Nashbar Tempo Wireless Bike Computer. Whether you’re in training, doing some epic trekking or just commuting to work it’s always good to know how far and how fast you’re riding. The Nashbar Tempo Wireless cycling computer gives you a host of features that let you keep track of your riding at a price that’s hard to beat. Click for Instruction Manual
List Price: $ 24.99
Price: $ 24.99
Nashbar Tempo Double Wireless Cycling Computer. Crank your training program up to the next level with an 18-function cycling computer with cadence. And it’s from Nashbar…your purveyor of quality private label bike stuff at prices you can love. The Nashbar Tempo Double Wireless Computer has it all–check the specs–it has everything cadence, speed, and trip oriented you can think of. Plus it’s lightweight, and goes hundreds of hours on a single battery.
List Price: $ 49.99
Price: $ 49.99
Cateye Padrone Smart Triple Wireless Computer. Smart technology meets Cateye’s most popular display unit in their groundbreaking Cateye Padrone Smart Triple Wireless Computer. For the ultimate in convenience and versatility, this Padrone Smart triple bundle provides two means to measure a world of data about your rides: Mirror Mode and Direct Mode. In Mirror Mode, ride data is measured via the combination of your smartphone and the Padrone Smart head unit. Via the CatEye Cycling app loaded to your smartphone and your smartphone’s GPS capability, ride data is collected and mirrored in real time on the Padrone Smart head unit through Bluetooth. All this takes place as your phone is in sleep mode, safely tucked away in your pocket and preserving battery power. And the Padrone Smart doesn’t only display ride data, but as your smartphone receives email, texts, or calls, alert icons are also displayed in real time. For additional data, the included speed/cadence sensor and heart rate sensor can also be added to the mix for an incredibly rich, potent feedback on your riding performance. Cateye realized that you might not want to utilize your smartphone on every ride — such as a race situation or inclement weather — and for that there is Direct Mode. This mode is your classic wireless set-up, with all your ride data measured by the included speed/cadence sensor and heart rate sensor and sent to the Padrone Smart head unit. For both modes, data is collected on your smartphone and once a ride is complete all of the data is uploaded from the app with a simple touch of a button to CatEye Atlas, Strava, and TrainingPeaks.
List Price: $ 219.99
Price: $ 219.99
Nashbar Tempo Triple Wireless Computer 2nd Bike Mount. Do you own a Nashbar Tempo Triple Wireless computer and multiple bikes? Now it’s a piece of cake to use that single computer with another bike in your fleet. The Nashbar Tempo Triple Wireless Computer 2nd Bike Mount provides everything you need to switch your computer between bikes with a minimum of hassle. Works only with BN-TEMP3W.
List Price: $ 24.99
Price: $ 24.99
Sigma Sport BC 1200+ Wireless Computer. Stop messing around with all those wires, and spend more time actually enjoying your ride. The Sigma Sport BC 1200+ wireless computer is an easy-to-install, easy-to-use bike computer that gives you a host of features to be a little more informed about your riding. It’ll give you info like speed, distance, average speed and a trip countdown. Your info is displayed on a large, easily read LCD screen. You can even switch it between two different bikes with minimal hassle. It’s ideal for commuting, light training, or anyone who just wants to know how far and how fast they rode.
List Price: $ 24.99
Price: $ 24.99
CatEye Micro MC200W Wireless Computer. Not only does the Cateye Micro Wireless Computer provide 9 functions and 9 features to track your training or commuting performance, but it provides a customizable display screen to ensure what matters to you most remains in full view. The Micro’s installation, either on handlebars or stem, is clean and quick while the set-up and navigation is straightforward and user-friendly. The Micro provides a standard assortment of data for speed, distance and time plus a backlight feature to illuminate the screen when riding at night.
