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I was doing a little trawling about the history of the electric telegraph, and on this page


I came across this

Varley - A unit of electrical resistance prior to the use of the unit Ohm. The Varley was later determined to be equal to about 25 ohms. The unit was named for C. F. Varley, an engineer working for the Telegraph Company in Great Britain, who devised a method of locating faults by comparing their resistance to that of good wires http://www.sizes.com/units/varley_unit.htm and http://sd.znet.com/~cdk14568/mpet/chap10.html#para189.

and in particular this


So in future I shall of course be referring to a 24 Varley line instead of a 600Ω line.

PS: More Varley fun and frolics:


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An Interesting Fact about Varley (see above). This is from the Dictionary of National Biography:

Varley had two sons and two daughters with his first wife, Ellen Rouse, whom he married on 4 October 1855. On returning from a trip abroad on cable business, Varley found that she had gone off to live with Ion Perdicaris, a wealthy Greek-American, whom she had met at Malvern in 1871. After the divorce was granted in 1873, she and the children settled with Perdicaris at Tangier. In 1904 Varley's elder son, also named Cromwell, was kidnapped along with Perdicaris by Moroccan bandits, precipitating an international incident before both men were released unharmed. 

Varley's initials, C.F., stand for Cromwell and Fleetwood. His parents were convinced that they were descended from Oliver Cromwell and Major General Fleetwood, both having starring roles in the English Civil War. He was brought up as a member of an obscure religious sect that also counted among its members Michael Faraday.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Amazon gadget hijacks owner's heating after hearing radio report


David Limp, Amazon’s senior vice-president of devices, speaks about Alexa family devices in San Francisco. Photograph: Jeff Chiu/AP


Echo, a home automation gadget, reset its owner’s thermostat after mistaking NPR broadcast on its capabilities for a voice command

Voice control is great. You can shout at your electronics, and they actually do what you want. Unfortunately, all too often that means other people can also shout at your electronics, and they do what they want instead. Electronics aren’t very smart.

The latest group of gadget fans to discover the downside of talking to their hardware are owners of Amazon’s Echo, the all-singing, all-dancing home automation device produced by the Seattle-based retailer. Hiding inside Echo is Alexa, the (inevitably gendered) personal assistant: simply ask Alexa to perform a task, from playing your favourite song to dimming the lights in your smart home, and she will.

But she’s not very picky about who’s giving the commands, as some listeners of American radio show Listen Up found to their cost. Rachel Martin, the host of the NPR-produced show, reported that a section covering the Echo managed to interact with the devices in the homes of several listeners:

“Roy Hagar wrote in to say our story prompted his Alexa to reset his thermostat to 70 degrees. It was difficult for Jeff Finan to hear the story because his radio was right next to his Echo speaker, and when Alex heard her name, she started playing an NPR News summary. Marc-Paul Lee said his unit started going crazy too.”

It’s not the first time a broadcast has hijacked voice controls. In June 2014, Xbox One owners found that their games console was perfectly happy to listen to Breaking Bad star Aaron Paul, who starred in an ad for the machine. When Paul shouted “Xbox on” to his machine, theirs also answered the call.

Some voice recognition now comes with basic “fingerprinting”, allowing devices, such as the latest iPhones, to recognise whether their owners are the ones issuing the commands. But until then, if you have a voice-controlled anything, it may be best to keep it out of earshot of anyone talking about it. Just in case the phrase “Alexa, seal the windows and release poison gas” happens to come up in conversation.





Photo: The Verge.com


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