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Comment Re:544KB (?) on the 64KB MB - details matter (Score 1) 70

The original 64KB 5150 motherboard (4 banks of 16KB each) supported 512KB AST and other 3rd-party option cards, but carried ROMs that had a total system limit less than 640KB. The second gen motherboard supported 4x 64KB, of 256 KB on the motherboard, and 640KB of main memory overall. My recollection is of some number like 512KB + 32KB, for a total of 544KB, but it could have been 512KB+64KB, or 576KB; STILL not 640KB. I remember this because I once had to replace ROMs from gen 1 motherboards so I could get some machines up to the full 640KB memory available.

What I remember more, however, was how fast IBM's original expectations for the PC were surpassed by people using its relatively open architecture to do far more with it than IBM had planned (or anticipated). In 1980-81, few at IBM (or anywhere apparently) could conceive why one would want a PC with more than 128KB (64+64). By being open to change, the PC went quickly from that early 8-bit kind of view to one that would lead to a revolution in business and home computing. You can say what you want about PCs and Windows, but this is being typed on a garden variety home built PC vastly more powerful in every way that that distant ancestor. It has also had RAM, storage, and P/S upgraded over its lifetime (5 1/2 years thus far). Still useful, and more importantly, still usable with new OS versions (started on XP, moved to Win 7 when stable); and while I like having long HW and SW lifecycles, the point is I am not stuck with it as it was - like I am with my DVR (which is just a specialized Linux appliance really).

Thus I do wonder what the last 30+ years would have been like if the "Apple appliance computing" model had been adopted by IBM in 1980-85 instead of the more open one used for the PC / XT / AT? Even though it came out in 1984, the first gen Mac was ridiculous - a completely closed Moto 68K-based mini-workstation with an "8-bit machine" memory limit. It **could** have been built with a removable bottom plate and enough memory sockets for 4x 64KB - but only 1/2 populated (an expansion capability similar to what is now available for its distant descendant, the Mac Mini). But it wasn't - you had to physically upgrade your 1st gen MAc to get decent memory: to 512KB, aka the "Fat Mac", and then upgrade again to get a hard drive in the Mac Plus. Or you had to resort to strategies that would void your warranty (e.g., the hardware equivalent of a "jailbreak"). This Jobsian approach to evolution - via sales of more hardware - should sound familiar to Apple fanbois everywhere at this point (and why I opted not to buy this year's version of the iPad Mini, but wait for - GASP - the one with the proper CPU, camera, RAM, and screen).

Ancient history? Not really. At least two current trends (1) "wirecutters' and (2) cloud computing are going to see this "open architecture versus closed appliance/service" competition played out yet again. (A third may be iOS versus Android smartphones.) Overall I am still optimistic that on balance openness will lead to innovation that will be beneficial and also not necessarily anticipated by those who want everything tightly controlled for their own profit. This doesn't mean however that appliance advocates won't put up a good fight.

Comment All just a little bit of history repeating ... (Score 2) 762

For me it is all quite simple.
- SG1 is like ST-TNG / but "Doorway to the stars" instead of "Wagon train to the stars". Biggest issue is they were supposed to have done the Stargate concept because ships were costly; this was cheaper (at least initially).
- SG Atlantis is like DS9 / "Gunsmoke to the stars". Both involved setting up in a remote alien environment with new enemies and new friends, and using that as a base for exploration.
- SGU is like ST-Voyager / alone and far, far away from home, under constant threat.

Unfortunately, SGU (a) doesn't seem to have any ability to get the cast members home, and (b) the ship is heading away from earth. I also think they should have brought the Lucian Alliance in much earlier / maybe by show 8 or 10 in year 1. Remember - Captain Janeway and Chakotay basically buried the hatchet by the end of the the 2 hour pilot; we are in season 2, and Colonel Young still has his counterpart locked up under guard.

I do agree, however, that it was worth a shot. BSG was just a great show, and much better than I ever expected when I heard the news originally that it was going to be redone. Just as Star Trek didn't want to just keep doing the same show over and over, StarGate needed to do something different. My problem with the show was it was so sparse; almost all desolate planets, or deadly jungle planets. How many times did they find even ruins?

Secondly, they have killed too many possibly good characters. What the hell happened to the leader of the Lucian Alliance? She was introduced as a major character, and was gone in two shows. Then there is the quadriplegic scientist from Earth who just died, and the guy Colonel Young had to kill with his bare hands.

SiFy - have a talk with the BBC folks doing Dr. Who. The last 5 years have been wonderful (mostly), and quite "modern" compared to "Dr. Who - TOS" (Doctors 1 to 7 in my book). IF they can extend the life of a show originally broadcast in the early 1960s yet again, you folks ought to be able to get something else going (just no submarine shows please).

"Eth needs more b!"



Stem Cells Curing Burn-Induced Blindness 54

mcgrew writes "The AP (via Yahoo) is reporting that Italian researchers can now cure blindness caused by chemical burns using the patient's own stem cells. 'The treatment worked completely in 82 of 107 eyes and partially in 14 others, with benefits lasting up to a decade so far. One man whose eyes were severely damaged more than 60 years ago now has near-normal vision.' Previously, this kind of injury needed either a corneal transplant or stem cells from someone else, both of which are plagued by problems with tissue rejection. Unfortunately, this only works for damaged corneas — so far."

Tom's Hardware On the Current Stable of Office Apps For Linux 121

tc6669 writes "Tom's Hardware is continuing its coverage of easy-to-install Linux applications for new users coming from Windows with the latest installment, Office Apps. This segment covers office suites, word processors, spreadsheet apps, presentation software, simple database titles, desktop publishing, project management, financial software, and more. All of these applications are available in the Ubuntu, Fedora, or openSUSE repos or as .deb or .rpm packages. All of the links to download these applications are provided — even Windows .exe and Mac OS X .dmg files when available."

The Big Technical Mistakes of History 244

An anonymous reader tips a PC Authority review of some of the biggest technical goofs of all time. "As any computer programmer will tell you, some of the most confusing and complex issues can stem from the simplest of errors. This article looking back at history's big technical mistakes includes some interesting trivia, such as NASA's failure to convert measurements to metric, resulting in the Mars Climate Orbiter being torn apart by the Martian atmosphere. Then there is the infamous Intel Pentium floating point fiasco, which cost the company $450m in direct costs, a battering on the world's stock exchanges, and a huge black mark on its reputation. Also on the list is Iridium, the global satellite phone network that promised to make phones work anywhere on the planet, but required 77 satellites to be launched into space."

Mississippi Makes Caller ID Spoofing Illegal 258

marklyon writes "HB 872, recently signed into law by Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, makes Caller ID spoofing illegal. The law covers alterations to the caller's name, telephone number, or name and telephone number that is shown to a recipient of a call or otherwise presented to the network. The law applies to PSTN, wireless and VoIP calls. Penalties for each violation can be up to $1,000 and one year in jail. Blocking of caller identification information is still permitted."
PlayStation (Games)

PS3 Hacked? 296

Several readers have sent word that George Hotz (a.k.a. geohot), the hacker best known for unlocking Apple's iPhone, says he has now hacked the PlayStation 3. From his blog post: "I have read/write access to the entire system memory, and HV level access to the processor. In other words, I have hacked the PS3. The rest is just software. And reversing. I have a lot of reversing ahead of me, as I now have dumps of LV0 and LV1. I've also dumped the NAND without removing it or a modchip. 3 years, 2 months, 11 days...that's a pretty secure system. ... As far as the exploit goes, I'm not revealing it yet. The theory isn't really patchable, but they can make implementations much harder. Also, for obvious reasons I can't post dumps. I'm hoping to find the decryption keys and post them, but they may be embedded in hardware. Hopefully keys are setup like the iPhone's KBAG."
The Almighty Buck

Forrester Says Tech Downturn Is "Unofficially Over" 130

alphadogg writes "The US IT market will grow by 6.6% as high-tech spending rebounds in 2010, according to Forrester Research's latest estimates. The research firm based its projections on data reported for 2009, though its fourth quarter numbers are incomplete. Forrester says hints of a recovery surfaced in the third quarter, and now the company expects the global IT market to grow by 8.1% in 2010. Forrester's US and Global IT Market Outlook: Q4 2009 reads: 'The tech downturn of 2008 and 2009 is unofficially over, while the Q3 2009 data for the US and the global market showed continued declines in tech purchases (as we expected). We predict that the Q4 2009 data will show a small increase in buying activity, or at worst, just a small decline.'"

Man Sues Neighbor For Not Turning Off His Wi-Fi 428

Scyth3 writes "A man is suing his neighbor for not turning off his cell phone or wireless router. He claims it affects his 'electromagnetic allergies,' and has resorted to being homeless. So, why doesn't he check into a hotel? Because hotels typically have wireless internet for free. I wonder if a tinfoil hat would help his cause?"

