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Happy Birthday :-) (Smiley’s 25th Anniversary) September 19, 2007

Posted by Tom in blogging, tech news, Techstuff.
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:-)

25 years ago today the smiley was born…. After much discussion about how to show jokes and humour online Scott E. Fahlman came up with the smiley.

Here is an excerpt from the discussion which gave birth to a new cultural phenomenon.

17-Sep-82 10:58 Neil Swartz at CMU-750R Elevator posts Maybe we should adopt a convention of putting a star (*) in the subject field of any notice which is to be taken as a joke.

17-Sep-82 14:59 Joseph Ginder at CMU-10A (*%) I believe that the joke character should be % rather than *.

17-Sep-82 15:15 Anthony Stentz at CMU-780G (*%) How about using * for good jokes and % for bad jokes? We could even use *% for jokes that are so bad, they’re funny.

17-Sep-82 17:40 Keith Wright at CMU-10A *%&#$ Jokes! No, no, no! Surely everyone will agree that “&” is the funniest character on the keyboard. It looks funny (like a jolly fat man in convulsions of laughter). It sounds funny (say it loud and fast three times). I just know if I could get my nose into the vacuum of the CRT it would even smell funny!

17-Sep-82 17:42 Leonard Hamey at CMU-10A {#} (previously *) …I think that the joke character should be the sequence {#} because it looks like two lips with teeth showing between them. This is the expected result if someone actually laughs their head off…

19-Sep-82 11:44 Scott E Fahlman :-) From: Scott E Fahlman <Fahlman at Cmu-20c> I propose that the following character sequence for joke markers: :-) Read it sideways. Actually, it is probably more economical to mark things that are NOT jokes, given current trends. For this, use :-(

Thank you smiley for helping me express myself , and thank you Scot for inventing it :-)

UPDATE: Switched off WordPress automatic graphic display of emoticons … shows how far they have come I suppose.

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Vertical Farming June 20, 2007

Posted by Tom in anti-car, Cities, Environment, future, Science Fiction (for now), tech news, Techstuff.
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One of the vertcal farm ideas
I have many visions of the future of humanity living in a world that we have finally grown old enough to manage sensibly. I have lots of ideas on this topic but one area I like to dwell on is the future of cities.

I would love to share them all now but I think I will finish my second degree first and get some more knowledge, then they (my ideas) might be taken more seriously and have some positive effect other than spreading ideas (which is, of course, useful). That is how I would like them to be taken so that’s the way I’m doing this.

Anyway one of my personal visions is that we all live close to one another. By this I don’t mean that all humans live crammed into a tiny space.

We will, I hope, reach a collective realization that our personal goals are less fulfilling than that of our planet’s and species’ survival and we will live in communities (I’m not envisaging some future communism) in which all services and needs are taken care of close by. If they aren’t serviced in that region they will be in the next. This will involve a dramatic decrease in the use of transportation of goods and people.

I cannot go into too much detail here as I mentioned earlier I wish to be able to develop this idea further.
What has struck me in the news this week was Vertical farms.We are one step closer to this idea. Vertical farms are skyscrapers built with farms on every floor. They will have a renewable power generator (solar or wind) on the roof that provide energy throughout the building and will have elaborate irrigation systems that recycle all the water.

So while people in cities live close to their food supply (that hasn’t been flown in from miles away), the countryside, outside the population centres, can thrive and seeds can evolve as they should.Some may feel this is removing the natural from food. What many don’t perhaps realize is that this happened a long time ago. What we may be looking at here, is allowing the natural food sources to develop themselves so we can develop our own versions safely without destroying the source.

