CLOSE
Original image

Required Viewing: IBM's "They Were There"

Original image

It's hard to believe that IBM is 100 years old (well, nearly -- it turns 100 on June 16, 2011). Yet, watching this newly released 30-minute documentary, the point is driven home: IBMers were indeed there at many crucial points in American technological history. They invented so many devices and systems we take for granted today that it really does take 30 minutes to review them in any depth. For example, there's the SABRE computer reservation system that still powers many travel bookings. And then there's Fred Brooks, author of the seminal text The Mythical Man-Month and manager of the IBM System/360 computer system -- that still hosts something like 60% of the world's data. There's even the dearly departed Benoit Mandelbrot (he was an IBM Fellow). And there's even a brief glimpse of Watson, IBM's Jeopardy-playing computer that will make a splash later this year.

This is an industrial film created for a computer company, but it's the best film of its type that I've seen. Directed by Errol Morris and scored by Philip Glass, the documentary is a remarkable testament to the quality you get when you hire top talent. It's also -- all director- and composer-related fawning aside -- an impressive greatest hits reel for IBM. Got half an hour? Watch this knockout documentary on 100 years of IBM history. During the portion about Apollo 13, I teared up a little.

You may want to watch it on YouTube to see the film in all its 1080p glory.

If you like this, you'll love The Machine That Changed the World.

(Via Waxy.org.)

Original image
iStock
arrow
Live Smarter
Getting Calls From Your Own Phone Number? Don't Answer!
Original image
iStock

There’s a new phone scam that could affect you, according to Washington’s KIRO 7 News. In addition to keeping your eyes open for calls that come from area codes like 473 or involve people claiming to be Equifax representatives, you now have to watch out for your own phone number.

Scammers are manipulating your phone’s caller ID to make it look like you’re getting a call from your own phone number, then posing as someone from a wireless carrier like AT&T or Verizon. They tell whoever answers the phone that their account has been flagged for security reasons, then ask for the last four digits of that person’s Social Security number. The FCC has been aware of these scams for at least two years, but they seem to be ramping up once again.

In general, you shouldn’t give out any part of your Social Security number over the phone on an incoming call. If you’re suspicious, you can always call your carrier back using the official customer service phone number on their website or on your bill. But it’s best not to pick up at all. If you receive a call from your own number, don’t answer or press any buttons. Instead, file a complaint with the FCC.

[h/t KIRO 7 News]

Original image
Samsung
arrow
fun
Samsung’s Star Wars Vacuums Offer Everything You Want in a Droid
Original image
Samsung

Hate housecleaning but love Star Wars? Samsung’s got the solution. In anticipation of December’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi, the newest film in the Star Wars saga, Samsung has transformed a limited number of its VR7000 POWERbot robot vacuum cleaners into two familiar faces from George Lucas’s legendary space opera: a Stormtrooper and Darth Vader (which comes with Wi-Fi connectivity and a remote control).

In order to create a unique device that would truly thrill Star Wars aficionados, Samsung consulted with fans of the film throughout each stage of the process. The result is a pair of custom-crafted robo-vacuums that fill your home with the sounds of a galaxy far, far away as they clean (when you turn Darth Vader on, for example, you'll hear his iconic breathing).

“We are very pleased to be part of the excitement leading up to the release of The Last Jedi and to be launching our limited edition POWERbot in partnership with Star Wars fans,” B.S. Suh, Samsung’s executive vice president, said in a press statement. “From its industry-leading suction power, slim design, and smart features, to the wonderful character-themed voice feedback and sound effects, we are confident the Star Wars limited edition of the VR7000 will be a big hit.”

Be warned that this kind of power suction doesn’t come cheap: while the Stormtrooper POWERbot will set you back $696, the Darth Vader vacuum retails for $798. Who knew the Dark Side was so sparkling clean?


Samsung

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios