Tech-Trivia : Did You Know? This Week in Tech-History …

November 10, 2004 : What’s In a Name?

On November 9th 2004, the well-known web-browser ‘Firefox’ was released, although it had earlier been called something entirely different altogether.

Originally created in 2002 by members of the Mozilla community, the browser had the codename “Phoenix”. This was supposed to reflect the project’s aim to “rise from the ashes of Netscape Navigator” after it was defeated in the browser wars by Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. However, a software company named Phoenix Technologies meant there were trademark issues, so it was renamed.

The next (brief) iteration was “Firebird”, which is a more literal expression of what a Phoenix is. However, once again this led to conflicts with another software project.

Ultimately,  “Firefox” was selected. However, this animal has nothing to do with foxes, even though the logo suggests otherwise. It is, in fact, the colloquial term for the red panda, which was adopted as the mascot for the project following its renaming. A red panda was chosen because, at the time, relatively few people knew about this animal and was therefore less likely to cause yet more trademark issues! As an aside, a red-panda’s habitat is around China and as a species they are related to skunks, weasels and raccoons and so they are completely unrelated to giant Pandas (which are actually a type of bear).

As far as naming is concerned, the plot thickens because the community called Mozilla was originally so-called because ‘Mozilla’ was originally the code name for the Netscape Navigator web browser, and it was a portmanteau created from the words “Mosaic” and “Godzilla.” The name was chosen to signal Netscape’s goal to be the “Mosaic killer,” as Mosaic was the dominant web browser at the time Netscape was being developed. The addition of “Godzilla” to the mix signified the hope that Netscape would become a powerful and formidable player in the browser space, much like the fictional monster. Phew!

Currently, as of October 2023, the browser share of Firefox is around 3.06% (i.e. about 90% down from its prime in 2009 when it had about 32% browser share). So, it looks like Firefox’s best days are behind it but who knows what’s around the corner?

Tech-Trivia : Did You Know? This Week in Tech-History :

November 2, 1936 : BBC Basics

“Gentlemen, you have now invented the biggest time-waster of all time. Use it well.”, said Isaac Shoenberg, head of the EMI research team that developed the first fully electronic television system to be used in regular broadcasting.

On the second of November 1936, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) transmitted the first-ever scheduled television programmes. They were in “High Definition” (at the time) and started airing at 3pm and finishing at 4pm. Then again with more content at 9pm until 10pm.

Programming featured brief impromptu performances by musicians. The duration was restricted because early viewers (referred to as “lookers in”) reported eye strain from watching the small screens of the time.

The BBC (namely the world’s oldest national broadcasting organisation, established in 1922), is unusual in that they don’t broadcast adverts on their (domestic) channels because it’s primarily funded by the TV licence fee paid by UK households. This means that it remains independent of commercial interests (as far as we know) and they’re unbiased (supposedly) and a beacon of free-world hope, recognised for its independent reporting throughout the world. In fact, although the primary audience speaks English, the BBC broadcasts in dozens of languages worldwide, from major ones like Arabic, Chinese, and Russian to regional languages like Hausa, Kyrgyz, and Tok Pisin.

In the 1980s, the BBC was involved in a project to promote computer literacy. This led to the creation of the BBC Micro, a series of microcomputers co-developed with Acorn Computers. It was widely used in schools across the UK and was part of a wave of pioneering home-computers originating at the time that kicked-off the careers of many computer programmers and entire industries related to home-computing. Later on in 2015, in a bid to help foster a new generation of computer users, the BBC, in partnership with other organisations, released the Micro Bit, a tiny programmable computer for kids.

As an institution you can either Love it or hate it, nevertheless there’s no denying that the BBC in no small part helped shape the current IT landscape in the UK via an entire generation of people that started their IT career from those early BBC computers and who watched inspiring BBC programmes such as “Tomorrow’s World”.

Tech-Trivia : Did You Know? This Week in Tech-History …

October 10, 2023 : “A Thousand-Year Name Extension”

Around a thousand years before electronics, a monk called Poppo was asked to prove his faith, because Sweyn Forkbeard was having doubts about his baptism. Legend has it that Poppo proved his faith by holding a red-hot metal glove, yet he remained unharmed.

