8-bit Nostalgia: Part III

The Prototype:

The Lorraine Prototype (Later to become the Amiga 1000).

This is part 3 in the Ars Technica series on the origins of the Amiga, it’s quite an amazing tale of 90+ hour workweeks with the challenge of creating an operating system from scratch after the developers realzied that, “. . . CPM and MSDOS [were] poor designs. So, [they] started creating [their] own OS design, even before the Amiga came along.”

What I’m happy to learn at the end of this article is that Ars Technica plans to continue this series covering Amiga’s official launch and its early years with an established product.

From Wikipedia: In 1996 PC World rated the Amiga 1000 as the 7th greatest PC of all time [1]. In 2007 it was rated by the same magazine as the 37th best tech product of all time [2].

Linkbacks to Parts I and II of the Ars Technica articles:
Part 1: Genesis
Part 2: The birth of Amiga

Asus set to debut volume shipments of the $199 Linux-Based Laptop

Ars Technica has a little writeup about the Asus Eee Laptop. It’s small, uses little power, will price from $199 to $369, with the $349 model targeting the US mainstream. Offers 4, 8, or 16GB solid-state storage. With solid-state storage, access to data will be much faster than your standard hard disk (solid-state media is about 15 times faster than standard mechanical hard disks).

It will be running a Xandros-derived Linux OS (wonder if Fedora or Ubuntu would work on them?) and oh, yes … did I mention that it just weighs 2 pounds?

The Asus page on the product is a bit underwhelming and slow to load, but Wikipedia has a nice writeup on it.

HOT Hardware has a very good review of it, apparently they’ve played with it and they offer action-shots.

Image Source: Wikipedia.

A Prairie Home Companion comes to RSS.

While I thought the movie was just “ok”, I really do enjoy the radio show and I thought it’d be worth making a blog entry. I’ve always enjoyed NPR programming and a Prairie Home Companion offers a calming, warm, well . . . prairie-feeling, if there ever was such a thing. Garrison Keillor’s voice is soothing (just like Bob Ross‘ voice from The Joy of Painting) and his shows are equally so. The shows themselves are very entertaining, witty and hearkens to the time of classic radio performances.

I often think we’ve lost something in the art of the good radio show, while certainly TV and Movies are a great medium, it ‘s the effort our imagination offers that often makes an experience much more enjoyable (and longer lasting). Just like a good book meshes your mind’s eye with the text, a good radio program can bring together your personal memories and imagination for a more enjoyable experience. While a full blown movie can be entertaining and exicting, it’s more of a spectator sport. A good book or radio performance allows an audience to pariticpate.

I’ve recently noticed that the Prairie Home Companion’s News from Lake Wobegon and the Writer’s Almanac have both become podcasts! I applaud Garrison Keillor’s creativity, he’s a master storyteller and I enjoy his work thoroughly, especially the News from Lake Wobegon segments.

Again, those who think they got an accurate measure of the Prairie Home Companion from the movie are missing out (not once does the movie even mention Lake Wobegon!), I encourage you to check out their performances.

Contactify: Your own anonymous contact form.

People click on it, they can send you a message and YOU never reveal your email address. It reduces spam, guards your privacy and keeps you contactable. This is great for websites as well if you don’t want to put up an email link. These days Spam Spiders are sucking down any and all e-mail addresses they can find, auto-adding them to their spam-lists, so this is a great way to avoid that.

They also offer code to embed the links with widgets for blog posting, which I will likely do myself very shortly.

8-bit Nostalgia: Part II

Part II of the short history of the Amiga has been published at Ars Technica, worth reading.

I talked about Part I in an earlier post

Part III will be coming out next week: The first prototype.

Google offers expansion of storage, for a price.

With a Google shared storage plan, you won’t have to worry about deleting files, pictures, or emails. After purchasing a storage plan, some of your individual Google services (e.g. email and photos) will share a single new storage space.

Plans begin at $20/year for 6gigs.

Microsoft Photosynth!

This is nothing short of an astounding piece of technology. Presented at the TED conference (you can visit TED’s main site here), Photosynth takes a large collection of photos of a place or an object, analyzes them for similarities, and then displays the photos in a reconstructed three-dimensional space, showing you how each one relates to the next.

The company (originally called Seadragon) is a recent acquisition for Microsoft (about a year ago). They now live in MS Labs. It could leverage the web in a way never done before to bring the collective into play to benefit one and all.

This technology will potentially revolutionize our desktops (making desktop resolution meaningless!) the way we search, the way we think and interact with one another: simply astounding!

Enjoy the video below, then check out the details at Microsoft Live Labs. They also offer some movies that you can download to experience this amazing technology. They have also recently (August 6, 2007) with NASA’s help, created a virtual tour of the Space Shuttle Endeavour.


High-resolution (free) wallpaper

I love excellent wallpaper and I am often on the hunt for new images. I recently came across a site that offers excellent quality images, free and high resolution.

The site is clean, with no popups or spyware and the images are often 1920×1200 or higher and many are offered for dual-monitor setups… Click the wolf above to get to the first page of images. You can sort the listing by most-downloaded, highest-rated, or just all to browse though all 132 pages of thumbnails.

They also offer windows-themes, if you’re into that sort of thing as well as royalty-free stock icons which are not half-bad.

8-bit Nostalgia

Years ago, in a galaxy far far away … as an 11 year old, I had an Amiga. It was an amazing computer for it’s time and it captured my imagination. It had a mac’ish feel to it, but it was unique. It was the Workbench! The Amiga brings back a time to me when using a computer was new and exciting and above all, fun. Hours would pass in my world while I’d enjoy using it (as well as other computers such as the Texas Instruments TI-99/4A as well as the Atari 800XL). Of course later the 286’s and 486’s came into being, but that’s another story.

