The March Of Technology

Mythopoeika

I am a meat popsicle
Joined
Sep 18, 2001
Messages
42,186
Reaction score
32,385
Points
309
Location
Inside a starship, watching puny humans from afar
That kitchen is an amazing concept. It'll never happen - it's all very well modelling this whole thing on a computer (it's the cooking equivalent of touchscreen technology), but actually creating the technology that does this is another thing.
They'd have to create new materials that behave like liquid metal, and every inch of the work surface would be packed with electronics.
I can imagine a few users burning their hands on a regular basis...
 

rynner2

Gone But Not Forgotten
(ACCOUNT RETIRED)
Joined
Aug 7, 2001
Messages
55,248
Reaction score
9,087
Points
284
World's first battery fuelled by air
The world's first battery fuelled by air - with 10 times the storage capacity of conventional cells - has been unveiled.
Published: 8:19AM BST 20 May 2009

Scientists say the revolutionary 'STAIR' (St Andrews Air) battery could now pave the way for a new generation of electric cars, laptops and mobile phones.

The cells are charged in a traditional way but as power is used or 'discharged' an open mesh section of battery draws in oxygen from the surrounding air.

This oxygen reacts with a porous carbon component inside the battery, which creates more energy and helps to continually 'charge' the cell as it is being discharged.

By replacing the traditional chemical constituent, lithium cobalt oxide, with porous carbon and oxygen drawn from the air, the cell is much lighter than current batteries.

And as the cycle of air helps re-charge the battery as it is used, it has a greater storage capacity than other similar-sized cells and can emit power up to 10 times longer.

Professor Peter Bruce of the Chemistry Department at the University of St Andrews, said: "The benefits are it's much smaller and lighter so better for transporting small applications.

"The size is also crucial for anyone trying to develop electric cars as they want to keep weight down as much as possible.

"Storage is also important in the development of green power. You need to store electricity because wind and solar power is intermittent."


http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/scie ... y-air.html
 

rynner2

Gone But Not Forgotten
(ACCOUNT RETIRED)
Joined
Aug 7, 2001
Messages
55,248
Reaction score
9,087
Points
284
Hard drive evolution could hit Microsoft XP users
By Mark Ward
technology correspondent, BBC News

Hard drives are about to undergo one of the biggest format shifts in 30 years.

By early 2011 all hard drives will use an "advanced format" that changes how they go about saving the data people store on them.

The move to the advanced format will make it easier for hard drive makers to produce bigger drives that use less power and are more reliable.

However, it might mean problems for Windows XP users who swap an old drive for one using the changed format.

Since the days of the venerable DOS operating system, the space on a hard drive has been formatted into blocks 512 bytes in size.

The 512 byte sector became standardised thanks to IBM which used it on floppy disks.

While 512 bytes was useful when hard drives were only a few megabytes in size, it makes less sense when drives can hold a terabyte (1000 gigabytes), or more of data.

"The technology has changed but that fundamental building block of formatting has not," said David Burks, a product marketing manager for storage firm Seagate.

This fine resolution on hard drives is causing a problem, he said, because of the wasted space associated with each tiny block.

Each 512 byte sector has a marker showing where it begins and an area dedicated to storing error correction codes. In addition a tiny gap has to be left between each sector. In large drives this wasted space where data cannot be stored can take up a significant proportion of the drive.

Moving to an advanced format of 4K sectors means about eight times less wasted space but will allow drives to devote twice as much space per block to error correction.

"You can get yourself into a corner where you cannot squeeze much more onto the disk," said Steve Perkins, a technical consultant for Western Digital.

This shift also allows manufacturers to make more efficient use of the real estate on a hard drive.

"We can put more data on the disk," he said. "It's about 7-11% more efficient as a format."

etc...

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/8557144.stm

I'll be happy if my XP powered machine lasts until 2011!
 

rynner2

Gone But Not Forgotten
(ACCOUNT RETIRED)
Joined
Aug 7, 2001
Messages
55,248
Reaction score
9,087
Points
284
This is interesting - technological research seems to have discovered a new area of science:

Nanometre 'fuses' for high-performance batteries

Minuscule tubes coated with a chemical fuel can act as a power source with 100 times more electrical power by weight than conventional batteries.

As these nano-scale "fuses" burn, they drive an electrical current along their length at staggering speeds.

The never-before-seen phenomenon could lead to a raft of energy applications.

Researchers reporting in Nature Materials say that unlike normal batteries, the nanotubes never lose their stored energy if left to sit.

The team, led by Michael Strano of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, coated their nanotubes - cylinders just billionths of a metre across - with a chemical fuel known as cyclotrimethylene trinitramine.

"One property that nanotubes have is that they conduct heat very, very well along their length, up to a hundred times faster than in metals," Dr Strano told BBC News.

"We asked what would happen if you perform a chemical reaction near one of these, and the first thing we found is the nanotube will guide the reaction, accelerating it up to 10,000 times."

The team used a laser or an electric spark to set off the reaction in a bundle of coated carbon nanotubes, filming the results using a high-speed camera.

But they also found that, through a mechanism that is still poorly understood, the process creates a useful voltage - a phenomenon they have dubbed "thermopower waves".

