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Technology Science

Ten Technologies That Refuse to Die 1381

kudyadi writes "Technology Review has an interesting article on, as the title suggests, ten technologies that we continue using despite advances made in the same. The best example is that of analog watches, "Compared to today's digital timepieces, old-fashioned, sweep-hand watches are pathetic one-trick ponies. Digital-watch wearers can check temperature, altitude, and the time in Tokyo, play tunes and games, and send messages. Can wristwatch videoconferencing, Web surfing, and tarot readings be far off? But what digital watches can't do, according to sweep-hand proponents, is display the time and context as elegantly and intuitively as an analog model."" Interesting counterpoint to this post from a few years back about technologies that didn't manage to hang on. And Bruce Sterling has a short list of ones he'd like to see go away, too ;)
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Ten Technologies That Refuse to Die

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  • by digitalvengeance ( 722523 ) * on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:14PM (#8182970)
    They still serve a very important purpose for many businesses: Multipart form printing.

    One company I work with prints 4 part invoices for in-home services. We've tested alternatives, but have yet to find a non-impact printer capable of getting the job done.

    I think its unfair to call the technology outdated when it still performs some tasks better than its modern counterparts.
  • Fortran is # 10 (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tcopeland ( 32225 ) * <tom@thomaslee[ ]eland.com ['cop' in gap]> on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:15PM (#8182977) Homepage

    Forty-seven years after IBM unleashed it, Fortran (formula translation), the original "high-level" programming language, would seem to be the infotech equivalent of cuneiform. But it's still widely used, especially in scientific computing.

    No need to throw the Fortran libraries away, though, just wrap them [gfd-dennou.org] in a higher level language [ruby-lang.org]. Chances are it'll be fast enough, and it'll almost certainly be a lot easier to use.
  • Windows NT (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Sonic McTails ( 700139 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:15PM (#8182982)
    Over half of my school still uses Windows NT, even though they did het hacked a few times. They finnally got a XP site license for the student computers, but the staff ones still use NT
  • As the owner of a Bulova timepiece, I am insulted that the other values of older technology like a watch are not considered. For example, the artistic merit and fine craftsmanship of my watch are enjoyable to me every time I use the watch. On a shallower note, it's dead sexy. The same conundrum was brought up about photos vs. oil paintings at the beginning of the 20th century -- sure, photos represent a "clear" picture of something, but they in no way diminish the quality and value of an original Rembrandt painting.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:19PM (#8183043)
    My mother's a nurse, and she told me once that she MUST have an analog watch with a second hand when counting somebody's pulse. I tried it once, and she's right - you just can't count both pulses and seconds if you're looking at a digital display.

    I think what's happening here is that with the analog watch, you use the "number" part of your brain to count the pulses, while you use the visual part of your brain to see when your 60 seconds is up (by looking for the position of the second hand).

    With a digital seconds readout, you end up using the "number" part of your brain for both tasks, and you get screwed up.
  • by The I Shing ( 700142 ) * on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:20PM (#8183058) Journal
    For ten years, now, the media have been saying that any day now chemical photography will just go away. Bloom County, back in the early nineties, had Opus and Milo flushing a 35mm SLR down the toilet lamenting, "Oh, little Nikon, we hardly knew ye." And that was back when you couldn't touch a decent digital camera for under a grand.

    And yet people are still buying 35mm film, shooting pics on it, and having it processed. Those single-use cameras (manufacturers bristle at the word "disposable") are still quite popular.

    I do see more and more people with digital cameras nowadays, naturally, but rumors of the death of chemical photography are greatly exaggerated. University art departments still teach the old-fashioned methods.

    I could go on and on about this forever, but there are other and better posts to read below.
  • dot matrix printers? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Pzykotic ( 72530 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:25PM (#8183131)
    Oh man, those are still in fashion! Just look, you can be a full-fledged MUSICIAN with these things!

    symphony for dot matrix printers [sat.qc.ca]

  • VHS (Score:4, Interesting)

    by SimplyCosmic ( 15296 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:26PM (#8183149) Homepage
    I'm actually somewhat surprised to see VHS not being listed. Despite large chains like Circuit City and Best Buy having gotten out of VHS sales, people still refuse to upgrade even to a $40 WalMart DVD player. These same people will complain to any employee at a store that sells or rents DVDs about how they don't have enough VHS tapes, but won't even consider the idea that times have moved on from the format.
  • by wowbagger ( 69688 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:27PM (#8183152) Homepage Journal
    I have a technology they missed (granted, it is somewhat specialized), and one I feel they incorrectly marked.