Sweyn Forkbeard’s father (King Harald Blátǫnn Gormsson) had already converted from paganism to Christianity although his conversion wasn’t what he was famous for. His place in the history books had been assured by uniting Norway and Denmark in AD 958, quite possibly giving him cause to smile.

If you’d seen his smile, you may have noticed that he had an off-colour dead-tooth which the sagas say were stained from eating blueberries, for Blátǫnn is old norse for “Blue-Tooth”.

A couple of weeks ago on 10th October, Denmark officially authorised the creators of Bluetooth technology to use the name and symbol of the aforementioned Danish King Harald “Bluetooth” Gormsson for a period of 1,000 years.

The modern technological version of Bluetooth was devised and named in 1996 when, in a spirit of collaboration, Intel, Ericcson and Nokia held a meeting to standardise short-range radio communications between electronic devices. The name was only supposed to be temporary until their marketing departments came up with another.

Intel’s Jim Kardach said “King Harald Bluetooth was famous for uniting Scandinavia just as we intended to unite the PC and cellular industries with a short-range wireless link.”

Three Business Take-Aways That Spring To Mind :

1 – Collaboration. Cooperation between related businesses means that synergy from the collective can be more productive than the sum of the parts.

2 – Vision. The inventors of Bluetooth had a clear goal : a wireless communication protocol that could connect devices across different industries, brands, and functionalities.

3 – Branding. If the name sticks, use it! In this case, they’re good for the next thousand years, so there’s no rush to change it now.

As an aside, the Bluetooth logo is derived from Viking runes and it’s a bind-rune merging “Hagall” (associated with the forces of nature and the universe, symbolizing disruption, change, and challenges) and “Bjarkan” (associated with growth, rebirth, and new beginnings). Both runes correspond to the initials of the 10th-century Danish king.

That’s something to think about next time you’re going around in circles, trying to connect devices and not going mad.

Tech-Trivia : Did You Know? This Week in Tech-History …

October 23, 2001 : “A Thousand Songs In Your Pocket”

Around this time 22 years ago on October 23 2001, Steve Jobs promised to give people “A Thousand Songs In Their Pocket”. His timing couldn’t have been better because at the time, Apple was primarily known for its computers and was struggling financially.

Arriving eight months following the Macintosh version of iTunes, and lasting 20 years, iPods were discontinued last year (2022) after around 450 million iPods had been sold worldwide. Not bad !

Steve had a canny knack of spotting gaps in the market then filling them with game-changing devices which appear so blindingly obvious in hindsight. He’s been quoted as saying that the digital music players at the time were “big and clunky or small and useless” with user interfaces that were “unbelievably awful”.

So he did something about it, in secret. In fact, the project was so secret that employees working on it couldn’t tell their families about it.

Inspired by the movie “2001: A Space Odyssey”, copywriter Vinnie Chieco proposed the name “iPod”. The phrase “Open the pod bay doors, HAL” from the film, along with the small, white ‘pods’ in the movie, were a reference to this film.

In the first month of 2007, Apple announced an unprecedented quarterly revenue of US$7.1 billion, with iPod sales accounting for almost 50% of that figure. Then, on April 9, 2007, the company reached a milestone by selling its one-hundred millionth iPod, securing its place as the most popular digital music player ever sold.

Some Business Lessons To Consider :

1 – Innovate by Addressing Pain Points: A primary reason for the iPod’s success was Steve Jobs’ ability to understand customer frustrations with existing products.
2 – Build Integrated Ecosystems: The iPod was a critical part of a larger ecosystem. The seamless integration with iTunes software and the iTunes Store made it incredibly easy for users to purchase, manage, and enjoy music.
3 – Joint-Venture With Strategic Partners. When Apple entered into a partnership with HP, it was a move to expand their market presence. At the time, Apple’s market share was predominantly within its loyal customer base, while HP had a broader reach in the PC market and strong relationships with big-box retailers. Apple was then able to tap into a wider demographic, extending its reach to consumers who might not have considered Apple products before.

Steve was brilliant at taking what was already out there and “re-thinking it” with incredible success, which can be modelled.

When will it be your turn to have your own “iPod moment” ?

Tech-Trivia : Did You Know? This Week in Tech-History …

October 1980 : Halloween, Early AI & Ghosts …

AI isn’t something that’s just emerged in the last couple of years. Blinky, Pinky, Inky and Clyde had distinct personalities and if these names sound familiar it’s because they were the four ghosts that chased Pac-Man around his maze, each with different styles of trying to catch him, a kind of ‘AI’.

