Category Archives: Scientific Aesthetic

Wooden Yoke Treasures from Portugal via Pau

As well as my beautiful fountain, I accumulated some more treasures from Pau which I promised to share.  These are both made of wood, a material I have a great affinity for in all its states. I love trees and what they are crafted into. I love having pieces of history around me and our new house allows me to do just that.

Once again, these are huge, heavy, pieces of wood that were once fully functional equipment in rural Portugal.

In its previous life, this piece was a yoke for oxen who were attached to it and then were used to push – as opposed to pull other equipment around.

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Science Park: A Last Look Around Pau

Pau is a small provincial city, it has long been a haven for the British wanting to escape Blighty for the good of their health. There are many spas in the area and the climate is reputed to be good for your health. The older architecture is a mix of “alpine’ grand villa and a good dose of British garden. There is a cathedral and a university and the small provincial airport is now opening up to fulfill Pau’s emerging status as the gateway to the Pyrenees.

The airport’s development and the expansion of the scientific departments at the University have led to the development of a science park on the outskirts of the city.  I have, on past visits, caught tantalizing glimpses of some of the buildings and was determined to explore further before we left Pau for good.

After one particularly frustrating afternoon, I declared a time out and went exploring and headed straight for the science park.

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How Technology Creeps into Everyday Existence to Become Ubiquitous

Let’s roll back our minds a decade to a time when people were not constantly on their smartphones.  Facebook isn’t in our everyday lives for another two years and Twitter will hatch a year after that in 2006.

Smartphones aren’t even called smartphones — they’re just dumb “cellular phones” that do rudimentary text messages without multimedia attachments like images and video.

That barren time in technology was still a difficult one of wide, generational, gaps when it came to the rapid, everyday, adoption of technology.

Those of us who grew up on payphones and single-line telephones in the home, were often put off, and perhaps, even offended by the younger among us who insisted that their cellphones were not just extensions of communication, but a very connectoid of being human.

When I was teaching at a major technical university on the East Coast way back when, I implored my students to not just put their phones on vibrate — at that time in the technological evolution, the vibration of the mechanism in the phone was just as loud as a ringtone — but to actually turn off their phones during the few times other students were giving a formal, graded, presentation in class.

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Coloring History: Should Facts Remain Black and White?

Every so often, we get someone who steps forward to decide our shared, national, record of events isn’t good enough in standard black and white — and so they take the task upon themselves to “convert” the established, memed, facts of black and white history into their color-coded version of hues — to reset, in their mind, what really happened.

This modernizing filter of alleged aesthetic and absolutely craven creativity is just as disturbing to me today as it was 30 years ago when I was an undergraduate Freshman at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln taking a film class with the great Dr. June Perry Levine.

At the time of Dr. Levine’s course, Ted Turner was in full-burst mode in his effort to “colorize” old black and white movies and television shows by adding color to give them new life on his cable channel.

Turner’s effect was horrible and gross as skin colors were orange and backgrounds were dark blue and clothing was all a shade of a mossy green: Time travel at its complete worst.

Adding new color to old black and white images is like repainting a fresco of Christ.  The ultimate effect of each effort is the shared shameful same.

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End of the Copper Line

I am concerned about the abolishment of reliable, mechanical, communication when it comes to “plain old telephone service” — POTS — and the future of voice and data communication.

Hurricane Sandy has shoved forward the end of the copper telephone line.  Big communication companies have decided it is in their best interest to push people onto cellular networks instead of rebuilding what was lost:  Traditional “communication by wireline” that has been a staple of everyday communication in the USA for almost a hundred years.

The changing landscape has Verizon, AT&T and other phone companies itching to rid themselves of the cost of maintaining their vast copper-wire networks and instead offer wireless and fiber-optic lines like FiOS and U-verse, even though the new services often fail during a blackout.

“The vision I have is we are going into the copper plant areas and every place we have FiOS, we are going to kill the copper,” Lowell C. McAdam, Verizon’s chairman and chief executive, said last year. Robert W. Quinn Jr., AT&T’s senior vice president for federal regulatory issues, said the death of the old network was inevitable. “We’re scavenging for replacement parts to be able to fix the stuff when it breaks,” he said at an industry conference in Maryland last week. “That’s why it’s going to happen.”

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The Incredible Joy of FaceTime Audio-Only Calls in Apple iOS 7

Apple’s FaceTime has been a wonderful, forward-thinking video communication feature of iPhones and iPads and Macs for many years.

With the release of iOS 7, FaceTime has, once again, changed the landscape of everyday human communication.

It is now possible to make an “audio-only” FaceTime call using WiFi — or your cellular network if you have an iPhone 4S or newer — and if you haven’t given FaceTime audio-only a try yet by calling another FaceTime user, then you have no clue to the incredible joy of direct, intimate, communication you are missing.

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