Their nanotube bundles carry, gram for gram, up to 100 times as much energy as a standard lithium-ion battery.

Since just a tiny amount of energy is needed to start the reaction before it becomes self-sustaining, Dr Strano says it could be initiated in a small device with the energy in the push of a finger.

And unlike standard batteries, the stored energy would not leak away over time, and requires none of the toxic, non-renewable metals in many batteries.

The current implementation is for a one-time use, but Dr Strano says he believes the approach could be adapted to a system in which the fuel is doused over the nanotubes after the initial fuel supply is burned and converted into electrical energy.

"I'm interested in the fuel cell concept," he said. "The conventional fuel cell has been around since the 1800s but corrosive fuels, catalytic deactivation and complexity have been a hurdle.

"From an engineering standpoint, thermopower waves could be a very simple alternative."

For the team, however, the first task is to understand just what is going on in the nanotubes, whose mechanical and electrical properties continue to surprise researchers in a number of fields.

"What we've discovered is more than just a replacement for batteries," Dr Strano said.

"To our knowledge, it's a new scientific area for research. There are many, many questions about these waves: what their limits are what the applications might be."

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/8556656.stm
 

rynner2

Gone But Not Forgotten
(ACCOUNT RETIRED)
Joined
Aug 7, 2001
Messages
55,248
Reaction score
9,087
Points
284
Popular Science archive now on Google Books
The 137-year-old magazine has put all its back numbers online, including articles by Darwin, Pasteur – and predictions of orbiting space-hotels
Robin McKie The Observer, Sunday 14 March 2010

It has a list of authors that would make a publisher's eyes water and includes Charles Darwin, Thomas Huxley, Louis Pasteur and Thomas Edison. They are all great scientists, and all writers who have put their names to articles that have appeared not in dry academic journals such as Nature but in Popular Science, a mass-market American guide to science, new inventions and wacky gadgets.

This strange mixture has been newly revealed to British readers, because every issue of the 137-year old monthly magazine (now published in 30 languages in more than 40 countries) has just been made available through Google Books. Thus you can now log on and peer into the past and note not just the occasional article by distinguished scientists, or frequent features on the fledgling subject of personal computers, but observe how journalists predicted the shape of things to come: the monorail trains that would criss-cross the planet, the planes that would replace cars as our chosen means of personal transport, and of course, the obligatory space station and orbiting hotel that would be flying round the planet before the end of the 20th century. "Will space travel lengthen your life?" the magazine asked in 1957.

This formula has proved startlingly successful: a mix of occasional erudition, large chunks of practical advice for techies and the odd splurge of scientific forecasting, all clearly written and imaginatively packaged. The magazine covers frequently invoke nostalgia for a time when we were more optimistic about science's bounty.

Even so, this month's issue exemplifies the Popular Science mix perfectly: a guide to building earthquake-proof airports, a feature on transgenic, muscle-bound trout and the story of Per Segerbäck, the man who lives in a remote Swedish nature reserve – because he is allergic to electromagnetic radiation and an urban environment would kill him. Classic. See more at www.popsci.com

http://www.guardian.co.uk/theobserver/2 ... ooks-mckie
 

rynner2

Gone But Not Forgotten
(ACCOUNT RETIRED)
Joined
Aug 7, 2001
Messages
55,248
Reaction score
9,087
Points
284
Meet Marty Cooper - the inventor of the mobile phone

Martin Cooper may not be a household name, but his invention is familiar to more than half the planet's population who own a mobile phone.

The concept of a handheld phone was his brainchild, and with the help of his Motorola team, the first handset was born in 1973 weighing in at two kilos.

When he stood on a New York street and made the first phone call from a prototype cellular phone, he could not have conceived how successful it would become.

Now a worldwide telecoms industry has sprung up along with a vast array of technologies developed for mobile phones.

He told Click that producing the first phone cost Motorola the equivalent of $1m (£650,000) in today's money.

"We had to virtually shut down all engineering at our company and have everybody working on the phone and the infrastructure to make the thing work," he said.

"Even by 1983, a portable handheld cellular telephone cost $4,000 (£2,600), which would be the equivalent of more than $10,000 (£6,500) today." :shock:

Mr Cooper said his team faced the challenge of squeezing thousands of parts into a phone for the first time.

"The industrial designers did a superb job, but by the time the engineers got done we ended up with two and a half pounds.

"A very substantial part of that first phone was in fact battery which weighed four or five times more than an entire cellphone now," he said.

"The battery lifetime was 20 minutes, but that wasn't really a big problem because you couldn't hold that phone up for that long." :D

After the phone's production, the bigger obstacle became adapting the small infrastructure, used for car phones at the time, to support mobile phone calls.

"The challenge was create the network with the promise at that time that we only needed three megahertz of spectrum, the equivalent of five TV channels to cover the world.

He and his team hoped one day one day everyone would have their own handset.

"In fact we had a joke that said 'in the future, when you were born you would be assigned a telephone number and if you didn't answer the phone, you were dead'. :D

"We had no idea that in as little as 35 years more than half the people on Earth would have cellular telephones, and they give the phones away to people for nothing."