List Price: $ 39.99
Price: $ 39.99
Topeak Panoram V16 Wireless Computer. Who doesn’t love a bike ride that takes in breathtaking, panoramic views? And while you’re out soaking up the finest vistas that Mother Nature has to offer why not treat your eyes to an easy-to-read computer screen for easy perusal of ride data. The Topeak Panoram V16 Wireless Computer features a widescreen display that’s got all your information ready to read at a glance and for clean aesthetics and easy set-up it features wireless sensors for both speed and cadence. Its 16 functions ensure you’ve got all the important data taken care with an easy click through via a single mode button.
List Price: $ 49.95
Price: $ 49.95
Cateye Strada Wireless Computer. You’re doing your part to make your bike lighter and sleeker, and so is Cateye with the new Strada Wireless computer. Redesigned circuitry in the computer creates a head unit that’s 35% thinner and lighter than its predecessor, yet the screen size grew by 23%. All of the Strada’s impressive list of features and capabilities (see Specs tab for full list) are still included so you can track your distances, times, speeds, pace, and averages to your heart’s content.
List Price: $ 64.99
Price: $ 64.99
CatEye Adventure Wireless Computer. So much more than a typical wireless bike computer, the Cateye Adventure is chock full of features worthy of its moniker. Have you ever been curious about elevation data during your favorite road or trail ride? The Cateye Adventure is a fully functional altimeter supplying info such as current altitude, slope angle, ascending altitude, as well as total altitude gained. Other special functionality includes a temperature gauge as well as a countdown distance function so you’ll know the perfect moment to launch your winning effort. Scrolling between the display functions is made easy with the ClickTec Plus single button design, no matter which gloves you’re wearing. Its large display is easy to read while the computer mount and speed sensor attach quickly and easily without tools.
List Price: $ 69.99
Price: $ 59.99
Nashbar Tempo Triple Wireless Computer. The Nashbar Tempo Triple Wireless Computer provides an incredibly useful array of data at your fingertips to ensure you maximize your performance on each and every ride. In addition to having all the typical cycling computer functionality that’s tracked by the wireless speed and cadence sensors, the Tempo Triple enables you to add heart rate analysis into the mix courtesy of the included heart rate monitor strap. You can readily track current, average, and maximum heart rate, but also fine tune your workout via setting a target heart rate zone. Post workout you can see how much time you spent below, in, and above your target zone plus get an idea of how much energy you burned via the calorie counter. On top of that, there’s a temperature gauge, backlight, low battery indicator, plus the means to swap between two different bikes. Perfect for a rider serious about monitoring their ride and fitness data, the Nashbar Tempo Triple Wireless Computer provides the means to progress and achieve your full potential.
List Price: $ 69.99
Price: $ 69.99
Cateye Urban Wireless Computer. If you’re looking for a no-nonsense wireless computer that also provides data about how your rides benefit yourself and the environment then the Cateye Urban Wireless Computer is a superb choice. Not only does the computer provide all the expected speed and distance functions, but the Urban Wireless also estimates calorie consumption and carbon offset for each outing on your bike. So in addition to racking up the miles, you’ll have an idea about how many calories you burn each ride as well as how much carbon emissions were saved by using pedal power instead of an automobile to cover the distance.Functions include current/average/maximum speed, trip/total distance, ride time, clock, calorie consumption, and carbon offset. A pace arrow lets you know how your current speed relates to the ride’s average speed while a power-saving mode extends battery life when computer isn’t in use.
List Price: $ 44.99
Price: $ 44.99
Sigma Sport BC8.12 Wireless Computer. Stop messing around with all those wires, and spend more time actually enjoying your ride. The Sigma BC8.12 wireless computer is an easy-to-install, easy-to-use bike computer that provides all the standard features so you can be more informed about your riding. It’ll give you data like speed, distance, average speed and a ride time plus your info is displayed on a large, easily read LCD screen.
