Tiny Measurements

When possible, I try to find a theme for the Wednesday Wow posts. Last time, for instance, the theme was aviation and fireworks (two things you wouldn’t normally think went together, but in one case they delightfully did).

The problem is that I’m jaded and have seen a lot, so I can be hard to impress. Not lots of things raise to my highest rating, Wow! Fortunately, I’m not so far gone I can’t still see a world filled with wonder, some of which drops my jaw.

The theme, such as it is, concerns measurements, especially tiny and precise ones. Like, for instance, Planck Length tiny.

I suppose I could try to tie this in to, for example, a tiny virus, but the idea is to think about other things once in a while, so I won’t. (And a virus is pretty gigantic compared to the Planck Length.)

In fact, there is something of a wow factor in the comparison. I posted a while back about how the Planck Length compares to the size of a hydrogen atom the same way an amoeba compares to the Milky Way galaxy.

If the Planck Length is that small compared to the smallest atom, imagine how small it is compared to a virus that has (depending on the virus) many tens of thousands of atoms. It takes the comparison up to amoeba and galactic super-cluster.

Which makes the first two entries here all that more awesome.

§

This first one involves the five best measurements in science (according to these guys, and I don’t see any reason to disagree):

I got a big kick out of the notion about how many times humanity has tested the belief “the sun rises in the morning.” (In epistemology, that’s almost a canonical exercise — justifying that true belief about the sun’s rising.)

(The video also touches on the important notions of accuracy and precision, which caught my eye. I posted about those recently, too.)

It’s also fascinating to me to think about that in context of justifying the Standard Model. In some sense, every moment of every day for everyone justifies it, but the LHC tests are rather more precise.

(In fact, they’re currently chasing down what appears to be an anomaly.)

What gets me is that we know the Standard Model is, at best, incomplete. And yet that incomplete model works amazingly well. (But then, so did Newton until we looked really closely at Mercury. On the other hand, we spotted Mercury’s “misbehavior” pretty early. But so far, except for that possible weak force anomaly, the Standard Model works extremely well.)

Ironically, after introducing the Standard Model, the video pivots to General Relativity, our other extremely well-tested science theory, and so far we haven’t found the slightest hint that GR might be wrong. We’ve now measured stars orbiting very close to black holes — and extreme gravity regime — and they behaved exactly as expected.

In any event, when I watched this video, I knew immediately it could be the centerpiece of a Wednesday Wow post. If you watch only one of the videos today, watch this one.

§

This next video takes us to Planck’s constant (from which we get the Planck Length, the Planck Energy, the Planck Mass, etc.) and demonstrates an interesting and easy way that just about anyone can measure it:

It spends the first few minutes on a really good explanation of what Planck’s constant is and how it first came about. That alone is worth watching.

Granted, the technique illustrated probably isn’t something one would do at home just for fun (unless maybe, as some of us do, one happens to have that sort of gear lying around). It’s probably more something for high school science class.

(I even used to have a diffraction grating, although I don’t recall any label specifying its resolution. I definitely have some colored pens.)

I thought it was very cool how we can use physics knowledge to fairly casually measure something so tiny and fundamental.

§

In this video, a guy with an electron microscope (now there’s a nice piece of home gear) creates an animation of a record stylus tracking a vinyl record groove:

Keep in mind it is an animation — he stitched a series of still images together.

I also wonder if removing the stylus from the assembly made its movements too free. Do the magnets being in coils restrict the movement more?

But it’s still a very cool video. I’ve written many times, in comparing analog versus digital, about how the sound waves are visible in a record groove. This video shows that amazingly well.

In comparison, he also shows some digital media, a CED, a CD-ROM, and a DVD. You can’t see the sound waves in those. (Comparing the track size of the CED with a record stylus was impressive.)

[Switched-On Bach. Ha! I (still!) have that record album.]

