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“It was a hack of and for its time, done for the curiosity and the glory of simply doing it”

I was reading the Wikipedia entry for an episode of Doctor Who I was watching last night when I happened upon this anecdote (new to me but apparently well-known) about the broadcast of the story on Chicago station WTTW being interrupted by a pirate transmission.

The first occurrence of the signal intrusion took place during then-independent station WGN-TV’s live telecast of its primetime newscast, The Nine O’Clock News. During Chicago Bears highlights in the sports report, the station’s signal was interrupted for about half a minute by a video of a person wearing a Max Headroom mask, moving around in front of a sheet of corrugated metal, which imitated the background effect used in the Max Headroom TV and movie appearances. There was no audio other than a buzzing noise. (…)

Later that night, around 11:15 p.m. Central Time, during a broadcast of the Doctor Who serial ‘Horror of Fang Rock’, PBS member station WTTW’s signal was hijacked using the same video that was broadcast during the WGN-TV hijack, this time with distorted audio.

Warning: slightly NSFW

As Chris Knittel and Alex Pasternack’s comprehensive account of this infamous ‘broadcast intrusion’ concludes, ‘there was no clear motive, no clear message, and thirty years on, no clear perpetrator’.

“You have to experiment, and not care about whether the new things actually make sense”

Simplicity is not about making something without ornament, but rather about making something very complex, then slicing elements away, until you reveal the very essence.

Christoph Niemann on the process of creating of his Petting Zoo app for iOS.

“Cheap gimmicks and unnecessary tricks”

Pushing the boundaries of what a book is — whether it’s by blurring the lines between different kinds of media or questioning the linear nature of traditional narrative — is not something that people are looking to book publishers to provide. Too much of what we call innovation is basically turning our content into a showroom for device manufacturers — and we do it to the detriment of more important and more useful innovation at the back end of the publishing business.

Joel Naoum of Pan Macmillan’s digital-only imprint Momentum, arguing that publishers are bolting technology onto the wrong parts of their business. Kind of like if the Borg from Star Trek diverted attention from their cube-ship program in favour of giving themselves shiny new genital attachments, but then realised their decreased mobility meant they had no way of getting those genital attachments into the right sockets.

Kind of like that.

“We can’t be so excited over something new and shiny that we knowingly leave people on the other side”

(It’s) difficult for us, on this side of the digital divide, to remember that there are people standing on the other side of what can seem like an impassable gorge, wondering if they’re going to be left behind. Right now, more than 20% of Americans do not have access to the internet. In case that seems like a low number, consider this: That’s one person in five. One person in five doesn’t have access to the internet. Of those who do have access, many have it via shared computers, or via public places like libraries, which allow public use of their machines. […]

Now. How many of these people do you think have access to an ebook reader?

Author Seanan McGuire asks those who would declare the death of print to bear in mind the division between technological haves and have-nots. Recommended. (Via @pinknantucket)

My micro life: 12:13pm, 27 July 2010

Our shitty printer is a Brother MFC-425CN. I have just come up with some imaginative explanations of what ‘MFC’ and ‘CN’ stand for.

My micro life: 8:40am, 25 July 2010

Our TV reception only works if I unplug the antenna and thump the set-top box. Could Logie Baird have dared imagine such a wonderful future?

My micro life: 7:44pm, 3 December 2009

Microsoft Office autoupdates always make me nervous.

Found object: 3:41pm, 16 November 2009

Lounge rooms for the little people who live inside your PC. Beautifully done, but I bet the vacuuming is a bitch.

(This Blog Rules)

My micro life: 4:09pm, 11 October 2009

If you gave your employer a document prepared using MS Word’s default styles, the only conclusion your employer could reach would be that they’d hired Charles Manson.

Going vintage to get things done

Freelance writer Riccardo Mori steps back in time to a Mac running System 7.1 (connected to an old iBook running System 9 as "a bridge between the 'old' world and the 'new' world" of his regular setup) to avoid the shiny, internet-connected world of distraction that OS X offers: emails, RSS, spur of the moment research on the muddy muddy web. Great photo of his barebones setup; I felt instantly calmed (and envious).

Computer reveals stone tablet ‘handwriting’ in a flash

A computer technique can tell the difference between ancient inscriptions created by different artisans.

Found object: 6:26pm, 25 April 2009

“Computers. How they were invented – how they work – what they can do, both now and in an exciting future.”

I wonder if K. N. Dodd Ph.D predicted that computers in his “exciting future” would mainly be used for looking at people in various stages of undress, grammatically-challenged cats, and grammatically-challenged cats with clothes on.

(Martin Isaac)

Found object: 6:30pm, 4 April 2009

Why one should exercise caution when using the word ‘modern’.

(C86 | Matt Lyon)

My micro life: 8:57pm, 15 December 2008

Predictive text on my last phone interpreted ‘cous cous’ as ‘anus anus’. I shudder to think what Google Voice Search will make of it.

My micro life: 12:28pm, 14 October 2008

Wishing Apple would hurry up and refresh the Mac Mini, the hole where the money used to be in my wallet is burning a hole in my wallet

My micro life: 11:55am, 4 October 2008

Best thing about the iPhone is that it helps me get around the “no laptop in the toilet” rule my partner instituted.

My micro life: 11:42am, 22 July 2008

Apparently the name ‘Aaron’ is Hebrew for “Doomed to receive calls from friends who forget to lock their mobile phone keypads”

My micro life: 1:36pm, 1 July 2008

Apple’s lowercase-personal-pronoun ‘i’ thing has gone too far; takeaway joint iSushi just got added to the list of things to which ‘iObject’

A Monday morning sea shanty

I was walking down my street this morning when I heard a tune both mournful and carnivalesque.

Around the corner walked a crusty, withered old rake playing some sort of sea shanty on a mouth organ. He wore a dark navy overcoat and tugged upon his grubby sailor’s cap as we bade each other good morning.

I thought how splendid it was that he was providing his own entertainment. I thought, “Wow, that’s so much better than carrying an iPod around”.

Then I thought, “Wait a minute, you can’t listen to a podcast commentary of last night’s episode of Doctor Who on a mouth organ.”