The Apollo computer was digital, but it had a whopping 36KB of memory. Think about that. We went to the moon on 36K. A simple email message today can take up more computer space than that. On the plus side, the computer had a mean time between failures of more than 70,000 hours. (This reliability led NASA to later use the computer to control the first digital fly-by-wire aircraft without any mechanical back-up.) But because of the limited memory, the interface of the Apollo computer (shown below) was primitive. Every word command had a code number. So, for example, to open a valve, the astronaut would hit "verb," then the number for the word "open," then hit "noun," then the code for the valve he wanted open, and then hit "enter."If you're an "extreme geek," you can build your own Apollo computer. A person recently uploaded all the schematics you'll need -- about 1,000 pages worth. Last week we wondered weather footprints and the stuff we left on the moon are still there. The BBC has photos from a spacecraft that shows they are.
Handt said the traditional practice in cemeteries is to bury the deceased daughters to the right of their mother's body and sons to the left.4) Alright, look, this is getting serious. Vacations are for vacationing, not sitting in parking lots late at night in some far-away locale checking in on work. What's the matter with us? Discussion point: When was the moment -- and where were you -- when you realized you had to disconnect from your laptop?
An article on a journalism blog has Public Radio and the future of "old" media in its crosshairs.
The question comes down to this:
Do we still need radio?
Public Radio Dangerously Close To Making Public Radio Obsolete on PaidContent.org argues that smart phones and apps to to turn phones into "radios" have made the old transistor obsolete:
Now with the addition of what's playing on my favorite stations right now, I have a lot more choices in one screen that I had previously: so instead of enduring "A Prairie Home Companion" on the weekend (not my cup of tea), I could try "On The Media" on at the same time on WBEZ Chicago public radio. And if I happen to join a show after its start, chances are I can get the latest edition of the show on demand (helpfully linked from the live version). In the car, where a lot of public radio consumption happens (especially in SoCal) with one of the options to connect the iPhone to the radio speakers, it makes the local public radio station redundant, to a large extent. Of course you can argue this is only true for the 20 million or so iPhone users, but you can see this playing out on other smartphones like Android and others, when the same app launches of their platforms.
Rafat Ali frets that the funding mechanism for Public Radio -- primarily local pledge drives -- would suffer because people don't have a connection to their local station.
The future will be the death of us all. And therein lies the Catch 24 for all media in the digital age. Content is still king and content still comes from local stations. If people enjoy the breadth of possibilities across the Public Radio spectrum and stop supporting their local stations, it seems likely that the content they enjoy would begin to disappear. So the key, one supposes, is whether the audience in this environment understands that.
American Public Media, the parent of MPR, is one of the entities that helped develop the application. Incidentally, MPR News has an IPhone app. You can learn more about it here.
I'm not exactly in the iPhone app demo. I don't have a smart phone. I do have an iPod stuffed with all sorts of great music that I listen to while I'm mowing the lawn or am stuck in a big aluminum tube somewhere. I've tried using podcasts but I can't get into the habit of updating them enough nor listening to them regularly. So even with this "tool," I have not found I listen to less radio; I actually find myself listening to more.
How about you? How do you see your digital future?(7 Comments)
Just when Minnesota raised its gas tax for the first time in more than 20 years, the gas tax may be heading for the ash dump of history.
That's probably overstating the future a bit but momentum is increasing to charge people based on the number of miles they drive. The University of Iowa has been given a federal grant to determine whether billing people for the miles they drive makes more sense.
The problem with the gas tax is cars are getting better mileage and people are driving less because of high prices.
There's money to be made here. The project is looking for people to participants in the 10-month study. Small computers will be attached to their cars and they'll be sent mock invoices. They'll also make up to $895, the Chicago Sun Times reports today. Unfortunately, Twin Cities or Minnesota drivers aren't part of the study.
The study is also another example of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing. The federal government has given the university the money to study the idea. President Obama has already said he won't pursue it.
But the idea could become the new census. The primary opposition to it comes from privacy interests. "There is a real concern on the part of many in the public that this is the ultimate of Big Brother watching and knowing where you are," says Kansas Transportation Secretary Deb Miller.(13 Comments)
Minnesota's commander-in-chief of the National Guard looked soldier-like in the U.S. Army images of Gov. Tim Pawlenty's meeting with the troops in a surprise visit to Iraq over the weekend. The governor wore an Army-olive t-shirt and blended in with the troops.
