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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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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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holidays
The Plugin That Keeps the Internet From Spoiling Santa Claus
iStock
iStock

During simpler times, the biggest threat to a child's belief in Santa was usually older siblings or big-mouthed classmates. Today, kids have access to an entire world wide web, full of potentially Santa-spoiling content. Luckily, there's a plugin that helps parents maintain their kids’ innocence through the holidays.

Created by the virtual private network provider Hide My Ass (HMA), the free software analyzes web activity for any information that might threaten to “bring a child’s belief in Santa crashing down.” In place of the problematic content, the plugin brings up an image of the jolly man himself. Typing the phrase “Santa is not real” into Google, for example, will instead take you to a web page showing nothing but a soft-focused St. Nick pointing into the camera and staring at you with judgmental eyes. The plugin is also designed to work for social media communications, internet ads, and articles like this one.


Hide My Ass

According to a survey of 2036 parents by HMA, one in eight children in the U.S. have their belief in Santa ruined online. Whether it's because of the internet or other related factors, the age that children stop believing in Santa is lower than ever.

The average age that current parents lost their faith in Santa Claus was 8.7 years old, and for today’s kids it’s 7.25 years. Concerned parents can download the plugin for Chrome here, though it may not be enough to hide every type of Santa spoiler: Of the parents who blamed the internet, 26 percent of them reported kids snooping over their shoulder as they shopped for gifts online.

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