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The day I turned down Tim Berners-Lee

[Tim Berners-Lee] told me about his proposed system called the ‘World Wide Web.’ And I thought, well, that’s got a pretentious name


Imagine it's late 1990, and you meet a young man who starts telling you about his proposed system called the World Wide Web. Ian Ritchie was there. And he didn't buy it. Here Ritchie tells his story about information, connectivity and learning from mistakes. Talk recorded 11 July 2011 and being republished to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the World Wide Web.

About the Speaker

Ian Ritchie is chair of iomart plc. and several other computer and learning businesses, including Computer Application Services Ltd., the Interactive Design Institute and Caspian Learning Ltd. He is co-chair of the Scottish Science Advisory Council, a board member of the Edinburgh International Science Festival and the chair of Our Dynamic Earth, the Edinburgh Science Centre.
Ritchie founded and managed Office Workstations Limited (OWL) in Edinburgh in 1984 and its subsidiary OWL International Inc. in Seattle from 1985. OWL became the first and largest supplier of Hypertext/Hypermedia authoring tools (a forerunner to the World Wide Web) for personal computers based on its Guide product. OWL's customers used its systems to implement large interactive multimedia documentation systems in industry sectors such as automobile, defence, publishing, finance, and education. OWL was sold to Matsushita Electrical Industrial (Panasonic) of Japan in December 1989. He is the author of New Media Publishing: Opportunities from the digital revolution (1996).
He was awarded a CBE in the 2003 New Years Honours list for services to enterprise and education; he is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering; a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh; and a Fellow and a past-President of the British Computer Society (1998-99). 

Born to run: Modern engines are going the distance

 Ford CEO Alan R Mullaly feels strongly about the carmaker's 1-litre engine. (Ford Motor)
 Ford CEO Alan R Mullaly feels strongly about the carmaker's 1-litre engine. (Ford Motor)
Mechanical systems from the 1950s, ‘60s and ‘70s have either been augmented or replaced by electrical ones, adding layers of complexity to engine maintenance and repair. The silver lining is, in most cases, increased reliability – and not just fewer-oil-leaks reliability, but 100,000-miles-between-tune-ups reliability.
This writer knows first-hand, considering his car travelled more than 220,000 miles before requiring any major engine work.
To find out what might be most responsible for driving improvements in engine reliability, we took to, the online question and answer forum, to gauge users’ thoughts.
Rise of the machines
In the past 15 or 20 years, control modules, sensors and on-board diagnostics have all contributed to improved engine function. Quora user Chris Leinbach thinks the switch to more computerised engines, with fewer mechanical systems, has had the "biggest impact on engine reliability".
He wrote that until the 1970s, an engine's reliance on mechanical systems required it to warm entirely through before it ran optimally, and its various headers and valves needed regular adjustments – usually with a wrench. "Now we have computers that are adjusting things as complex as valve timing in the engines in real time," Leinbach wrote.
Laury Curran argues that electronics plays an outsize role in engine reliability as well. He cited sophisticated algorithms that control factors such as fuel usage and ignition timing. "Engine management systems rely on a whole host of electronic sensors to control how much fuel is used and when," he wrote.
But computers haven't just increased engine reliability; they've altered how engines are built. Curran went on to note how engines are designed with three-dimensional computer models, which – with the help of digital simulators – can better target potential stress points and hot spots. "When it comes to testing in real time, the engines very often perform as designed and only minor changes need to be made before mass production starts," he said.
What the data says
But are the views of Quora users borne out by vehicle reliability data? Broadly speaking, yes.
According to JD Power and Associates' annual Vehicle Dependability Study, which has been conducted for 25 years, vehicle reliability has been on a sustained rise in the US, save for a blip last year.
In its 2014 report released in February, JD Power said there was an increase in owner-reported problems for 2011-model-year vehicles compared to the previous year, marking the first increase in reported problems in 15 years. The firm collected more than 41,000 survey responses from original owners of 2011-model-year vehicles after three years of ownership. Most of the problems, the survey authors noted, came from cars with four-cylinder engines.
While drivers can assume vehicles are more reliable than they were in the past, technology is no catch-all defense, and an engine’s sophistication creates an entire subset of new problems. That said, buyers can assume that a new car’s engine, at any price point, was born to run.