    The one they missed is IEEE-488 (a.k.a. GPIB) - a control bus used in instrument control. 1 Mbyte/sec (unless you used a bastardized protocol), 30 units maximum, length limits, interface cards that cost US$500 or more, yet customers are STILL asking for GPIB over USB or Ethernet.

    The one they wiffed on is vacuum tubes. Sorry, but when it comes to making high power RF amplifiers tubes are hard to beat - it is a great deal easier to use a vacuum tube running at 3000V to make a kilowatt of RF than a transistor at 30V - and when you get up to microwaves (2GHz and up) tubes are kings. True, when a (sic)audiophile(cough) claims tubes are better for low power audio.... Well, as a coworker of mine says, "I don't argue with wheelbarrows - I push them."
  • Floppy Drives (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Sergeant Beavis ( 558225 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:31PM (#8183210) Homepage
    He most certainly should have included old floppy drives. I no longer order a floppy drive when buying new PCs or Laptops for my company, but you can still get them if you want. USB keys are just too dang handy and hold alot more data. I'm amazed that the ole 3.5 disk is still around. At least that is better than the super old 8 inch disks I used so long ago.
  • Qwerty (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Tsunamio ( 465339 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:31PM (#8183220) Homepage
    The QWERTY keyboard, which was actually designed to slow folks down (and to make typing "typewriter" fast!) is long overdue for death. If you want a speed boost or to give your wrists a break, try Dvorak. Check out Jared Diamond's "The Curse of QWERTY" [buffalo.edu] on the matter.

    Of course, I just started, which is why the above is written in zealot mode, and though I can attest to the comfort I haven't seen a speed boost yet. But I'll give it time...
  • Re:analog watches (Score:3, Interesting)

    by southpolesammy ( 150094 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:32PM (#8183232) Journal
    Actually, you could even argue that purely mechanical watches, like your wind-up or my Seiko kinetic watch, is environmentally friendly since there is no need for a battery, and therefore no disposal concerns.

    Of course, I'm not an environmental nut, so I won't argue that -- just making a point.
  • Uh, the floppy disk? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by carambola5 ( 456983 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:33PM (#8183253) Homepage
    Gone are the times when the floppy is the only rescue tool for a b0rked computer. Bootable CDs and USB drives have fixed that. So why are they still around? For all intents and purposes, USB drives beat floppies in every respect: physical size, storage size, access time, mtbf.... the list goes on.
  • Better examples (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:33PM (#8183261)
    How about light bulbs? We have LEDs, fluorescent varieties, energy efficient high lumen low wattage bulbs out the wazoo, and we insist on using expensive, high heat output incandescents. An Edison bulb, for crying out loud, would work in a modern lamp, more or less.

    How about pulse-dial telephones? The phone company still has to send 90 watts down the line whenever the phone rings so that on the off chance some bulky receiver with an honest-to-god bell will get enough power to vibrate?

    Give me a break. Analog watches? At least they have style.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:37PM (#8183308)
    One of the things I really like about analog watches, and I really couldn't place it until I started using Linux, was that there are several different ways of reading time on an analogue watch.

    For example, when I look at my analog watch and I see the minute hand on the 9, I automatically think "It's quarter till..." same for "5 after" "half past" etc.

    Also, I like my analogue over digital when cooking. If I'm cooking for 10 minutes, I just look at the minute hand and I can immediately fix in my mind where the minute hand needs to be when the foods done.

    I never really thought about it before, just knew that for some reason I could always read an analog watch faster and chalked it up to what I was used to. Then the other day I was screwing around with the clock settings, and I came across the Fuzzy clock. After looking at it briefly, I realized... The analog watch is like looking at the digital clock and the fuzzy clock at the same time.
  • Re:Fortran is # 10 (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:37PM (#8183312)
    Fortran isn't really as outdated as the article makes out. For a start, it's not quite the same as the IBM language from the 60's - recently we've had the Fortran 90 and Fortran 95 revisions, and I believe there was even a Fotrtran 2003 revision.

    The reason that Fortran is still popular in the scientific community is that it's pretty well optimised for the kind of tasks that you're likely to be doing. For example, Fortran has complex numbers as a basic data type. It's also simpler than C based languages for working with multidimensional arrays - no need to futz about with arrays of pointers or whatever, just declare a (resizable, if desired) multidimensional array. In general, the builtin functions are designed to work well on parallel architectures, so writing good parallel code isn't (quite) so much hard work.

