Aetles + history   30

Forty-Five Things I Learned in the Gulag
For fifteen years the writer Varlam Shalamov was imprisoned in the Gulag for participating in “counter-revolutionary Trotskyist activities.” He endured six of those years enslaved in the gold mines of Kolyma, one of the coldest and most hostile places on earth. While he was awaiting sentencing, one of his short stories was published in a journal called Literary Contemporary. He was released in 1951, and from 1954 to 1973 he worked on Kolyma Stories, a masterpiece of Soviet dissident writing that has been newly translated into English and published by New York Review Books Classics this week. Shalamov claimed not to have learned anything in Kolyma, except how to wheel a loaded barrow. But one of his fragmentary writings, dated 1961, tells us more.
history  prison  russia 
june 2018 by Aetles
A Conversation With Erik Spiekermann
Erik Spiekermann has forgotten more things than most successful and creative people know in their lifetime. Now in his sixties (68), the German-born designer and typography guru remains as excited about the future as ever.

Erik Spiekermann is one of the most well-known and creative thinkers in design. A type, information and graphic designer by trade, he began his career teaching at the London College of Printing in the 1970s. In 1979, Spiekermann co-founded MetaDesign in Berlin, and in the 1980s, at the cusp of the PC revolution, he co-founded FontShop, a distributor of electronic fonts. He has designed fonts such as Berliner Grotesk, ITC Officina, Nokia Sans and FF Meta. He is also the co-founder of design house Edenspiekermann. He divides his time between Berlin and the Bay Area.
design  typography  mac  history  print  apple  web  reading  ebooks 
february 2016 by Aetles
Olyckan vid Djatlovpasset – Wikipedia
Olyckan vid Djatlovpasset var en olycka som resulterade i att nio skidåkare dog under mystiska omständigheter i norra Uralbergen. Olyckan skedde natten den 2 februari 1959 på den östra delen av berget Cholat Siachl (Det döda berget på Mansi-språket). Bergspasset (N61°45'17", E59°27'46") där olyckan skedde, har namngetts Djatlovpasset efter gruppens ledare Igor Djatlov. Trots flertalet utredningar har man inte lyckats fastställa varför de nio skidåkarna övergav sitt läger mitt i natten och frös ihjäl. Inte heller har man lyckats utreda hur de avlidnas märkliga skador uppkommit.
history  horror  mystery  death 
january 2016 by Aetles
The Internet's Dark Ages - The Atlantic
The web, as it appears at any one moment, is a phantasmagoria. It’s not a place in any reliable sense of the word. It is not a repository. It is not a library. It is a constantly changing patchwork of perpetual nowness.

You can't count on the web, okay? It’s unstable. You have to know this.   

Digital information itself has all kinds of advantages. It can be read by machines, sorted and analyzed in massive quantities, and disseminated instantaneously. “Except when it goes, it really goes,” said Jason Scott, an archivist and historian for the Internet Archive. “It’s gone gone. A piece of paper can burn and you can still kind of get something from it. With a hard drive or a URL, when it’s gone, there is just zero recourse.”

There are exceptions. The Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine has a trove of cached web pages going back to 1996. Scott and his colleagues are saving tens of petabytes of data, chasing an ideal that doubles as their motto: Universal Access to All Knowledge. The trove they’ve built is extraordinary, but it’s far from comprehensive. Today’s web is more dynamic than ever and therefore more at-risk than it sometimes seems.

It is not just access to knowledge, but the knowledge itself that’s at stake. Thousands of years ago, the Library of Alexandria was, as the astrophysicist Carl Sagan wrote, “the brain and heart of the ancient world.” For seven centuries, it housed hundreds of thousands of scrolls; great works of philosophy, literature, technology, math, and medicine. It took as many centuries for most of its collections to be destroyed.