Originally developed by Namco in 1979, the game went on to break multiple records, emerging as one of the most played games of all time and in the United States, the icon of Pac-Man was listed as recognisable by 94% of the population, at the time making it the most recognisable video game character ever (source : Guinness World Records) and has grossed over $14 Billion dollars.

3 Take-Aways About Being Different :

1-Different Offering. At the time, almost all of the other video games were “shoot ’em ups” and dominated by male players. The designer, Toru Iwatani, said: “All the computer games available at the time were of the violent type—war games and Space Invader types. There were no games that everyone could enjoy, and especially none for women. I wanted to come up with a ‘comical’ game women could enjoy.”

He was right, they did!

2-Different Markets. When Pac-Man was introduced to the States (October 1980), things really took off thanks to a deal with Bally/Midway. The code was ported across to various other platforms and consoles so that the game was ubiquitous across the country (and later Europe and other countries worldwide) and available on all major personal computer brands.

I.e. the distribution was an incredible success well outside Japan.

3-Different Names. It was originally called ‘Puck-Man’ (a derivative of the Japanese phrase “Paku paku taberu” meaning to gobble something up).

As legend would have it, the original inspiration came when Toru Iwatani saw his a pizza with a slice removed (resembling a hungry face) while the Power-Pellets (AKA Power ‘Cookies’) were inspired by the spinach-superpowers from Popeye.

Namco were concerned American teenagers would vandalise machines to make the name “Puck-Man” obscene, hence the name-change to Pac-Man.

Bonus Ball :

Within Mergers and Acquisitions, a “Pac-Man defence” is a strategy whereby a target-company of a hostile takeover tries to switch things around and buy the acquirer. It refers to when Pac-Man eats an energizer and starts eating the ghosts (rather than the other way around).

Tech-Trivia : Did You Know? This Week in Tech-History …

‘Stooky Bill’ : 02 October 2025

In days gone by, a Scottish person with a broken appendage might well have said their arm or leg was held in a ‘stooky’ (or ‘stookie’) which meant a plaster-cast. It’s thought the word comes from ‘stucco’ (plaster) although the term also has a derogatory meaning for a ‘stupid person’, so perhaps it’s no surprise that one specific dummy was named Stooky Bill.

This particular dummy was a crudely made ventriloquist-model and was chosen because of its highly-contrasted painted facial features. These were necessary because on the second of October 1925, the first ever (grayscale) image was transmitted by television at an incredible five images per second. At the time, the lights were so hot that poor old Stooky Bill was singed and cracked although the inventor, John Logie Baird wasn’t too upset because he’d experienced many, many other setbacks along the way.

Whilst he was famous for pioneering the ‘telly’ he did have various other television-related successes including primitive video-recording (‘phonovision’ 1928), the first transatlantic television transmission (1928), the first 3D Television (1940) and the first colour-TV (1944). Not that he was limited to television because his achievements also included radio direction finding, fibre-optics, infrared night viewing and even a primitive cousin to radar as early as 1926 (according to his son).

However, like all pioneers, he had his fair share of flops too, including rust-resistant razors made of glass (they shattered often) and diamonds made from graphite (too much current required – he shorted-out Glasgow’s power supply). Suffering from poor circulation to his feet, he also worked on thermal socks and pneumatic shoes, although the balloons inside the soles kept bursting so he abandoned his idea. As an aside, his failures in pneumatic footwear didn’t stop Dr Martens boots becoming wildly successful later on, with their air-cushioned soles.

Innovation is the lifeblood of many successful IT companies and it can be developed internally (such as in Baird Television Limited) or acquired externally – just think of all the successful acquisitions companies like Google have made and added to their repertoire (including YouTube as this is a video-themed post).

Whilst watching broadcast-television is now in decline (in the UK it’s declined by around a quarter in the last three years alone) we can nevertheless be thankful that in 2023, we’re not watching unintelligible dummies with overly-painted faces who need to be manipulated by their operators behind the scenes. Or are we?

Tech-Trivia : Did You Know? This Week in Tech-History …

Falcon 1 Launched : 28th September 2008

Rocket Man!