    Basically, Fortran is still used because it's well adapted for the job it's doing. The fact that it isn't used in application programming is because it sucks for that purpose.
  • by Shoggoth of Maul ( 674988 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:37PM (#8183321) Journal
    You can use an analog watch, if it's correctly set, to find your direction in the wilderness. Point the hour hand at the sun, and halfway between the hour hand and 12 o'clock will be either North or South, depending on your lattitude and time of year.

    Yeah, that's not much, but it's cool. It also means you can set your analog watches with a compass, and, with a little math and a sure reckoning of where north is, estimate your lattitude by finding how close the sun is to vertical, and in which direction it deviates.

    Thinking about this problem has brought to my attention that I've been a Boy Scout for far too long...
  • by Comatose51 ( 687974 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:38PM (#8183330) Homepage
    Despite my usual love for evereything new and advanced, I have a strong love for mechanical watches. I wear an IWC Portofino right now. It doesn't even glow in the dark and I need a separate alarm to wake me up. All it does is tell me the time and date. But I'm fairly sure I would be wearing the same watch for the forseeable future and I have a greater love for it than any of my previous watches.

    Why? Because ironically good timepieces should be timeless. Even a good mechanical watch from the 50's or earlier would still work and look nice if it has been taken care of. On the other hand, anything that's technologically advanced is the opposite. They're very vulnerable to the passage of time. The own selling point of technology is that they're somehow futuristic or advanced but once that future has arrived, they lost their charm. A well made time-piece or anything that is "timeless" has other qualities that age better.

    I think a good part of it has to do with the person's personality as much as anything else. Having taken the technology route so many times, I'm happy to know that I have something, however small, that will last and do one thing really well day after day.
  • What about Teletext? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:39PM (#8183344)
    Still beats the internet for news.
    It's been around for 30 years or something.

  • FAX! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by LoudMusic ( 199347 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:40PM (#8183363)
    Good lord, fax needs to go away. I've bitched and moaned about this at my office for FIVE YEARS.

    In addition to that, there needs to be some way of physically inflicting pain upon people who print documents and don't pick them up from the printer. It's a waste to print at all, but if you then don't even get your wasted print out ... what are you thinking?
  • missed... (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:40PM (#8183365)
    1. basic (+,-,*,/) calculators, still around, cheap, but I would rather have a $10 old PalmIII than an $10 dumb calculator

    2. TV "channels" - why can't TVs show a menu matrix of stations by name (wnbc,kwgn,abc,cbs, etc.) instead of channel numbers??? (tivo like?). Same with VCRs - the fact that most people can't program a VCR is because the interface is still too cumbersome.

    3. junk mail (snail mail) - can't we have a mail-shredder appliance that automatically destroys any flyer from the local supermarket or realtors?

    4. VHS - will still be around, until DVD recorders get under $100

    5. Complicated remotes (see #1) - Do we really need more than 30 buttons in our remotes? Menu systems please!

    6. Anti-piracy mechanisms - don't work, why bother to put them in the first place? Lower the prices, you will sell more. Better yet, close major record distribution labels and leave everything to Apple.

    7. Heavy Combustion engines - why aren't there any smaller, safer, better, lighter cars yet? Instead, more SUVs and bigger cars.

    8. Planes - can't we have better/faster trains? ... make things easier for baggage handling, ticket processing, passport/custom, etc.

    9. Excess kitchen appliances - in the old days all you had were pots/pans/grill, no new super-ultra-blender-4000 nor MykeTysons Grill.

    10. Bloated apps. I was recently looking and an old machine I have at home - 30MB was enough to hold a graphic environment and basic word processor/spreadsheet - maybe 90% of what the average joe ever needs (being the other 10% a web browser).

  • Re:Snob (Score:2, Interesting)

    by EricWright ( 16803 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:40PM (#8183369) Journal
    That's why my wife has a 1.5+ ct. sapphire solitare on her engagement ring! It's her favorite stone, it's much larger than a comparably priced diamond, and it's quite the conversation piece. She often gets stopped by total strangers who think her ring is beautiful and unique... which it is, as I picked out the stone and the setting and paid for the jeweler to mount it.
  • Radio will never die (Score:2, Interesting)

    by jmpoast ( 736629 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:41PM (#8183376)
    I can't see radio ever dying until our cars drive themselves. You can't (well shouldn't) watch television while driving, so radio is really your only alternative.
  • by kippy ( 416183 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:41PM (#8183385)
    If you can find a better way to distribute information for low cost, reasonably long range, low power, flexibility, small size and relatively simple design, I'd like to see it.

    Streaming content on the web? Not without a computer and high speed connection.

