Sunday, August 16, 2009

It's alive!

The Wireless World Monodial is now working again. I've not checked the alignment, but it pulls in LW and MW stations just fine. The silent tuning feature works, but probably doesn't justify the extra cost then (or now). The tuning indicator isn't right. The resistor controlling it had been changed, maybe my replacing the weak vari-mu pentode affected things. More investigation required when I do the alignment. But first I need to order parts to build a suitable amplifier.

I'm thinking of using a 1940s pentode, e.g. KT61 rather than a 1930s type.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

How to innovate like a robot

Over on Innovation in Practice it's suggested that machines will most likely never be able to innovate - Automated Innovation.

Granted such discourse can be quite dull - computers/machines cannot think/love/walk properly/chew gum/...../invent seems to be for my generation the equivalent of the ancient "how many angels can dance on a pin?".

What saved this post for me was the description of what innovation is -

For a machine to innovate, it would need to:
  1. Take a product or service and break it into its component parts
  2. Take a product or service and identify its attributes (color, weight, etc)
  3. Apply a template of innovation to manipulate the product or service and change it into some abstract form
  4. Take the abstract form and find a way for humans to benefit from it

Surely not. This is the blogosphere, at a minimum 4 should be "... find a way for cats to benefit from it."

More seriously if the process of innovation were to be simulated in a worthwhile way, some benefit would probably need to be delivered to the innovator. What I'm saying here is that feedback is required. I'd also argue that for a machine 2 and 3 are probably not required either. After all if a machine was capable of generating prototypes at a fantastic rate - consider synthetic drugs - and then test them for good and bad effects, it is quite likely that useful new drugs could be developed. For all I know this is happening right now.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Eckersley on public sector pay for technical staff

"The conditions of service are not such as to attract people who think that informed enthusiasm deserves bigger rewards than are paid to civil servants. All honour, then, to those brilliant people who accept the conditions ; there could be more of such people if the pay were more attractive."

P.P. Eckersley, December 1942.