The promise of the web is that Alexandria’s library might be resurrected for the modern world. But today’s great library is being destroyed even as it is being built. Until you lose something big on the Internet, something truly valuable, this paradox can be difficult to understand.
archive  history  memory  Internet  linkrot  web 
january 2016 by Aetles
Classic Urban Legend: NASA Space Pen -
NASA did not spend millions of dollar developing a pen that would work in zero gravity while Soviet cosmonauts opted for using pencils. Pencils were used in early missions into space by both the Americans and the Russians, but other solutions were sought when pencils were discovered to be a potential danger. Exclusive of NASA’s influence and financing, Paul C. Fisher and the Fisher Pen Company invented and designed the AG-7 “Anti-Gravity” Space Pen which was patented in 1965. It is estimated that Fisher spent roughly $1 million dollars of his own money designing the AG7 over a period of several years.  The Fisher Space Pen was eventually pitched and sold in bulk to NASA in 1968 and then to the Soviets in 1969. It is still manufactured and carried into space today by American and Russian space agencies.
history  innovation  urbanlegends  space  nasa  gravity  writing 
september 2015 by Aetles
The Playboy centrefold at the centre of computer science
The November 1972 issue of Playboy magazine is the magazine’s best selling issue of all time. This is not because of the articles, but due to the proliferation of one iconic image from the magazine: that of centrefold model Lena Söderberg.

The original image was digitised by researches at the University of Southern California Signal and Image Processing Institute (SIPI) in 1973. Alexander Sawchuk, the assistant professor of electrical engineering, his graduate student and the SIPI lab manager were frantically looking for a new image for a research paper.

They had already exhausted the stock of usual test images. It was at this moment – according to legend – that a colleague walked in with the November 1972 issue of Playboy. Seeing the predicament that the researches were in, he tore a 5.12 inch strip from the top of the centrefold and fed it to their scanner. As it had a resolution of 100 lines per inch, the resulting image was the perfectly cropped head and shoulders image 512 x 512 pixels in size.

This image has since been used widely in imaging processing circles. That’s because the nature of the image makes it amenable for testing a wide range of image processing algorithms.

The image contains a mixture of detail, colour, shading, focus, textures, reflections and flat regions that allow testing of multiple algorithms. These algorithms range from edge detection to denoising and even include shrinking the image down to the size of a human hair.
computers  history  science  equality  feminism 
september 2015 by Aetles
Haber, Fritz
But the devil was in the details. The only hints that such could be done required very high pressures and temperatures, and a metal catalyst. Off and on over a number of years, Haber experimented with different temperatures, pressures, and metal catalysts. He made progress using osmium and uranium. Finally, on July 3, 1909, he succeeded in his laboratory in producing ammonia yields on the order of 10% continuously for five hours.

This proved that commercial production was possible. The problem was that Haber’s process occurred in a tube 75 cm tall and 13 cm in diameter. There were no large containers that could operate at the temperatures and pressures he used. At the same company where Haber worked was another chemist, Carl Bosch. Bosch took on the challenge of escalating the chemical process to an industrial level. After thousands of experiments he perfected a method to do so that became known as the Haber-Bosch Process. 

Vaclav Smil, in his book Enriching the Earth, says that the Haber-Bosch process "has been of greater fundamental importance to the modern world than ... the airplane, nuclear energy, space flight, or television. The expansion of the world's population from 1.6 billion people in 1900 to six billion in 2000 would not have been possible without the synthesis of ammonia."  The  International Fertilizer Industry Association reports that over 100 million metric tons of nitrogen produced by the Haber-Bosch Process are applied annually to global crops, over half of it to cereal crops. Smil and others have calculated that over 2 billion people, about 40% of those alive, are fed by food grown using fertilizer from the Haber-Bosch process.  Haber received the Nobel Prize for his discovery in 1918.
history  germany  worldwar1  science  discoveries  world 
august 2015 by Aetles
Efficient Web Type, c. 1556
Load fonts with JavaScript

When loading fonts, we have the opportunity to use CSS alone, or to use JavaScript and CSS together. Conventional web development wisdom often suggests that we should only turn JavaScript when we need to. In this situation, JavaScript is necessary to influence how readers perception of how quickly the fonts have loaded, based on the state they are.

