Art without engineering is dreaming;
Engineering without art is calculating.

Steven K. Roberts, N4RVE

Posts Tagged ‘Computer Currents’

Layers of Dataspace – Computer Currents

I have often mused about this article, and how it addressed a critical (but rarely discussed) issue at the time. I mean, think about it… in the mid-1980s, we suddenly had new tools that could render our physical location irrelevant, reducing borders to mere formalities. Yet at the same time, we were all flocking to…

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The Illusion of Stability

by Steven K. Roberts Computer Currents Cary, North Carolina November 17, 1987 It was a hard day at the office — eight grueling hours of hard work. Not only were the usual deadlines looming, but I had to write a proposal and debug a strange temperature-sensitive hardware problem before a media demo. It was a…

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Paper Databases

This is quaint now, 30 years later, discussing areas in which paper is still better than a computer… yet it still has a grain of truth even though “hypertext is a step in the right direction.” by Steven K. Roberts Computer Currents — October 20, 1987 (written October 5, Reston, Virginia — 13,962 miles) This is typical. Here…

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Laptop Gawkers – A New Biohazard

I hardly need to write an introduction to this one… I bet most people reading this have had the uncomfortable experience of being on a plane or other public place, trying to work, and realizing that a seatmate or other stranger is reading the screen. You squirm to change the angle, switch to another task,…

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Microdocumentation on the Road

Three decades after this photo, carrying hundreds of gigabytes in my pocket and picking up terabyte drives at Costco for a the cost of a couple of bottles of hooch, it is really hard to remember a time before PDFs and Google. But in 1987 there was a big problem with riding a “computerized bicycle”…

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Modem Up, Move ’em Out – Computer Currents

It’s easy to forget how much we had to busy ourselves with the low-level hardware just to get a net connection… physically connecting to phone lines, dealing with bulky and sometimes error-prone acoustic couplers, long-distance dialup to the nearest network node (making connect-time charges even worse). The cable in the photo above was an essential…

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Life in the Solar System – Computer Currents

During my bicycling adventures, I often spoke of the essential tools that were integrated into a liberating system… recumbent, laptop, solar panels, network connection, and base office. This lively column had so much reader feedback that I began to think of it as a conversation… and questions often drove the choice of topics, leading to…

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Packet Radio on the Winnebiko II

Part of my series in Computer Currents during the Winnebiko II epoch, this celebrates the magic of packet radio… data communications on the ham bands while mobile. This technology was an early hint of what we now take for granted, with a computer in every pocket! In those days, exchanging messages with others required a deep…

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The Portable Choice

by Steven K. Roberts Computer Currents — July 29, 1987 Written July 5, 1987 — Lake City, Colorado It was 1983 in a place that inspires long-distance travel… Columbus, Ohio. “The Idea” was but a week old: I would spend the next six months trashing my suburban lifestyle, building an electronic cottage on wheels, and restructuring my…

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