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Why Bother With Old Technology?

Does old technology have any value today? And does older tech do things that modern tech has forgotten, or does it do it better in some ways?

Old Technology
That is the key question. In general, an "old" technology has to offer some kind of advantage to whomever is using it. For example, iron forging by hand has no general advantage over the modern steel mill. But the craftsperson who hand-forges a fence gate needs to know those skills, materials, and methods to produce a well-crafted piece.

In the computing world today, it is impossible for one person to "get their arms around" or fully comprehend an operating system, from high-level functions down to the operation of hardware. In fact, those are now specialized skills. But in the "old days" of much simpler hardware and software, knowledge of both was actually REQUIRED, as both were still in development, until a stable and generally-accepted OS and hardware platform was established. In fact the history of personal computing is a series of "established" platforms, one after another.

My general experience was based on my studies in college where I had classes relating to electrical engineering, and my tech experiences in repair. In both regimes I learned to look at fundamentals, and to look at things diagnostically.

Many "retrotechnology" skills and methods are based on fundamentals, things which change more slowly AND which have patterns, features or principles which repeat in other areas. These are things which offer advantages, when adapting to "new" skills or technologies today.

The use of forgotten skills and materials occurs when those offer some advantage or create an opportunity. If you are an unemployed computer engineer, you are not going to spend thousands of dollars on software development tools to make some widget to sell. Yet, the Internet lets you become a "craftsperson" and actually offer one-off bits of computing hardware, called in general "embedded computers".

A good example of this is in hobby robotics, where individuals and small companies offer small widgets all the time. The development platforms for those products are very simple.

Embedded hardware means computers which are unique to one area of use, like GPS systems or cell phones, or controllers for machines and robots, and so on. Since those areas of use keep changing, and since computer chips keep changing, there are few "established" platforms.

But todays embedded computing world is in conflict, between using "established" operating systems like Linux, Windows, and other companies OSs. These are HUGE development packages, of hundreds of megabytes of programs and files. And yet, these embedded computers may only have megabytes of program memory or even less- much like the "classic" computers of decades ago.

I see this as an opportunity to re-examine old tools for new use. At my university we had some older equipment that used to cost thousands of dollars and was purchased for hundreds at the time, so that we can rebuild and reprogram these systems in direct fashion, down to changing hardware and writing in assembler language - the binary language of microprocessors. Or just learning how to repair old hardware and make it work.

While a "nuts and bolts" level of microcomputing is not often called for today, I would argue that such knowledge is necessary for certain kinds of embedded design and development.

Indeed, there is growing interest in hobby robotics as a literal "nuts and bolts" environment. But there are also moves by Microsoft and other large companies, to introduce very complex and large software tools into robotics. They claim these are "efficient" tools, but their motives are simply to grab market share with tools that you cannot escape from.

Whereas, if you know the fundamentals, and your tools are fundamental, you can always use other tools or adapt YOUR tools for other purposes. Knowing the basics makes you flexible, and I would argue flexibility is still an advantage today.


Post was last modified: June 20 2021 00:23:11 CST



Remote Solution for Editors

Leading post production technology and services company Mad Old Nut Productions has released a new product: Apart But Together (ABT). It’s a lagless remote editing solution for editors that delivers the office experience at home.

Mad Old Nut Productions
When the pandemic began, they realized how they were frustrated with existing work-from-home tech, and so they decided to create something that emulated the experience of the cutting room. That meant recreating a shared storage experience anywhere, which allowed editors a full office experience. Working with ABT, editors can move between home and office systems seamlessly as needed just as if they are in the office working on a shared storage system. Since the beginning of the pandemic, ABT has been in extensive use by the editors of Riverdale, Supergirl, Kung Fu and many others. Built to work seamlessly with AVID, the conventional experience is unchanged for editors. ABT uses enterprise level hardware and proprietary software to emulate the NEXIS shared environment editors would normally have in the office, recreating that office experience with none of the delays of remote desktop workflows. From the MadOldNut website: “Our clients were working with the existing WFH technologies, but we saw a way to make them work more efficiently and collaboratively,” said Todd Ulman, Mad Old Nut CEO. “We were thrilled to be able to offer them something that truly replicates the feel of working on site. From bin sharing and bin locks to getting dailies pushed at home to seamless transitions between office and home systems, the only things they’re missing with ABT are the commute and mediocre office coffee. ABT is always encrypted and fully secure and has none of the lag inherent to RDP. Other systems require you to have an engineering degree to manage moving media, ours does it automatically. ” “Initial customer feedback has been tremendous,” continued Ulman. “We’re hearing that with ABT people don’t ever want to go back to the office, which is the highest compliment we can imagine. We were aiming for 99% of the office experience, anywhere, anytime and on 7 shows and with over 50 editors editors, we have succeeded.” At BardTech, we make custom solutions for you. We can make an automated solution for you today so that you can increase your workflow while maintaining productivity, just like ABT has done for the television industry. Call us to see what we can do for you!


Post was last modified: May 27 2021 16:55:34 CST


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