the Long of it ........

unintended consequences and other musings

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My 23lb Personal Computer

sx64In January of 1984, I became the first person in Denver to purchase the SX-64, the world’s first portable color computer.  I paid $995 and was the happiest kid in the town!  Friend Roger Good and I used to get together and program – He had the Atari computer.

Specs:

Weight: 23 pounds
Price: US $995.
CPU: MOS 6510, 1MHz
Audio: 3 channels
RAM: 64K
Display: built-in 5″ color screen
40 X 25 text
320 X 200, 16 colors max
Storage: internal 170K floppy drive
external floppy drive
Ports: S-video, composite video
2 joysticks, cartridge port
serial and ‘user’ ports
OS: Commodore BASIC in ROM

It is now safely held by the Computer History Museum in Mountainside California where I donated it.  My perception is that many young people do not realize how fast we have come in technology in just a few years.

sx64-side

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PowerPoint from IKEA?

I always like listening to the various TED speakers – while they seem to have a left tilt, I am always challenged by their topics/presentations.  Really enjoyed Hans Rosling talking about population growth – while I don’t fully agree with his views that raising living standards in poor countries directly lowers population, his presentation techniques are to be admired.
He built a graphical display out of some colored boxes courtesy of IKEA while adding some props of a model bicycle, car and airplane.  The props allowed him to quickly move the boxes to show the changes over time as groups gain in wealth.  It was easy to follow and kept the focus on him instead of switching back and forth between the screen and the speaker.  I think more of us ought to try and use Powerpoint less and instead focus on what works best…..

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WIKIpedia meets the Scientists

Wikipedia has addressed an issue around its Global Warming Articles by removing an editor that had a decidedly biased view in favor of climate change.  While Wikipedia is the seventh most popular website in use, you must be careful in using it for reference (note; most colleges will not allow Wiki references).  I am particularly careful when an issue is one that still has people on extreme sides arguing the merits of their views – obviously climate change is one.  The good news is that Wiki has acted (after many people complaining); the bad news is that this took two years – not the model of speedy changes/updates that everyone touts as an example of why Wiki is better than the Encyclopedia Britannica.  Also, remember that Wiki levels the playing field with true experts and dummies gaining the same editing rights – again, the community should clean this up over time unless there is a group with a biased view and a religious ferver – read, Global Warming Believers….

Meanwhile, I will continue using Wiki for quick checks in non-controversial areas and do further study in the other areas.  This is a Readers Digest for people who can’t read!!