Radio Swiss Classic Lifestyle

I have mentioned it before in passing, Vicki and I lead the Radio Swiss Classic lifestyle. Which is to say, we have it on in the car and the house almost all the time. Because Switzerland has four official languages, the service is available in three languages: French, Italian and German (apparently, no Romanch service). Since Vicki is a francophone, we listen to the French service; Ich spreche ein bisschen Deutsch, but a person back announcing music in German sounds like an excerpt from a Hitler speech,

We prefer our music with minimal chatter and no programs: just music. Most Internet streams of music do not meet these requirements. BBC Radio 3, for example, is wonderful, but programmed like one of those classical stations we used to have in America on FM in the 1960s (without the tasteful commercials, of course) and lots of non-musical programming. The Dutch service, Nederland 3, met this requirement, but the government slashed public radio funding and the service was discontinued.

We have an Internet Radio, but you can also stream it through any PC or telephone (necessary for listening in the car). Heartily recommended.

Black Everywhere

I get so tired of black phones on black counters, black buttons on black backgrounds. Douglas Adams nailed it 43 years ago in The Restaurant At the End of the Universe: ‘It’s the wild color scheme that freaks me,” said Zaphod whose love affair with this ship had lasted almost three minutes into the flight, “Every time you try to operate on of these weird black controls that are labeled in black on a black background, a little black light lights up black to let you know you’ve done it. What is this? Some kind of galactic hyperhearse?”

Walkers: Engineering At Its Best

First, LinkedIn featured this post about wind-powered walkers in The Netherlands. I shared it with my family, only to discover that my son-in-law is interested in the subject.

That lead to this:
I'm a huge fan of the Strandbeests, and they are well known and respected in the bio-inspired robotics field.

In fact, they are closely related to some of the same fundamental research into legged mechanics as I used for my PhD. Here's a couple of videos of some of the really early work in the area of passive walking - using a slight incline instead of wind as the power mechanism and a more human-like limb pattern.

And then, to insure my interest, he added “MIT even has a whole course about underactuated robots!”

Two-Way Wrist Radio/Star Trek Communicator

Dick Tracy used to be a big deal on the comics pages; like Batman, he frequently relied on gadgets. My favorite was the two-way wrist radio. Wherever he is, I imagine Chester Gould has a smile on his face every time he sees someone using an Iwatch to take a phone call.

During the 1960s, an attempt was made to duplicate the wrist radio, using a CB radio. No Bluetooth, so a wire ran down your sleeve. It just wasn’t the same.

While we’re on the subject, one of my professors (I think he was EE) discussed the Star Trek Communicator (the original show had only been off the air for a year or two).

“Saying someone’s name and reaching them instantly? Ridiculous. The radio gear would be larger than the device they use, and the computer power required to make the connection and do the voice recognition would be enormous. Impossible.”

I dearly wish I could remember his name. I wonder what he thinks when he asks Siri on his IWatch to dial his wife.

Forbes The Predictor

Apropos of last week’s item on predicting the future: Daniel Dern passed on an article about the death of American computer magazines. It reminded me of Jim Forbes, who told me this well before the Internet began its deadly work: “There is no Toaster Magazine. At the turn of the century there were dozens of auto magazines when autos were new; now there are only two. When the novelty wears off, there will be no computer magazines.” He was just a decade or two early.

A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace

John Perry Barlow was a pioneer of the Internet who died .in 2018. He issued a Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, in Davos, Switzerland on February 8, 1996. He wrote and said a lot of important things about the Internet, but this document might have been the most important.

The Internet offers a potted summary: The declaration laid out an optimistic vision for an egalitarian internet that would allow anyone to express their beliefs “without fear of being coerced into silence or conformity” and without government regulation.

Thank God And Guru: One Charging Cable To Rule Them All

The EU will require USB-C charging for mobile devices by the end of 2024

One cable type for everything. A single standard for all power cables, meaning interchangeable and less expensive chargers, except for devices like the Apple iWatch which cannot be charged with a cable).

Let me translate that for you: No More Lightning Connectors! It seems unlikely that Apple will make separate European versions of everything, or that it will give up the European Market.  For me, it means no longer taking four kinds of cables with me on vacation, “Just In Case.”

I admit it would be nice if all USB connectors were reversible, like the Lightning connector. Maybe vendors could paint one side black, just so we wouldn’t have to toss a coin every time we plug something in.

I am old enough to remember the Wild West days of DOS before the IBM PC. A dozen serial connectors (RS-232 anyone?) and a dozen parallel connectors (Centronics Parallel anyone?). Standards are good. They lower costs and make life easier for consumers. What’s not to like?

I love quoting my good friend, one of the fathers of the PC, George Morrow. On the subject of standards, he was both flippant and serious.

Flippant: “I believe in standards.  Everyone should have them.”

Serious: “It is the user's responsibility to promote standards.  Companies that try to set their own standards should not be rewarded by getting the users' dollars.”

When serious, he was not only right, he placed the responsibility where it belongs: on us, the users.

Workers of the World Unite! You have nothing to loses but your chains―comprised of random charger cables. God Bless The EU!

Set Start and Stop for YouTube Video

This is a public service announcement, brought to you by this blog and the Ad Council.

But seriously, it took me a half hour to find this code. If your Google search brought you here, this is the syntax. Your YouTube video code  is DuMMyCodE, and you want to enter at 45 seconds and end 3:44. Convert all times to seconds and use this code:

Substitute the URL for you video where it says “Dummy Code.” Be sure to strip off any miscellaneous stuff after the last letter of your code (? = & edit, watch, etc.)

Good luck, but I’m willing to wager a) it will work and b) I just saved you a half hour. Feel free to email the half hour to typepad@schindler,org; I could use the time.