Oh, and I forgot the webAgent 20th anniversary

November 20th, 2015  |  Published in Uncategorized

As long as I’m talking about old things, the first webAgent 1.0 script started running some time in September 1995, so it’s 20 years old now.

Windows turns 30

November 20th, 2015  |  Published in Uncategorized

Remember Windows 1.0? It’s been 30 years (and you’re officially old)

Personally, I was using VM/370+CMS back then.

FORTRAN isn’t dead

November 13th, 2015  |  Published in Uncategorized

LLVM to get FORTRAN compiler that targets parallel GPUs in clusters

Who’d’a’ thunk it?

R.I.P. Gene Amdahl

November 13th, 2015  |  Published in Uncategorized

Gene Amdahl dies at 92

For anyone who doesn’t know, Gene Amdahl was the lead architect on IBM’s System/360, the original mainframe. When IBM management wouldn’t let him pursue some improvements on the design, he left and formed his own, competing company—the University has owned many Amdahl computers over the years.

Last Voyager programmer retires

October 30th, 2015  |  Published in Uncategorized

Has Voyager 1 escaped the Sun yet? Yes, but also no, say boffins

Measuring [magnetic data from Voyager] when it arrives will also be just a little bit harder than it was last week, because the last original member of the Voyager team has retired. Larry Zottarelli, aged 80, left NASA’s employ this week after 55 years on the job. Zottarelli helped to develop Voyager’s on-board computers and has worked on the mission since 1975. CNN reports that he was sent on his way with a handshake from actress Nichelle Nicholls, Star Trek’s Lt. Uhura. NASA is reportedly seeking a replacement fluent in FORTRAN, Algol and assembly language for the Voyagers’ 250 Khz General Electric 18-bit TTL CPUs, complete with single register accumulator and bit-serial access to 2096-word plated-wire RAM.

IT Failure

October 28th, 2015  |  Published in Uncategorized

Lessons From a Decade of IT Failures

Ten years ago, IEEE Spectrum published “Why Software Fails,” an article that examined the underlying causes of notable project failures. A couple of years later, we started the Risk Factor blog, with the goal of tracking technology failures both large and small.

To commemorate the last decade’s worth of failures, we organized and analyzed the data we’ve collected. We cannot claim—nor can anyone, really—to have a definitive, comprehensive database of debacles. Instead, from the incidents we have chronicled, we handpicked the most interesting and illustrative examples of big IT systems and projects gone awry and created the five interactives featured here. Each reveals different emerging patterns and lessons. Dive in to see what we’ve found. One big takeaway: While it’s impossible to say whether IT failures are more frequent now than in the past, it does seem that the aggregate consequences are worse.

Obsolete tech

September 23rd, 2015  |  Published in Uncategorized

Adam passed this link to me a while back: The most obsolete technology money could buy – my worst job ever.

Ig Nobel winners 2015

September 23rd, 2015  |  Published in Uncategorized

I’m a bit behind on this, but the winners of the 2015 Ig Nobel prizes have been announced. So now thanks to science we know that in every language “huh?” means the same thing, that all mammals take about the same amount of time to pee, and that kissing can help with your allergies.

Kids doing well

August 27th, 2015  |  Published in Uncategorized

The Raspberry Pi is succeeding in ways its makers almost imagined.

“Grandpa is getting pretty old. Out there all alone on that farm, he has no one to look in on him, just to see if he’s ok. He’ll use the landline, but he’s beyond of the range of mobile, and he’s never been really great with computers. No Skype or emails. Grandpa does have internet. So I built this for him.”

The girl points down to a small box with a few wires coming out.

“I can bring up a web browser, and take photos inside grandpa’s house. Has he moved his coffee cup today? Is the telly on? At least then we’ll know he’s okay. And I can even type messages” – she changes focus to a textbox inside a web form – “that show up on top. We used ImageMagick for that part…here, you can see it in our code.”

Fingers fly across the keyboard, and now I’m reading the source code for an index.php page, another marriage of convenience between HTML and PHP. How’d this girl – all of eleven years old – learn to do this?

“A lot of it was trial and error.” Both she and her project partner blush a bit. “The PHP bits were kinda hard. But we found a lot of stuff on Google,” she confides.

COBOL and JavaScript

August 18th, 2015  |  Published in Uncategorized

Calling 1959 from your Web code: A COBOL bridge for Node.js