Bookmarked Vikings in America by an author (Aeon)

Centuries before Columbus, Vikings came to the Western hemisphere. How far into the Americas did they travel?

Valerie Hansen extends the discussion of Viking exploration of Northern America wondering if in fact they got as far as Central America.

Some murals from the Temple of the Warriors in Chichén Itzá suggest that residents might have had contact with Vikings. Could the Vikings who left a settlement at L’Anse aux Meadows have made it to the Yucatán Peninsula – some 3,700 miles (c6,000 km) south of where the Viking penny surfaced at the Goddard site? One of the murals at the Temple of Warriors, painted around 1000 CE, depicted a naval battle scene showing blond-haired men being thrown into the water.

Comparing with the Battle of Hastings, for which there is little archeological evidence, she suggests we simply may never know.

Replied to FTP Fadeout (Tedium)

Unlike in cases like IRC (where the protocol lost popular momentum to commercial tools) and Gopher (where a sudden shift to a commercial model stopped its growth dead in its tracks), FTP is getting retired from web browsers because its age underlines its lack of security infrastructure.

Some of its more prominent use cases, like publicly accessible anonymous FTP servers, have essentially fallen out of vogue. But its primary use case has ultimately been replaced with more secure, more modern versions of the same thing, such as SFTP.

If FTP’s departure from the web browser speeds up its final demise, so be it. But for 50 years, in one shape or another, it has served us well.

This reminds me of Quinn Norton’s post of the dangers of email and whether we will get to a point where the security issues will force a similar change.
Bookmarked Life and breath – There’s a strange, and deeply human, story behind how we taught machines to breathe for critically ill patients by an author (Aeon)

Future ventilators will be even more complex. A journal article on the past, present and future of the ventilator declares: ‘The key term that will be used to identify future ventilators will be smart!’ The machine will assess its own performance and might even help to decide whether its use is futile or not.

How much can, or should, the ventilators of the future help doctors make decisions about when to turn off machines? The ‘ventilator’, once a caring human using arm muscles as proxy for patients’ paralysed diaphragms, is now a programmed device – and that programming could some day make decisions of life and death. The machines that have extended life might, in time, help to determine when it ends.

Sarah Ruth Bates discusses the history of ventilators. Starting with the Galen’s discovery in regards to physiology, Bates discusses the beginnings of a machine that could push air in and out to today ventilators which are able to adjust to the needs of different scenarios.
Played Lord of the Manor

You have been entrusted to found a new Manor. A Manor is the smallest unit of land in the feudal system, the Manor House is the main administrative building from which the Lord and his advisors control the land.

You should start by finding an area with a good amount of resources, you’ll need plenty of trees, some clay and some stone. Iron Ore is also useful a bit later on, and if you can find Gold Ore then you won’t lack anything. If you don’t like the current map, you can simply open the menu and click Restart. Bear in mind that you’ll be able to trade for resources.

Once you have chosen the location of your headquarters, click the Manor House on the left panel and click on the map where you wish to place it.

Build a section of road connected to the Manor House, and immigrants should set up home soon.

Don’t forget to build a Granary, otherwise your people won’t be able to store their food anywhere, and they’ll starve to death or leave for greener pastures.

Sebastian Boutin Blomfield has created a game designed to explore feudal life.
Bookmarked The city is a lie by an author (AEON)

If we are to live in the world, we must see our cities for the complex environmental assemblages that they are. By learning to see the ways in which land, water, climate, other lifeforms and materials have made cities alongside humans, we can begin to understand how to live better with the creatures around us. Dreams of a future in which technology saves us from ecological collapse seek to preserve the firm boundary between people and environment, city and hinterland, urbanisation and wilderness. But these binaries don’t reflect the multiple, intertwined ways in which cities, habitats and people are made. It is time we left them behind, and began to learn new ways of sensing and thinking the city.

Sam Grinsell argues that the notion of the city being somehow separate and contained from the world beyond is a lie.

The city is a lie that we tell ourselves. The crux of this lie is that we can separate human life from the environment, using concrete, glass, steel, maps, planning and infrastructure to forge a space apart. Disease, dirt, wild animals, wilderness, farmland and countryside are all imagined to be essentially outside, forbidden and excluded. This idea is maintained through the hiding of infrastructure, the zoning of space, the burying of rivers, the visualisation of new urban possibilities, even the stories we tell about cities. Whenever the outside pierces the city, the lie is exposed. When we see the environment reassert itself, the scales fall from our eyes.

