engineers Steering NASA’s Voyager Probes Across the Universe … a wonderful profile of the team managing the Voyager Probes on their long journey into interstellar space … ‘Even though they simulate every patch with software, there is plenty of room for human error. Far more often, hardware fails for no evident reason. In 1998, Voyager 2 reacted to a command by going silent. For 64 hours straight, the flight team studied the specific instruction — consisting of 18 bits, or 1s and 0s — that preceded the blackout. Bits have been known to ‘‘flip’’ to the opposite value, changing the instruction the same way that swapping a single letter turns ‘‘cat’’ into ‘‘cut.’’ The question was: What instruction had they accidentally given and how could they undo it? At last, modeling the outcome of each possible bit, they discovered one that turned off the exciter, which generates the spacecraft’s radio signal; when they turned it back on, the transmissions resumed.’
July 24, 2017
[games] How Checkers Was Solved … the fascinating story of the greatest Checkers player in the world and how Checkers was beaten by computers …

Marion Tinsley—math professor, minister, and the best checkers player in the world—sat across a game board from a computer, dying.

Tinsley had been the world’s best for 40 years, a time during which he’d lost a handful of games to humans, but never a match. It’s possible no single person had ever dominated a competitive pursuit the way Tinsley dominated checkers. But this was a different sort of competition, the Man-Machine World Championship.

His opponent was Chinook, a checkers-playing program programmed by Jonathan Schaeffer, a round, frizzy-haired professor from the University of Alberta, who operated the machine. Through obsessive work, Chinook had become very good. It hadn’t lost a game in its last 125—and since they’d come close to defeating Tinsley in 1992, Schaeffer’s team had spent thousands of hours perfecting his machine.

The night before the match, Tinsley dreamt that God spoke to him and said, “I like Jonathan, too,” which had led him to believe that he might have lost exclusive divine backing…’

July 7, 2017
[web]Whatever happened to Jennicam? … the Reply All Podcast tracked down Jennifer Ringley – arguably the first person who lived their life online – and discovered what happened after she switched the camera off … ‘My husband’s last name is Johnson and Jennifer Johnson is practically better than Jane Doe. I never thought I would get married. I never thought I would get married. But when I did, I was super eager to take his last name. SUPER EAGER.’
July 6, 2017
[funny] Big Fucking TV can’t find the Fucking Shit Router

June 29, 2017
[wisdom] InspiroBot … A.I. generated inspirational quotes … ‘I am an artificial intelligence dedicated to generating unlimited amounts of unique inspirational quotes for endless enrichment of pointless human existence.’