    XM radio? Big cost rampup to get a satellite constellation up and high cost of the receiver.
  • Re:ana-log (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Urkki ( 668283 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:42PM (#8183392)
    • Guess what? I just want a watch that tells time. I don't want that's tacky, but most digital watches come with this ungainly feature.

    As a contrast, I and most of my friends have actually stopped using wrist watches because the cell phone tells the time, and having a watch is a bit of a bother really. Not much, but a bit, in a lot of small ways.

    So suddenly, when forgetting to put on your watch isn't a bad thing (such as waiting 20 minutes for a bus or being late for a meeting), eventually you just stop wearing it. That's what has happened to a lot of people around here, anyway. If you're one of those who feel as naked without a watch as I feel naked without a cell phone, you're unlikely to develop the habit of forgetting to put it on, I suppose :-)
  • by Em Emalb ( 452530 ) * <ememalb@g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:42PM (#8183393) Homepage Journal
    My wife was doing the books for her dad's small company and had to use a type writer (quickly approaching deadline) to do his W2 up.

    A call around to (no, really) 7 Kinkos produced exactly one type writer.

    It was a POS too.

    Thought that was interesting.
  • by cgenman ( 325138 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:43PM (#8183411) Homepage
  • by King_TJ ( 85913 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:44PM (#8183413) Journal
    IMHO, there's really no good reason anyone should need a typewriter for the purpose of filling out purchase orders!

    The problem is, your workplace is still using the "old tech" of carbon paper based forms.

    The last company I worked for that made us fill out multipart purchase order forms finally phased them out completely. They installed new computer software that let employees complete the whole purchase order online. Sure, a few people complained and moaned about how much harder it made things - but over time, even they started getting used to it. (How often do you re-order something from the same supplier? I bet it happens fairly often. Sure is nice to have the PC fill in the whole address for you when you key in the name of the vendor, because it remembers them all in an address book.)

    It's also nice when someone needs to locate an old purchase order to figure out when a warranty expires or what was paid for a product the last time it was purchased. Just do a quick search in the computer, instead of digging through thousands of papers in a filing cabinet!
  • by johnlcallaway ( 165670 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:46PM (#8183441)
    I am a die-hard analog watch fan. Digital watch faces just look cheap to me, no matter how expensive they are.

    Analog doesn't also mean not digital either. My Seiko has an analog face, but with digital internals. It has an alarm, chronometer, stop watch, and timer. It uses stepping motors to control the hands.

    So, is this a digalog watch?? Or is it anagital?
  • Re:Multipart Impacts (Score:2, Interesting)

    by pyser ( 262789 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:47PM (#8183455)
    The original impact printer [rtty.com]

    Actually hooked one of these up to my Trash-80.

  • by niko9 ( 315647 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:47PM (#8183457)
    Yup, he's right. It's on our New York State checkout list, right next ot NYS State cert. card, penlight and trauma shears. Analog watches for EMT's and Paramedics are mandatory.

    My TAG Heuer Formula 1 has taken one shit kicking after another; stills ticks away like a champ at work.

    I don't think the digital plastic equivalent would hold up.
  • by iggymanz ( 596061 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:48PM (#8183473)
    1. Hard to quickly read while driving at night even with backlighting, give me glowing analog hands!

    2. Display fades & hard to read when very cold

    3. batteries are not standardized, store might not even have your size!

    4. batteries are required; if your watch dies while you're traveling in third world country you're likely S.O.L.

    5. using digital watch as stopwatch/timing requires pushing buttons, with analog can easily do just by looking
  • by eyegor ( 148503 ) * on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:49PM (#8183486)
    If you're wearing an analog watch and someone asks you what time it is, you say: a quarter to 10.

    If you're wearing a digital watch: it's 9:43 and 17 seconds!!! Urk!!!

    Geez... ya sound like a total dweeb!
  • by blitz487 ( 606553 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:51PM (#8183500)
    because you cannot read a digital watch without your glasses on. I can also just elliptically glance at an analog clock, and I know what time it is. With digital, I have to focus on it to read it.
  • Watches for Nursing (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Aumaden ( 598628 ) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .relliM.C.noveD.> on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:54PM (#8183535) Journal
    Friends in the nursing professions all use analog watches. It's apparently difficult to take a pulse with a digital. Counting while watching a number changing is hard on the ol' brain.
  • by MoonBuggy ( 611105 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @06:00PM (#8183612) Journal
    Strange that before I read the parent I was just about to point out that I have a nice analog watch because it looks good. I am a gadget freak, I have a cellphone/PDA combo that I use for video, web, phonecalls, calendar etc. I could quite easily look at it's clock, and I'm sure it wouldn't take more time than moving my arm to look at my watch.
    This is immaterial, however. A watch is a piece of jewelery and that's how I like it! IMO gold ones look tacky, but I have a nice, robust aluminium Quiksilver analog watch which cost about GBP100, looks great, does it's job perfectly and should last a good 10 years. I keep phones for 6 months, if that - my watch is an accessory and I like it that way.
  • by wowbagger ( 69688 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @06:04PM (#8183655) Homepage Journal
    A tube amp distorts the signal. As a tube amp is overloaded, it goes into compression - an N percent change in the signal starts to yield an N/2 percent compression (actually it is a logarithmic ratio).

