Friday Fun: Totally Sidetalkin'

With the advent of the iPhone, I'm reminded of an older phone/gadget that introduced us to a new way of making phone calls: the Nokia N-Gage. The N-Gage was (well, is) a gaming phone which suffered from several serious design problems in its first version. With the original N-Gage, if you wanted to make a phone call you'd hold the edge of the phone to your head to talk, thus presenting onlookers with a full view of the phone's face. (Also, in order to change the game, you had to partially disassemble the phone!) Anyway, the strange posture required in order to talk was dubbed "sidetalking," and it was a mark of either geek cred or just pure lameness, depending on how you looked at it.

Portland software maven Cabel Sasser started a web site as a tribute to the new art of sidetalking: Written in hilarious pidgin English, the site encouraged visitors to send in photos of themselves "sidetalkin'" using objects other than the N-Gage, as a kind of homage to the device. Soon the site was filled with pictures of people totally sidetalkin' with cats, shoes, Nintendo Entertainment Systems, various Apple products, and...well, just take a look. (I recommend: sidetalkin' with animals.)

Tragically, as the site proclaims, sidetalkin' is now history. Later revisions of the Nokia N-Gage changed the phone function so it didn't require users to look like goofs when making phone calls. Despite the site's efforts to save sidetalkin', it is now just a footnote in cell phone history.

The Queen of Code: Remembering Grace Hopper
By Lynn Gilbert, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Grace Hopper was a computing pioneer. She coined the term "computer bug" after finding a moth stuck inside Harvard's Mark II computer in 1947 (which in turn led to the term "debug," meaning solving problems in computer code). She did the foundational work that led to the COBOL programming language, used in mission-critical computing systems for decades (including today). She worked in World War II using very early computers to help end the war. When she retired from the U.S. Navy at age 79, she was the oldest active-duty commissioned officer in the service. Hopper, who was born on this day in 1906, is a hero of computing and a brilliant role model, but not many people know her story.

In this short documentary from FiveThirtyEight, directed by Gillian Jacobs, we learned about Grace Hopper from several biographers, archival photographs, and footage of her speaking in her later years. If you've never heard of Grace Hopper, or you're even vaguely interested in the history of computing or women in computing, this is a must-watch:

Watch Christmas Island’s Annual Crab Migration on Google Street View

Every year, the 45 million or so red crabs on the remote Australian territory of Christmas Island migrate en masse from their forest burrows down to the ocean to mate, and so the female crabs can release their eggs into the sea to hatch. The migration starts during the fall, and the number of crabs on the beach often peaks in December. This year, you don’t have to be on Christmas Island to witness the spectacular crustacean event, as New Atlas reports. You can see it on Google Street View.

Watching the sheer density of crabs scuttling across roads, boardwalks, and beaches is a rare visual treat. According to the Google blog, this year’s crabtacular finale is forecasted for December 16, and Parks Australia crab expert Alasdair Grigg will be there with the Street View Trekker to capture it. That is likely to be the day when crab populations on the beaches will be at their peak, giving you the best view of the action.

Crabs scuttle across the forest floor while a man with a Google Street View Trekker walks behind them.

Google Street View is already a repository for a number of armchair travel experiences. You can digitally explore remote locations in Antarctica, recreations of ancient cities, and even the International Space Station. You can essentially see the whole world without ever logging off your computer.

Sadly, because Street View isn’t live, you won’t be able to see the migration as it happens. The image collection won’t be available until sometime in early 2018. But it’ll be worth the wait, we promise. For a sneak preview, watch Parks Australia’s video of the 2012 event here.

[h/t New Atlas]


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