Charles Babbage’s Difference Engine. See below.

Nope, no luck. Another horrible night last night, even though I’d (a) forgotten to take the Duloxetine; (b) read a book rather than use the tablet; (c) lights out at 1am. I lay there until 3am and gave up (as is recommended), got up and made a hot milk drink, watched YouTubes on the desktop PC until 4.30am, went back to bed, read for a short while and STILL couldn’t get to sleep until after 6.30am. I finally dropped off around then, but woke at 7.30am! I finally got up at 10am but hadn’t really slept, with the result that I feel awful now (6.15pm).

I had to see the GP today and told him I can’t tolerate Duloxetine. It’s impossible. Unfortunately, you mustn’t stop it abruptly so I have to taper it off for another week, at least. That means I still have another seven nights of bad sleep.

Meanwhile, the foot pains are coming back. Not as bad, but …

The good news is that all my blood tests were fine (liver function, kidney function, vitamins, iron). The only discrepancy is that my thyroid is marginally low, but we agreed to wait a while before doing anything, if needed.


The Babbage photo above is especially apt, because the book I’m reading in bed is Innovators by Walter Isaacson, about, you guessed it, innovators down through history.

And I’ve just finished reading chapter 1, which is the story of Charles Babbage around 1820, and Lady Ada of Lovelace, the daughter of Lord Byron. She was quite something, being enraptured by mathematics from a very young age. She was quite obsessed by maths and in particular, by Mr Babbage, 24 years her senior, who designed the machine above. However, he never had the money to build it; the photo above is a modern day replica.

Ada (after whom the high level programming language is named) was quite far ahead of her time and pushed Babbage to design a better machine, to be called the Analytical Engine. Again, it was never built at the time and the machines in the photos are modern day replicas.

Ada was the first to see the potential of using punched cards to program the machine. One set of punched cards, one function; another set, another function, and so on. Just as we load different software programs to do different functions today.

As well, she first came up with the idea of nested functions, conditional branching, recursion and so on, all features of modern software.

Unfortunately, Babbage never could get the money to build his machines, and Ada died of cancer at age 32.

The next genius was Alan Turing during WW2 in the 1940s, and he took his own life. Sic transit.

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