We Just Found the User Manual for the First Digital Computer Ever Built

This site may earn affiliate commissions from the links on this page. Terms of use.

These days, losing the manual for some piece of electronics you’ve purchased is notable mostly because you had a printed document to lose in the first place. In the dead-tree dominated days of yore, of course, this was less true. Documentation loss is a major problem in the effort to understand old computer systems, and it’s part of what drives ongoing data preservation efforts across the industry. Until recently, the Zuse Z4 could have been a poster child for this sort of problem.

The Z4 was the brainchild of Konrad Zuse, a German who deserves to be better known than he is for his early, groundbreaking work. Zuse had the misfortune to be making some of his biggest breakthroughs immediately prior to and during World War II. It was Zuse who designed the first high-level programming language from 1942 to 1945. This is remarkable because, as Wikipedia notes, Zuse had no training whatsoever in mechanical computing devices. He independently discovered both propositional calculus and lattice theory, calling them “combinatorics of conditionals” and “study of intervals,” respectively.

The Zuse Z4 is the oldest preserved digital computer in the world and arguably* the first digital computer. The Z4 was developed through the end of the war and was moved multiple times while under construction to keep it away from the advancing Soviet army. After the war, it was expanded and became the second digital computer in the world to be sold. The preserved model is on display at the Deutsches Museum in Munich and is pictured above.

Its documentation, however, was a different story. A recent blog post by the Association of Computing Machinery details how the rare documents were found. Archivist Evelyn Boesch, with ETH Zurich University, contacted Herbert Bruder of the ACM and informed him that her father, René Boesch, had kept a tranche of rare historical documents. These turned out to include a user manual for the Z4 Zuse, as well as notes on flutter calculations. Other documents, dated October 27, 1953, detail what the Z4 was working on. At the time, it was being used to perform flutter calculations on the Swiss FFA P-16 fighter aircraft, which was then in development. Details from the recovered documents show that it took the Z4 50 hours to simulate 2.4 seconds of flight time, which is slightly worse than the current version of Microsoft Flight Simulator.

The ACM blog post notes that “around 100 jobs were carried out with the Z4 between 1950 and 1955,” implying an average per-job computation time of about three weeks.

What We Learn From Manuals Like This

The recovered Z4 manual illustrates why this type of document preservation is so important. From their earliest days, computers were upgradeable — machines like ENIAC were outfitted with the equivalent of RAM upgrades and CPU improvements. In the Z4’s case, support for conditional jump instructions was added post-manufacture. The only problem was, nobody could remember exactly how the feature worked. ACM notes: “However, in a survey a few years ago, the few surviving eyewitnesses could not remember how it was executed.”

092120_Fig._3_Z4_emanuscripta_page_8_2856530

Page 8 of the manual provides this information. My German is rusty, my technical German is nonexistent, and frankly, the images are a bit tough to read, so I’m not going to try to translate exactly how the function worked. Without information like this, it would be impossible to precisely replicate or understand how the Z4 embodied or improved upon the computational capabilities of the time.

*The answer to “Who invented the first computer?” is essentially arbitrary and depends entirely on how you choose to define the term “computer.” The UK’s Colossus is declared the world’s first “programmable, electronic, digital computer,” by Wikipedia, but it was programmed by switches and plugs, not a stored program. The Z4 is considered to be the first commercial digital computer but it’s not electronic. The first electronic stored-program computer is the Manchester Baby, but Konrad Zuse’s earlier Z3 could store programs on tape — it just wasn’t electronic. Other obscure machines, like the Atanasoff-Berry Computer, were not Turing-complete and couldn’t store programs, but still contributed critical ideas to the development of computing.

Also, if you were taught that ENIAC was the first computer (or digital computer, or electronic digital computer, etc, ad nauseam), that’s more propaganda than fact. ENIAC was more directly based on machines like Colossus than was known at the time, because the wartime efforts of the British remained classified, while ENIAC was widely celebrated in the media.

Finally, reading up on the history of early computing is a good reminder of how many people, institutions, and companies contributed various technologies and principles to the field. One reason you can subdivide the question of “Who built the first computer” to such a fine degree is that there were so many “firsts” for someone to achieve. There was a time in the 1930s and 1940s when mechanical, electromechanical, and digital systems were sharing space and serious development dollars simultaneously. We don’t have anything remotely equivalent today, and even our wildest architectural departures from the x86 “norm” are still based on digital computing. That could change in the future, if Intel’s MESO architecture comes to fruition and proves capable of replacing CMOS in the long term.

But for now, the 1930s and 1940s represent a tremendously dynamic period in computing history that we don’t really have an equivalent for — though some of the quantum computing work is getting really interesting.