Two dead as New York City buildings collapse after gas blast

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio: "This is a tragedy of the worst kind"
Two women have died after a gas leak sparked an explosion which levelled two buildings in East Harlem, New York City, authorities say.
Eighteen others have been injured in the incident, which sent smoke billowing into the city sky.
More than 250 firefighters are tackling the blaze at the scene near 116th Street and Park Avenue.
All train services in and out of Grand Central terminal have been halted following the incident near its tracks.
Missing people
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a news conference from the scene that the gas leak had been reported to the utility company just 15 minutes before the blast on Wednesday morning.
The area is engulfed in thick choking smoke, says the BBC's Nick Bryant at the scene
Mr de Blasio said the "major explosion" had destroyed two buildings and heavily damaged other structures.
A number of individuals were still missing in the area, he added.
"Every effort is being expended to locate" them, he added.
New York fire department has elevated the incident to the highest threat level possible.
Among the injured was a child said to be in a critical condition, CNN reports.
The utility company, Con Edison, says a resident in a nearby building reported smelling gas shortly before the explosion.
Streets and pavements around the site were littered with broken glass from shattered windows.
Witnesses reported the powerful blast knocked items off shelves in nearby stores.
Authorities in the area were said to be handing out medical masks to residents due to the thick white smoke at the scene.
Eyewitness Shane Kennedy said he heard a "massive explosion"
A witness told the BBC "there was just a lot of panic" following the explosion.
Dan Scarvino had just emerged on to a nearby train platform when "suddenly a plume of smoke came out of nowhere".
"I've never seen anything like it," he added.
A witness told the New York Daily News she had smelled gas "for weeks" before the explosion.
"We saw people flying out of the window... those are my neighbours," Ashley Rivera said.
Another witness told the newspaper he heard two loud explosions that shook the barber shop where he works.
"It was loud, like boom, boom!" Mitch Abreu said. "It rocked the whole block.
"A window blew out of the other shop down the street," he added.
"It looked like the [Twin] Towers all over again. People covered in dust and covering their mouths."
Map showing location of collapsed buildings
New York City fire fighters dig through rubble at a building explosion in New York City on 12 March 2014
Emergency workers respond to the scene of an explosion and in New York City on 12 March 2014
Smoke rises from a five-alarm fire and building collapse in New York City on 12 March 2014
Rescue workers remove an injured person on a stretcher after an explosion and building collapse in the East Harlem, New York, on 12 March 2014
Fire fighters battle a fire after a building collapse in the East Harlem, New York, on 12 March 2014
Rescue workers removed an injured person on a stretcher following a building explosion and collapse in East Harlem, New York City, on 12 March 2014
Heavy smoke poured from the debris of an explosion in Manhattan on 12 March 2014
Firefighters battle a blaze at the site of a possible explosion and building collapse in the East Harlem neighbourhood of New York on 12 March 2014
Firefighters battle a blaze at the site of a possible explosion and building collapse in the East Harlem neighbourhood of New York on 12 March 2014
An explosion seen in New York City on 12 March 2014  
Witness Dan Scarvino took this photo of the blast from a nearby train platform

Could YOU solve the mystery of the missing Malaysia Airlines flight?

Satellite images made public to help locate MH370 jet

Malaysia ariplane
TOMNOD tagging
Colorado-based firm DigitalGlobe has put its high-resolution satellite and aerial images on its Tomnod site so people can explore the seas for clues about the crash, as well signs of the wreckage (pictured left). Images are then tagged and analysed by experts before the most significant sightings are sent to the search teams in Asia. Tomnod user Mike Seberger tagged an image taken on Sunday morning, which appears to show the outline of a plane underwater (pictured right). He is unsure of the exact location but is hoping the sighting will soon be verified.

