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Evelyn Mitchell
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Bletchley Girls

By the end of WWII roughly three quarters of the 8,000 people who worked for the secret government communications center, Bletchley Park, were women. They fulfilled various roles from cryptographic and linguistic, through computer operation and clerical.  In fact, over the course of the war, some 7,000 women were hand-picked to work at the codebreaking facility and its outposts around the world. Only a handful, now in their 80s and 90s, survive today.  Historian, broadcaster and writer, Tessa Dunlop, has been taking an aural history from them and writing their stories.

Joanna Chorley had ambitions of going to university after excelling at school in Beaconsfield, where she’d been evacuated from her home in Brighton.

Her father had other ideas. On his return from Canada, where he’d been serving in the air force, he made it plain to the school headteacher that further education was not for his daughter and that it was "an absolute waste of money educating a woman".

Joanna was duly packed off to domestic science college, spending a year completing a housewife’s course that "nearly killed" her.

To avoid any more of her father’s brainwaves, she joined the Wrens at the age of 17, opting to work on "light electrical machinery in the country".

"I always liked nuts and bolts," she explains.

She became one of the "nursemaids" for Colossus – the world’s first electronic programmable computer that was developed for British codebreakers. More than 70 years on, Joanna describes it as "the most amazing thing".

More here (brief article): http://goo.gl/Y1Kfnn

or here (longer article): http://goo.gl/LnhjSZ

The Bletchley Girls by Tessa Dunlop (library book): http://goo.gl/cCQMb4

For decades it was Britain's best kept secret, the huge codebreaking operation centred around a Victorian mansion in Buckinghamshire, Bletchley Park. Despite the fact that at least 8000 people worked at Bletchley, and many others in listening and codebreaking centres across the country, no-one gave the secret away. And when the story did eventually begin to emerge, the star-studded heroes of Bletchley's narrative were men, led by the most famous cryptanalyst of them all, Alan Turing. In recent years, Hollywood blockbusters have cemented the reputation of those clever boffins, who have been credited with shortening the Second World War by many months.

However, if you walked through the gates of Bletchley seventy years ago, you would have been struck not by the number of men working there but the number of young women. That's because by 1944 three quarters of Bletchley's workforce was made up of very young women, or girls, often just out of school.

Tessa Dunlop speaks to some of those Bletchley girls, now in their late 80s and 90s, about their stories. Who were they and what did they do? Why were they selected to work in Britain's most secret organisation and what impact did Bletchley have on the rest of their lives?

Listen here (~28 mins): http://goo.gl/HXFxWz

This programme should be available online worldwide without restriction but only for one month after the most recent broadcast. It is easiest to play on a computer (with Chrome^ and Flash) although it will work on iOS (with or without the iPlayer app) and once the BBC media player http://goo.gl/oHuhfM is installed, it will work on Android too.

^PSA: https://goo.gl/Pbtihm.info

Image: https://goo.gl/Y6QDUl
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Many thanks for a fine post!
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Evelyn Mitchell

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Music Memory
Proms Lecture 2015: Unlocking the Mysteries of Music in Your Brain

Have you wondered how it is that we can remember so much music, so much about the music, and can identify music abstracted from the specifics of a performance? Here is an entertaining public science lecture on the subject of music memory given by American cognitive psychologist, neuroscientist, and author of This Is Your Brain on Music, Daniel Levitin.

Before becoming a leading neuroscientist Daniel Levitin worked as a musician and record producer. In "Unlocking the Mysteries of Music in Your Brain", the Proms Lecture given earlier today in front of an audience at the Royal College of Music, he explores the new thinking about the crucial relationship between music and our neural responses.

Listen here (lecture): http://goo.gl/mghXAh

It is time once again for the BBC Proms.  In fact it is the 120th year of these Promenade Concerts.  This year's Proms include in person and online content ranging from lectures, and workshops, through concerts and operas.

First Night of the Proms (part 1): http://goo.gl/gWVpNk
First Night of the Proms (part 2): http://goo.gl/YjRDp3
More online events: http://goo.gl/8EcYAs

All musical instruments, including the voice, require some movement on the part of the musician, and the brain has evolved very sophisticated mechanisms for learning motor-action sequences, the basis of tool use. When learning a piece of music, musicians learn and store in their memory a series of movements, and these are bound to their aural memory.

So musicians, as well as athletes and dancers, learn and memorise precise sequences of body movements. We might call this “muscle memory” but really the memory resides not there, but in the cortex of the brain, in specialised structures that instruct our muscles precisely how to move. With practice, our muscles become stronger and more able to follow the brain’s instructions, but the memory itself is not in them. Many musicians object to this formulation of muscle memory because it feels as though their fingers are remembering where to go, but this is simply an illusion: if their brains become damaged, their fingers don’t remember how to play.

