Why Is Your NES A TV Station? (That's Weird)
The title doesn’t lie, and the answer is mildly cursed but par for the course. Something I didn’t mention is that this applies to almost all consoles released in the entire decade, and in fact a significant number (like the Colecovision) ONLY had RF out; the NES was one of the first consoles to have composite at all. If I could do it all again I’d mention that. I’d also keep my Casio CZ-1000 instead of throwing it away when I was 25.
The Garden of Computational Delights
Beneath the utilitarian purpose of computation, computing is also a source of delight and wonder. Software is not just databases and mail merges or SaaS and spreadsheets; it’s creative coding and simulated cities, code poetry and bulletin board systems. It’s websites that dazzle and iPhone apps that make the heart sing. And it’s sometimes even spreadsheets, coerced to dance and do all manner of weirdness. All of these approaches to computing are what am collecting here, and bundling under the term “garden of computational delights.” This is a list of places that collect or catalyze sources for being enraptured by the web, programming, and the wider world of computing. Or, as per Tim Hwang and Omar Rizwan, this is a garden of all the different places you might discover where “the computer is a feeling.”
Mind Grenade Fifty Years On
In 1969, Harry amazed everybody with a little electronic gadget he’d built which, using the primitive digital integrated circuits of the time, generated random music, played it through a speaker, and flashed lights on its front panel. It was precisely what people expected computers to do, based upon portrayals in the movies and on television, and yet it could be held in your hand and was, internally, very simple. He explained how it worked, and I immediately knew I had to have one. Digital electronics was in a great state of flux at the time, with each manufacturer launching their own line of integrated circuits, most incompatible with one another, so there was no point in slavishly reproducing Harry’s design. Starting from the concept, I designed my own gadget from scratch, using Signetics Utilogic diode-transistor small scale integration integrated circuits which were popular at the time but shortly thereafter made obsolete by 7400 series transistor-transistor logic (TTL). The architecture was identical to Harry’s device, but I opted for more with-it and less power-hungry light-emitting diodes (LEDs) for the display instead of the incandescent bulbs he used. I built the electronics assembly on a sheet of perforated board using wire-wrap fabrication (some people look down their noses at wire-wrap today, but it was good enough for the Apollo Guidance Computer and almost every mainframe backplane of the 1960s, and my wire-wrapped electronics works perfectly fifty years later.)
In the world of modern portable devices, it may be hard to believe that merely a few decades ago the most convenient way to keep track of time was a mechanical watch. Unlike their quartz and smart siblings, mechanical watches can run without using any batteries or other electronic components.
Over the course of this article I’ll explain the workings of the mechanism seen in the demonstration below. You can drag the device around to change your viewing angle, and you can use the slider to peek at what’s going on inside:
World's Strongest Magnet!
The world’s strongest magnet is a million times stronger than Earth’s magnetic field.
A tour of the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory and its 45 Tesla magnet.
If You Ask Your Friend to Take Your Photo Using Your Camera, Who Owns the Copyright?–Shah v. NYP
Still, its implications are wide-ranging. The court is basically saying that whoever presses the camera button owns the copyright, even if the button-pusher doesn’t own the equipment, the camera settings are provided to them, and they get some verbal direction from the camera owner/photo subject about when, where, and how to take the photo. Due to that conclusion, Shah does not own the copyrights to the photos on his phone and he can’t register the copyrights or enforce them.
‘Every message was copied to the police’: the inside story of the most daring surveillance sting in history
Billed as the most secure phone on the planet, An0m became a viral sensation in the underworld. There was just one problem for anyone using it for criminal means: it was run by the police
Cells Form Into ‘Xenobots’ on Their Own
Embryonic cells can self-assemble into new living forms that don’t resemble the bodies they usually generate, challenging old ideas of what defines an organism.
Dr. Steve Gass, inventor of SawStop
This week’s interview features Dr. Steven Gass, the inventor of the SawStop—considered one of the best table saws (we love the one in our office!). SawStop has a unique safety feature that automatically brakes the blade if a finger touches it.
The Design of the Roland Juno oscillators
This article is a comprehensive guide to the Roland Juno’s digitally-controlled analog oscillators (DCOs). I fell in love with the Juno early in my synthesizer journey and I’ve spent the last year or so doing research on its design so that I could create my own Juno-inspired DCO, Winterbloom’s Castor & Pollux.
Exploring the Supply Chain of the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines
The following text is a collection of notes I wrote down while exploring the process for manufacturing and distributing the two new vaccines that have appeared all over the news and in more and more people’s arms over the recent weeks. I started reading about mRNA but quickly found myself on tangents about glass vials and temperature tracking devices.
Data Security on Mobile Devices: Current State of the Art, Open Problems, and Proposed Solutions
In this work we attempt a full accounting of the current and historical status of smartphone security measures. We focus on several of the most popular device types, and present a complete description of both the available security mechanisms in these devices, as well as a summary of the known public information on the state-of-the-art in bypass techniques for each. Our goal is to provide a single periodically updated guide that serves to detail the public state of data security in modern smartphones.
Cameras and Lenses
Cameras and the lenses inside them may seem a little mystifying. In this blog post I’d like to explain not only how they work, but also how adjusting a few tunable parameters can produce fairly different results:
This is amazing work.
This Tiny WiFi Camera Owns Kwikset SmartKey (LockTech LTKSD)
Open a padlock (or probably any keyed lock) by taking a picture of the sliders inside, then cutting a key.
The video shows this in real time and is five minutes long. Open sesame!
Hasselblad, Kodak, & Apollo 11
A probably not entirely wrong history of cameras developed for the moon.
Something in the Air
The coronavirus pandemic is sparking baseless theories about the dangers of 5G. But the fear that wireless technology is slowly killing us isn’t new—and it doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon.
Engineering and Technology History Wiki
The ETHW is not a “how-does-technology-work” site. The scope of the ETHW is historical; instead of focusing on the inner workings of technology, it aims to explain how the technology was developed, who were the major players involved, and what long term significance the technologies have. The ETHW is not only an encyclopedia of the history of technology, but it also contains a full range of materials that relate to the legacy of engineering, including personal accounts, documents, and multimedia objects. In that sense, it is a combination reference guide, blog, virtual archive, and on-line community.
Touch And Go
Pondering the disastrous fate of the HP TouchPad, an early tablet based on WebOS that’s best known for being the subject of a well-remembered fire sale.
Point Of Saturation
75k - The number of restaurants around the world that use the Aloha point of sale system. Aloha is an industry stalwart that has managed to stay relevant while often still looking like it was designed in 1998.
Plus some NCR history.
The Fairey Rotodyne, the vertical takeoff and landing airliner time forgot
The phrase “Urban Air Mobility” (UAM) seems like it’s been with us for quite a while, but really it’s only been in widespread use for two or three years. NASA officially recognized UAM in 2017, calling for a market study of remotely piloted or unmanned air passenger and cargo transportation around an urban area. Most people would probably call this the “air taxi” idea—a vision of hundreds of small, unmanned electric multi-copters shuttling two or three passengers from nearby suburbs or city spaces to vertiports at about 100 mph (roughly 161 km/h).
But if things had worked out differently in the late 1950s and early 1960s, we might have a very different understanding of UAM—something more like mass-transit. We might have had a city-center to city-center 55-passenger vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) airliner shuttling between urban heliports at 180 mph (289 km/h).
Actually, we did have that, it’s just few people remember. It was called the Fairey Rotodyne.