Tangible computing

May 25th, 2016  |  Published in Uncategorized

A few weeks ago I ran into Larry Yang while walking through the ground floor of FAC, and he gestured to the students around and asked if it made me nostalgic for when I was a student. I had to point out that things had changed a lot since I was a student; in fact, as an undergraduate I had completed assignments by punching FORTRAN programs onto punch cards. I mentioned this to Owen Allsop during our mentoring meeting, and he commented, and his comment was that he never thought of programming as being that physical.

It’s certainly true that there’s a lot more distance between the programmer and tangible objects than there used to be. In the end, though, something physical has to change for our programs to do anything.

As long as I’m going on about understanding the hardware, I’ll link to the great story of Mel, the Real Programmer. Who thinks about things like that these days?

Gravitational waves detected

February 11th, 2016  |  Published in Uncategorized

Upgraded LIGO detectors spot gravitational waves

This is pretty cool.

Banana Pi

January 22nd, 2016  |  Published in Uncategorized

Squeeze the banana to log into this office Wi-Fi

It’s good to see that creativity isn’t dead.

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.