Grinsell centres this argument focuses on three particular points.

First: that humanity alone makes cities; second, that the city has an outside, a natural world that lies beyond the processes of urbanisation; and, third, that the city is an abstract category of which all individual cases are simply examples.

Taken to its extreme, I wonder what part of the modern world is not impacted by today’s cities?

Bookmarked What Windows 95 Changed

Operating systems went from a product that we buy to a fundamental capability that’s bundled with the entire tech ecosystems where we live our lives. We don’t pay for operating systems directly anymore by purchasing them, but instead we pay with surveillance of our data or by being sold connected cloud services or by the cost being bundled into our devices. Operating systems are both ubiquitous and invisible, and there are now people for whom their allegiance to the operating system of their phone or video game console or even personal computer is part of their identity.

Anil Dash reflects on 25 years since the release of Windows 95 and how things have changed.
Bookmarked MP3 is 25 Years Old

The original business plan was to monetise the technology through sales of encoders. These would be sold at a high price to companies that wished to create software or hardware capable of encoding MP3 files. To drive acceptance of the standard, the decoders used to play the MP3 files would be cheap or free, encouraging consumer uptake.

While this initially seemed feasible, things quickly fell apart, thanks to the very Internet that Fraunhofer had pinned their fortunes on. In 1997, an Australian student purchased MP3 encoding software with a stolen credit card, before quickly sharing it on an FTP server online. Suddenly it was readily possible for anyone to create their own MP3 files. With the files out in the wild, calls to stop the spread of the software fell on deaf ears.

Lewin Day discusses the history of the MP3. Progressing from various compression formats, to a business model build around codecs to an open format that broke the model.
Bookmarked Rediscovering the Small Web
Parimal Satyal explores the world of the small web. This starts with a history of the web and the creation of spaces using HTML and CSS, where you depended on linking between and to different sites to navigate around. This is in stark contrast to the commercial web that is organised around products and optimised search. For Satyal, the modern web of marketing loses much of the creativity of the early days.

As fun as it is to explore what’s out there, the best part is really to join in and make your own website. Not on closed platforms or on social media mediated by ad companies, but simply in your own little corner of the web. It’s the best way to see how simple and open the web really is.

You could easily put up those drawings you’ve been making, share your thoughts and ideas, or reviews of your favourite whiskys. Make a website to share your writing tips or your best recipes. Or a list of your favourite addresses in your city for travelers who might be visiting.

It is interesting to read this along side Eevee’s dive into the world of CSS, Charlie Owen’s call to return to the beauty and weirdness found in the early web and Kicks Condor’s discussion of what we left in the old web. I was also left thinking again about Tom Critchlow’s discussion of small b blogging. It would seem that Facebook recognises the lack of creativity associated with the modern web with its latest experiment. and creativity

via Alan Levine

Liked ‘Luddite Sensibilities’ and the Future of Education (Hack Education)

A Luddite pedagogy is a pedagogy of subversion and transgression. It is a pedagogy of disobedience and dismantling. It is a pedagogy of refusal and of care. It is — with a nod to Jesse’s opening keynote — against models and against frameworks (quite literally, Luddites smash frames). It is wildly undisciplined.

Bookmarked Nostalgia reimagined by an author (Aeon)

Nostalgia, then, is a complex mental state with three components: a cognitive, an affective, and a conative component. This is generally recognised. However, my characterisation differs from the traditional one in putting imagination at its heart. First, I suggest that the cognitive component needn’t be a memory but a kind of imagination, of which episodic autobiographical memories are a case. Second, nostalgia is affectively mixed-valanced, which results from the juxtaposition of the affect generated by the act of simulating – which is typically negative – with the affect elicited by the simulated content, which is typically positive. Finally, the conative component isn’t a desire to go back to the past but, rather, a motivation to reinstate in the present the properties of the simulated content that, when attended to, make us feel good.

Nostalgia seems to be a pertinent topic at the moment. I keep coming back to The Bleachers track, I Miss Those Days, where even though the reality is that things weren’t great, we always long for something else. This has me wanting to re-read Fredric Jameson’s essay, Nostalgia for the Present.

via Doug Belshaw

Bookmarked How to Write a Timely Novel in a World That Won’t Stop Changing (LitHub)

In short, the zeitgeist is rarely on your side. You write toward it, only to see it evaporate by publication day. And while some authors may catch the moment just right, and honestly, without mercenary intentions, such serendipities of art and chance are accidents, almost always. Those who aim, however earnest or well-intentioned, are doomed to miss the target by a mile.