'I didn't kill your son'

'I am not to blame': BBC radio DJ Liz Kershaw, 55, says she did not cause Russell Joslin's mental health problems

claims former Radio 1 DJ Liz Kershaw who was blamed for colleague's suicide after allegedly harassing him with abusive phone calls

Ms Kershaw, 55, pictured, has spoken out for the first time about claims she threatened her BBC colleague Russell Joslin, 50, who killed himself after complaining he had been sexually harassed by a colleague.

You raped me.

Trial: PR guru Max Clifford, 70, arrives at Southwark Crown Court on Wednesday

 You blackmailed me. Are you still abusing children?' Max Clifford trial is read anonymous letter sent by 'victim' who was 15 when he 'drove her to consider suicide'

The alleged victim of the PR guru told Southwark Crown Court that she met Clifford in 1977, when she was 15 and that he persuaded her to perform sex acts.

'I thought only people in Africa got HIV,' says mother of three who contracted the condition after holiday romance

Naive: Rachel Dilley says she had no idea of the risks of getting HIV - because she thought 'only people in Africa got it' Rachel Dilley, 48, from Hertfordshire, told ITV's This Morning that she hadn't realised at the time that 'white people had ever had HIV' - an attitude described by host Philip Scofield as 'extremely naive'. Within a few months, her new relationship was over - and shortly afterwards she began to feel unwell. 'I had swollen glands, a sore throat, a temperature and couldn't eat properly,' she recalled. 'It was like a really severe bout of the flu.'

Kelly Brook's ex-Gladiator boyfriend pleads guilty to crashing van full of dead badgers into bus stop while working as marksman in government cull

David McIntosh David McIntosh (left, with Kelly Brook), 28, of Altrincham, Cheshire, known for appearing in TV series Gladiator as ‘Tornado’, had been employed to kill the creatures and take them for disposal as part of the badger cull in Gloucestershire. But as the former Royal Marine drove his VW Transporter van to a furnace in the middle of the night, he swerved and smashed into a bus stop, Stroud Magistrates' Court was told. Around a dozen anti-cull protestors attended the hearing and waved placards outside the court (right)

Gay theatre student who claimed he was beaten by homophobic thugs now admits he got his injuries when he fell over (but WON'T face action for wasting police time)

splash preview WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT Richard Kennedy, 18, from Blackpool, suffered dislodged teeth, a bad knee injury and a swollen face after he left the Evoque nightclub in Preston, Lancashire, and told police he had been violently attacked by men shouting homophobic insults. He posted before and after photos of what he called an 'utterly inhuman attack' on Facebook. Then police showed him CCTV showing he simply fell onto the pavement face-first, by himself, and Kennedy admitted the 'assault' had never happened.

The aggrieved house wife

The 'aggrieved housewife', the 'soldier's mother' and the 'Kiev resident': Did Russian television 'use actress to portray FIVE different women' as it reported normal Ukrainians backed Kremlin? The babushkas fight back! Pro-Russia thug is tackled by granny in Ukraine as UN peace envoy is forced out by mob shouting 'Putin' Now Kremlin says it will build bridge first planned by HITLER to link Russia direct to its naval base in Crimea and bypass Ukraine The blonde was seen as an angry resident in Kiev (left), calling for help from Russia and describing her terror at the 'pro-fascist' politicians who grabbed power in Ukraine. However, many social network users have been quick to point out that the fur-hat wearing woman bears an uncanny resemblance to several other women interviewed, including (from second left) the mother of a soldier , a flag-draped resident of Kharkov, an aggrieved housewife in Odessa, and, wearing the same hat, and anti-Maidan activist - prompting accusations that she is an actress hired to sow discord in Ukraine and stoke pro-Moscow groups to incite people against the Kiev authorities.

