Archive for ‘Technology’

May 17, 2020

Boardwalk

Steel Pier

boardwalk is an elevated footpath, walkway, or causeway built with wooden planks that enables pedestrians to cross wet, fragile, or marshy land. They are also in effect a low type of bridge. Such timber trackways have existed since at least Neolithic times (12,000 years ago).

An early example is the ‘Sweet Track’ that Neolithic people built in the Somerset levels, England, around 6,000 years ago. This track consisted mainly of planks of oak laid end-to-end, supported by crossed pegs of ash, oak, and lime, driven into the underlying peat (partially decayed vegetation).

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May 4, 2020

George Barris

Batmobile

George Barris (1925 – 2015) was an American designer and builder of many famous Hollywood custom cars, most notably the Munster Koach and 1966 Batmobile.

George and his brother Sam were born in Chicago in the 1920s. Barris was three years old when their father, a Greek immigrant from Chios, sent the brothers to live with an uncle and his wife in Roseville, California, following the death of their mother. By age 7, Barris was making models of cars employing balsa wood and modifying their design and appearance with careful attention to details so his entries won contests sponsored by hobby shops.

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April 26, 2020

Zombie Satellite

LES-5

zombie satellite is a satellite that is no longer under human control due to an extended malfunction. At the end of their service life, the majority of satellites suffer from orbital decay and are destroyed by the heat of atmospheric entry. Zombie satellites, however, maintain a stable orbit but are either partially or completely inoperable, preventing operators from communicating with them.

One of the oldest known zombie satellites is Transit 5B-5, which was launched in 1965 as part of the Transit system. Also known as NAVSAT or NNSS (for Navy Navigation Satellite System), it is one of the first satellite navigation systems (or satnav). Transit 5B-5 is nuclear powered and still in a stable polar orbit, though operators are unable to control it.

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April 16, 2020

Tensegrity

Skylon by George Morrow

Tensegrity [ten-seg-ri-tee], tensional integrity or floating compression is a structural principle based on a system of isolated components under compression inside a network of continuous tension, and arranged in such a way that the compressed members (usually bars or struts) do not touch each other while the prestressed tensioned members (usually cables or tendons) delineate the system spatially.

The term was coined by inventor Buckminster Fuller in the 1960s as a portmanteau of ‘tensional integrity.’ The other denomination of tensegrity, floating compression, was used mainly by the constructivist artist Kenneth Snelson. Shorter columns or struts in compression are stronger than longer ones. This in turn led Fuller to make claims that tensegrity structures could be scaled up to cover whole cities.

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March 28, 2020

CueCat

CueCat

The CueCat, styled :CueCat with a leading colon, is a cat-shaped handheld barcode reader that was given away free to Internet users starting in 2000 by the now-defunct Digital Convergence Corporation. It enabled a user to open a link to an Internet URL by scanning a barcode — called a ‘cue’ by Digital Convergence — appearing in an article or catalog or on some other printed matter.

The company asserted that the ability of the device to direct users to a specific URL, rather than a domain name, was valuable. In addition, television broadcasters could use an audio tone in programs or commercials that, if a TV was connected to a computer via an audio cable, acted as a web address shortcut.

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February 27, 2020

Milkshake Duck

Milkshake Duck by Ben Ward

Milkshake Duck is an Internet meme that describes phenomena that are initially perceived as positive but later revealed to be flawed. Oxford Dictionaries defined the term as ‘a person or character on social media that appears to be endearing at first, but is found to have an unappealing back story,’ but did not consider usage of the neologism to be sufficiently long-lived or widespread to warrant inclusion in their dictionaries.

The term has been connected to ‘cancel culture,’ a growing trend of call-out culture on social media resulting in celebrities being ostracized and careers abruptly derailed by publicized misconduct.

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February 26, 2020

Outrage Porn

Online Shaming by Nishant Choksi

Outrage porn is any type of media that is designed to evoke outrage for the purpose generating increased web traffic or online attention. The term was coined in 2009 by political cartoonist and essayist Tim Kreider of ‘The New York Times,’ who said: ‘It sometimes seems as if most of the news consists of outrage porn, selected specifically to pander to our impulses to judge and punish and get us all riled up with righteous indignation.’

Kreider made a distinction between authentic outrage and outrage porn by stating, ‘I’m not saying that all outrage is inherently irrational, that we should all just calm down, that It’s All Good. All is not good…Outrage is healthy to the extent that it causes us to act against injustice.’ Kreider is also noted as saying: ‘It spares us the impotent pain of empathy, and the harder, messier work of understanding.’

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February 21, 2020

Vacuum Tube

Tube Sound

vacuum tube, also called a ‘valve’ in British English, is a device that controls electric current flow in a high vacuum between electrodes (conductors that emit or receive electrons). Tubes were used in many radios, television sets, and amplifiers until they were supplanted by lower cost transistors in the 1960s that performed the same function but used less electricity and were more durable.

In a vacuum tube, a cathode (an electrode that emits electrons) is heated, as in a light bulb, so it will emit electrons. This is called ‘thermionic emission.’ The electrons are accelerated from the cathode to the anode (an electrode that receives electrons) by the electric field in the tube. Vacuum tubes must be hot to work. Most are made of glass, thus are fragile and can break. Vacuum tubes were used in the first computers like the ENIAC, which were large and need much work to continue operating.

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February 2, 2020

History of DJing

Paradise Garage

DJing is the act of playing existing recorded music for a live audience. The modern DJ’s role as a performer who creates a seamless and extended mix of music for a dance party or club atmosphere evolved from radio personalities who introduced and played individual selections of recorded music on broadcast radio stations.

In 1935, American radio commentator Walter Winchell coined the term ‘disc jockey’ (the combination of disc, referring to disc-shaped phonograph records, and jockey, which is an operator of a machine) to describe radio announcer Martin Block, the first radio announcer to gain widespread fame for playing popular recorded music over the air.

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January 18, 2020

NOBUS

NSA ANT

NOBUS (‘nobody but us’) are security vulnerabilities which the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) believes that only it can exploit.

As such, the agency sometimes chooses to leave such vulnerabilities open, in order to exploit them against NSA’s targets. More broadly, it refers to the notion that some signals intelligence capabilities are so powerful or otherwise inaccessible that only the NSA will be able to deploy them, though recent analyses suggest that this advantage may be under stress.

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December 19, 2019

Big Dumb Object

Ringworld

In discussion of science fiction, a Big Dumb Object (BDO) is any mysterious object, usually of extraterrestrial or unknown origin and immense power, in a story which generates an intense sense of wonder by its mere existence. To a certain extent, the term deliberately deflates this.

The term’s coinage is attributed to book reviewer Roz Kaveney, but it was popularized by its tongue-in-cheek inclusion in ‘The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction’ by Peter Nicholls in 1993.

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November 24, 2019

Cicada 3301

ciphertexts

Cicada 3301 is a nickname given to an organization that on three occasions has posted a set of puzzles to recruit codebreakers from the public. The first internet puzzle started on January 4, 2012 on 4chan and ran for approximately one month. A second round began one year later on January 4, 2013, and a third round following the confirmation of a fresh clue posted on Twitter on January 4, 2014.

Much speculation exists as to its function. It has been speculated that the puzzles are a recruitment tool for the NSA, CIA, MI6, a ‘Masonic conspiracy’ or a cyber mercenary group. Others have claimed Cicada 3301 is an alternate reality game. No company or individual has taken credit for it or attempted to monetize it, however.

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