The mother of all demos!

Douglas C. Engelbart holding some of the computer mice he and his team developed.

Douglas C. Engelbart holding some of the mice he and his team developed.

Today we take a lot of things for granted – take for instance your everyday mouse used with desktop and laptop computers. Or being able to copy and paste selected text, or moving text from one place to another. You don’t really give it much thought because, for most of us, it’s always been there and we’ve come acustomed to using it. Did you know all of the above was demonstrated (and pinoneered) by Douglas C. Engelbart back in 1968?

If you have a few minutes go and take a look at the following video – part 1 of 9 – you might not be able to read all of the text in the beginning but the rest is quite astounding considering when it was actually done.

If you’d like to see the other parts you can see them all on YouTube.

Happy Halloween!

To those that celebrate in the festivities of Halloween – have a good one! Not too big an event in South Africa but some people do participate by dressing up and trick-or-treating in their neighbourhood or going to a dress-up party. As for me, I’ll be catching up on some much needed rest after this week of work, lazily waking up on All Saints day.

George Costanza's Words of Wisdom

 

The most unfair thing about life is the way it ends. I mean, life is tough. It takes up a lot of your time. What do you get at the end of it? A death. What’s that, a bonus?!?!

I think the life cycle is all backwards. You should die first, get it out of the way. Then you go live in an old age home. You get kicked out for being too healthy, go collect your pension, then, when you start work, you get a gold watch on your first day. You work forty years until you’re young enough to enjoy your retirement. You drink alcohol, you party, and you get ready for High School. You go to primary school, you become a kid, you play, you have no responsibilities, you become a little baby, you go back, you spend your last 9 months floating with luxuries like central heating, spa, room services on tap, then you finish off as an orgasm!! Amen. – George Costanza

Thanks to Marius for passing this on.

Lice Shampoo – a severe warning to parents!

I was completely shocked when I just read this report in the local paper while having my lunch today:

Lachlan suddenly started coming out in bruises all over his body. 

Blood tests revealed that all his blood counts were low – platelets, haemoglobin and white cells – Lachlan’s bone marrow was in the process of shutting down, and a transplant was his only hope. 

“The products in South Africa contain no warnings on the packaging, and in fact recommend repeated treatment if the head lice are not completely cleared.

“Most parents are not aware that Gambex is actually a pesticide.”

Lice shampoos containing the chemical gamma benzene hexachloride on sale in South Africa are Gambex® and Quellada®; in most other countries it goes by the brand Lindane® or Kwell®.
– source IOL

A serious warning to anyone with children who are prone to contracting or may be in contact with other children at creche/school that may be infected with lice. We’ve used these products in the past and will definitely NOT be using them (or any other lice-shampoo product) in future. Washing the kids hair with vinegar and then combing out the lice and eggs with a fine-tooth comb will work just as effectively and will be completely harmless to the children.

MySpace – making the web uglier

<Rant>

You know, back in the early days of the Internet people were left to their own devices and added scrolling marquees, flashing text and TONS of animated GIFs to their pages to “spruce” (sic) them up. And as the Internet became more popular among more people, others too, who weren’t that technically (?) minded, wanted their own space on the Internet too – along came blogging tools and websites offering easy ways to publish your own content online. 

Even though I’ve had various personal, company and group-related websites up since the mid-90’s I’ve only been active on the blogosphere for the past 3 months, and I’m glad I did a little bit of research before starting – especially when it comes to picking a blogging-tool.

I initially was going to go with my own provider’s blogging tool but I didn’t like the templates, features or usability. The same applied to Blogger and MySpace (and boy was I warned about MySpace). I really thought the early days of ugly websites were gone by about 2000 but it seems MySpace has provided a platform for people to create ugly sites again (like they did when they first created and releases MS FrontPage). I’ve been to about a dozen or so MySpace pages of various people I’ve wanted to see profiles of and I’ve yet to see a decent looking page on that platform other than (maybe, at  stretch) the MySpace home page.

So then I finally settled on WordPress.com and looking back, I’m very happy I did.

</Rant>

Microsoft Emergency Patch released yesterday

I wondered how come my computer at home showed a windows update and it wasn’t Tuesday anymore. It appears Microsoft has found another RPC exploit in it’s Server OSes (2000, 2003, and even XP with the latest SP2 or SP3 installed. Susan Bradley from Windows Secrets posted about this today and it’s worth a read to keep yourself protected.

Multicolr Search Lab

I was browsing a few of the latest posts on Ze Frank’s blog and came across this one this morning. Apparently they’ve search 10 million of the most “interesting” photos on flickr and indexed them with the various colours used so that you can use their nifty colour searching tool to find photos containing the colours you pick. You can pick up to ten colours to search for. Go on, try it for yourself, it’s fun!

Big brother is watching you – through your printer!

Did you know that most colour laser printers and copiers imprint a special code made up of tiny yellow dots which, according to the EFF, contains information about the printer’s serial number and date/time the print was made? Well, apparently so, say the people at the EFF. See the video below explaining it in a bit more detail:

Or maybe, it’s just printer manufacturers having a laugh. What do you think?

[polldaddy poll=1033598]

X-Ray DIY with Scotch tape and a vacuum

Okay, so not everyone had a vacuum (and I’m not talking about the upright in the cupboard you use once a week to clean the carpets) available – but almost everyone has a roll of Scotch tape lying around. Apparently the effect of peeling of a piece of Scotch tape from the roll (when enclosed in a vacuum) releases enough X-rays to image a bone in your hand!

This kind of energy release — known as triboluminescence and seen in the form of light — occurs whenever a solid (often a crystal) is crushed, rubbed or scratched. It is a long-known, if somewhat mysterious, phenomenon, seen by Francis Bacon in 1605. He noticed that scratching a lump of sugar caused it to give off light.

Believe it or not – go take a look at the Nature website to read more.