Just another day in the office: Playboy art director reveals awkward and sometimes humorous side to producing risque photos for iconic magazine

Playboy shoot preview
From the glossy pages of Playboy magazine, the voluptuous models look sultry and confident, but creating that sexy facade can be an awkward process. An art director for the Dutch edition of the iconic magazine has revealed a behind-the-scenes look at the photo shoots, showing the hard work that goes into creating the perfect image. Patrick van Dam's images show models posing in hay barns, on beaches and in forests as a team of stylists, lighting assistants and photographers gather round.

Pistorius defence lawyer accuses husband and wife who heard screams of being unreliable witnesses who rehearsed their accounts of the killing

Deliberation: Oscar Pistorius leans over the dock to speak to his legal team at the start of the third day of his trial
Barry Roux said similarities in the accounts given by husband and wife Michell Burger and Charl Johnson indicated they had aligned their versions at the expense of the truth. He said there were differences between the statements that they had given to police after the shooting and testimony they had given in court. 'You could just as well have stood together in the witness box,' he said during cross-examination on the third day of the trial where Pistorius is accused of murdering Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine's Day last year.

Turning water into WINE: Jesus-inspired machine transforms your tapwater into high-end plonk for just £1.20 a bottle

Miracle machine mock-up The machines (pictured) are due to go on sale later this year for $499 (£299) each if its California-based inventors achieve funding. Once on sale, DIY wine makers will be able to buy ingredient kits which include grape concentrates and yeast for a variety of different wine types and styles from Amazon at the equivalent of $2 (£1.20) a bottle. Users will be able to monitor the fermentation process via a free iOS or Android smartphone app (pictured inset)

Pictured: The suspended art teacher who Sellotaped shut mouths of 10-year-olds who refused to stop giggling

Pictured: The suspended art teacher who Sellotaped shut mouths of 10-year-olds who refused to stop giggling

Priscila Davo Ortega, 27, allegedly lined up more than 20 children, including Thomas Bradbury, right, during her art lesson and put layers of sticky tape across their lips because they were being too noisy. Parents said that when some children ripped off the tape because they were struggling to breathe, the Spanish-born teacher replaced it. Other children were left with bleeding lips when the tape was removed, and several said that they were scared about returning to school.

Pope Francis reveals he went to confession when he was training to be a priest after falling in love with a young woman

Holy secret: Pope Francis, pictured in the Vatican today, has revealed that he had to seek redemption in the confession booth, after falling in love with a woman when he was at the seminary in his early 20s Pope Francis revealed that he had to seek redemption in the confession booth, after falling in love with a woman when he was at the seminary in his early 20s.

Mother has world's first double eyelash and eyebrow transplant using hair from the back of her head

Elizabeth Cook had an eyebrow and eyelash transplant A mother-of-four has made medical history by having an eyelash transplant and eyebrow transplant at the same time. Elizabeth Cook, 36, from Harlow, Essex, pictured left after her treatment, is the first patient in the UK to have both procedures on the same day. Both operations were carried out at Manchester's Crown Clinic by surgeon Asim Shahmalak, hair loss expert on TV's Embarrassing Bodies. Top right, her brows and lashes before treatment. Bottom right, after

'Have you ever seen such gross disrespect?': Judge blasts 'spoiled' US cheerleader, 18, suing parents to support her after she ran away - who claims they were behind her bulimia and that her father showed her 'inappropriate affection'

 Rachel Canning turned up to Morris County Court, New Jersey, today dressed in her school uniform and pearls for the first hearing in her sensational case against her parents who she claimed 'abandoned' her and owe her money. But her hopes were dampened when Judge Peter Bogaard read an expletive-laden and vicious answerphone message left by Rachel, from Lincoln Park, New Jersey, to her mother, Elizabeth, and said: 'Have you ever in your experience seen such gross disrespect for a parent? I don't see it in my house.' Rachel, who is suing her parents for 'abandoning' her has made sensational claims that her mom calling her 'fat' and 'porky' led to her suffering bulimia and that her former police chief father dad used to get her drunk and kiss her inappropriately. The judge denied any immediate claim for cash and adjourned to a later date - but warned her there appeared to be insufficient evidence to support her claims so fa

Kim Jong-Un 'orders 33 people to be executed because they made contact with Christian missionary'

Vanished: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and Choe Ryong Hae pictured in July last year, before rumours of a disappearance surfaced The Koreans have landed themselves in hot water after it emerged they had worked with South Korean Baptist missionary Kim Jung-wook.