David James Poissant discusses the challenges of writing time and history in a novel.

Whether you’re Mandel predicting a future that won’t come true for years, Fitzgerald capturing a moment that won’t be recognized for decades, or Robison writing a novel so timely it has to be revised, time is a fickle thing, fashions pass, news cycles expire, and relevance is always subjective.

Reflecting on writing his novel Lake Life, Poissant explains how he had to readjust things based on the legalisation of marriage, as well as the changes associated with Donald Trump’s presidency.

This is an interesting read alongside my post on how strange events like the coronavirus provide the opportunity to look at the familiar with new perspective and reimagine a new sense of normal.

Bookmarked ‘Better for Her Majesty not to know’: palace letters reveal Queen’s role in sacking of Australian PM Whitlam

Governor general John Kerr canvassed Queen and her personal secretary about his powers to dismiss Gough Whitlam but did not forewarn them

Christopher Knaus and Caroline Davies report on the release of the papers associated with John Kerr’s communications. Bridget Judd and Leigh Tonkin discuss some of the other topics uncovered in the papers.
Liked The Designer Of The NES Dishes The Dirt On Nintendo’s Early Days

When discussing Nintendo’s rise as a digital dreamsmith in the 80s, game designers like Shigeru Miyamoto and Gunpei Yokoi get most of the limelight. But it was the hardware designed by Masayuki Uemura that served up their fantasies to millions around the globe.

I spent 2019 criss-crossing Japa…

Bookmarked The car radio turns 90 this year. A history of that thing in your dashboard.

Around 1920, someone decided that they needed some tunes for their horseless carriage. Ninety years later, we’re still listening to the radio in the car.

Alan Cross celebrates the history of the card radio. Beginning in the 30’s with early Motorola radios built with vacuum tubes, they become more stable with the move to the transisters in the 60’s. With this also came the cassettes in the 70’s and then CD players in the 80’s. What was interesting was the advent of FM radio in response to the limitations placed on Germany after WWII.

The next big innovation was FM radio. Post-war Germany had all but two of its AM radio stations stripped away from them by the allies, forcing them to experiment with the still-nascent FM band. The result was an AM/FM design that debuted in 1952.

Personally, I remember my first car radio being a mono AM radio. Must admit, did not last long before I replaced it.

Bookmarked The Walkman, Forty Years On by an author ([object Object])

The initial incarnation of the Walkman, the TPS-L2, was envisioned as a toy for Japanese high-school and college students to use as they studied. (Sharp-eyed fans will recognize the distinctive silver and blue TPS-L2 as the model carried by Peter Quill in Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” films.) Sony’s chairman at the time, the genial Akio Morita, was so unsure of the device’s prospects that he ordered a manufacturing run of only thirty thousand, a drop in the bucket compared to such established lines as Trinitron televisions. Initially, he seemed right to be cautious. The Walkman débuted in Japan to near silence. But word quickly spread among the youth of Tokyo about a strange new device that let you carry a soundtrack out of your bedroom, onto commuter trains, and into city streets. Within a year and a half of the appearance of the Walkman, Sony would produce and sell two million of them.

Matt Alt discusses the invention of the Walkman in 1979 and how it quickly spread around the world. He discusses the impact that the device had on so many levels, including socially.

Hosokawa noted how listeners used the devices to tame the unpredictability of urban spaces, with all of their unexpected intrusions and loud noises. Wearing headphones functioned both as a personal “Do Not Disturb” sign and an alternate soundtrack to the cacophony of the city. This was a new form of human experience, engaged disengagement, a technological shield from the world and an antidote to ennui. Whenever nerves frayed or boredom crept in, one could just hit Play and fast-forward life a little. One of the first Westerners to grasp the import of this new human capacity was the author William Gibson, a pioneer of the genre of science fiction called cyberpunk, who wrote years later that “the Sony Walkman has done more to change human perception than any virtual reality gadget.”

The piece ends with a discussion of the move to digital devices, demonstrating how the Walkman paved the way, especially in regards to the use of headphones.

My favourite Walkman story is Radiohead Promo Only Walkman that glued so you had to listen to the whole album.