If you’ve ever used a computer, you’ve probably seen it: A grid of numbers and mathematical operators on the far-right side of a keyboard. It’s a numeric keypad—but how did it get there, and why is it laid out the way it is? Let’s explore its origins. It’s All About the Math Computers have numeric keypads because they make repetitive data entry easier. They allow you to type numbers and perform mathematical operations rapidly, with only one hand. The modern design of numeric keypads may seem obvious today, but it is the product of decades of refinement in adding machine technology, most of which took place over 100 years ago. The modern numeric keypad layout—sometimes called a “tenkey” layout—can trace its roots back to David Sundstrand, whose company released the first commercial tenkey mechanical adding machine in 1914. In Sundstrand’s adding machine key layout, you can see the rudiments of now-standard setup: ten numeral keys, arranged in three rows of three with the … [Read more...] about Where Did the Numeric Keypads on PC Keyboards Come From?
Starting in December 2020, the iPhone app store now provides “App Privacy” labels on all of its App Store listings. Using this information, you can make an informed decision about how apps track you and respect your privacy before downloading an app. Here’s how. Why Apple’s Sudden Focus on Privacy? With the launch of iOS 14 last year, Apple recently began putting a stronger public focus on privacy issues in smartphones and the apps that run on them. It’s a way for Apple to differentiate itself from its competitors, and if done well, Apple’s privacy safeguards can benefit its customers. Until recently, the ways iPhone and iPad apps could track you or use your personal data wasn’t entirely transparent to the user. Apple has set out to change that with new App Store labels that represent a sort of “Nutritional Label” for digital privacy. At a glance, you are now able to see the privacy performance of each app and decide whether it fits your personal comfort level. … [Read more...] about How to See an iPhone App’s Privacy Details Before Installing It
Ecosia is a not-for-profit search engine that uses advertising revenue gained from searches to plant trees. It doesn’t have the privacy-focus of DuckDuckGo , nor does it have the search results of Google. But it does have a unique mission. This search engine is getting bigger and more widely recognized. For example, starting with Apple’s iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 , Ecosia is one of the few options you can use as your default search engine in Safari. Google Chrome also includes it as a built-in option. Ecosia’s Main Mission Is to Plant Trees Ecosia is a not-for-profit search engine that aims to help the environment by planting trees. The search engine’s mission is to absorb as much CO2 as possible by planting trees to try and reduce the impact of climate change. This is done for the planet, for people, and for animals. The service acknowledges that trees can help empower and lift vulnerable populations out of poverty through the regeneration of depleted soils and … [Read more...] about What Is Ecosia? Meet a Google Alternative That Plants Trees
Version 1.0 of the Universal Serial Bus (USB) standard was released in January 1996. 25 years and three attempts later, we’ve gone from USB 1.0’s 12 Mbit/s speeds to USB4’s 40 Gbit/s speeds. Here’s how USB conquered the world. The Problem: Wrestling with Ports and IRQs In the early 1990s, connecting peripherals to PCs was a mess. To use set up any PC, you had to utilize a handful of different types of incompatible ports and connectors. Most commonly, those included a keyboard port, a 9- or 25-pin RS-232 serial port , and a 25-pin parallel port . In addition, PC game controllers used their own 15-pin standard, and mice often plugged into serial ports or proprietary cards. At the same time, peripheral manufacturers began bumping into data rate limits in existing ports used for peripherals on PCs. Demand for telephony, video, and audio applications was growing. Traditionally, vendors had sidestepped these limitations by introducing their own proprietary ports that could be … [Read more...] about 25 Years of Making Connections With USB (After Three Attempts)
Thirty years ago—on January 15, 1991 —an American college student named Tim Sweeney released ZZT , a low-key adventure game with a revolutionary element: It shipped with a free, built-in game editor. ZZT’s success spawned Epic Games, Unreal Engine, and most recently, Fortnite . Here’s why ZZT was special. What’s a “ZZT,” Anyway? Tim Sweeney’s passion for programming began on his Apple II when he was a kid. After getting his first IBM PC in 1989 during his freshman year of college, he dove head-first into programming the new machine. While creating an MS-DOS text editor using Turbo Pascal in 1990, he decided to make the project more fun by adding game-like elements. That evolved into ZZT , which was released as shareware in 1991. The genius of ZZT in the early 1990s was that it wasn’t just a cute ASCII-based adventure. With every copy of ZZT downloaded, players also got an in-game world editor for free. That’s because ZZT’s text editor roots meant … [Read more...] about Before Fortnite, There Was ZZT: Meet Epic’s First Game