§

Finally, as a bonus “tiny” here’s Imogen Heap in an NPR Tiny Desk concert that made me go wow! It’s the third song she does:

The first two songs didn’t get me all that lit (although it was interesting how she used completely different side players and instruments on each).

It’s the thing with the VR gloves that blew me away (there are other videos available of Heap using the gloves).

She explains how they work starting at the 9:15 minute mark, and the performance itself begins at 12:45. I’ve watched this several times now, and it blows me away every time. (Part of the fun is trying to figure out exactly what she’s doing with the gestures.)

The thing that struck me was: How long until we see this technology in common play? How long until there’s a group on stage — with no instruments except the gloves — making gestures to play “drums” and “guitars” and so on?

The technology (and theory) of music has long fascinated me. It’s one of our oldest traits; it may even predate language. (Think of all the animals that “sing” but have no real language.)

Music speaks to us on a very primal level — hence its power.

§

So there was some stuff about the tiny that hopefully entertained you as you “shelter in place” during these strange times.

The whole thing does provide an excellent opportunity to catch up on whatever you need catching up on. Read those books you’ve been putting off. Binge on shows you always meant to get around to watching.

(Clean the house? Nah. It’ll just get dirty again.)

Stay tiny, my friends!

About Wyrd Smythe

The canonical fool on the hill watching the sunset and the rotation of the planet and thinking what he imagines are large thoughts. View all posts by Wyrd Smythe

31 responses to “Tiny Measurements

  • Wyrd Smythe

    Imogen Heap’s VR glove thing does go back to 2015 — it’s not terribly new, but it was new to me. I’m actually sort of surprised we haven’t seen more use of it.

    Really surprised it hasn’t shown up in some TV show!

  • SelfAwarePatterns

    I wish the shelter in place thing came with nothing to do. It’d be like an extended staycation. But I’m actually more busy in work terms right now than I’ve been in a while.

    • Wyrd Smythe

      Being a retired misanthropic loner, about the only thing I’ve actually noticed is the empty shelves where toilet paper used to be and the fact I can’t go out for burgers and beers with my friend. And no baseball. 😮

      Being in a non-ideal age group certainly does give me some pause, though. What’s happening around the world right now is so eerily like the beginning of any number of “this is how it ends” SF novels.

      • SelfAwarePatterns

        If I were retired, given my introverted nature, I probably would only be mildly affected. As it is, if it weren’t for that pesky work thing, I’d probably be fine watching streaming TV and reading. Albeit with an ongoing underlying anxiety about what this all might lead to.

        (I was scheduled for oral surgery on Friday, but it’s been cancelled. Until the cancellation, it was actually stressing me out, particularly with the ibuprofen thing percolating around. But it’s been postponed for at least a month.)

        It might be that we’ll be a far more digital economy when this is over. But we might also be a psychologically scarred society too.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        Indeed. It’s freaking everyone out. (I was hoping this post would be a distraction… 😮 🙂 )

      • SelfAwarePatterns

        Sorry! How ’bout them Planck units and LP grooves!

        (And I do agree the house would just get dirty again.)

      • Wyrd Smythe

        ROFL! Like I said, everyone is freaking out, so it’s pretty much on everyone’s tongue. (Even in my isolation, it’s all I’m hearing about from my friends. Serious freakout time!)

        Did you get a chance to listen to the Imogen Heap thing? That was so cool. I really am surprised it hasn’t been used more considering she’s been doing this since 2015. Gives “air guitar” a whole new meaning.

        My cleaning is done per the classic relaxation oscillation cycle. Things build until I can’t stand it anymore, and then I clean, which resets the cycle.

      • SelfAwarePatterns

        Afraid I haven’t watched any of the videos. (If only they didn’t take so much time.) And Richard Brown started releasing podcasts of his interviews again, right when I’m no longer commuting. I am still trying to work in walking time, so maybe I’ll be able to catch up on them.

        My cleaning cycle is similar. The problem is my tolerance level tends to be far past the socially acceptable levels, so impending visitors is what usually forces my hand. (Although I appear to have developed some kind of eye allergy to dust, which is somewhat keeping me in line.)

      • Wyrd Smythe

        I jumped onto the live one with David Chalmers for a while, but got bored and went back to what I was doing. (Chalmers always looks like he just smoked a bunch of weed with those lidded eyes.)

      • SelfAwarePatterns

        Wow, it’s 2.5 hours. Maybe I’ll just put it on TV as background ambiance. I did that yesterday with another philosopher interview.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        My hearing issues make that pointless for me. I need to focus on the people (there is a certain amount of lipreading involved) or have closed captions (which still require paying attention). But, yeah, an hour-long talk is hard to sit through. Two-and-a-half hours probably means I’ll never bother. (Pity since I generally align okay with Chalmers.)

        What I have done is watch something like that with a baseball game on in the background. I don’t have to hear a game if I can see it (in fact many announcers are kind of annoying). With 162 games per season, each roughly three hours long, that’s a lot of hours to be watching baseball. For a while I was watching old Perry Mason episodes and the like on Prime during games, but Amazon removed Perry Mason from the Prime lists (bastards — they removed a number of things I wanted to watch… I’m starting to not see much value in Prime video).

        But if baseball ever starts up again, watching things like Richard Brown interviews during them sounds like a good idea. I seem to be going through a phase of disdain for philosophy when it comes to consciousness (so much BS!), and I’m not finding the idea of listening to a lot of philosophical hand-waving very interesting. Mostly because it seems pretty much the same philosophical hand-waving I’ve been hearing for decades now.

        Chalmers, for instance. Much as I like the guy (way more than most), has he really had anything new to say since the mid-1990s? Has anyone? Somehow the more I’ve focused on human consciousness, the more disenchanted I’ve gotten with the field. I’m starting to see a lot of it (neuroscientists aside, for instance) as a self-perpetuating industry with the sole purpose of providing gainful employment for what are essentially armchair theorists who just make stuff up. I’m increasingly seeing very little value in it.

      • SelfAwarePatterns

        “I seem to be going through a phase of disdain for philosophy when it comes to consciousness”

        Yeah, me too. I do think philosophy has a role, as a way of clarifying positions, concepts, and questions. Modern cognitive sciences owe a lot to the conceptual frameworks from people like William James, who is alternatively viewed as either an early psychologist or a philosopher. And to me, Chalmers is at his best when he’s coming up with his labels and categories.

        It’s when philosophers insist they have the answer that things go south. Robert Heinlein said a lot of stuff I disagree with, but one thing he said that I thought was intelligent: when you switch from asking questions to giving answers, you cross over into religion (at least outside of science).

        On self perpetuating industry, Alex Rosenberg argues that philosophy, as well as the other humanities, are basically just entertainment. (Rosenberg is, ironically, a philosopher, albeit one who explicitly embraces nihilism.) I think that’s probably excessive, but I do think it’s important to see philosophy as consolidating and clarifying knowledge rather than discovering or creating it.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        “I do think philosophy has a role, as a way of clarifying positions, concepts, and questions.”

        It certainly can, but I’m really struck by the lack of clarity and definition in the field of consciousness. How often does the lack of a good definition of consciousness come up in conversation? Or how often are things purely (unresolved) definitional matters? At least in some cases, I’m a bit reminded of coders who deliberately obfuscate their code as a gambit towards keeping their jobs.

        At the least though, the study of philosophy is good mental exercise — it is a practice that teaches one to think deeply about things. And I think there is value in studying the history of philosophy — the paths of the deep thinkers.

        The gotcha seems to be that all that deep thinking can lead to the same problem Sabine Hossenfelder has been ranting about in HE physics — thinking not grounded in very much reality or experiment.

        There’s an irony for us: Part of the problem with studying the mind is that our minds are so damn good at making up fantasies. 😮

        “It’s when philosophers insist they have the answer that things go south.”

