Google “crisis map” for Hurricane #Sandy

Hurricane Sandy looks like it will be the most closely watched storm in history. Google has set us a “crisis map” for Hurricane Sandy to help people who may be in its path. The map features various overlays including: the storm’s predicted path, wind speeds, predicted storm surge, public alerts, evacuation routes, refuge centres and more. Of course as the power goes down across the North Eastern seaboard of the US WiFi and broadband will be lost as well. Cell phone towers can work for a time on battery power, so 3G may still be available, but I’d recommend getting any digital information you may require sooner rather than later – the Internet isn’t storm proof.

from The Universal Machine http://universal-machine.blogspot.com/2012/10/google-crisis-map-for-hurricane-sandy.html

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The future of communications

Another piece of history brought to my attention by Bob Doran. This one features the British Post Office (GPO) in 1969 looking ahead to the future of telecommunications in the 1990s including: video phone calls, document sharing, online banking and access to other computing services. Unfortunately, the GPO is still envisaging using circuit switching with its wasteful dedicated end-to-end communications and complex exchanges and not the much more efficient packet switching that underpins the Internet.

from The Universal Machine http://universal-machine.blogspot.com/2012/10/the-future-of-communications.html

BBB2 to reshow #Turing #Bletchley Park documentary

This Sunday (Oct 28 8:00pm) BBC2 is giving us another chance to see its excellent Timewatch programme  “Codebreakers: Bletchley Park’s Lost Heroes“, giving overdue recognition to the brilliance of Bill Tutte and Tommy Flowers. The BBC says the documentary “reveals the secret story behind one of the greatest intellectual feats of World War II, a feat that gave birth to the digital age. In 1943, a 24-year-old maths student and a GPO engineer combined to hack into Hitler’s personal super-code machine – not Enigma but an even tougher system, which he called his ‘secrets writer’.” 
   If you thought that Bletchley Park was just about Alan Turing, Enigma and U Boats you’re in for a pleasant surprise!

from The Universal Machine http://universal-machine.blogspot.com/2012/10/bbb2-to-reshow-turing-bletchley-park.html

Kodak’s first digital camera – 1975

In the week that Apple released the new iPad Mini and Microsoft released Windows 8 and its Surface tablet my colleague Bob Doran pointed me back to the future – 1975 to be precise. Steve Sasson, an engineer at Eastman Kodak, invented  the digital camera in December 1975. In a Kodak blog post written in 2007, before Kodak went bankrupt, Sasson explains how it was constructed: “It had a lens that we took from a used parts bin from the Super 8 movie camera production line downstairs from our little lab on the second floor in Bldg 4. On the side of our portable contraption, we shoehorned in a portable digital cassette instrumentation recorder. Add to that 16 nickel cadmium batteries, a highly temperamental new type of CCD imaging area array, an a/d converter implementation stolen from a digital voltmeter application, several dozen digital and analog circuits all wired together on approximately half a dozen circuit boards, and you have our interpretation of what a portable all electronic still camera might look like.
   We all become mesmerized by the new and the shiny but this reminds us that being first or being an established powerful company doesn’t inevitably result in long term success. Sasson ends his post with, “The camera described in this report represents a first attempt demonstrating a photographic system which may, with improvements in technology, substantially impact the way pictures will be taken in the future. – how did Kodak get it so wrong.

from The Universal Machine http://universal-machine.blogspot.com/2012/10/kodaks-first-digital-camera-1975.html

iPad Mini – was Steve Jobs wrong?

The unveiling of the iPad Mini with its 7.9-inch display has many pundits referring to Steve Job’s talking about the wisdom of making a tablet with a screen smaller than the iPad’s 10-inch display (for example this article in the Register). It’s true that the iPad Mini is a “gap filler” aimed in particular at the Amazon Kindle Fire market. Apple seem to have reasoned, “why shouldn’t we make a mini tablet? We make iPod’s and MacBooks in all sort of different sizes and specs.
    Yes, it makes no sense logically – if I want a device that fits in my pocket I’ve got an iPhone; if I want a device that fits in my bag I’ve got an iPad. Why would I want something in between? But it seems some people do want a device this size and Apple aren’t about to gift this market segment to Amazon and Google. I expect the iPad Mini will sell well, despite being technically underwhelming. It will certainly appeal to people who are already committed to the Apple ecosystem, and will make a good eBook reader being about the size of a small paperback.

from The Universal Machine http://universal-machine.blogspot.com/2012/10/ipad-mini-was-steve-jobs-wrong.html

Van Gogh Meets Alan #Turing

Google developers present a video that showcases projects they have been working on that merge art and technology – where Van Gogh meets Alan Turing.

from The Universal Machine http://universal-machine.blogspot.com/2012/10/van-gogh-meets-alan-turing.html

Pet Shop Boys inspired by Alan #Turing

The Pet Shop Boys write on their blog Pet Texts that, “We will be performing a concert with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra in Salford, Greater Manchester, on December 6th. As well as a selection of old and new songs, we’ll be premiering part of a piece we have been writing inspired by the British scientist, mathematician and code-breaker, Alan Turing. The concert will be broadcast on BBC Radio 2.” Not sure if the concert will be broadcast live, but I’ll try to let you know.


from The Universal Machine http://universal-machine.blogspot.com/2012/10/pet-shop-boys-inspired-by-alan-turing.html