How much keyboard latency can you take?

I wrote a while back about why typing on old keyboards feels better: it's because they were simple, low-latency devices interacting with your computer's bare metal. Nowadays, many device instructions end up filtered through a zillion layers of microcontrollers, firmware, virtual machinery, applications, hardware abstraction layers and God knows what else before a byte gets to the screen. How annoying is too annoying? is a Glitch site by Monica Dinculescu that lets you simulate keyboard latency, to see exactly how much of it you can take.

This is an experiment to see what amount of delay is too annoying for a user interaction like typing. Here are some presets; make sure to type a lot of characters at once for the full effect.

Note that whatever you select in the app, it's added to the actual latency of your own keyboard and computer--probably 100ms or so for most of us. After about 50ms of extra wait, I start to get aggravated. Read the rest

Elizabeth Warren wrote AOC's entry in the Time 100

Fast rising Democratic Presidential candidate and US Senator from the state of Massachusetts, Elizabeth Warren wrote Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez entry in Time Magazine's list of 2019's most influential leaders.

Time:

The year 2008 was a reckoning. While millions of Americans lost their livelihoods to Wall Street’s greed, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez lost her dad to lung cancer, and her family fell off a financial cliff. She watched as our government bailed out Wall Street while it ignored families like hers. She learned the hard way that in America today, Washington protects the powerful while leaving hardworking people behind.

Her commitment to putting power in the hands of the people is forged in fire. Coming from a family in crisis and graduating from school with a mountain of debt, she fought back against a rigged system and emerged as a fearless leader in a movement committed to demonstrating what an economy, a planet and a government that works for everyone should look like.

A year ago, she was taking orders across a bar. Today, millions are taking cues from her. She reminds all of us that even while greed and corruption slow our progress, even while armies of lobbyists swarm Washington, in our democracy, true power still rests with the people. And she’s just getting started.

Warren, a Senator from Massachusetts, is a Democratic presidential candidate

Read the rest

What is a nanosecond anyway? Computing pioneer Grace Hopper shows us (1983)

This is pioneering computer scientist and US Navy read admiral Grace Hopper (1906-1992) explaining the concept of a nanosecond. From the Computer History Museum:

(Hopper) held a B.S. in mathematics and physics from Vassar College (1928) and an M.S. (1930) and Ph.D in mathematics (1934) from Yale University.

Hopper began her career teaching at Vassar and taught there from 1931 to 1943, when she joined the u.s. Navy Reserve. Her first assignment was to work with Professor Howard Aiken of the Harvard Computation Laboratory on problems of military significance.

Hopper remained at Harvard until 1949, when she joined the Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation, led by the designers of the groundbreaking ENIAC computer system. There, she developed one of the world's first compilers and compiler-based programming languages. In 1959, Hopper played an important role in defining a new easy-to- use programming language. The result was COBOL, probably the most successful programming language for business applications in history.

(via Kottke) Read the rest

Redundant clock

Ji Lee's redundant clock tells time telling time. Also, some children no longer learn how to read an analog clock. Also, redundant clock is not to be confused with a recursive clock: Read the rest

Transparent timelapse photos printed and layered

For his Layer Drawings series, artist Nobuhiro Nakanishi photographs the same shot at regular intervals, then prints them on glass and layers them into mesmerizing sculptures. Read the rest

Can the future influence the past? The scientific case for quantum retrocausality

Quantum physics gets real weird real fast, and one idea gaining more currency of late is the concept of quantum retrocausality, where a decision made in our experience of the present may influence what we experience as the past.

These aren't a bunch of Time Cube type cranks, either. From a helpful overview by Lisa Zyga:

First, to clarify what retrocausality is and isn't: It does not mean that signals can be communicated from the future to the past—such signaling would be forbidden even in a retrocausal theory due to thermodynamic reasons. Instead, retrocausality means that, when an experimenter chooses the measurement setting with which to measure a particle, that decision can influence the properties of that particle (or another particle) in the past, even before the experimenter made their choice. In other words, a decision made in the present can influence something in the past.

Huw Price has done some great introductory lectures like this on the concept:

WTF is Quantum Retrocausality? (YouTube / Seeker) Read the rest

Watch how TIME created their new cover image with 958 drones

It took nearly a thousand drones carefully programmed and deployed to create the imagery used for the new TIME magazine cover. Read the rest

People who make their own mechanical watches

Here's Chris Baraniuk on people who make their own mechanical watches, from scratch: an intricate and delicate traditional craft that is, for once, not lost to time.

He started reading forums, researching tools and materials, and checking out where parts could be acquired, such as cases, dials, hands, strap and movement. “It becomes like a big jigsaw puzzle, you try to work out what pieces will fit together,” he says.

Thanks in part to the availability of information over the web, many people just as curious as [Matthew] Wright have embarked on their own home-made watch projects. And some have even launched businesses as a result. But how easy is it to get started?

A quick hit on Google will bring up a wave of results that can kick things off for enthusiasts. There’s the Reddit Watch forum, the TimeZone Watch School, which offers courses via the web for a price, discussions on the WatchUSeek forum, and hundreds of YouTube videos aimed at makers.

People can buy kits for assembling watches or individual parts online with relative ease, too. This is the exact rabbit-hole that Wright fell down when he started researching.

“You see other people who’ve made little changes to watches, they’ve changed dials or whatever, and the next thing, I stumbled across websites where you can buy the cases completely empty,” he recalls.

Pictured here is a watch made by Mike Hamende, who also took the photo.

