IBM's Watson computer destroys human competition in Jeopardy (prev). Gets welcomed by Ken (via). Celebrates by getting smashed on Conan.
Google's pilot program for Chrome OS is well underway, with the new operating system being distributed on free Cr-48 Notebooks, to generally favourable impressions. Chrome OS relies heavily on cloud computing, where software and data live on servers and are accessed by a client, and product manager Caesar Sengupta going as far as to say they will have failed if cloud computing does not become the norm. Not everyone is happy about that thought through, with Richard Stallman warning it may be a trap. Like the Cr-48s attractive design but not so sure about ChromeOS? You could always sneak Ubuntu onto it.
In today's example of kids smarter than you and I, Wired follows the exploits of two teens competing at the International Olympiad in Informatics.
Chasing Pirates: Inside Microsoft’s War Room - From the special thread that Chinese factories counterfeit in mile-long spools that adorns software authenticity stickers, to near-perfect bootleg discs leaving microscopic evidence of their factory origins, to Mexican and Russian gangsters who are dealt with very carefully, the NYT covers Microsoft's multi-pronged, international war on piracy.
"Greetings, I'm MAX, the computer. Maybe you've heard of me, I'm superintendant here!" - Welcome to The Thirteenth Floor!
A project to build Charles Babbage's Analytical Engine. John Graham (blog) has setup a pledge to build a working version of the Analytical Engine, successor to the Difference Engine(Prev) it was to be a real steam powered programmable computer.
Kate Bolick tells a story of Facebook voyeurism.
You know which song the very first singing computer sang, right? Yup, just like you saw in the movies, only this one didn't slow down when he offered up his electronic rendition of the tune that was toppermost of the poppermost on both sides of the Atlantic back in 1892.
"Without the participation of Microsoft, these criminal cases against human rights defenders and journalists would simply not be able to occur"
Russia Uses Microsoft to Suppress Dissent - Adding to its long-running series on corruption and abuse in post-Communist Russia, the New York Times has reported on Russian authorities using the pretext of software piracy to seize computers from journalists and political dissidents critical of current policies. In a surprising twist, lawyers representing Microsoft have been found working with Russian police, despite reporters and NGOs providing evidence of legitimate software purchases. An official response to the NYT piece suggests impostors claim to represent Microsoft in Russia, and notes the company's offer of free software licenses to these and similar groups.
The Man Who Makes Your iPhone - Bloomberg Businessweek profiles Terry Gou, the founder and chairman of Foxconn, the controversial manufacturer of consumer electronic devices for Apple, Sony, HP and Dell, among others.
Three newly approved 'in vitro' toxicity tests using artificial human skin are reducing the need for animal testing of cosmetics and chemicals. [more inside]
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Ray Kurzweil: Reverse-Engineering of Human Brain Likely by 2030. PZ Myers: Ray Kurzweil does not understand the brain.
Learn how to operate the world's first fully electronic digital computer in this helpful instructional video. No, not ENIAC - the Atanasoff Berry Computer. Here's an operator's manual. More information about the reconstruction.
Today's issue of Nature contains a paper with a rather unusual author list. Read past the standard collection of academics, and the final author credited is... the FoldIt multiplayer online gaming community. Even though most of them had no biochemistry experience, the human players of FoldIt turned out to be better at identifying three-dimensional protein structure patterns than the algorithms of Rosetta@Home. (Previously on MeFi)
They were one of history’s greatest teams. But by the late 2000s, Pro Vercelli were entrenched in the lower leagues, their glorious past forgotten. Until one day, a man bought a video game. Read the uplifting saga of a small-town Italian club, an unknown American manager, triumph, betrayal, passion, and several extremely good recipes, from start to finish [more inside]
Ever notice how people texting at night have that eerie blue glow? Or wake up ready to write down the Next Great Idea, and get blinded by your computer screen? During the day, computer screens look good—they're designed to look like the sun. But, at 9PM, 10PM, or 3AM, you probably shouldn't be looking at the sun. F.lux fixes this: it makes the color of your computer's display adapt to the time of day, warm at night and like sunlight during the day. It's even possible that you're staying up too late because of your computer. You could use f.lux because it makes you sleep better, or you could just use it just because it makes your computer look better. [more inside]
He might've placed a couple of chips into your Mac, Dell or Hewlett-Packard. Meet Yuan Yandong.
Armed with a netbook, medical supplies and a bicycle, Bangladesh's InfoLadies are giving millions of poor people access to crucial information on their doorsteps that will improve their chances in life
Welcome to the Analog Computer Museum and History Center - a collection of pictures, diagrams, and historical snippets of pre-GUI devices of the 20th century.
u.s navy vintage fire control computers : An intriguing look at the mechanical workings of the computers of World War 2.
A botnet with 6 to 12 million computers, employing the world's most sophisticated encryption and peer to peer communication lies waiting, but for what? When the Conficker computer “worm” was unleashed on the world in November 2008, cyber-security experts didn’t know what to make of it. It infiltrated millions of computers around the globe. It constantly checks in with its unknown creators. It uses an encryption code so sophisticated that only a very few people could have deployed it. For the first time ever, the cyber-security elites of the world have joined forces in a high-tech game of cops and robbers, trying to find Conficker’s creators and defeat them. The cops are failing. And now the worm lies there, waiting … [via Postroad's rich linkdump: Goodsh*t (nsfw)] [more inside]
Oh, punt appalled bait oars, Hal. Why Computer Speech Recognition hasn't gotten any better since 2001. Or bed her sin stew thou send Juan.
