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Comment FORTRAN IV on a CDC 6600 (Score 1) 629

First language was FORTRAN IV on the CDC 6600 at UT Austin.

I learned BASIC a couple of years later, then various assembly languages (specifically including 6600 CP COMPASS), then PASCAL on the 6600. LISP on 6600 a little, more assembly languages (PDP-11 and DEC-10 in particular, Intel 8080, Motorola 6800 and 6809, and I don't know what all else).

Starting in about 1988, I was doing Ada and C. I started doing C++ while doing refresher work at UT Austin in 2003-2004, and still am.

Comment Registered Mail (Score 5, Interesting) 172

This is what Registered Mail is for.

It gives end-to-end point-to-point traceability. At every moment between when the package is handed to the clerk and when it is handed to the recipient, it is either in someone's hands or in a locked storage container. Every time the package changes hands, the new holder has to sign for it.

The US Postal Service HATES it. They try HARD to talk you out of using it. It is a pain in the patootie for them, being forced to do their job properly.

If you ever want to see a postal clerk get a SICK look on his face, tell him "I need to trace a missing Registered Mail piece." He knows, in that instant, that one of his co-workers may be about to lose his nice cushy job, and quite possibly move into a Federal zero-star hotel, the kind with iron bars on the windows and doors.

Submission + - The Intel 4004 Microprocessor Chip Turns 45 1

mcpublic writes: Today marks the 45th anniversary of the 4004, Intel’s first microprocessor chip, announced to the world in the November 15, 1971 issue of Electronic News . It seems that everyone (except Intel) loves to argue whether it was truly the “first microprocessor.” Ken Sherriff's recent article in IEEE Spectrum tells the more complicated story. But what’s indisputable is that the 4004 was the computer chip that started Intel’s pivot from a tiny semiconductor memory company to the personal computing giant we know today. Federico Faggin, an Italian immigrant who invented the self-aligned, silicon gate MOS transistor and buried contacts technology, joined Intel in 1970. He needed both his inventions to squeeze the 4004's roughly 2,300 transistors into a single 3x4mm silicon die. He later went on to design the Intel 8080 and the Zilog Z80 with Masatoshi Shima, a Japanese engineer with a “steel trap mind,” the once-unsung hero of the 4004 team.

Comment Uhhhhh... (Score 4, Interesting) 108

Back in the Dark Ages, before smartphones and Pokemon Go, every schoolchild in the United States of America learned about the Viking settlements in Greenland.

Those settlements included dairy farms.

Those settlements were there, doing well, for 269 years.

They eventually shut down when the glacier moved south, it being really difficult to graze cattle on top of a glacier.

The Greenland ice sheet has not been there forever, people. Its progress southward can be tracked in the historical records from the Vikings. They left behind detailed notes on the development of the glacier, because it affected where the boats could make landfall.

Comment Re:Likely won't eventuate (Score 0) 298

The problem is life support systems: heating and pressurization.

Each passenger pod has to have an independent life support system, to keep the passengers and flight attendants alive while they're sealed into their pressurized spam can.

Each carrier airplane has to have its own life support system, to keep the pilots alive while they're taxiing and driving their spam can carrier.

Depending on the spam can sizing and count, those life support systems together will likely add up to MORE weight and volume than would be required for a comparably-sized unitary airplane.

Also note that the structural problems for handling multiple detachable spam cans are quite a bit different from the structural problems of building a large unitary airplane. (You would not believe me if I tried to tell you what military airplane designers go through, figuring out how configurable external stores affect an airplane.)

And there are other safety issues: If you have a problem in one spam can, and you jettison it, what does that do to the flyability of the carrier airplane and its remaining UNBALANCED load of spam cans? Or do you jettison a perfectly good spam can, to avoid the unbalanced loading? Or maybe if you have to jettison one can, you have to drop ALL of them - at which point there's no real advantage to detachable spam cans and a spam can carrier airplane over the original unitary airplane.

For that matter, you also have to ensure that a life support problem in one spam can doesn't affect any of the others. If the main power bus to the can shorts in the can, you have to be able to cut it, so that it doesn't disable the main power bus to the carrier airplane. (More cans, more failure points, more requirements to contain the failure.)

Comment Idiocy in action... (Score 0) 170

There's a very simple reason why carbon dioxide sequestration is a REALLY bad idea.

6 CO2 + 6 H2O + energy C6H12O6 + 6 O2

Running the reaction one way, you have the miracle of photosynthesis. Running it the other way, you have animals (including people) inhaling oxygen and eating food.

Carbon dioxide, far from being a pollutant, is a critically necessary component in food production.

Note also that photosynthesis is Mother Nature's way of recycling carbon dioxide, and "global warming" is the rate control on the reaction: More carbon dioxide, more warmth, longer growing season, more food grown, more CO2 removed from the atmosphere. This is negative feedback control and it is arguably part of why environmental conditions on Earth have been pretty stable for a very long time.

