22 December 2013
We also caught up on MySQL versions, and enabled limited concurrent editing of stories by multiple editors.
This was the biggest effort since the massive redesign of 2009, and I am proud to have been a part of it.
14 December 2013
12 December 2013
...after a major computer upgrade in 1991, the primary flight system has a storage capacity of one megabyte and runs at a speed of 1.4 million instructions per second.
via things magazine
26 November 2013
17 October 2013
This was a very small computer with 18 bit word and 32 words of memory with up to 128 addition words. It was called an electronic computing calculator and was built into a 'beautiful desk.'The Clary Corporation has kept a low profile since its incorporation in 1940. Its current specialties include products for military and other mission-critical applications. It has no Wikipedia entry. Maybe I've just been reading too much Pynchon recently, but... One never knows, do one?
Object is a small wooden cabinet (not a desk), on top of which are a typebar typewriter (looks like an IBM Executive but not so labelled) and a 10-key adding machine, both seated in shaped cutouts in the top. The adding machine has a number of pilot lights and function knobs and keys. Inside the cabinet at the rear is a metal frame containing an array of sealed circuit modules, and a bank of PC boards with discrete transistor logic. Inside the cabinet at the front left is a frame for a programming plugboard (no plugboards are in evidence).
26 September 2013
When a tape snaps, it can be spliced back together. The loss is rarely more than a few hundred megabytes—a bagatelle in information-technology circles. When a terabyte hard disk fails, by contrast, the result is usually that all the data on it are lost. The consequence at CERN, specifically, is that a few hundred megabytes of its 100 petabyte tape repository are lost every year. Of the 50 petabytes of data held on hard disk, however, it loses a few hundred terabytes in the same period.300 TB/yr lost to hard drive failures?!
22 September 2013
The new implementation [of the extension mechanism] provides the potential for Awk programs to do anything that can be done from C or C++. The simplest example is an extension that provides
chdir(), so that Awk programs can finally change their working directory!
19 September 2013
...a up to x = a up to b down to b up to x.I swan, every time I have to use this fact (about once a decade), I have to go back and prove it to myself from first principles. Usually takes me an hour.
04 August 2013
OSI was devised by committee, but that fact alone wasn’t enough to doom the project—after all, plenty of successful standards start out that way.
28 July 2013
What is a screen? A thing that divides. A thing people undress behind. A thing every computer has, in fact a thing computing has distilled itself increasingly into. A thing we all carry around with us in our pockets, a thing fundamental to western-world human information-gathering and a feature now fundamental—unimaginable this, only ten years ago—to a telephone. A thing that has an appearance of transparency and that divides us from bankers, ticket sellers, post office workers, people with money. A thing people project onto.—Ali Smith, Artful, p. 121
10 July 2013
/cf#wasn't there. How did this team disable the Content Finder by default?
Well, at least part of the answer is that the content pages have this property defined:
cq:defaultView="html". The opposite setting is
cq:defaultView="contentfinder". Here's the Adobe KB entry on the topic.
19 May 2013
...the prejudice will follow you. What will save you is tacking into the love of the work, into the desire that brought you there in the first place. This creates a suspension of time, opens a spacious room of your own in which you can walk around and consider your response.I was hooked by her lede, which uses a musical simile to describe the sort of work I've done for most of my working life:
I was an ordinary computer programmer. I wrote code that ran at the levels between flashy human interfaces and the deep cores of operating systems, like the role of altos in a chorus, who provide the structure without your taking much notice of their melodic lines.Tamara Shopsin provides a clever illustration, too.
13 May 2013
08 May 2013
29 April 2013
20 March 2013
"I inherited this program to maintain/emulate/port and I don't understand it. Heck, I'm not even sure what language it's written in!"Usually, the questioner's first guess is COBOL. (It's old and incomprehensible, so it must be COBOL, amirite?) Such was the surmise of user1381537, who offered this source file. Other posters and I quickly disabused him of the notion that it was written in COBOL; Gilbert Le Blanc figures that it's Caché MultiValue Basic.
I amused myself by pointing out some of the less obvious aspects of the program, and by flipping through the documentation to understand some of the peculiarities of this BASIC dialect. In a 1970s-vintage program, just finding the main processing loop can be a challenge. GOSUBs are a feature that is, Fox be thanked, no longer maintstream. I like the compactness of the bracket syntax for performing substring operations. And I envy user1381537's innocence that he/she has never encountered a zero-suppression format string that looks like "ZZ,ZZ9".
14 March 2013
12 March 2013
Science remains institutionally sexist. Despite some progress, women scientists are still paid less, promoted less frequently, win fewer grants and are more likely to leave research than similarly qualified men. This special issue of Nature takes a hard look at the gender gap — from bench to boardroom — and at what is being done to close it.
01 March 2013
The software/IT core requirement for MBA students at the University of Pennsylvania in the late 1970s consisted of a 2/3-semester MIS introduction (systems analysis, drawing pictures, sizing hardware, but no programming) and a 3-week non-credit course in APL. So I learned this occult language (it only worked on interactive terminals where characters could be overstruck) out of Gilman and Rose's APL: An Interactive Approach on a DECSystem-10, or at least learned it well enough to get a job interview with one of the consultancies that specialized in it when I arrived in D.C. (I didn't get the job). Matrix-friendly APL was wicked concise if you needed to sum up a table of sales results by product line and region—exactly the sort of tool a new MBA could use, that is, until VisiCalc came along. I enjoyed the short course well enough that I was induced, in my callowness, to write a short piece about it for the Wharton Journal, the student newspaper.
05 February 2013
30 January 2013
15 January 2013
To sort through the massed tangle of conflicting requirements and desiderata, the team did the Agile thing: It put Post-It notes on a wall and called back the users to identify features that fit these criteria. Did the feature contribute directly to getting the president reelected? And would it be needed in 12 weeks...?
07 January 2013
We now have an actual hundred-dollar computer. Loads of them, in fact. They're called smartphones and tablets. Many can be had for well under a hundred dollars.
This is more than can be said for the XO machine, which even now, eight years after [Nicholas] Negroponte first dreamed up the idea, still costs a lot more than a hundred bucks.
That's right. Nearly a decade into this they still can't hit their original price point.