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March, 2019

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Retrotechtacular: Nellie The School Computer

When did computers arrive in schools? That should be an easy question to answer, probably in the years around 1980. Maybe your school had the Commodore Pet, the Apple II, or if you are British, the Acorn BBC Micro in that period, all 8-bit microcomputers running a BASIC interpreter. That’s certainly the case for the majority of schools, but not all of them. In early 1969 the BBC’s Tomorrow’s World visited a school with a computer, and in both technology and culture it was a world away from those schools a decade later that would have received those BBC Micros.

The school in question was The Forrest Grammar School, Winnersh, about 35 miles west of London, and the computer in question was a by-then-obsolete National Elliott 405 mainframe that had been donated four years earlier by the British arm of the food giant Nestlé. The school referred to it as “Nellie” — a concatenation of the two brand names. It seems to have been the preserve of the older pupils, but the film below still shows the concepts of its operation being taught at all levels. We get a brief look at some of their software too — no operating systems here, everything’s machine code on paper tape — as a teacher plays a reaction timer game and the computer wins at noughts and crosses (tic-tac-toe). One of them has even written a high-level language interpreter on which younger children solve maths problems. Of course, a 1950s mainframe with hundreds or thousands of tubes was never a particularly reliable machine, and we see them enacting their failure routine, before finally replacing a faulty delay line.

This is a fascinating watch on so many levels, not least because of its squeaky-clean portrayal of adolescent boys. This is what teenagers were supposed to be like, but by the late 1960s they must in reality have been anything but that away from the cameras. It’s a contrast with fifteen or twenty years later, the computer is seen as an extremely important learning opportunity in sharp opposition to how 8-bit computers in the 1980s came to be seen as a corrupting influence that would rot young minds.

Of course, these youngsters are not entirely representative of British youth in 1969, because as a grammar school the Forrest was part of the top tier of the selective education system prevalent at the time. There would certainly have been no computers of any sort in the local Secondary Modern school, and probably the BBC’s portrayal of the pupils would have been completely different had there been. In 1974 the Government abolished the grammar school system to create new one-size-fits-all comprehensive schools, one of which the Forrest school duly became. Following the vagaries of educational policy it is now an Academy, and there is probably not a room within it that does not contain a computer.

So what of Nellie? Because of the film there are plenty of online references to it in …read more

Source:: Hackaday

A Eulogy For Every Product Google Has Ruthlessly Killed (145 and Counting)

An anonymous reader shares a report: Tez. Trendalyzer. Panoramio. Timeful. Bump! SlickLogin. BufferBox. The names sound like a mix of mid-2000s blogs and startups you’d see onstage at TechCrunch Disrupt!. In fact, they are just some of the many, many products that Google has acquired or created — then killed.

While Google is notorious for eliminating underperforming products — because even though these products often don’t cost much for ongoing operations, they can pose a serious legal liability for the company — it’s rare to hear them spoken of after they’ve been shuttered. In fact, Killed By Google is the first website to memorialize them all in one place. Created by front-end developer Cody Ogden, the site features a tombstone and epitaph for each product the company has killed since it originated.

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of this story at Slashdot.

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Source:: Slashdot

Campaigners cry foul over NHS Digital plans to grant policy wonks and researchers access to patient-level data

Using private info for funding decisions branded ‘toxic’

“Rich” and “granular” patient data from hospital and GP records could be shared with policymakers and researchers under new plans from NHS Digital.…

…read more

Source:: TheRegister

Apple’s news subscription likely won’t include The New York Times – CNET

New York Times CEO Mark Thompson tells Reuters that relying on platforms like Apple’s can be troublesome. …read more

Source:: CNet

In Netflix’s After Life, Ricky Gervais grieves, and we’re uplifted – CNET

Commentary: I came for Ricky Gervais. I stayed for the moving and relatable moments of human connection. …read more

Source:: CNet

As ‘Subscription Fatigue’ Sets In, the OTT Reckoning May Be Upon Us

An anonymous reader writes: Deciding which streaming outlet you want to subscribe to can be just as hard as finding a show itself. With options from big players like Netflix, HBO Now, Hulu, Showtime, Amazon and YouTube Premium — and looming new platforms from the likes of Disney, Apple, AT&T and NBCUniversal — consumers are already starting to grow frustrated with the crowded streaming marketplace as “subscription fatigue” sets in, according to Deloitte’s 13th edition of its Digital Media Trends survey.

Viewers are taking advantage of these options: the average video consumer subscribes to three video streaming services, said Deloitte. But they’re growing frustrated over just how many options they have. Nearly half of those surveyed, at 47 percent, said they are frustrated by the growing number of subscriptions and services to watch their shows. And this audience grows attached to the content: 57 percent of consumers said it frustrates them when shows and movies disappear from their streaming libraries.

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Source:: Slashdot

Watch two NASA astronauts work on ISS power system during spacewalk – CNET

You can watch it live now. …read more

Source:: CNet

Google VR controller patent adds location, orientation tracking – CNET

Addressing the problem of locating your hands in space. …read more

Source:: CNet

McLaren’s in-house carbon fiber ‘Monocell’ heads to crash testing – Roadshow

It will eventually underpin a new generation of lighter, greener supercars. …read more

Source:: CNet

Call for Speakers Open for Florida Cyber Conference 2019

Cyber Florida announces that the Call for Speakers for Florida Cyber Conference 2019 (FLCyberCon) is now open and invites experts, thought-leaders, and cyber specialists from all sectors to submit proposals for breakout sessions, panel discussions, demonstrations, case studies, interactive sessions and other unique learning opportunities for conference goers.

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Source:: SecurityMagazine

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