A CSS-only approach, recommended by default on Google Fonts and some other services, would have you drop in a <link> tag or use a CSS @import statement:

<link href="http://typefound.ry/css?family=Klinic+Slab" rel="stylesheet">
@import url(http://typefound.ry/css?family=Klinic+Slab);
Despite this, choose the JavaScript-based option. If you are using a web font service that asks you to drop in a CSS link tag, there is probably an “Advanced Option,” too, that lets you paste in a JavaScript snippet. The later is going to be more beneficial to you.
typography  history  design  webdevelopment  webfonts  fonts 
july 2015 by Aetles
The psychedelic and grotesque proto-GIFs of the 19th century | The Verge
Richard Balzer’s love affair began about 40 years ago, when he saw his first magic lantern — an early image projector invented in the 1600s. The experience would prove transformative.

"I was just stunned," he says. "I think I fell in love."

Balzer, a New York native, was working abroad as a photographer at the time, but the encounter kindled a dormant passion that would persist for decades. He began scouring for magic lanterns at flea markets across London and Paris, and soon expanded his collection as he learned more about early animation technology. Today, he has thousands of illustrations and machines at his Boston-area home, including phenakistoscopes, praxinoscopes, and zoetropes — all "optic toys" that were, in effect, the world’s first GIF-making machines.
gifs  animation  humor  art  history 
october 2013 by Aetles
Apple's "Skankphone" Was The iPhone's Ugly Twin Brother | Co.Design | business + design
apple  history  iphone 
september 2013 by Aetles
The History of the "Boo-Dah-Ling" Sound
SoundJam MP was released, sold reasonably well, but not anything spectacular. Some months later, and I hear from Jeff saying that Apple bought it (to later become iTunes), and Jeff, Bill and Dave Heller (also working on it) were hired along with it. Good for him! When Apple finally released it (in 2001), it still had the disc burning sound, which, again, I thought was pretty cool!
A couple years later, the installer team decided that they would use this same "completion" sound in the installer, for the sound that happens when an install completes.
Fast forward quite a few years, and the iPhone comes out. I was not involved in development of the iPhone, nor iOS, although I was unsuccessfully courted by the iPod software guy (Tony Fadell) right when I was considering the move to work on audio software (I went to the Pro Apps group at Apple instead). So imagine my surprise when the iPhone ships, and the default text message tone is... "158-marimba", now going by the clever (and not actually accurate, from a music theory perspective) name "Tri-Tone". Time goes by, and this sound becomes iconic, showing up in TV shows and movies, and becoming international short-hand for "you have a text message"...
Wow! Who'd have thought?
apple  history  ios  itunes 
august 2013 by Aetles
The untold story behind Apple's $13,000 operating system | Apple - CNET News
CNET looks at newly surfaced contracts, design specs, and page after page of schematics and code, revealing how Apple created its first disk OS, a chapter of Silicon Valley history critical to its later success.
apple  history  business  dos  startup  wozniak 
april 2013 by Aetles
Why We Took Cocaine Out of Soda - James Hamblin - The Atlantic
Hale's account of the role of racism and social injustice in Coca-Cola's removal of coca is corroborated by the attitudes that the shaped subsequent U.S. cocaine regulation movement. Cocaine wasn't even illegal until 1914 -- 11 years after Coca-Cola's change -- but a massive surge in cocaine use was at its peak at the turn of the century. Recreational use increased five-fold in a period of less than two decades. During that time, racially oriented arguments about rape and other violence, and social effects more so than physical health concerns, came to shape the discussion. The same hypersexuality that was touted as a selling point during the short-lived glory days of Vin Mariani was now a crux of cocaine's bigoted indictment. U.S. State Department official Dr. Hamilton Wright said in 1910, "The use of cocaine by the negroes of the South is one of the most elusive and troublesome questions which confront the enforcement of the law ... often the direct incentive to the crime of rape by the negroes." Dr. Edward Williams described in the Medical Standard in 1914, "The negro who has become a cocaine-doper is a constant menace to his community. His whole nature is changed for the worse ... timid negroes develop a degree of 'Dutch courage' which is sometimes almost incredible."

Yes, even the Dutch were not spared from the racism.

