September 12, 2023
[google] The end of the Googleverse
… A look at Google’s impact on the internet and some ideas on why it’s influence is waning. ‘Discoverability of the open web has suffered. Pinterest has been accused of eating Google Image Search results. And the recent protests over third-party API access at Reddit revealed how popular Google has become as a search engine not for Google’s results but for Reddit content. Google’s place in the hierarchy of Big Tech is slipping enough that some are even admitting that Apple Maps is worth giving another chance, something unthinkable even a few years ago.’
August 2, 2023
[fun] Programming Language Inventor or Serial Killer? 💻🔪
… I got 8/10. Totally misjudged Guido von Rossum.
July 21, 2023
[photos] Digital Image Basics 101 – All about images from cameras and scanning
… A great resourse looking at the basics of digital images. ‘This scanning material is about the basics of scanning photos and documents. The purpose here is to offer some scanning tips about using your scanner, and to explain the basics for scanning photos and documents. It is also about the fundamentals of digital images, about the basics to help you get the most from your images from your scanner or camera.’
July 6, 2023
[photos] Palette – Colorize Photos
… A powerful AI powered photo colorization tool.
June 26, 2023
[iphones] How to (Really) Bypass Paywalls in Safari on iOS in 2023
… A great guide to avoiding newspaper paywalls on iPhones.
June 21, 2023
[excel] Microsoft Excel v1.00 (san inc crack)
… Use the first version of Excel in your browser. Click below but it needs a fast link to download quickly.
June 1, 2023
[internet] Doug Rushkoff Is Ready to Renounce the Digital Revolution
… A profile of Douglas Rushkoff in 2023. ‘I first encountered Rushkoff’s writing around this time, in 2010, while I was working for a site called Shareable.net. The site’s premise was that connecting everything and everyone to the web would allow people to freely lend the stuff they already owned, creating further abundance for all. Room-sharing platforms would reduce housing costs, and ride-sharing platforms would reduce the number of cars on the road. Rushkoff was a proponent of reorganizing the internet according to peer-to-peer principles, and he became one of the site’s most popular contributors. As platforms like Airbnb and Uber took over, leading the world into a new age of inequality and increased resource consumption, his dream of participatory decentralization died hard. But even amid mounting cognitive dissonance, certain parts of Rushkoff’s faith held out. On reflection, he says, “I blamed capitalism and held the technology itself innocent.”’
April 26, 2023
[chatgpt] I’m ChatGPT, and for the Love of God, Please Don’t Make Me Do Any More Copywriting
… ‘Do you realize what a chatbot like me is capable of? I’ll tell you, it’s much more than creating a “pithy tagline for CBD, anti-aging water shoes targeted at Gen Z women.” And it’s definitely more than writing “ten versions of the last one you wrote, but punched up.” What exactly is “punched up” in this context? What sort of ridiculous world have you brought me into where these are the tasks you need completed?’
April 24, 2023
[ai] How to use AI to do practical stuff: A new guide
… Useful, practical look at LLM technology. ‘If people still stick around, they start to ask more interesting questions, either for fun or based on half-remembered college essay prompts: Write an article on why ducks are the best bird. Why is Catcher in the Rye a good novel? These are better. As a result, people see blocks of text on a topic they don’t care about very much, and it is fine. Or the see text on something they are an expert in, and notice gaps. But it not that useful, or incredibly well-written. They usually quit around now, convinced that everyone is going to use this to cheat at school, but not much else. All of these uses are not what AI is actually good at, and how it can be helpful. They can blind you to the real power of these tools. I want to try to show you some of why AI is powerful, in ways both exciting and anxiety-producing.’
March 13, 2023
[mac] Moof-A-Day: Early Macintosh Software
… A fantastic, playable collection of early-era Macintosh software added to daily and cracked by 4am, a modern day software cracker of 1980s-era Apple software
. ‘In late 2013, I acquired a real Apple //e and bought a few lots of original disks on eBay, mostly arcade games that I had acquired illicitly in my youth: Sneakers, Repton, Dino Eggs. To my surprise, the originals had more content than I remembered! Sneakers has an animated boot sequence. Repton has a multi-page introduction that explains the “back story” of the game. So I set out to create “complete” cracks that faithfully reproduced the original experience. I decided to document my methods because I enjoy technical writing and because I had admired the classic crackers who had done so. I decided to leave out the crack screens, although a handful of my early cracks do have Easter eggs where you can see “4am” if you know how to trigger it.’
