Archive for ‘Technology’

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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October 2, 2019

Rocket Mail

Astrophilately

Rocket mail is the delivery of mail by rocket or missile. The rocket lands by deploying an internal parachute upon arrival. It has been attempted by various organizations in many different countries, with varying levels of success. It has never become widely seen as being a viable option for delivering mail, due to the cost of the schemes and numerous failures.

The collection of philatelic material (‘stamps’) used for (and depicting) rocket mail is part of a specialist branch of aerophilately known as astrophilately.

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September 17, 2019

Walking Truck

Ralph Mosher

The walking truck or Cybernetic Walking Machine was an experimental quadruped walking vehicle created by General Electric in 1965. It was designed by engineer Ralph Mosher to help infantry carry equipment over rough terrain. It alternatively bore the name of ‘CAM,’ an acronym for ‘cybernetic anthropomorphous machine,’ as seen in a segment of the Walter Cronkite–hosted documentary television program ‘The Twentieth Century’ in 1968.

As of 2019, the surviving prototype can be seen at the U.S. Army Transportation Museum in Fort Eustis, Virginia. The robot weighs 3,000 pounds and can walk up to 5 miles per hour. It was exhausting to control and, according to program lead Mosher who was the designer and primary driver, operators could only drive the walking truck for a limited time. Mosher also worked on the unsuccessful Hardiman project for GE, the first attempt to build a practical powered exoskeleton.

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July 26, 2019

Nike Shox

Nike Shox

Shox is a shoe feature first released by Nike in 2000 that is incorporated in several of their flagship athletic sports shoes. The shoe design includes a support system feature, which is an arrangement of small hollow columns in the midsole supporting the shoe’s heel, which are made primarily with polyurethane.

There are different formations of the shox technology, but most models include four circular columns in a square formation to provide cushioning. Later variations in shox models added one or two additional shox, 25 mm high, though they may vary in height; as well as triangular and rectangular shox that Nike claims provide better stability. Some shoes have midsoles made entirely of Shox, like the TL series.

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July 11, 2019

Scunthorpe Problem

Dirty Words

The Scunthorpe problem is the unintentional blocking of websites, e-mails, forum posts, or search results by a spam filter or search engine because their text contains a string of letters that appear to have an obscene or otherwise unacceptable meaning. Names, abbreviations, and technical terms are most often cited as being affected by the issue.

The problem arises since computers can easily identify strings of text within a document, but interpreting words of this kind requires considerable ability to interpret a wide range of contexts, possibly across many cultures, which is an extremely difficult task. As a result, broad blocking rules may result in false positives affecting innocent phrases.

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July 3, 2019

Car Tailfin

Harley Earl

The tailfin era of automobile styling encompassed the 1950s and 1960s, peaking between 1955 and 1961. It was a style that spread worldwide, as car designers picked up styling trends from the US automobile industry, where it was regarded as the ‘golden age’ of American auto design.

General Motors design chief Harley Earl is often credited for the automobile tailfin, introducing small fins on the 1948 Cadillac, but according to many sources the actual inventor/designer of the tailfin for that vehicle was Franklin Quick Hershey, then chief of the GM Special Car Design Studio. It was Hershey, who after seeing an early production model of a WWII P-38 fighter plane at Selfridge air base, thought the twin rudders of the airplane would make a sleek design addition to the rear of future modern automobiles.

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June 11, 2019

Rio PMP300

PMP

The Rio PMP300 is one of the first portable consumer MP3 digital audio players, and the first commercially successful one. Produced by Diamond Multimedia, it was introduced in 1998 as the first in the ‘Rio’ series of digital audio players, and it shipped later that year. The Rio retailed for US $200 with the ability to hold around 30 minutes of music at a bitrate of 128 kbit/s.

It shipped with 32 MB of internal memory and has a SmartMedia slot, allowing users to add additional memory. It is powered by a single AA battery, which provides between 8 and 12 hours of playback time. Connection to a personal computer is through the computer’s parallel port, with a proprietary connector on the Rio’s edge.

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May 30, 2019

Splinternet

Great Firewall

The splinternet (also referred to as ‘cyber-balkanization’) is a characterization of the Internet as splintering and dividing due to various factors, such as technology, commerce, politics, nationalism, religion, and interests. China erected a ‘Great Firewall’ to restrict the informational sources its citizens have access to. The U.S. and Australia, are discussing plans to create a similar systems to block child pornography or weapon-making instructions.

Clyde Wayne Crews, a researcher at the Cato Institute, first used the term in 2001 to describe his concept of ‘parallel Internets that would be run as distinct, private, and autonomous universes.’ Crews used the term in a positive sense, but more recent writers, like Scott Malcomson, a fellow in New America’s International Security program, use the term pejoratively, describing a threat to the internet’s status as a globe-spanning network of networks.

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