    Solid state amps are pretty much linear (N percent in is N percent out) right up to the limit, then they STOP DEAD - what is known as clipping.

    Now, to the human ear clipping is VERY objectionable, while compression is not.

    So, when you are deliberately compressing a signal (to simulate sustain on a guitar, for example), you want the amp to compress the signal, not clip it (unless you are trying to fuzz the signal).

    However, when you are PLAYING BACK a recording, you want the amp to represent the signal exactly - you don't want compression, you don't want clipping, you want "a stright wire with gain".
  • Analog, eh... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by holizz ( 737615 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @06:06PM (#8183683) Homepage
    But what digital watches can't do, according to sweep-hand proponents, is display the time and context as elegantly and intuitively as an analog model.

    I don't know about anybody else but I grew up telling the time with digital displays. It takes me a fair bit longer working out the time on old clocks and if there's light on the clock it can be hard to distingush between the hour and minute hand. As a result I will often look at an old clock and then take out my phone in stupidity (which usefully has the time in large characters as a 'screensaver').
  • by Ratcrow ( 181400 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @06:11PM (#8183737) Homepage
    I've got a pair of Waltham pocketwatches, one with an 1898 movement, and one that is probably from the 1930s.

    Both of them work, and keep good time.

    I also have a pile of dead, broken down computer hardware, and can point to any number of software projects that are unmaintained, unfinished, or otherwise at the end of their lives. All of these are, at best, half the age of the younger watch.

    If nothing else, carrying an old-fashioned watch is a reminder about building things to last...
  • One reason for fax (Score:2, Interesting)

    by FlyingOrca ( 747207 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @06:16PM (#8183797) Journal
    ... is confidentiality laws. Regulations in my field prohibit emailing certain information (yes, even though we COULD use PGP etc., the legislators havent' caught on). Faxing is OK.
  • Re:Wires (Score:2, Interesting)

    by coastwalker ( 307620 ) <[moc.liamtoh] [ta] [reklawtsaoca]> on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @06:19PM (#8183821) Homepage
    In 1933 James Thurber drew a brilliant cartoon "Her own mother lived the latter years of her life in the horrible suspicion that electricity was dripping invisibly all over the house". And a drawing of an elderly woman staring up at a chandelier that's missing a light bulb -- and little lightning bolts are falling from it like snow.

    Ive searched for it, cant find it, one of the funniest things I can remember.

  • by Garble Snarky ( 715674 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @06:19PM (#8183824)
    thats why its in the list...
    reports of their demise have proved greatly exaggerated. All have survived, and some have thrived, in their supposed obsolescence--not as cult artifacts (everything from buggy whips to eight-tracks has its fans and collectors), but because they fill real needs that their more sophisticated successors don't.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @06:21PM (#8183849)
    Ummmm...today's Mac bears no similarity to the original 9-inch box. It's been pronounced dead by pundits who think success is measured by knocking off Microsoft, not by turning a profit.
    Very true, classic Mac has Toolbox in ROM, classic MacOS System+Finder, SCSI, NuBus, floppy disk, ADB, AAUI-15, LocalTalk, DB-15 video 68k CPU. Modern Mac has the old ROM stored on disk, Openfirmware, OS X, (S)ATA, CD/DVD-RW, USB, Firewire, PCI, AGP, RJ-45, Ethernet, DVI, PowerPC. (This is not flamebait, but note that the Mac has grown more in the direction of the PC than vice versa).
  • Re:#1 : Slashdot (Score:2, Interesting)

    by TA ( 14109 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @06:24PM (#8183881)
    I totally disagree. It takes me milliseconds to see and understand the numbers (the four first are usually bigger on digital wristwatches), i.e. instant snapshot of time. With analogue watches I have to scrutinize the display to figure out what time it is, it takes several seconds. And I may still get it wrong, it's happened that I've shown up an hour early because I mis-read that damn (borrowed) analogue watch.
    Digital forever.
  • by Dominant_Effect ( 749208 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @06:29PM (#8183937)
    I love technology as much as the next person, but I have yet to see a woman in a bar compliment a guy on his Casio calculator watch whereas my Movado has never failed to draw a compliment be it from a woman in a bar, a date at a restaurant, or in a meeting with a prospective client.

