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YouTube / Computer Show
YouTube / Computer Show

The Greatest Computer Show from 1983...and 2015

YouTube / Computer Show
YouTube / Computer Show

Computer Show is a spoof of 80s computer TV shows, specifically Computer Chronicles, which was actually an excellent program (see below for more on that).

What makes Computer Show so delicious is that it features guests from the future, much to the confusion of its host, Gary Fabert (played by Rob Baedeker). Fabert must simultaneously keep the show running and deal with technology that's 22 years in the future. If you like absurdist humor, you need Computer Show in your life. Here are the first two episodes. More like this, please.

"Computers & Art"

"Sherri, I'd like to call your attention to the painting on your left. It's titled 'Racquetball at Moonlight.' I painted that." -Fabert. "Oh." -Sherri Longhorne (co-host). I particularly enjoy the thank-you in the closing credits to Anjelica Huston. Anyway, this:

"Communities"

"Gary Fabert and co-host Angela Dancy welcome Reddit cofounder Alexis Ohanian and fail to grasp the basic concept of Internet communities." I couldn't have described it better myself. My favorite part is Dancy's interaction with an iPhone.

So What's Computer Chronicles?

Computer Chronicles was a much-beloved TV show that ran from 1983 (ahem) through 2002. The best place to find episodes is on The Internet Archive's complete Computer Chronicles collection. This resource is amazing, because the shows themselves are both excellent and rather dated. If you want to see the most direct parallel to the above programs, check out a 1984 episode about operating systems. It doesn't have the comedy element, but, you know, the format's all there. I should also stress that Stewart Cheifet (host of Computer Chronicles) is smart and awesome, unlike the intentionally-goofy Gary Fabert.

I have written about Computer Chronicles extensively. Here are just a few of the pieces featuring video from that show: A Tour of the Internet in 1993; What the Internet Looked Like in 1995; What School Computers Looked Like in 1991; A Look at the Mac in 1985; and What Virtual Reality Looked Like in 1992.

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Big Questions
Why Are the Keys On a QWERTY Keyboard Laid Out As They Are?
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Why are the keys on a QWERTY keyboard laid out as they are?

C Stuart Hardwick:

What is commonly called QWERTY (more properly, the Sholes layout) was designed by Christopher Lathan Sholes, then modified through a series of business relationships. Sholes's original keyboard was alphabetical and modeled after a printing telegraph machine. The alphabetical layout was easy to learn, but not easy to type on.

For one thing, all practical typing machines of the day relied on mechanical levers, and adjacent letters could jam if struck with rapidity. There has long been a myth that Sholes designed the QWERTY layout to slow typists down in order to prevent this. Nothing could be further from the truth, but Sholes’s first customers were telegraphers. Over several years, he adapted the piano-like alphabetical keyboard into
a four-row keyboard designed to aid telegraphers in their transcription duties.

This new layout mostly spread out commonly struck keys, but also placed easily confused telegraph semaphores together. This layout was sufficient to permit telegraph transcription to keep up with transmissions and created a growing market.

During this time, Sholes teamed up with several other inventors to form a typewriter company with assignment of all related patents. An association with Remington led to increased sales, at which time another company acquired the shift platen patent that permits a typewriter to type in mixed case, and they seem to have made a few essentially random changes in order to avoid the original typewriter company patents.

So that’s it then, right? QWERTY is crap?

Well, no. QWERTY was based mostly on the needs of telegraphers in transcribing Morse code, and Morse had been scientifically designed to make transmission of English language messages as efficient as possible. The result is that the QWERTY arrangement is pretty good—efficiency-wise.

In the 1930s, John Dvorak used modern time-motion study techniques to design his own keyboard, and around it had grown up a whole cult following and mythology. But the fact is, it’s much ado about nothing. Careful scientific studies in the 1950s, '70s, and '80s have shown that choice between the Sholes and Dvorak layout makes no material difference in typing speed. Practice and effort are what yields rapid typing, and studies of professional typists have shown that however well we may perform on timed trials, few typists ever exceed 35 words per minute in their daily work.

So relax. Take an online typing course, practice a little, and relax.

This post originally appeared on Quora. Click here to view.

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Afternoon Map
Monthly Internet Costs in Every Country

Thanks to the internet, people around the world can conduct global research, trade tips, and find faraway friends without ever leaving their couch. Not everyone pays the same price for these digital privileges, though, according to new data visualizations spotted by Thrillist.

To compare internet user prices in each country, cost information site HowMuch.net created a series of maps. The data comes courtesy of English market research consultancy BDRC and Cable.co.uk, which teamed up to analyze 3351 broadband packages in 196 nations between August 18, 2017 and October 12, 2017.

In the U.S., for example, the average cost for internet service is $66 per month. That’s substantially more than what browsers pay in neighboring Mexico ($27) and Canada ($55). Still, we don’t have it bad compared to either Namibia or Burkina Faso, where users shell out a staggering $464 and $924, respectively, for monthly broadband access. In fact, internet in the U.S. is far cheaper than what residents in 113 countries pay, including those in Saudi Arabia ($84), Indonesia ($72), and Greenland ($84).

On average, internet costs in Asia and Russia tend to be among the lowest, while access is prohibitively expensive in sub-Saharan Africa and in certain parts of Oceania. As for the world’s cheapest internet, you’ll find it in Ukraine and Iran.

Check out the maps below for more broadband insights, or view HowMuch.net’s full findings here.

Map of Internet costs in each country created by information site HowMuch.net.
HowMuch.net

Map of Internet costs in each country created by information site HowMuch.net.
HowMuch.net

Map of Internet costs in each country created by information site HowMuch.net.
HowMuch.net

Map of Internet costs in each country created by information site HowMuch.net.
HowMuch.net

Map of Internet costs in each country created by information site HowMuch.net.
HowMuch.net

[h/t Thrillist]

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