Tools don't obey the laws of fashion and planned-obsolecense. A tool remains useful until it wears out or is replaced with something that replaces a tool in all of its use-cases without adding additional practical or economic downsides. So we use manual screwdrivers for some jobs where electric screwdrivers would either break things or wouldn't fit into a tight space. Artists still use paint and pencil where these allow more efficient expression than digital photographs and photoshop. Here are some technologies I'd love to replace if a replacement were available:
- "Dumb" old cell phone. I have an indestructible Nokia "phone only" phone. I recently charged it because I like to put it in a zip-lock and take it windsurfing or kayaking-- but after nearly a year off the charger, it was still fully charged. It's water resistant, lasts for days on a battery, has good signal range and sound quality. My slightly newer QWERTY Nokia is useful when I'm writing. I've heard other writers use Psion or other old QWERTY PDAs but 2006 was a sweet spot for these "slightly smart" phones.
- Musical instruments. Forget the fact that you'd spend $3000 on an electric piano with the sound and key-action of a $500 used upright and forget that guitars and most other stringed and woodwind instruments have no digital equivalent, even older electronic instruments are difficult to find modern equivalents. I'd love to replace my late 1980s consumer level samping keyboards with a modern sampler with high sampling rate, thousands of sample storage, effects... but no such consumer device exists. So I'm stuck with something with about the same S/N ration and frequency range as a mellotron.
- Solar powered scientific calculator. You call that a smart phone? The pocket calculator's built into the iPhone and most androids is a joke. Many of these can't even count up to the US national debt-- which might explain a few things.
- Solar and wind-powered clothes dryer. I don't get the US. Land of the free and yet there are multiple levels of regulations for everything. Uzis and AK-47s seem to be legal anywhere beyond a stone's throw from a school, but try to use a clothespin to hang your clothes from a line and you're likely to get in trouble with some authority. Yeah it's old technology, but it works and is used in almost every other country. Update it with supermagnet clothespins and you could probably make it convenient. But I don't mind the inconvenience. I meet my neighbors, spend some time in the sun and save an average of about $2 per load in electricity.
- Transistor radio. Given the poor quality and high cost of US oligopoly cell phone service, you shouldn't stray far from Wifi if you want to stream music. But some of us have a life, sailing, hiking, camping... outside of Wifi's range. Yeah podcasts and downloaded music are fun but they lack the regional immediacy of radio. Compared to most bland streaming stations, clear-channel is that stoner running a pirate station from his dorm. Seriously, when they ask what the $*&# happened to good music, point to your iPod and sing, "The day the music died."
A few years ago when there was a concern that not enough analog engineers were being trained to meet demand, lecturers at Georgia Tech and others suggested the use of Field Programmable Analog Arrays (FPAA) in order to let students get their hands dirty with real analogue electronics with some of the convenience of Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs.) While purists might believe that analog without the mess of breadboards, wire-wraps and soldering isn't analog, it fills a real-world need.
Unfortunately it seems that interest in FPAAs peaked too early-- before the Maker and openhardware movement might have driven up demand and driven down costs.Anadigm does have some products I'd love to see packged as an Arduino shield. Who wouldn't want a pocket Moog Synthesizer?
I try to become more cynical every day, but lately I just can't keep up. -- Lily Tomlin (She's only 74 but sharp as ever. YMMV)
Well, here's one possible effect and cause scenario that occurred to me.
Start with a healthy person who has a generally positive view of humanity.
Above the threshold reached at the age of reason (mental age ~7) when we begin to see the flaws in ourselves and others, I think it takes more mental energy to have a generally positive view of humanity than to fall back on cynicism. I agree with others that we may be seeing an indicator of pre-dementia rather than a cause of dementia.
I've lived over fifty years in this country and cynicism is at an all-time high. But strangely enough, so is credulity.
You've lived for fifty years in Finland?
We've become a nation of cynical suckers.
Oh, you're American. I'm sorry. Does anyone know why Slashdot's lameness filter can't handle my SARCASM tags?
I agree, right now she needs human contact attention, hope, understanding and patience from those around her. Start with low-tech pointing board, watch her eyes and any other expressions she can make. Just as those who lose a sense rely on others, she must rely more on non-verbal communication and those around her must know how to listen. Let her see and touch her baby. Help her to overcome the panic, fear, helplessness and dispair. Help her friends and family.