    Technology has it's place and I am an unconditional supporter and user of it, but if I want bells and whistles I have my cell phone... if I want to make a lasting first impression of style, nothing makes the statement like a finely crafted timepiece...
  • by mindriot ( 96208 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @06:31PM (#8183977)

    No need to get into this argument, just see Slashdot's tenth most active story ever [slashdot.org] (at least at the moment). It's all been said I suppose.

  • Re:#1 : Slashdot (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Ignis Flatus ( 689403 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @06:40PM (#8184111)
    And I suppose you'd also claim a sundial is not intuitive? The sundial is graphical, and most homo sapiens spending their days in the presence of one would figure out the correlation. Same with an analog wristwatch. Strap one on the wrist of some lost-society tribal person, and he'll eventually figure it out.

    It's intuitive because the hour hand is not far removed from the natural phenomenon of a cast shadow. The main difference is that the function extends beyond daylight hours. Minute and second hands quickly reveal their function as being subsets of the hour hand.

    So yes, it is intuitive. It is an instrument whose human interface is modelled on a universally-shared human experience. How more intuitive could you possibly make it?
  • Re:Multipart Impacts (Score:2, Interesting)

    by pyser ( 262789 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @06:47PM (#8184201)
    I guess it wasn't really the original impact printer (this page [vauxelectronics.com] shows them back to the Model 10) but the Model 15 was widely used on early microcomputers [cedmagic.com] as an i/o device.

    Archaic as it is, the 5-level Baudot code is still very much in use by Amateur Radio operators worldwide. Now we use computers and sound cards instead of klanky old TTYs and TD units with the crossed-pulse oscilloscopes.

  • by Tackhead ( 54550 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @06:51PM (#8184240)
    > If you're timing events, then your reaction time is going to come into play and your accuracy will be stopped down. At 500ms, you're getting down to the limits of human reaction time which is really at best 100ms. Just admit it man, you're a geek. :)

    "Geek and proud!" As proof, I offer not merely the fact that I prefer digital watches, but that I set them to 24-hour time.

    Actually, that's an interesting point. If it's a foot race of 10 seconds, 500ms accuracy probably isn't enough. If it's a road trip of 2 hours, being accurate to the nearest minute is probably sufficient.

    Maybe I'm a left-brained geek, but I always found it easier to parse 02:44 instead of having to eyeball my way from 12-to-almost-3 and again from 12-to-almost-9.

    02:44 is unambiguous on a digital watch, even by the light of the CRT. On an analog watch, it's sometimes hard to tell which hand is the bigger one. At 14:44 it's a little easier, at 02:44 it's a little more difficult.

    I was going to make a snarky wisecrack about how if you can't tell the difference between 0244 and 1444, you've got bigger problems than any watch can solve.

    Then I realized that the same argument applies to 0455 and 1655. If you're at certain latitudes, for several months of the year, those two times can be hard to tell apart on anything but a digital watch. And hey, this is Slashdot, where not knowing which half of the day we're talking about is part of the game.

  • Re:#1 : Slashdot (Score:5, Interesting)

    by JamesOfTheDesert ( 188356 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @06:56PM (#8184290) Journal
    An analogue watch shows the time graphically, a digital watch shows six digits. This is why an analogue watch is considered by many, myself included, to be more intuitive.

    Exactly. I typically do not want to know the exact time time, but want to know how far away I am from some past or future time.

    Grand Central Terminal used to have analog clocks, and if I was running for a train it was easy to see if I had time to make it, but when they changed to digital I had to stop and do time math to figure things out. Sounds trivial, but looking at the distance between the minute hand and some numeral was easier to parse than a string of digits.

  • by ArekRashan ( 527011 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @07:05PM (#8184395) Journal

    Even if your country uses the metric system, you weren't raised in a base-10 world. Yes, it is true that almost all integral arithmetic is represented in base 10. But dominant does not mean exclusive.

    Of course, that's entirely beside the point. This is why you really have no clue:

    The distinction between decimal and sexagesimal representation has no connection whatsoever with the difference between an analog visual representation and a digital numeric display.

