Tag Archives: technology

BBC News – The new vehicle set to revolutionise the skies

Hybrid Air Vehicle - which looks like a traditional airship - can land anywhere and on any surface. Why did it take so long to come up with this idea? It seems kind of obvious
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Google’s Ngram Viewer exposes Gartner’s Hype Cycles

The Books Ngram Viewer from Google Labs provides a fascinating insight into language usage in the past 200 years. An Ngram is a series of one or more items from a sequence, in this case a word or phrase from a published text. Google’s viewer plots the frequency of occurrence for Ngrams found in books published since 1800. It is possible to narrow the search to specific collections of books or corpus. Available corpora include American English, British English, English Fiction etc. Researchers at Harvard University’s Cultural Observatory have put together some tips for using this data and have invented a new word

Culturomics – The application of high-throughput data collection and analysis to the study of human culture.


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The Antikythera Mechanism Explained?

The Antikythera Mechanism was discovered on May 17th 1902, by archaeologist Valerios Stais when he was diving on the Antikythera wreck off Point Glyphadia on the Greek island of Antikythera. The wreck is believed to have sunk in the 1st century BCE and has yielded many spectacular artifacts. The most mysterious of these is the Antikythera mechanism, a solid lump of corroded bronze gears. It has taken over a century, the latest imaging technology, and decades of research from a few dedicated scholars of mechanical engineering to piece together what the mechanism did.


I put together this playlist of short youtube videos. Together they describe the latest advances in understanding the mechanism and how it worked. There are four videos that take about 20 minutes to watch. Just click on the video and all four will play.

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Vannevar Bush and The Limits of Prescience

Today Vannevar Bush (rhymes with achiever) is often remembered for his July 1945 Atlantic Monthly article As We May Think in which he describes a hypothetical machine called a Memex. This machine contained a large indexed store of information and allowed a user to navigate through the store using a system similar to hypertext links. At the time of writing his essay Bush knew more about the state of technology development in the US than almost any other person. During the war, he was Roosevelt’s chief adviser on military research. He was responsible for many war time research projects including Radar, the Atomic Bomb, and the development of early Computers. If anyone should ever have been capable of predicting the future it was Vannevar Bush in 1945. He is an almost unprecedented test case for the art of prediction. Unlike almost anyone else before or since Bush was actually in possession of ALL the facts – as only the head of technology research in a country at war could be.

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The Evolution of the Modern Computer. An Open Source Graphical History (1934 to 1950)

This is the home of the Computer Evolution File. This file attempts to provide a comprehensive graphical representation of the evolution of the modern computer for the period 1934 to 1950. The file is licensed with an attribution, share alike creative commons license. Please feel free to download and make improvements and derivative works. Please send a copy of changes to me and I will share the updates on this page.

foobar @ bigfoot.com

Latest Version:- 0.3 released 2003-12-23
File Size Description
ComputerEvolution_V0.3.txt 70k Dot file for Graphviz
ComputerEvolution_V0.3.png 468k Full size Portable Network Graphics (PNG) file

Computer Evolution
 

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Visualizing the Shrinking World

A corollary of the statement “Time is Money” is that things that cause time to be consumed are money as well – distance is related to time through velocity and information is related to time in the same way through bandwidth. Velocity is a crucial factor in determining the cost of exchanging physical goods and bandwidth is similarly crucial in determining in the cost of exchanging information. In both cases speed costs. The changing relationships between time, distance, information, and money are at the heart of today’s globalization trends.

The cost of a 3-minute transatlantic phone call is an interesting metric since it fixes distance and the amount of information. The graph above comes from a presentation on Globalization by the World Bank. It clearly shows that the cost of a 3-minute call between New York and London has been decaying exponentially over 6 decades. In fact this metric has a half-life of about a decade.

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Linksys BEFW11S4 Wireless-B Broadband Router Problems – Low Reliability and Poor Fault Tolerance

Background

Linksys BEFW11S4 Wireless-B Broadband Router

A few months ago I had to setup a home office and decided I would take the opportunity to upgrade my home network. My Linksys BEFSR41 Etherfast Cable / DSL Router had never given me any problems and so I decided to upgrade to the Linksys BEFW11S4 Wireless-B broadband Router. I now have everything working reliably but getting to this happy state and resolving the problems took a lot of luck and in the end the solution was far from obvious. Judging by the bad reviews on Amazon and elsewhere it appears that many people have been unable to fix similar problems with this device. Below is my description of the problem and a solution that worked for me. Hopefully this will help others, but as always, your mileage may vary!

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The Moore School Lectures and the British Lead in Stored Program Computer Development (1946 -1953)

In 1946 between 8th July and 31st August the Moore School of Electrical Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania held a special course entitled Theory and Techniques for Design of Electronic Digital Computers. The course was organized in response to interest generated by; the schools public announcement of the ENIAC, and the publication of The First Draft of a Report on the EDVAC. 1945 by Jon von Neumann. Attendance was by invitation only and the “Students” were selected from the leading experts at the major institutions working on the development of computing devices in the US and UK. At the time of this event there were only three published designs for a stored program computer and it was expected that all those present were familiar with these documents.

Within two years of these lectures the first stored program computer was operational, within 3 years there were 5 operational machines, and within 5 years stored program machines were commercially available. The Moore School Lectures, as they became known, were responsible for focusing all the leading developers of computing devices on a single problem:- How to design and build a stored program computer. It is interesting that despite being outnumbered and out-funded the British took, and held, the lead in this development effort between 1946 and 1953. In some areas such as business applications the British held the lead for much longer. How they were able to do this is not directly explained in any of the historical material available online, which tends to focus on individual development efforts and not on the larger picture.

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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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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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