Colourful computer history

Liked Guide to Computing — docubyte by an author (docubyte)

I love James Ball’s colourful photographic history of computers.

These machines are grossly under-powered compared to the devices we use today. Still, they’re a wonderful reminder of how far we’ve come, and what lies ahead for us in technological terms. This Telefunken RA770 (circa 1970) is one of my favourites:

Via The Stylish & Colorful Computing Machines of Yesteryear by Jason Kottke

My Fitbit Charge 3 arrived!

My Fitbit Charge 3 arrived a little sooner than I expected. 😁

Setup was pretty quick. I first had to install an update through the app on my phone, charged it for a bit, and then put it on.

I’ve been wearing it almost constantly since I received it (I take it off when I shower, even though it’s waterproof), and I really like all the data it gives me about my daily activity, sleep patterns, and even reminders to get up and move around more during my day.

I really love how I haven’t needed to charge it every day. I’ve been wearing it for about six days, and I’m on 41%.

Counting the steps till my Fitbit Charge 3

How to get things done

I’m looking forward to receiving my Fitbit Charge 3 in a week or two. I don’t do any intensive activities but I like tracking things like steps.

Having an activity tracker that will help me track other metrics will give me a great view of my general health.

My new gaming adventure

I haven’t been much of a gamer (at least not since childhood), until I started a new, casual gaming adventure in the last week or two. It started when we bought a Nintendo Switch for home.

We opted for the Switch because it seemed to be a better choice for the whole family. I also really like the sorts of games I’ve been hearing about from Nintendo.

We started off with Legends of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Minecraft, and Fortnite (our son introduced me to this one). So far, Legends of Zelda is my favourite game on the Switch. It’s a remarkable adventure, and our son and I are constantly comparing notes about where to find gear, how to solve the next challenge, and how to stay alive in the game.

I’ve also started playing a game or two on my Android phone. I really enjoy Alto’s Adventure, in Zen mode. I like just skiing across the landscape, and getting back up each time I hit a rock, or fall down a crevice.

The imagery in Alto’s Adventure is wonderful. Even those moments after a crash have a profoundly contemplative feel to them,

My ideal would be to play Alto’s Adventure (or even the follow-up, Alto’s Odyssey – I haven’t started playing this one yet) on the Switch, but the game only seems to be available on iOS or Android.

Our next game is probably going to be Mario Kart 8. We want a game we can play together, and this one seems like a great option. I’m also looking forward to the launch of the Nintendo Switch Online service that seems like it will bring the older NES games to Switch devices as part of the subscription service.

The timing for this is great. I’m on vacation with our kids for the next two weeks, and playing games like these together are a great way to unwind between the outings we have planned.

My idea of a good time: coding on a Linux computer

Lately my idea of fun has been firmly rooted in coding, and playing around with Linux.

We’re planning to buy our son a new Linux PC after passing his (and before him, my) old Linux PC to our daughter.

I’m very tempted to extend my loan of my personal MacBook Air to him, and but myself a new laptop to install Linux on, and use that to explore what’s possibly my latest midlife crisis.

This article about Jason Evangelho’s switch to Linux just reinforces my temptation/idea.

Canonical’s Ubuntu seems to command a lot of mindshare when it comes to desktop Linux, so that was my next stop. I went through the same paces: download to a USB stick, boot up to the “Live” version of Ubuntu 18.04 (which includes 5 years of security patches and updates), have a look around, click “Install.” Ubuntu presented me with several options for partitioning the internal SSD, including blasting the entire drive. Tempting! I was feeling lucky so I took the plunge.

We’re already living in the future

We’re living in an incredible time. Technologies that seemed like science fiction just a few years ago are being released, and they look incredible. Take the Microsoft Surface Hub 2 as an example:

Then, when you’ve watched that, take a trip back about six or seven years when these sorts of displays were fantastic dreams:

A day with smart glass envisioned by Corning

Yes, your window is your smart display

Even Google’s Jamboard already seems quaint, just two years after it was announced:

Jamboard and Surface Studio are hints of our future tech

We haven’t quite realised the dream of the sorts of ubiquitous screens and panels that we see in the Corning and Microsoft future vision videos, but given what we see now in Microsoft’s Surface Hub 2, we can’t be that far from these interfaces either.

Put your phone away, #ItCanWait

Texting while walking.

#ItCanWait is probably one of the best PSA campaigns I’ve seen. The Western Cape Government has taken on the challenge of educating people about the risks of not just texting and walking, but texting and driving.

As the research points out, humans simply can’t multi-task. When we shift our attention to our phones, we take it away from what we should be doing:

The bottom line of the situation is that the concept of multi-tasking is a dangerous myth. While our brains can jump back and forth between tasks, we are simply not wired to do more than one thing at the same time. The multi-tasking myth can provide for amusing workplace badinage, but is deadly serious on the road. As the National Safety Council points out, brain activity in the areas that process moving images decreases by over 33% when we are talking on our phone. This means that we effectively become partially blind when we use our cell-phone while driving. This in turn, leads to collisions which can result in deaths and serious injuries. There is no call, and certainly no text message, so important that it is worth a human life: it can wait.

This tendency to text while doing things like walking, driving and riding bikes happens all the time in my neighbourhood. People do pretty stupid things while texting in my city:

  • riding an electric bike (without a helmet[1]);
  • riding a hoverboard[2] up a road (again, without a helmet); and, of course,
  • driving.

As it is, we spend way too much time staring at our devices. The prevalence of instant communication services reinforce this notion that each message deserves an instant response.

I’m dreading the inevitable accident when a teenager cruises into traffic mid-Snap one day. It shouldn’t happen but people can be pretty short-sighted, downright stupid even.

Image credit: Mike Wilson


  1. I’m pretty sure people don’t wear helmets because they would mess coiffed hairdos. Pretty stupid, when you think about it?  ↩
  2. As an aside, hoverboards must be one of the most idiotic inventions. They fuel the height of laziness. I see kids riding them around the city and I keep thinking, “Walking is too much for you?”.  ↩

Remove Facebook from your phone at your peril

Is the iPad Pro, the "everything" device?

I recently decided to remove Facebook from my phone. I made the decision after finding myself opening the app and frequently being pretty underwhelmed by the updates Facebook insisted on notifying me about.

Although I was tempted to delete the app altogether, I decided to remove the app from my home screen instead. This means I’d need to find it in my app drawer to open it.

The immediate benefit was that I didn’t find myself opening the app because I was bored and then wondered why I bothered. The downside had been that the main utility Facebook has for me has been buried: I’ve started missing birthdays!

Yup, probably the most valuable part of Facebook to me is the birthday calendar and not checking the app obsessively means I have started missing birthdays. I can’t seem to work out how to sync birthday calendars with my phone yet (I think I know how to do it) so I’ve been reliant on the app to remind me.

Aside from that, my decision to remove Facebook from my phone has been worthwhile so far. I don’t open the app out of mindless habit. I don’t have that regret when I do and I have replaced Facebook’s spot on my home screen with Feedly instead.

Much better use of that attention-grabbing spot.

If you’ve been dissatisfied with your Facebook experience lately and you’re tempted to remove it from your mobile device, just consider the loss of the features like the birthday calendar and decide if it’s worth it.