Tuesday, April 26, 2011

See you later, calculator

The abacus and the slide rule have both been replaced by new technology. When I went to school electronic calculators with scientific notation were becomming available. These days, in Norway, kids are at some point expected to have graphing calculator, but isn't this an anachronism?

With desktop and laptop computers have we have access to tools like Matlab, Mathematica, Macsyma and Gnu Octave. And schools are beginning to use tablet computers. Isn't the natural consequence that calculators go away, and that tablet computers take over the role of both the standard computer and the calculator. Maybe the concept of the Dynabook is eventually becomming a reality?

Currently, the rules in the Norwegian educational system rules out tablets, but there is time for a change, don't you think?

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Xoom in

It is raining outside, and I am alone with my Xoom.

So I am entering the era of tablets. I have considered replacing my aging Magic with a mobile with a bigger screen. But now that I have the Xoom, do I really need a bulky phone in my pocket?

Can I not just get a smaller mobile for the phoning, and use it as a tethering device to provide the tablet with internet access when I need it!? I guess I will look into this before I commit to a bigger phone in my pocket.

Of course I went for the WiFi only version. The price was however a bit stiff, but then it would be even worse if I had bought it at home. Then again, according to rumors, the Xoom will not be sold there.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Air, space and museeums

Washington has it all - lots of skies and air, spacious surroundings and loads of museums. They even have a museum for the combination, namely the Air and space museum. I visited the part near Dulles airport today, after seeing my colleague off on his flight.

Anyway, while I was there I discovered that the new fighter plane that Norway has committed to buying is already in the museum, as can be seen in the picture on the right.

Before Norway decided to buy this vaporware there was fierce competition between the JAS, the Eurofighter and the JSF. While the first two are available and in operation, the JSF is still "in the works". But to my knowledge, the two european alternatives have not ended up in museums yet. They are even busy over North Africa these days!

So are the Norwegian authorities aware that they have wasted my tax money on a museum exhibit, or don't they care?

The site I visited is called the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center. It opened in 2003. I remember visiting the original museum in downtown D.C. in 1984, but maybe I should go there again to refresh my memory. I guess they have a lot more exhibits that will be great to see.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

If this is a man

Over the years I have had a fascination for books about Germany's atrocities during the second world war, expressed by authors like Primo Levi and Victor Klemperer, and most recently the book "Who Will Write Our History?" by Samuel Kassow.

But a trip to Vilnius last week allowed me to see the darkest cruelty of man from another perspective.

I visited the so called KGB museum in that city, where they document how any totalitarian ideology is capable of industrializing the killing of people with the wrong sentiments. No wonder Lithuania has sought to the west after being freed from Russian reigns. Names of some of the victims are carved into the foundation of the building, hopefully so that generations after us can stay clear of similar regimes.

If you ever go to Vilnius, then please visit the museum. For this is not something that should be forgotten, whether it happened in the past by Germans or Russians, or it takes place today in totalitarian regimes supplying our lifestyle with oil, the last dictatorship in Europe, or any other regime that does not admit its population basic human rights.

And the most scaring part of it all - regular people like myself (and maybe you) can become like the devils in the dungeons under the wrong circumstances. History tells us so...