Weekly Photo Challenge: Near and Far

I took these a few years ago while on a photography trip in the Richtersveld, a breathtakingly beautiful and barren landscape in the Northern Cape province of South Africa, right on the border between SA and Namibia. The focus of the shots was very much on texture and shape, and playing with near and distant elements.

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Both these shots were taken on a trusty old Nikon F100 (I still love that camera so) and a 28mm prime lens, using Fuji Velvia slide film.  The film was cross-processed using the C41 colour negative development process, which basically ends up giving you very contrasty results, with quite aggressive grain and unexpected colour casts.

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Ever since I first discovered cross-processing during my photographic studies, it has always been one of my favourite processing techniques. I love the fact that you’re never quite sure what you’re going to end up with – different types of slide film give widely varying results, and even the age of the film can lead to a different outcome.

While it is possible to simulate cross-processing quite successfully in digital photography during post-processing, it simply does not come close to the magic of getting your roll of cross-processed film back from the lab, and discovering the results for the first time.

Hmmm….. I need to get out and shoot some film again – digital is great, but you get withdrawal symptoms if you’ve been away from film too long!

The day the first computer bug was discovered

OK, so the legend goes like this:

Back in the late 1940s, the US Navy financed the building of an electromechanical computer at Harvard University, called the Harvard Mark II. It was basically a super-fast (for the time) calculating machine, made unique because several calculations such as the reciprocal, square root, logarithm and exponential, were built into the hardware, making execution much faster than on other similar machines of the time. Unlike modern computers, the Mark II was not a stored-program computer. Instead, program instructions were read sequentially from a tape, and then executed.

Anyway, back to the legend…  On this day, back in 1947, while the Harvard Mark II was doing its thing, humming away (as I presume they did), a technician noted an unusual object trapped in one of the computer’s relays. On closer inspection, he found it was a moth. The moth was removed and taped into the computer’s log book. Grace Hopper, computer scientist and US Navy Rear Admiral, saw the moth entry in the logbook, and added the caption, “First actual case of bug being found”. This reference to a computer problem or glitch as a ‘bug’, caught on with other computer scientists, and has been used ever since, together with terms like debugging, etc.

I’ve discovered that I have a computer screen bug – hope it won’t cause serious problems!
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Much of the above story is true – there was a moth found in the Harvard Mark II, on 9 September 1947 at 15:45. And it was indeed taped into the log book, with the above-noted caption. However, this was far from the first use of the word ‘bug’ to refer to a technical error – small machine glitches have been called ‘bugs’ for many years, with the first known reference coming from a letter written by Thomas Edison in 1878:
“Bugs – as such little faults and difficulties are called – show themselves and months of intense watching, study and labour are requisite before commercial success or failure is certainly reached.”

So, while it would have been cool if this was the real origin of the term computer bug, it sadly wasn’t. What is probably true about the story of Grace Hopper and the Harvard Mark II, is that this may indeed be the first known case of an actual computer bug, or computer moth, to be more exact. Which is still kind of amusing. 🙂

Happy Sunday, everyone – hope you’re not being bugged by bugs of any kind todayyy.y..yy…yyyyy.yy. Bugger…