One has to be careful though as with all miracle solutions, we do not then want to turn the solution into another problem. I would hate to see the remaining countryside be used for biofuel production.
Another projectAll images from the project’s site: http://www.verticalfarm.com/index.php

China sets example for Europe June 18, 2007

Posted by Tom in anti-car, Cities, Environment, tech news.
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T-shirt
In my search for an interesting piece to follow up on that had nothing to do with phones or Leopards I stumbled across a brilliant technological solution to decrease greenhouse gasses and energy consumption.
This can only deemed as brilliant for its simplicity.Europe should wake up and take notice.
T-shirts.
Yes that’s right. T-shirts.
Planetsave is reporting that Chinese workers now have to wear T-shirts instead of suits in a move to turn air-conditioning down.
I have frequently discussed this with friends, colleagues and students and we all agree it is sheer idiocy to wear a suit in August to get to the office and sit in cold air-conditioning.
The sight of men in suits in 35ºC + (95ºF) temperatures walking to lunch is very common. I wonder what they would be wearing if there was no air-conditioning in their cars or offices.
I vote to start a pro T-Shirt movement. The cooler the better (and once we are all wearing t-shirts we can also wear trainers and walk to work).

Going Lo-Tech — No Impact Man May 11, 2007

Posted by Tom in Environment, family, tech news.
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The Family
Imagine waking up in the morning, not having a coffee, not switching on the lights , not using loo paper and walking to work. And once back from work there is no television (or electricity for that matter). That is exactly what a family from New York are doing, on purpose. Their plan is to reduce the environmental impact they make on the planet (or their ecological footprint click link to see how big yours is) for one year as an experiment. I truly admire people who are able to make decisions like this and I wish I was brave enough to do so. Incidentally Colin Beavan (the author of this experiment) tells us his wife loves Four Seasons hotels and he has a two year old daughter. This,I truly believe, makes him all the braver. You can read about it on ABC’s sci-tech section here and you can read the Family’s blog here.

emusic – the source of my music May 8, 2007

Posted by Tom in emusic, music, tech news, Techstuff.
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Emusic logo
I have just read an article in arstecnica referring to a billboard report about emusic. Apparently some indie labels are not happy with the price of songs being sold on emusic (about 25 cents) and are threatening to up and leave. The CEO of emusic says that the volume of music sold by far makes up for the price. The argument being that music is now elastic and consumers will now buy more if the price is lower, seeing as we now have a lot more to spend our entertainment euros on (Tv, DVDs, computer games, Mobile phone services etc etc). I personally understand this very well. In fact I’m extremely happy about this. As a teenager I discovered music though sources such as NME and other magazines. These have slowly disappeared from my life, partly due to living in a country where I pay well over the odds for English pulp, partly as information is more accessible via the web. Now I get most of my music from emusic and its all very cheap. That’s why I can afford to buy some music based on reviews of other clients and not worry. If the music isn’t very good I haven’t lost lots of money. On the other hand if it’s good I go back and buy more of the artist in question because I have more to spend. I have gone from buying roughly 4 – 10 albums per year to buying 4 – 10 per month. Simple, when you think about it.

Sim City 4 Rush Hour Universal Beta? April 29, 2007

Posted by Tom in computer games, OS X, OS X Games, tech news, Uncategorized.
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This post is repeated in the software section
Aspyr have recently released a universal Binary for Sim City 4 Rush Hour for Intel Macs. They say it still is not supported. Strangely I have been Playing this (albeit occasionally) on my Intel imac for months now. The only thing wrong with it (prior to the patch) was some redrawing issues.
see here for later post on this subject

Secret science clubs April 29, 2007

Posted by Tom in bars, socializing, tech news.
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I just read about something really interesting on ABC’s Tech news site. Basically there are clubs in certain cities around the states that set up lectures by scientists. Not so interesting or unusual I think. But I think wrong. What is unusual here is the audience. The Lectures are set up in bars where “lay” people can listen to science while having a drink at the bar. Now for those of you think football (whether American or British) is only vaguely interesting when it’s the world cup final or something … this is fantastic news. Maybe I should look into organizing something similar here in Lisbon. I should talk to my friend in the Champalimaud foundation to find out how feasible he thinks this is.
I thought I’d finish this post with a quote from someone attending a lecture
“This is the only way I’m going to learn about science.”