Handheld phones were originally produced to help doctors and hospital staff improve their communications.

He hoped the devices would help bring safety and freedom to people, but the eventual social implications were beyond his understanding almost four decades ago.

"We had no idea that things like Facebook and Twitter, and all these other concepts, would ever happen."

etc...

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/c ... 639590.stm
 

rynner2

Gone But Not Forgotten
(ACCOUNT RETIRED)
Joined
Aug 7, 2001
Messages
55,248
Reaction score
9,087
Points
284
Floppy disk finally killed off by Sony
The floppy disk, which has been around since the early days of home computing, is finally being killed off by Sony.
By Harry Wallop, Consumer Affairs Editor
Published: 2:37PM BST 26 Apr 2010

The Japanese electronics manufacturer, which last year sold well over 12 million of the devices, has announced it will stop making floppy disks next year, leaving no serious manufacturer in the market place.

The decision is the final nail in the coffin for floppies, which since they were first developed in 1971 have helped consumers store documents, pictures and data on an easy to use format.

However, in recent years, the limited storage on most floppies compared with how much data can be stored on a CD or a USB memory stick has meant they have become increasingly obsolete.

The most recent floppy disks have a maximum storage capacity of 2 megabytes though most had less. This compared with the 4 or even 8 gigabytes consumers can now buy on a standard USB stick – 2,000 or 4,000 times the size of the largest floppy.

Kat Hannaford, contributing editor of Gizmodo, the technology website, said: "It's amazing to think anyone still uses them, but they are popular still in Japan and India.

"The last time I used one was when I was at school."

There were 12 million sold in Japan last year. Though this amounts one for every four households in Japan, the combined storage capacity of all these disks, most of which had not much more than 1MB capacity, totalled just 17 terabytes of data.

"This is the equivalent of just a handful of hard drives, added together. You can even buy half a terabyte on a USB memory stick," said Miss Hannaford.

Though floppy disks, when IBM first developed them in 1971, were indeed flexible squares of thin 8 inch plastic, they soon become smaller and less breakable. The most recent generation were 3.5 inches wide.

By 1996, there were an estimated 5 billion floppy disks in use thanks to the fact that most computer programmes up to this point were installed and backed up on these devices.

The development of DVD drives in computers, allowing consumers to back up their photographs or data on CDs meant floppies days have been numbered over the last decade. USB sockets have also allowed people to store and swap data on memory sticks far more easily.

In 2003, Dell said it would no longer include floppy drives on their home computers as standard. And three years ago PC World said only 2 per cent of the computers it sold contained a built-in floppy disk drive and that it was phasing out selling floppies.

It is still possible to buy floppies in Britain from Dabs.com, the electronics website, which sells packs of ten Sony 1.44MB disks for IBM computers for £2.37. As much as 7 per cent of all blank media sold on the website – including cassettes, DVDs or CDs – were still floppies in the 12 last months.

A spokesman for Sony in Britain said: “Due to dwindling demand, Sony discontinued European production of 3.5 inch floppy disks in September 2009. The last European sale of a floppy disk took place in March 2010.”

Floppy disks will continue in popular culture thanks to them being used to illustrate the "save" icon in most computer programmes. How long will it be before a company decides to use a picture of a USB stick instead?

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/s ... -Sony.html

My computer (a few years old now) has no floppy drive. Last year I found an old floppy disc which held data I wanted to recover: the local computer shop was unable to sell me an external floppy reader, but they did find one they allowed me to borrow. I was able to recover all but one of the files on the floppy that way.
 

rynner2

Gone But Not Forgotten
(ACCOUNT RETIRED)
Joined
Aug 7, 2001
Messages
55,248
Reaction score
9,087
Points
284
rynner2 said:
Are the days of the checkout worker numbered? Tesco pioneers first ever self-service only shop
By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 4:32 PM on 21st October 2009

Tesco sounded the death knell for checkout workers today after opening Britain's first entirely self-service shop.
Oh no! Shoppers face yet more self-scan tills
By Sean Poulter
Last updated at 10:42 AM on 30th April 2010

You might think it would be simple. Scan your item, watch it appear on the screen, place it in your bag and pay.
But if you’ve ever tried to use a supermarket self checkout, you’ll know how often the experience ends in a frustrating wait while an assistant comes to help.
Yesterday, however, Sainsbury’s said it will forge ahead with replacing hundreds more of its manned checkouts with the new-style terminals. And it insists the move will mean more choice and fewer queues.

The supermarket is not abandoning manned tills, but it is to replace a significant number with the self- scan terminals in 330 stores.

‘I hate the tills now and would never use them again after being accused of shoplifting when in fact the machine did not scan one item’
This is in addition to the 240 stores which already have the tills. Other supermarkets are also increasing their use of the technology.
The idea is that shoppers who are buying only a few items can self- scan rather than queue for a normal till.

However, many shoppers, particularly older ones, appreciate the convenience of a manned checkout where staff can help them pack and deal with price queries.
Asda admits on its website that the self-scan tills can cause problems. It states: ‘A lot of customers are put off giving them a try as they’re not sure how they work. Others get frustrated by things going wrong.’