Now Read:

Boffins find world’s oldest computer manual

Not sure if anyone ever read it before

Boffins will be able to gain a deeper understanding of what’s considered the world’s oldest surviving (digital) computer after its long-lost user manual was unearthed.

According to Engadget, the Z4, which was built in 1945, runs on tape, takes up most of a room and needs several people to operate it. The machine now takes residence at the Deutsches Museum in Munich, but it hasn’t been used in quite some time. It was arguably the world’s first commercial digital computer.

The memory consisted of 32-bit rather than 22-bit floating point words. A special unit called the Planfertigungsteil (program construction unit), which punched the program tapes, made programming and correcting programs for the machine much easier by the use of symbolic operations and memory cells. Numbers were entered and output as decimal floating point even though the internal working was in binary. The machine had a large repertoire of instructions including square root, MAX, MIN and sine.

Archivist at ETH Zurich, Evelyn Boesch, discovered the manual among her father’s documents in March. Rene Boesch worked with the Swiss Aeronautical Engineering Association, which was based at the university’s Institute for Aircraft Statics and Aircraft Construction. The Z4 was housed there in the early 1950s.

Among Boesch’s documents were notes on math problems the Z4 solved that were linked to the development of the P-16 jet fighter. “These included calculations on the trajectory of rockets, on aircraft wings, on flutter vibrations [and] on nosedive.”

Federal Judge Refuses to Rule on Wisconsin ID Laws Before Election, Saying Ruling Would Cause ‘Chaos and Confusion’

With 41 days left until the U.S. presidential elections, a Wisconsin federal judge has delayed ruling on a case about the types of student ID cards required to vote. He feared his ruling could cause “chaos and confusion” on Election Day.

James Peterson, a federal judge in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin, said on Wednesday that he would delay ruling on the matter until after the November 3 national elections, according to The Hill.

The case was an April 2019 civil suit filed by Common Cause Wisconsin, a state government watchdog organization, against the heads of the Wisconsin Elections Commission. The organization sued the commission over its rule change involving the types of student ID cards allowed as valid identification for voting.

The commission’s rule change requires that a student’s college or university ID card must contain the student’s name, photo, issuance date, an expiration date not more than two years after the issuance date and the student’s signature. Additionally, students must also present proof of enrollment—such as an enrollment verification letter or tuition fee receipt—before being allowed to vote.

Newsweek subscription offers >

In their lawsuit, Common Cause said the rule change requires “extraneous information that is wholly unnecessary to advance election integrity and prevent fraud and/or that is redundant with other registration and voting requirements.”

Peterson said that because voting in Wisconsin is already underway, the state election commission had already issued its Election Day manuals explaining the student ID voting requirements to municipal clerks and poll workers.

He wrote in his opinion, “If the court were to issue an order changing the status quo now, it would leave the Commission and municipal clerks with little time to issue new guidance and retrain staff.”

Ruling against the commission’s rule change and its “nearly inevitable appeal,” Peterson wrote, “would mean weeks of uncertainty as the case was reviewed by the court of appeals and possibly the Supreme Court.” He worried the back-and-forth could potentially mislead students into thinking they have the required ID as subsequent courts issue new rulings or injunctions on lower rulings.

Newsweek subscription offers >

Wisconsin student ID voter law Common Cause
Voters wait in line at the Hamilton High School in Milwaukee, Wisconsin to vote in the Democratic presidential primary on April 7, 2020. On Wednesday a federal judge delayed his ruling on a recent change to voter ID laws requiring students at universities and colleges to obtain a special ID and proof of enrollment before they’re allowed to vote.
Kamil Krzaczynski / AFP/Getty

Of the 28 U.S. states with voter ID laws that require student ID for students to vote, Wisconsin is the only one that additionally requires a student ID to have only a two-year life span—even if it is issued by a four-year institution—and the only state to require students have a separate proof of current enrollment.

Common Cause also claimed that most colleges and universities don’t inform students that they need to obtain a special ID to vote, potentially disenfranchising thousands of students who don’t learn about the requirements until they’re turned away at a polling place.

Common Cause added that only some of the University of Wisconsin’s (UW) four-year institutions issue voting-capable student ID upon enrollment, while its others issue them only upon request. All of the UW’s two-year institutions issue voting-capable student ID upon enrollment, but only if students themselves add their signature on a blank space on the card where no indication is given for a signature.

Of the state’s 22 private colleges and universities, Common Cause said that nine automatically issue voting-capable student ID upon enrollment, 10 only issue such IDs upon request and three don’t issue them at all, even upon request.

Newsweek contacted Common Cause Wisconsin for comment.

Researchers found the manual for the world’s oldest surviving computer

Among Boesch’s documents were notes on math problems the Z4 solved that were linked to the development of the P-16 jet fighter. “These included calculations on the trajectory of rockets, on aircraft wings, on flutter vibrations [and] on nosedive,” Bruderer wrote in a Association of Computing Machinery blog post.

