I’m sure most of us have heard the story that the common QWERTY keyboard was actually designed ( in 1872 by Christopher Sholes) to slow typing speeds and prevent the hammers on old mechanical typewriters from jamming. Of course, that doesn’t really factor in today. It’s hard to even find a mechanical typewriter with hammers in the wild, unless you are at a street fair and someone is selling custom poetry.
There have been other systems developed to speed typing since then, which could be of great advantage to us on our modern computer input systems. DVORAK is the most popular, but the story of the Turkish F layout is really interesting if you really want to go down a Google rabbit hole.
Unfortunately, QWERTY has the one most important thing there is going for it. Ubiquity. SO MANY of us have already done the work to learn the QWERTY system. And who has the time to go through that process again with a whole new layout? Even if you did, you would be tied to your own personal computer, because the rest of the world is still going to be QWERTY.
Perhaps in a far off point in the future, when we all live on Martian colonies and wear those slick silver onesies all of the 1950s sci-fi films have predicted, we will make the change en masse. But I doubt it.
Fun keyboard facts: You can type stewardesses with just your left hand, and polyphony with just your write. You can also type typewriter with just the top row of keys.
Wait… it took how long?
I don’t want to get off on a rant here…
So, I have a thing with construction projects. I think they are often given way too much leeway to impact the citizenry going about their daily lives. We are, in effect, mortgaging the present for a future that will never come. We have all of these construction projects that make getting around and living in the city harder and much less enjoyable. But by the time one has finished, two more have started, and there is no actual end in site.
This all came to mind because I just walked by one on Sunday night in Seattle. One that has been taking up an entire block of street parking for all fo their project related junk for I can’t remember how long. And I thought of that monstrosity as I learned that construction on the Empire State Building began in 1930 and was completed in 410 days!
So what the heck is going on with this thing? Your six story multi-use is somehow more complicated than the tallest building in the world built in 1930? Jeezopete!
Our photo today is an odd little collection of cylinders left over from making our asset tags. It has pretty much nothing to do with the Empire State Building. 🙂
Has it really been 27 years?
So, we are right smack dab in the midst of the streaming wars. There are so many new services coming online that you can’t even keep track of it all. I made the move away from cable a couple years ago, and have been rolling with the much cheaper option of Prime, Netflix, and Hulu.
Recently I discovered that Prime has a veritable treasure trove of old television. Magnum PI, The Rockford Files, Mission Impossible, Space 1999, and yes, The Adventures Of Brisco County Jr. I had fond memories of watching that one when it originally aired, so I have been rewatching it over the past couple weeks.
It holds up, but the it’s the math that got me. Brisco premiered in 1993, which sounds like a long time ago, but certainly doesn’t sound like 27 years ago. The passage of time is a weird thing.
Which does get us to our trivia quesion. Utah Johnny Montana was, of course, from Idaho.
If you are a student of the game, this was an easy one. If you are not, it’s a bit strange. Golf balls were originally made of wood. This dates back to the 14th century. And they remained in use until the 17th century. The biggest rival to the wooden golf ball was the feathery. That was a leather pouch filled with chicken or goose feathers. Wood held on because of the extensive labor and materials required to create the feathery.
Our photo today is of a little bit of swag that is kicking around the office. And, I think we can all agree, these modern marvels would travel exceptionally further than their wood, leather, and feather forefathers.
I don’t have a macro lens on hand today, but when I do I will revisit this photo and get some crazy closeups of the dimples.
47 degrees and rain never looked so good
We’ve made it! After what has been a ridiculous week of snow and ice, winter is retreating. And we are on our way back to a nice fall forecast. I’m so happy to see 47 degrees and rain predicted for the weekend.
Our trivia question today is a bit tricky, because there isn’t one canonical answer. There are a number of explanations for ‘break a leg’. One is simply that superstition requires you don’t actually wish an actor good luck. And the opposite of good luck is breaking your leg. Having just jacked up my knee recently, I can verify this!
Along similar lines is the idea that the expression originated with understudies, sitting backstage quietly hoping that the principal would break a leg, allowing them to get on stage.
It has also been suggested that breaking a leg refers to the bending of one’s leg as they bow or curtsy after a performance.
A more technical answer comes from the knowledge that traditionally the edge of a stage was marked with a line known as the leg line. In proscenium theatres, that line often had curtains hung along it. Those curtains were known as legs. In a time when performers would line up backstage for a chance to perform, and only be paid if they did, breaking a leg meant that the performer crossed the leg line and would be paid.
What is a megapixel?
Megapixels are interesting things. To get to the answer to the trivia question. A megapixel is simply 1 million pixels. If you want to be pedantic, we will also accept 1,048,576 pixels. But in general, we have all agreed ~1 million pixels is a megapixel.
An example for that in the wild is my EOS M6. It takes photos that are 6000×4000. If we do the math, that makes 24,000,000 pixels, so it is a 24 megapixel camera. And really, for most things, that’s overkill. To give you an idea… if you wanted to make an 8×10 print at 300dpi (really nice quality), that would translate to 300×8 =2400 and 300×10=3000. Now, we take 2400×3000 and find that it requires 7.2 megapixels.
Perhaps more telling, if you are running on a 1920×1080 monitor, that is just over 2 megapixels. Even if you have a new 4k monitor running at 3840×2160. That’s 8.3 meagpixels.