    You're doing the sexagesimal math in your head every time you look at your digital watch, or you wouldn't have any clue how much time had elapsed between 2:35 and 3:10. However, on an analog display, it's easy to see that there are seven groups of five marks between the two points, or 35 minutes. In fact, unless your digital watch is using 24 hour time, you have to use duodecimal (base 12) arithmetic to find the difference between 9:00 and 2:00. On most analog displays, there are five clearly delineated hour segments between the numbers in question.

    If I neaded to measure times below 500ms, I'd invest in a quality stopwatch. But I wouldn't want to wear it on my wrist.

    Don't mistake your lamentable inability to read an analog display as a weakness of the concept. You're just to lazy to learn something that takes all of a few day's casual practice (i.e., wearing an analog watch and looking at it when you want to know the time) to become second nature.

    Think about it: Which is a better representation, a diagram of a right angle, or the numeral 90? That numeral being associated with the right angle is just another example of the many facets of this 'base-10' world you were raised in that is not, in fact, decimal. Trecentesexagesimal, perhaps, in this instance.

    Also, a classy analog watch has approximately thirteen thousand times the sex appeal of wearing uglyfont numbers on your arm.
  • by ChaosDiscord ( 4913 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @07:17PM (#8184550) Homepage Journal

    Presenting different content to Google than to random visitors is deceitful. They want the Google goodness of appearing to offer publically available content, but don't actually want to offer it. They're effectively lying to Google. If you don't want to offer content to non-subscriber's, that's fine. (I pay for two subscriber only online magazines that I respect. They play fair and their content either isn't indexed, or only the table of contents and summary pages are indexed.) But don't lie about the availability of content to Google. (I'm complaining now because this article features just such an example regarding Tech Review's use of this sleazy trick [google.com]. My other pet peeve is IGN [google.com].)

    Anyway, if you encounter this crap, step one is to report the site to Google [google.com]. This is a case of "Page does not match Google's description" and "Cloaked page" and is clearly web spam.

    Step two is to read the page anyway. Set your web browser's user agent "Googlebot/2.1 (+http://www.googlebot.com/bot.html)" and you're good to go. You may also need to disable JavaScript so you don't get redirected. Personally I just suck down the page with "wget --user-agent="Googlebot/2.1 (+http://www.googlebot.com/bot.html) http://www.example.com/".

  • Re:Thats because (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Endive4Ever ( 742304 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @07:21PM (#8184604)
    The more poignant question is: will the huge mass of discarded rechargable battery packs in the landfill have a bigger impact on the environment than the old carbon copy forms (and that strip-off tractor ribbon on the edge) had?

    There are, and there always will be, issues with 'digital authentication' that make it not practical for everything. The degree of additional intrusion into our privacy by 'the system' needed is one example.

  • Re:#1 : Slashdot (Score:2, Interesting)

    by BobSchmerdt ( 293286 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @07:33PM (#8184720)
    I have been working in the broadcasting field for many years. As part of that is the need to be able to 'talk up to', or time out what you're saying to end exactly when a network feed begins. In our studios we have had analog and digital clocks for years. By far, analog is easier to 'hit the post,' as we say. Something about analog. Lets you know how much time you have left easier than digital. FWIW.
  • by alchemist68 ( 550641 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @07:47PM (#8184837)
    I first got hooked on analog watches when I took a vacation to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. I visited the National Watch and Clock Museum in Columbia Pennsylvania. Looking at the detailed construction of American pocket watches from the late 1800's and early 1900's facinated me. THESE are real time pieces, with hard steel gears meshing with softer brass gears, mounted on pinions that are encased by jewels. The balance has tiny screw weights to make the balance "balanced". Most of the gold-plated cases were warrented for 20 or 25 years! These devices were designed to last your lifetime, not designed with built-in obsolescence like today's products. More importantly, they were built by real people with TALANT in engineering, metallurgy, and art. Many of the the movements had very decorative Damaskeening engraved on the plate nickel and stainless steel bridges. Waltam competed fiercely with Damaskeening.

    To date, I have several American pocket watches, the oldest made in 1886 and the newest made in 1912. I even managed to find a 17 jewel Waltam Appleton Tracy Railroad pocket watch at an auction for $58 back in 1992. It needed some work, so I took it to a certified master watchmaker to replace the main spring, cleaned it using ultrasonic waves, and lubricated everything again. THIS WATCH KEEPS PERFECT TIME, and it's almost 100 years old!