Visual Aesthetics in Early Computing (1950-80) - a little look back at plotters and light pens and flow charts, which I found a bit nostalgic. You can watch Lapis, Permutations and Arabesque on YouTube.
Have you ever wanted to change the functionality of the GUI of a program that you didn't have the source code for? Prefab is a tool that was made to allow you to do exactly that. [more inside]
The Commodore 64 - arguably the most influential PC in history - is back. They've beefed up the specs a bit.
Cybersyn (or Synco, in Spanish) was computer network constructed in 1970 by an English/Chilean team headed by cyberneticist Stafford Beer (his papers). Cybersyn was an electronic nervous system for the Chilean economy, linking together mines, factories and so on, to better manage production and give workers a clear idea of what was in demand and where. The network was destroyed by the army after the 1973 coup. Later that year Stafford Beer drew upon the lessons of Cybersyn to write Fanfare for Effective Freedom, a eulogy for Allende and Cybersyn, and Designing Freedom, a series of six lectures he gave for CBC, outlining his ideas. Besides the first link in this post, the best place to start is this Guardian article from 2003. If you want to go more in-depth, read Eden Medina's Designing Freedom, Regulating a Nation: Socialist Cybernetics in Allende’s Chile. And if nothing else, just take a look at the amazing Cybersyn control room.
The Secret Origin of Windows, recollections of the development and release of Windows 1.0 and 2.0 by its project manager Tandy Trower (via)
How disgusting can the inside of computer become? See now! Some people smoke near their computers. Some people secrete their chip packets inside their computer boxes. You think you can get away with it until you need someone to find out why your computer is fucked up and then.. Ah hah! Could it be.. you have an alien fetus? Mice? The detritus of your fucked up lifestyle? All living within your box? Feel bad about yourself now!
Grandpa laces up his skates: How would a single core, 3.8 GHz Pentium 4 670 from 2005 compete against the latest offerings of AMD and Intel? How about a 2007 quad-core, the 2.4 GHz Core 2 Quad 6600? The Tech Report finds out in a Huge 14-way Roundout, including a price-performance evaluation (2nd perspective). For the release of AMD's new midrange DirectX 11 graphic card, the somewhat disappointing ATI Radeon HD 5830, they've done Something Similar, this time pitting older cards, including a Nvidia GeForce 7900 GTX from 2006, against the newcomer and today's top performers. (aggravation warning: hardware review sites love their multi-page layouts)
Be forewarned that somewhere, sometime, someplace, some enterprising young man who seems to know ten times what you do about computers is going to try to convince you that his program will make a jug of cider jump off the table and turn ducks' eggs into solid gold. Look this man straight in the eye and ask him for names of people who are successfully using his program. DO NOT, under any circumstances, bet him that he can't do it. There's no telling what someone might be able to make a computer do.
A journey through the whimsical computer manuals of the Franklin Ace.
A journey through the whimsical computer manuals of the Franklin Ace.
Since SRI and Xerox invented the GUI and the mouse in the late 1970s, technology has leaped forward, but the way we interact with our computers has stood still. "10/GUI aims to bridge this gap by rethinking the desktop to leverage technology in an intuitive and powerful way."
50 years ago today, IBM announced the 1401 Data Processing System. Originally designed as a spooling system for the larger machines, the 1401 became very popular as a mainframe in its own right, eventually being called 'The Model T of Computers'. By the end of 1961, the number of 1401s installed in the United States alone had reached 2,000 - representing about one fourth of all computers installed by all manufacturers at that time. 15- 20,000 were eventually built. The Computer History Museum in Mountain View is having a 50th anniversary celebration on November 10th. Here's what $125,600 (or $2500/month rent) would get you: [more inside]
The use of cardboard for things other than packaging is not new to the blue, from detailed artwork to furnature (and even re-making the Tron light cycle scene), and now computer cases. Brenden Macaluso's design is not the first, with a Japanese design from 2005 (the original site is down, but Archive.org has a backup, with more versions archived), and other kludged fixes for an existing case missing parts. Recompute wasn't the only cardboard case in the 2009 Greener Gadgets design competition. The other was Cardboardcase, by Francesco Biasci and Martina Becattini, which is a more of a traditional computer case form. On the DIY side, Instructables provides plans for a DIY cardboard laptop case. [more inside]
A Mac Classic shows bullies what's for in "3½ inches is enough" by Unreal Voodoo. This demo (actually written to run on a Mac Classic) was presented at ASSEMBLY, Finland's largest computer festival. More highlights from ASSEMBLY are available at GameSetWatch. The demos are mostly trippy and impressive hand-coded animations as one might expect, but there's also a live action short featuring a Rube Goldberg machine.
Sir George Julius's Automatic Totalisator, first used by the public in New Zealand, and quickly taken up by racetracks throughout Australasia and North America (warning hideous HTML), automates parimutuel betting.
Impressed and alarmed by advances in artificial intelligence, a group of computer scientists is debating whether there should be limits on research that might lead to loss of human control over computer-based systems that carry a growing share of society’s workload, from waging war to chatting with customers on the phone. From the NYT: Scientists Worry Machines May Outsmart Man.
Before the mouse, there was the trackball. Built for DATAR in 1952, DATAR turned out to be a complete failure. The next user interface device that used a ball was the mouse at Xeroc Parc in 1972. Trackballs are a dying breed of interface devices. But sometimes a trackball just seems more natural choice for certain applications - not so obvious for others. Would you sit on one?
15 Classic PC Design Mistakes, along with explanations as to what exactly they were thinking at the time.