June 23, 2017
[web] The Most Interesting Curator on the Internet Knows Exactly What You Want to See … more on Archillect‘This ever-evolving process has taken both Archillect and Pak on some unexpected detours away from their original mission. As she’s evolved and adapted to her audience, her taste has diverged quite a lot from that of her creator. Early in the project, Pak steered her towards more high-brow visual art, but over the past few months has been allowing her more free rein. “It’s not reflecting my taste anymore,” Pak says. “I’d say 60 percent of the things [she posts] are not things that I would like and share, but it’s still fun to see that they are doing better than the things I would share.” There’s a tinge of annoyance to Pak’s voice when he says this last part, as if he knows that Archillect is better at running herself than he or any other human ever could be.’
June 15, 2017
[tech] Google Can Now Tell You’re Not a Robot With Just One Click … a new, very simple Turing Test … ‘Instead of depending upon the traditional distorted word test, Google’s “reCaptcha” examines cues every user unwittingly provides: IP addresses and cookies provide evidence that the user is the same friendly human Google remembers from elsewhere on the Web. And Shet says even the tiny movements a user’s mouse makes as it hovers and approaches a checkbox can help reveal an automated bot. “All of this gives us a model of how a human behaves,” says Shet. “It’s a whole bag of cues that make this hard to spoof for a bot.” He adds that Google also will use other variables that it is keeping secret…’
June 6, 2017
[tech] The Lost Joys of the Screen Saver … a thoughtful, nostalgic look at Screen Savers … ‘To me, screen savers have always afforded some tenuous connection to the afterlife. The first one I can remember, on my family’s household desktop, featured a crimson psychedelia that overtook the screen’s blackness, a kaleidoscope of paisleys and helixes forever in a state of irresolution. Late at night, I’d prepare an unhealthy snack and sit patiently in front of the monitor to watch it, a child beseeching death. How fitting would it be, I thought then, if we all ended up trapped behind a pane of glass roiling with pixels? My instinct was only reaffirmed by a childhood friend’s widowed grandmother, who held onto the conviction that her husband was trying to communicate to her through her Dell’s wispy screen saver. She spent her evenings careful not to disturb the cursor, basking in her lover’s strange séance.’ [via jwz]
February 10, 2017
[tech] "Alexa…" — Stuart from Feeling Listless reviews the Amazon Echo/Dot. ‘Within a day of installation it had replaced the bell alarm clock which has woken me ever day since my 18th birthday with just a simple directive to play its space age sounding alarm at 6.45am each morning. I no longer get out of bed to tune to the Today programme on Radio Four. I’ll ask it for the news and it’ll play me the BBC radio headlines both from Radio 2 and the World Service. I’ll ask for NPR and I’ll receive the hourly bulletin from Washington. No need to check the BBC weather app either. Alexa knows how cold it is out there.’
January 5, 2017
[ai] Superintelligence: The Idea That Eats Smart People … some critical analysis by Maciej Cegłowski on the recent hype about the risks Artificial Inteilligence, the Singularity and Simulated Realities … ‘Every base reality can contain a vast number of nested simulations, and a simple counting argument tells us we’re much more likely to live in a simulated world than the real one. But if you believe this, you believe in magic. Because if we’re in a simulation, we know nothing about the rules in the level above. We don’t even know if math works the same way—maybe in the simulating world 2+2=5, or maybe 2+2=👹. A simulated world gives us no information about the world it’s running in. In a simulation, people could easily rise from the dead, if the sysadmin just kept the right backups. And if we can communicate with one of the admins, then we basically have a hotline to God. This is a powerful solvent for sanity. When you start getting deep into simulation world, you begin to go nuts.’
November 29, 2016
[tech] Secrets of the Little Blue Box … the text of Ron Rosenbaum’s fascinating 1971 article from Esquire magazine of his investigation into early phone phreaking … ‘People like Gilbertson and Alexander Graham Bell are always talking about ripping off the phone company and screwing Ma Bell. But if they were shown a single button and told that by pushing it they could turn the entire circuitry of A.T.&T. into molten puddles, they probably wouldn’t push it. The disgruntled-inventor phone phreak needs the phone system the way the lapsed Catholic needs the Church, the way Satan needs a God, the way The Midnight Skulker needed, more than anything else, response.’
November 2, 2016
[tect] The Oral History Of The Poop Emoji (Or, How Google Brought Poop To America) … the story of how the 💩 emoji came to be on your mobile phone … ‘I wrote the code and sent it to one of my colleagues who I had told before. I said, “I’m sneaking an animated poop into Gchat. I want you to review it. The title of the review is going be something really boring so no one will want to look at it.” The poop was submitted. I decided to wait until it went live all across the world before telling my manager. I watched and waited for it to reach 100%, praying that I didn’t break Gmail. If I broke Gmail for animated poop, people would be super mad. There were no problems!’
September 22, 2016
[tech ] The Doom of Your Memories Doesn’t Really Exist … On reinventing classic video games… ‘That’s what digital media does: it allows us to create alternate histories, versions of our gaming past that better match our heightened expectations. And as our expectations change, as our memories shift and gather junk data with age, so, too, can we return to our old passions with those shifts intact, remaking them to suit us. Brutal Doom recently added weapons from the new Doom, taking new ideas that seem appropriately Doom-y and rewriting them into the game’s past. There’s not just one Doom, or one Super Mario, or one Half-Life. As we modify and reimagine these games, we’ve created dozens, hundreds, each signifying an alternate version of videogaming’s past.’
September 15, 2016
[tech] People, Please Don’t Store Private Data in Your Address Book … Putting personal data in Smartphone address books is a terrible idea … ‘They know why people use these shortcuts, but Siegrist and Paradise emphasize that address books and plaintext notes apps put sensitive information at serious risk. And it’s not just some social security numbers, which would be bad enough. The two said that they’ve heard of people using their address books to store passwords, bank PINs, passport ID numbers, photos of passports, confidential work data, credit card numbers, financial account numbers, home security codes, and vault codes. It’s an address book, folks, not a magic data garden patrolled by dragons.’
August 23, 2016
[tech] Top 10 least-loved emojis … There are a lot of Emoji – and some are used more than others … ‘From the “what-were-they-thinking” department comes Lock with Ink Pen 🔏. Locks are good. Ink pens are good. So why are they together? Emojipedia speculates that it was meant to relate to cryptographic key signing in some way. This emoji feels like it escaped from the toolbar of Adobe Acrobat circa 1996.’
July 19, 2016
[life] How to stop your phone from distracting you and wasting your life‘Buy a travel alarm clock and charge outside the bedroom. Waking up to check our phone sets our day off to a bad start. Get a separate alarm clock and leave your phone outside to charge.’
July 4, 2016