Dealing with fresh fruit and vegetables can be difficult. Customers have to use a touchscreen to identify the product and place it on a weighing platform to ensure they pay the right price.

And items such as razor blades and DVDs are locked inside secure cases which have to be removed by staff before they can be scanned.
Internet chatrooms have picked up worries ranging from being irritated by the loud till ‘voice’ commands to being overcharged when an item was mistakenly scanned twice.

etc...

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article ... z0ma2QTNwD

My impression is that the queues are longer when these machines are used. :evil:
 

linesmachine

Gone But Not Forgotten
(ACCOUNT RETIRED)
Joined
Aug 23, 2003
Messages
916
Reaction score
34
Points
49
rynner2 said:
rynner2 said:
[b
Yesterday, however, Sainsbury’s said it will forge ahead with replacing hundreds more of its manned checkouts with the new-style terminals. And it insists the move will mean more choice and fewer queues.
...or possibly "more queues and lower staff costs". I'm not a huge fan, 90% of the time my self-service experience requires a member of staff to perform some kinda glitch assistance....and I kinda miss the interaction with another human being :(
 

rynner2

Gone But Not Forgotten
(ACCOUNT RETIRED)
Joined
Aug 7, 2001
Messages
55,248
Reaction score
9,087
Points
284
TV series that looks at the interaction of science and technology:

The Story of Science: Power, Proof and Passion - 1. What Is Out There?

Michael Mosley embarks on an informative and ambitious journey exploring how the evolution of scientific understanding is intimately interwoven with society's historical path.

Michael begins with the story of one of the great upheavals in human history - how we came to understand that our planet was not at the centre of everything in the cosmos, but just one of billions of bodies in a vast and expanding universe.

He reveals the critical role of medieval astrologers in changing our view of the heavens, and the surprising connections to the upheavals of the Renaissance, the growth of coffee shops and Californian oil and railway barons.

Michael shows how important the practical skills of craftsmen have been to this story and finds out how Galileo made his telescope to peer at the heavens and by doing so helped change our view of the universe forever.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b0 ... Out_There/
From sail power to nuclear power, plus quantum physics, electronics, chemistry, biology, etc, etc...

Worth a look .
 

CarlosTheDJ

Sio Bibble
Joined
Feb 1, 2007
Messages
6,478
Reaction score
7,332
Points
294
Location
Pebble Mill
Definitely worth a look, episode four was shown last Tuesday and I think it's blooming marvellous.
The history of science is one of my pet subjects.....so maybe I'm biased.

I really like Michael Mosley's programmes, the series he did about the history of surgery was also very good.
 

rynner2

Gone But Not Forgotten
(ACCOUNT RETIRED)
Joined
Aug 7, 2001
Messages
55,248
Reaction score
9,087
Points
284
Footage shows world's first mobile phone being used
British film archivists yesterday have released footage which apparently shows the world's first mobile phone being used - in 1922.
Published: 8:30AM BST 26 May 2010

[video ]

The silent black and white film displays two women walking along an American street carrying a bulky flip-top phone.

They then attach a wire from the device onto a fire hydrant before erecting an umbrella which has been converted into an aerial.

One of the women then uses the phone to connect to the operator, who plays a gramophone record into a microphone for her enjoyment.

The rare film was recently unearthed in a dusty archive by British Pathé, which is trying to discover more details about the technology involved.

Spokesman Mark Harris said: ''It's amazing that nearly 90 years ago mobile phone technology and music on the move was not only being thought of but being trialled.

''One of our researchers came across the clip and we were amazed that the idea was so old, we are used to budding technologies appearing in the 1950s and 60s but this is four years before television was first demonstrated.

''The phone even has a lid which makes it the first flip-phone we are aware of, although it is probably not going to win any design awards.

''We would be delighted to hear from anyone who can tell us anything about the film, from where it is shot to who the women might be or even about the phone itself.''

The footage appeared in Eve's Film Review issue 41, a cinemagazine for women which was run by Pathé between 1921 and 1933.

A cannister discovered with the film contained limited notes describing the silent action to viewers.

It reads: ''Bless us, they're never still - always up to something new. And Eve's latest invasion is in the wireless world.

''It's Eve's portable wireless 'phone - and won't hubby have a time when he has to carry one!'' 8)

It is believed that wireless phone technology was being experimented with in the 1910s and 1920s.

Anyone who knows anything about the film, actors or phone should contact British Pathé.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/ ... -used.html
 

Mythopoeika

I am a meat popsicle
Joined
Sep 18, 2001
Messages
42,186
Reaction score
32,385
Points
309
Location
Inside a starship, watching puny humans from afar
It may have been somebody's visualisation of what people may be using in the future, or it may have been an example of that new-fangled 'scientifiction'...?
 

rynner2

Gone But Not Forgotten
(ACCOUNT RETIRED)
Joined
Aug 7, 2001
Messages
55,248
Reaction score
9,087
Points
284
I'm reading a police detective story, set in Scotland, published in 1963 (when I was in my last year in school!).

Nowadays, DNA seems to be used in almost any investigation. Back then, they collected cigarette butts for 'saliva grouping'.

