Eightface

by Dave Kellam

Is Big Data a mistake?

Tim Harford takes a look at big data for the Financial Times and asks if we are we making a big mistake.

But the “big data” that interests many companies is what we might call “found data”, the digital exhaust of web searches, credit card payments and mobiles pinging the nearest phone mast. […] As our communication, leisure and commerce have moved to the internet and the internet has moved into our phones, our cars and even our glasses, life can be recorded and quantified in a way that would have been hard to imagine just a decade ago.

I think the main take-away is that there’s a need to be careful with the data and not jump to conclusions, just because you have a lot of data, doesn’t mean it’s good. I also think it’s important for these companies to allow us, as consumers, to access our data in the same ways that they’re able to.

As a side-note, I came really close to not posting this link because of scuzzy clipboard hijack behaviour from FT. I copied the above text to use as a quote. Upon pasting the quote, they attached a wonderful message about the effort that journalism takes and to use the link to share instead. That’s exactly what I was doing, and despise the insinuation that I somehow disrespect the efforts of journalists by copying a paragraph of text.

April 6, 2014 ·

World’s oldest working digital computer

Harwell Dekatron Witch Computer

The Harwell Dekatron WITCH has been rebuilt and rebooted at The National Museum of Computing in England, making it the world’s oldest working digital computer.

The 2.5 tonne, 1951 computer from Harwell with its 828 flashing Dekatron valves, 480 relays and a bank of paper tape readers will clatter back into action in the presence of two of the original designers, one of its first users and many others who have admired it at different times during its remarkable history.

If you’re a computer geek and get the chance to visit Bletchley Park, make sure you don’t overlook the museum. I had the opportunity to visit a couple years ago — I had no idea it was there, and probably could’ve devoted another day to it.

Submarine Cable Map

Submarine Cable Map

The Submarine Cable Map, just in case you wanted to know where your bits are going. Here’s an excerpt from the description of the site:

TeleGeography’s free interactive submarine cable map is based on our authoritative Global Bandwidth research, and depicts active and planned submarine cable systems and their landing stations. Selecting a cable route on the map provides access to data about the cable, including the cable’s name, ready-for-service (RFS) date, length, owners, website, and landing points. Selecting a landing point provides a list of all submarine cables landing at that station.

The source is available too.

February 28, 2012 ·

The newsgroup post announcing the WorldWideWeb app

An excerpt from Tim Berners-Lee’s post to comp.sys.next.announce concerning the release of the WorldWideWeb app:

This project is experimental and of course comes without any warranty whatsoever. However, it could start a revolution in information access. We are currently using WWW for user support at CERN. We would be very interested in comments from anyone trying WWW, and especially those making other data available, as part of a truly world-wide web.

A revolution in information access indeed.

You also might be interested in this post from the eightface archive: The oldest page on the internet.

February 24, 2012 ·

Bottom up draft beer

GrinOn has developed a method for dispensing beer from the bottom, allowing the cup to be filled nine times faster. The post includes a video of them pouring fifty-six beers in sixty seconds.

The key is the use of a cup that features a hole at the bottom and small, circular magnet that rests over it. When placed on the system, the magnet is lifted up by the pressure-driven beer. The cup fills up until the weight of the liquid pushes the magnet back down over the hole. The cup can then be lifted off and the beer consumed as normal.

January 25, 2011 ·

The first digital camera

The first digital camera

Steve Sasson created the world’s first digital camera in 1976, while working at Kodak. He discusses the development of the camera in this video.

It was a camera that didn’t use any film to capture still images – a camera that would capture images using a CCD imager and digitize the captured scene and store the digital info on a standard cassette. It took 23 seconds to record the digitized image to the cassette. The image was viewed by removing the cassette from the camera and placing it in a custom playback device.

Given Moore’s Law, they estimated that it would take 15 to 20 years before such a camera reached the general consumer. The patent file contains a description and drawings of the apparatus.

August 9, 2010 ·

Hype cycles

A Hype Cycle is a graphic representation of the maturity, adoption and business application of specific technologies. The cycle consists of five phases, including the trigger, inflated expectations, disillusionment, enlightenment and the plateau.

August 25, 2009 ·