Medieval trade routes and geography

Even before modern times the Afro-Eurasian world was already well connected. This map depicts the main trading arteries of the high middle ages, just after the decline of the Vikings and before the rise of the Mongols, the Hansa and well before the Portuguese rounded the Cape of Good Hope.

Medieval Trade Routes and Geography

Credit for this map goes to Martin Månsson who posted this on /r/MapPorn, which has some interesting discussion.

The map also depicts the general topography, rivers, mountain passes and named routes. All of which contributed to why cities came to be, and still are, up until modern times.

The Silk Road is not just one, but many roads that leads through all of Asia, from Constantinople in the west, through Central Asia and the Himalayas, to Liangzhou in the east. During this time, the Chinese Song dynasty was in its height and it was one of those Chinese dynasties that were open to foreign trade and invested in commerce and infrastructure. Foreign trade was mostly concentrated to the southern ports were both Jews and Muslims had their own communities.

(via @stephenniem)

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Miscellany

Map of medieval trade routes

The high middle ages were a time when the stars aligned in terms of commerce for many areas of the world. In central Europe many German and French cities initiated annual trade fairs, some of which are still active today – most notably in Frankfurt.

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Tale Foundry: 5 Weirdest Genres of Fiction

A look at Steampunk, Fantastique, Slipstream, Bizarro, and Weird fiction.


Tale Foundry is a YouTube explainer show “about made up stuff for people who like to make stuff up”. Although it is currently a small channel with ‘only’ ~6,000 subscribers, it is one of the better produced that serves this niche.

It’s also a really nicely structured channel, picking a fresh topic to explore each month, then starting with a general introduction of sorts (The Storytelling of Dark Souls), following up with a list episode (The Elements of Dark Souls Lore) and concluding with an original work of fiction inspired by the topic (“Faith in the Misbegotten”).

Other monthly topics so far have included Harry Potter, Creepypasta, Celtic folklore, Pokémon and Game of Thrones.

Shad
Miscellany

How realistic are the fantasy castles from films and games?

Shad M Brooks is a huge, huge fan of swords and castles, amongst other geeky subjects, all of which he enthusiastically explores on his YouTube channel, Shadversity. I’ve been really enjoying his castles playlist.

Skyhold from Dragons Age Inquisition apparently gets quite a lot right…

However, he’s less complimentary about the ‘castles’ of Skyrim, which get some basics right but completely fall apart when you look at the details…

There’s some praise for The Lord of the Rings, but also a lot about the castles that doesn’t make sense…

It’s worth starting at the beginning of the playlist with the first two videos on fantasy vs. reality and the names and terms of a medieval castle parts.

Honor Guard castle

In those videos Shad shows off and explains his own rather cool design for a more realistic fantasy castle he calls ‘Honor Guard’.

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Arduboy
Miscellany

Arduboy: Game system the size of a credit card

Arduboy is a miniature, open-source, programmable game system based on Arduino.

Arduboy started on Kickstarter in 2015 and is now for sale at $49 (they expect it to sell out quickly, however). Features:

  • 1.3″ brilliant black & white OLED display
  • 6 tactile momentary push buttons
  • 2 channel piezo electric speaker
  • Durable polycarbonate and aluminum construction
  • Rechargeable thin-film lithium polymer battery

(via HN)

See also: Other posts tagged ‘electronics’.

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E-115
Miscellany

Crypto is hard: The secret cryptographic features of Barbie typewriters

The Barbie Typewriters are low-cost electronic typewriters developed as a children’s toy by Mehano in Slovenia (formerly Yugoslavia) and sold worldwide by Mattel.

Crypto Museum: Apart from a range of typesetting features, such as letter-spacing and underline, this children’s toy was capable of encoding and decoding secret messages, using one of 4 built-in cipher modes. These modes were activated by entering a special key sequence on the keyboard, and was explained only in the original documentation.

E-115 interior

When the E-115 was adopted by Mattel as an addition to the Barbie™ product line, it was aimed mainly at girls with a minimum age of 5 years. For this reason the product was given a pink-and-purple case and the Barbie logo and image were printed on the body. As it was probably thought that secret writing would not appeal to girls, the coding/decoding facilities were omitted from the manual. Nevertheless, these facilities can still be accessed if you know how to activate them.

German manual for E-118

(via @mwichary)

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The Big Hex Machine

The Big Hex Machine is a giant, yet simple, 16-bit computer designed by staff and students at the University of Bristol to explain how a computer works.

The giant machine, based in the Merchant Venturers School of Engineering, measures over eight square meters. It is built out of over 100 specially designed four-bit circuit boards, which enables students to be taught about fundamental principles of computer architecture from just a few basic components.

Tech Spark: David May (pictured right, above), Professor of Computer Science in the Department of Computer Science (pictured right, above), designed the Big Hex Machine with education in mind. David says, “You cannot understand how a computer works by taking one apart!”

“In our giant machine, all of the structure is clearly visible – as is the movement of information as it executes programs. It demonstrates the principle used in all computers – general-purpose hardware controlled by a stored program.”

(via HN)

Miscellany

The Big Hex Machine

The ‘Big Hex Machine’ is a giant, yet simple, 16-bit computer specifically designed to explain how a computer works. Its instruction set requires a very small compiler, but it is powerful enough to implement useful programs.

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