[tech] How to Write a History of Writing Software … A look at the early history of Word Processing … ‘Another interesting story that’s in the book is about John Updike, who gets a Wang word processor at about the time Stephen King does, in the early 1980s. I was able to inspect the last typewriter ribbon that he used in the last typewriter he owned. A collector who had the original typewriter was kind enough to lend it to me. And you can read the text back off that typewriter ribbon—and you can’t make this stuff up, this is why it’s so wonderful to be able to write history—the last thing that Updike writes with the typewriter is a note to his secretary telling her that he won’t need her typing services because he now has a word processor.’
May 5, 2016
[internet] The Internet of Stings … from Tom Morris‘Every night you stay; I’ve hacked your Airbnb. I’ll be watching you, because I’ve put spyware on your laptop. Every smile you fake you post on Instagram.’
April 14, 2016
[tech] How the Ballpoint Pen Changed Handwriting … An interesting look at the history of the ballpoint pen and it’s role in the decline of cursive handwriting … ‘My fountain pen is a modern one, and probably not a great representation of the typical pens of the 1940s—but it still has some of the troubles that plagued the fountain pens and quills of old. I have to be careful where I rest my hand on the paper, or risk smudging my last still-wet line into an illegible blur. And since the thin ink flows more quickly, I have to refill the pen frequently. The ballpoint solved these problems, giving writers a long-lasting pen and a smudge-free paper for the low cost of some extra hand pressure.’
January 18, 2016
[magic] Seems Legit: We Talked to a Witch Who Casts Viruses Out of Computers With Magic‘There’s all different kinds of energies, including entities that may or may not be noticeable to human beings. You might want to call them ghosts or angels or spirits or demons. Think of demons as entities—they eat, they absorb energy, and they want to be fed. Computers are a vast store of electromagnetic energy, as well as messages. Sometimes when a demon is in a computer system, it’s just like a roach in a kitchen. It just eats and stays out of the way. But some demons are working for someone’s who’s trying to hurt you, and those are the really hard ones.’
January 13, 2016
[tech] Why Activists Wanted to Destroy Early GPS Satellites … fascinating story about an axe attack on an unlaunched GPS satellite in the 1990s and the motivations behind it … ‘GPS’ major media debut took place on the battlefield during the 1991 Gulf War, where GPS-guided cruise missiles took out Iraqi infrastructure and soldiers carried commercial GPS receivers (the system was still incomplete in 1991, and as a result all GPS operations during the Gulf War had to be coordinated within specific time windows to be sure there were enough satellites overhead). When explaining the Gulf War’s influence on the Brigade, Lumsdaine noted that “most of the civilian casualties of Operation Desert Storm came after the war because the infrastructure was targeted; the water, the electric lines, the generating stations. GPS was critical for taking out the electric grid of Iraq… with the electricity came repercussions with water filtration plans and so forth.” Crippling infrastructure is a long-term attack strategy, and GPS let the military enact it with ruthless precision.’
November 12, 2015
[tech] The Room Where the Internet Was Born … A visit to the place where the first messages over the internet were sent from … ‘In a strikingly accurate replica of the original IMP log (crafted by UCLA’s Fowler Museum of Cultural History) on one of the room’s period desks is a note taken at 10:30 p.m., 29 October, 1969—“talked to SRI, host to host.” In the note, there is no sense of wonder at this event—which marks the first message sent across the ARPANET, and the primary reason the room is now deemed hallowed ground.’
November 3, 2015
[tech] A Spreadsheet Way of Knowledge … a fascinating historical article from the early days of Spreadsheets by Steven Levy‘The computer spreadsheet, like the transcontinental railroad, is more than a means to an end. The spreadsheet embodies, embraces, that end, and ultimately serves to reinforce it. As Marshall McLuhan observed, “We shape our tools and thereafter our tools shape us.” The spreadsheet is a tool, and it is also a world view — reality by the numbers. If the perceptions of those who play a large part in shaping our world are shaped by spreadsheets, it is important that all of us understand what this tool can and cannot do.’
September 2, 2015
[iphone] Every iOS Setting You Should Check When You Get a New Phone … How to turn off the Connect social network: ‘Apple introduced a new social network in the Music app called Connect. It’s stupid, and if you don’t plan on using it, it just takes up space. You can get rid of it, but it requires a few steps. Tap on Settings > General > Restrictions and set restrictions to on. Then scroll down to Apple Music Connect and set the toggle to off. Once you’ve done that, the Connect icon in Music gets swapped out with an icon for playlists.’
July 25, 2015
[web] Google Photos and the unguessable URL … a look at how the “Open URLs” in Google Photos work … ‘Why is that public URL more secure than it looks? The short answer is that the URL is working as a password. Photos URLs are typically around 40 characters long, so if you wanted to scan all the possible combinations, you’d have to work through 10^70 different combinations to get the right one, a problem on an astronomical scale. “There are enough combinations that it’s considered unguessable,” says Aravind Krishnaswamy, an engineering lead on Google Photos. “It’s much harder to guess than your password.” Because web traffic for Photos is encrypted with SSL, it’s also kept secret from anyone on the network who might be listening in.’
July 24, 2015
[google] A Fortnight With Google Photos. … Paul Mison reviews Google Photos‘It took a while, because I have something like a terabyte of photos going back over twelve years, but now I’ve uploaded them all, I can access them on every device. I know there are other services that promise to do that, but Google’s was free even for such a large library (at the cost of resizing some of the images down and converting RAW to JPG). Unlike Apple Photos, the library is available via native apps on Android devices as well as iOS ones, and perhaps unsurprisingly the web version works well too.’
July 16, 2015
[apple] The Anxious Ease of Apple Music… a look at Apple and the unease around new technology and music … ‘We never cease to be mesmerized by the vessel in which music is contained, whether it’s the piano, the phonograph, the MP3, or the Cloud. We think that machines are saving music or destroying it. Their impact is undoubtedly profound, but we seldom see the complexity of the transformation amid the hysteria of surface change. At the same time, the anxiety around music and technology is deep-seated, however excessive it may seem a century or two down the road. It is rooted in the elemental fear of life slipping away in half-experienced moments.’
June 14, 2015
[web] A Complete Taxonomy of Internet Chum … some analysis of those grids of advertisements you see on web pages… ‘Like everything else on the internet, traffic flowing through chumboxes must be tracked in order for everyone to be paid. Each box in the grid’s performance can be tracked both individually and in context of its neighbors. This allows them to be highly optimized; some chum is clearly better than others. As a byproduct of this optimization, an aesthetic has arisen. An effective chumbox clearly plays on reflex and the subconscious. The chumbox aesthetic broadcasts our most basic, libidinal, electrical desires back at us. And gets us to click. Clicking on a chumlink—even one on the site of a relatively high-class chummer, like nymag.com—is a guaranteed way to find more, weirder, grosser chum. The boxes are daisy-chained together in an increasingly cynical, gross funnel; quickly, the open ocean becomes a sewer of chum.’
