Technology

Machines, devices, systems and tools their usage, invention, history and future.

Economics and the Internet’s Large-Scale Topology

Distribution of the Internet around the world. (Top) Worldwide router density map obtained using NetGeo tool to identify the geographical location of 228,265 routers mapped out by the extensive router level mapping effort of Govindan and Tangmunarunkit. (Bottom) Population density map based on the CIESIN’s population data. Both maps are shown using a box resolution of 1 degree by 1 degree. The bar next to each map gives the range of values encoded by the color code, indicating that the highest population density within this resolution is of the order 10**7 people/box, while the highest router density is of the order of 10**4 routers/box. Note that while in economically developed nations there are visibly strong correlations between population and router density, in the rest of the world Internet access is sparse, limited to urban areas characterized by population density peaks.

This graph and the explanation above are taken from Modeling the Internet’s Large-Scale Topology by Soon-Hyung Yook, Hawoong Jeong, Albert-Laszlo Barabasi. Department of Physics, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN 46556, USA.

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Misinformation and the Evolution of Early Computers

Amazing and totally inaccurate!

It’s difficult to know where to start in cataloging the faults with this diagram. So rather than waste my time trying I’ve started collating information to produce a better version. I’ll publish it here when I’m done.

I’m not sure where this diagram came from. It could be “Computer Structures” by Gordon Bell. But the reference was unclear.

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The First Railway Station: Unlikely Home for the First Computer

The Liverpool Street Station in Manchester, England is now part of The museum of Science and Technology. The Station was built in 1830 and is the oldest railway station in the world. On the opposite side of the tracks to the ticketing hall is the world’s first railway warehouse. In this building is a working replica of the worlds first stored program computer, Baby, the Manchester Mk I Prototype.

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The First Modern Computer – The Case for Baby, the Manchester Mk I Prototype

Finding an authoritative history of the Computer’s invention is almost impossible. There are several reasons for this problem: People disagree on the meaning of the word “invent”, they also disagree on the meaning of the word “computer”. Finally significant parts of the history were either lost or deliberately concealed and only came to light again in the 1960′s and 70′s. The United States Army was the first organization to stake a claim to the invention of the computer with the 1946 public announcement of the ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer). It has since become commonly accepted that ENIAC was the worlds first computer when in fact it was not a computer, in the modern sense, at all, and was not even the first of its class.

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The Meaning of Invention

I ‘ve been trying to understand what it means to invent something and found this site very useful Wright Brothers History: The Tale of the Airplane A Brief Account of the Invention of the Airplane researched, written, and designed by Gary Bradshaw.

This graph really sums it up. You don’t have to be first but you do have to change the Paradigm.


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Is Traffic Congestion Leading to the Resurrection of Trolley Cars and Trams in Large Cities ?

I saw a Blackpool tram on the Embarcadero in San Francisco today. The destination on the side said “Tower“. At first I was dumb-struck and then I thought “That’s a bloody long way on a tram!”

I particularly liked the description of San Francisco’s Blackpool tram on the Market Street Railway website Every time I read it I hear Fred Dibnah‘s accent.

In England, “trolleys” are shopping carts. This is a “tram” and a special one at that….”

The tram drivers on the newly extended F-line that runs the length of Market Street and then along the Embarcadero to Fisherman’s Wharf seem to like this tram. At lunchtime they park a few trams outside the newly renovated ferry building at the end of Market Street and all sit in the Blackpool tram to chat and eat. It really is quite a site. It’s even illuminated! For those who don’t know the Blackpool illuminations are a national institution in the UK and date back to the days when electric street lights were such a novelty that people would travel miles to see them.

Anyway all this got me thinking about trams and more particularly their rise, fall and recent resurrection as a serious form of public transportation.

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Ada Lovelace – The Enchantress of Number or the most Overrated Figure in the History of Computing?

Augusta Ada, Countess of Lovelace (1815 to 1852), also known as Ada Lovelace, was the only legitimate daughter of the poet Lord Byron. Raised by her mother she was given private instruction in mathematics and sciences, When she was 17 she met Charles Babbage at a party and became interested in his work on The Analytical Engine, At the suggestion of Charles Wheatstone she translated a French description of the Analytical Engine “Notions sur la machine analytique” by the Italian Engineer Luigi Menabrea. This document was based on some lectures Babbage had delivered in Turin some years earlier. After reading Ada’s translation Babbage suggested she add some notes of her own since she was “intimately acquainted” with the subject. This she did and published her Sketch of the Analytical Engine in 1843. Continue reading

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Defining Goals and Objectives for System Development

Clearly expressed, goals and objectives are essential prerequisites for successful change management in complex environments. System design, implementation, and commissioning in the broadest sense are classic examples of this type of change. The only rational way of measuring the success of complex systems is to assess the degree to which goals have been achieved by measuring the attainment of objectives.

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The Traveler Guitar – An Example of Fitness for Purpose in Product Design


I’ve been through so many airports recently I can’t remember which one this happen at. But I was waiting at the gate when this huge Viking of a guy came and sat next to me with what looked like a rifle case slung over his shoulder. My curiosity was aroused and as I checked out his case he caught me looking at it, so I felt it best to ask him about his Traveler Guitar to show I wasn’t just some loony staring at his baggage. He lit up with enthusiasm and proceeded to pull out the guitar and bolt on the arm support. Then he produced a digital sound processor the size of a cigarette pack, and some headphones. He plugged them all together and handed it to me. Cool! The thing was actually still in tune! He dialed in a nice funky sound and I was off, much to the amusement of the other passengers.

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The Mobile Lounges at Dulles International Airport

Recently, I have been traveling to Washington D.C. via Washington Dulles International Airport and have begun to appreciate the fine architecture of the airport. Built between 1958 and 1966 by the engineering firm of Amman and Whitney the terminal building, control tower, and service buildings were designed by Architect Eero Saarinen who claimed it was “the best thing I have ever done.”

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