        I couldn’t agree more! (Agree about Heinlein, too. Early Heinlein is pure gold. Late Heinlein is generally embarrassing. Such a pity. Had he stayed on the glide path he might actually have ended up being greater than Asimov or Clarke. Even so I almost bet more people are gaga over specific Heinlein books then are gaga over books of the other two “Fathers”. (Although I suppose Asimov’s robots or Foundation have their fans, and some were really into Clarke’s Rama series.))

        I’m not sure giving answers is always religion, per se, but it certainly reflects a belief in the truth of something. Still, as we know, science never actually proves things true. (OTOH, proving something false is a kind of true answer.)

        And my mistrust of things like IIT, HOT, GWT, etc, is partly based on just this. These are proposed answers.

        “Alex Rosenberg argues that philosophy, as well as the other humanities, are basically just entertainment.”

        Well that’s an entertaining idea. 🙂

        I can see why someone might see it that way, but I agree it’s an extreme view. A kind of useful entertainment, perhaps. That said, I’m reminded of all the times I’ve referred to philosophy as “mental masturbation” — certainly a form of self-entertainment.

        While it’s true it may influence scientists (but so does rock music, the Bible, Tolkien, and lots of things), those scientists still did the science work. The question I’d pose is to what extent that science work would have failed without the philosophic influences.

        Sure, there’s Popper and a few other pioneers, some very ancient. But to paraphrase an old expression, what has philosophy done for anyone lately? Is it a heavily plowed field some folks have set up shop in? Or are there any new areas philosophy can still explore?

      • SelfAwarePatterns

        “How often does the lack of a good definition of consciousness come up in conversation?”

        Not nearly often enough as far as I’m concerned. But I’ve discovered that a lot of people are positively offended at the very notion that there may be multiple plausible definitions of consciousness. Too often, philosophers work with a hazy ambiguous version, and resist efforts at clarification.

        “Part of the problem with studying the mind is that our minds are so damn good at making up fantasies.”

        The first principle is that you must not fool yourself — and you are the easiest person to fool.

        Richard P. Feynman

        “Early Heinlein is pure gold. Late Heinlein is generally embarrassing.”

        I think Heinlein is a good example of someone who benefited from being constrained by his editors. Early in his career, they kept him more conventional, and his letters show he hated it. His juveniles ended when the editor of the magazine that had been publishing them rejected Starship Troopers, so he took it to an adult SF magazine. After that, he was “the Robert Heinlein” and could get his stuff published anyway he wanted. I think his last 25 years were the most honest version of him. But I agree he was a better writer when he was constrained.

        “And my mistrust of things like IIT, HOT, GWT, etc, is partly based on just this. These are proposed answers.”

        They are, but with the convergences between many of the theories are noteworthy. I don’t think any of them are the final answer, although I think some are contributing to it, particularly GWT. But I doubt there will ever be one final answer, just as there isn’t one single theory that accounts for biological life.

        “The question I’d pose is to what extent that science work would have failed without the philosophic influences.”

        It’s hard to say. Maybe the scientists would have come up with the same ideas. But then, how much difference does any one scientist really make? If you look at Newton, Darwin, and even Einstein, in the context of their fields in their time, it seems clear in retrospect the fields were heading in the direction of their discovery and would have eventually stumbled on it if they hadn’t. (Darwin in particular was forced to publish when Wallace independently discovered natural selection.)

      • Wyrd Smythe

        “Too often, philosophers work with a hazy ambiguous version, and resist efforts at clarification.”

        Yes, totally. Which I see as such a black mark. One of the first steps in any discussion, teaching, or debate, is defining your terms.

        An analogy springs to mind: A zip file comes with a dictionary that defines the compression encodings. Without that dictionary, the zip file is essentially random digital noise. Likewise, when one talks about something, without a “dictionary” defining things, what one says can be equally without apparent meaning.