This week on September 28 2008 SpaceX managed to finally get the Falcon 1 rocket into space.

Founder Elon Musk was obviously thrilled, although curiously he wasn’t hungry – even though he’d skipped breakfast earlier that day. It was because he’d had such a big launch.

And just like that pun spectacularly failed, so too did Elon’s first three rocket launches in 2006, 2007, and also earlier that same year in 2008. It was why the payload of ‘RatSat’ was just a dummy and was used to simulate the mass of an actual satellite to test the rocket’s capabilities without risking a functional satellite. Obviously, cash was more important than ever as this was the first fully liquid-fuelled launch vehicle developed privately to enter orbit. An expensive business!

After those three expensive failures, that fourth success was pretty crucial for Elon Musk who has mentioned in several interviews that the company was close to running out of funds, and the success of the fourth launch was critical for securing more funding and ensuring the survival of the company.

After the rocket was launched successfully the next July (2009), this meant the rocket had 5 launches before it was retired, helping secure SpaceX to become the success it has become and with a market cap this summer (2023) of around $150 Billion, it’s Worth More Than Boeing and Raytheon. Not bad.

The moral here? If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again!
Although it may be helpful make sure you have deep pockets or access to someone else’s capital.

Tech-Trivia : Did You Know? This Week in Tech-History …

FORTRAN Developed : 20th September

Q. Why Do Python Programmers Wear Specs?

A – Because they don’t see sharp!

That’s a programming humour for you. And talking of programming, there’s currently an explosion of code being auto-generated by AI and before long, human-coders may go the way of the early switchboard operators. Hmm, possibly!

Yet can you imagine painstakingly programming computers, line-by-line with assembly language, punched-cards and needing almost infinite patience? Yet that’s what life was like before “High-Level” languages came along and compiled the assembly language to make life easier.

69 Years Old This Week

One such language was reportedly first run this week in September, 1954 – 69 years ago. It was called “FORTRAN”, short for Formula Translating (depending on whom you ask) and developed for an early IBM machine (which still used vacuum tubes). The contemporary coding community were sceptical it would actually be any good, yet it quickly took off like wildfire. So if you’ve ever programmed in a language like BASIC or PASCAL at school (i.e. before all the web languages came along), you can thank FORTRAN as an early pioneer.

It was adopted enthusiastically largely because 20 lines of code in assembly language could be accomplished in just one line with Fortran. In fact, John Backus, the inventor of it reportedly said “Much of my work has come from being lazy“, during a interview with IBM’s ‘Think’ magazine.

He went on to say “I didn’t like writing programs, and so, when I was working on the IBM 701, writing programs for computing missile trajectories, I started work on a programming system to make it easier to write programs.”

Still In Use Today

And while it’s relatively ancient, it’s still in use today! Primarily crafted for engineers and scientists, it continues to be employed in areas such as fluid dynamics calculations, economic modelling, computational physics, climate simulations, computational chemistry and astronomy.

The next time you’re having to shout due to a poor signal on your mobile-phone, spare a thought for lonely NASA probes Voyager 1 and Voyager 2. The first one is now around 15 billion miles away and the signal takes over 22 hours to reach back to earth, yet it still functions after approaching fifty years in space and it was originally programmed in FORTRAN.

Not bad for something originally created by a “lazy” programmer!

Tech-Trivia : Did You Know? This Week in Tech-History …

25 Years Of Google This Month!

Did you know that Google was incorporated 25 years ago, in September 1998?
Or that it was originally made from Lego? (sort of)

Google began as a research project by Larry Page and Sergey Brin when they were students at Stanford in 1996. Originally named “BackRub.” the name “Google” is a play on the word “googol,” a mathematical term for the number 1 followed by 100 zeros. The name reflects the company’s mission to organise the massive amount of information on the web.

Their first version of Google was stored on ten 4GB hard drives in a Lego casing! Nevertheless, by the end of 1998, Google was processing 10,000 search queries per day. This number grew rapidly, and by the end of 1999, it was processing 500,000 queries per day.

It now processes over 3.5 billion searches daily.

