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Education

Submission + - Science Historian Deciphers Plato's Code (manchester.ac.uk)

eldavojohn writes: Some two thousand pages of Plato's works have now been uncovered to have a hidden meaning. According to the research, he hid a complex musical code to match his writings inside his works. From the article, 'Dr Kennedy spent five years studying Plato's writing and found that in his best-known work the Republic he placed clusters of words related to music after each twelfth of the text — at one-twelfth, two-twelfths, etc. This regular pattern represented the twelve notes of a Greek musical scale. Some notes were harmonic, others dissonant. At the locations of the harmonic notes he described sounds associated with love or laughter, while the locations of dissonant notes were marked with screeching sounds or war or death. This musical code was key to cracking Plato's entire symbolic system.' Thousands of years later, we continue to learn from Plato (PDF).
Hardware Hacking

Home-Built Turing Machine 123

stronghawk writes "The creator of the Nickel-O-Matic is back at it and has now built a Turing Machine from a Parallax Propeller chip-based controller, motors, a dry-erase marker and a non-infinite supply of shiny 35mm leader film. From his FAQ: 'While thinking about Turing machines I found that no one had ever actually built one, at least not one that looked like Turing's original concept (if someone does know of one, please let me know). There have been a few other physical Turing machines like the Logo of Doom, but none were immediately recognizable as Turing machines. As I am always looking for a new challenge, I set out to build what you see here.'"
PlayStation (Games)

BioShock 2's First DLC Already On Disc 466

An anonymous reader writes with this quote from 1Up: "Trouble is brewing in Rapture. The recently released Sinclair Solutions multiplayer pack for BioShock 2 is facing upset players over the revelation that the content is already on the disc, and the $5 premium is an unlock code. It started when users on the 2K Forums noticed that the content is incredibly small: 24KB on the PC, 103KB on the PlayStation 3, and 108KB on the Xbox 360. 2K Games responded with a post explaining that the decision was made in order to keep the player base intact, without splitting it between the haves and have-nots."

Comment Re:Why? (Score 1) 425

I scrolled down to see if there were any more relevant posts to reply to, but most of them also boasted about 80+ wpm.

I am by no means a touch typer, but I don't watch my keyboard either. So I correct a lot, and am about half your speed at best (say 50 wpm).

Still probably around 12 cps, but hitting Delete 3 times lowers the average, hehehe.

I still type faster than I can think, whether I am programming, translating, or writing for fun and pleasure. As the GP post said, any more is overkill for anything but data entry or transcribing.

As it happens, I didn't make many mistakes in the previous para, but I can regularly type stuff like: To be oare nto teo be, thatr ais the quzesition.

Thing is, when I'm typing text (using 9 fingers, not the right pinky for some reason, although I do sometimes use my left hand for control (thumb to C for copy, for example), I am aware of my mistakes and often want to change for other reasons anyway. And when programming, I want to type two or three letters and then code-complete.

Comment Re:More than a million? (Score 2, Interesting) 395

At the time of posting, 14% say they have written more than a million lines of code. Seriously, I don't think so.

I guess I'll total a million in just another 90 years of coding.

You are forgetting the masses of seriously shitty coders out there who pump out 2000 "lines" per day, 250 days per year, who can get there in just 2 years.

I say 2000 lines because I can "create" that many in 8 hours no problem - it is only 4 lines per minute and I type at roughly 40 wpm when not thinking that much but still being aware of what I'm doing. But agreed, no way can a competent programmer do that every day!

Comment Re:Periods and commas. (Score 1) 420

British mathematicians (from primary school to professor) place the decimal point not at the base, but half way up, at the same level as the minus sign, the space between the lines of an equal sign, or the intersection of the small "x" used as a multiplication sign.

This seriously confused an Italian boy who joined my school at age 14 and eventually was the other person from my year to go to Cambridge.

Unfortunately, despite his intelligence when he was first tested to see what group he should be in, he mistook the dot for a multiplication symbol. He'd been to American schools a lot, since his father was a diplomat. So he answered such simple questions as what is 1.2 + 3.4 (which should be 4.6) as 14 (1x2 + 3x4).

At least the GP understands that confusion is the issue. He is not 100% correct, but it isn't nonsense either.

Don't forget that not only written and spoken are important, but that the limitations of the ASCII/ANSI character set(s) mean that we use "full stops" rather than "points", and similarly combine multiplication into the asterisk.

Comment Re:For the most part. (Score 1) 420

Interestingly, the x87 FPU has instructions for loading and storing BCD values, but internally computes everything using binary arithmetic. That lets you combine the accuracy of binary floats with the storage efficiency of BCD. To my knowledge, no one has ever wanted to do that.

That isn't very interesting, since it is the x86 (not the maths coprocessor) which has opcodes such as AAA and (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intel_BCD_opcodes). The accuracy is the same, the performance of arithmetic operations is worse, but the important advantage of BCD on old architectures - including even the 4.77 MHz 8088 - is that they only had at best 16-bit registers, so the most you could represent unsigned was $655.35 (more than enough for anybody). Allowing a packed byte for the cents, and another for ones and tens, etc, may not have been the computationally most efficient, but without an '87, it was better than strings!

PlayStation (Games)

US Air Force Buying Another 2,200 PS3s 144

bleedingpegasus sends word that the US Air Force will be grabbing up 2,200 new PlayStation 3 consoles for research into supercomputing. They already have a cluster made from 336 of the old-style (non-Slim) consoles, which they've used for a variety of purposes, including "processing multiple radar images into higher resolution composite images (known as synthetic aperture radar image formation), high-def video processing, and 'neuromorphic computing.'" According to the Justification Review Document (DOC), "Once the hardware configuration is implemented, software code will be developed in-house for cluster implementation utilizing a Linux-based operating software."

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