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Comment Re:Um... (Score 2) 274

Cash is already phased out. Take $12,000 out of your bank. Oh, that's right. You can't. They don't have that much. You have to call ahead. ...

That may be true for law abiding citizens, but consider the drug trade. The people who grow opium in Afgahanistan or refine heroin in Columbia want to get paid from the cash sales to users in the U.S. and Europe. That mean a net outflow of funds from industrialized nations to third world countries to pay for the drugs. All international terrorists have to do is pay the suppliers in Afghanistan, Columbia etc. and have their agents collect cash from dealer networks inside the U.S. and Europe, maybe offering a discount relative to other ways of getting cash out. The cash itself does not have to move far at all, certainly not across borders. Given the huge scale of international drug trafficking, only a tiny diversion of its cash flow is required to keep local terrorist cells comfortably in business.

Comment Re:ABC computer company (Score 2) 78

They weren't the same size as telco racks (i.e. 19")?

No they were not. IBM had it's own standards for mechanical packaging. But my recollection is that IBM's requirement that all its products fit through a standard 29" door predated the 360 line and was mandated by their sales department, who never wanted to lose a sale because the product could not get into a building.

Comment Re:Fortran's use of GT (Score 1) 304

The 026 didn't have parentheses either; we had to multipunch them.

That's not the whole story. Prior to EBCDIC, the convention was to use % and lozenge in the commercial 026 character set to represent left and right parentheses and # to represent equals. IBM offered 026 keypunches with those characters replaced on the keyboard and print matrix and compilers understood them as "(", ")" and "=". It was called the scientific character set option. When EBCDIC was introduced, the commercial card codings were retained and new card codes introduced for "(", ")", "=" and many others. But compilers I worked with all recognized the older codings, at least until I stopped using keypunches in the mid 1970s. But if you had a need to enter a proper EBCDIC "(", ")" or "=" on an 026 you would have had to multi-punch, as you say. Was there some software you used that did not recognize the "scientific" 026 encodings?

Comment Re:That's special... (Score 1) 163

what you are deliberately leaving out is that OS X has a fraction of the marketshare of windows and that is the main reason.

If smaller marketshare is the main reason OS X has much less malware than Windows, isn't that still a compelling reason to buy a Mac? Let all the cheapskates who want to save a few hundred bucks on their computer deal with the mass insecurity.

Comment Re:Fortran's use of GT (Score 1) 304

Back when Fortran came out, keyboards weren't standardized yet. Also, some systems used variations of 7-bit or even non-ASCII encodings like EBCDIC. ...

Uhh, not quite. Back when Fortran was introduced in 1957 and when comparison operators were introduced in Fortran IV in 1962, pretty much everyone was entering programs on punched cards, mostly using the IBM 026 keypunch machine which did not have the greater than and less than symbols. In fact a special 026 "scientific character set" was required to show parentheses or equal sign on the keyboard or to print them on the cards. While each computer model tended to have its own internal character code, the punched card code itself was well standardized, even among IBM's competitors. The EBCDIC character set, which does have greater than and less than symbols, was introduced with the IBM System/360 in the mid-1960s, along with the IBM 129 keypunch, but the less expensive (and indestructible) 026 continued to be used by programmers for many years thereafter, especially at academic institutions. There is a good picture of the 026 keyboard on Wikipedia: File:IBM 026 keyboard.mw.jpg

Comment Re:Yes, and no. They were nice. Let's not exaggera (Score 1) 220

I agree with most of that, but I never had much problem keeping my slide rules lubricated, aligned, and tensioned. Slide rule maintenance was a lot less hassle than keeping a cell phone charged and the software updated. I used a slide rule through college and into my first job, but jumped at buying a TI SR-50 scientific calculator when they first came out in 1973, also paying about $300. But the tactile feel for calculations that the slide rule provided has never left me. I still own mine and have a slide rule app on my iPhone, just for fun. If you've never used one, get one on eBay and give it a try.

Comment Re:Higher performance assumes higher energy use (Score 1) 80

Point taken, I should have said zero ongoing energy cost. But the cost of the solar panels should be compared to the cost of the equipment generating power for conventional bitcoin mining and the cost of constructing the transmission lines bringing that power to the data center. And solar is getting to be competitive on a cost per watt-hour at the source.

Comment Re:Higher performance assumes higher energy use (Score 2) 80

An interesting architecture might combine a processing unit with a solar panel on a simple stand. Large numbers of these units could could then be placed in a desert area, communicating via a mesh network, with almost no additional infrastructure, not even roads. Coining cryptocurrency and code breaking do not require much interprocessor communication. Energy costs would be zero. There would be no need to locate near a power transmission grid, so the most desolate desert areas might be suitable, minimizing land costs. Robotic dune buggies or drones could be used to dust off the panels periodically. and remove units as needed for repair or hardware upgrade. If batteries get cheap enough, they could be incorporated to allow processing to continue at night, perhaps at a faster clock due to easier cooling. Human staffing might be limited to security and backup maintenance.

Comment Re:Was AL really a programmer? (Score 2) 187

Read her stuff. She got it. Here is a quote from a review by Countess Lovelace of an article about the Analytical Engine by an Italian engineer, Menabrea, that neatly sums up the multidisciplinary nature of computer architecture: "We refer the reader to the ‘Edinburgh Review’ of July 1834, for a very able account of the Difference Engine. The writer of the article we allude to has selected as his prominent matter for exposition, a wholly different view of the subject from that which M. Menabrea has chosen. The former chiefly treats it under its mechanical aspect, entering but slightly into the mathematical principles of which that engine is the representative, but giving, in considerable length, many details of the mechanism and contrivances by means of which it tabulates the various orders of differences. M. Menabrea, on the contrary, exclusively developes the analytical view; taking it for granted that mechanism is able to perform certain processes, but without attempting to explain how; and devoting his whole attention to explanations and illustrations of the manner in which analytical laws can be so arranged and combined as to bring every branch of that vast subject within the grasp of the assumed powers of mechanism. It is obvious that, in the invention of a calculating engine, these two branches of the subject are equally essential fields of investigation, and that on their mutual adjustment, one to the other, must depend all success. They must be made to meet each other, so that the weak points in the powers of either department may be compensated by the strong points in those of the other. They are indissolubly connected, though so different in their intrinsic nature, that perhaps the same mind might not be likely to prove equally profound or successful in both. ”

Comment Re:Uber = Public subsidized (Score 2) 204

People like me who don't drink and drive pay higher insurance rates to subsidize those drivers that do. Think about it, the insurance exposure for one drunk going home from a bar in the back seat of an Uber vehicle is far less than the insurance exposure for that same drunk behind the wheel of a car driving home. I'd much rather subsidize the added risk of Uber drivers than the risk the drunks they carry.

Comment Re:Confidential Information via email???? (Score 3, Interesting) 434

Given that the entire corpus of State Department cables classified up to Secret was leaked by Private Manning and that the State Department's unclassified email system was so badly hacked they struggled to get it cleared (if they have) and that other sensitive government systems, like the OPM database of security clearance records, have been completely compromised, there is reason to think Clinton's use of her own server may have provided better protection for sensitive information than official government channels. It could hardly have been worse.

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