        I can take the analogy further: The reason why it’s helpful to use established definitions when possible is that one then references an existing “dictionary” of meaning. That reduces the necessary payload of one’s own content. It’s like storing the file as is, without compression. The data references its own context.

        (I can maybe use this in a post I’ve been thinking about writing!)

        “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself — and you are the easiest person to fool.”

        Indeed. I think it’s important to go on from there — that’s not the end of things. We can find ways to mitigate and reduce our error. That’s what logic, math, and the dialectic are all about.

        “But I agree he was a better writer when he was constrained.”

        Possibly a good rule in general for everyone. Too much freedom turns out to be non-ideal, but that’s a really hard lesson to take to heart. And so tricky to implement.

        I think maybe artists especially benefit from “editors” — input from trusted proven sources. I think artists share with theoretical physicists and philosophers that tendency to get drunk on their own imagination and freedom to create. It can be good to have a friend bring one down to ground a little — a reality check.

        “…the convergences between many of the theories…”

        Yeah, that’s a good point. They’re in the general neighborhood of something.

        I doubt it reduces to a simple theory of any kind. I think this problem has proven so hard because it’s so complicated. The parable of the blind men and the elephant has never been so apt as it is in this field.

        “But then, how much difference does any one scientist really make?”

        Exactly.

        A friend of mine came up with the perfect quip: “Science proceeds despite scientists.” The process lends itself to improved understanding because it’s relentless about facts and logic. It has no connection with politics, social mores, or what the fans think. It’s that “stands on the shoulders of giants” thing.

      • SelfAwarePatterns

        On the zip file, the dictionary could be seen as the interface between the data in the file and the environment, or at least part of it. For the unzipped file, “the dictionary” may be in other systems, including our brain.

        “Too much freedom turns out to be non-ideal, but that’s a really hard lesson to take to heart. And so tricky to implement.”

        It takes discipline. Some authors seem to have more of it than others. In this age of self publishing, I suspect Heinlein would simply have gone indie from the beginning. Whether he still would have been a success is hard to say. If he hadn’t made his name with conventional stories, would people have valued his later weird stuff?

        “I think this problem has proven so hard because it’s so complicated.”

        This is where we differ. It is indeed complicated, but I think we’ve psyched ourselves out on this issue, because it’s us, us at the most primal level, which makes it difficult for a self actualizing system to approach without those fantasies, fantasies that say, “We’re so special, so very special, yet we see little evidence for our specialness. This is a DEEP MYSTERY!”

        I like the “science proceeds despite scientists.” There’s also Max Planck’s observation: science progresses “one funeral at a time.”

      • Wyrd Smythe

        “Whether he still would have been a success is hard to say.”

        Who can say. The other aspect of this is the amount of content these days — it’s easy for an author to get lost in the glut and hard to stand out. (Same applies to music these days.)

        On the flip side, that same system allows someone to go viral and gain fame way beyond what it seems the work actually deserves. (A lot of the YA SF — looking sideways at you. 50 Shades of Gray? Starring directly at you.)

        “This is where we differ. It is indeed complicated,…”

        If you agree it’s complicated, we don’t differ that much. All I said was that it’s proven a hard nut to crack because brains are so complicated. (Even synapses are complicated.) The sheer numbers of neurons and their interconnections makes it complicated.

        Put another way, if it isn’t such a hard problem, why is there so little progress? Yes, I know there is progress, especially in neuroscience, but the fundamental questions have remained, and there are all the problems we’ve been talking about with even defining the main topic of study.

        If the problem isn’t that hard, why is that?

        It’s not our superstitions about it. We had those regarding medicine, but we worked through them. As we’ve been talking about, science progresses despite scientists. But our understanding of consciousness struggles, and I don’t think there’s anything mystical about it. It’s just a really complicated system we’re trying to figure out.