List Price: $ 29.99
Price: $ 29.99
Sigma BC12.12 STS Wireless Computer. Does your current cycling computer tell you how much gas you saved? If you’re not riding the Sigma BC 12.12 STS Wireless cycling computer, then the answer is no. THE BC 12.12 is a fully functional cycling computer with wireless communication between the sensor and head unit. In addition to all the good stuff like speed and distance, it also gives you the fuel economy of your trip. So, it basically calculates how many gallons of gas your ride saved you. It’s like watching money fill your bank account.
List Price: $ 59.99
Price: $ 59.99
Cateye Padrone Wireless Computer. Sleek, svelte, and sporting the largest display available of any cycling computer on the market, the Cateye Padrone Wireless certainly is easy on the eyes. No matter if you’re bombing a technical downhill trail, trying to take a quick glance at your speed while riding in traffic, or if the eyesight isn’t what it used to be, this is the computer for you. The toggle function makes scrolling from screen to screen a breeze – no small buttons to push. It’s perfect for when you’re wearing long finger gloves! The computer installation, either on handlebars or stem, is clean and quick while the set-up and navigation is straightforward and user-friendly. The Cateye Padrone provides a standard assortment of data for speed, distance and time (there’s now a stopwatch feature!) – all easier to read than ever.
List Price: $ 54.99
Price: $ 54.99
Sold by Alibris UK: books, movies
Sold by Wal-Mart.com USA, LLC
Used – Everyone learns best when they are enjoying an activity – even adults prefer to learn through play! This book gives a wide range of ideas and practical activities to use computer games as learning tools with students aged 11+. You don’t need to be a computer whiz to use this book. From the practical aspects of purchasing and setting up equipment to integrating them into a lesson plan – and even using them without playing them – this book will add a new aspect to your subject to make it ev
Sold by Alibris UK: books, movies
Sigma BC16.12 Double Wireless Computer with Cadence. When it’s time to get serious about training, you need a serious training computer. But you don’t want to break the bank either. After all, nobody likes the all-Ramen diet. What you need is the Sigma BC 16.12 double wireless computer has all the features you need to get focused and quantifying your ride data. The BC16.12 features a wireless sensor and cadence transmitter so it’s easy to set up with no messy wires to get tangled or in the way. The head unit features a large, easy to read display that lets you look at relevant data without having to change screens. Its USB enabled, and compatible with both PC’s and Macs, so you can log and track your training data. This computer is a great value for cyclists who are serious about their training.
List Price: $ 99.99
Price: $ 99.99
This book is intended as a system engineer’s compendium, explaining the dependencies and technical interactions between the onboard computer hardware, the onboard software and the spacecraft operations from ground. After a brief introduction on the subsequent development in all three fields over the spacecraft engineering phases each of the main topis is treated in depth in a separate part. The features of today’s onboard computers are explained at hand of their historic evolution over the decades from the early days of spaceflight up to today. Latest system-on-chip processor architectures are treated as well as all onboard computer major components. After the onboard computer hardware the corresponding software is treated in a separate part. Both the software static architecture as well as the dynamic architecture are covered, and development technologies as well as software verification approaches are included. Following these two parts on the onboard architecture, the last part covers the concepts of spacecraft operations from ground. This includes the nominal operations concepts, the redundancy concept and the topic of failure detection, isolation and recovery. The baseline examples in the book are taken from the domain of satellites and deep space probes. The principles and many cited standards on spacecraft commanding, hardware and software however also apply to other space applications like launchers. The book is equally applicable for students as well for system engineers in space industry.
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Manhattan Zippack 15.6 Laptop Backpack, Black/Black – Heavy-Duty, Top-Loading, Four-Compartment, Woven Nylon Backpack for Most Laptop Computers Up To 15.6
With lots of cargo space, heavy-duty construction and rugged looks, the Zippack backpack from Manhattan is perfectly at home on campus, in the boardroom, flying across continents or hiking the great outdoors. Designed to go wherever and whenever you do, the exterior of this bag is made from water-resistant, heavy-duty nylon and reinforced with a thick, synthetic suede patch on the bottom for extra durability. It features three main cargo compartments: a spacious, top-loading main cargo compartment with a padded computer sleeve for laptops up to 15.6, a rear-facing compartment (with signature Zip enclosure) that offers quick and easy access to mobile devices or other medium-sized items, and a small, top-mounted compartment for pens, business cards and more. If all that internal space is not enough, the Zippack has two external pockets for water bottles, digital cameras or other quick-access items, as well as reinforced carabiner patches and nylon straps for strapping things to the outside.
