Kill Your Computer

By Tim Moran  |  Posted 2011-06-16 Email Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Tiny computers and other offbeat technology news.

A View to a Kill

Ever get so frustrated with your creaky old computer that you’ve considered breaking the thing so your company will finally give you a new one? You are not alone. Only about 40 percent of companies complete their scheduled technology upgrades on time, according to recent research from Mozy. Delayed technology refresh cycles lead four workers in 10 to say that their aging computers make them less efficient and effective.

Some of the workers using antediluvian devices are mad as hell and they’re not going to take it anymore: One in four office workers, it seems, reckons that the best way to get a new work computer is to pick up a hammer and go after the offending machine. A quarter of the workers surveyed, in fact, think that “bending the rules” (although “breaking the rules” seems more accurate) is the fastest way to get a new device; 13 per cent said that deliberately smashing a laptop is the best route to get a new computer from the company.

How’s your tech upgrade looking? If you see any employees furtively walking the halls with a ball peen, it might be time for nice, new laptops all around.

It’s a Small-Computing World

Big computing has been all in the news lately, what with IBM’s Watson taking on the top contestants in Jeopardy!—and winning. But what about small computing?

Well, the University of Michigan reports that its Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science has prototyped an implantable eye-pressure monitor for glaucoma patients that is believed to contain the first complete millimeter-scale computing system. What’s more, it contains a self-tuning compact radio that could help organize these tiny systems into networks that could one day help track pollution, perform surveillance and make almost any object trackable.

The U-M researchers—Dennis Sylvester, David Blaauw and David Wentzloff—explain that “nearly invisible millimeter-scale systems could enable ubiquitous computing.” This is the future, they say, and it’s the result of Bell’s Law, a corollary to Moore’s Law, which says there’s a new class of smaller, cheaper computers about every decade. So look out, Watson, one day a couple of hundred thousand of these guys might just beat you, if not on Jeopardy!, at least on Cash Cab.

I’m Not Sleeping … or Am I?

It’s late and I should be sleeping—or at least reading some gothic fiction preparatory to sleeping. Instead, I’m writing this “Scope” entry about what happens when you don’t sleep. What effect does working late and becoming somewhat sleep-deprived have on us and our work?

Researchers affiliated with the University of Wisconsin-Madison and PERCRO Laboratory, in Italy, have found that lack of sleep is tantamount to mental impairment, and it seriously affects both cognitive and motor skills. When sleep-deprived, small areas of the brain go to sleep even though, for all practical purposes, the brain is awake. During sleep deprivation, neurons in the brain switch between “on” periods, firing as in the awake brain, and “off” periods, when they stop firing altogether.

Sounds a bit like the binary workings of a computer to me, but, then again, I am a bit tired. Maybe this is what happens when your laptop goes into hibernation.
 



 
 
 
 
Tim Moran is a freelance writer for Baseline magazine.
 
 
 
 
 
 

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