Tuesday, July 31, 2012

In praise of... #Olympics, the NeXTcube & Steve #Jobs

I just criticized Danny Boyle for missing the golden opportunity of including Alan Turing in the Olympic opening ceremony. However, he deserves praise for the accuracy with which Sir Tim Berners-Lee was presented. As the loop above shows Berners-Lee is using a NeXTcube computer, just like the one on which he famously programmed the world's first web server at CERN. 
    The NeXTcube was in 1990 a powerful workstation created by NeXT  Inc., the company that Steve Jobs formed in 1985 after he was forced out of Apple. The NeXTcube featured an object-oriented operating system called NeXTSTEP, which unlike the hardware, was highly influential. In fact Jobs was brought back into Apple when it acquired NeXT for the operating system, which is still at the core of OS X and iOS. All this history is described in more detail in several chapters in The Universal Machine.




from The Universal Machine http://universal-machine.blogspot.com/




ifttt
Put the internet to work for you. via Personal Recipe 895909

Alan #Turing & the #Olympics - a missed opportunity

What a missed opportunity. Alan Turing's legacy could have been placed central stage in front of a global audience of more than a billion people during the Olympics opening ceremony at the weekend. Sure Tim Berners-Lee was named for inventing the web, but he couldn't have done it without Turing's invention of the computer. Had Danny Boyle, the opening ceremony's director, asked Sir Berners-Lee, who's famously modest, I'm sure he'd have wanted Turing to get the recognition and not himself.
   There's even a direct Olympic connection with Turing who tried out for the British Olympic team in 1948, the last time the games were held in London. His best marathon time was 2 hours 46 minutes, that was competitive in 1948 and is still a very respectable time. A genius scientist, codebreaker and athlete, what's not to celebrate!




from The Universal Machine http://universal-machine.blogspot.com/




ifttt
Put the internet to work for you. via Personal Recipe 895909

Monday, July 30, 2012

#Facebook faces twin threats

Last week Facebook announced an operating loss of $157m (USD) from April to June and it's share price fell 12% at $23.71 - remember Facebook shares were priced at $38 when it listed in May. This was widely reported in the media, for example by the BBC. That report, and may others, blames Facebook's troubles on its long standing problem of "mobile monetisation." Basically that means it's difficult to place adverts on the small screens of mobile devices. As people increasingly use their smartphones to check their Facebook they don't see as may adverts as they do on the larger screens of PCs; hence Facebook is getting less revenue.
   However, Facebook also faces another more existential threat that constantly lurks in the shadows. What if, one day in the future, a new cooler social media app is invented and all the cool kids and hipsters abandon Facebook for this new phenomena, leaving Facebook a realm that only their grandparents still visit. As we know the web is a constant well spring of innovation. Facebook was once the new kid on the block and remember what it did to MySpace. Facebook can meet this challenge by using its bank balance to buy up innovators like Instagram, but that only works if they want to sell. Facebook itself famously refused to be bought out by many suitors over the years.  I'm not saying this will happen, but it could. One thing we've learnt about the web is that the future is hard to foresee.  




from The Universal Machine http://universal-machine.blogspot.com/




ifttt
Put the internet to work for you. via Personal Recipe 895909

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The art of finding inspiration in #Turing

A Royal Society blog post by Cheryl Field called "The art of of finding inspiration" features an art work called "Fellows of the Royal Society: John Maynard Smith, Richard Feynman & Alan Turing." The artist says that "this imposing portrait is wrought from tens of thousands of hand-mounted and tinted, scintillating metallic discs, shimmering gently in a breeze generated by a host of computer fans." Read more about the inspiration behind this art work on the Royal Society blog.




from The Universal Machine http://universal-machine.blogspot.com/




ifttt
Put the internet to work for you. via Personal Recipe 895909

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Computer Journal - Special Focus on the Centenary of Alan #Turing