Sold by Buy.com
This interdisciplinary volume introduces new theories and ideas on creativity from the perspectives of science and art. Featuring contributions from leading researchers, theorists and artists working in artificial intelligence, generative art, creative computing, music composition, and cybernetics, the book examines the relationship between computation and creativity from both analytic and practical perspectives. Each contributor describes innovative new ways creativity can be understood through, and inspired by, computers. The book tackles critical philosophical questions and discusses the major issues raised by computational creativity, including: whether a computer can exhibit creativity independently of its creator; what kinds of creativity are possible in light of our knowledge from computational simulation, artificial intelligence, evolutionary theory and information theory; and whether we can begin to automate the evaluation of aesthetics and creativityin silico. These important, often controversial questions are contextualised by current thinking in computational creative arts practice. Leading artistic practitioners discuss their approaches to working creatively with computational systems in a diverse array of media, including music, sound art, visual art, and interactivity. The volume also includes a comprehensive review of computational aesthetic evaluation and judgement research, alongside discussion and insights from pioneering artists working with computation as a creative medium over the last fifty years. A distinguishing feature of this volume is that it explains and grounds new theoretical ideas on creativity through practical applications and creative practice. Computers and Creativity will appeal to theorists, researchers in artificial intelligence, generative and evolutionary computing, practicing artists and musicians, students and any reader generally interested in understanding how computers can impact upon creativity. It bridges co.
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Cateye Padrone Cycle Computer – Largest Display Available!. Squint no more – the Cateye Padrone wireless computer features the largest display available on the market today. No matter if you’re bombing a technical downhill trail, trying to take a quick glance at your speed while riding in traffic, or if the eyesight isn’t what it used to be, this is the computer for you. The toggle function lets scrolling from screen to screen a breeze – no small buttons to push. It’s perfect for when you’re wearing long finger gloves! The computer installation, either on handlebars or stem, is clean and quick while the set-up and navigation is straightforward and user-friendly. The Cateye Padrone provides a standard assortment of data for speed, distance and time — all easier to read than ever.
List Price: $ 54.99
Price: $ 54.99
CatEye Velo 9 Cycle Computer – Black. The newly designed Velo 9 is CatEye’s entry level 9 function computer. The new, larger screen is even easier to read and set up is made simple with pre-programmed tire sizes. Along with current, average, and max speed measurement, track your trip distance, elapsed time, and odometer. Now featuring calorie consumption and a carbon offset measurement to help you track how much of a difference you are making.
List Price: $ 24.99
Price: $ 24.99
LEARNING LANGUAGE ARTS WITH COMPUTERS extends the original LEARNING WITH COMPUTERS K-5 series with core curriculum topics. This discipline-specific text offers elementary school students multiple opportunities to reinforce and maintain language arts skills with basic word processing, spreadsheet, presentation, database, graphics, and Internet skills. Students are introduced to new grade-level-appropriate computer skills based on the National Educational Technology Standards (NETS). This text is a supplement to basal texts in language arts and emphasizes writing, as compared to other language arts skills such as reading or listening. A helpful grid identifies language skills covered in each project. Language arts topics include sentences, paragraphs, essays, reports, e-mail, and stories of various types that teach language arts using the computer as a tool. At the end of a unit is an Extension Activity for extra practice and critical thinking. This includes topics that reinforce grammar, study skills, speaking, reading, listening, viewing, and vocabulary. In addition, keyboarding practice exercises are provided.The characters from the LEARNING WITH COMPUTERS K-5 series–Bernie, Jess, Jake, and Professor Keys–can also be found in this book. Miranda Macaw is a new character that is introduced. The text is written to support both PC and Macintosh computers. For the PC, Windows XP and Office 2003 are used; the instruction also works with Office versions XP and 2000. For the Macintosh, OS 10 and Office 2002 are used.