I once almost managed to put together a Lego kit and I'm still proud of myself. Read the rest

Witness the amazing beginnings of a 10,000-year clock build in this timelapse

Friends of mine at Because We Can (a local Bay Area "design build architecture" firm) shared some good news:

Congratulations to the Long Now Foundation on beginning installation of the 10,000 year clock. This is a must-see video showing publically for the first time just how far along they are on this bold, ambitious, and world-changing project.

Here's some info about the incredible clock from the Long Now site:

There is a Clock ringing deep inside a mountain. It is a huge Clock, hundreds of feet tall, designed to tick for 10,000 years. Every once in a while the bells of this buried Clock play a melody. Each time the chimes ring, it’s a melody the Clock has never played before. The Clock’s chimes have been programmed to not repeat themselves for 10,000 years. Most times the Clock rings when a visitor has wound it, but the Clock hoards energy from a different source and occasionally it will ring itself when no one is around to hear it. It’s anyone’s guess how many beautiful songs will never be heard over the Clock’s 10 millennial lifespan.

The Clock is real. It is now being built inside a mountain in western Texas. This Clock is the first of many millennial Clocks the designers hope will be built around the world and throughout time. There is a second site for another Clock already purchased at the top of a mountain in eastern Nevada, a site surrounded by a very large grove of 5,000-year-old bristlecone pines.

Read the rest

Scientists figure out how to make and measure time crystals

Time crystals, a theoretical phase of matter proposed in 2012, can now be reliably created and measured, thanks to researchers at UC Berkeley. Above: a great primer on time crystals.

The discovery built on the work of several teams of researchers:

Time crystals repeat in time because they are kicked periodically, sort of like tapping Jell-O repeatedly to get it to jiggle, Yao said. The big breakthrough, he argues, is less that these particular crystals repeat in time than that they are the first of a large class of new materials that are intrinsically out of equilibrium, unable to settle down to the motionless equilibrium of, for example, a diamond or ruby.

“This is a new phase of matter, period, but it is also really cool because it is one of the first examples of non-equilibrium matter,” Yao said. “For the last half-century, we have been exploring equilibrium matter, like metals and insulators. We are just now starting to explore a whole new landscape of non-equilibrium matter.”

Maybe the next step is the development of these time crystals:

Scientists unveil new form of matter: time crystals (UC Berkeley via EurekAlert) Read the rest

Who Time Magazine should award Person of the Year to

Donald Trump claims he turned down this year's "Person of the Year" award. Time denied it. Trump famously had a fake Time magazine cover featuring him on his wall, and is just as famously obsessed with the appointment, which he won in 2016.

Now, Time's not great at picking winners. So don't get your hopes up! They once specialized in dull-edged controversy but often retreat into daft cop-outs like, say, "anonymous Twitter accounts." Perhaps they'll just wring their hands into giving it to Trump anyway.

I'd like to see Time give it to this pair. You might well disgree with one or the other, but it would make Trump's head explode. Not that he's hard to get going. Pence would be finding chunks of his brain in the Oval Office for months. Read the rest

Who Americans spend their time with

Dan Kopf's Who Americans spend their time with is a chart—six of them—that show the number of hours a day people spend with n over the course of their lives. Together they tell a story. The sixth is a gut-punch. But not, perhaps, if you're introverted.

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NTP: the rebirth of ailing, failing core network infrastructure

Network Time Protocol is how the computers you depend on know what time it is (this is critical to network operations, cryptography, and many other critical functions); NTP software was, until recently, stored in a proprietary format on a computer that no one had the password for (and which had not been updated in a decade), and maintained almost entirely by one person. Read the rest

What people with "calendar synesthesia" reveal about how our minds deal with time

Synesthesia is the fascinating neurological phenomenon whereby stimulation of one sense involuntarily triggers another sensory pathway. A synesthete might taste sounds or hear colors. Now, leading synesthesia researcher VS Rakmachandran at the University of California, San Diego is studying "calendar synesthetes" who see very clear images of calendars in their mind's eye when they think about months that have passed or are in the future. For example, according to New Scientist, one participant in the research "sees her months as occupying an asymmetrical “V” shape. Along this V, she sees each month written in Helvetica font." From New Scientist:

The idea that calendars are literally laid out in space for some people suggests that we are all hardwired to some extent to map time in space.

The concepts of time and numbers are something we acquired relatively recently in our evolutionary history, says Ramachandran, but the brain wouldn’t have had time to evolve a specific area to deal with it.

“Given the opportunistic nature of evolution, perhaps the most convenient way to represent the abstract idea of sequences of numbers and time might have been to map them onto a preexisting map of visual space, already present in the brain,” he says.

Indeed, imaging scans show connections between areas of the brain involved in numbers and those involved with mapping the world, memories and our sense of self. The team suggest that when these areas act together, they enable us to navigate mentally through space and time, while being firmly anchored in the present.

Read the rest

Wrong things that programmers believe, a curated list

Kevin Deldycke has collected a "curated list" of "awesome falsehoods programmers believe in," sorted by subject into meta, business, dates and time, emails, geography, human identity, networks, phone numbers, postal addresses and software engineering. Read the rest

Today we gain a leap second. Why?

At 23:59:59 (UTC), time will "stop" as the National Institute of Standards and Technology in the US and other official timekeepers around the world add a second to our clocks. They last did this in 2012. Read the rest

Why you're so busy

The Economist's feature on time-poverty is an absolute must-read, explaining the multi-factorial nature of the modern time crunch, which combines the equivalence of time and money (leading to leisure hours that are as crammed as possible in order to maximize their value), the precarity of the American workplace (meaning that affluent workers work longer hours), and the pace of electronically mediated communications (which makes any kind of refractory pause feel like a wasteful and dull eternity). Read the rest

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