Barcode history is probably more interesting than you thought

It had been calculated that only ten digits were needed; the barcode had to be readable from any direction and at speed; there must be fewer than one in 20,000 undetected errors.

Based largely on morse code, and originally intended to streamline the checkout process at a supermarket, the barcode has a pretty interesting history. Iterate, iterate, iterate; and eventually success ensues, as does widespread adoption of new and useful technologies.

Read more about it here, via the Smithsonian Magazine.

Discoveries at Jamestown

Archaeologists have uncovered human remains of four of the earliest leaders of the English colony that would become America, buried for more than 400 years near the altar of what was America’s first Protestant church in Jamestown, Virginia.

The team identified the remains of the Rev. Robert Hunt, Jamestown’s first Anglican minister who was known as a peacemaker between rival colonial leaders; Capt. Gabriel Archer, a nemesis of one-time colony leader John Smith; Sir Ferdinando Wainman, likely the first knight buried in America; and Capt. William West, who died in a fight with the Powhatan Indians. The three other men likely died after brief illnesses. They were buried between 1608 and 1610.

Pretty incredible, and right in my backyard (not literally, but close as the crow flies). Via Wavy News.

Urban Exploration, for the win.

Not sure what it is that about abandoned buildings and settlements, but I find the topic of urban (and not so urban) exploration pretty fascinating.  I can usually get my fix over at Love these Pics, which is a fantastic site if you’re not familiar with it. Some of my favorites there are an old NSA listening post in Berlin, Bodie Historic State Park and Chernobyl (a subject that I’ve studied extensively – more on that below).

Tonight I came across this post on Longreads about a long abandoned Soviet-era mining town in the Arctic. Definitely worth checking out, calling the history of this site “interesting” would be an understatement.

If you’re interested in reading up on the Chernobyl disaster, make sure to check out Kidofspeed’s website. It’s a photojournal of her visits to the exclusion zone around Pripyat, it serves as an eerie reminder of worse case scenarios. Recommended reading on the subject: Wormwood Forest by Mary Mycio and Chernobyl A Novel by Frederik Pohl.

Exploring Fort Monroe

Disclaimer: You may learn something here. For most of us, this is good. My twelve-year old is at a point where if she’s not in school, she doesn’t want to see anything educational and has asked me to warn her if a book or television show may fall into this category. I watch a lot of Discovery Channel, PBS documentaries and the like- so this comes up a lot. 🙂

Last night, I was trying to decide where I wanted to spend my day working. I’ve got the “get out of the house” bug at the moment, something about the fall weather … outside is a must. Scenic is more or less the current requirement, so I scoured Google Maps to find a nice place to crash. Fort Monroe won. Commissioned in 1819 by President James Monroe it was designed to be an impenetrable fort, defending the Hampton Roads region from a sea attack.

While on the way to finding a spot to camp out at, I ran across the entrance for the most fortified part of the base.


Who can resist? There was a small information sign just off to the right that read:


Unexploded ordinance really isn’t anything foreign to this area, I see stories in the news every now and then about treasure hunters or beach goers uncovering some civil war era cannonball or ammunition while digging around. In fact, there’s a large section of this retired base that is still off limits for just that reason. After clearing the entrance, this path drew my attention.


Following the path up, I’m on top of the fortress walls. Quite an impressive view (the lighthouse is my favorite)

Meanwhile, outside the heart of the base:

On the way out, spotted this guy. Not sure the photo does this ride justice, it was beautiful, really nice restoration job. Wish I could have snapped a better photo- shooting and driving is hard (and maybe illegal?)..


Just a mile south of this fort is Fort Wool which I’ve never visited, but plan to sometime in the near future. It was also designed to work in concert with Fort Monroe to provide crossfire and help protect the harbor.

So, that’s my day. Now I need to figure out where I’m going tomorrow. 🙂