The British Computer Society has recently published Volume 55 Issue 7 of The Computer Journal which features a collections of articles with a "Special Focus on the Centenary of Alan Turing." The journal can be accessed for free online.




from The Universal Machine http://universal-machine.blogspot.com/




ifttt
Put the internet to work for you. via Personal Recipe 895909

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

#Apple doesn't understand the cloud

Apple recently shut down it's MobileMe services, including iDisk, replacing them with iCloud. But, iCloud doesn't replace all of the functionality of iDisk; in particular iCloud will only store and sync files made with Apple's productivity tools: Keynote, Pages and Numbers. iDisk would sync any filetype within an iDisk. If you used iDisk as the drive within which all your documents, photos, etc. were stored you could sync any file across all your computers. Since, like many people, I have to use MS Office for work iCloud is basically useless for document syncing.
   So when the shutdown of MobileMe was announced last year I went looking for a replacement. Many people recommended DropBox, which Steve Jobs famously described as, "a feature, not a product." However, after some research I chose the less well known SugarSync. After almost a year, I'm very happy with the product. SugarSync will sync files in any selected folders (and nested subfolders) across multiple computers. Dropbox and iDrive make you designate a single folder within which all files to be synced must live. SugarSync also keeps a copy of the last five versions of each file in the cloud so you can easily retrieve accidentally deleted files or roll back to a pervious version. It has a music player for stored music files and special features for photos. There are iOS and Android apps that work very well providing read only access to all files on the move. If you share files with other people they can download them from SugarSync without having to join SugarSync or use any third party software.
   SugarSync is actually much better than iDisk was, for a comparable price. An article in The Register claims that Apple, unlike Google and Amazon, really doesn't understand the cloud because managing massive amounts of data isn't where its roots lie. They might be right, because in my experience MobileMe, iDisk and now iCloud really don't quite deliver the usual Apple experience.




from The Universal Machine http://universal-machine.blogspot.com/




ifttt
Put the internet to work for you. via Personal Recipe 895909

Monday, July 23, 2012

A view of the future - 2045

Sometimes this blog looks at possible futures for computing and they don't get much more radical than this. The 2045 Strategic Social Initiative is planning to create avatars into which we'll transfer our consciousnesses enabling us to become "neo-humans." SmartPlanet features an article on this called, How artificial intelligence will shape our lives and you can watch a big budget trailer for the project below.




from The Universal Machine http://universal-machine.blogspot.com/




ifttt
Put the internet to work for you. via Personal Recipe 895909

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Something squirrelly ... Is it HTML or an image?

I found this on webmonkey As they say, Squirrel is a single file that renders as both HTML and a JPEG image. It's a webpage. It's an image. It's Squirrelly. the HTML contains an img element that points to … itself - recursion. Check out the source code of this page to see. Oh and as somebody points out - actually it's a chipmunk.
Click here!




from The Universal Machine http://universal-machine.blogspot.com/




ifttt
Put the internet to work for you. via Personal Recipe 895909

Saturday, July 21, 2012

#Turing as a Philosopher of Imitation

Over the last month there has been a deluge of blog posts and op-ed columns about Alan Turing. Most have trod the same path; mathematical genius, codebreaker, computer engineer, long distance runner, AI pioneer, eccentric, biologist, homosexual, convict and tragic victim of an uncaring society. However, Ian Bogost, a professor at Georgia Tech, writing for the Atlantic has come up with a fresh perspective. His article called, The Great Pretender: Turing as a Philosopher of Imitation, argues that "If we look at Alan Turing's legacy through [Marshall] McLuhan's lens, a pattern emerges: that of feigning, of deception and interchangeability. If we had to summarize Turing's diverse work and influence, both intentional and inadvertent, we might say he is an engineer of pretenses, as much as a philosopher of them." This is an interesting perspective - highly recommended




from The Universal Machine http://universal-machine.blogspot.com/




ifttt
Put the internet to work for you. via Personal Recipe 895909