'I was one of Britain's fattest children': Super slimmer loses HALF his body weight and becomes a weight loss coach

Nathan Hewitt
Nathan Hewitt, 23, from Merthyr Tydfil, weighed 23st when he was just 15 (left) but went on a strict diet and dropped to 11st (right and inset). He decided to lose weight when he was unable to fit into a rollercoaster at Alton Towers. He has now been given a grant to set himself up as a weight loss coach for overweight children.

'See you later, Tam': Devastated husband, 45, said goodbye as wife, 37, died in hospital then went home and killed himself hours later while wearing her dressing gown and clutching her photo

Tragic: Adrian Cross, left, killed himself after his wife Tammy, right, died from a debilitating lung condition
Adrian Cross never spent a night apart from his wife Tammy during their 15-year marriage, and vowed that he would not live without her. Hours after she died from a debilitating lung condition in October last year, he was found dead at home wearing her pink dressing gown and holding her photograph. The pair married in the Dominican Republic in 1998 and lived together in Merthyr Tydfil, South Wales

Britain wakes to a frosty, clear morning of fire and ice - but it's going to be HOTTER than the Greek Islands this weekend with temperatures set to rise to 18C in welcome warm spell at last

Chilly start: Some areas, including Malmesbury in Wiltshire, were covered in frost this morning, but the mercury is set to rise as the week goes on

The sunrise over the Peak District in Derbyshire is an early indication that spring sunshine is on its way and is set to replace the storm conditions that have blighted parts of the country since new year. The mercury is set to reach mid-teens this weekend, with some parts experiencing better weather than the South of France. An Otter at the British Wildlife Centre in Lingfield, Surrey, (jnset) is already taking advantage of the sunny spells, and many Britons could be experiencing similar conditions on Saturday and Sunday

Gunmen seize city council in Iraq's Samarra

Hostages taken and more than 20 people injured as armed group seizes the city council headquarters of the Iraqi city.
Samarra has received people fleeing from violence in nearby Fallujah 
Armed men wearing military uniform have seized the city council headquarters in the Iraqi city of Samarra and taken employees hostage, the second such attack in recent months, police and witnesses said.
At least three policemen were killed in Tuesday's attack, while 25 policemen and eight civilians were wounded, including the deputy head of the city council, Ammar Ahmed, said Omar al-Obeidi, a doctor at Samarra hospital.
Two fighters, possibly wearing explosives-rigged vests or belts, seized the city council building with an unknown number of employees inside, security officials said.
"The gunmen are in the council building," Police Lieutenant Dhafir Ahmed said, according to Reuters news agency.
"Local council employees and court employees are trapped inside."
Clashes broke out between the fighters and security forces, and a suicide bomber detonated an explosives-rigged vehicle near police and militia forces when they arrived at the scene.
The attack in Samarra follows a similar incident in Tikrit, another city in the central Salaheddin province, where fighters detonated a car bomb and seized the city council headquarters on December 16.
Security forces ultimately freed the Tikrit hostages, but a city council member and two police were killed.
Escalating violence
The attack illustrates the impunity with which fighters in Iraq can strike even targets that should be highly secure.
Violence in Iraq has reached a level not seen since 2008, when the country was just emerging from a brutal period of sectarian violence in which tens of thousands died.
More than 1,750 people have been killed in attacks and clashes in Iraq since January 1, according to AFP figures based on security and medical sources.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki says the upsurge is a spillover from the civil war in neighbouring Syria but critics say his own policies are at least partly to blame for reviving an insurgency that climaxed in 2006-07.

Oscar Pistorius breaks down in court as his lawyer argues that Reeva Steenkamp was so badly brain damaged by gunshot she couldn't have screamed

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