        It might even be too complicated to really ever completely figure out. Not for any mystical reasons, but for reasons along the lines of Turing or Gödel — in principle limits of what information systems are capable of.

        We are special in the sense of possessing these amazingly complicated systems, but that’s almost an anthropic principle thing. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t be trying to figure out much of anything, let alone our ability to try to figure out ourselves. (Who was it that said, “Physicists are the universe’s way of figuring out atoms.”)

      • SelfAwarePatterns

        “On the flip side, that same system allows someone to go viral and gain fame way beyond what it seems the work actually deserves. ”

        That always seems to be the case. Part of it is readers don’t always prefer what they’re “supposed” to prefer, and a lot of times a book just strikes a chord at the right cultural moment. And even popular books a lot of people turn their knows up get some things right. For research a couple of years ago, I read Dan Brown’s The Da Vince Code. The writing was as terrible as I’d heard and the story as nonsensical, but Brown has a talent nonetheless for drawing the reader into his story and delivering emotional punches.

        “Put another way, if it isn’t such a hard problem, why is there so little progress?”

        I think you answered it. The science is progressing but impinging very little on the philosophy, because much of that philosophy is muddled with definitional ambiguities, ambiguities people resist clarifying. Under those circumstances, the “problems” are unlikely to be solved. Nonetheless, neuroscience will keep making progress, on the things Chalmers dismisses as “easy problems”, but actually the real ones, as opposed to the metaphysical nonsense many philosophers keep wringing their hands over.

        We do have symbolic thought, which makes us special, at least to us symbolic thinkers. But the specialness I referred to is often expanded to include many animals. It’s implied that there’s something different about the way these systems process information, something separate and apart from the survival based programming they’ve evolved. I think it’s a self elevating fantasy, a visceral revulsion against what cold, valueless, and pitiless science is revealing.

        “Who was it that said, “Physicists are the universe’s way of figuring out atoms.””

        I suspect a physicist. 🙂 Carl Sagan did say that we can be seen as a way for the cosmos to know itself.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        “…but Brown has a talent nonetheless for drawing the reader into his story and delivering emotional punches.”

        Heh. Kind of how I feel about Steven Spielberg. (And I wish the Stevens and Stephens would agree on one spelling. I always have to double-check on Ste[v|ph]en.)

        “It’s implied that there’s something different about the way these systems process information, something separate and apart from the survival based programming they’ve evolved.”

        I think there’s a strong argument to be made that, although it certainly starts there, humans take it far beyond that point. That’s the thing about art and music — they aren’t really survival traits (they’re arguable detriments).

        Our minds allow us to build on nature in a variety of ways, from bridges to airplane to the things we do to amuse ourselves. I think seeing us as just machines is as much a mistake as seeing us as special angels in god’s garden. I don’t think either of those are correct ways of seeing it.

        It’s that ability to abstract and process information in the complex ways we do. I think it is distinctly different (in scope and ability) from living systems without higher brains.

        As it says in the British Underground: Mind the gap! 😀

      • SelfAwarePatterns

        The Stephen vs Steven thing reminds me of the effort Theodore Roosevelt made to simplify spelling in American English. It failed utterly because people were snooty about it, thinking he was trying to dumb down the nation. But given how much of a mongrel language English is, it might have made life much simpler for us if he’d succeeded.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        I always got a kick out of that Mark Twain thing about simplifying language. It certainly is a bedeviling language.

      • SelfAwarePatterns

        That’s pretty good. I hadn’t seen it before.

        Twain was still alive when Roosevelt made his attempt. I wondered if this might have been written in response so I googled around. Wikiquote claims this was actually written by M. J. Shields in a letter to The Economist, in 1971.
        https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Mark_Twain#Misattributed
        Twain is one of those figures, like Einstein and Churchill, who seem to accrue quotes. Oh well, it’s still funny!

