What the sound of a dial-up modem looks like

This is a spectogram of a dial-up modem handshake sound.  Via FlowingData. When I plugged in my first modem for the first time I heard this sound sequence and thought something was broken. Took me a few goes to figure out it was supposed to sound like this. Finally got connected and discovered bulletin boards. #waybackwhen

[youtube http://youtu.be/vvr9AMWEU-c]



A career kicks off at 15 shillings a week


I found my Dad’s apprenticeship papers from 1942. He started a five-year Cabinetmaking and Machining apprenticeship on 15 shillings (less than one pound) a week and would have ended it on 67 shillings (over three pounds).


I tried to use the RBNZ inflation calculator to see what the equivalent wages would be in today’s money but unfortunately it wouldn’t throw back past 1961. So I looked at what 1 pound would buy in 1942 (about $85.66 worth of stuff in today’s money) and what 3 pounds would buy in 1947 (about $200.68 worth now).

http://evolvingnewsroom.nz/?attachment_id=13957       CPI-Q1-1947-vs-Q1-2013

I don’t understand the apprenticeship system in New Zealand today, but a good place to start researching might be this Step by Step Guide to Becoming a New Zealand Apprentice.

A 1-shilling coin in 1940 looked like this one, which is for sale on eBay ‘Buy Now’ for US$ 49.99.


This shilling would have been made of .500 silver. In 1947 the coins began being cast in cupro-nickel instead.

New Zealand switched to decimal currency in 1967. Some people will remember this tune from that year.

The Reserve Bank Museum is terrific for this kind of history (if you’re into that sort of thing).







“What a waste if you merely brawn your pig’s head”

My Dad died a few months ago, and my Mum a few years ago, so I am now in possession of a number of cardboard boxes filled with family things.

I expect I’ll eventually get through them but so for I’ve managed just one or two. From one came a little stack of recipe books bought during various school fundraisers.

These two recipes – for Roast Head of Pig and Roast Opossum – are from the charming 1970 Waharoa Kai Mana Recipe Book, which was created by the Waharoa Primary School PTA to raise funds for the school and sold for NZ$0.50 at the time.

First, select your pig’s head according to size of oven. Place head in your baking dish – clip off ear tips (so they don’t start a fire in the oven). Cover well with beef dripping and bake at about 350 degrees….





A comeback for pneumatic tubes

I kinda love this idea. The Economist reported recently on the concept of using pneumatic pipes to deliver goods.

“In the late 19th and early 20th century, underground tubes were used in many cities to speed up the transport of mail between post offices and government buildings.

“Letters were put into capsules, the capsules into the tubes, and compressed air was then used to push the capsules from one station to the next.”

“It was not uncommon at the time to think that pneumatic post of this sort would develop into a wide network, like telephony or electricity.”

Franco Cotana, an engineering physicist at the University of Perugia, in Italy, said the system didn’t grow because of technological limitations at the time – “air compressors are expensive to operate and maintain, and the energy they produce dissipates quickly, so capsules can cover only short distances. But technology now exists to overcome those limitations.

“Pipenet, a system Dr Cotana patented in 2003 and has been developing since then, is based on a network of metal pipes about 60cm (two feet) in diameter. Instead of air pressure, it uses magnetic fields. These fields, generated by devices called linear synchronous motors, both levitate the capsules and propel them forward.

“The capsules are routed through the network by radio transponders incorporated within them. At each bifurcation of the pipe, the transponder communicates the capsule’s destination and the magnets pull it to the left or the right, as appropriate.

“Air pumps are involved, but their role is limited to creating a partial vacuum in the pipes in order to reduce resistance to the capsules’ movement.

“This way, Dr Cotana calculates, capsules carrying up to 50kg of goods could travel at up to 1,500kph—so you could be wearing a pair of jeans or taking photographs with a new camera only a couple of hours after placing your order.”

Rest of the story is here.

Pneumatic Tubes in the NZ Herald newsroom
Pneumatic tubes carry news 'copy' in the NZ Herald newsroom

‘So let us begin anew’

Earlier today I tweeted a link to Business Insider’s post about Google’s latest doodle, which commemorates the 50th anniversary of former US President John F Kennedy’s inaugural speech:

Screengrab of Google doodle commemorating JFK's inaugural speech

We can’t see this in New Zealand on google.co.nz at the moment, but given we’re a bit ahead of the northern hemisphere time-wise we may see it yet (unless the folks at Google think we’re not interested – but since many of us grew up on a diet of US and UK television shows, re-runs and wire stories, we just might be:)

Anyway, it seems to have struck a chord so it prompted me to dig out the speech on YouTube (big thanks to CSPAN for posting it).

And Bartleby provides the text of the speech here. Here are a few pull-out quotes that may seem familiar:

The world is very different now. For man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty and all forms of human life.

Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans—born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage—and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this Nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world.

To those peoples in the huts and villages across the globe struggling to break the bonds of mass misery, we pledge our best efforts to help them help themselves, for whatever period is required—not because the Communists may be doing it, not because we seek their votes, but because it is right. If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.

Finally, to those nations who would make themselves our adversary, we offer not a pledge but a request: that both sides begin anew the quest for peace, before the dark powers of destruction unleashed by science engulf all humanity in planned or accidental self-destruction.

So let us begin anew—remembering on both sides that civility is not a sign of weakness, and sincerity is always subject to proof. Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate. Let both sides explore what problems unite us instead of belaboring those problems which divide us.

All this will not be finished in the first 100 days. Nor will it be finished in the first 1,000 days, nor in the life of this Administration, nor even perhaps in our lifetime on this planet. But let us begin.

My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.

Old films about news and how newspapers used to be made

There’s something irresistible about the old print industry footage kicking around on YouTube. These are all from the 1950s.

Making a newspaper:
(perfect if you want to know what ‘the stone’ looked like and where the term proof reading came from):

‘Public opinion in a Democracy’:

A Soviet newsreel – Kruschev visits Mao:

How future computers were imagined in 1981

From 1981:

“Imagine, if you will, sitting down to your morning coffee, turning on your home computer to read the day’s newspaper. Well, it’s not as far-fetched as it may seem.”

“It takes over two hours to receive the entire text of the newspaper over the phone, and with an hourly use charge of $5 the new tele-paper won’t be much competition for the 20 cent street edition.”

Nice overview of the History of the Internet:

My, how things change:
In the next video John Allen (sp?) is talking about the anonymity of bulletin boards and says:

“It’s interesting the kind of restraint that you find. There’s not a lot of cursing and swearing, there’s not a lot of personal cuts, there’s not a lot of put-downs that one would expect to find. There’s not screenfulls of ‘go to hell’, which is surprising… It’s interesting because one would think that if people are anonymous they could do whatever they want.”

Imagining, in 1969, what the internet might bring us:

This one will test your French (but it has pictures if your French fails you):

No show is complete without a weather forecast (complete with magic markers):

This one may make you feel better next time silly Telecom throttles you to dial-up speed for daring to bust your measly data cap: