Weekend tech reading: Genesis of the transistor, Valve VR tech demoed by Garry's mod creator

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valve, history, virtual reality, vr, oculus rift, transistor, bell labs, garry newman

The genesis of the transistor, the single greatest discovery in the last 100 years The very first transistor -- the foundational building block which almost all of modern civilization was built from -- was created at AT&T’s Bell Labs on December 23 1947. As you can see above, this first transistor was huge and looked nothing like the millions of transistors that you’d find if you cracked open a modern computer chip (which are much too small to see with the naked eye, anyway). While the history of how we got from there to here is very interesting, today we’re going to look at something that’s normally glossed over: How those clever engineers at Bell Labs actually discovered the transistor in the first place. ExtremeTech (also, this Bell Labs memorial site)

Watch Steve Jobs' first demonstration of the Mac for the public, unseen since 1984 It's January, 1984. Steve Jobs, nattily attired in a double-breasted suit, is demonstrating Apple's breakthrough personal computer, Macintosh, before a packed room. He speaks alarmingly of a future controlled by IBM, and shows a dystopian commercial based on that theme. He says that the Mac is "insanely great" and plucks the diminutive machine from a bag; it talks for itself. Screens of a graphical user interface -- something few people had seen at the time -- swoop by. The theme from Chariots of Fire swells. Jobs beams, as only he could. Time

Eagle Scout. Idealist. Drug trafficker? Ross Ulbricht's last moments as a free man were noisy enough to draw a crowd. Employees at the Glen Park branch of the San Francisco library heard a crashing sound and rushed to the science fiction section, expecting to find a patron had hit the floor. Instead, they found a handful of federal agents surrounding a slender 29-year-old man with light brown hair and wearing a T-shirt and jeans. The goal of the arrest, at 3:15 p.m. on Oct. 1, 2013, was not simply to apprehend Mr. Ulbricht, but also to prevent him from performing the most mundane of tasks: closing his laptop. The NY Times

Fanboys Anytime anybody in the universe says something negative about Microsoft, Brad Thorne* loses it. He fires up Twitter: "You’re fucking pathetic!... You have your head so far up your ass!... I can't wait until you eat your smug words!" Thorne, a fortyish IT manager with a preppy wardrobe and shy grin, is actually a nice guy in person. He plays golf and enjoys spending time with his wife and step kids. He works as an IT director at a nonprofit charity organization in the South that's run by nuns. He is not religious -- unless you count his relationship with Microsoft, of course. The Verge

Why the Linux desktop doesn't matter anymore The Linux desktop crew is a hardy bunch. Despite it being abundantly evident that the Linux desktop has lost whatever slim chance it once had to be relevant, Linux advocates continue to wring their hands and say, "We kinda already won!... Sort of." While it's true to say—and I've been saying it for years—that Linux qua Android now reigns as the "desktop" champion, it's equally true that Linux has completely failed as a desktop operating system. The reason is pretty simple: Linux has never been easy or useful enough for Valerie. Read Write Web

Tom Chatfield on video games: difficulty is the point, not the problem Difficulty is built into video games in a different way than for any other medium. A movie may be difficult, conceptually or in terms of subject matter; it may be hard to understand or to enjoy. Yet all you have to do to access its entirety is to sit and watch from beginning to end.Written words can be still more difficult. For these, you need a formidable mastery of language, concepts and context; you must convert text into sense. Still, the raw materials are all there for you to work with. Wired

I can see you typing the most awkward part of online chat The first letter of a text or instant message is the most important. Never mind the actual meaning of the words it introduces; the mere keystroke is a starter pistol. Once you’re off, you need to complete your message quickly. That’s because most chat clients let you know when your partner is typing a message. And the longer this message takes to type, the more you start to worry: Is it going to be confrontational, confessional, or emotionally challenging in some other way? New Republic

Game of clones For Web pages, life is short: an estimated 100 days on average. When those pages die, people trying to visit them see a "404 -- Not Found" error, and that’s usually the end of the story. But what if we could bring dead Web pages back to life by storing clones in the cloud? That’s exactly what the Internet Archive is doing. The Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine stores archival copies of 378 billion URLs. It’s a gigantic cache of Web pages that stretches back to 1996. Medium

Valve VR demo A lot of people asked me to post about what happened in the VR demo. Valve say it’s cool to talk about.. so here we go. I was initially under the impression that the demo took place in a wardrobe because they had a black curtained off area about that size with VR ROOM written on it. But when Atman took me inside there was a door that lead to a slightly bigger room with barcodes all over the wall, and a carpet in the middle. Garry Newman

Uh, PES 2014? Are you okDid someone say this was Pro Evolution Soccer? Because this looks more like WWE 2k14, or maybe a Monty Python sketch. Hilariously bizarre sports glitches aren't just contained to the likes of FIFA or NBA. These outtakes from Pro Evolution Soccer 2014 are proof of that. Kotaku

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