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CatEye Cycling Computer Mount Kits/Adapters.
Works great for super oversize stems and aero bars.
Item Specifications Color Black Fits Flex-Tight Compatible Computers
List Price: $ 10.99
Price: $ 10.99
The K-EDGE Garmin Stem Mount is an advanced upgrade solutionfor cyclists who prefer their computer above the stem. This mount isespecially useful in fitting the larger Garmin 510, 800, 810 sizecomputers above an array of stem configurations. Mounting off of thesteerer tube, the mount replaces a standard 5mm spacer, and is lockedsecurely in place by the top compression cap. The Fixed version and is recommended for zero degree ornegative degreestem angles. Can also be used with positive degree stems if additionalspacers (5mm to 10mm) are available above the stem. The Adjustable version and is recommended for +/- 20 degreestemangles, dependent on bike setup. The adjustable pivot allows thecomputer to match the stem angle and accommodate stems that have apositive rise. Designed with mountain biking in mind, the new K-EDGE Stem mount forGarmin has proven ideal for much more including: cyclocross; triathlon(away from the hydration system on the aero bars); bike touring (withhandlebars covered in bags and map cases); or if you simply prefer thisposition for your computer. Strong ? Durable CNC machined aluminum platform engineered tohold yourGarmin in place while you focus on the trail ahead.Positive ? Advanced injection molded co-polymer interfaceretainsK-EDGE’s signature definitive click with four locking points.Pro ? Advanced upgrade mount for serious cyclists. Perfectpositioningof your Garmin computer independent of stem.Compatible ? ? Turn Garmin Edge Computers, can be oriented fortheForerunner 310XT (not compatible with the 910XT due to the shape of thequick release adapter) Weight – 21g Length (Center-to-Center) – 50mm Thickness (@ Steerer) – 5mm 1-1/8″ Steerer Diameter Material – 6061-T6 CNC Machined Aluminum
List Price: $ 39.99
Price: $ 39.99
Save 25.00 with coupon code TBG120859 at checkout. Normally 179.99 before coupon.
Now 154.99 after coupon.
Offer ends Mar 31 2014 12:00AM
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New – This book is the second edition of the bestselling Troubleshooting and Repairing the New Personal Computers. The first half of the book covers simple routine repairs that can be made by virtually anyone. The second half of the book covers more advanced repairs. The book can be used by beginning-level computer owners and by intermediate-level electronics hobbyists and technicians.
Sold by Alibris (UK)
Computers need to be put in their place. They really do.
That’s why I’ve been looking forward to the DVD release this week of Andrew Bujalski’s cult Sundance hit Computer Chess. Computer Chess finally spills the beans about where these little monsters came from in the first place.
Every time I pick up a newspaper these days — I’m one of the twelve people left who still read physical newspapers — I read about how computers are spying on us, destroying jobs, or infuriating health insurance customers. Like a hungry Rottweiler off its leash, computers are getting out of control and tearing up the neighborhood.
If you believe what you read, computers are also in the process of wrecking the book publishing and music industries, eliminating celluloid photography — and just this week computers claimed their latest victim, one near and dear to my heart: the local video store, as Blockbuster finally succumbed to laptops, smartphones and tablets as the preferred ways of renting all those movies you couldn’t afford to see (or were too embarrassed to see) when they were in theaters.
No more video stores — who would’ve believed it, even just ten years ago? That means no more pimply teenagers to recommend midnight horror movies to me (“Sir, I definitely recommend C.H.U.D. over TerrorVision“), no more aimless browsing or listening to neighbors argue over which Steven Seagal movie to rent, no more cheap licorice sticks at the checkout counter.