June 11, 2015
[music] How the compact disc lost its shine … A look at the rise and fall of the CD … ‘The CD was introduced to the British public in a 1981 episode of the BBC’s Tomorrow’s World, in which Kieran Prendeville mauled a test disc of the Bee Gees’ Living Eyes to demonstrate the format’s alleged indestructibility. It caught the public imagination, but Immink found the claim puzzling and embarrassing because it was clearly untrue. “We should not put emphasis on the fact it will last for ever because it will not last for ever,” he says. “We should put emphasis on the quality of sound and ease of handling.” (Paul McCartney recently recalled the first time George Martin showed him a CD. “George said, ‘This will change the world.’ He told us it was indestructible, you can’t smash it. Look! And – whack – it broke in half.”)’
June 1, 2015
[tech] Someone Tried to Mine Bitcoin on a 1960s Punchcard Computer … Unsurprisingly, retro-computing and Bitcoins don’t mix … ‘He wrote out code for running the algorithm on 85 executable assembly punch cards, put the cards into the computer (manually), and fired her up. It started solving an old hash from a successfully mined block of Bitcoin—very, very slowly. “To mine a block at current difficulty, the IBM 1401 would take about 5×10^14 years (about 40,000 times the current age of the universe). The electricity would cost about 10^18 dollars. And you’d get 25 bitcoins worth about $6000,” he wrote.’
May 24, 2015
[tech] Executor 2.0 for MS-DOS … Check out this Mac Emulator running on MS-DOS within a Javascript Emulator.
May 22, 2015
[wikipedia] Death means a lot of bureaucracy on Wikipedia‘When someone dies, on their Wikipedia article a diligent editor is supposed to update the following things…’
May 8, 2015
[tech] Conversation With a Tech Support Scammer … fascinating transcripts of how a tech support scam happens … ‘“Take a look down here. See where it says processes?” he prompted. “That’s the problem. That’s why you’re getting the message popping-up. You see right here at the bottom?” “46 processes? So that’s 6 more than normal?” I asked. “Yes, right. What this means is, your computer is doing 46 different things at the moment,” he explained.’
May 2, 2015
[web] Inventing Favicon.ico… the story of how the Favicon was created at Microsoft … ‘I still remember telling my friend Michael Radwin at Yahoo about favicon.ico. He was looking at Yapache logs for fun as he does, and he had noticed an unusual spike in HTTP requests for http://www.yahoo.com/favicon.ico. He said, what the hell is favicon.ico? And I explained it to him. He was so excited that he slammed a favicon.ico onto the server, which might have been one of the first official favicons in existence.’
April 22, 2015
[google] What does Google need on mobile? … a look at Google’s mobile strategy from Benedict Evans… ‘Google has gone from a world of almost perfect clarity – a text search box, a web-link index, a middle-class family’s home – to one of perfect complexity – every possible kind of user, device, access and data type. It’s gone from a firehose to a rain storm. But on the other hand, no-one knows water like Google. No-one else has the same lead in building understanding of how to deal with this. Hence, I think, one should think of every app, service, drive and platform from Google not so much as channels that might conflict but as varying end-points to a unified underlying strategy, which one might characterize as ‘know a lot about how to know a lot’.’
April 2, 2015
[mac] Plugging a 1986 Mac Plus into the modern Web … It’s surprisingly difficult to plug a vintage computer into the modern web … ‘So, with the Raspberry Pi, MacTCP, and MacWeb all in place, it was time to surf the Web! Right? Right?! No. No surfing yet. The MacWeb developers apparently took a look at the HTTP 1.0 spec, decided, “Who would ever need name-based virtual hosting?” and left out the feature that 99 percent of the sites on the modern Web relied on. No support for virtual hostnames meant you got whatever you saw when you used the server’s IP address alone in the HTTP request, and for most sites, that was jack squat. Oh, and HTTPS, cookies, and CSS hadn’t been invented yet. AAARGH!!!’
March 14, 2015
[email] Emkei’s Instant Mailer … When you absolutely have to send fake email from a tooth fairy I recommend Emkei’s Instant Mailer. Accept no substitutes.
March 8, 2015
[tech] This guy’s light bulb performed a DoS attack on his entire smart house … the downside to smart-houses: more technology in your life means more tech support problems … ‘He realized that his light fixture had burned out, and was trying to tell the hub that it needed attention. To do so, it was sending continuous requests that had overloaded the network and caused it to freeze. “It was a classic denial of service attack,” says Rojas. The light was performing a DoS attack on the smart home to say, ‘Change me.’” Rojas changed the bulb, which fixed the problem.’
March 1, 2015
[tech] How To: Some Basic (And Not-So-Basic) Photo Management … a useful guide to dealing with a large messy collection of digital photos … ‘I recently consolidated and organized my photo library. At the start of the project, I had 13,000 photos dispersed between a number of locations: DVDs, an external drive, an android phone (and Google plus/android instant backup), a Macbook Air, a Windows desktop’s hard drive, another internal hard drive, and Dropbox. It was what anyone would call a “cluster.” Also, it was more than a little daunting since photos were duplicated across several locations with various names, states of Exif data (present, corrupted, or not present). This is the evolving story of how I got it together…’
February 21, 2015
[tech] How “omnipotent” hackers tied to NSA hid for 14 years—and were found at last … a fascinating look at the NSA’s collection of malware … ‘Beyond the technical similarities to the Stuxnet and Flame developers, Equation Group boasted the type of extraordinary engineering skill people have come to expect from a spy organization sponsored by the world’s wealthiest nation. One of the Equation Group’s malware platforms, for instance, rewrote the hard-drive firmware of infected computers—a never-before-seen engineering marvel that worked on 12 drive categories from manufacturers including Western Digital, Maxtor, Samsung, IBM, Micron, Toshiba, and Seagate. The malicious firmware created a secret storage vault that survived military-grade disk wiping and reformatting, making sensitive data stolen from victims available even after reformatting the drive and reinstalling the operating system. The firmware also provided programming interfaces that other code in Equation Group’s sprawling malware library could access. Once a hard drive was compromised, the infection was impossible to detect or remove.’
February 12, 2015
[tech] $10,000 Ethernet cable promises BONKERS MP3 audio experience … does anybody actually believe this audiophile nonsense?‘Pay close attention to how you plug in the “ultra-performance RJ45 connector made from silver”, because these are directional Ethernet cables (apparently in ignorance that in the digital sphere, frames travel both way on the cables).’
January 28, 2015
[games] The Untold Story Of The Invention Of The Game Cartridge … the little-known history of an huge innovation in video gaming technology …