Once you're ready to move to more technology, start with an iPad or android tablet. Ask her if she would like to see any movies, or listen to music (her partner and family should be able to suggest favorites.) Read Oliver Sach's Musicophelia for information on the neurological healing power of music.
While she is going through rehabilitation, research Dasher and OpenGazer for eye and head tracking to see if they might be useful. Read about coping with paralysis injuries and the possibilities for recovery from The Christopher Reeve Foundation. Make sure that hoping and praying for a cure doesn't morph into "waiting and expecting for a cure." she and her family may have to learn to live with this condition for years even if there is hope on the horizon. I wish you, her and your family well.
A one-size fits all technical solution doesn't yet exist. Begin with low tech, use a pointing board and watch her eyes and face and see if she is able to move any other part of her body. Try to develop a personal communication technique and learn what she is capable of. Move to something like an iPad or Android ask her if there is something she would like to see, music, movies something to help her focus on something other than the fear, pain and bordem. Give her hope. While she is recovering and in rehabilitation, research Dasher and OpenGazer to see if it would help her communicate. Gently support those who are closer to her but who might not have your level of medical or technical understanding. Help them give her the attention, space, touch, rest and love when she needs it.
I wish you and your family well. Look for information and try to support the Christopher Reeve Foundation and other organizations who are working hard on making life better for people with paralysis injuries. I understand that for other types of paralysis injuries, doctors/psychologists often recommend not to give the person hope that a "cure" is eminent because even if a cure is available now, it may be years before it is widely available and it will almost certainly require rehabilitation and that the person is kept mentally and physically healthy until a solution is found.
This is the kind of anti-competitive behavior that gets companies in trouble and causes regulatory crackdowns. Phone companies that make it hard to switch carriers. domain registrars that make it hard to switch registrars, and banks which make it hard to switch banks have all gotten in trouble for this.
Not really. "Into trouble" usually means a write-off fine and a sullied name for the length of Joe sixpack's attention span (a few weeks or months depending on whether the news oligopolies relationship with their corporate Goliath sponsors.)
Also, you forgot some, Employers that make it difficult for employees to switch careers and health-care companies who leverage pre-existing conditions to prevent customers from seeking competing alternatives. Political parties who shoehorn 300 million people into two points of view. The fact that Americans have come to accept monopolies in most aspects of their lives means they can't even see them or the problems they cause anymore. Apple isn't seen as a monopoly or even as an anti-competive corporate Goliath. Apple is seen as a "personal choice" or religion.
The paper does explain these limitations and it would be wrong to assume that this means we can see/photograph through fog, skin, clouds... But a semiconductor laser can have a spacial coherence long enough to do holography so if they said the source was a laser and non-conherent narroband, I'll give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they did something to destroy the laser coherence. Spinning frosted glass beam interrupters and other techniques are often used to despeckle laser light where it interferes with the laser's intended use.
Speckle does occur with non laser light sources but it isn't usually as strong because of the shorter coherence length. Go outside on a sunny day and look at your fingernails or a piece of black anodized metal, you may see the effect of white light speckle interference. The really amazing part of this technique is that they did it with such a low-res camera. While 42 Megapixels seems like ridiculous overkill for a phone camera, it doesn't hold a candle to the typical spacial resolutions approaching 400 Gigapixels for holography film. Extend and expand the technique into higher resolutions, illuminate with coherent laser light sources and it will be a valuable technique for laser imaging as well as other things. What else has point light sources against a dark sky and obscuring translucent material? The starry night sky. I knew the day would come when finally astronomers can have their cloud filter!
...Every employee had to take about 15 multiple choice tests. But every store had cheat sheets and no one really learned anything.... If an employee didn't ask every customer about a cell phone AND a satellite dish they were fired. Even before that turnover was like a fast food place.
Were you at Radioshack when they became one of the first and last private US employers to require polygraph test as a condition for employment? Yes there is a reason Snowden never worked at Radio Shack. Whoever managed that company during the 90s should be working for Vladmir Putin right now.
They had a commercial during the SuperBowl with 10,000 80's superstars. Getting into futuristic stuff like Raspberry Pi's, Arduinos and 3D printers is a great idea, but it would have been nice to hear about that during the commercial rather than see Hulk Hogan get into a DeLorean. Instead, I just found out about it on this thread.