The Coca-Cola we know today still contains coca -- but the ecgonine alkaloid is removed from it.
history  drugs  sodas  cocacola 
february 2013 by Aetles
Ruins of a French Colonial Ghost Town
Like a giant tombstone at the top of a hill prevailing over the dense tropical Cambodian jungle, here lies the remains of French colonial history. Yet another testimony to Europe’s once sinister use of imperialist power, Bokor Hill Station still stands to tell the tale.
world  history  cambodia  france  colonies  imperialism 
december 2012 by Aetles
The Paris Time Capsule Apartment
A Parisian apartment left untouched for over 70 years was discovered in the quartier of Pigalle a few summers ago and I’ve been meaning to share the pictures with you. Time to unlock the vault …

The owner of this apartment, Mrs. De Florian left Paris just before the rumblings of World War II broke out in Europe. She closed up her shutters and left for the South of France, never to return to the city again. Seven decades later she passed away at the age of 91. It was only when her heirs enlisted professionals to make an inventory of the Parisian apartment she left behind, that this time capsule was finally unlocked.
art  history  time  paris  france 
november 2012 by Aetles
The Xerox PARC Visit
The closest thing in the history of computing to a Prometheus myth is the late 1979 visit to Xerox PARC by a group of Apple engineers and executives led by Steve Jobs. According to early reports, it was on this visit that Jobs discovered the mouse, windows, icons, and other technologies that had been developed at PARC. These wonders had been locked away at PARC by a staff that didn't understand the revolutionary potential of what they had created. Jobs, in contrast, was immediately converted to the religion of the graphical user interface, and ordered them copied by Apple, starting down the track that would eventually yield the Lisa and "insanely great" Macintosh. The Apple engineers-- that band of brothers, that bunch of pirates-- stole the fire of the gods, and gave it to the people.

It's a good story. Unfortunately, it's also wrong in almost every way a story can be wrong. There are problems with chronology and timing. The testimony of a number of key figures at Apple suggests that the visit was not the revelation early accounts made it out to be. But the story also carries deeper assumptions about Apple, Xerox PARC, computer science in the late 1970s, and even the nature of invention and innovation that deserve to be examined and challenged.
apple  history  xerox  jobs  stevejobs 
october 2012 by Aetles
Steve Jobs: unseen images by Norman Seeff, 1984 | Retronaut
The iconic image of Steve Jobs in the lotus position with a Mac on his lap (above) was taken by Norman Seeff.  Norman is a fan of Retronaut and sent us these out-takes, plus his account of the shoot.  Images 1, 4, 5, 6 and 7 are exclusive to Retronaut and are here released for the first time.
apple  history  jobs  photography  stevejobs 
september 2012 by Aetles
Before Apple introduced the iPhone… « counternotions
This list too could go on. But it’s sobering to remember that a single device by a company with zero experience in the industry and against all odds caused such a tidal wave of change. Change didn’t come because of Nokia, Microsoft, Sony Ericsson, Samsung, RIM or any other player in the market for the past 15 years bet their company on it. Android and webOS weren’t there before the iPhone. But it’s convenient to forget all this when the meme demands Apple to be smeared with the evil brush.

Yes, “Apple’s evil”…except for all the others.
apple  history  iphone  business 
september 2012 by Aetles
An Unexpected Ass Kicking | Blog Of Impossible Things
I invented the first computer.
Um, Excuse me?
I created the world’s first internally programmable computer. It used to take up a space about as big as this whole room and my wife and I used to walk into it to program it.
What’s your name?”. I asked, thinking that this guy is either another crazy homeless person in Portland or legitimately who he said he was.
“Russell Kirsch”
Sure enough, after .29 seconds, I found out he wasn’t lying to my face. Russel Kirsch indeed invented the world’s first internally programmable computer and as well as a bunch of other things and definitely lives in Portland.
history  life  technology  computers 
august 2012 by Aetles
Texas's war on history | Katherine Stewart | Comment is free |
Don McLeroy, chairman of the Texas State Board of Education from 2007 to 2009, is a "young earth" creationist. He believes the earth is 6,000 years old, that human beings walked with dinosaurs, and that Noah's Ark had a unique, multi-level construction that allowed it to house every species of animal, including the dinosaurs.

He has a right to his beliefs, but it's his views on history that are problematic. McLeroy is part of a large and powerful movement determined to impose a thoroughly distorted, ultra-partisan, Christian nationalist version of US history on America's public school students. And he has scored stunning successes.
usa  science  history  texas  revisionism 
may 2012 by Aetles (λ) - Keeping bash history in sync on disk and between multiple terminals
PROMPT_COMMAND lets you specify a command that bash will run every time it shows you a fresh command prompt, i.e. every time you run a command and the command finishes. So the above tells bash to read any new lines that have appeared in ~/.bash_history since the last time it read it, and then append the last-run command from this terminal to ~/.bash_history, every time you run a command.