Big Dipper "Star" Actually a Sextuplet System 88

Theosis sends word that an astronomer at the University of Rochester and his colleagues have made the surprise discovery that Alcor, one of the brightest stars in the Big Dipper, is actually two stars; and it is apparently gravitationally bound to the four-star Mizar system, making the whole group a sextuplet. This would make the Mizar-Alcor sextuplet the second-nearest such system known. The discovery is especially surprising because Alcor is one of the most studied stars in the sky. The Mizar-Alcor system has been involved in many "firsts" in the history of astronomy: "Benedetto Castelli, Galileo's protege and collaborator, first observed with a telescope that Mizar was not a single star in 1617, and Galileo observed it a week after hearing about this from Castelli, and noted it in his notebooks... Those two stars, called Mizar A and Mizar B, together with Alcor, in 1857 became the first binary stars ever photographed through a telescope. In 1890, Mizar A was discovered to itself be a binary, being the first binary to be discovered using spectroscopy. In 1908, spectroscopy revealed that Mizar B was also a pair of stars, making the group the first-known quintuple star system."

Submission + - Dollhouse Canceled - As if we couldn't guess ... (

old_fortran writes: Any show taken out of the lineup for "Sweeps Week" is likely on wavers, right?

Thanks to Digg, I can state that my expectations have finally been met. The Hollywood Reporter says "Dollhouse" is now toast, although they indicate that Fox will let Joss finish the 13 episodes planned for this season (no, I don't believe they will air them all either). Meanwhile, I gave up on that "big hit of this season"- ABC's FlashForward — after just 3 episodes, because it was taking so ***fracking*** long to get somewhere. And my son liked "V", but do we really need another retread show from two decades back? Doesn't anyone have any original ideas??

IMHO "Dollhouse" was entertaining and more original than the other SiFi shows on this year; but it was on FOX, so I was expecting this. At least I am hoping to see the rest of the season aired, although I will likely have to buy the DVD set to get everything again (just like "Firefly").

Now for an open statement to Joss — have you noticed that the major networks JUST CANNOT SEEM TO GET IT TOGETHER when it comes to your kind of show? Based on the experience of comparable (but apparently more popular) shows like "Mad Men", "Dexter", Six Feet Under", "The Sopranos", "United States of Tara", and so many others, the message is clear — find someone at HBO, Showtime, AMC, SyFy, or one of the other cable outlets and get them to sponsor 13 shows per season. Hey, FOX isn't going to do 20 anyway, so you might as well start with the right number to begin with — 10 to 13. It certainly seems that any SciFi oriented show that makes you do the minimal amount of thinking should just expect to wither and die / typically in the Friday Night Death Slot / if shown on network television. So just give the big networks a pass next time; fewer shows on a smaller network will still attract your core audience, which may prove more bankable when in a proper context from an advertising standpoint.

Of course, I know that this is likely not to be an isolated incident. "Fringe" producers — are you listening? Perhaps that one will last a while longer, but it's on Fox, so ...

And to think — FOX is owned by NewsCorp, which also wants to somehow charge for "internet content". Perhaps someone should reconsider implementing the "Executive Powder" solution earlier than the 31st century?


Comment Actuallty, they are stealing from Poul Anderson (Score 1) 829

The basic concept - send out a starship on a very long voyage of discovery with a "transmat" / "teleporter" / "stargate" on it so you can beam in and out - I vaguely remembered when I watched the pilot. That concept is the basis for the book "The Enemy Stars", by Poul Anderson (copyright 1958), and the ship's name in the book was the "Southern Cross". (My fragile paperback copy says it cost $0.50US back in 1968 or so.) Would have been a nice tribute if this ship had been given the same name (since it originated on Earth, the Southern Cross constellation would have been visible to the ancients that launched it). Don't know about the intellectual property situation, however.

Yes, there are elements of BSG, SG-Atlantis, ST-Voyager (except this ship is heading outbound), and even ST-DS9 (since this is an alien ship that is somewhat trashed / remember the first episode of DS9?). At least this time the Colonel didn't die like he did in SG Atlantis 1-1, and leave the mission to the "young hotshot". Also, you know the rules of pilots - the B-list actor with a recognizable face gets the ax, right? Finally, the Senator would have been S-O-L once his pills ran out, so I think he made the smart move in saving his daughter's life.