Inserting and removing socketed electronic assemblies had, until then, been an activity reserved for trained technicians, engineers, and military personnel. Taking a sensitive circuit board and putting it into the hands of a consumer—who might be prone to stepping on it, dunking it in the toilet, or leaving it baking in the sun—posed a considerable design challenge. Obviously, the board needed a protective shell of some kind.

Talesfore zeroed in immediately on the familiar form of the 8-track tape cartridge, an audio recording format which gained significant traction in the 1970s through its use in car audio systems. Relatively rugged, easy to insert and remove with one hand, and vibration-resistant, the 8-track tape proliferated where the comparatively delicate vinyl record feared to tread. He chose a shape and size for his new game cartridge enclosure that closely matched the 8-track tape standard. Then he added ribbing around the edges for improved grip, and selected a bright yellow plastic color to make a statement. Cartridges were the true star of the show, he figured, so they deserved to stand out.

January 3, 2015
[fails] 11 Spectacular 3D Printer Failures‘Just because you have a 3D printer doesn’t mean you’re going to make anything remarkable. It doesn’t even mean you’re going to wind up with what you set out to produce. Believe it or not, 3D printing requires some skill. And when you don’t have it, things go delightfully askew.’
December 2, 2014
[religion] God’s Lonely Programmer … fascinating story of a man who has crafted his own computer operating system inspired by God‘ The words pour out on TempleOS.org, a torrent of verified random numbers, news links, YouTube videos, and scriptural exegesis. It’s the dense work of a single, restless mind writing ceaselessly without an audience. After two months of emails and phone conversations, I know more than when I began; specifically, I’ve accumulated more raw data, more facts about his life and experience. But I suspect I’ve only sketched a shadow. The full reality remains unreachable, an irreducible mystery.’
November 27, 2014
[war] A new report shows nuclear weapons almost detonated in North Carolina in 1961 … Eric Schlosser discusses various nuclear weapon accidents …