So now, if you type a command in one terminal, and want to access it via the history of another terminal, run a command in the other terminal (or just hit Enter) to trigger PROMPT_COMMAND, and then your history will be nicely up-to-date and synchronized with any other terminals you have open. Almost certainly, you'll never notice the tiny bit of overhead caused by bash constantly reading and writing to ~/.bash_history.

See man bash for more info on the history builtin.
bash  history  linux  tips 
march 2012 by Aetles
Scouting An Abandoned Cold War Missile Base Hidden In The Adirondacks « Scouting NY
Why would you need a 2,000 pound steel blast door in the middle of the Adirondacks?

Because this particular house was built on the site of a 9-story Cold War-era Atlas F underground missile launch site – and it’s still there:

Backstory: I was in upstate New York over Christmas break when I read an article in the local paper about a man who had purchased a decommissioned 1960′s missile launch site in 1995, built a few houses and an airstrip on the property, and was now looking to sell it ($750k and it’s yours! click here!), or perhaps lease it for film production use.


I immediately contacted the owners, who graciously provided me with a tour which I am thrilled to present below.
architecture  history  photography  usa  coldwar 
january 2012 by Aetles
The Sketchbook of Susan Kare, the Artist Who Gave Computing a Human Face | NeuroTribes
The genius of Steve Jobs, Jef Raskin, and the rest of the Mac team was recognizing a huge untapped market for home computing among artists, musicians, writers, and other creative weirdos who might never have cared enough to master the arcane complexities of a command-line UI or blow a fortune on hulking digital workstations.

The challenge of designing a personal computer that “the rest of us” would not only buy, but fall crazy in love with, however, required input from the kind of people who might some day be convinced to try using a Mac. Fittingly, one of the team’s most auspicious early hires was a young artist herself: Susan Kare.
apple  art  design  history  technology 
november 2011 by Aetles
How to Reverse the West's Decline | Standpoint
It is not clear that the West has successfully met the challenge of 9/11. Worse: it is not clear that the West yet fully understands what the challenge is. 

To understand 2001 we have to go back to 1989, the year of the collapse of the Soviet Union, the end of the Cold War, and the fall of the Berlin Wall. It was an historic moment that few had expected. What did it mean? It was then that two stories were born, with one of which we are familiar, the other of which we seem hardly to know or understand at all.

The first narrative was that the West had won. Communism had imploded. In the end, it failed to deliver the goods. People wanted freedom. They sought affluence. The Soviet Union had delivered neither. Politically it was repressive. Economically it was inefficient. For freedom you need liberal democracy. For affluence you need the market economy. 1989 marked the victory of both. From here on democratic capitalism would spread slowly but surely across the world. To adapt Francis Fukuyama's phrase of the time, it was the beginning of the end of history.

The other narrative was quite different but has the advantage of so far being proved correct. Unlike Fukuyama's, it was based not on Hegel but on the 14th-century Islamic thinker Ibn Khaldun. We don't know much about Ibn Khaldun in the West but we should. He was one of the truly great thinkers of the Middle Ages. He has every claim to be called the world's first sociologist. Not for another 300 years would the West produce a figure of comparable originality: Giambattista Vico. Both produced compelling accounts of the rise and fall of civilisations. Both knew what most people most of the time forget: that the greatest civilisations eventually fall. The reason they do so is not necessarily the rise of a stronger power. It is their own internal decay.
society  history  civilisation 
november 2011 by Aetles
Bush: 'Our Long National Nightmare Of Peace And Prosperity Is Finally Over' | The Onion - America's Finest News Source
WASHINGTON, DC–Mere days from assuming the presidency and closing the door on eight years of Bill Clinton, president-elect George W. Bush assured the nation in a televised address Tuesday that "our long national nightmare of peace and prosperity is finally over."
history  humor  georgebush  usa 
october 2011 by Aetles
The Drupal Crisis / UNLEASHED MIND // Drupal consulting & development agency
In addition to the half-baked, single-purpose product features mentioned above, Drupal core still carries around very old cruft from earlier days, which no one cares for. All of these features are not core functionality of a flexible, modular, and extensible system Drupal pretends to be. They are poor and inflexible product features being based on APIs and concepts that Drupal core allowed for, five and more years ago.

