“The answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe and Everything—as given by the supercomputer Deep Thought to a group of mice in Douglas Adams’s comic science fiction series The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy—is 42.
According to the Guide, mice are 3-dimensional profiles of a pan-dimensional, super-intelligent race of beings. They built Deep Thought, the second greatest computer of all time and space, to tell them the answer to the question of life, the universe and everything. After seven and a half million years the computer divulges the answer: 42.
‘Forty-two!’ yelled Loonquawl. ‘Is that all you’ve got to show for seven and a half million years’ work?’
‘I checked it very thoroughly, said the computer, and that quite definitely is the answer. I think the problem, to be quite honest with you, is that you’ve never actually known what the question is.’”
Thing 20: Discover YouTube
Had also been familiar with YouTube and already had an account. The video I wanted to find is no longer there. But you can find it here.
Liked this one from the Hubble space telescope. Absolutely awsome. Try getting your head around it...
Also thought these Quick Change Artists were worth a look.
Thing 21: Podcasting
As a consequence of my lengthy commute each day, and the daily exposure to the possibility of speed cameras, I needed something to occupy my head while driving. Radio didn't cut it. My phone was a Motorola Razr V3i. I discovered that the "i" stood for iTunes! It had a built-in iTunes player. I installed the PC program and went looking for podcasts in my areas of interest. Now I can load up the phone with 14 hours of listening and drive to and from work in a way that does not involve "press on" driving and associate tickets.
My podcast selection includes several items from Radio National: Ockham's Razor, The Philosopher's Zone, Big Ideas, The Health Report, The Science Show and Enough Rope. Astronomy podcasts include Universe Today, Slackerpedia Galactica, Science @ Nasa, and Astronomy Cast. General interest area include CSIROpod, Brains Matter, The Physics of Sex, and the Fall 2006 General Psychology course from a uni in the USA.
I also found a podcast called Skepticality. It had two presenters, Derek and Swoopy. I was catching up on their podcasts from 2005. To my great surprise, around November 2005 Derek had suffered a stroke and the response was quite amazing. So much support came pouring in and Swoopy rose to the occasion. Over a year on, Derek refers to booting his Brain 2.0! His language faculties may never be the same, but the show is still excellent. Skepticality is now the official podcast of Skeptic Magazine.
Three other podcasts, more in the area of social commentry were Logically Critical, Quick Hitts and Road Rage. I'd found several sites through one referencing another.
One episode of Logically Critical on Gay Marriage really shows how much we discriminate against minorities. Just amazing.
Dave Hitt is a cranky old bastard who nevertheless makes a hell of a lot of sense. Much of his venom is rightly directed at the nonsense that passes for politics in the USA. He points accurately at how people fail to think clearly in so many matters.
AJ from Road Rage had a magazine style program with snippets of news from around the world, but mainly from the USA and his local area around Maine. It was surprizingly engaging. I'd been listening to all of these podcasts gradually working my way through to the current one. So it was another shock to hear from Dave Hitt of the death of AJ from Road Rage! Heart attack. I hadn't realised that I had just listened to the last Road Rage episode that there would ever be.
I bought an MP3 player recently, a Sansa E280. Used by my lovely lady Lorraine. Very sexy little device. I used Windows Media Player (WMP) to load it with goodies. I can still use MP3s from iTunes, but have to use WMP to load them. And the WMP interface really sucks.
The main library podcast seems to be from the SirsiDynix Institute one. And we may have our own Library featured in an upcoming episode. Stephen Abrams' podcast on 25 Technologies in 50 minutes actually takes an hour and is most relevant to our Learning 2.0 program.
Thing 22: Audiobooks
Had also played in this area before. I'd downloaded the chapters of Alice in Wonderland. Started listening to them and discovered to my horror that they were read by different people. That wasn't too bad until you got someone who was a pretentious git and whose voice made you want to hurl.
The alternative was books "read" by computer generated speech. This is not much better, but is at least consistent through out the book. The one I tried was Tarzan of the Apes.
I think we's all prefer audiobooks that are read by a human. The same one for a complete book. That, or a much improved computer voice.
Thing 23: Summarise my thoughts on this program.
It's been a great program. It forced me to look at a number of pieces of technology that I had read about or knew of, but had never played with. And there were a few pieces I did not know about. It's been quite time consuming. I thought I would work through it faster than I have. I don't consider myself proficient in most of the areas covered, but at least the fog is thinner now. Biggest problem is the proliferation of accounts and the need to keep track of them.
It's 11:25PM on the last day that I have to finish this. Procrastination has been alive and well for me. I hope whoever wins the laptop, enjoys it. The odds are really good for a worthy prize.