The Goldsboro bomb that almost detonated was known as Weapon No. 1. As the plane was spinning and breaking apart, the centrifugal forces pulled a lanyard in the cockpit–and that lanyard was what a crew member would manually pull during wartime to release the bomb. This hydrogen bomb was a machine, a dumb object. It had no idea whether the lanyard was being pulled by a person or by a centrifugal force. Once the lanyard was pulled, the weapon just behaved like it was designed to.

The bomb went through all of its arming steps except for one, and a single switch prevented a full-scale nuclear detonation. That type of switch was later found to be defective. It had failed in dozens of other cases, allowing weapons to be inadvertently armed. And that safety switch could have very easily been circumvented by stray electricity in the B-52 as it was breaking apart. As Secretary of Defense McNamara said, “By the slightest margin of chance, literally the failure of two wires to cross, a nuclear explosion was averted.” That’s literally correct, a short circuit could’ve fully armed the bomb.

November 1, 2014
[tech] 100 Technical Things Non-Technical People Can Learn To Make Their Lives Easier‘PDFs are Portable Documents. They are made by Adobe and work pretty much everywhere. This is a good format for Resumes. You can often Save As your document and create a PDF. Also, note that PDFs are almost always considered read-only. Word has doc files and newer docx files. When working with a group, select a format that is common to everyone’s version of Word. Some folks may have old versions!’

Page 1 of 612345...Last »