Geekly Update - 03 December 2014

Category: Tech-News

I've always been fascinated by computers, and can remember my 10-year-old self reading about ENIAC, the world's first digital computer. I was in awe of the hulking 27-ton automaton created in 1945. So it's no surprise that my career began at IBM Poughkeepsie, working with engineers who designed and manufactured the venerable System 370 mainframes. Had I known then that ENIAC was left to rust in an Army warehouse for 30 years, I might have started a Kickstarter campaign to save it. But there was no Kickstarter, or even an Internet. Fortunately, this injustice has been corrected, and the mighty ENIAC (or at least part of it) blinks again. I think you'll enjoy the story, and other tech news in this edition of the Geekly Update. It's guaranteed to make you 146% smarter. Read, think and comment!

The AskbobRankin Geekly Update

A large chunk of ENIAC, the world’s first digital computer, is now on display at Fort Sill, OK, where ENIAC was first assembled. The tale of how it was rescued from the scrap market involves H. Ross Perot and a lot of ingenuity.

Sony Pictures was hacked, resulting in a massive data breach and damage to Sony's internal communications. Passwords, financial documents, and celebrity passports, as well as several unreleased films, have been posted to online file sharing sites. It is presumed that the North Korean government perpetrated the hack, as revenge for Sony's upcoming comedy film "The Interview" which deals with the assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

Two Texas teenagers thought it would be fun to wreak some havoc at a home contruction site, and took SnapChat videos of themselves breaking windows and drywall. They counted on SnapChat's promise to auto-delete the clips after 10 seconds, but some clever person was able to save the evidence, and police arrested the boys.

Geekly Update 12-03-2014

Congress finally did something. The “E-label” law sailed through the House unanimously and met no opposition in the Senate. President Obama has signed the landmark legislation which permits display of manufacturers’ logos via software, eliminating the cost and ugliness of logos on the backs of phones.

Google is developing a spoon to help sufferers of Parkinson’s disease eat without spilling. The utensil is equipped with sensors that detect tremors and servomotors that instantly correct for them, reducing spills by up to 79%. A fork attachment is available.

Charge my phone in just 30 seconds? Shut up and take my money! A prototype battery, too bulky for phones, has been developed by StoreDot.com using nanotechnology. The superfast charging battery will be demoed at CES in January and the company hope to shrink it to phone size by 2016.

Good news: Today’s children watch TV only half as much as their parents. Bad news: Because the kids are spending more time on the Internet.

After threatening a young hacker with 440 years in federal prison for such heinous felonies as filling out a Web comment form with nonsense multiple times, prosecutors in the Southern District of Texas settled for a plea to a misdemeanor and $10,000 restitution to Hidalgo County, whose Web site Fidel Salinas scanned for vulnerabilities.

Trolls and spammers have prompted many popular Web sites to close their comments sections. CNN opens selected stories to comments when editors anticipated “quality discourse.” But Re/Code, Jezebel, Reuters, Popular Science, the Chicago Sun-Times, and others have just thrown in the towel.

“Affluent” iOS users outspent Android users over the Thanksgiving shopping spree, according to IBM’s Smarter Commerce research division. On average, iOS users dropped $118.57 on each item purchased versus $95.25 for Android users. Apple fans are also three times more likely to make a purchase online. Half of all shopping done on Thanksgiving Day in the U. S. was done on a mobile device, up from 6.5% in 2010.

 
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Most recent comments on "Geekly Update - 03 December 2014"

Posted by:

John Bradford
03 Dec 2014

You're no doubt inundated with posts to the effect that Colossus was the first digital computer, not ENIAC.
See http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/computing-history


Posted by:

Jim Reicker
03 Dec 2014

Is that Grace Hopper in the picture?


Posted by:

Alistair Edwards
03 Dec 2014

I think it is generally agreed that ENIAC was not the first, but rather Colossus. The problem was that it was an Official Secret for a long time.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Point granted, but to be fair, Colossus was a one-trick pony, designed for the specific task of deciphering encrypted German communications during World War 2.


Posted by:

Mike
03 Dec 2014

I grew up south of Poughkeepsie and was always stunned by the size of IBM there. I knew they had a great computer, maybe not a Cray but I don't get to the Pentagon or Disney Studios. Seeing those great big machines, if only on T.V. was impressive.

I grew up in Yorktown Hts., NY where IBM's latest computer is. I was wondering what you thought about IBM's Watson computer?

EDITOR'S NOTE: I know the Watson is good at playing Jeopardy, because it's designed to work and think like humans do. :-)


Posted by:

Mike Brose
03 Dec 2014

I started running mainframe computers with an IBM 1401 in 1965. That was a glorified card sorter. Uncle Sam interrupted me and I sat in the room next to the computers. After I got out I went on to operate a Honeywell 800 mainframe with all of 25mg of memory built into a 5 inch cube. I'm amazed that I now own several cards as small as my little finger nail that contain 64g of memory.


