linkmachinego.com

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.

Ai Generated Love Hearts

February 2, 2022
[funny] CHMOD 777 and other Systems Administration Writings of Aleister Crowley

CHMOD 777

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.’
January 28, 2022
[tech] A Computer can never be held accountable… (An IBM Slide from 1977.)

A Computer can never be held accountable...

November 4, 2021
[art] Jacksonpollock.org … 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 12, 2021
[windows] What are the cool tools to install for windows? … Reddit discuss Windows apps. Mine are: Notepad++, 7zip and Irfanview.
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.

Speccy Winamp Skin

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.

AI Generated Meme

February 20, 2020
[web] How to Deal with Running Out of iCloud, Google, and Dropbox Space … Useful guide to saving space and money with Cloud apps.
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.
January 7, 2020
[tech] How the Death of iTunes Explains the 2010s … Some thoughts on how tech trends in the 2010s turned us all into digital hoarders. ‘A friend compared looking at a smartphone home screen to looking at the messiest closet in someone’s house. “I would never ask to see either of them,” she said. But trying to organize your phone (or computer) is like trying to organize a closet that can always get larger. Now there’s essentially no hard limit on what you can store on a personal device, be it phone or computer—since 2010, the cost of a gigabyte of hard-drive space has fallen from 10 cents to 1 cent. Why spend your one wild and precious life organizing app icons on a home screen? Why throw out books when you can always buy a new bookshelf?’
December 6, 2019
[politics] Uncovered: reality of how smartphones turned election news into chaos … Interesting attempt to study how Social Media influences election news. ‘Several participants were observed sharing articles on Facebook without clicking the links, and excitedly diving into comment sections for an argument before looking at the articles. Most showed a tendency to read news that confirmed their existing views. Some behaviours were more surprising, hinting we may be becoming a nation of trolls. One 22-year-old Conservative-voting woman was observed going out of her way to read reputable mainstream news sources so she had a balanced understanding of Labour policies. But she would then seek out provocative far-right blog posts to share on Facebook because their headlines would anger her leftwing friends and create online drama.’
November 22, 2019
[funny] Ballad of a WiFi Hero… Animated adaption of the Mike Lacher’s McSweeney’s article. ‘And at last the warrior arrived at the Router. It was a dusty black box with an array of shimmering green lights, blinking on and off, as if to taunt him to come any further. The warrior swiftly maneuvered to the rear of the router and verified what he had feared, what he had heard whispered in his ear from spirits beyond: all the cords were securely in place. The warrior closed his eyes, summoning the power of his ancestors, long departed but watchful still. And then with the echoing beep of his digital watch, he moved with deadly speed, wrapping his battle-hardened hands around the power cord at the back of the Router.’

October 24, 2019
[email] Was E-mail a Mistake? … A good look at synchronous Vs. asynchronous communications. ‘The dream of replacing the quick phone call with an even quicker e-mail message didn’t come to fruition; instead, what once could have been resolved in a few minutes on the phone now takes a dozen back-and-forth messages to sort out. With larger groups of people, this increased complexity becomes even more notable. Is an unresponsive colleague just delayed, or is she completely checked out? When has consensus been reached in a group e-mail exchange? Are you, the e-mail recipient, required to respond, or can you stay silent without holding up the decision-making process? Was your point properly understood, or do you now need to clarify with a follow-up message? Office workers pondering these puzzles—the real-life analogues of the theory of distributed systems—now dedicate an increasing amount of time to managing a growing number of never-ending interactions.’
October 18, 2019
[code] The lines of code that changed everything … A list of software that changed the world. ‘The Apollo 11 Lunar Module’s BAILOUT Code – The [Apollo Guidance Computer] software team knew there were eventualities they couldn’t plan for. So they created BAILOUT. When the computer was at risk of running out of space (or “overflow”), the AGC triggered BAILOUT to schedule less important data and operations so it could keep the vital ones up and running. As the Eagle lander descended toward the moon’s surface, at 30,000 feet the AGC flashed a “1202” alarm, which neither Neil Armstrong nor the flight controller in Houston immediately recognized. But in less than 30 seconds, the computer experts in Mission Control relayed that the AGC software was doing just what it was supposed to: drop lower-priority work and restart the important jobs (so quickly that it was imperceptible to the crew).’
October 11, 2019
[unix] Ken Thompson’s Unix password … Cracking passwords from late 1970s. ‘However, kens password eluded my cracking endeavor. Even an exhaustive search over all lower-case letters and digits took several days (back in 2014) and yielded no result. Since the algorithm was developed by Ken Thompson and Robert Morris, I wondered what’s up there. I also realized, that, compared to other password hashing schemes (such as NTLM), crypt(3) turns out to be quite a bit slower to crack (and perhaps was also less optimized).Did he really use uppercase letters or even special chars? (A 7-bit exhaustive search would still take over 2 years on a modern GPU.)’
October 8, 2019
[mac] Thoughts on (and pics of) the original Macintosh User Manual … I never realised that the target market for the original Macintosh was Patrick Bateman. ‘Perhaps the strangest sentence: “The Finder is like a central hallway in the Macintosh house.”And the disk is a… guest? Someone looking for the bathroom?’