The computer itself has quite the backstory. German civil engineer Konrad Zuse invented the Z4 under the Nazi regime and is the likely author of the manual, according to Bruderer. At one point, the Nazis wanted Zuse to move the computer to a concentration camp, where the regime used forced labor to build rockets and flying bombs. He refused, and instead moved the Z4 to a barn in a remote town to wait out World War II.

Mathematician Eduard Stiefel later acquired the Z4 for ETH Zurich’s Institute for Applied Mathematics. It spent a few years at the French-German Research Institute of Saint-Louis before the Z4 was transferred to the Deutsches Museum in 1960.

Surveillance Company Explains How to Keep Facebook From Detecting Fake Accounts in Leaked Manual

Fake Facebook Account

Image: Cathryn Virginia/Motherboard

A company that markets an online investigations platform for government agencies, banks, and other businesses says publicly that it’s based on open source intelligence. But a leaked user manual obtained by Motherboard shows that, in reality, the company teaches customers how to create fake Facebook and LinkedIn accounts to gather information about people that is normally protected by their privacy settings on those platforms.

The guide also explains how to avoid detection by Facebook.

Blackdot Solutions, a startup based in Cambridge, UK, offers a product called Videris. On its official website, Videris appears to be just like any other open source intelligence (OSINT) collections tool. But in a user manual obtained by Motherboard, Blackdot offers step-by-step instructions to customers on how to mine data from Facebook and LinkedIn profiles that have certain privacy settings turned on. The idea is to create sock puppet Facebook accounts to befriend targets and mine their data, which is usually not available publicly on the internet.

Videris manual

A screenshot of the leaked Videris user manual.

“The surface part of the program was typical but I noticed the use of fake social media accounts and did not think that aligned with company values,” a person who saw a demo of Videris, and asked to remain anonymous because they were not allowed to speak to the press, told Motherboard. “The fake accounts were against social media platform policy and used algorithms to unravel private networks, which seemed like an invasion of privacy.”

Companies all over the world, including giants like Amazon, are increasingly employing intelligence analysts who can monitor their own workers, as well as prospective employees, to find data on their pasts and internet activities. Companies like Blackdot have stepped in to offer products to make those processes easier.

“In 2015 Blackdot started selling Videris as a standalone product to government clients, where it proved instantly transformational,” the company says on its official website. “Since 2016 we have wound down our risk agency activities and focused solely on our software, expanding to other sectors. Videris quickly gained a reputation for being the best open source investigations software available, and gained customers across the government, banking, corporate and professional services sectors.”

Do you work at Blackdot Solutions? Have you ever used its product Videris? We’d love to hear from you. Using a non-work phone or computer, you can contact Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai securely on Signal at +1 917 257 1382, on Wickr at lorenzofb, OTR chat at lorenzofb@jabber.ccc.de, or email lorenzofb@vice.com.

Adam Lawrance-Owen, Blackdot’s head of product, said in an email that “a core principle of Videris as a product, and a fundamental ethical and business principle for our company, is that the user can access publicly available, open source information only. Videris cannot be used to go behind privacy settings, as your email suggests. None of our customers use, or could use, Videris for such a purpose.”

When we showed Lawrance-Owen the relevant pages of the user manual, he said that he “not seen this document before and it certainly isn’t our user manual.” We then shared the whole document, and Lawrance-Owen said that he could not “really comment on the document you attach, except to tell you that, while it references our functionality, it isn’t our standard user guide. I wasn’t aware of this document and it also appears to be 2 years old.”

“Videris does not and cannot break privacy settings,” he added, while never denying that the company may help customers create fake accounts to get around those privacy settings, as the manual makes clear.

In the user manual, dated September 2018, Blackdot details how Videris can be used to scrape the internet for information about a certain person or company. Videris then organizes the data in easy to understand charts and graphs, according to the manual.

Videris interface

A screenshot of the Videris interface, according to a leaked user manual.

In case the target of the investigation has a Facebook profile where they protect information, such as their friends’ list, with their privacy settings, Blackout suggests customers “recreate” the list by adding “seed” Facebook profiles to Videris. This process, according to the manual, consists in extracting names of friends analyzing their interactions’ with the target such as likes in pictures.

The manual also suggests creating fake accounts to mine data, and includes detailed step-by-step instructions, such as creating a new Gmail account, linking it to a new phone number, and using a proxy server—all solutions to prevent Facebook and LinkedIn from spotting the fake accounts and banning them.

“After intense periods of data collection, certain data providers have been known to restrict the access of online accounts used by Videris. Videris automatically detects restrictions and disables affected accounts, removing them from use,” the manual warns.

After creating the fake account, the manual also suggests users should “break-in the account by randomly browsing and searching for 5-10 minutes.”

For LinkedIn, the manual suggests using a “non specific job title” like consultant and “a common and uninteresting company name and a broad industry (e.g. ‘Human Resources’).”

Just like with Facebook, the manual suggests users to “break-in” the fake account by spending a few minutes using the site, searching for profiles and “browsing around LinkedIn to reduce the chance of the LinkedIn account being blocked at a later stage.”

WORLD PREMIERE: 2021 BMW M3 (G80) — The Beauty Lies Beneath

Let’s address the elephant in the room right now, so we can get it out of the way — the new grille design of the BMW M3. Ever since BMW showed off the Concept 4 in Geneva, fans have been whining about the new grille design for both of its newest M cars. Mostly for good reason, too. The new design is shocking to say the least. However, it’s likely to be an overlooked design element once fans drive the new M3 because its beauty lies under the skin.

Continue Reading Below

Not Just a Fast 3 Series

Despite the new G20 3 Series chassis being massively improved over the previous generation F30 chassis, the M Division wasn’t content to leave it be for M3-duty. So it’s been comprehensively upgraded to M Division standards, thanks to new aluminum subframes, massive amounts of chassis stiffening and bracing at both the front and rear, newly design aluminum front wishbones and M3-specific multi-link rear suspension setup, to name a few.

2021 bmw m3 competition exterior 42 830x553

The M3 also gets a wider wheel track than the standard 3 Series, increased camber and improved steering kinematics and elasto-kinematics. The latter of which has been retuned for not only sharper steering response but better feel through the steering wheel itself. It’s even been tuned so that when equipped with M xDrive all-wheel drive, the M3’s steering is unperturbed by the front wheels getting power.

Yes, the new BMW M3 gets variable-ratio steering, which has long drawn the ire of F80 M3 enthusiasts, but it should be well-sorted this time around. Reason being is that the actual speed of the steering rack ratio is lock-dependent. So the teeth on the steering rack are positioned more closely together as the steering angle increases.

This now only allows for increased steering speed when the wheels are already sharply turned, thus allowing the driver to do less hand work on the wheel, but it also makes for a more progressive variable rack. So the rate of change in the steering ratio is consistent and predictable, making for more enjoyable steering.

2021 bmw m3 competition exterior 30 830x553

Borrowed from the M8, the new BMW M3 gets drive-by-wire braking with two different modes for brake feel. So you can drive around with Comfort brakes around town, which provide a more relaxed, more natural brake feel, or you can put them in Sport mode for a sharper brake pedal response.

They’re also quite big stoppers, for the M3. It gets 380 mm rotors up front and 370 mm ones out back, to go along with six-piston calipers calipers up front and single-pistons calipers out back. If you upgrade to the carbon ceramic brakes, you get 400 mm and 380 mm rotors, front and back, along with gold-painted calipers.

Let’s Talk Speed

Under the unusually-shaped hood, the BMW M3 packs a 3.0 liter twin-turbocharged inline-six (S58) that will come in two different power levels, depending on the flavor of M3 you choose. In the standard BMW M3, the blown-six will make 480 horsepower and 405 lb-ft of torque (550 Nm).

In its standard-guise, the M3 will only come with a manual transmission, which is a fascinating turn of events in this modern era of automatic-everything. The standard M3 will also only send power to the rear wheels, without the option of M xDrive all-wheel drive.

If you want the eight-speed automatic transmission option, you have to step up to Competition spec, which also brings 510 horsepower and 479 lb-ft of torque (650 Nm). While the Competition can only be had with an automatic, it has the option of having either rear-wheel drive or M xDrive.

It’s effectively the same engine that powers the X3 M and X4 M, which is great news. The S58 engine in those cars is brilliant, so it should be brilliant here too. It gets a forged lightweight crankshaft, a closed-deck crankcase design and a 3D-printed cylinder head core. All of this allows it to not only be incredibly strong and durable but it also lets the engine rev high and rev hard without issue.

To help the engine breath better, as well as sing better, the BMW M3 gets a model-specific exhaust. So it should sound even better than it does in the X3 M. Inside the cabin, the speaker-induced exhaust noise can be adjusted, based on driver preference.

The Manual is Here to Stay

Often times in modern sports cars, you can feel when automakers stick pedestrian manuals in their higher-performance cars just to appease fans. Those manuals typically don’t feel great in expensive sports cars. However, BMW hasn’t done that with the M3. Instead, it’s been given a newly-designed manual with a revised clutch bell housing and gearbox construction that drops about 25 kilos (55 lbs) versus the previous model’s manual.

It also gets auto rev-matching like previous M cars but the kicker here is that it can be turned off independently of traction and stability control. In previous M cars, you had to defeat traction and stability control completely to turn off the rev-match function. Now, though, it can be switched off while keeping the safety systems on, allowing driving enthusiasts to blip their own downshifts without further risking a crash.

Slide Control

BMW M has given this new M3 the most advanced traction and stability control system ever fitted to an M car. The new M3 gets an advanced DSC with ABS, CBC and ADB-X. Enough acronyms for you? The CBC is “Cornering Brake Control”, which uses the brakes as a sort of torque-vectoring system, commonly seen on many other cars. ADB-X is “Automatic Differential Brake”, which uses the rear diff to help reduce understeer.

The M3 also gets a new M Traction Control, which allows the driver to dial in specific levels of slip allowed by the car’s brain. Essentially, it uses all of those aforementioned systems to fine-tune the amount of slide it will allow before intervening and saving your life.

So you can specifically select the level of hoon you’d like to be. Being the Germans that they are, BMW has given the M3 ten different levels of this new traction control and they’re selected in an iDrive menu.

Big Grilles = Big Airflow

Comically, the BMW M3 press release states that the new car gets “extremely large air intakes” to insure that cool air is always provided. The G80 M3 gets a bespoke cooling system, to help keep that might inline-six cool. There’s a low-temperature cooling system and a high-temp system.

An electronic cooling pump helps to provide the low-temp radiator optimize flow, while the high-temp system gets a mechanical coolant pump, the high-temp radiator and two remote radiators in the front side air intakes.

Wanna Talk Styling?

Let’s forget for a moment that the new BMW M3 has such a divisive grille design. The rest of it looks superb. It’s aggressive, thanks to its wider wheel track and flared wheel arches, and it just looks like a proper BMW M3. I love the way the Air Breather has been integrated into the wider front wheel arch, as it accentuates how much wider its front wheels are. The rear lip spoiler looks good and the carbon roof makes it seem exotic.

There are also some excellent color choices for the new M3, which should excite every BMW enthusiast. BMW M has a long history of delivering truly great colors and that hasn’t changed with this new M3. While its standard colors are, well, pretty standard; with Alpine White non-metallic, Sapphire Black metallic, Skyscraper Grey metallic, Brooklyn Grey metallic and Portimao Blue metallic, leading the way, there are more exotic options.

Isle of Man Green is the stunning launch color for the M3 and the color you see in these photos. However, there’s also a Toronto Red Metallic and, the one I’m personally most interested in, a non-metallic Sao Paolo Yellow. If you go the BMW Exclusive route, there are also several frozen color options.

On the inside, the interior looks like an M Division-version of the 3 Series because, well, it is. All of your current BMW M design elements are here, including the typical M steering wheel, shift lever and carbon fiber bits. However, the new seats look very good, with a nice blend of perforated leather an Alcantara.

The color combo seen here is called Kyalami Orange/Black and it looks great, especially in combination with the green exterior color. There’s also a very cool Yas Marina Blue/Black interior option with yellow accents that’s very interesting and the Competition-spec, seen on the BMW M4, has even crazier looking seats with cool carbon fiber paddle shifters.

Looks Promising

Before today, almost all of the talk surrounding the BMW M3 was about the new grille design. There’s just no getting around the fact that its new design is controversial, like it or not. However, now that the M3 has finally been revealed, it seems mightily impressive and incredibly promising as a driver’s M3.

As we’ve stated before, if the new BMW M3 is an outstanding driver’s car, no one is going to care about its grille any longer. From the looks of it now, it seems like that could be a reality.

Professor reveals secret to ending the ‘tragedy of heterosexuality’ and surprise – straight men have some work to do

Professor Jane Ward said straight couples can learn from queer couples to have deeper and happier relationships. (Envato)

A gender and sexuality professor has written a book explaining the secret to straight people having happier relationships — be more like queer couples.

Jane Ward, a gender and sexuality studies professor at University of California, Riverside, studied tips from marriage manuals, self-help books, dating coaches and marriage therapists while writing The Tragedy of Heterosexuality. 

According to the university, she discovered one common assumption; that men and women don’t like each other. But the truth, Ward said, is that heteronormativity is making them miserable.

She said: “One of the ways that heteronormativity has survived is by convincing both gay people and straight people that being straight makes for a happier, healthier, easier life…. It has masked over how much misery straight people — straight women, in particular — actually experience.”

Queer culture is a source of joy for most queer people; it’s homophobia and straight culture that is the source of most queer suffering.

Ward continued: “Straight culture promises women the world, but, in reality, offers women very little.

“Queer culture, on the other hand, is a source of joy for most queer people; it’s homophobia and straight culture, not queer culture, that is the source of most queer suffering.”

Ward found self-help-style relationship resources for straight couples from 19th century onward assume that men and women are opposites in every way (remember Men are from Mars; Women are from Venus?) who must learn to tolerate each other.

