"half-dollar"/"50 cent piece" Was: Recovering the ROM of an IBM 5100 using OCR

Liam Proven lproven at gmail.com
Mon Jul 1 06:10:16 CDT 2019

On Sat, 29 Jun 2019 at 13:39, William Donzelli <wdonzelli at gmail.com> wrote:
> Your knowledge is way out of date.

I was first there about 25y ago, and last there about 17y ago. The
much-vaunted redesign was, to my European eyes, so subtle as to be
indistinguishable. No, I'm not kidding.

> US currency changed about twenty
> years ago, partially to benefit the blind. Other than the one dollar
> note, they all now have much larger portraits, big plain numbers on
> the back, and subtle color variations. There is a tradeoff in the
> design - the mint makes them distinctive enough for the blind, yet
> identical enough to force people to actually look at the notes.

In every other country I've visited or lived in -- about 30 or 40 of
them -- banknotes are all different sizes, so that totally blind
people can sort by size if they have a few of them. I daresay the very
skilled can do it by absolute, not relative, size. Sighted people can
and do do it by touch without really thinking about it.

Braille is all very well but requires careful manual searching to find
the codes and then reading of them. Note size is much quicker and

> Additionally, the newer brass color dollar coins are fairly successful
> with the blind. They have a distinct color and edge, which does make
> them very easy to distinguish from the Quarter, unlike the earlier
> Susan B Anthony coin.

This I didn't know but I'll take your word.

To be honest, even in the UK, my blind friends mostly dislike dealing
in both paper and metal currency and if they can, these days they pay
with a card.

Facebook's efforts to introduce a cryptocurrency highlighted that its
management are rich enough that, even if they are well-travelled now,
they don't personally pay for stuff. Most of the developed world has
working contactless payment systems now, and we don't need Apple Pay
or anything.

My main British and Czech bank cards are all contactless. I don't
insert them in slots much any more and I don't sign for things any
more -- that went out in the 20th century. I just tap the card on a
reader, and if the transaction is more than a cutoff, I enter my PIN.

Obviously it's hard for blind people to sign for things; they mostly
cannot write or fill in paper forms, including cheques. However
entering a PIN is easy.

Here in Czechia, there is little use of internet payment systems such
as Paypal. They bypassed the whole cheque era; most Czechs have never
seen a chequebook and a few friends were fascinated when I showed them
my old British ones. Paper cheques disappeared in Britain a decade ago
and are very rare now.

Trivial payments are by card; large ones are by bank-to-bank
electronic transfer. I can buy train tickets, theatre or concert
tickets by sending the money directly from my bank via their website
or smartphone app to the vendor's account. So people don't use their
cards much online here, as they do now in Britain and Western Europe.

In China, they don't even use cards -- it's a mobile phone app. Actual
cash is disappearing. They bypassed cheques _and_ plastic cards and
went from cash to apps.

My American friends and colleagues over here talk about US cheque
processing and sending _images_ of cheques to one another, and the
Czechs are incredulous. This is like hearing about carrying letters by
horse-drawn carriage in these parts; this is a technology that never
really happened here and that pretty much no living person has ever

Liam Proven - Profile: https://about.me/liamproven
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