Nowadays, we have mobile phones and the internet: back then, the Inspector's Jaguar had an R.T. transmaitter with 'one of the new change-net frequency switches', but reception was so dodgy (especially in the highlands) that it was often simpler to stop at a phone box!

To send a picture they had something called photowire, a sort of early fax machine. It was difficult to google up info on this - the word is used on many modern websites, but seems to refer to newer technologies, definitely post 60s! But I did find this:
Photography also made its mark during [WWII]. Joe Rosenthal’s image of the Iwo Jima flag raising is perhaps the most famous picture of all American war photography. But Rosenthal didn’t know for weeks that the picture had caused a stir, Ross said. In fact, photographers almost never saw their own work — they simply sent their undeveloped film via couriers back to military bases for developing.

But once developed, getting war images into daily newspapers across the country was much easier by World War II, thanks to the invention of the “photo wire.” Wire transmission of photography had been developed in the late 1920s, and perfected by Bell Labs in the 1930s. Rosenthal’s picture was transmitted through an AP PhotoWire line in Guam, and made it into newspapers around the country the next day.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3078676/
I was impressed that the police photographer had an electronic flash on his camera - I was still using flash-bulbs in the 60s!

Other things haven't changed much: blood groups, fingerprints, testing of bullets to see if they were fired by the same gun, etc.
 

rynner2

Gone But Not Forgotten
(ACCOUNT RETIRED)
Joined
Aug 7, 2001
Messages
55,248
Reaction score
9,087
Points
284
If you've flown on passenger jets, you probably didn't give much thought to the engines - except to hope they keep working! But there's a huge amount of design and technology involved, and incredibly precise engineering. Many of the facts and figures involved are mind-boggling. Watch this, and you'll know more about the engines and the thousands of people involved in building them. Nice to know a British company (after being recued from bankruptcy) is a world leader in this technology (some of which is too secret to be shown on TV!) But a nice human touch is that most of the engine assembly is actually done by hand.

How to Build... - 2. A Jumbo Jet Engine

As Boeing's new 787 Dreamliner makes its inaugural flight, Rolls-Royce engineers celebrate the performance of its revolutionary Trent 1000 jet engines. They're the latest in a family of sophisticated aero engines that have driven Rolls-Royce to become world leaders in the market for jumbo jet engines.

This is the story of the thousands of people who design, build and test engines at Rolls-Royce's manufacturing plants in Derby and across the UK, making Rolls-Royce a central part of life for the people who work there.

Exploring some of the astonishing technology behind the engines' advanced components, the programme meets the skilled engineers who design and build them, and experience the ups and downs of life on the assembly line.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b0 ... et_Engine/
 

rynner2

Gone But Not Forgotten
(ACCOUNT RETIRED)
Joined
Aug 7, 2001
Messages
55,248
Reaction score
9,087
Points
284
A little gem of a programme here:

Thoroughly Modern... - 4. The Bicycle

Documentary series about objects the Edwardians either invented or advanced. One of the most important inventions of all time, the improvements made by the Edwardians meant the bicycle allowed the city dweller to escape to the country, provided a truly democratised means of transport and is even credited with widening the gene pool.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b0 ... e_Bicycle/

Not only the technology, but the social changes it ushered in.

Nice to see the Sturmey-Archer gears mentioned. My early bikes had these, and they were great for acceleration from rest. Start in low gear, peddling hard, and click the control to the next higher gear - but the bike doesn't actually change gear until you ease the pressure on the pedals briefly. Then repeat for the next gear change. I could out-accelerate cars from traffic lights like that! :D (But changing up with derailleur gears takes longer, since you have to stop pedalling while you operate the control, and then wait while the chain moves securely onto the next cog before applying full power again.)
 

Heckler

The unspeakable mass
Joined
Jul 16, 2004
Messages
5,290
Reaction score
2,200
Points
219
rynner2 said:
(But changing up with derailleur gears takes longer, since you have to stop pedalling while you operate the control, and then wait while the chain moves securely onto the next cog before applying full power again.)[/i]
Opens folded paper in a Frank Muir style displaying the word 'Bluff'.

Yer modern deraileurs on your la-de-da racing bikes with yer 10 or 11 gears will quite happily change up or down with power on the pedals.

It's the only way I could haul my not inconsiderable bulk up hills on one.
 

SHAYBARSABE

Gone But Not Forgotten
(ACCOUNT RETIRED)
Joined
May 5, 2009
Messages
1,495
Reaction score
47
Points
54
rynner2 said:
A little gem of a programme here:

Thoroughly Modern... - 4. The Bicycle

Documentary series about objects the Edwardians either invented or advanced. One of the most important inventions of all time, the improvements made by the Edwardians meant the bicycle allowed the city dweller to escape to the country, provided a truly democratised means of transport and is even credited with widening the gene pool.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b0 ... e_Bicycle/
Rynner, you have every reason to point out these programs, but people in the USA can't access them, and they sound so very interesting! :(
 

rynner2

Gone But Not Forgotten
(ACCOUNT RETIRED)
Joined
Aug 7, 2001
Messages
55,248
Reaction score
9,087
Points
284
SHAYBARSABE said:
Rynner, you have every reason to point out these programs, but people in the USA can't access them, and they sound so very interesting! :(
Sorry about that! If we ever get rid of the TV licence, the BBC may open its output to the whole world!

