Alioth writes: "Outside of the tech community, not many people know who Federico Faggin is, after all, many people didn't know who Dennis Ritchie was either. Federico Faggin is one of the pioneers of microprocessors, initially desiging the first microprocessor, the Intel 4040, then going on to design the 8080, before breaking away from Intel to found Zilog. He then designed the Z80, which was a chip that many of us got our start with with the home micros of the 1980s such as the Sinclair ZX Spectrum. It is notable that the Z80 is still manufactured today in its "classic" 40 pin DIL form (and indeed, its main competitor at the time, the 6502, designed by Chuck Peddle, is still manufactured too). Happy birthday, Federico — thanks for helping enable the explosion of micrcomputing in the 1980s that lead to many of our careers today!"
Alioth writes: "The BBC has an article on the BBC Microcomputer, designed and manufactured by Acorn Computers for the BBC's Computer Literacy project. It is now 30 years since the first BBC Micro came out — a machine with a 2 MHz 6502 — remarkably fast for its day, the Commodore machines at the time only ran at 1MHz. While most US readers will never have heard of the BBC Micro, the BBC's Computer Literacy project has had a huge impact worldwide since the ARM (originally meaning "Acorn Risc Machine") was designed for the follow-on version of the BBC Micro, the Archimedes, also sold under the BBC Microcomputer label by Acorn. The original ARM CPU was specified in just over 800 lines of BBC BASIC. The ARM CPU now outsells all other CPU architectures put together. The BBC Micro has arguably been the most influential 8 bit computer the world had thanks to its success creating the seed for the ARM, even if the "Beeb" was not well known outside of the UK."
Alioth writes: "All is not well with ACTA amongst the members of the European Parliament. Now, 369 members of parliament have signed a declaration against the provisions in ACTA, most significantly against the proposed measures to make ISPs responsible for data that travels over their network, privacy issues, the fact that the ACTA negotiations are being held in secret, and that the ACTA may result in a loss of due process. The declaration is here. There is also a news article in El País about the parliament's declaration (original article in Spanish, and a Google Translation."
Alioth writes: "25 years ago, the revolutionary space trading game "Elite" was released. Originally available on the BBC Microcomputer, Elite was ported to practically every 8 bit system — such as the Spectrum and Commodore 64. Later, it was ported to the Amiga, ST, Acorn Archimedes and more — it was ported to virtually any platform with a hint of popularity. It appeared on several consoles, and on the PC, and later spawned the sequels — Frontier and Frontier First Encounters. Such is its popularity, there have been several remakes — such as Oolite, originally written for Mac OSX, but then ported to Linux and later Windows. The BBC have an interviewer with one of the co-authors, David Braben about the game and the genre it started. Elite was much different to many of the games of the time — it was open ended, and allowed the player to decide who they wanted to be without constraint."
Alioth writes: "Gary McKinnon, the British cracker accused of breaking into US defense computers in 2001 and 2002 has lost his appeal to remain in Britain and to be tried there, and instead will be extradited to the United States to face trial on federal charges. McKinnon claims he was searching for evidence of aliens and UFOs, and the US Government claims that he caused over $800,000 worth of damage after breaking into US defense networks. Supporters of McKinnon maintain that extraditing him is disproportionate, and that McKinnon won't face a fair trial in the USA."
Alioth writes: "The Pirate Bay founders have been found guilty in Sweden of breaking copyright law, and have been ordered to pay a fine of 30M kronor (£2.4M, US$3.6M). Peter Sunde has already defiantly replied in a Twitter posting that "Nothing will happen to TPB, this is just theatre for the media." The damages were awarded to a number of entertainment companies, including Warner Bros, Sony Music Entertainment, EMI, and Columbia Pictures. Of course, it remains to be seen whether the Pirate Bay founders will pay up (or even have the means to pay up)."