Pawlenty is traveling with Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon who went with khaki:
And Gov. Jim Gibbons of Nevada, who went with the golf shirt and jeans look:
(Above photo from Red Bulls south newsletter)
The Census Bureau sure knows how to ruin a good narrative.
The bureau released figures today showing a smaller percentage of registered voters went to the polls last November than in 2004. Even in voting-intensive Minnesota, more whites stayed home.
According to the national data, more older whites opted to stay home compared with 2004, citing little interest in supporting either Barack Obama or John McCain.
By race, the percentage of registered voters in Minnesota who voted was higher for whites (71.6%) than blacks (69%). In 2004, 78% of registered white voters showed up. Among black voters , 64.7% voted.
"The 2008 presidential election saw a significant increase in voter turnout among young people, blacks and Hispanics," said Thom File, a voting analyst with the Census Bureau's Housing and Household Economic Statistics Division said in a news release. "But as turnout among some other demographic groups either decreased or remained unchanged, the overall 2008 voter turnout rate was not statistically different from 2004."
The study also reaffirmed an existing maxim: Generally speaking, young people couldn't care less about voting. Among whites, the smallest turnout was among 18-to-24 year olds (43.8%). Among blacks, this age group also had the lowest turnout (52.3%).
But for all of the jokes about Minnesota in the wake of the Coleman-Franken race, one fact remains: Minnesotans vote. The state had the highest turnout (75%). Hawaii (51.8%), Utah (53.1%), West Virginia (53.4%), and Arkansas (53.8%) brought up the rear.
The Census Bureau data also showed -- again -- that the higher your income, the more likely you are to vote.(2 Comments)
Journalists in the U.S. complained for most of the Bush administration that they weren't allowed to photograph the returning caskets of U.S. soldiers. They alleged the ban sanitized war.
Now that the Obama administration is allowing -- with permission of families -- the photographing of the homecomings, journalists have taken to sanitizing war on their own.
The images are compelling, disturbing and, of course, sad. The captions below the photographs are not.
Take both of the Twin Cities Daily newspapers.
The Star Tribune documented the arrival of the body of Army Specialist James Wertish on over the weekend.
Said the caption: "An Army team carried a transfer case containing the remains of Army Specialist James Wertish on Saturday at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware. Wrtish, 20, of Olivia, Minn., was one of three Minnesotans who died Thursday in Basra, Iraq.
Transfer case? It sounds like something you'd put groceries in. Not a body. Not a human. Transfer cases are part of the transmission of four-wheel-drive vehicles.
Another Minnesotan, Daniel Drevnick of Woodbury, arrived home on Saturday.
Said the Pioneer Press: "An Air Force team removes transfer cases containing the remains of Minnesota National Guard members Spc. Carlos Wilcox, Spc. James Wertish and Spc. Daniel Drevnick on Saturday at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware."
Both papers used transfer cases. Both described the people carrying them as a team
Back before the Bush administration, we called them coffins or caskets; words which may be technically insufficient, but made clear that someone's son, brother, or husband was inside, and he is dead.
Instead of "teams," they were referred to as "honor guards," reinforcing that the dead deserved no less.
Other dead soldiers coming home got almost the same sanitized treatment:
An Army carry team carries a transfer case containing the remains of Pfc. Nicolas Hugh Joseph Gideon at Dover Air Force Base, Del., July 7, 2009. - Anchorage Daily News.
An Army carry team carries a transfer case containing the remains of Spc. Chester W. Hosford of Hastings, Minn. Wednesday July 8, 2009 at Dover Air Force Base, Del. - Minnesota Public Radio.
An Army Corps carry team carries the transfer case containing the body of U.S. Army Pfc. Justin A. Casillas, 19, of Dunnigan, during a transfer ceremony at Dover Air Force Base, Del., Monday, July 6. - Woodland (Calif.) Democrat
This is what George Carlin called "soft language."
"I don't like words that hide the truth. I don't like words that conceal reality. I don't like euphemisms, or euphemistic language. And American English is loaded with euphemisms. Cause Americans have a lot of trouble dealing with reality. Americans have trouble facing the truth, so they invent the kind of a soft language to protect themselves from it, and it gets worse with every generation. For some reason, it just keeps getting worse."
(Photos: Associated Press)(15 Comments)
The apparent pent-up demand for cheap flights from the Twin Cities to Toledo will remain pent up.
The airline is promising refunds to customers who bought tickets.
A Northwest/Delta flight for Toledo is going for $365.(1 Comments)