Heckler wrote:
Yer modern deraileurs on your la-de-da racing bikes with yer 10 or 11 gears will quite happily change up or down with power on the pedals.
Ah, well, the technology has clearly marched on since my last derailleur machine! ;)
 

rynner2

Gone But Not Forgotten
(ACCOUNT RETIRED)
Joined
Aug 7, 2001
Messages
55,248
Reaction score
9,087
Points
284
I searched for ages for a thread for this story before remembering this one (which I started... :oops: )

World's oldest mechanical clock 'to be wound by hand for last time'
The world's oldest working mechanical clock is to be fitted with an electric motor for the first time after being wound by hand every week for more than 600 years.
By Andrew Hough
Published: 7:00AM BST 20 Aug 2010

The mechanism on the Clock, at Wells Cathedral in Somerset, will be set manually for the last time next week, following the retirement of the last member of a family who has maintained it for almost a century.

Experts say the clock, which tracks the sun across the sky and records the stages of the moon, is a marvel of medieval craftsmanship.

Over the past 90 years the clock, the world's oldest continually-working mechanical timepiece, has been wound by five different generations of the Fisher family.

Since 1987, Paul Fisher has been undertaking the exhausting task of spending an hour, three times a week, turning the three 250kg weights about 800 times.

But on Thursday the horologist, 63, announced his retirement as the official “Keeper of the Great Clock of Wells”.

“I'm a bit sad that all these years of history are coming to an end but winding the clock by hand is just so time consuming,” said Mr Fisher, who is also retiring from the family jewellery business.

"I feel very proud and privileged to have wound this magnificent clock and that my family has been involved in such a historic task.”

While he will keep a “watchful eye” on it, his decision will mean that from Monday it will instead be powered by an automatic electric motor.

Mr Fisher’s family took over responsibility in 1919 after his grandfather, Leo Fisher, returned from First World War service.

Leo Fisher’s sons, Ken and Toni, continued the tradition in 1935 before his daughters, Ruth and Mary, took over during the Second World War.

It then fell to Mr Fisher, who has shared the task with his son Mark, 39, and his four grandchildren, who were paid a nominal fee for their duties.

Mark Fisher admitted it was a “real shame” his business commitments meant he could not continue the tradition.

"My father is retiring and it's quite an involved job so it's physically impossible for me to run the shop and look after the clock at the same time,” he said.

The timepiece, installed in the late 1380s, is dated to around the same time as the Salisbury Cathedral clock, Wilts, which is widely perceived as the world's oldest timer but has not run continually since it was built and does not have a dial.

It has been replaced twice, most recently in 1880, but the clock’s face and figures clock date from the 14th Century.

The weights, which are winched up on a pulley system, power the clock as they descend over the next two days.

The astronomical clock, situated in the cathedral's triforium, has a 24-hour dial and shows both the time and the phases of the moon in front of a background of stars.

Above it is a figure, “Jack Blandifers”, who hits the bells on the hour with a hammer and his heels, while a pair of knights chase each other above the dial every 15 minutes.

Wells Cathedral officials said the mechanical clock was being replaced because they were unable to find a suitable replacement for Mr Fisher.

Administrator Paul Richards said: "Mr Fisher's leaving is a reminder that we are responsible for caring for the Cathedral and other spiritual and heritage treasures for this and future generations to come."

It will be wound for the last time at 9.30am on Saturday while the electronic motor will be funded by the Friends of the Wells Cathedral.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/cult ... -time.html
 

rynner2

Gone But Not Forgotten
(ACCOUNT RETIRED)
Joined
Aug 7, 2001
Messages
55,248
Reaction score
9,087
Points
284
Tech Know: BBC Micros used in retro programming class
By Mark Ward, Technology correspondent, BBC News

Computer history is cruel. It is a story of the old constantly being pushed aside for the newer, the faster, the smaller, the shinier.

Those old machines are rarely allowed a graceful retirement. Cast aside, they end their days in the dark ,fit only to be homes for spiders in lofts and cupboards.

But one lucky flock of BBC Micros is getting another lease of life by helping to educate students in the art of rigorous programming.

The National Museum of Computing (TNMOC) at Bletchley Park has started letting a few lucky A-level students loose on the machines to hone their programming skills.

"The computing A-level is about how computers work and if you ask anyone how it works they will not be able to tell you," said Doug Abrams, an ICT teacher from Ousedale School in Newport Pagnell, who was one of the first to use the machines in lessons.

For Mr Abrams the old machines have two cardinal virtues; their sluggishness and the direct connection they have with the user.

In one of the first lessons held at TNMOC the lucky Ousedale students programmed a venerable PDP-8 machine by flicking the switches set on its front panel to set the binary values in its memory. And an interface does not get more direct than that.

"Modern computers go too fast," said Mr Abrams. "You can see the instructions happening for real with these machines. They need to have that understanding for the A-level."

...

The machines also enforced a parsimonious programming style. A memory of only 32K is a shoebox in comparison to the Lordly halls of memory available on the average 21st-Century desktop.
[I started on a ZX 81!]
...