More here (article): http://goo.gl/GKyn4W

In Prom 22 on 2015/08/02 The Aurora Orchestra will play Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony from memory.  This performance should be available online an hour or so afterwards.

The Aurora Orchestra staged a Proms first last year when it performed Mozart’s Symphony No. 40 from memory. Now the dynamic young ensemble returns to continue this season’s sequence of family-friendly matinees, giving Beethoven’s ‘Pastoral’ Symphony the same direct, communicative treatment. It is paired with Australian composer Brett Dean’s own homage to nature – a work, he explains, inspired by ‘glorious birdsong, the threat that it faces, the loss, and the soulless noise that we’re left with when they’re all gone’. Former BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artist Francesco Piemontesi joins the orchestra for Mozart’s late ‘Coronation’ Concerto, and the afternoon also features the premiere of a new commission from British composer Anna Meredith – also performed from memory.

Listen here (after the 2015/08/02 performance): http://goo.gl/YYVQwg

This lecture, these concerts and various other performances should all be available online worldwide without restriction but only for one month after their most recent broadcast. They are easiest to play on a computer (with Chrome^ and Flash) although they will work on iOS (with or without the iPlayer app) and once the BBC media player http://goo.gl/oHuhfM is installed, they will work on Android too.

General 2015 Proms: http://goo.gl/lO6dlP

Proms History: http://goo.gl/qSKExo

^PSA: https://goo.gl/Pbtihm

Image: Yuichi https://goo.gl/fyhVR3
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Coleus study. I noticed the shape of the veins on the underleaf, and took a few photos to get a good image in poor light. This turned out better than I expected.
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Very cool
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Happy Canada Day! A mari ad mare ad mare. From sea to sea to sea.
 
Happy Canada Day! Cool space image of the whole place. I look forward to celebrating it with family and friends.
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git has a slightly risky default, which, in a rare event of a disk failure, can cause a big headache.
 
So today I learned that Git doesn't fsync() data to disk by default.  As Ted points out in the linked message, the chances of actually losing data as a result are quite small, but repository hassles can still result from a poorly timed crash.  Since "repository hassles" are pretty low on the list of things I want to deal with in any given day, I've concluded that setting core.fsyncobjectfiles makes a fair amount of sense.
On Sun, Jun 21, 2015 at 03:07:41PM +0200, Richard Weinberger wrote: > > I was then shocked to learn that ext4 apparently has a default > > setting that allows it to truncate files upon power failure > > (something about a full journal vs a fast journal or some such) s/ext4/all modern file ...
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The oldest trail in Britain.
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Image caption: "The Ridgeway in Grim's Ditch near Mongewell" That is so English.
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Have them in circles
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Evelyn Mitchell

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Programmers used to have to enter code by bit.
 
Yesterday Richard Hackathorn and Sergio Rivera and I got a tour of Boulder's amazing Media Archaeology Lab. Here I am entering code into an #Altair 8800 computer from 1975. You have to toggle in each machine instruction, in octal, one by one, and all you can see is the good old flashing lights on the panel. That's how I started using computers back in the early 1970's, on an even older PDP-8e in high school. Thanks to English professor Lori Emerson for founding the lab, which helps you get into the head of some of the great writers of the past by using the same computers and software that they wrote with, and to Eric Izant for the tour. Anyone want to go back with me?
Learn more at http://mediaarchaeologylab.com/about/ 
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Community-run real-time lightning detection worldwide map.
Storm map with real-time lightning strikes, based on data from the lightning detection network Blitzortung.org.
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Thanks for sharing this. It's worth keeping in mind. I have two granddaughters very much into all things related to princesses. 
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Given to every grade 7 student in Britain.
 
The Python Software Foundation is a "learning champion" for the micro:bit thanks to Python being one of 5 programming languages supported.
The BBC and partners today unveiled the BBC micro:bit - a pocket-sized, codeable computer that allows children to get creative with technology. In the BBC’s most ambitious education initiative for 30 years, up to 1 million devices will be given to every 11 or 12 year-old child in year 7 or equivalent across the UK, for free.
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Winnipeg Parks rose
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Those are beautiful!
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Wing IDE 5.1.5 released
Wingware has released version 5.1.5 of Wing IDE , our
cross-platform integrated development environment for the Python programming language. Wing IDE features a professional code editor with vi, emacs, visual studio,
and other key bindings, auto-completion,...
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