She said: “Self-help books for straight couples in the 1980s and ’90s doubled down on the idea that the gap between women and men was innate and therefore unavoidable.

“The best men and women could do was learn a few tricks — or ‘skills’ — to get what they wanted from the opposite sex while minimising conflict.

“This same approach still persists today, as self-help books, webinars, dating coaches, marriage therapists, and a whole slew of what I call ‘hetero repair’ professionals teach straight couples to work around gender inequality, rather than undo it.”

One 2020 study showed that same-sex couples have happier marriages than opposite-sex couples, but Ward proposes a new approach.

By learning from queer couples and breaking free of the prison of heteronormativity, straight couples could reach a state which Ward calls “deep heterosexuality”.

She said: “From a lesbian feminist perspective, many straight men seem to have only a half-baked desire for women, a feeble version of what lesbians feel.

“What I am arguing for is what I call deep heterosexuality, wherein straight men learn to like women so deeply that they actually like women.”

“It is possible to shift gears,” she added, “and imagine what it would be like if men thought of themselves not just as ‘sexually attracted’ to women, but powerfully oriented toward all women’s well-being and liberation.

“This will not only be good for straight women, but also tremendously healing for men.”

‘Gull’ Director Kim Mi-jo on Sexual Assault and Changing Attitudes in South Korea

“Gull,” Kim Mi-jo’s poignant South Korean drama, follows a woman whose life becomes increasingly difficult when she seeks justice against the man who raped her.

The 61-year-old O-bok works as a seafood vendor in a Seoul street market that has been slated for redevelopment. One evening, after drinks with her colleagues, she is raped by Gi-taek, a fellow vendor and the powerful chairman of the redevelopment committee. After initially pretending that nothing happened, O-bok finally confides to her daughter and reports the assault to the police, resulting in an investigation that disrupts both her work and family life.

“Gull,” which won the Grand Prize for the Korean Competition at the recent Jeonju Film Festival, unspools in San Sebastian’s New Directors sidebar.

Speaking to Variety, Kim says she came up with the idea of the film after witnessing a young man and an older woman.

“One day, I was walking along the riverside at midday when I saw a young man closely following a middle-aged woman, who resembled my mother. I somehow felt anxious and kept an eye on them for a while. This experience inspired me immediately.”

While she initially conceived the plot from the point of view of the woman’s daughter, she eventually made O-bok the main character, played by Jeong Aehwa.

Jeong brought the right mix of vulnerability and toughness needed for the headstrong O-bok, Kim explained.

“I didn’t regard O-bok simply just as a victim, but rather I think she is more of a person who is aggressive and belligerent, like a fighter. There’s a saying in Korea that a ‘small pepper is much spicier.’ Ms. Jeong is really petite, but I love the high spirit and energy coming out of her.”

“Gull” critically examines aspects of South Korean society that are still common, Kim adds. O-bok is a victim who is forced to hide while making a sacrifice for the greater cause of the market and the good of the community. “Recently in Korea, it is commonly seen, not just in sexual assault cases, that assailants change into victims, or do not have to pay the price they deserve and live just like before. There are countless cases like this.”

Nevertheless, like in other parts of the world, sexual assault against women is being increasingly addressed, Kim points out. “In recent years, it has been more actively discussed following the MeToo movement. I’m gladly on board with pushfully bringing this issue to the table compared to the past. Also, more people are starting to be aware that sexual assault cannot be justified, whatsoever. Nevertheless, deep down, prejudice against victims of sexual violence still lingers around.”

She adds, “Seeing the woman as a contributor in sexual assault, or a bias that older women can’t be a target of sex crimes – these are typical examples.” In her research for the film, Kim came across manuals for parents of sexual assault victims or to help women in their 20s and 30s cope with sexual assault, but she adds that sex crimes against the middle-aged were not properly discussed.

That chauvinistic attitudes persist is made clear in the film by a main character who blames rape on the victim, saying that it could not happen unless the woman wanted it.

“I’ve actually heard that in real life,” Kim says. “I was awfully shocked at the time, so I used that line in my scenario. It is hard to say that these kinds of thoughts were not general until just a few years ago. However, as previously mentioned, Korean society is beginning to react sensitively to sexual abuse issues. Also, the social atmosphere in which these cases can’t be simply hushed up is gradually being established.”

While Kim says she didn’t set out to examine class differences in Korean society, she notes that “sadly this is what I have seen ever since I was little, so I think it just happened to be reflected in the movie. Classes exist everywhere, so I don’t regard it as a peculiar characteristic of Korean society. Of course, there are exceptions, but it is very easy to find powerless people’s voices being ignored when you look around a bit. So, it was rather natural to have those aspects in the film.”