Google’s homepage was notably simple (primarily because neither Larry nor Sergey were proficient in HTML). This simplicity, plus their powerful ‘PageRank’ algorithm quickly blew all the other search engines away. Remember them? The likes of HotBot, AltaVista, Lycos, Excite and of course, Yahoo were all less relevant, highly cluttered and covered in ads*

Here’s (just a few) notable acquisitions they’ve made, you should have heard of these :

Applied Semantics (2003): Acquired for its contextual advertising technology, which later became a core component of Google AdSense.
Android (2005): Purchased for an estimated $50 million, Android has become the dominant mobile operating system globally.
YouTube (2006): Acquired for $1.65 billion. Say no more!
Fitbit (2007): A consumer electronics company specialising in health and fitness wearables, acquired for $2.1 billion. Think of all your health(y) data!
Motorola Mobility (2012): Acquired for its telecommunications expertise at a cost of £12.5 billion.
Nest (2014): A home automation company purchased for $3.2 billion.
DeepMind (2014): A British artificial intelligence company acquired for an estimated $500 million.

See The Synergy And Strategy Here?

They have many other less well-known acquisitions, yet they all help Google provide services ranging from live-flight bookings to restaurant reviews. Alphabet has a current market cap of around $1.7 TRILLION dollars – not bad for a couple of college kids starting out in a garage on a “Lego” setup, who made an algorithm to rank websites by the number of inbound citations!

* Note – Of course, nowadays Google also promotes many adverts and their famous “Don’t be Evil” code of conduct was reportedly removed a few years ago, depending on who you listen to!

Tech-Trivia : Did You Know? This Week in Tech-History …

28 Years Ago : eBay (& Amazon by Comparison)

Whilst eBay’s market cap is dwarfed by that of Amazon (i.e. circa 24 billion dollars compared to circa 1.4 trillion dollars), it’s easy to forget eBay helped shape online purchasing too.

Before it was rebranded as eBay in 1997, the site was originally called AuctionWeb. Founded by Pierre Omidyar in 1995, it was an experiment to create an online venue for person-to-person auctions and lacked any heavy investment. In fact, the hosting company were just charging thirty dollars per month to for the entire website when he started up, until they said they’d no longer host it for that price due to the growth in traffic, thereby forcing him to monetise his website via his sellers, which worked.

With his degree in computer science behind him and having worked in a subsidiary company of Apple, he was also working on various other web projects. He’d also co-founded another company called Ink Development, a company initially focused on developing software for pen-based computing. The company transformed its direction and became an e-commerce platform named eShop, which was later acquired by Microsoft in 1996.

In short, Pierre was the right person in the right place at the right time. And so was Elon Musk (more on him later).

The Unexpected First Listing

The first item ever listed on AuctionWeb was a laser pointer. To be more precise, it was a broken laser pointer. This wasn’t a mistake or an oversight. Omidyar had bought it for his own use but found out it was faulty. Rather than discarding it, he decided it would make an interesting first listing on his experimental auction site. He listed it clearly mentioning it was non-functional. To his astonishment, the laser pointer garnered bids and finally sold for $14.83.

Intrigued by someone paying for a known broken item, Pierre out to the buyer who simply responded that he was a collector of broken laser pointers. This quirky initial transaction showed the potential of a vast, unpredictable, and diverse online marketplace.

The Beanie Baby Phenomenon

While the broken laser pointer was AuctionWeb’s first sale, it was the Beanie Baby craze in the mid-90s that truly skyrocketed the platform’s popularity. Beanie Babies, those small plush animals filled with plastic pellets, became a massive collector’s item. AuctionWeb became a primary marketplace for these avid collectors, providing them a platform to buy, sell, and trade these toys.

The Beanie Baby phenomenon showcased the strength of the platform in bringing together niche audiences globally and the success also signalled the beginning of a new era where the average person could become an entrepreneur from the comfort of their own home.

From AuctionWeb to eBay

Seeing the growing potential, Omidyar soon renamed AuctionWeb to “eBay,” which was short for Echo Bay, the name of Omidyar’s consulting firm. The rest is history! eBay went public on September 24, 1998.

On its first day of trading, the stock’s price of $53.50 soared well past the initial target of $18, emphasising the optimism investors held during the dot-com boom. Unlike many that fell by the wayside, eBay is now a business that operates in over 30 countries with a market cap peaking at 80.6 billion dollars.

Amazon and eBay – Different Approaches.