And they need to stop the price gouging. If a Pi is $35 online, there's no way I should pay more than $69.99 no matter how much they are helping me. Anything more is robbery.
Radio Shack spent too much on their Superbowl ads and not enough on training staff. I live overseas so I visit RS maybe once a year. When I heard they were getting back to their hobbiest roots I almost forgave them for diving all of the independent radio parts shops out of business such as my former employer. I asked their employees about arduinos and other microcontrollers, they'd never heard of them. So I took them to the back of their store and showed them where they were. I asked about UV LEDs. They found me an IR LED, close but no cigar. I dug through a couple more drawers and showed them the UV one. Something like $4 for one LED, only about 5000% markup from the low-quanity price at Digi-key and Farnell, 10000% above what you'd get them delivered from Chinese online shops if you're willing to wait a month but yes if I needed it then and there, there it was. If only their staff knew what they had and knew how it could be used so they could help customers and get customers interested in buying more.
RS management, if you're listening, hire hobbiests and train the rest of your staff in Linux, electronics repair, arduino, PIC. Sift through the millions of wholesale electronics products and sell only the most open, well-documented and hackable products. Sell Arduinos, Pics, Pis, Canon (CHDK) capable cameras, software defined radio chips. Set aside a Makerspace/repair cafe in your store. Install 3D printers and create online portal for shared 3D designs, arduino sketches, Raspberry Pi and Linux. Buy a small wave solderer and train staff on how to rejuvenate the millions of video games, laptops and tablets whose GPUs have unsoldered themselves. Make deals with Amazon, alibaba, ebay, dx, farnell. You have a &(*@ load of retail space, they have the commodity components and proprietary batteries. Make your stores retail portals with staff to explain, upsell on installation and help. Clear your in-store warehouses to make room for deliveries.
...The last time I was in Radio Shack two months ago, they still had blank VHS tapes on the shelf.
What! No blank Betamax L-750s?
I won't miss those expensive, leaky Radio Shack batteries, guaranteed to destroy whatever overpriced electronic gadget you bought at Radio Shack last month. Even Apple's welded-in iPhone batteries can't match that level of planned obsolescence.
The real problem is the whole student loan system. Since most people are paying for college with unlimited-balance, government-guaranteed loans, colleges can charge whatever the hell they want and they know that everyone can afford it and they always get paid. Why does the cost of tuition rise so much faster than inflation? Because colleges suffer no consequences for raising tuition.
If you took away the unlimited aspect or the government-guarantee aspect, you'd see tuitions stabilize right quick. If Uncle Sam (or I guess Aunt Sallie, in this case) said, "Colleges, go ahead and charge whatever the hell you want, but we're only giving each student $15k/yr in loans, indexed to inflation," you'd see colleges implementing some cost controls. Likewise, if Sallie Mae said, "Colleges, we pay you when the student pays us, so better make things affordable, hmm?" same thing would happen.
But no, we have a bubble like the real estate bubble because everybody's buying with other people's money, so nobody cares what it costs.
Mod parent up. US higher education debt now totals more than a trillion dollars. And it's becoming more obvious with each passing semester that students are reliving the history of the dot com and property bubbles. Take something of value, build a story around it that exaggerates its fiscal value, find some sucker to finance it (US taxpayers are born every minute.) This proposed fix won't help. There are too many ways to game the system. We've already turned our state-funded universities into glorified trade schools, funneling most students into accounting, MBA or whatever students counselors perceive to have the shortest term ROI. Basic research suffers and paradoxically unemployable degrees are on the rise. Universities win as long as there is a warm body in a classroom seat. The proposed system might help in the short term by forcing the burden of unraveling this mess onto the most educated population, but in the long term it will punish higher education, reward those horribly narrow certificate factories, give further advantage to PhDs in India and China and force even more of our best and brightest to leave the country.
Not joking, sarcastic. Because as you point out, this ban on education only helps to further solidify the positions of the dictators in the countries that the US has an embargo against. An embargo that was (presumably) put in place to try and get the dictators to change their ways about something. And here the US is, banning something that could get the populations of those countries to force the dictators into that change.
Because the 54 year-old embargo against Cuba was so effective at turning the Cuban people against Castro^H^H^H^H the US.
Makes you wonder what the real purpose of those embargoes is.
The black marketeers love it and it keeps up the price of fake Cuban cigars.