Pages from the Original Mac User Manual

September 26, 2019
[tech] Moore’s Law graphed vs real CPUs & GPUs 1965 – 2019 … Nicely done visualisation. [via jwz]
September 19, 2019
[emoji] 📙 Emojipedia — 😃 … for all your Emoji needs. ‘😱 Face Screaming in Fear 😱’
September 5, 2019
[sealand] A Visit to Sealand, the World’s Tiniest Nation … The bizarre creation story of the micronation of Sealand along with more recent history. ‘As we finished one last cup of tea in the kitchen, Michael grinned. He seemed as proud of the convoluted story behind his family’s bizarre creation as he was of Sealand’s resilience. Taking advantage of a gap in international law, Sealand had grown old while other attempts at seasteads never made it far beyond what-if imaginings. The Bates family was certainly daring, but the secret to Sealand’s survival was its limited aspirations. It had no territorial ambitions; it wasn’t seeking to create a grand caliphate. In the view of its powerful neighbors, Sealand was merely a rusty kingdom, easier to ignore than to eradicate.’
September 3, 2019
[internet] Go Look: Usage Share of Internet Browsers 1996 – 2019 … A fascinating infoviz – mainly because it neatly illustrates Internet Explorer’s total domination of browser share for much of the early 2000s and later the rise of Chrome.
August 6, 2019
[tech] Future Historians Probably Won’t Understand Our Internet … A look at the difficulty of archiving Social Media. ‘If you want to understand how WordPerfect, an old word processor, functioned, then you just need that software and some way of running it. But if you want to document the experience of using Facebook five years ago or even two weeks ago … how do you do it? The truth is, right now, you can’t. No one (outside Facebook, at least) has preserved the functioning of the application. And worse, there is no thing that can be squirreled away for future historians to figure out.’
July 19, 2019
[apollo] The Underappreciated Power of the Apollo Computer … Alexis Madrigal on the Apollo Guidance Computer. ‘To maximize the built-in architecture, Hamilton and her colleagues came up with what they named “The Interpreter”—we’d now call it a virtualization scheme. It allowed them to run five to seven virtual machines simultaneously in two kilobytes of memory. It was terribly slow, but “now you have all the capabilities you ever dreamed of, in software,” O’Brien said.’
July 15, 2019
[windows] Why did moving the mouse cursor cause Windows 95 to run more quickly? … Or, How to make programs install faster on Windows 95 – This isn’t very useful these days! ‘For reasons that are not entirely clear, but probably due to performance problems on low end machines, Windows 95 tends to bundle up the messages about I/O completion and doesn’t immediately wake up the application to service them. However, it does wake the application for user input, presumably to keep it feeling responsive, and when the application is awake it will handle any pending I/O messages too. Thus wiggling the mouse causes the application to process I/O messages faster, and install quicker.’
July 5, 2019
[tech] How to speak Silicon Valley: 53 essential tech-bro terms explained‘Revolutionize (v) – To change something that does not need to be changed in order to charge money for its replacement.’
June 14, 2019
[tech] What It’s Like to Work on a 30-Year-Old Macintosh … Ian Bogost on the joy of using old Tech. ‘On my modern MacBook Pro, a million things are happening at once. Mail retrieves email, sounding regular dings as it arrives. Dispatches fire off, too, in Messages, in Skype, in Slack. Attention-seeking ads flash in the background of web pages, while nagging reminders of Microsoft Office updates bounce in the dock. News notifications spurt out from the screen’s edge, along with every other manner of notices about what’s happening on and off the machine. Computing is a Times Square of urge and stimulus. By contrast, the Macintosh SE just can’t do much. It boots to a simple file manager, where I face but a few windows and menu options. I can manage files, configure the interface, or run programs. It feels quiet here, despite the whirring noise.’
June 4, 2019
[tech] Science less than a decade away from fully operational printer‘Professor Henry Brubaker, of the Institute for Studies, said: “If printer design continues to advance at the current rate, it’s likely we’ll see a machine that isn’t fundamentally incompatible with plain white A4 paper by the year 2029. “Then we’re just a few years away from something that isn’t a shit-sucking bastard fucker with the sheer brass balls to describe itself as a printer.”’
May 30, 2019
[tech] What I Learned Trying To Secure Congressional Campaigns … Maciej Cegłowski looks at how to improve tech security on high-risk political campaigns. ‘We told people to use Signal, iPhones/iPads, Google docs, and to buy the blue Yubikey. If any of that posed a problem, we found other products to recommend. The goal was not to score those sweet affilliate sales, but to remove decision points and cognitive overhead by standardizing on a known good set of products.’
May 24, 2019
[internet] Why People Fake Cancer Online … A look at why people fake illness on the Internet. ‘This condition of faking illness online has a name: “Munchausen by internet,” or MBI. It’s a form of factitious disorder, the mental disorder formerly known as Munchausen syndrome, in which people feign illness or actually make themselves sick for sympathy and attention. According to Marc Feldman, the psychiatrist at the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa who coined the term MBI back in 2000, people with the condition are often motivated to lie by a need to control the reactions of others, particularly if they feel out of control in their own lives. He believes that the veil of the internet makes MBI much more common among Americans than the 1 percent in hospitals who are estimated to have factitious disorder.’
April 30, 2019
[tech] Death by PowerPoint: the slide that killed seven people … How Microsoft PowerPoint contributed to the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster. ‘Typing text on a screen and reading it out loud does not count as teaching. An audience reading text off the screen does not count as learning. Imagine if the engineers had put up a slide with just: “foam strike more than 600 times bigger than test data.” Maybe NASA would have listened. Maybe they wouldn’t have attempted re-entry. ‘
April 26, 2019
[tech] Illustrations of Imaginary Cyberpunk Gadgets … by E Wo Kaku Peter. Below is a portable anti-vampire kit.

April 25, 2019
[favicon] Tiny Mirror … a webpage that uses your webcam to create a tiny image within it’s favicon.