While eBay and Amazon both started as online marketplaces in the 1990s, they evolved with different business models and strategies that have influenced their trajectories. eBay started off as an online auction place, although plenty of people and businesses sell via their ‘Buy Now’ function as an online shop.

There are many possibilities as to why eBay hasn’t reached the same magnitude as Amazon and here are a few :

  1. Business Model: eBay began as a peer-to-peer auction site, allowing individual sellers and buyers to negotiate prices. This gave eBay a unique identity but also meant slower and less predictable transactions. Amazon, on the other hand, started as a book retailer and then expanded its product range, focusing on selling new products at fixed prices.
  2. Fulfilment and Logistics: Amazon invested heavily in fulfilment-centres and logistics, creating a vast and efficient infrastructure for storage, packing, and shipping. This allowed them to ensure rapid delivery, leading to services like Amazon Prime. eBay, on the other hand, relies on individual sellers to handle shipping and logistics, which can be more variable in terms of speed and reliability.
  3. Private Label & Product Expansion: Amazon developed its own private-label products and expanded into diverse categories. They also encouraged third-party sellers to use their platform, ensuring a vast product range.
  4. Ecosystem Development: Amazon diversified its business areas, venturing into hardware (Kindle, Echo), streaming (Amazon Prime Video), cloud services (AWS), and more. This diversification created multiple revenue streams and bolstered its market presence.
  5. Trust and Reliability: Amazon’s emphasis on customer service and consistent delivery times built significant trust with customers. While eBay has made efforts to ensure product authenticity and seller reliability, the peer-to-peer model sometimes leads to inconsistencies in product quality and delivery.
  6. Global Expansion Strategy: Both companies pursued international expansion, but Amazon’s aggressive strategy of setting up localized versions of its site, fulfilment centres, and tailored services for different countries gave it a strong global footprint.
  7. Subscription Model: Amazon Prime, a subscription-based service, not only offers faster delivery but also includes streaming, exclusive deals, and other perks. This has fostered customer loyalty and increased purchase frequency.
  8. Feedback System: While eBay’s feedback system was innovative and built trust in the early days, some argue that it’s become less effective over time due to potential biases and reluctance from buyers and sellers to leave negative feedback.
  9. Acquisitions and Divestitures: While both companies made acquisitions, their strategies differed. Amazon’s acquisitions like Zappos, Whole Foods, and Twitch were integrated into its ecosystem. eBay, on the other hand, made some large acquisitions, such as Skype (see below), which were later divested as they didn’t align with eBay’s core focus.

What can be seen is that eBay seems to have plateaued insofar as the gross merchandise volume (GMV) (i.e. the total amount of ‘stuff’ sold via the platform) is concerned whereas Amazon’s GMV is steadily rising and so is the share of that GMV being sold by third party sellers (rather than Amazon directly) so doubtless they’re eating some of eBay’s lunch.

Perhaps the different share prices reflect the differing optimism because if there’s one thing that investors like, it’s growth.. One thing that’s clear … both companies did well over the pandemic.

While eBay didn’t reach the same dizzying heights of Amazon, it’s nevertheless a true rags-to-riches success-story that’s worth studying, including a couple of their better-known acquisitions. Even if the acquisitions were later sold, it’s interesting to try and appreciate the thinking behind the strategy and synergy.

Payment Provider : X Marks The Spot

The X Factor Elon Musk’s wealth originated from a critical acquisition made by eBay in 2002. In the late 1990s, Musk co-founded, an online payment company. would later become known as PayPal after a series of developments and a merger.

It was this very company, PayPal, that eBay acquired in 2002 for $1.5 billion in stock. At the time of the acquisition, Musk held 11.7% of PayPal shares, translating to roughly $165 million from the sale. Not too shabby for Mr Musk and it certainly helped springboard his wealth to be in the same league as that of Jeff Bezos from Amazon.

Communications Considerations : Skype

In late 2009, eBay finalized the sale of Skype for an impressive $2.75 billion. This strategic move allowed eBay to refocus on its core e-commerce operations, while the deal also highlighted Skype’s significant growth and potential in the telecommunications sector.

The Future?

Whilst Amazon seems intent on taking over the world by expanding relentlessly into eBay’s territory (and many others), eBay will likely remain a trusted corner-of-the-web for people to buy and sell goods for many years to come.

All of which started 28 years ago (this week), with a good idea and a broken laser-pointer.