Posted by:

Doc
03 Dec 2014

Little known facts: The word 'computer' was first applied to the WOMEN who wrote out trajectory tables for artillery and such exciting things as generating books of random number (yawn!).

Lord Byrons Daughter, Ada, wrote THE first 'code' in the world for a comptuer designed by a gentleman named Charles Babbage, another great name in the milestones of the path way to 'Computers' as we know them today (and again the woman who made the machine work was lost to most history except as a small footnote saying that without her it wouldn't be able to 'compute' anything at all), thus Ada Byron, the Countess of Lovelace(?), was THE first person to write code using algorithms to help solve problems of a mathematical nature.

Then followed the MACHINES (Colossis, ENIAC, ET. AL.) which, had it not been for women, would have just sat there and rusted and burned out tubes. It was Women who REALLY made the comptuer work - they wrote such programs as FORTRAN and COBOL (which I had to learn so don't try to tell me women aren't cruel at heart) -- So not only were women the 'first computers' they were also the first ones to write the 'code' that made them work - all guys wanted to do was wield soddering irons and small sockets and screwdrivers that I THINK they got in the 'Engineer' - a thick Swiss Army Knife that had a little pull out slide rule.

As as matter of fact, I believe that I read that originally most (read: nearly all) math majors (BS/MS/PhD) were women, and after the GI bill kicked in and men began to learn math as part of their engineering classes, and their cavemenesque brains kicked in, figured they, too, could, 'write code' - and women were (simply) 'kicked out' of the new "Cop Sci' classes as their seats filled with men.


Posted by:

Jay
03 Dec 2014

I wonder if the sending of spam will ever fall into the heinous crime category. I don't know if the prosecution has made an example of Fidel, the former form filler, but they certain have made one of themselves.


Posted by:

InLionSk8r
03 Dec 2014

Musta been one of your IBM 360/370 machines then, that peaked my interest in computing, back in the early '70s. (Still got nightmares of using keypunch machines to type my PL/1 and Fortran 5 code onto hundreds of those nasty punch cards to feed that mainframe.) Am very glad we've moved beyond the need for those refrigerated monsters, as those were certainly NOT the good 'ol days for programming.


Posted by:

MmeMoxie
04 Dec 2014

I remember my Mom, talking about the "new computer", that was being used by her company, back in the early to middle 1950's. At the time, she worked for General Controls, which was eventually bought out by Honeywell. I believe, that this computer was an IBM and they had to build a new building for it, as well as installing new air conditioning. All it did, was to put out punched cards, which was the product, at the time. This computer was used for product and inventory.

My Mom was the Accounts Payable person, for the company, the first woman to ever hold that job, during that time. Things have changed, a LOT, in today's society. They didn't use this computer for accounting, that was still done by hand and old fashioned adding machine. She finally got, what they called a "calculator". OMGoodness, none of you would even believe, what THIS puppy even looked like!!! It was the "dinosaur" of calculator machines, okay??? It basically looked like an mechanical Abacus, with a numerical keypad!

My Mom wasn't very impressed with the IBM computer, either. To the day she died, she preferred an electric adding machine and mostly, added or calculated in her head. I only wished, that I had gotten the Math Gene, that the rest of her side of the family had. She died in Sept. 1984, at 62. In all honesty, I am not sure, whether, she ever used a computer, for work or not ... She was one stubborn woman and may have insisted on doing things for her, the old fashioned way.


Posted by:

MmeMoxie
04 Dec 2014

Bob, I know that I have already made one comment, about the ENIAC portion. Now, I have something to say, about the iPhone and Android Users.

Most of us, now know that IBM and Apple are in the process of working together, if, they haven't already started doing so. So, just how biased is IBM ... When, it comes to iPhones or Android phones???

When, I read the blurb ... My very first thought, that is still with me ... Android Users were smarter and got things at a discount, instead of paying full price! LOL LOL LOL

As for making purchases online with my Smartphone ... That is not something, I want to do! First of all, I have a great Desktop computer, where I can really SEE the product and check things out. Plus, I have great security measures on my Desktop, that most Smartphones, still don't have.

Another thing, anyone who uses an unsecured Wi-Fi to do online business, especially, for purchasing products ... Is mighty, stupid in my book. Using, a Smartphone in a safe, secure Wi-Fi setting, is fine ... But, just where are those, except in your home or someone else's home. Just saying.


Posted by:

Bob's Older and more handsome brother!
05 Dec 2014

Glad the comments here have not gotten out of control! :-)


Posted by:

Dwayne Hunt
09 Dec 2014

I enjoyed the article about ENIAC. I have often wondered what became of it. You also brought memories re: Poughkeepsie.....I was part of the team developing software for the 360/370 systems. We developed the first Virtual Memory System for IBM in Poughkeepsie. (VS1)It looks as though you and I were probably there at the same time: late 1960's and early 1970's.
Thanks for the memories


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