Archive for information

Flying Women Day

Today, Liu Yang became China’s first female astronaut in space as she and two other astronauts aboard the Shenzhou 9 capsule docked with what will become the first leg of a Chinese space station.  Although Liu Yang, who was also an Air Force pilot, has a lot of reasons to celebrate, she’s also in some good company for this day. Twenty-nine years ago, Dr. Sally Ride became the first American woman astronaut launched into space aboard the space shuttle Challenger. After her space-faring career ended years later, she started a company to get kids more interested in science.

While that was also a magnificent accomplishment, let’s go back a little further. June 18 has one more notable woman who escaped terra firma and made history. In 1928, Amelia Earhart became the first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean. While that record would have been good enough for many, it didn’t ring Earhart’s bell. She did it again without the male pilots in 1935. Without the guys slowing her down, she set a new solo flight record across the Atlantic in 13 and a half hours.

Congrats to Liu Yang! While you’re orbiting the earth, remember this is just the beginning. Hopefully we’ll see great things from you in the future as well.

VCR Day

Today’s lesson: being first doesn’t always make you the winner. Today in 1975, the first VCR went on sale in Japan. It was the Betamax. Never heard of it? Ah, youth. The Betamax was the first, but the VHS format came quickly on its heels and won the tug of war over pricing and availability.

Of course, all those $30 VHS tapes are now stocking the shelves of your local thrift stores and flea markets while Blu-ray, 3D and the next big thing fight for the home viewer’s dollar.

It’s only a matter of time before Feel-A-Round becomes real, so celebrate today by boxing up all those Bob Ross painting videotapes you recorded and making room for your virtual holographically projected life partner.

 

 

Photo credit via Creative Commons-Flickr/Nesster

Apple II Day

Today in 1977, the Apple II was released, joining the ranks of the TRS-80 and the Commodore PET in home computing power. Best known as the adorable lovechild of Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs, the Apple II came in two forms: fully functional, with all the bells and whistles of a color monitor, power supply, keyboard and case, or just the brain in circuitboard form so you could have all the fun of building it yourself. The computer operated on BASIC programming, so you could go totally off the reservation and even build your own applications.

The Apple II became hugely popular, especially since it had a spreadsheet program people could use instead of lugging around ledgers. Within ten years, the computer would evolve into the Apple IIe and end up in schools across the country because of some brilliant and crafty marketing. Whether you were one of those geeks building it in your own garage or a later generation learning the joys of dot-matrix graphics and programming, Apple II still has a place in your solder-covered heart.

 

 

Photo credit: Flickr/Florian Eckerstorfer

It’s Towel Day. But wait, there’s more!

Don’t forget your towel, and don’t panic! Towel Day celebrates the work of author Douglas Adams, who wrote the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series. Feel free to celebrate any way you want, you zarkin’ frood—read a book, show off your “42” tattoo or lay down in front of a demolition if you’re feeling very brave and somewhat stupid.

This is also Geek Pride Day, a chance to wear your dice bag out in the open or argue over the virtues of Apple vs. Linux.

Of course, this is Star Wars Day, the annual celebration of the first movie’s release date in 1977, which was really the fourth movie and the official first movie was released fourth. Confused you are? It all makes sense in a galaxy far, far away.

Finally, May 25 marks a tongue-in-cheek serious note ( like there’s any other kind with Discworld fans.) This is Wear the Lilac Day, which mixes a fictional holiday with a real cause in true nerd style. Originally written into the Discworld mythos by Pratchett as a day to remember those lost in the Glorious Revolution of Treacle Mine Road, it’s now also a day for fans to raise awareness and money for Alzheimer’s Disease, which Pratchett now suffers from.

This day is the holidapocalypse for geek celebrations—pick one, or get creative with the costuming and go for all four. Personally, we think that a towel-toting Jedi with a lilac corsage and duct-taped glasses would sweep any costume contest held today. No matter how you celebrate, enjoy being the awesome geeks you all are!


