TheSunnyMag: The Birth of Xbox Live; Toyota’s Killer Firmware; The Startup Scene That is Changing Norway & More


TheSunnyMag: The Birth of Xbox Live; Toyota’s Killer Firmware; The Startup Scene That is Changing Norway & More

Welcome to the latest edition of TheSunnyMag, your weekly magazine of beautiful stories curated from around the web. In this weeks edition, you’ll read about the birth of Xbox Live, The start-up scene that is changing Norway and other interesting and insightful pieces. Also do not miss on the APOGEE story, about the man who started selling games online, even before most of us were aware of the Internet. Enjoy!



The birth of Xbox Live: How Microsoft’s engineers created the world’s first broadband-connected game console, based on interviews with the people who made it. More here.

APOGEE –  The One-Man Online Game Publisher Of 1987: In the late 1980s, a Texan twenty-something named Scott Miller created a business model that would change the way people bought and sold products across the world. Miller called his masterpiece the Apogee model. Everyone else called it shareware. It made digital sales on the internet stupendously profitable and Miller a millionaire. The model and the man would revolutionize how we use the internet, before most of the world knew what the internet was. More here.

Toyota’s killer firmware – Bad design and its consequences: On Thursday October 24, 2013, an Oklahoma court ruled against Toyota in a case of unintended acceleration that lead to the death of one the occupants. Central to the trial was the Engine Control Module’s (ECM) firmware. Embedded software used to be low-level code we’d bang together using C or assembler. These days, even a relatively straightforward, albeit critical, task like throttle control is likely to use a sophisticated RTOS and tens of thousands of lines of code. More here.

New New World

The edge of the abyss – exposing the NSA’s all-seeing machine: On November 4th, 1952, a new federal agency was created in secret, chartered with spying on foreign adversaries around the world. There was no mention in the press. There was no discussion on the floor of Congress. The existence of the agency appeared nowhere in the Federal Register. Since then, much of what the public knows about the National Security Agency has been the stuff of Sneakers and West Wing legend. More here.

Explaining China’s mobile app ecosystem – the potential, players, and pain points: When the press talks about China’s smartphone app ecosystem, it focuses mostly on big successes among gaming apps and locally developed apps such as WeChat. What you don’t hear about is whether there is any potential growth for non-gaming mobile apps in China, particularly by foreign developers. And, for app makers interested in leaping into the Chinese market, there’s also little information available about what pain points they should expect. More here.


Why JP Singh is every Indian farmer’s best friend: How did an unassuming Varanasi farmer and school dropout come to be sought after by farmers, praised by experts and awarded by the government for his famous seeds? More here.


Gas vs. diesel vs. hybrid – Which car engine is best for you and the environment?: Gas, diesel, hybrid, or electric? Everyone wants their next car to have better fuel economy and wouldn’t mind if it’s better for the environment. But which engine is the right choice? Ultimately, it depends on the kind of driving you do and how much distance you’ll travel before turning the car over to the next owner. This auto tech backgrounder will help you decide which engine is best, given your circumstances. More here.

Illegal numbers – Can you break the law with math?: If a number represents information which is forbidden by law for one to possess or distribute, that number is said to be illegal. By nature it is only possible to compose law that applies to a limited subset of reality. When it comes to prosecution for trafficking in illegal numbers, the application of murky laws to the idiosyncrasies of the real word inevitably leads to paradox that can only be resolved by additional law. The most famous example of an illegal number was developed in 2001 in which the binary representation of a large prime number corresponded to a compressed version of C source code which implemented the DeCSS decryption algorithm. As this algorithm can be used to circumvent a DVD’s copy protection, the number used to generate the code was therefore deemed illegal. More here.


The start-up scene that is changing Norway: Norway’s strict labour laws mean most offices in the capital Oslo are empty after 16:00, but a growing number of young entrepreneurs are bringing a new 24-hour working culture to the city. App developers and web designers sit at gleaming white desks, in a loft where the exposed brickwork and wooden beams are draped with fairy lights. More here.


How the Rosetta Stone Works: Ancient Egypt conjures up images of bearded ­Pharaohs, mighty pyramids and gold-laden tombs. Centuries ago, before archaeology became a legitimate field of science, explorers raided Egyptian ruins, seizing priceless artefacts. Collectors knew that these items were valuable, but they had no way of understanding just how much they were worth. Because the civilization’s historical records and monuments were inscribed with hieroglyphics, a language no one — Egyptian or foreigner — could read, the secrets of Egypt’s past were hopelessly lost. That is, until the Rosetta Stone was discovered. More here.

Navajo Code Talkers: In United States history, the story of Native Americans is predominantly tragic. Settlers took their land, misunderstood their customs, and killed them in the thousands. Then, during World War II, the U.S. government needed the Navajos’ help. And though they had suffered greatly from this same government, Navajos proudly answered the call to duty. More here.

Big Picture

The cult of Cthulhu – real prayer for a fake tentacle: Simon is a Slavonic Orthodox priest, a student of the occult, but until he walked into that shop he didn’t know anything about H.P. Lovecraft, a writer of “weird fiction” (the literary forefather of both science fiction and horror). Neither had he heard of the Necronomicon, a book that the author had invented for his stories. It’s supposed to be an incredibly powerful grimoire, or collection of spells and incantations, and as Lovecraft was in the habit of blending reality and fantasy in his books – even going so far as enlisting other “weird” writers to expand on his characters and locations in their own stories – more credulous readers came to believe that the Necronomicon was real. It was as if Luke Skywalker was real, or the flying skateboards from Back To The Future were real. More here.


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