Apple, Microsoft and some time-traveling
Nov. 8, 2010
by Mark Ollig

A reader sent this columnist an e-mail asking when he would see something about Apple computers.

Okay Robert, today you will, but first I need to ramble on a bit.

As most of you know, I have been using Microsoft software since the last century; starting around 1983, when I used MS-DOS 1.0.

Has it really been that long?

While many folks are using the latest Microsoft Windows 7, I am still plodding along with the Windows XP operating system on my4-year-old HP Pavilion notebook PC.

While having been exposed to some Apple hardware and software (but remaining the creature of habit that I am), Microsoft software and PCs still fit me like a well-worn comfortable pair of jeans.

My first real experience using an Apple product was when I received an iPodtouch as a birthday present a couple of years ago.

My iPodtouch travels with me most days, and I have come to appreciate the many applications and features it has on it.

It’s not really fair to compare it with my old 1979 Sony Walkman, though.

However, the old Walkman does have one advantage over the iPodtouch.

The iPodtouch doesn’t play cassette tapes . . . there’s no app for that yet.

The latest new Apple computer product I learned about is the wafer-thin MacBook Air.

There’s an 11.6 and 13.3-inch sized MacBook Air computer with prices starting at $999.

The MacBook Air’s structural housing is made from a single piece of aluminum.

Apple says this total “unibody aluminum construction” means a less complex casing design with fewer parts, thus making the MacBook Air very thin, (less than an inch) lightweight, but yet sturdy.

There is no spinning hard drive on the MacBook Air; instead, it uses a series of small 32 GB flash storage chips for storing the operating system and software.

Extra space was made available by using these small flash storage chips, and Apple installed a larger battery inside.

The larger battery allows for a much longer operating time inbetween charging.

Apple claims up to five hours of battery life on the 11.6-inch MacBook Air and up to seven hours on the 13.3-inch model.

When you put the MacBook Air to “sleep” for more than an hour, it will enter into a standby mode. This allows the computer to instantly wake-up when it is powered back on after a day, a week or even up to one month – with the programs last being used instantly appearing on the screen.

The other topic I wanted to fit into this week’s column was the story about a particular time-traveler seen in a popular YouTube video.

Some of you may have watched the recent YouTube video which went viral over the Internet of a 1928 Charlie Chaplin film titled, “The Circus.”

In this silent Chaplin film, it shows what appears to be an older woman dressed in the clothes of that time period, using a modern day cell phone, which as we all know, would be quite impossible.

In the opening scene of the film, we catch sight of the woman walking alone along a city sidewalk, holding a small device pressed against her left ear, with her left hand.

While walking, she keeps holding this small device close to her ear, then abruptly stops, looks left, and turns her face towards the camera. The woman appears surprised as she becomes aware of the filming camera’s presence.

It then seems as if she begins to have a conversation over the “cell phone.”

Of course, no cell phones existed in 1928.

Martin Cooper wouldn’t be talking over his new cell phone invention in New York City for another 45 years.

I must admit to be being somewhat dumbfounded when I first saw this video, as I could not believe what my eyes were seeing.

After some in-depth investigation by your highly-skeptical – yet devoted fan of science-fiction columnist I found what I believe to be the answer to this mystery.

It seems some creative individuals over at the Siemens Corporation, had invented a small rectangular box-like device a person could hold to their ear for amplifying sounds.

Siemens had invented what they called a “compact pocket sized carbon microphone/amplifier device” back in 1924 – four years before the Chaplin film.

This appears to be the most logical answer as to what the mystery device being held up against the woman’s ear in the Chaplin film was.

But then again, can we be absolutely sure?

Why would she be talking into a hearingaid?

I just get too caught up in all of this, don’t I?

To watch this dumbfounding “Chaplin’s Time Traveler” video, visit tinyurl.com/2bgl5w2.

The web page displaying the Siemens 1924 hearing device is at tinyurl.com/2bnztdp.

For more on the MacBook Air, see tinyurl.com/3c4nru.

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