Photo credit: Flickr/markbult

World Telecommunications Day

Today is World Telecommunications and Information Society Day.The good folks organizing this holiday hope you’ll consider the benefits our global society receives from the Internet and not just focus on LOLcats, writing snarky comments on news stories and looking at naked people do impossible things with vegetables.

This year’s theme is about gender equality in information and communication technologies, so drop by the official website and take a look. Your next big idea could help women around the world.

ZDTV Day

Before “Tosh 2.0,” there was “Internet Tonight.” Today in 1998, a new television channel focused solely on computers and the burgeoning Internet culture premiered. While other channels played with shows about computers, usually featuring the sleekest, most expensive things you could buy, ZDTV built a rabid fan base by being practical. “Call for Help” featured the booming voice and endless patience of Leo Laporte walking newbies step by step through their computer problems. “The Screen Savers,” with Laporte and Kate Botello (later replaced by Patrick Norton) catered to the advanced user with demos and interviews of the computing world’s major players. Filling time were shows on computing and finance, gaming, and the future of technology with John C. Dvorak, television’s most entertaining grouch since Oscar.  “Big Thinkers,” a truth-in-advertising program if there ever was one, interviewed luminaries like Douglas Adams and Michio Kaku.

The cable channel changed its name to TechTV within a couple of years to entice a larger audience, and was finally sold by former Microsoft exec Paul Allen to G4 Media in 2004, who then eventually stripped out all the practical computer shows and focused solely on gaming.

ZDTV’s demise created a hole in the computing world, one that was filled by Laporte gathering his fellow TechTV hosts and crew and creating a web-based network called This Week in Tech, or TWiT. The spirit of the shows we all loved lives on, joined by new geek-centric shows covering all corners of technology, from the latest iPad to ham radio.

Celebrate today by checking out TWiT and catching up with some of your favorite people, or take a look back with this classic clip from “The Screen Savers,” when a recently freed Kevin Mitnick went back on the Internet live on the air.

Moon Bounce Day

Today in 1962, scientists at M.I.T. bounced a laser beam off the surface of the moon and illuminated a few miles of lunar ground, proving that laser light can travel through space. More specific measurements were gathered years later when crews of the Apollo missions positioned retro reflectors on the lunar surface, which returned the laser’s light with pinpoint accuracy. Those reflectors are also the best argument for geeks to use against “moon landing hoax” believers, because those lasers aren’t just bouncing off the shiny bumper of E.T.’s pimped-out U.F.O. Of course, you can just walk away from debates, but you know in your nerdy heart that’s never going to happen.

To celebrate, watch this great Mythbusters clip of the retro reflectors in action!

5 Geeky Alternatives to Valentine’s Day

If you’re tired of candy, dead flowers and backstreet massacres on Valentine’s Day, try out another holiday on Feb. 14!

Too cheap to buy a Valentine's Day card? Send this as an ecard with the link above.

The Geek Gift Hint List

Have clueless relatives who wouldn’t know a Browncoat if he stole their pretty floral bonnet? Friends who don’t understand why you cackle hysterically when you talk about how many slots a toaster has? Help them understand your nerdy gift needs with this handy list!

Clip & save for your bizarrely normal friends, or send it as an e-card!

Weather Day

Brrrrr. Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/gemstone/

The U.S. Weather Bureau became official on this day in 1870. A committee was immediately established to think up awesome names for weathermen like Storm Brewing and Rainy Dayes while two dozen weather observers sent their reports to Washington, D.C.

Exactly one week later, the brand-new organization issued its first storm warning for the Great Lakes area, although reports of newspaper writers branding it “Stormpocalypse” have yet to be proven.

If you’re anywhere in the country except the East, you can celebrate today by thanking your dear and fluffy lord for clear skies. If you live along the eastern seaboard, you’ll probably be celebrating Weather Day by shoveling snow, eating out of cans and bartering your children for chainsaws so you can get out of the driveway.