That O-bok wants to fly away from her horrible situation but has to remain grounded in reality, like a seagull that flies high and far but ultimately cannot leave land, was one of the reasons behind the film’s title, Kim explains. “I didn’t want to simply narrate a sex crime victim’s story through this film. I wanted O-bok, a middle-aged woman, a mother and a breadwinner, to stand firmly with both feet and eventually survive and live here on land when her dignity had been infringed.”

Another reason was her love of Anton Chekhov’s “The Seagull”: “I wanted to title my first feature film with this work someday.”

For her next project, Kim is planning a mother and daughter revenge story. “I’m expecting to make a Korean-style film, a mixture of action, thriller and comedy.”

AI roped in to invigilate final year online exams

By Express News Service

CHENNAI: No masks, movements, headphones and companions while writing the exams, says Anna University in the students’ user manual for final semester exams that will be held online from Tuesday. Students will commence their viva voce on Tuesday while their written exams will begin from Thursday. The exams will follow the objective pattern with multiple-choice-based questions (MCQs). 

Students can appear for exams from their homes, for the first time, using devices such as laptops, desktops, smartphones, tablets with internet, camera and microphone facilities.Further, students have been asked to sit in a quiet room. “Please make sure that there is no noise around you during the examination, otherwise Artificial Intelligence (AI) will detect and capture the same as deviation,” said the candidate user manual issued by the varsity.

It added, “The system uses Artificial intelligence (AI) to detect and record face emotions, eye movements and all activities, without any hindrance to the examinations. “In addition to auto proctoring by the online examination system, invigilators will continuously monitor the students during the examination.

Presence of any other person in the room is prevented and movement is also barred. The exam will not be an open-book type and the students who turned or looked away received warning during the mock test. 
Students have also been asked not to wear mask to prevent any malpractice. In case of disconnection of network/power failure, it can be resumed by logging in after 3 minutes from the instance of interruption. 
Using headphones and bluetooth devices and noise cancellation during the examination will be considered as malpractice.

Discovery: User Manual of the Oldest Surviving Computer in the World


The Zuse Z4 is considered the oldest preserved computer in the world. Manufactured in 1945 and overhauled and expanded in 1949/1950, the relay machine was in operation on loan at the ETH Zurich from 1950 to 1955. Today the huge digital computer is located in the Deutsches Museum in Munich. The operating instructions for the Z4 were lost for a long time. In 1950,  ETH Zurich was the only university in continental Europe with a functioning tape-controlled computer. From the 1940s, only one other computer survived: the Csirac vacuum tube computer (1949). It is in the Melbourne Museum, Carlton, Victoria, Australia.

The mathematician Eduard Stiefel headed the Institute for Applied Mathematics at ETH Zurich, which was founded in 1948. His two most important assistants were Heinz Rutishauser (mathematician) and Ambros Speiser (electrical engineer). Rutishauser was one of the main fathers of the Algol programming language, Speiser became founding director of IBM Research in Rüschlikon ZH. Among the employees of the Institute for Applied Mathematics were Urs Hochstrasser (born 1926), Hans Rudolf Schwarz (born 1930) and Heinz Waldburger (deceased).

Finding thanks to the calculations for the P-16 jet aircraft

Evelyn Boesch from the ETH Zurich University archives let me know in early March 2020 that her father René Boesch (born in 1929), who had been working under Manfred Rauscher at the Institute for Aircraft Statics and Aircraft Construction at ETH Zurich since 1956, had kept rare historical documents. Boesch’s first employment was with the Swiss Aeronautical Engineering Association, which was housed and affiliated to the above-mentioned institute. The research revealed that the documents included a user manual for the Z4 and notes on flutter calculations. According to the Historical Lexicon of Switzerland, Rauscher, who was professor of Aircraft Statics and Construction at ETH Zurich from 1950 to 1974, was a consultant on the P-16 fighter aircraft (see Fig. 1). A specimen of the P-16 Mk III jet fighter can be found in the Flieger-Flab-Museum Dübendorf ZH. The institute was later renamed the Institute for Lightweight Structures and Cable Car Technology and closed in 2000. It is therefore not entirely coincidental that the manual was preserved by the aircraft manufacturers. A telephone conversation with René Boesch about the find took place on August 13, 2020.

Handwritten documents dated October 27, 1953, also came to light, concerning arithmetical problems that were solved with the Z4. The headings “Table of Air Force Coefficients” and “Wings with Ailerons” indicate that these are flutter calculations. With the P-16, a calculation time of 50 hours was necessary for 2.4 seconds flight time. Urs Hochstrasser, Hans Rudolf Schwarz,and Heinz Waldburger were involved. As Schwarz told me on January 12, 2016, this work was top secret at the time. After the Z4 was returned to Zuse KG, the calculations were continued with the Ermeth vacuum tube computer developed at ETH.

