My final Bit of Bytes column – Advance copy

Bleep, Blop, Bloop – Trends in tech language

For my final Bit of Bytes column I’m going to take a trip down technology memory lane. Be it good or bad we all know the impact technology has had on society. With this column I want to put under the microscope how technology has changed how we communicate, particularly the language we use.

giphy1

Some elements of communication have been relatively unaffected by technology. Yes the business letter is less common however the language and tone has simply relocated to email. It hasn’t really been displaced. Throughout history, and through to today, there has been technology that impacts significantly upon how we communicate.

Morse code

-.. . …- . .-.. — .–. . -.. / -… -.– / … .- — ..- . .-.. / ..-. .-.-.- -… / — — .-. … . / .. -. / – …. . / .—- —.. …– —– … –..– / — — .-. … . / -.-. — -.. . / .– .- … / -.. . …- . .-.. — .–. . -.. / .- … / .- / -.-. — -.. .. ..-. .. . -.. / — . -.-. …. .- -. .. … — / ..-. — .-. / – .-. .- -. … — .. – – .. -. –. / .- -. -.. / .-. . -.-. . .. …- .. -. –. / -. .- – ..- .-. .- .-.. / .-.. .- -. –. ..- .- –. . / .- -.-. .-. — … … / – …. . / – . .-.. . –. .-. .- .–. …. / … -.– … – . — .-.-.-

— …- . .-. / – .. — . / — — .-. … . / -.-. — -.. . / …. .- … / -.. . …- . .-.. — .–. . -.. / .- -. -.. / . …- — .-.. …- . -.. / .. -. – — / .- -. / .. -. – . .-. -. .- – .. — -. .- .-.. / — — .-. … . / -.-. — -.. . –..– / .- …- .- .. .-.. .- -… .-.. . / .- – / …. – – .–. —… -..-. -..-. .– .– .– .-.-.- .. – ..- .-.-.- .. -. – -..-. .-. . -.-. -..-. .-. -….- .-. . -.-. -….- — .-.-.- .—- -…. –… –… -….- .—- -….- ..— —– —– —-. .—- —– -….- .. -..-. .-.-.- / .– …. .. .-.. … – / .– . / – …. .. -. -.- / — ..-. / — — .-. … . / -.-. — -.. . / .- … / .- / -.. . .- -.. / .-.. .- -. –. ..- .- –. . / .. – … / -. — – / –.- ..- .. – . / – …. . .-. . / -.– . – .-.-.- / — — .-. … . / -.-. — -.. . / .. … / … – .. .-.. .-.. / .–. — .–. ..- .-.. .- .-. / .- — — -. –. / .-. .- -.. .. — / . -. – …. ..- … .. .- … – … / .- -. -.. / .. … / -… . .-.. .. . …- . -.. / – — / … – .. .-.. .-.. / -… . / – .- ..- –. …. – / – — / — . — -… . .-. … / — ..-. / – …. . / -.. . ..-. . -. -.-. . / ..-. — .-. -.-. . … / -… . -.-. .- ..- … . / — ..-. / .. – … / … .. — .–. .-.. .. -.-. .. – -.– / .- -. -.. / .- -.. .- .–. – .- -… .. .-.. .. – -.– / .. -. / . — . .-. –. . -. -.-. -.– / … .. – ..- .- – .. — -. … .-.-.-

Want to read that bit? Decode it at http://www.unit-conversion.info/texttools/morse-code/

Telegram

Morse code and the telegram are intimately linked but after reading up on the language of the telegram I couldn’t stop. (Hehe get it?)

The telegram forced users to the economical with their communication. With a charge per word the saying a penny for your thoughts had to be taken seriously.

In an ironically wordy guide, Nelson E Ross’ 1928 booklet on how to write telegrams provides guidance on the importance of economical telegrams:

“Naturally, there is a right way and a wrong way of wording telegrams. The right way is economical, the wrong way, wasteful. If the telegram is packed full of unnecessary words, words which might be omitted without impairing the sense of the message, the sender has been guilty of economic waste. Not only has he failed to add anything to his message, but he has slowed it up by increasing the time necessary to transmit it. He added to the volume of traffic from a personal and financial point of view, he has been wasteful because he has spent more for his telegram than was necessary. In the other extreme, he may have omitted words necessary to the sense, thus sacrificing clearness in his eagerness to save a few cents….when you think of telegraphing someone to “reply at once,” you may very well save the cost of an unnecessary word and write it, “reply immediately,” or “reply quickly.” ”

The complete booklet has been transcribed and is available at http://www.telegraph-office.com/pages/telegram.html

Text language

With most smart phones now having a qwerty keyboard theres no real excuse for poorly worded text messages (other than general laziness). This wasn’t always the case. Back in my day communicating was done with 9 keys. Selfies hadn’t been invented yet, Snake was the game of choice and the Nokia unleashed the Mjölnir that was the 3310.