Drupal core blocks its very own modernization and innovation, and started to heavily lack behind competitors and the overall industry in the past years. It is a stupidly old, poor, and monolothic beast.

Drupal core is not maintainable anymore. There's too much cruft. Too many half-baked features that no one actually maintains.
drupal  drupal7  history 
august 2011 by Aetles
VIDEO ESSAY: CHAOS CINEMA: The decline and fall of action filmmaking > Press Play
During the first decade of the 21st century, film style changed profoundly. Throughout the initial century of moviemaking, the default style of commercial cinema was classical; it was meticulous and patient. At least in theory, every composition and camera move had a meaning, a purpose. Movies did not cut without good reason, as it was considered sloppy, even amateurish. Mainstream films once prided themselves on keeping you the viewer well-oriented because they wanted to make sure you always knew where you were and what was happening.

Action was always intelligible, no matter how frenetic the scenario. A prime example: John Woo’s classic Hong Kong action film Hard Boiled. Its action is wild and extravagant, but it is nevertheless coherent and comprehensible at all times. Viewers feel and experience the exaggerated shootout fantasy without ever losing their bearings. In terms of camerawork, editing and staging, precision is key. Woo’s film is in fact strongly influenced by the work of American directors such as Sam Peckinpah and Martin Scorsese. A similarly great American action film is John McTiernan’s Die Hard. Notice the economy of cuts and camera moves in the scene where hero John McClane fights the bad guy’s chief henchman, Karl. The fight itself is frantic yet clearly understandable, both riveting and stabilizing—the M.O. of classical cinema.

But in the past decade, that bit of received wisdom went right out the window. Commercial films became faster. Overstuffed. Hyperactive.

Rapid editing, close framings, bipolar lens lengths and promiscuous camera movement now define commercial filmmaking. Film scholar David Bordwell gave this type of filmmaking a name: intensified continuity. But Bordwell’s phrase may not go far enough. In many post-millennial releases, we’re not just seeing an intensification of classical technique, but a perversion. Contemporary blockbusters, particularly action movies, trade visual intelligibility for sensory overload, and the result is a film style marked by excess, exaggeration and overindulgence: chaos cinema.
history  video  cinema 
august 2011 by Aetles
BW Online | May 21, 2001 | Commentary: Sorry, Steve: Here's Why Apple Stores Won't Work
The way Jobs sees it, the stores look to be a sure thing. But even if they attain a measure of success, few outsiders think new stores, no matter how well-conceived, will get Apple back on the hot-growth path. Jobs's focus on selling just a few consumer Macs has helped boost profits, but it is keeping Apple from exploring potential new markets. And his perfectionist attention to aesthetics has resulted in beautiful but pricey products with limited appeal outside the faithful: Apple's market share is a measly 2.8%. "Apple's problem is it still believes the way to grow is serving caviar in a world that seems pretty content with cheese and crackers," gripes former Chief Financial Officer Joseph Graziano.

Rather than unveil a Velveeta Mac, Jobs thinks he can do a better job than experienced retailers at moving the beluga. Problem is, the numbers don't add up. Given the decision to set up shop in high-rent districts in Manhattan, Boston, Chicago, and Jobs's hometown of Palo Alto, Calif., the leases for Apple's stores could cost $1.2 million a year each, says David A. Goldstein, president of researcher Channel Marketing Corp. Since PC retailing gross margins are normally 10% or less, Apple would have to sell $12 million a year per store to pay for the space. Gateway does about $8 million annually at each of its Country Stores. Then there's the cost of construction, hiring experienced staff. "I give them two years before they're turning out the lights on a very painful and expensive mistake," says Goldstein.
apple  business  history 
february 2011 by Aetles
Smart Quotes
Historien bakom "smarta citattecken", Smart Quotes, i macen.
mac  historia  typografi  history  typography 
may 2006 by Aetles

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