26 September 2013

Faster, cheaper, more durable

Magnetic tape is making a comeback, reports Babbage. It's an important level in the archival storage hierarchy at CERN.
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


Adding to my brief list of museums dedicated to the history of computing: Austin's Goodwill Computer Museum, which first opened exhibition space in 2005.

Not gawky at all

Arnold Robbins recaps the history of AWK (and its GNU version, gawk), and introduces the new features to be found in version 4.1.
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


John D. Cook gives us a handy mnemonic for remembering that logs in all bases are proportional to one another.
...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.