I never thought I’d miss those things so much — but suddenly I do. And it’s all because of our ‘friend’ the computer. Computers are becoming like the Yankees during the ’90s: gobbling up everybody else’s talent, then telling us how good it is for baseball.
The propaganda over the wonders that computers supposedly bring to our lives is getting out of hand. In the very least, it’s out of proportion to the destruction computers are simultaneously causing — that ‘disruptive’ effect Silicon Valley gurus salivate over, like vampires at a blood drive.
So as Twitter — the company currently reducing our public discourse to snarky, 140-character outbursts — celebrates its gaudy IPO right now, I’d like to recommend a new movie out on DVD this week that casts digital technology in a very different light: Computer Chess.
You probably haven’t heard of Computer Chess. After all, it has no stars in it. Neither Disney nor Sony are building spin-off franchises around its characters. Chris Hemsworth doesn’t swing a hammer in the film, and Kate Upton wasn’t invited to the premiere (although it would’ve been funny if she was).
What Computer Chess has going for it, though, is that it tells the unvarnished, gawky truth about the early days of this public menace we’ve come to know as the ‘computer.’
Actually, Computer Chess isn’t all that obscure a film. Written and directed by mumblecore auteur Andrew Bujalski, the film debuted to critical acclaim earlier this year at Sundance (where it won the Alfred P. Sloan Prize), where I had the pleasure of seeing the funky little movie in a packed house with an appreciative crowd. It was a total hoot, especially for people like me who remember how uncool computers used to be before Steve Jobs arrived on the scene. In fact, you arguably can’t appreciate Jobs’ legacy properly unless you’ve seen Computer Chess — and witnessed what a clunky, nerdy, socially maladroit computer world Jobs inherited.
Computer Chess is set around 1980, in a shabby suburban motel that serves as the film’s entire setting over the course of one weekend. The aristocracy of the computer science world – the geek gods of Cal Tech, MIT, Bell Labs and elsewhere — have gathered for their annual computer chess tournament, with the winning machine getting the chance to face off against the pompous tournament host, who has never yet lost a game to a computer.
So it’s game on, as Apple IIs and Tandy TRS-80s — and their nerd jockeys — take each other on for all the marbles.
The film follows the impossibly awkward programmers as they compete with each other for the (slightly dubious) title, haul blocky computer mainframes around on push-carts, debate the future of computers in late-night bull sessions, and make cringe-inducing attempts at romance and/or sexual conquest with the tournament’s lone female competitor, a hopelessly bespectacled programmer named Shelly. The programmers also have a few droll encounters with a New Age group that shares the motel with them, who try to open up the nerdy programmers’ repressed emotional lives.
Good luck with that.
The performances Bujalski gets out of his mostly non-professional cast are uniformly natural and believable — with special kudos going out to Patrick Riester and Wiley Wiggins as the no-nonsense leads, Myles Paige as the egomaniac/would-be lothario ‘Michael Papageorge,’ and Robin Schwartz as the sweet, ungainly female programmer.
Indeed, Bujalski’s strategy of keeping things real (several cast members are actually programmers themselves) is the best thing Computer Chess has going for it. It’s easy to see how this film could’ve been botched by importing a Michael Cera or Jonah Hill into the mix with their pre-packaged nerd schtick. Computer Chess is too austere and genuinely indie for such Hollywoodisms — to the point that the movie was actually shot in low-res, black-and-white 4:3 analog video using a Sony AVC-3260 camera, dating from the late 1960s.
Bujalski clearly intends Computer Chess to feel like a ‘found object’ of the era — and the film does seem incredibly authentic as a depiction of early-80s geek culture.
The special kick of watching Computer Chess, though, is knowing how the awkward misfits depicted in the film — and the big, blocky, semi-functional machines they cart around — will someday conquer the world. Today’s gods of Silicon Valley (who are apparently getting pretty full of themselves these days) — the slick young guys in hoodies who debut their stock offerings with multi-billion dollar valuations, or who get played by Jesse Eisenberg or Justin Timberlake in the movies are of course no longer the introverted weenies of yesteryear, as depicted in Bujalski’s film. Today’s techies are more likely to drive Porsche 918 Spyder-hybrids, date swimsuit models, or eat granola parfait at Palo Alto’s University Cafe.
