Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Holidays and Observances for August 12 2015


August 12 1981, IBM introduces the 5150 personal computer. It will sweep away the competition and effectively have the field to itself, for a while.

For an operating system, IBM first went to Digital Research, which had developed CP/M. When Digital declined, IBM went to a small firm known for microcomputer adaptations of Basic: Microsoft.

Microsoft bought the rights to Seattle Computer Products’ QDOS (supposedly, “Quick and Dirty Operating System,” itself a possible hack of CP/M). In Microsoft’s hands, QDOS became PC-DOS and later MS-DOS. (The 5150 could also run the more-expensive CP/M-86 and UCSD D-Pascal operating systems, but the $40 price tag — $99 in today’s money — on PC-DOS 1.0 made it irresistible to most users.)

Before 1980, IBM made only mini and mainframe computers. The old-line firm just wasn’t sure that the fledgling microcomputer market would be at all profitable.

But once the company decided to act, it developed the 5150 in less than a year at its Boca Raton, Florida, facility — using existing off-the-shelf components. IBM selected Intel’s 8-to-16-bit 8088 processor, because it thought both the Intel 8086 and Motorola MC68000 16-bit processors were too powerful.

IBM unveiled its new baby in Boca Raton and at New York City’s Waldorf Astoria hotel. It weighed a then-svelte 25 pounds with a 4.77-MHz Intel 8088 CPU that contained 29,000 transistors. Stripped, it had just 16 kB of RAM; standard 64 kB, expandable to 256 kB. It also featured a 40-kB ROM, a choice of zero, one or two 5.25-inch floppy drives, a monochromatic display and optional cassette drive.

The 16-kb base model, with no data-storage drives included, cost $1,565 ($3,900 today). If you loaded a 64-kB box with all the standard features, that jumped to $2,880 ($7,150 today), and souped up with color graphics and 256 kB, it’d cost you about $6,000 ($14,900 today). Available software included the VisiCalc spreadsheet, Easywriter 1.0 and Adventure, Microsoft’s first game.

IBM retailed the 5150 through ComputerLand and Sears, Roebuck. It sold 65,000 PCs in four months, with 100,000 orders taken by Christmas.

The 5150 was trouncing all the other microcomputers targeted for homes and small businesses. It established the dominance of the Microsoft operating system, pushing CP/M and proprietary operating systems out of the market. On the hardware side, its boxy design became the model for PC compatibles, and the ISA bus supplanted the old S-100 bus as standard.

It would be two-and-a-half years before the first real challenge appeared, when the original Apple Macintosh went on sale.

International Youth Day

The United Nations’ (UN) International Youth Day is celebrated on August 12 each year to recognize efforts of the world’s youth in enhancing global society. It also aims to promote ways to engage them in becoming more actively involved in making positive contributions to their communities.

Many activities and events that take place around the world on International Youth Day promote the benefits that young people bring into the world. Many countries participate in this global event, which may include youth conferences on issues such as education and employment. Other activities include concerts promoting the world’s youth, as well as various sporting events, parades and mobile exhibitions that showcase young people’s achievements.

The UN defines the worlds’ youth as the age group between 15 and 24 years old, making up one-sixth of the human population. Many of these young men and women live in developing countries and their numbers are expected to rise steeply. The idea for International Youth Day was proposed in 1991 by young people who were gathered in Vienna, Austria, for the first session of the UN’s World Youth Forum. The forum recommended that an International Youth Day be declared, especially for fundraising and promotional purposes, to support the United Nations Youth Fund in partnership with youth organizations.

In 1998 a resolution proclaiming August 12 as International Youth Day was adopted during the World Conference of Ministers Responsible for Youth. That recommendation was later endorsed by the UN General Assembly in 1999. International Youth Day was first observed in 2000. One of the year’s highlights was when eight Latin American and Caribbean youth and youth-related organizations received United Nations World Youth Awards in Panama City, Panama.

The UN logo is often associated with marketing and promotional material for this event. It features a projection of a world map (less Antarctica) centered on the North Pole, enclosed by olive branches. The olive branches symbolize peace and the world map represents all the people of the world. It has been featured in black against a white background.

National Julienne Fries Day

No matter how you slice it – though it had better be in long, thin strips – today’s food holiday is a tasty one. August 12 is National Julienne Fries Day!

Not to be confused with National French Fries Day, of course. We could have gone wild that day and eaten jumbo-sized steak fries or wedge fries! (Alas, we did not. Ours were julienned, which is the most popular method of preparing french fries, at least in the fast food world). Julienning is a culinary knife technique in which a food is cut into long, thin strips similar to matchsticks. Carrots and celery are frequently julienned. When potatoes are julienned, they are often referred to as “shoestring” fries. The origin of the term is unclear, though it is French and may refer to a person named Philippe. Just kidding, named Julien.  The technique was first described in Fran├žois Massialot’s Le Cuisinier Royal et Bourgeois, published in 1722.

According to Wikipedia, instructions for proper julienning are as follows:
With a sharp knife the raw vegetable is sliced to length and trimmed on four sides to create a thick rectangular stick 6 to 7 cm (2.4 to 2.8 in), then cut lengthwise into thin 1 to 2 mm (0.039 to 0.079 in) slices. Stacking these slices and again cutting lengthwise into thin (1 to 2 mm (0.039 to 0.079 in), equal to the thickness) strips creates thin uniform square sticks. Julienne usually applies to vegetables prepared in this way but it can also be applied to the preparation of meat or fish, especially in stir fry techniques.
Work that knife, baby! And don’t forget your ruler, apparently. Sheesh. Technical much?

We weren't in the mood for precision cutting this evening, so we opened a bag of OreIda french fries instead. And baked them. Oh, the ignominy! But we used a real good quality ketchup.

National Middle Child's Day

While the origins are unknown, August 12 is an annual holiday that celebrates the middle child in the family – it’s National Middle Child’s Day or Middle Child's Day. Whether you are one or have one, being in the middle is not always the best place to be.

Middle Child Syndrome
Some believe birth order, also referred to as ordinal position, can play a pivotal role in the personalities of children. According to the “Middle Child Syndrome,” the first-born child is often regarded as the leader of the pack while the youngest is considered the baby. But the middle child does not receive much attention and often lacks emotional support, resulting in low self-esteem, insecurity and jealousy. Middle children often feel unloved. They can be introverts and loners and often act out to get attention.

Some believe first-born children are often confident and born leaders. In fact, most of the United States presidents were the eldest sibling or the first-born son. Some believe the youngest in the family can be the most outgoing and charming but can also be spoiled.

As parents, we should never compare one child to another – each child is special in his or her own way. Despite our busy and hectic schedules, it’s important to take time out of our day for each one of our children. In honor of National Middle Child’s Day, why not do something extra special for your middle child? Make him or her feel loved and special today.

Vinyl Record Day

August 12th is Vinyl Record Day (VRD). Launched in 2002 by Gary Freiberg, the annual event was established to celebrate music and the “cultural influence, records and the cover art of the vinyl records.” VRD also raises awareness on the importance of preserving vinyl records that once played such a pivotal role in American pop culture. And VRD coincides with an important day in history - Thomas Edison invented the phonograph on August 12, 1877.

Before the Internet, iPods, CDs, MTV, cassette tapes and even 8-track tapes, people would hang out at local record stores to check out the newest albums and amazing cover art. Nothing was sweeter than playing that brand new album or 45 on the record player for the very first time and sharing it with friends and loved ones. While the medium has changed over the years, music continues to play a pivotal role in today’s culture.

The United States Postal Service is considering a series of first class stamps that commemorates the historical importance of vinyl records. According to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), because only 5 percent of all audio recordings have been digitized, it is even more important to preserve our audio history. If you would like to see vinyl records commemorated on postal stamps, please sign the petition available online.

In honor of Vinyl Record Day, why not take a trip down memory lane? Dust off the old record collection, crank up the record player, listen to a few of your favorite tunes from days-gone-by and get your dance on! Happy Vinyl Record Day!

World Elephant Day

On August 12 World Elephant Day asks you to help conserve and protect elephants from the numerous threats they face.

On August 12, 2012, the inaugural World Elephant Day was launched to bring attention to the urgent plight of Asian and African elephants. The elephant is loved, revered and respected by people and cultures around the world, yet we balance on the brink of seeing the last of this magnificent creature.
"We admire elephants in part because they demonstrate what we consider the finest human traits: empathy, self-awareness, and social intelligence. But the way we treat them puts on display the very worst of human behavior.”
- Graydon Carter, Editor of Vanity Fair
The escalation of poaching, habitat loss, human-elephant conflict and mistreatment in captivity are just some of the threats to both African and Asian elephants. Working towards better protection for wild elephants, improving enforcement policies to prevent the illegal poaching and trade of ivory, conserving elephant habitats, better treatment for captive elephants and, when appropriate, reintroducing captive elephants into natural, protected sanctuaries are the goals that numerous elephant conservation organizations are focusing on around the world.

World Elephant Day asks you to experience elephants in non-exploitive and sustainable environments where elephants can thrive under care and protection. On World Elephant Day, August 12, express your concern, share your knowledge and support solutions for the better care of captive and wild elephants alike.
"Elephants are simply one more natural resource that is being caught up in human greed on the one hand and human need on the other.  We somehow need people to become reacquainted with nature or they can have no clue as to the interrelatedness of cause and effect.”
- Dr. Stephen Blake, Max Planck Institute for Ornithology