Comment Re:It's already scheduled, not caused by "X" (Score 1) 564

You miss the point.

I am one of the people who got bitten by this.

I *DID* *NOT* *AT* *ANY* *TIME* give my consent for this upgrade. I *DID* *NOT* *AT* *ANY* *TIME* give Microsoft permission to "schedule" this upgrade.

They pulled a Nike. They Just Did It.

If that is consensual, then I say Microsoft just consented to have their headquarters remodeled using tactical nuclear weapons.

Comment Re:There is no Subpoena (Score 1) 323

The problem is that, after she retained counsel, and her attorney called the FBI agent who'd left the business card, the FBI agent declared that the Bureau would not deal with her attorney, but would bypass him.

This is a BIG Bozo no-no in the Justice System. You do NOT "go around" someone's attorney.

This would be true even if the Martha Stewart case had not happened. After the Martha Stewart case, everyone should know that talking to the FBI *AT* *ALL* is a very bad idea. The ONLY thing you say to them is "Give me your business card and I'll ask my attorney to call you."

Comment Re:Doom Dreams (Score 1) 351

It was Spring of 1996. I was recovering from hip replacement surgery, close to the time where I'd be going back to work. I was at home, playing a LOT of Doom, to pass the time.

I got called for jury duty. I didn't duck fast enough, and actually got tagged for a jury. (Misdemeanor possession, but that's another story.)

They led us from the courtroom, back to the jury room, so we could stash our stuff before getting lunch. We're walking down a corridor, doorways to offices and such... ... and I realized I was *AUTOMATICALLY*, without thinking about it, paying attention to cover, fields of fire, noticing what areas I could and could not see, thinking where I could move quickly to dodge...

I think this was before the story came out about the Marine who managed to convinced his CO that Doom was in fact a very viable training tool, for training Marines how to react in combat situations.

Comment Re:Single gallon of jet fuel (Score 1) 208

You've slipped a few decimal places.

1 J = 1 Watt-second. 10 kW x 100 seconds = 1 million Watt-seconds = 1 MJ. 100 kW x 10 seconds = 1 MJ.

1 MJ is about 23 Ampere-hours at 12 Volts. You can buy that battery off the shelf at Batteries and Bulbs. A Sears Diehard contains quite a bit more. The trick is to put all of it into a short, tightly-collimated laser pulse.

Comment Re:Efficiency is irrelevant in air-flight (Score 1) 286

Graf Zeppelin was 770 ft long, carried 40 crew and 20 passengers. (Note that an American football field is 300 ft from goal line to goal line.) Boeing 747-400 is 230 ft long, carries somewhere between 400 and 600 passengers.

That means that the ground facilities to handle the zeppelin are going to be a lot bigger and you're going to need a lot more of them, to handle the zeppelins.

You'd need 20 to 30 Graf Zeppelins to carry one 747 passenger load. Fly to Tokyo Narita, or Bangkok Suvarnabhumi, and look at the 747s and 777 lined up side-by-side, and think about how many zeppelins you'd need to replace them.

A Boeing 777, flying at speeds north of 500 mph, takes about 12 hours to cross the Pacific. A zeppelin at 80 mph, or 1/6 the speed, is going to take about three days to make that trip. This means that instead of carrying one full meal, a light meal, and a snack, for each passenger, it must carry about nine full meals for each passenger, and a lot more drinking water. This also has implications for crew staffing. You're going to need a lot more pilots and flight attendants, since you're going to be running three shifts for three days. The holding tanks for the lavatories are going to have to be appropriately sized, as well: the people under the flight path do not appreciate you dumping your holding tanks on their back yard barbecues.

Comment Re:I'm just gonna throw this out here (Score 1) 653

From TFA: "A Facebook DM from a city economic development worker named Ellyn Parker (unsanctioned by City Hall, she says) struck him as more sincere. They met on the roof of Soma Grand while Parker explained the web of nonprofits and city departments that spends $241 million a year on the city’s more than 6,000 homeless residents, a population count that has stayed nearly unchanged for 25 years. “He was in education and humbling mode,” Parker says. She suggested that maybe he could create a database to track each homeless person as they get services from various entities. Maybe he could help a nonprofit that was getting evicted."

(/ 241e6 6e3)

So it's only about $40K/year per homeless person. Assuming 2000 hours per year for full-time employment, that's $20/hour. And, since the homeless population has stayed unchanged for 25 years, whatever they're doing with that quarter of a billion dollars per year ISN'T WORKING.

Meanwhile, the Devil's Advocate is screaming "AUDIT! AUDIT! FIND OUT WHERE THE MONEY REALLY WENT!!!" and wrestling me for the keyboard.

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