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My Ball of Wires

Some people have a junk drawer. Some people have a shoebox of memories. But not me. I have a Ball of Wires.

The Ball spends its days overflowing a 31-gallon plastic tub. It contains my collection of audio/video, computer, and telephone cables, assembled over a decade of roaming the US, connecting things to other things. The Ball is hopelessly tangled -- it takes a good ten minutes to disentangle any given cable you want from the Ball -- assuming you can find it in the first place. I'm constantly removing cables from the Ball, but somehow it continues to gain mass and needs semi-annual upgrades into ever-larger plastic tubs.

Witness more details of my secret messiness after the jump.

Ball of Wires in Tub

Embedded in the Ball are: several obsolete cell phones, a TI graphing calculator from high school, an impressive array of SCSI cables from old Macs, several dozen RCA/RCA-to-1/4" audio cables, many hundreds of dollars of microphone cables, power cables, USB cables (several flavors), serial cables (Mac and PC), one parallel (printer) cable from a failed PC project, an answering machine, a metal music stand (in two pieces for easy storage), a USB hub from 1998, an assortment of telephone and Ethernet cords, a collection of torx wrenches, an anti-static wrist strap kit, an assortment of WiFi antennas, a Nintendo 64 controller (there used to be two, but one is out on permanent loan), several power strips, several computer mice, several 9-volt wall warts (many now hopelessly disassociated from their appliances of origin), and...well, you get it.

Ball of Wires - Big

My new visitor, Emma the cat, likes the Ball of Wires. It's chewy. Mostly I keep it under wraps (safely crammed in its host container), as it represents a sort of immense to-do item that may never get done. I bet if I spent a day disentangling, I could sort these all out. But how boring would that be? And wouldn't that destroy a handy metaphor?

A friend recently saw the Ball and suggested a good joke: "Just tell people you went wireless."

So what's your secret Ball of Wires? Do you have any special bits of clutter hiding in your home? Do you have any plans to deal with them?

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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:

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

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

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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