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Using Your New Commodore 64 (in 1982)

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YouTube / zek0mac

In past weeks, I've brought you lots of retro videos about computers, but this one is a little different. Here we have a full two-hour video explaining in near-excruciating depth the inner workings of the Commodore 64. If you actually sit through this video, Jim Butterfield shows a variety of programming techniques and even explains what the primary chips on the motherboard do. If you had just purchased a Commodore 64 in 1982 and sat down to watch this video, it would give you a surprisingly thorough grounding in how to use the computer, including plenty of programming principles. On the other hand, I'm really glad we don't have to deal with this stuff today.

I really don't think you'll want to watch the whole thing, unless you're preparing for time travel back to 1982. Here are a few fun places to jump in:

1:00 - Unboxing. Yep, computer users have been doing this for decades.

9:53 - What's Inside Your Commodore 64? Butterfield cracks the case and explains the major components.

49:32 - Storing Data! An explanation of how to store data on a floppy disk or tape.

1:19:30 - How to Use CP/M. CP/M was one of many operating systems you could run on the C64. This was a common way to use a home computer in 1982, y'all.

1:40:16 - Music. How to use the C64's Sound Interface Device (SID) to create basic music.

1:50:12 - Games. Butterfield shows off the gaming capabilities of the C64. (At 1:51:40 we see "Benji Discovery"...a game with "a high educational content.")

2:00:00 - Computer Chronicles segment. An exploration of the Ghostbusters game, beginning with questions about whether computer gaming is a passing fad.

Enjoy this relic of computing history, and keep an eye out for vintage Commodore ads between the segments.

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technology
Google's AI Can Make Its Own AI Now
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Artificial intelligence is advanced enough to do some pretty complicated things: read lips, mimic sounds, analyze photographs of food, and even design beer. Unfortunately, even people who have plenty of coding knowledge might not know how to create the kind of algorithm that can perform these tasks. Google wants to bring the ability to harness artificial intelligence to more people, though, and according to WIRED, it's doing that by teaching machine-learning software to make more machine-learning software.

The project is called AutoML, and it's designed to come up with better machine-learning software than humans can. As algorithms become more important in scientific research, healthcare, and other fields outside the direct scope of robotics and math, the number of people who could benefit from using AI has outstripped the number of people who actually know how to set up a useful machine-learning program. Though computers can do a lot, according to Google, human experts are still needed to do things like preprocess the data, set parameters, and analyze the results. These are tasks that even developers may not have experience in.

The idea behind AutoML is that people who aren't hyper-specialists in the machine-learning field will be able to use AutoML to create their own machine-learning algorithms, without having to do as much legwork. It can also limit the amount of menial labor developers have to do, since the software can do the work of training the resulting neural networks, which often involves a lot of trial and error, as WIRED writes.

Aside from giving robots the ability to turn around and make new robots—somewhere, a novelist is plotting out a dystopian sci-fi story around that idea—it could make machine learning more accessible for people who don't work at Google, too. Companies and academic researchers are already trying to deploy AI to calculate calories based on food photos, find the best way to teach kids, and identify health risks in medical patients. Making it easier to create sophisticated machine-learning programs could lead to even more uses.

[h/t WIRED]

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Who Betrayed Anne Frank? A New Investigation Reopens the Case
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TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images

The tale of Anne Frank’s years spent hiding with her family in the secret annex above her father’s warehouse is known around the world. Yet despite years of research by Otto Frank (Anne's father and the only member of her family to survive the Holocaust) and scholars, we still don’t know exactly what circumstances led to Anne and her family’s discovery. A new investigation is reopening the cold case in the hopes of finally finding out the truth, The Guardian reports.

The long-accepted theory of the Franks’ discovery and subsequent arrest is that an anonymous tip to the Sicherheitsdienst, the Nazi intelligence agency, gave their hiding place away. The 30 potential suspects identified over the years have included a warehouse worker, a housekeeper, and a man possibly blackmailing Otto Frank. In December 2016, researchers at the Anne Frank House floated a new theory: The discovery was incidental, the result of a police raid looking for proof of ration fraud at Otto Frank’s factory, in which police just happened to uncover two Jewish families living in secret. However, none of these theories has been proven definitively.

Now, a team of investigators led by a former FBI agent is taking on the cold case, reviewing the archives of the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, examining newly declassified material in the U.S. National Archives, and using data analysis to find a conclusive answer to the decades-old mystery.

“This investigation is different from all previous attempts to find the truth,” according to the Cold Case Diary website. “It will be conducted using modern law enforcement investigative techniques. The research team is multidisciplinary, using methods of cold case detectives, historians, but also psychologists, profilers, data analysts, forensic scientists and criminologists.” Thijs Bayens and Pieter Van Twisk, a Dutch filmmaker and journalist, respectively, came up with the idea for the project, and recruited the lead investigator, retired FBI agent Vince Pankoke. Pankoke has previously worked on cases involving Colombian drug cartels.

The new Anne Frank case will focus on investigative techniques that have only become available in the last decade, like big data analysis. Already, the investigators have uncovered new information, such as a German list of informants and the names of Jews that had been arrested and betrayed in Amsterdam during the war, found in the U.S. National Archives.

The investigators hope to provide answers in time for the 75th anniversary of the Frank family’s arrest in August 2019.

[h/t The Guardian]

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