The day of study had begun with what must be the ultimate hands-on technology experience: Mr Abrams got the students to be a computer.

They each took on the role of a different part of the machine - CPU, accumulator, RAM and program counter - and simulated the passage of instructions through the hardware.

The five shuffled data around, wrote it to memory, carried out computations and inserted them into the right places in the store.

It was a noisy, confusing and funny simulation and, once everyone knew what they were doing, managed to reach a maximum clock speed of about one instruction per minute.

And even the BBC Micro, for all its age, can beat that. :D

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-10951040
 

OneWingedBird

Beloved of Ra
Joined
Aug 3, 2003
Messages
15,655
Reaction score
6,977
Points
284
It's very strange, i can remember wanting a BBC Micro so bad, but they were around £325 versus £125 for a 16k Spectrum at the time and the latter was difficult enough to save for from my weekend job.

Not so many years later they were so worthless and an engineer friend used to get given them by schools sometimes when he went to do electrical repairs there... now they seem to actually be getting collectable. Every once in a while i debate getting one for nostalgia, then think about it some and realise there's absolutely nothing i might actually want it for :nooo:
 

Kondoru

Antediluvian
Joined
Dec 5, 2003
Messages
6,790
Reaction score
1,611
Points
234
Hehe!

I just donated a modem for a commodore 64 to the Computer museum in Swindon

"can you get it working?" I asked.

They are going to try
 

rynner2

Gone But Not Forgotten
(ACCOUNT RETIRED)
Joined
Aug 7, 2001
Messages
55,248
Reaction score
9,087
Points
284
How lost evidence could halt Nadir case: Old computer files are corrupt
By Jack Doyle and Ben Laurance
Last updated at 11:14 PM on 27th August 2010
Corruupted [sic!] computer files could scupper the prosecution of Polly Peck fugitive Asil Nadir.

The Serious Fraud Office investigation is thought to be facing major IT and other difficulties that have raised doubts about the prosecution before it even begins.

Insiders said last night the scale of the problems meant there were major concerns over whether the runaway tycoon would even appear before a jury.

......

The SFO is faced with a mountain of electronic and paper evidence held in an East London warehouse in the 17 years Nadir spent on the run.

Many of the senior investigators on the case no longer work for the SFO and new ones will be confronted with witnesses whose memories may have faded. Others may have died.

An insider said: 'Any electronic data degrades over time. Some of this information is more than 20 years old. I'm not even sure that the SFO still has the tools needed to retrieve data from that era. You're talking about technology that would qualify as museum pieces now.

'The files would have been archived in the SFO's warehouse in Bow and they would have been in a good state when they were stored, but 17 years are bound to have taken their toll.'

etc...

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article ... z0xtW64ElG

We still don't get guaranteed lifetimes for CDs and DVDs - the advice is to copy all your data to new discs every few years.
 

rynner2

Gone But Not Forgotten
(ACCOUNT RETIRED)
Joined
Aug 7, 2001
Messages
55,248
Reaction score
9,087
Points
284
Death of the published dictionary: Oxford English Dictionary to exist solely online
By Paul Sims
Last updated at 7:12 AM on 30th August 2010

It was first published 126 years ago and is respected the world over.
But the Oxford English Dictionary will never appear in print again, its owners have announced.
Instead, the 80 lexicographers who have been working on the third edition for the past 21 years have been told the fruits of their labour will exist solely online.

The OED has been available on the internet for the past ten years and receives two million hits a month from subscribers who pay £205 a year, plus VAT, to access it.
Oxford University Press says the dominance of the internet means the latest update to the definitive record of the English language - currently 28 per cent complete - will never be published in print.
'The print dictionary market is just disappearing - it is falling away by tens of per cent a year,' said Nigel Portwood, 44, chief executive of OUP.
'Our primary purpose - and this takes a bit of adjusting to - is not profit, it is the dissemination of knowledge,' he said.
'Print is still pretty important round here but, wherever possible, if there is an opportunity, we are moving out of it.'
The printed dictionary has a shelf life of another 30 years, he predicts.

The third edition is only expected to be completed by 2037. The OUP has already stopped producing illustrated reference books because of the growing popularity of the Wikipedia website.

Google Earth has had the same effect on maps, although OUP, the largest university press in the world, still prints the occasional school atlas.

Collections of English words and their definitions began appearing in the 16th century.
Then, in 1755, Samuel Johnson published what many consider to be the first dictionary, which remained the standard text for 150 years.
By 1879, the OUP had embarked on its own project and its first edition was published in sections from 1884 onwards. It was completed as a set in 1928 and took a further 61 years to be updated fully.
In 1989, the 20-volume second edition was published and remains on sale for £750, with 291,500 entries.
But despite its global reputation, the OED has never made a profit and continues to cost several million pounds a year in research.

Erin McKean, co-founder and chief executive of Wordnik, an online dictionary, said: 'I want my young son to think of the print dictionary like an eight-track tape - a format that died because it was not useful enough.'