Ars Technica has recently published an article (part 2 coming next week) about the origins of the Amiga (originally named Hi-Toro) and how the dream of Jay Miner evolved from his involvement with Atari.

Another interesting site is the Amiga Forever Homepage which houses the award-winning Amiga preservation, emulation and support package which runs on current operating systems.

They also have a premium package for sale which offers more than 5 hours of video on DVD showing archival footage and interviews with the creators of the Amiga.

There’s just something about these old computers that invigorates and brings me back to the days when, at least to me, using a computer was a very special experience. Of course the nostalgia of childhood probably has something to do with it, but it was during these early years that I established my understanding and firm interest in these subjects. I’m sure I’ll be postinig more about these topics in the future.

Optional: Another well-written history of the Amiga.

Free Will: A figment of our imagination?

The latest from RadioLab (If you don’t have time to listen now, you can download the mp3 and listen to it later.): Einstein’s Theory of Relativity may have implications on the concept of choice. Namely, that there is none. Do we choose what movie to see tonight? No. (It’s already been chosen, some say.) Do we choose to wiggle our finger? No. (Already wiggled.)

This hour of Radio Lab features conversations with scientists and an entire cast of characters who are all waging battle against time – or at least the common sense view of time. We’ll visit a particle accelerator where scientists recreate the moment just after the beginning of time…and also a Dublin artist whose life is a 19 century time-experiment. We end in the Mojave desert, where geologic time flows like a frozen hourglass. (Some of the interviews are a bit eccentric, but lend themselves to appreciating time as a matter of perspective which evolves as the program unfolds.)

Source: July 22, 2007. Presented by .

SendUIt: The way to send large files to others & 2BrightSparks.

On occasion I need to send a large file to a friend of colleague, that’s too large for e-mail. I could use an FTP or ask the person to initiate an SSH session to one of my many Linux boxes, but sometimes the person I’m trying to give the file to is not tech-savvy to use those methods.SendUIt makes it easy. It allows you to upload a file up to 100 megabytes. After uploading, it offers you a short URL (web address) that you can give out. You can choose that the URL remain valid for 30 minutes all the way to one week.

All he or she has to do is click the link and the file begins downloading (at a good speed as well.)

If you’re concerned about security, I’d recommend encrypting the file. An easy way to do that is to use a program called Encrypt On Click: Uses 256-Bit AES encryption and is very easy to use, and it’s Freeware! Of course, both people (sender & recipient) will need the Encrypt On Click application.The company that makes Encrypt on Click (2BrightSparks) also offers other Freeware tools that I find highly useful:

Hash On Click: Gives alows you to hash any file using a variety of hash methods.

Delete On Click: Truly wipes a file you want to delete, where windows just adds a unique character to the filename allowing it to disappear from your file list, the file is still on the hard disk and readily recoverable. There are plenty of Linux-based apps that port to windows that do this, but this is simple and easy to use for the casual user.

They offer other “On Click” utilities, some you have to pay to use, but overall their applications are well-designed and simple to use.

Daily Lit: Read books via RSS postings . . .

DailyLit

I’m sure many are like me, busy @ work, with little time to read, but perhaps enough time to spend 10-20+ minutes reading some blogs or newsblogs using your favorite RSS reader. A recent discovery I’ve made is an ingenious service that will send you bite-sized chunks of public domain books (including many classics) daily, on weekdays, or three times a week via email or RSS — for free!

Each serving takes less than five minutes to read, and if you want, they’ll send you the next installment right away if you click a link. The whole idea is to read short segments for a few minutes in your spare time.

Ingenious.

iPhone killer: THE GOOGLE PHONE

Google Phone

Coming soon to a T-Mobile dealer near you (and perhaps other providers), the GOOGLE PHONE.

Luckily, I have been a T-Mobile user for years, so this will be a pleasant gadget to offset the iPhone’ers walking around. They’re spending hundreds of millions to develop it, and it will be Linux based, yay!

Source: Reuters.

Photo Source: T3.

Throttle me this Batman: Deep packet inspection & net neutrality

A most-important concept and a topic worth serious consideration and comprehension is net neutrality and deep packet inspection. This article on Ars Technica goes into these topics with care and attention to detail, yet written to be accessible by the non-technical folks.

As a primer, you may want to read on the topics of net neutrality and deep packet inspection on wikipedia, however the article on Ars Technica does a great job of explaining the concepts.

These issues matter greatly for a society interested in free speech and unfettered expression of free thought.

A few selected excerpts from the article . . .

Continue reading

Receiva: Listen to radio stations from all over the world.

Receiva

Reciva brings the world of Internet radio into your home. They provide access to an extremely diverse range of Internet radio stations from around the world, with broadcasts from nearly every country on the planet. The radio stations are indexed and can be searched by genre or country. They also provide live and on-demand (“listen again”) content. It’s great for getting perspective on current events and getting exposure to content you might not otherwise ever hear about.

They also sell very quaint WiFi radios which allow you have access to the same huge variety of radio stations without the need of a PC or Laptop.

Radio Lab

I thoroughly enjoy NPR and all its programming. It’s a cut above most of the media out there. A relatively new program called Radio Lab delves into the kinds of topics that mystify all of us: Time, Sleep, Death, Morality, Music, Space, etc. I’m often at work or asleep or otherwise busy when the program airs, but luckily they offer MP3’s of the programs to download and listen to later.

HTML + License Plates = COOL

For those that may not know, ff0000 is the hex code for the color red.

Game over. Computer scientists at the University of Alberta have solved checkers, the popular board game with a history that dates back to 3,000 B.C.

Click below for the full article . . .

Checkers Solved

A massive steampipe explosion

. . . happened in NYC this evening around 6pm . . .

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