Texting at ‘At the Library’ meant you needed to type: 280844330555444227772777999 subsequently shortcuts were necessary and popular. Some have survived the test of time such as brb, bff and btw but others have not been so lucky like B4N (bye for now) and FWIW (for what its worth).These days the issue isn’t so much pressing the same keys all the time but cucumber popsicle danger…auto correct.

 

Emoji’s and the ‘like

When it comes to the emoji and the ‘like’ I’m moving away from the informative into the rant.

Emoji’s are daft. There is never an okay reason to communicate with someone by way of a poo with eyes or two women with bunny ears. It’s daft, annoying and horrid. Some emoji users are touting them as the next universal language but if that’s the case I want off this rock.

The ‘like’ is just as bad as the emoji. It’s the saviour of the lazy social media user. You don’t want to really say anything in response to someone but you want to let them know you’ve read it. We all know this, I’ve done it, you’ve done it, we’ve all done it and it needs to stop. No more communication short cuts. 

Okay so I don’t necessarily like the ‘like’ but I have very much enjoyed writing this column. Thanks to everyone who read it.

ttfn*

 

*Ta ta for now

 

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Industrial Revolution 2.0 – the rise of the 3D printer

“Creating life at the speed of light is part of a new industrial revolution. Manufacturing will shift from centralised factories to a distributed, domestic manufacturing future, thanks to the rise of 3D printer technology.” – Craig Venter

There are many libraries that have been lucky enough to have 3D printers in their midst and maker spaces for a long time. If you’re part of one of those libraries this post may not be for you rather it’s for those who, like me, have watched and read in awe about these fantastic and exciting devices.

With this post I’m is going to try to take away some of the mystery around 3D printers, how they work, their capabilities, how hard it is to make something with one, and what you need to know to make them work.

What is 3D printing?
3D printing creates three-dimensional objects from computer files. These objects can be made out of anything that you can think of– plastics, metal or even food. The intricacy and detail of the object is contingent upon the design and computer skills of the creator. Technological luddites need not apply.

3D printing works by splitting the three dimensional image into hundreds and thousands of micron thin layers, these layers are printed on top of one another until the object is complete. A form of additive manufacturing, through 3D printing you can create a single object or design something with multiple set parts which you put together.

In their book Additive Manufacturing Technologies: Rapid Prototyping to Direct Digital Manufacturing Ian Gibson, David W. Rosen and Brent Stucker identified the 8 core steps of additive manufacturing, and by default 3D printing;

  1. Develop a CAD drawing of the model/object you want to create
  2. Convert the CAD to a standard tessellation language (STL) formatted file
  3. Copy the STL file into the computer operating the 3D printer.
  4. Set up the 3D printer
  5. Print the model – depending on the size and materials used this can take hours or days
  6. Remove the printed object and check for errors
  7. Postprocessing – this is basically cleaning up the object so that it is ready to use.
  8. Use it!
Creating the file to build the robot
In order to make a 3D printable object you need to create the object as a computer aided design (CAD) file.

This can be built from scratch or by using a 3D scanner. A 3D scanner takes a three-dimensional image of the object which is then converted into a digital file. So if you wanted to create something using a 3D printer you could make a physical prototype and use a 3D scanner or make a digital prototype using CAD software.

Once you get your head around CAD software, and you are feeling adventurous, you could also try out its other uses: creating animation, houses, airplanes, cars – but I don’t recommend the last three unless you have the qualifications.

What opportunities do 3D printing present?
With every new technology there tends to be a polarised response within society – those who fear it and those who embrace it. Now we have had Chicken Little running around for a while saying that 3D printing is dangerous thanks to the capability for individuals to create weapons. This is a concern, however, I don’t think that the abhorrently wrong actions of the few should outweigh the opportunity that 3D printing presents for the many.

With its infinite potential 3D printing has the capacity to create unique and bespoke objects on demand. This on demand business model has been adopted by companies such as Shapeways. Shapeways allows designers and creators to upload 3D printable designs which anyone can then buy. Printed on demand in the material, colour and size you chose, Shapeways is a very unique merchandise company – it has no inventory, and as such, it doesn’t need to limit the products available for purchase, rotate stock according to seasons, or limit what is available to only that which is bought by a hundred people.

3D printing can also enable objects to be available in remote locations, like space. In December last year, NASA printed a ratchet wrench in space. Still in its testing stage, 3D printing presents an amazing opportunity for NASA to create science equipment in space as it is required rather than launch the resources there. To make this story even cooler NASA has released its 3D files, including the wrench, so anyone can make a space wrench. The open source files are available at http://nasa3d.arc.nasa.gov/models/printable

Sources:
http://computer.howstuffworks.com/3-d-printing.htm
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computer-aided_design
http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/news/3Dratchet_wrench