Thursday, October 16, 2008

E-cuneiform, Tablet PCs, and retro-computing

image of cuneiform written on a tablet, from the public domain, sourced from

Hello Gentle Reader,

(für unsere deutschsprachen Freunde, Babylonier schreib Keilschrift (Cuneiform) auf Tabletten, und das Wort, Tablette, ist das gleiche Wort in englischer Sprache für einen Tablet PC...) 

You may recall, in an earlier post, that your humble scribe was getting excited about historical computing (see Update No. 4, the Nokia update).  

If you recall, your scribe was vaguely mulling over how his user-unfriendly Nokia phone of destruction compared to ENIAC or Colossus, the first electrical computing devices.  

Well, imagine your humble scribe's infinite and absolute delight to discover, for sale, at a reasonable price, a fantastic piece of retro-computing...

...A tablet PC!  


Who knew!

(Kawaii Sugoi!)

Obviously, this device was meant to combine the best mathematical features of cuneiform with modern day computing.  

(For the non retro-computational enthusiasts, cuneiform, the written language, started out as cuneiform: the accounting system.) 

Who else, but your humble scribe, could this have been designed for?  Now your scribe knew he was finally ahead of the trend curve.  Happy days were here to stay!

Your humble scribe was overjoyed.  

His cup runneth over.  

Well, his dunking bowl runneth over.  

And that is why, with a heavy heart, and a wet floor, I must now give you:

Words of Warning:  

First, you do not need to use e-cuneiform when using a tablet PC.  

Even more importantly, you do not need to soak the tablet PC in water first.  

In fact, this scribe highly recommends NOT soaking the tablet PC in water first, even for a short time.  Even when you intended to write in e-cuneiform...

...I am not even sure why they call it a tablet. There seems to be no clay.

And to think I thought that this tablet PC, which of course no longer works the same way, was some type of extreme "retro" computing device...  

To be fair to your faithful scribe, however, the tablet PC does have some strong similarities with Hammurabi's preferred writing medium.  

It is heavy.  

It can, apparently, only be used once.  

And it’s awfully hard for most 21st century readers to tell what was written there. (Let alone to inscribe anything there with the stylus.  Nice stylus, though.)  

So, after my second attempt to update myself technologically, the first being my Nokia phone and the resultant geo-political chaos I unleashed (again, see Update No. 4, the Nokia update), I must return to my old laptop.

Hmm.  So my dream of e-cuneiform almost came true.  But not quite.

Next stop, the Antikythera Mechanism? (Probably not, after my disappointing research on tablet PCs...)

Chris, Regina, and Pommes

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