Twenty years ago

June 1st, 2015  |  Published in Uncategorized

I was reading Jeffrey Zeldman’s 20th-anniversary post and realized that sometime this month (I don’t remember the exact day; I think it was near the end of the month) will be the 20th anniversary of when I started on webAgent 1.

As a side note, one of the things he said was:

Because folks don’t bookmark and return to personal sites as they once did. And they don’t follow their favorite personal sites via RSS, as they once did.

I still follow favorite personal sites via RSS. That’s how I saw his post. Maybe because I’m a total nerd myself, but I’ve never understood why RSS didn’t catch on more. For me it’s by far the best way to keep up.

1401 Bitcoin miner

May 26th, 2015  |  Published in Uncategorized

Chap mines Bitcoin with PUNCH CARDS and ancient mainframe

Vintage hardware enthusiast Ken Shirriff has shown that a model 1401 mainframe, which IBM announced in 1959, can mine Bitcoin. If, that is, your definition of mining includes “chugging away at the problem until pretty close to the heat-death of the universe.”

Old computers

May 13th, 2015  |  Published in Uncategorized

If you thought running a mainframe was old-fashioned:

If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It: Ancient Computers in Use Today

(via the IBM-MAIN mailing list.)

TidBITS turns 25

April 22nd, 2015  |  Published in Uncategorized

Mac-oriented tech site TidBITS has been publishing on the internet for 25 years. I don’t remember exactly when I started reading TidBITS, but it was probably before the end of 1996.


Mandelbrot set on a 1401

March 23rd, 2015  |  Published in Uncategorized

Mature mainframe madness prints Mandelbrot fractal in TWELVE MINUTES

The article calls the output device a “dot matrix printer”, but it looks more like output from a 1403 impact printer, which as you can tell from the number was designed to work with IBM’s 1401 processor. The 1403 was adapted to work with System/360 computers, and we still had one in use through the mid 1990’s.

Being data-driven

March 12th, 2015  |  Published in Uncategorized

Via Rands in Repose: The Joyless World of Data-Driven Startups

Our capability to measure and record data is rapidly improving, at a time when more and more leaders are trying to protect their status and image by walking the middle ground, pre-calculating every decision and spoken word. The result is that the world increasingly uses and relies on data-driven decisions, from the smallest trivial matters, to policies in large corporations and entire countries. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it’s critical. But sometimes it fails, or results in unintended consequences that we may not notice for years.

New pages here

March 10th, 2015  |  Published in Uncategorized

Prompted by Chuck’s IT@UT project, I’ve added a couple of more pages about webAgent here: The story of webAgent: webAgent 2 and Was webAgent a good idea?

Enterprise apps

December 26th, 2014  |  Published in Uncategorized

Biggest [tech] news of 2014:

As corporate romances go, IBM and Apple’s must rank among the most unexpected. …

The recent apps release showed just how transformative this relationship could be. We were witnesses to apps which appeared to be designed for users[!] They were not designed for committees that prepare checklists of requirements.

We must applaud IBM for having the courage to resist the featuritis which plagues enterprise software design. This resistance requires saying No to those who specify and are thus authorized to purchase software and hardware. IBM has had to essentially say no to those who buy and yes to those who are paid to use. The quality of the experience is evident at first sight. The number of user actions, the number of screens to wade through have been ruthlessly culled. These are concepts and ideas which now permeate app design best practices. Yet they are practices which still elude the spec-driven enterprise software wastelands.

“Spec-driven enterprise software wastelands.” I wonder how he could have got that idea?

(via Daring Fireball)

Netscape turns 20

October 15th, 2014  |  Published in Uncategorized

Netscape Navigator, the browser that popularized the web, was released 20 years ago.

2014 Ig Nobel prizes

September 19th, 2014  |  Published in Uncategorized

It’s that time of year again. My favorites:

  • Physics: “Kiyoshi Mabuchi, Kensei Tanaka, Daichi Uchijima and Rina Sakai, for measuring the amount of friction between a shoe and a banana skin, and between a banana skin and the floor, when a person steps on a banana skin that’s on the floor.” If I were a high school physics teacher, I’d see if my students could reproduce this.
  • Psychology: “Peter K. Jonason, Amy Jones, and Minna Lyons, for amassing evidence that people who habitually stay up late are, on average, more self-admiring, more manipulative, and more psychopathic than people who habitually arise early in the morning.” Morning people rule!
  • Public health: “Jaroslav Flegr, Jan Havlíček and Jitka Hanušova-Lindova, and to David Hanauer, Naren Ramakrishnan, Lisa Seyfried, for investigating whether it is mentally hazardous for a human being to own a cat.” I can’t think of something to say that might not get me in trouble.
  • Arctic science: “Eigil Reimers and Sindre Eftestøl, for testing how reindeer react to seeing humans who are disguised as polar bears.” If this is one of the things you’ve wondered about, now you can find out the answer.

And Happy “Talk Like a Pirate Day” to all.