Thought Leadership

What I learned

By Colin Walls

I have always felt that part of the point of living is to learn stuff. It does not mean that I spend all my time studying; it does mean that, when I am reading or watching a movie or TV or just hanging out with people, I want to come away knowing something new. This need not be knowledge of great intellectual stature, but one’s store of knowledge is part of the richness of being. My wife, Libby, and I started an experiment …

Three months ago, we were discussing this matter and decided that we would try to write down something new that we learned every day. On a Sunday evening, we compare our lists of what we have discovered in the last week. The facts might be trivial, personal, amusing, profound or useful – I think we have examples of all of these.

Eliminating some personal ones, here is a selection of things I learned:

  • It costs an extra £1 to get a letter/package signed for.
  • A corniche is a road in the side of a cliff, particularly on the coast.
  • Football teams in some towns have religious affiliations.
  • 25 Nov was the international day to end violence against women.
  • “Immolation” means “kill or offer as sacrifice, especially by fire”.
  • There are moves to ban personal ownership of fireworks in Germany.
  • The word software was not coined until 1958.
  • Early colour movies used 3 separate films for YMC.
  • Bill Gates has three sisters; the youngest is called Libby.
  • Bill Gates’ headmaster was called Dexter Strong.
  • Intel’s first real microprocessor chip was priced at $360; that number was a nod to the popular mainframe, the IBM-360.
  • Renting software for mainframes was the norm in the 60s/70s and $400 per week was a typical cost.

We have found this activity to be great fun and an interesting way to round off the week. I will post some more of this useless [?] information from time to time.

Why not try this yourself? You are welcome to comment here with some interesting things you have learned.

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This article first appeared on the Siemens Digital Industries Software blog at