Liked The iPod at 18: the gadget that changed music and tech for ever (The Economist)

When Apple revealed the iPhone in late 2007, with its touch screen and several native apps, some technology writers dubbed it the “Jesus Phone”. It has sold more than 1.5bn units.

This makes the iPod the musical and technological equivalent of John the Baptist. The device was quickly superseded, but it prepared the way for the great innovations to come. It showed consumers that technology could be beautiful and that the most enthralling possessions could fit in the palm of a hand.

Bookmarked The Jungle Prince of Delhi (

For 40 years, journalists chronicled the eccentric royal family of Oudh, deposed aristocrats who lived in a ruined palace in the Indian capital. It was a tragic, astonishing story. But was it true?

This is an intriguing story and podcast. I feel that I should probably read more about India’s history, especially post-colonial.
Bookmarked The Forgotten Life of Einstein’s First Wife (Scientific American Blog Network)

She was a physicist, too—and there is evidence that she contributed significantly to his groundbreaking science

Albert Einstein had a wife, she may have had a part to play in his success:

Peter Michelmore, one of his biographers(7), wrote that after having spent five weeks to complete the article containing the basis of special relativity, Albert “went to bed for two weeks. Mileva checked the article again and again, and then mailed it”. Exhausted, the couple made the first of three visits to Serbia where they met numerous relatives and friends, whose testimonies provide a wealth of information on how Albert and Mileva collaborated.

Liked Ancient Earth (

This visualization is created and maintained by Ian Webster. See more of my work at or email me at

Plate tectonic and paleogeographic maps by C.R. Scotese, PALEOMAP Project. For more information visit: &

Some elements of this visualization are not adjusted for time (eg. cloud and star positions). The coloring of the maps is based on elevation and bathymetry. The locations are accurate to ~100 km.

via Doug Belshaw
Replied to How IBM’s Technology Powered the Holocaust (

It’s not difficult to see the relevance of this episode today. Should Microsoft-owned GitHub provide software to ICE for possible use in the agency’s state-sanctioned persecution of immigrants and asylum seekers? Should Twitter allow Donald Trump to incite terrorism on their service? Should Google provide AI to the Pentagon for the potential development of deadlier weapons? And Christ, where do you even start with Facebook? Palantir, Apple, and Amazon have also been criticized recently for allowing unethical usage of their technology and platforms. “It’s just business” and the belief in the neutrality of technology (and technology platforms) have combined to produce a shield that contemporary companies use to protect themselves from activists’ ethical criticisms. And increasingly, the customers and employees of these companies aren’t buying it because they don’t want history to repeat itself.
According to a book by human rights journalist Edwin Black, Hitler needed logistical help in carrying out the genocide of Europe

I wonder about the technology behind China’s social credit system and the links there. It would seem that what is different is that a lot of this technology is designed by the state for the state?
Bookmarked BBC Radio 4 – In Our Time – Downloads (BBC)

Podcast downloads for In Our Time

I remember listening to Melvyn Bragg and In Our Time when I first got into podcasts ten years ago. For some reason I stopped following. I was however reminded of the podcast recently by Bryan Alexander. There is something about Bragg’s ability to carry the conversation and question the experts.
Replied to LAMP Stack History: It’s Everywhere, But Developers Hate It (Tedium: The Dull Side of the Internet.)

Giving some well-deserved appreciation to the LAMP stack, a key building block of the modern-day internet that you use daily. It’s everywhere. It may never die.

It is both intriguing and disconcerting to consider how much has changed since 2001.
Bookmarked ‘It’s a bit Pompeii-like’: The unexpected ‘buried blocks’ of Melbourne (The Age)

The Heritage Council of Victoria commissioned a study to find answers. It would become, says Jeremy Smith, principal archaeologist with Heritage Victoria, one of the “most significant combinations of historical and archaeological research that’s ever been conducted.”

The report has now been delivered and “It wasn’t what we expected,” Mr Smith says. “It’s going to have implications for the way we do archaeology for the next 50 years.”

The Alliance Archaeology study, Heritage in Ruins: An investigation into Melbourne’s ‘Buried Blocks’ reveals details of a forgotten campaign throughout the 1850 and 1860s by Melbourne’s then-council to raise the levels of swampy Melbourne’s putrid streets.

Hills were flattened and low-lying areas filled, the reason for today’s milder up-and-down cross-town walks.

However, the bombshell in the study was its discovery of a law passed in 1853 requiring those in low-lying areas to bury their homes. If a landowner refused or was too slow, the council was empowered to raise the level of the land itself and charge the costs.

Zach Hope provides a look into the early years of Melbourne where some houses were buried in an effort to raise the swampy areas.  This is a fascinating insight into the development of Melbourne and what we assume today. It has me wanting to go back and read Paul Carter’s book Road to Botany Bay and his discussion of the cartographic creation of what we know today.
Watched The truth about Chernobyl? I saw it with my own eyes… from the Guardian

Kim Willsher reported on the world’s worst nuclear disaster from the Soviet Union. HBO’s TV version only scratches the surface, she says

In reviewing the show, Cameron Williams argues that,

Today, scientists are trying to warn us of an existential threat to our health and safety: climate change. Once again, government drags its feet.

If we take anything from Chernobyl, it should be this: put science before politics.

In 2019, we may have grasped the extreme dangers of radiation, but the war on the truth is ongoing — it’s eternal.

One of the challenges that this show highlights is the challenges associated with telling a clear narrative. Although there is no debate about Chernobyl and the disaster that occurred, making sense of the how and why is a bit more difficult. This was highlighted by the fictional scientist who combined the rolls of a number of scientists who go unmentioned.

Bookmarked Deep Dive: The Presence of the Past in John Coltrane’s Expressive and Searching Music (

Saxophonist John Coltrane was born on Sept. 23, 1926. On what would have been his 93rd birthday, scholar and historian David Tegnell offers this guest

This piece is an intriguing investigation of influence on John Coltrane, as well as American slavery in general.
Liked Unix at 50: How the OS that powered smartphones started from failure (Ars Technica)

Luckily for computer enthusiasts, constraint can at times lead to immense creativity. And so the most influential operating system ever written was not funded by venture capitalists, and the people who wrote it didn’t become billionaires because of it. Unix came about because Bell Labs hired smart people and gave them the freedom to amuse themselves, trusting that their projects would be useful more often than not. Before Unix, researchers at Bell Labs had already invented the transistor and the laser, as well as any number of innovations in computer graphics, speech synthesis, and speech recognition.

Liked Virtual Enigma machine illustrates how signals traveled through its wiring and rotors (Boing Boing)

Check out this lovely interactive version of an Enigma machine coded up by Tom MacWright!

You can type in your plaintext message and then watch an animation simulate how the signal would travel through an Enigma, encrypting it. It’s quite mesmerizing to observe; I almost want to set one of those up to translate a novel, and run it as a screensaver over several months