There Goes The Pointer Guy

Douglas Engelbart
Douglas Engelbart (Photo credit: nilsohman)

Sad to relate the death of an Übergeek. Douglas Engelbart, who has just passed away at the age of 88, is referred to more often than not as the inventor of the mouse. It would be a great injustice though if that was how he was remembered, as creator of a once-iconic device now already beginning to seem dated.

The point is not the device itself but its purpose: To select and activate visual representations on a screen. Not just icons and menu items, in the fashion later made famous by Steve Jobs, but also links between bits of text – a vision he was promoting two decades before Tim Berners-Lee make the Web a practical reality. Working in the age of punchcards and paper tape, Engelbart sketched out a whole new way for humans to use computers.

This though was merely part of a wider vision, of a world where human intelligence was augmented by machines. We may not have achieved noticeably greater intelligence yet, it might be admitted, but it would take an effort not to see today’s instant access to information as a big step in that direction. We are living in a world that Engelbart helped create.

Bunny!

A rabbit on the grass. Nothing unusual about that – except this is not a pet. It’s a completely wild rabbit, apparently the same one I caught on camera a week or so ago, but it let me get within a few feet. It’s either remarkably brave or just too young to have learned a fear of people yet. Or too stupid. Maybe it’s a dumb bunny. Either way I hope it sticks around.

Been a lot of encounters with wildlife recently. A mouse has been eating my nuts and fruit. So I set a trap for it, a humane one, baited it with cashews, and woke the next day to find it empty. Empty of mice, and of nuts. The trap is set off by balance, and the beast is so light it was getting in and out without setting it off. I modified it to make it more sensitive, and soon I had a cute little mouse in a box.

In fact over the last few days this has happened twice. So we either had more than one mouse, or I’m not releasing them far away enough.