Turing, Bloom Boxes and Myspace on TechStuff

by | Dec 6, 2010 10:40 AM ET

Here's a super-sized roundup of the latest TechStuff podcasts! Two weeks ago, Chris and I recorded a podcast about Alan Turing. Turing played an instrumental role in Britain's national defense during World War II as a codebreaker. Due to the efforts of Turing and others, British intelligence cracked the codes Germans were using to direct troop and U-boat movements. After the war, Turing hypothesized that a simple machine designed to execute specific algorithms could automate certain processes. His work became the foundation for computer science.

Turing died in 1954, the victim of an apparent suicide. One of his contemporaries, Sir Maurice Wilkes, passed away last week. Turing and Wilkes had fundamentally different philosophies as far as computer engineering is concerned. Turing's approach was to tackle problems through programming (which he called coding). His goal was to create complex code that could run on relatively simple machines. Wilkes preferred to design increasingly complex machines to handle computing problems, keeping the code relatively simple. For more on Turing and his contributions to computer science, check out our podcast.

Last Monday, we discussed the Bloom Box. This device received a lot of press earlier this year. The Bloom Box uses fuel cells and natural gas (or biogas) to generate electricity. Using a combination of fuel, heat and oxygen, the fuel cells facilitate a chemical reaction. The output is more heat, steam, carbon dioxide and free electrons for electricity. As long as the Bloom Box has fuel and can maintain its temperature, it'll generate power.

And on Wednesday's show last week, we talked about the story of Myspace. When Myspace premiered, it made a big impact. Earlier social networks looked primitive in comparison and didn't allow users to customize their profiles to the extent they could on Myspace. Facebook, which launched shortly after Myspace, restricted its user base to college students. As a result, Myspace more or less became the only game in town for members of the general public who were interested in social networking.

Myspace's success attracted attention. News Corp acquired Myspace's parent company for $580 million in 2005. Myspace had only been around for a little over a year -- it went live in 2003. It looked like the sky was the limit. But once Facebook opened its virtual doors to the general public, things began to change. Facebook had a built-in user base filled with young users. It also had a streamlined interface compared to Myspace's profile. Within a couple of years, Facebook's active membership surpassed the once-dominant Myspace.

Now, Myspace has relaunched with a new design. Will it be enough to turn the tide or will the site fade away?

Keep listening to TechStuff! We have some fun episodes recorded covering everything from BBSes to our infamous predictions shows! And don't forget to follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

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