According to Heinz Rutishauser, around 100 jobs were carried out with the Z4 between 1950 and 1955. Of these, 55 commissions are listed in a directory of the Institute for Applied Mathematics dated July 11, 1955. These included calculations on the trajectory of rockets (for the Oerlikon Bührle machine tool factory), on aircraft wings (for the Eidgenössische Flugzeugwerke, Emmen LU), on flutter vibrations (for the Flug- und Fahrzeugwerke Altenrhein, 800 hours machine time), on nosedive (for the Flug- und Fahrzeugwerke Altenrhein, 120 hours machine time), see Herbert Bruderer: Konrad Zuse and Switzerland, pages 29-39.

Figure 1: P-16 Swiss jet aircraft.

For this jet aircraft, developed by the Flug- und Fahrzeugwerke Altenrhein SG on Lake Constance,

the Z4 carried out flutter and nosedive calculations from 1953 to 1955

(Source: State Archive, St. Gallen).

Extremely rare instruction manual

The inventor of the Z4 relay machine was the German civil engineer Konrad Zuse. He is probably the author of the now-discovered operating instructions (see Fig. 2). Heinz Rutishauser obviously copyedited them: the eyewitness Heinz Waldburger wrote in his epilogue to Herbert Bruderer: Konrad Zuse and Switzerland. Who invented the computer? (Oldenbourg Verlag, Munich 2012) on page 205: “In addition, there were the 16 pages of the Z4 user manual, which he [Heinz Rutishauser] had certainly revised, and the short regulation for the use of the program controlled computing machinery from September 20, 1950.” (Note: In a letter dated December 29, 1950, Swiss School Board President Hans Pallmann informed the head of the Institute, Eduard Stiefel, that the School Board had decided on the regulation for the use of the Z4 on December 2, 1950. These rules were possibly directed at external users).

Figure 2: Page 1 of the user manual for the Z4 relay computer.

Source: emanuscripta

Conditional jump

Thanks to a branching, the processing of a computer program can be continued at two different points. The jump instruction is executed, if a certain condition is fulfilled (true). With conditional jumps it is possible to deviate from the linear instruction sequence and also to jump from a main program to a subprogram and back. There are conditional and unconditional jumps. Conditional instructions are used for program loops, for example.

Originally, the Z4 did not know about conditional jumps. At the request of the ETH Zurich, it was added later. However, in a survey a few years ago, the few surviving eyewitnesses could not remember how it was executed. Page 8 of the instructions (see Fig. 3) shows how the conditional jump was handled at that time.

Figure 3: User manual for the Z4. Jump between main and subprogram

Source: emanuscripta

References

  • Anonymous: Gebrauchsanweisung Z 4, Institut für angewandte Mathematik, ETH Zürich, Som-mersemester 1952, Exemplar Nr. 19, 16 pages, ETH-Bibliothek Zürich, Hs 1517:1, https://doi.org/10.7891/e-manuscripta-98601
  • Bruderer, Herbert, Milestones in Analog and Digital Computing, Springer Nature, Cham, Switzerland, 3rd edition 2000, 2 volumes, about 2050 pages,  577 illustrations, 114 tables, https://www.springer.com/de/book/9783030409739
  • Bruderer, Herbert: Konrad Zuse und die Schweiz, De Gruyter Oldenbourg, Berlin/Boston 2012, 250 pages, http://www.degruyter.com/view/product/22427
  • Bruderer, Herbert: Meilensteine der Rechentechnik, De Gruyter Oldenbourg, Berlin/Boston, 3rd edition 2020, volume 1, 971 pages, 577 illustrations, 114 tables, https://www.degruyter.com/view/title/567028?rskey=xoRERF&result=7
  • Bruderer, Herbert: Meilensteine der Rechentechnik, De Gruyter Oldenbourg, Berlin/Boston, 3rd edition 2020, volume 2, 1055 pages, 138 illustrations, 37 tables, https://www.degruyter.com/view/title/567221?rskey=A8Y4Gb&result=4
  • Rojas, Raúl: Konrad Zuse und der bedingte Sprung, in: Informatik-Spektrum, volume 37, 2014, pages 50–53
  • Stiefel, Eduard: Reglement für die Bedienung der programmgesteuerten Rechenmaschine [Z4], Institut für angewandte Mathematik, ETH Zürich, September, 25 1953, 1 page
  • Waldburger, Heinz: Nachwort, in: Herbert Bruderer (ed.): Konrad Zuse und die Schweiz. Wer hat den Computer erfunden?, Oldenbourg-Verlag, München 2012, pages 205–207

Herbert Bruderer is a retired lecturer in didactics of computer science at ETH Zurich. More recently, he has been an historian of technology. bruderer@retired.ethz.ch, herbert.bruderer@bluewin.


No entries found