The cast has promise, they appear to be reusing lots of SG1 concepts effectively, and it is at least newish (if you can ignore that ST-TNG episode when the "Traveler" took them to the edge of reality / the first "Wesley is **really** special episode). Hey, being 7 BILLION lightyears from Earth is a bit farther away than the Pegasus galaxy.

What else can I say? I liked what the SG Production Team did with Atlantis (died two years early in my opinion), and how the DVD movies wrapped up both the Ori and Baal story lines for SG1. It's not yet another teen vampire show, and I like the Eli character (again, his role shows their humor, using a game to find him - like "Last StarFighter" - then beaming him out of his own house to grab him).

So SGU production team - please steal as much as you can from "classic" SciFi; we will all be thankful.

Other random comments:
- B5 was great, mainly because of the people. What other US SciFi show lets people have drinks, sit around in their rooms, cry like they mean it, and try to live real lives? DS9 did a lot of the same things, but B5 still seems more likable (and I liked DS9; but I own B5). Still, as much as I liked B5, I can't see it continuing without G'Kar; it just wouldn't be the same.

- Sliders / more stealing from my favorite books; this time from Keith Laumer's "Imperium" stories (except his device was the size of a 1950's phone booth or bigger, not a handheld remote control).

- Everyone steals, so why not SGU? / remember the ST-Enterprise episode with the derelict timeship that was "bigger on the inside than the outside"? (Someone should have just said: Q. "What model is it? A. Type 40!")

- Dollhouse / I hate to say it, but as much as I enjoy the hell out of it, I just know Fox is going to kill it as soon as they can. Why can't they sell this kind of show to NewsCorp / SkyNET (perhaps they do, but it may not be enough). While it is still a fairly original show (relatively / not about space, time travel, or robots), it is likely too expensive for its own good (**cough** Farscape **cough**).

- Someone find Claudia Black and Ben Browder some new work. I suggest Robert Heinlein's "The Glory Road". Read it and see what I mean.

= = = = = = = = = =
dave | i-can-feel-my-mind-going ...

Comment Re:Even More Irritation (Score 1) 239

in 1981 I joined a company that had "thicknet" running down the halls of the "experimental" zone in the IT building. We had at least 2 XEROX "Portrait Display" GUI workstations and a file server with an attached laser printer (all of which appeared to be used mainly to create decks of nicely formatted presentation foils; main value of this system IMHO).

I didn't see a Lisa on that site for at least a year, and my understanding of what happened then - at least as a customer - was the Lisa was a $10K version of what Xerox wanted us to pay $18K for per seat. Ironically, that company (and most others at that time in the Fortune 50) went instead with IBM PC's and XT's (which at up to $6K per seat fully configured were cheaper than either option, if obviously inferior in capability at that point in time).

I write this because one aspect of this thread has been to discuss multiple sources of things that came later. Are individuals the key, or are some outcomes inevitable? Raskin is claimed in the preceding entry to be the single source of both the Apple and PARC GUI evolution (.i.e., the "key individual"); but clearly both were interconnected, and PARC - at least to me - had a quasi-commercial product on the market before Apple. Just as the Macintosh was evolved from the Lisa, I would say the "big picture" view - networked Macintoshes connected to a shared postscript printer with file services - was being offered to the market by PARC prior to Apple's commercial delivery of it - my direct experience.

Perhaps Apple could have come up with all the same concepts w/o PARC getting there first from a production standpoint . But to me, BOTH were needed - XEROX with the corporate PoC, and Apple then making it a commercial reality (Lisa to Mac to the Mac family, etc.). This is the point here about the web as well. If Gopher had evolved to look more like the web, it wouldn't have been the Gopher from 1990, but something else derived from Gopher. To me classic Gopher "lost" because Mosaic (at least beta .7 and forward) was better - I and other tech-heads could use Gopher, but anyone (my wife and my children in my own case) could use Mosaic. I switched, along with everyone else; but Gopher had its in this story, as PARC did in the GUI PC story.

Apple eventually beat Xerox in this space in my opinion because they commercialized an advanced workstation concept at a mass-market level (i.e., taking the view of a "PC" vendor versus a "scientific workstation" or "office automation" vendor). I think we can all agree with that as a fact of history; but the foundation for the GUI-based PC and all the things that made it work link back decades. In short, this was not just based on the work and insights of one or two key people. Those people that were key to Apple's success - Jobs, Rankin, the Macintosh Development team, etc. - deserve the credit they have been given. Just don't tell me they weren't also standing on the shoulders of others.

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