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article ... z0y4ySUH3k

Let's hope that some evil hacker does not create some virus that crashes the whole internet, then. With disk back-ups still impermanent, we could lose all our data... :shock:
 

Mythopoeika

I am a meat popsicle
Joined
Sep 18, 2001
Messages
42,186
Reaction score
32,385
Points
309
Location
Inside a starship, watching puny humans from afar
It is fairly logical that it has gone online, as the full OED has become rather huge.
But...£205 a year!!!
Who pays that...?
 

ramonmercado

CyberPunk
Joined
Aug 19, 2003
Messages
51,169
Reaction score
25,483
Points
284
Location
Eblana
Tatarstan's government goes electronic
By Kristina Block Editor, Russia Business Report, BBC World, Kazan
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-11108709


Tatarstan's President Rustam Minnikhanov The e-government drive has enjoyed support from the president of Tatarstan

Russian officials do love their stamps and forms. Anyone who has lived or travelled in the country will be aware of their dedication to bureaucratic procedure.

But in an aspiring republic on the Volga river, change is on the way.

"Hello, can I help you?" The Russian voice is friendly, but startling nonetheless.

When you hit the "Help" button on a computer screen, you do not expect an actual person to talk to you.

But here she is: a young woman in what looks like a call centre, smiling out of a pop-up window on the screen.

This is an "infomat", a device that looks like an oversized cash machine and allows the citizens of Tatarstan to access a whole range of government services, from applying for a passport to paying a parking fine.
Infomats

Tatarstan is a pre-dominantly Muslim republic, about an hour's flight east of Moscow.

Thanks to an abundance of oil, it is one of the most developed parts of the Russian Federation.

And lately it has decided to pour some of the profits from the oil trade into an ambitious e-government programme.

The "infomats" appeared on the streets of the capital, Kazan, a year ago.

The machines not only reduce the time citizens have to spend queuing in government offices, they also make it more difficult for corrupt officials to demand special "fees" - or bribes - for their services.
Live broadcast

Click to play

Click to play
Advertisement

Communications Minister Nikolay Nikiforov explains how the e-government system works

You can also find one on the ground floor of the building that houses the regional government administration.

Built in 2005, it is filled to the brim with the latest gadgets, ranging from a TV gallery that records all sorts of meetings and briefings to the president's digital signature device.

Cabinet meetings are beamed on to television screens everywhere, from the press office to the reception areas.

About half of them are also broadcast live on the internet, so that Tatarstan's citizens can actually see what the president and his top officials are up to.

Though not necessarily hear: the sound is off during most of these transmissions.
Changing mentality

Tatarstan's current President, Rustam Minnikhanov, decided to launch the e-government drive a few years ago, when he was still prime minister.

"I felt that in order to be able to take the right managerial decisions, you need to have full information - and this information needs come to you fast and leave you fast as well," he tells Russia Business Report in his marble office with great views of the Kazan skyline and a neat arrangement of Blackberry, iPhone and iPad on the desk.

Convincing the bureaucrats, he says, was a challenge: "This system of electronic government differs from how things used to be. And maybe the most important thing for us was to change our employees' mentality so that they stopped being afraid of electronics and saw the efficiency of the system."
Continue reading the main story
RUSSIA BUSINESS REPORT

Russia Business Report is a new television programme for BBC World News. Every month we take a look at the latest trends in the Russian economy and business world.

Watch the next programme on Saturday, 28 August at 0430 GMT and 1730 GMT and on Sunday, 29 August at 1030 GMT and 2330 GMT.

* Russia Business Report

It took two years to digitise and synchronise the databases of the different parts of the state's administration.

Now they are working on rolling out e-government across the republic, all the way down to the municipal level.

So that, for example, the head of a local fire department can regularly check in with his employees in other villages, rather than travel long distances.
Modernisation agenda

Local firms developed the software for the ambitious project. A few of them are based in a brand new IT park in Kazan, open since last October.

There we meet Tatarstan's Deputy Prime Minister and Communications Minister, Nikolay Nikiforov - at 28, already a former IT entrepreneur who has moved into government.

He is working on increasing broadband coverage for Kazan's 1.1 million inhabitants, from 50% at present to 70% next year.

The city is also the first place in Russia and neighbouring countries to roll out a next-generation broadband wireless network - LTE.

It is all very much in line with the modernisation agenda that the federal government in Moscow is pushing.

But even in this wired republic, not everything is fail-safe.

In the car on the way to our next interview, I try to make a phone call using the mobile network. It drops out a few times - the reception is too weak.
 

rynner2

Gone But Not Forgotten
(ACCOUNT RETIRED)
Joined
Aug 7, 2001
Messages
55,248
Reaction score
9,087
Points
284
But this interweb thing isn't always what it's cracked up to be.

The other day I got an email from the Ordnance Survey about an offer of three maps for the price of two at their online shop. Now I have some maps that are now several years old and pretty worn, so I thought this was a good chance to replace them.

But the online shop proved non user-friendly - after I'd selected my first item it wanted me to log in again, which set me back to square one. I tried a few workarounds, but nothing worked. So I guess I'll just soldier on with the old maps till they fall apart! :roll:

And I contacted the DWP website on Friday noon about my pension, expecting an email reply. Nothing yet (not even an automatic acknowledgement) - the idle buggers must have knocked off early for the Bank Holiday. :evil:
 
Top