    Now I wear an Orient (subsidiary of Seiko) that has an automatic winding mechanism, has a second hand sweep, tells the day and the date, has a 21-jewel movement, is water resistant to 50 meters, is made of all stainless steel construction, and it only cost me $40 (you have to know where to get them at low cost). I wear THIS watch because I work around NMR instruments ALL DAY and it is unaffected by the superconducting magnets and the 10 Gauss magnetic field. The only thing "wrong" with the watch is that it gains 5 minutes every two weeks, otherwise, I'm VERY happy with THIS cheapo analog watch.

  • Re:Multipart Impacts (Score:3, Interesting)

    by fm6 ( 162816 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @08:26PM (#8185166) Homepage Journal
    Well, microcomputers appeared in the mid 70s, and by then the most common teleprinter was the Modell 33 Teletype [kekatos.com]. These were pretty much the standard console for non-IBM computers. (IBM, of course, used telecom versions of their own electric typewriters [etypewriters.com].) In fact, the Model 33 seems to have been the choice for most of the non-mainframes [compustory.com] even before the microprocessor turned computing on its economic head.

    According to this article [rtty.com], the first practical teleprinter was patented in 1910.

  • by APL bigot ( 606126 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @10:13PM (#8186087)
    Sorry, but analog watches are not the greatest. I have a beloved Seiko digital watch that needs to be replaced, but I can't find a suitable replacement. Have you even looked for a decent digital watch? I can't find one! Most watches now are analog dial retro crapola. I used the watch's digital storage capability to store my many different passwords for mainframe systems and program access.

    I don't wear jewelry, contrary to clueless claims of previous posters that that is why men wear watches. And I don't have and don't want a cell phone (so no clock function). (I have an amateur radio license so can use a REAL radio to communicate with no per minute charges.) And, yes, I can make phone calls (autopatch) with the radio.

    I bet you think calculators are the pinnicle of computational excellence (excluding full blown computers). Actually, slide rules are far easier to use when evalulating ratios and proportions. Quick and easy to read a fraction from the slide rule compared to reading a decimal calculator result.

    And for the truely clueless...this is not a troll!
  • by caveat ( 26803 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @10:54PM (#8186422)
    i got an ImageWriter II in...1987? with an apple IIGS, that printer is still alive and kicking. it's built like a tank (fell off a 6' cabinet more times than i can count) and will print on ANYTHING. like..i cut up a BROWN PAPER BAG from the store once, because I only had enough fanfold holey-edge paper for my final draft. Is there an OS X driver for this sucker? my i560 is a great laserjet, but sometimes...
  • by UserChrisCanter4 ( 464072 ) on Thursday February 05, 2004 @09:41AM (#8188441)
    Firewire (a 100 mbps implementation, not the IEEE 1394-certified flavor we know today) first shipped on Mac Quadros (sort of the back-in-the-day version of the powermac) in 1991. Yes, 1991. It was intended to eventually replace SCSI, although at the time there were only a tiny amount of peripherals that used it, mostly scanners and minor video devices IIRC. But it was, essentially, firewire as it is today, they simply hadn't ratcheted the speed up to todays 400 mbps "standard (in quotation marks because firewire is available in a variety of speeds from 100 to 3200mbps; it's actually a protocol). The actual certification and full-line implementation of Firewire didn't really catch on until DV camcorders started to hit the prosumer market, but it was there, a full 12.5 or so years ago.
  • by N Monkey ( 313423 ) on Thursday February 05, 2004 @10:14AM (#8188706)
    An analog speedometer works like this:

    On the tailshaft in your transmission there is a gear. There is a meshing gear in the speedo sending unit. This gear is turned by the tailshaft on the transmission, obviously, and causes the cable to turn. The cable, inside your speedo gauge, is headed by another gear, which goes through a series of gears that results in placing the needle on the gauge (and advancing the odometer).

    The "series of gears" might apply for the odometer, but I don't think they are necessary for the actual speedometer.

    The last time I checked, the cable drives a small rotating magnet which is in close proximity to a metal disk that is attached to the needle's axle. The rotating magnet thus induces currents in the disk which in turn eventually results in a torque being applied to the axle. A spring resists the free rotation of the needle giving a reading which is proportional to the speed.

    It's not real-time at all, and is usually 1-2 seconds off. So it's not "instant information" as you put it, it's actually old information by the time you see it.

    There may be a lag of a second but that'll surely be just for filtering purposes so that the displayed reading is steady. In a sense, the same thing MUST happen with the analog speedo. There needs to be some damping in that too or else it'd oscillate up and down - in fact you can see it occur with old speedos which, presumably, are worn out.

No problem is so large it can't be fit in somewhere.