      • Wyrd Smythe

        Oh, that’s right. I’d totally forgotten that. That Wikiquote link says it’s a version of something that appeared in the “September 1946 issue of Astounding Science Fiction magazine.” I wonder if I saw that, or saw a reprint somewhere. It feels like I ran into this “Mark Twain” thing before 1971. I suppose I could have run into the Shields thing in high school when it was fresh, but that suggests it was already being misattributed.

        Hmmm… much more likely my memory is faulty. Much more likely… 😮

      • SelfAwarePatterns

        Memory recall is always a reconstruction. You might well have seen it under one of the other author’s name. Later when you saw it attributed to Twain, the earlier memory with the (probably) forgotten author’s name, and the Twain attribution merged. All subsequent reconstructions had them merged. Or something like that.

        I know I’ve been surprised by things I thought I remembered from decades ago, only to be shocked how different the reality was when I got access to pictures or some other record of the event. A TV show I remembered from my childhood was in some ways, very similar to how I remembered it, but in others radically different when I watched it again.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        Yeah, I’ve had that happen a lot, too. It’s really taught me not to trust my memory (which is weirdly acute for a few things and utterly dismal for most). It’s also interesting to note perceptive errors — glancing at a headline and thinking it says one thing, but when you really look it says something different. It’s a fascinating insight into how your brain constructs reality and how the input clues it gets link to existing memories to construct what you think you’re seeing. Not only don’t trust your memory, but learn to look closely!

        Regarding the Twain thing, it’s even possible running into it in the mid-1980s seems long ago enough now that it feels like back in high school. I know where I saw it most: During my fax tech support days in those mid-1980s. That “Twain” piece was a common bit sent round and round. (With the same generation loss as multiple photocopies get.)

        Before email was common, long before Twitter and Facebook, people used to send stuff by fax because most offices had at least one, and many computers had fax cards. It was the memes of the 1980s. (As I mentioned recently, many SF authors of the day assumed glorious fax would be forever. They never realized screens would replace hard copy. Another example of our biases.)

      • SelfAwarePatterns

        I remember my dad bringing home stuff that came in on the office fax. Now that you mention it, a lot of it was pretty similar to the meme stuff on social media, with just as much of it, in retrospect, being nonsense. I’d forgotten about that faxing sub-culture.

        Strangely enough, one of the issues we’re having to deal with at work, with the move to remote work, is how people can receive the faxes they usually physically receive. It’s sensitive data, so we can’t use any of the commercial services, at least not without a lot of contract negotiating, although it turns out that a lot of the modern devices can plug into a computer and email through them. This crisis is shedding a light on a lot of antiquated practices.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        It’s no doubt making us regret being ranked, what was it, #28 worldwide in internet connectivity. So many of our chickens are coming home to roost now. I’d have a certain smug schadenfreude, but I’m stuck on the sinking ship, so not so much.

        I was on our corporate national help desk for seven years, and a big part of what I supported was fax. Tests were common on every call, so I got to see everything the field techs found worth sharing. I used to have a fat folder of them which I came across a while back during a round of spring cleaning. Dated. So dated. And, as today, mostly harmless, but there were ugly and crude ones. People haven’t changed in that regard.

      • SelfAwarePatterns

        BTW, on isolation, I had internet trouble a little while ago, which induced near panic. The thought of being trapped at home without a connection to the outside world was too terrible to contemplate. Thankfully a reset of my modem and reboot of my router, and all was good. (Although now I’m wondering if I should order backups of those things. They’re getting a bit long in the tooth.)

      • Wyrd Smythe

        It’s been interesting to me how the internet has become another utility we can’t live without (like electric and water). I still remember when seeing a “www” URL on a billboard was weird and new. Almost hard to believe it all started in 1991.

      • SelfAwarePatterns

        Imagine if this had happened in 1990? At least today a lot of life (work, school, etc) can happen remotely. Back then, it would have been much more debilitating. If nothing else, people can at least distract themselves with Netflix and the like.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        Or catch up on their reading. 😉

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