The Internet Archive describes the 1959 film as: "Simon Ramo's concept of "polymorphic" computing is laid out in stop-motion animation, accompanied by acoustic guitar. The film anticipates parallel, distributed processing and the architecture of ARPANET and the Internet."
The problem is you have to look away from the screen in order to do anything.
1 - You drop something and your left hand instinctively reaches out to press Ctrl-Z
2 - You receive a handwritten note and instinctively scan the top looking for a timestamp
3 - You try to write a handwritten note but you spend so much time looking for paper and pen or pencil that you give up and just write an email
4 - You try to write a handwritten note but your hand cramps after just 2 or 3 words
5 - You mentally categorize people without email addresses as 'Dead'
6 - When you hear a song you like on the radio/PA system you try to vote it up
From the earliest days of desktop computers there has been a tradition of tinkering with computers, people taking them apart, modifying them, and building their own. But cell phones seem to have not gotten the same kind of attention, even though they may be the most ubiquitous computing devices there are.
CNet has a story about home-brewed cell phone makers that show that it isn't all that difficult to get into cell phone hacking, especially now that there are tiny Linux-powered brains available.
"Patel says he has lost patience with even the slimmest Motorolas and most advanced Nokias. He has been trying to build new features for cell phones for years, and he--like a growing number of other impatient developers--has concluded that phones have to be as flexible as ordinary computers if he's going to make progress."
I don't tinker anywhere near as often as I used to, but this gives me ideas...
from Mike C.
This is way cool.
I made the picture of the bull above, in about 5 minutes. The great feature of Harmony is that you can feel like a great artist even when the computer is doing most of the work.
You have to have an HTML-5-compliant browser, such as the latest iterations of Chrome or Firefox in order to use it.
I haven't coveted the new iPad much, but this would be great on one of those.
from Mike C.
From CraftZine (the online descendant of the now-defunct Craft magazine), an MIT student project that uses conductive paint and thread inside a pop-up book. Opening and closing the pages not only slides tabs of paper around, but also activates switches that can then activate lights.
IBM's website has photos and information about their Antique Attic exhibit, showcasing their collection of mechanical calculating devices.
"The nearly 400-year history of mechanized calculation was created by men and women with varying and diverse talents, temperaments, backgrounds and education, working in such fields as mathematics, the sciences, government, business and commerce. It is a history not just of singular inspiration and genius but also the continuing, collective discovery of new materials, skills, technologies and techniques to implement and enhance the plans and dreams of individual inventors and scientists."
Above, a Babbage Analytical Engine
My first job in New York City was as 'Content Editor' at PC Magazine in 1997. That meant I hand-coded all their articles, sometimes up to 200/day. The idea of a dynamic, database-driven site was still new and there were no good solutions at the time. The best was to use Microsoft Word's mail-merge function, placing all the content in an Excel file and opening the HTML template in Word, then merging them together to generate the static pages.
I came across this unattributed story: A tale of Electrical Engineering vs. Computer Science:
"Once upon a time, in a kingdom not far from here, a king summoned two of his advisors for a test. He showed them both a shiny metal box with two slots in the top, a control knob, and a lever. "What do you think this is?"
One advisor, an engineer, answered first. "It is a toaster," he said. The king asked, "How would you design an embedded computer for it?" The engineer replied, "Using a four-bit microcontroller, I would write a simple program that reads the darkness knob and quantizes its position to one of 16 shades of darkness, from snow white to coal black. The program would use that darkness level as the index to a 16-element table of initial timer values. Then it would turn on the heating elements and start the timer with the initial value selected from the table. At the end of the time delay, it would turn off the heat and pop up the toast. Come back next week, and I'll show you a working prototype."
The second advisor, a computer scientist, immediately recognized the danger of such short-sighted thinking. He said, "Toasters don't just turn bread into toast, they are also used to warm frozen waffles. What you see before you is really a breakfast food cooker. As the subjects of your kingdom become more sophisticated, they will demand more capabilities. They will need a breakfast food cooker that can also cook sausage, fry bacon, and make scrambled eggs. A toaster that only makes toast will soon be obsolete. If we don't look to the future, we will have to completely redesign the toaster in just a few years."
Roedy Green has a funny (and very long) guide called How To Write Unmaintainable Code [Ensure a job for life ;-)]
Make sure that every method does a little bit more (or less) than its name suggests. As a simple example, a method named isValid(x) should as a side effect convert x to binary and store the result in a database.