What a difference 30 years makes.
Computer Chess is probably not the kind of movie these newer guys — and they’re still mostly guys (with all due respect to Sheryl Sandberg) — want to watch, because it doesn’t suit their current self-image. Computer Chess is like that embarrassing family album from the ’70s you keep in the attic, filled with horrid images of bad hair, braces and bell-bottom jeans — where everybody looks like they just stepped off the set of The Hardy Boys. It’s the kind of thing your relatives pull out during the holidays to keep you humble.
And this is actually why Silicon Valley’s geek aristocracy — and you know who you are – should embrace this film, because it does something vital: it humanizes them, at a time when a lot of us feel that what they’re doing to our society is, well, inhuman. Reading about the NSA and Healthcare.gov these days is depressing enough, but it’s even worse after years of reading about how companies like Google and Facebook have been undermining our basic sense of privacy, which is the delicate foundation of our freedom.
By the way, Computer Chess actually hints — in a sly, fun way — that the Cal Tech team’s fictional TSAR chess program might be the forerunner of dystopian supermachines of the future, like Skynet from the Terminator films. But the movie is pretty gentle and non-conspiratorial about these things. It could get much worse.
For example, Computer Chess could’ve more been more hard-edged, like Panos Cosmatos’ dystopian cult thriller Beyond the Black Rainbow, released here in the U.S. in 2012. Similarly set in the early 1980s, Black Rainbow depicts a young woman’s escape from a controlling, futuristic New Age research institute. The film’s high-tech ‘Arboria Institute’ — led by a psychotic, permanently disfigured scientist — harbors pretentions of harnessing technology in the achievement of higher spirituality. (By the way, the ‘Arboria Institute’ could easily have been the forerunner to the sinister, New Agey internet company ‘The Circle’ from Dave Eggers’ new novel of the same name.) Black Rainbow‘s Dr. Barry Nyle — along with his mentor, Dr. Mercurio Arboria – represents the dark side of the early ’80s tech and self-actualization gurus depicted comedically in Computer Chess.
Of course, even Black Rainbow doesn’t compare to a film recently unearthed by Criterion: Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s 1973 sci-fi classic World on a Wire, which originally aired on German television as a two-part miniseries. In World on a Wire (based on American author Daniel F. Galouye’s novel Simulacron-3), an ‘Institute for Cybernetics and Future Research’ develops a computer simulation program featuring an artificial world — based on the real one — with over 9,000 avatars living as human beings, unaware that their world is only a simulation subject to manipulation. The purpose of the simulation? Advanced market research, of course. Things get dicey when the movie’s hero, Dr. Fred Stiller (actor Klaus Löwitsch), begins to suspect that this simulation may actually have multiple layers — and that he himself might be one such avatar.
Such dark visions suggest the will-to-power, the urge to control and manipulate, that many people now associate — with good reason — with a fully computerized society (what Neil Postman back in 1992 called a ‘technopoly‘). Whether that society is controlled by unseen government bureaucracies or huge and indifferent corporations hardly seems to matter anymore.
So the honeymoon is now over. Computers just aren’t that cool any more — mainly because of all the precious things in our lives that they’re destroying. That’s why a lot of us are now looking at the fine print when we buy in to the latest gadget or app, as we ask ourselves this basic question: as shiny and empowering as this new piece of digital technology is, what is it going to destroy that I don’t know about?
All of this stuff seemed a lot more innocent back in 1980, when Computer Chess is set. Of course, it’s worth pointing out that Computer Chess is basically about the race to create a machine that can outperform and (thereby replace) a human being. Back in 1980, that premise just seemed a lot funnier and more charming than it does right now.