Yesterday, we solved the mystery of two well-known images, formerly known as “The PDP-1 at the Tech Model Railroad Club”, with the help of the Hacker News community. — A triumph of shared knowledge.
In 1971, the German artist Daniel Chodowiecki (1726 – 1801) commented his etching “Enlightenment” (Aufklärung) by the words, “However, if the sun only rises, mists do no harm.” (Indessen wenn die Sonne nur aufgeht, so schaden Nebel nichts.) In real life, mists rise only to reveal another bank of fog. Which is the very process of research. — And this is certainly no exception. So this is a post about annother bank of fog, in the amazing form factor of a fully transitorized electronic contraption apt to manipulate 18-bit words in realtime according to a stored program and human interaction.
This is at the same time a continuation to what may become a loose series, namely, “Things on the Web that aren’t what they seem to be”, and the beginning of an entirely new one. Anyway, this is the story of two photos that are rather well known in the context of computer history. You may even have seen one or the other popping up on a website.
It looks about the same, but much has changed behind the scenes. What started out as a pure text file is now a properly marked up document with suitable semantics. E.g, the instruction details where formerly just a run of preformatted text, but are now a definition list. Each entry has its own summary paragraph, a synopsis, a flags-table and the instruction table proper with all the address modes. All tables come with proper headers, where appropriate also with scopes for columns, rows, and even groups. Many tables have changed to definition lists and there’s additional ARIA annotation available. (Some more broad scale information has been included before, but as an addition to this, all the new bits are labeled properly to tell what these are.)
And, since you can’t beat simple things, thanks to the wonders of CSS it still looks like a simple run of text.
The PET 2001 online emulator just received its first sponsored update, by this advancing to version 1.4. And this update is all about Copy & Paste integration. — TLDR version; have a look at the respective section in the online help, accessible via the “Help” button on top of the emulator’s page.
A few notes on the system update process in Apple’s Big Sur (macOS 11)
Over several years — that is, the last decade — we have seen the principal mindset directing the user facing aspects of application and system design shifting from the concept of usability towards UX (user experience). As we’re almost there, it may be worth confronting these two apparently synonymous concepts of design guidelines and directions, here on the example of Apple’s Big Sur system update process.
Another view at Minard’s famous flow map, AKA “the greatest infographic of all times”
Much has been said about Charles Joseph Minard’s famous flow map titled “Carte Figurative des pertes succesives en hommes de l’Armée Française dans la campagne de Russie 1812-1813” (Paris, 1869) and it is universally praised for its comprehensive depiction of an impressive variety of quantitative data, hence there shouldn’t be much left to add to this. However, as indicated in a previous post, “Observing Minard Observing Napoléon – Observations on textual strategy in infographics by the example of the ‘Greatest Infographic of All Times’.” (2018), Minard’s map may not be what it seems to be at first glance. While we concentrated in this first post mainly on the aesthetic choices and what is actually shown and not shown in the chart and the general context of that sheet, both in presentation and history, we are here going to have a closer look at the very choice of presentation, namely the choice of a flow map and the implications thereof.