Alioth writes: "The Sinclair QL — ultimately a market failure — has its 25 year anniversary today. The QL is significant to us, because it was the computer that Linus Torvalds used to learn how to program. Although a market failure, it was in many ways an innovative design, with a flat memory model rather than the PC's segmented model, pre-emptive multitasking, and an integrated "northbridge/southbridge" chipset where the PC and still to come Macintosh used dozens of 74 series TTL chips. Unfortunately, the computer was plagued by bugs and a lack of quality control, and only went on to sell 150,000 units. It saw more success as the ICL "One Per Desk" office automation suite. The QL still has its followers today, and homebrewers have built modern QL clones such as the 68060 based Q60"
Alioth writes: "The long-anticipated switchover to purely digital TV began last night in Britain. Although digital broadcasts have been available for a while in most parts of the UK, they have been running alongside the old analogue frequencies. Last night, in the small hours, the analogue signal for BBC2 was switched off forever in the town of Whitehaven in Cumbria. Analogue signals are expected to have been switched off over the whole of the UK by 2012."
Alioth writes: "Today marks fifty years since the first serious nuclear accident in the world. On 10th October, 1957, pile 1 at the Windscale nuclear facility in Cumbria, England caught fire, damaging the reactor beyond repair and resulting in a release of radioactive material unmatched until the Chernobyl disaster decades later. Like Chernobyl, the Windscale reactor piles were flawed, "fail dangerous" designs — a flammable graphite moderated reactor, using air as a coolant. The BBC produced a radio dramatisation of the event in two parts, which gives some insight into the human story of the accident. The Windscale piles were used to produce Britain's first nuclear weapons. Today, the site is most famous for being Britain's main nuclear fuel reprocessing facility."
Alioth writes: "The BBC is reporting that our new gadgets are considerably less efficent than the old. The common opinion is our old analogue CRT televisions were huge energy sinks, and the flat screens replacing them much more efficient, but this is being wiped out by buying much larger flat screen TVs that use up to three times more power than an older CRT television. The same article shows in a graph how the larger flat screens use more power than a same-sized CRT. I think I'll keep my big (high quality) Sony CRT for quite a bit longer."
Alioth writes: "Twenty five years ago today, Sinclair Research launched Britain's most popular home computer of the 1980s — the Sinclair ZX Spectrum. Costing about one third of the price of its rivals such as the Commodore 64 while having a faster CPU and a better BASIC interpreter, the machine sold well in many guises throughout the 1980s and had more than a staggering 9,000 software titles. The machine may well have done well in the US too, had Timex — the company building the machine under license in the US — wasn't already in financial trouble and about to fold. The machine was also extremely successful in Russia, although not for Sinclair Research — because the Russians made dozens of different clones of the machine, and did so right into the mid 1990s. The machine still has a healthy retro scene, including the development of new commerical software by Cronosoft, and new hardware such as the DivIDE, which allows a standard PC hard disc or compact flash card to be connected to the machine."
Alioth writes: "You may remember that back in 2004, EV1Servers - a major low-cost dedicated server hosting company based in Houston - who had built their business up with Linux servers, made a deal with SCO over Linux intellectual property. This was widely interpreted as EV1Servers stabbing the Linux community in the back by funding SCO's anti-Linux litigation. Finally, the whole sorry story has come out - Robert Marsh, the former CEO of EV1Servers, has submitted his evidence to the SCO vs IBM trial, and it looks like he'd been had. Not only did he feel that SCO had conned him once he discovered the full facts - but he also discovered his customers had an entirely different reaction than he expected - they left in droves in disgust at EV1Servers helping SCO to litigate, rather than remaining - Marsh had hoped customers would have felt protected by EV1Servers having a SCO Linux license. The whole sorry story is online at Groklaw. In summary - SCO wanted $2M in licensing fees off EV1Servers, but EV1Servers ultimately paid $800K. EV1Servers no longer exists as an independent company - it was taken over by ThePlanet earlier this year."