JoeZydeco on how a vending machine knows what coin you've put in (and why the Mars candy company spun off an electronics company)
codacorolla on their academic research on Minecraft players
The evolution of thimble technology, as seen in artifacts found scattered across England
A nice discussion of the importance of the skills needed to maintain old systems
"I set Anchorman on fire": Tales from Mefite film projectionists.
To make that sparkly tv logo without computers, the artists "stayed up all night doing drugs." - How they made animated graphics for tv before CGI.
Betamax nostalgia here - Plus how videotape and adhesive tape are made on the same machines.
Remember those 1-800- commercials from late-night tv? - I made those ads, and I worked in a call center, and we could tell when the ads aired.
Stock trader tech - lots of love for the bottomless Bloomberg terminal (internal Craigslist! extra emoji!), history of some alternatives to Bloomberg in the early 1980s, and extra tough phone equipment to survive frustrated smashing by floor traders.
Electronic medical records - A harder problem than it seems, how it's a pain for doctors, and why a lot of medical info systems still rely on fax or modem.
Fun question in Ask Me: You spin me right round baby right round like a what? "I need songs with specific lyrics which I can play for my daughter which represent antiquated technology that she has no real understanding of."
In a recent thread discussing an introduction to cryptography, member Rhomboid explains why a seemingly simple problem at the root of all internet security, figuring out the two prime numbers multiplied by each other to get a 309-digit number (that would unlock the ultimate root certificate) is so incredibly difficult:
Actually doing this is quite another matter. By the prime number theorem, we have about 2512 / log(2512) ≈ 3.8 × 10151 prime divisors to test. Suppose we had a computer that can perform such a test division in a single clock cycle, and say that it runs at 100 GHz. Say that we have 100 billion such computers on the planet, and heck, say we have 100 billion such planets. You're still looking at ≈ 6 × 10110 years on average to find the answer; not even close to realistic.
You might have been watching TV before and heard an emergency alert interrupt your show with information on weather or news. A similar new text messaging system will soon be online to warn you of severe weather alerts (and a mysterious Presidential Alert). Turns out there are several levels of interruption including the most serious, a total takeover of the US airwaves by the President. MeFi member eriko explains it all:
Despite the fact that really the only message the President would send is "So this is it. We're all going to die," the capability remains, and by law, is required to remain. So, WEA may allow you to block advisories, like AMBER alerts (CAE -- Child Abduction Emergency, but sent with an Advisory/Statement flag) but you will not be able to block an EAN.