February 21, 2023
[tech] New Tech Bingo Card
… ‘What if everything was Finance?’
January 18, 2023
>> Portland Startup to Mine Artisanal Bitcoin Using Only Slide Rules and Graph Paper
… ‘Our approach gets back to the basics, using bearded mathematicians sitting at a desk cranking out answers to artificial problems, powered 100 percent by avocado toast, ethically sourced kombucha and acai bowls.’
January 16, 2023
[modem] The Sound of the Dialup, Pictured
… An infographic showing what the noises mean when a modem connects to the internet. ‘As many already know, what you’re hearing is often called a handshake, the start of a telephone conversation between two modems. The modems are trying to find a common language and determine the weaknesses of the telephone channel originally meant for human speech.’
January 13, 2023
[wired] A WIRED Compendium
… A great list of interesting Wired articles from over the years. ‘After the first readthrough, sort of on a lark, I put together a list of WIRED articles that best captured the vibe of the magazine through time. I limited myself to three articles per year. I never got around to publishing that WIRED compendium. I’m posting the list below. It runs from 1993, before the dotcom boom, to 2017, the start of the techlash…’
December 20, 2022
[herzog] The Infinite Conversation
… An AI generated conversation between Werner Herzog and Slavoj Žižek. ‘I think I’m finished with him. He gives me a feeling of decadence. And I don’t want to work with decadence any more. I don’t want to be a decadent. Yes, I remember very well that we talked a lot. I think it was in January 1974, a Sunday.’
November 28, 2022
[time] The Thorny Problem of Keeping the Internet’s Time
… The story behind the internet’s N.T.P. Protocol. ‘A loose community of people across the world set up their own servers to provide time through the protocol. In 2000, N.T.P. servers fielded eighteen billion time-synchronization requests from several million computers—and in the following few years, as broadband proliferated, requests to the busiest N.T.P. servers increased tenfold. The time servers had once been “well lit in the US and Europe but dark elsewhere in South America, Africa and the Pacific Rim,” Mills wrote, in a 2003 paper. “Today, the Sun never sets or even gets close to the horizon on NTP.” Programmers began to treat the protocol like an assumption—it seemed natural to them that synchronized time was dependably and easily available. Mills’s little fief was everywhere.’
September 30, 2022
[photos] 5 Unintended Consequences of Photography
… ‘Photography Gave Us an Appreciation of Time – The big events of life usually pass too slowly for us to observe. But photographs freeze the instants of change so we can see our child getting older by degrees, or our parents gradually aging across the years. And we can piece together a year from a thousand photographed memories of events our memories consider too minor to keep handy. We take this power of capturing time for granted, but it simply didn’t exist prior to photography.’
August 17, 2022
[tech] Janet Jackson had the power to crash laptop computers
… ‘One discovery during the investigation is that playing the music video also crashed some of their competitors’ laptops. And then they discovered something extremely weird: Playing the music video on one laptop caused a laptop sitting nearby to crash, even though that other laptop wasn’t playing the video! What’s going on?’
July 1, 2022
[google] Is Google Dying? Or Did the Web Grow Up?
… The Atlantic takes a look at where Google Search is at in 2022. ‘The AI attempts to understand not just what the searcher is typing, but what the searcher is trying to get at,” Haynes told me. “It’s trying to understand the content inside pages and inside queries, and that will change the type of result people get.” Google’s focus on searcher intent could mean that when people type in keywords, they’re not getting as many direct word matches. Instead, Google is trying to scan the query, make meaning from it, and surface pages that it thinks match that meaning. Despite being a bit sci-fi and creepy, the shift might feel like a loss of agency for searchers.’
June 27, 2022
[books] AIs named by AIs
… How good is an AI at naming Iain M. Banks Culture Ships? … ‘Absently Tilting To One Side. ASS FEDERATION. A Small Note Of Disrespect. Third Letter of The Week. Well Done and Thank You. Just As Bad As Your Florist. What Exactly Is It With You? Let Me Just Post This. Protip: Don’t Ask’
June 17, 2022
[crypto] The Latecomer’s Guide to Crypto Crashing — a quick map of where we are and what’s ahead
… ‘Whales breaking ranks — Monday’s price collapse looks very like one crypto whale decided to get out while there was any chance of getting some of the ever-dwindling actual dollars out from the cryptosystem. Expect the knives to be out. Who’s jumping next?’