So why do we have 24 megapixel cameras? 60 megapixel cameras? For one, marketing. 24 megapixels sounds a lot better than 12 megapixels. There is also the ability to make really big prints. I just did a 16×20 print. At 300dpi, you are hitting 28 megapixels.
And there is downsampling. In short, if I take that 24 megapixel image and downsample it to 2 megapixels to fit a monitor, there are benefits to be had. Just as anything in the photo appears smaller when you downsample, any noise in the image is also reduced. The effect is what appears to be a cleaner and sharper photo.
But the moral of the story is that you probably don’t really need as many megapixels as you have available. That photo at the top of this post started out at 24 megapixels, but if you view it full size, it is now 2.2.
There are times where you do need more megapixels though. Which brings us to today’s photo. That is my first digital camera. The JamCam 3.0. It outputs .3 megapixels. That is a 640×480 image. And if memory serves, they are terrible. If I can dig up a 9 volt, I might fire it up and get some 2020 examples.
It’s interesting to look at our IT gear in the context of digital cameras, because they have traveled a similar path over the last couple decades. Just as with the JamCam, the performance of our servers from 20 years ago are almost laughable at this point. And what we can do with current models is often amazing.
You call this a wonderland…
There are a lot of romantic notions about the wonders of snow. And I think most of them were created by people that didn’t have to actually get to work and deal with it. Yes, it is very pretty, right after it happens. But that all goes out the window as soon as people need to move. Driven snow is not attractive. Snow mixed with sand and shoved to piles at the edges of parking lots is not attractive. The whole thing is just a big headache…
Of course, I may be projecting there. I was out at 6am this morning shoveling the driveway so I could get out to the ridiculous hill I live on and sled the car to the bottom. Oh, but that was after I discovered that my door was frozen shut, just like the lock.
In the half full section of the rant… my hilly little neighborhood got off easy. Our picture today comes from someone who was not able to make it in to work today because they have 15″ of snow. Fortunately, thanks to the magic of phones, the internet, and remote desktops, we are fully operational.
But I have gotten way off track. Getting back to trivia. Elvis: Aloha from Hawaii was broadcast on Jan 14, 1973. It made history with an ‘estimated’ 1.5 billion viewers across the world. That estimated is in quotes, because there were actually less than a billion possible viewers in the countries it aired…
We’re not in Key West anymore Toto
Technically it has been winter for a bit now. But ‘winter’ in Seattle almost always feels like a chilly fall day. We really don’t get snow in the lowlands very often. But today, it’s totally winter. I had to go out at 6am to shovel the driveway so I could make it out to the unplowed street and get to work.
We have about 5″ at the office right now, which is enough to create havoc out on the streets. Along with not getting snow very often, we also have an abundance of ridiculous hills.
They don’t have those problems in Key West. Because (it was a trick question!) they have never had snow! The coldest temperature on record was 41℉, back in January 1981. I could go for a nice 41℉ heatwave right now…
Our picture today is totally relevant. That is standing right outside the front door of the office.
I love subways. That comes mostly from time spent running around NY and marveling at how easily you can move about the city on the trains. Now, I get it. I have read enough about it to know that there are serious issues with the subway system in NY. But when you are visiting, and on vacation time, those rough edges get smoothed over pretty easily.
And you have to take into account that I am comparing that to what currently passes for a commuter train system in the greater Seattle area. To call it a fledgling system would be kind. It is still many years from what you would consider real coverage of the area. And it often leaves me thinking, if only someone had the forethought to start building the train system decades ago.
On this day in 1863, the London Underground began operation. 1863! That is crazy. And a big reason why London has a usable system today.
Oddly, our picture today doesn’t come from the London, NY, or Seattle transit systems. It’s the BART in San Francisco, because why not? 😀
Big Alphabet Brother
It’s 11am, do you know where your location data is? This was a bit of an eye-opener to me. Of course, I know that my phone is sending data back to Google about where I am. It will occasionally ask me to rate a place I was. Or, less successfully, to rate a place I walked past.
However, I have never looked at what all of that data looks like. And it’s kind of crazy. That photo at the top is the view from 30,000 feet of what Google knows about my adventures in NY.
Interesting, but it gets really intriguing when you zoom in and you see all the tiny little pins of specific places. And it gets completely bonkers when you realize you can look at the information by date. Here is a shot from one day of my last trip to NY.
Pretty crazy, right? But wait… there’s more. To the left of that is the text based version that looks similar to what you are used to seeing when you get directions from Google. But now it is a timeline of your whole day. On this day, for example, I can tell you that after having coffee at Maman with Allison, I spent 80 minutes at Penelope having dinner with Rebeccah before we walked half a mile to see our friend Lauren’s show at Tada. I can even tell you what photos I uploaded to instagram, because those are backed up to Google drive, and so have been inserted into the timeline.
Now, I get that there are huge privacy concerns to be weighed when looking at this level of data being stored about individuals. In general, I’m ok with what has been captured in my history. And there is a bit of fun to be had retracing previous adventures.
But all of this does serve as a reminder to be mindful of where your data is going. If there are places and things you don’t want a record of, even if it is supposedly only accessible by you, be sure to turn those features off before embarking on those adventures.
If you would like to see what info is on your Google timeline you can find it at google.com/maps/timeline.