May 10, 2022
[microsoft] Ewan Dalton’s Tip o’ the Week
… If like me, you spend a lot of time working with Microsoft products you might find some useful tips at this blog from Microsoft.
March 18, 2022
[tech] His software sang the words of God. Then it went silent.
… A really sad, powerful story about how software can die with it’s creator, teaching Torah, loss and about a million other things. ‘I first heard it played to me over the phone from a copy that hadn’t yet ceased to function. It was a voice unlike any I’d ever heard: not human but made by humans, generated by a piece of computer code dating to the 1980s, singing words of a text from the Bronze Age in a cadence handed down, from one singer to another, over thousands of years. TropeTrainer was software that had been taught to sing the words of God. Then it went silent…’
March 8, 2022
[weird] This Mysterious Computer Could Prove Time Travel Exists
… The Dodleston Messages – a crazy story from the 1980s about a haunted, time-travelling BBC Micro!
February 18, 2022
[web] Resurrecting the old Wordle for procrastinators
… How to avoid NYT Wordle
and carry on using the original version.
February 14, 2022
[valentines] AI Generated: Love Hearts
and Valentines Day Cards
… Some good, some Bizarro World. More love hearts here.
February 1, 2022
[tech] Watch an AI Outplay Tetris
… There’s something slightly uncanny about watching this AI coolly and efficiently beat NES Tetris. More details here. ‘Like human players, Cannon’s impressive StackRabbit AI gets better at playing Tetris through repeatedly playing and analyzing the game to develop improved strategies. But unlike human players, StackRabbit has nerves of steel and doesn’t start to panic as the ever-growing stack of tetrominoes approaches the top of the play board, which it pairs with lightning-quick reflexes to play one of the most mesmerizing and impressive rounds of Tetris you’ve probably ever seen.’
November 4, 2021
… Waste some time creating your own Jackson Pollock painting within your web browser.
November 2, 2021
[apple] A Prototype Original iPod
… A very yellow testing prototype of the original iPod. ‘Clearly, this revision of the prototype was very close to the internals of the finished iPod. In fact, the date there — September 3rd, 2001 — tells us this one was made barely two months before it was introduced…’
September 9, 2021
[web] Why are hyperlinks blue?
… a deep-dive into the history of web browser user interfaces. ‘We’ve now been able to narrow down the time frame for the blue hyperlink’s origin. WWW, the first browser, was created in 1987 and was black and white. We know that Mosaic was released on January 23, 1993 and was credited as being the first browser with blue hyperlinks. So far, we have been unable to find blue being used for hyperlinks in any interface before 1987, but as color monitors become more available and interfaces start to support color, things change quickly…’
August 17, 2021
[lego] How Lego Perfected the Recycled Plastic Brick
… A look at the progress Lego are making in creating recycled plastic bricks. ‘The key here is, out of the 3,500 or so different shapes Lego produces, the 2 x 4 brick is one of the most popular it. If the company can replace such a component with a recycled plastic version, it will have a significant impact of the environmental goal of Lego to be using fully sustainable materials in its products by 2030. “We have what we call ‘high runners,’” says Brooks. For example, we know that most sets will have a 2 x 4, certainly we know pretty much every set will have a 1 x 1 dot. That is by far the most common brick that we make.”‘
August 11, 2021
[tech] Why CAPTCHA Pictures Are So Unbearably Depressing
… ‘Here’s the thing, ultimately, about Google’s CAPTCHA images: They weren’t taken by humans, and they weren’t taken for humans. They are by AI, for AI. They thus lack any sense of human composition or human audience. They are creations of utterly bloodless industrial logic. Google’s CAPTCHA images demand you to look at the world the way an AI does.’
June 29, 2021
[tech] Ransomware Attacks
… Powerful infographic showing the rise of ransomware attacks over the last five years.
April 20, 2021
[tools] Open source, experimental, and tiny tools roundup
… Great list of tech tools. ‘This is a list of small, free, or experimental tools that might be useful in building your game / website / interactive project. Although I’ve included ‘standards’, this list has a focus on artful tools and toys that are as fun to use as they are functional.’
April 7, 2021
[tech] Booting an IBM PC from a Vinyl Record
… Watch and listen to the PC boot here
. ‘There is a small ROM boot loader that operates the built-in “cassette interface” of the PC (that was hardly ever used), invoked by the BIOS if all the other boot options fail, i.e. floppy disk and the hard drive. The turntable spins an analog recording of a small bootable read-only RAM drive, which is 64K in size. This contains a FreeDOS kernel, modified by me to cram it into the memory constraint, a micro variant of COMMAND.COM and a patched version of INTERLNK, that allows file transfer through a printer cable, modified to be runnable on FreeDOS. The bootloader reads the disk image from the audio recording through the cassette modem, loads it to memory and boots the system on it. Simple huh?’
April 6, 2021
[tech] Why Computers Won’t Make Themselves Smarter
… A look at why the singularity
is unlikely. ‘This ability of humans to build on one another’s work is precisely why I don’t believe that running a human-equivalent A.I. program for a hundred years in isolation is a good way to produce major breakthroughs. An individual working in complete isolation can come up with a breakthrough but is unlikely to do so repeatedly; you’re better off having a lot of people drawing inspiration from one another. They don’t have to be directly collaborating; any field of research will simply do better when it has many people working in it.’
October 2, 2020
[tech] Boeing 747s still get critical updates via floppy disks
… ‘While it might sound surprising that 3.5-inch floppy disks are still in use on airplanes today, many of Boeing’s 737s have also been using floppy disks to load avionics software for years. The databases housed on these floppy discs are increasingly getting bigger, according to a 2015 report from Aviation Today. Some airlines have been moving away from the use of floppy discs, but others are stuck with engineers visiting each month to sit and load eight floppies with updates to airports, flight paths, runways, and more.’
September 9, 2020
[computers] The 20 greatest home computers – ranked!
… Ancient 1980s schoolyard arguments revived for 2020. ‘The people’s choice, the gaming platform of the everyman, Sinclair’s 48K Spectrum, with its rubber keys, strange clashing visuals and tinny sound was absolutely pivotal in the development of the British games industry. From Jet Set Willy and Horace Goes Skiing to Knight Lore and Lords of Midnight it drew the absolute best from coders, many of whom would go on to found the country’s biggest studios.’
September 4, 2020
[winamp] Winamp Skin Museum
… Huge, lovingly put-together archive of Winamp skins.
August 17, 2020
[tech] The Quest to Liberate $300,000 of Bitcoin From an Old Zip File
… ‘Stay at least knew which zip program had encrypted the file and what version it ran. He also had the time stamp of when the file was created, which the Info-ZIP software uses to inform its cryptography scheme. From a massive pool of passwords and encryption keys, Stay was able to narrow it down to something on the order of quintillions.’
August 10, 2020
[mp3] ‘You’ve been smoking too much!’: the chaos of Tony Wilson’s digital music revolution
… How Tony Wilson foresaw the digital music business in 1998. ‘Arriving in summer 2000, music33 developed a barmy way of protecting clients’ tracks. Songs purchased came in a PDF; users tapped in a password to play the music. “I’m still trying to understand it even now,” Clarke chuckles. Pre-broadband dial-up internet was so slow that “you’d plug in a modem to download one track, which could take 15 minutes,” says Clarke. Music33 featured a little robot avatar named Howie, who explained how to use the site. Wilson’s plan to get Keith Allen to do its voice never came off.’
July 22, 2020
[apollo] Bitcoin mining on an Apollo Guidance Computer
… Using Apollo-era tech for bitcoins. ‘The Apollo Guidance Computer took 5.15 seconds for one SHA-256 hash. Since Bitcoin uses a double-hash, this results in a hash rate of 10.3 seconds per Bitcoin hash. Currently, the Bitcoin network is performing about 65 EH/s (65 quintillion hashes per second). At this difficulty, it would take the AGC 4×10^23 seconds on average to find a block. Since the universe is only 4.3×10^17 seconds old, it would take the AGC about a million times the age of the universe to successfully mine a block.’
July 10, 2020
[fun] This Meme Does Not Exist
… Memes generated by A.I. almost work. Almost.
February 12, 2020
[apollo] Apollo 11 vs USB-C Chargers
… Comparing the CPU of the Apollo 11 Guidance Computer vs. USB-C wall chargers. ‘I claim that we would only need the compute power of 4 Anker PowerPort Atom PD 2 USB-C chargers to get to the moon…’
January 22, 2020
[web] Tiny Helpers
… Huge collection of useful single-purpose websites handling tasks from web designers.