Interstellar Space

This is fascinating:

IN THE BLACKNESS of space billions of miles from home, NASA’s Voyager 2 marked a milestone of exploration, becoming just the second spacecraft ever to enter interstellar space in November 2018. Now, a day before the anniversary of that celestial exit, scientists have revealed what Voyager 2 saw as it crossed the threshold—and it’s giving humans new insight into some of the big mysteries of our solar system.

Amazing, over 40 years on the go and still working.

Good Tools

I’ve been thinking and reading about technical and non-technical leadership, productivity and leveraging, and this describes very well why you need good tools in your work:

Finally there’s a psychological aspect to providing good tools to engineers that I have to believe has a really impact on people’s overall effectiveness. On one hand, good tools are just a pleasure to work with. On that basis alone, we should provide good tools for the same reason so many companies provide awesome food to their employees: it just makes coming to work every day that much more of a pleasure. But good tools play another important role: because the tools we use are themselves software, and we all spend all day writing software, having to do so with bad tools has this corrosive psychological effect of suggesting that maybe we don’t actually know how to write good software. Intellectually we may know that there are different groups working on internal tools than the main features of the product but if the tools you use get in your way or are obviously poorly engineered, it’s hard not to doubt your company’s overall competence.

Peter Seibel, “Let 1,000 flowers bloom

I may come back to this.

Tardigrades  – new insights into their legendary toughness

These things fascinate me, they’re unbelievably tough:

Tardigrades — also known as “water bears” — are microscopic animals that can live through almost anything: 30 years in a freezer, rapid dehydration, boiling and freezing temperatures, massive doses of radiation, baths in organic solvents, and a trip to open space. Today, scientists sequencing their genome have discovered clues to just how they do it — which may help us learn how to be just as tough ourselves.

http://www.theverge.com/2016/9/20/12990274/tardigrade-extreme-water-bears-genome-sequence

Tux at 24

“Happy Birthday, Linux!”, announced slashdot today. I’ve been a user for a long time, my first direct experience of Linux was with a tiny district that shipped on four floppy disks, which even back in 1996 (I think, maybe 1997) was tight. I still remember being amazed that it could read from floppy while doing something else! The Windows and DOS operating systems I’d had on my old PC were hard pressed to walk and talk at the same time and floppy I/O always brought a momentary halt to any proceedings.

There was always a lot of talk through the years about if and when Linux would displace Microsoft on the desktop, but in 24 years it never really happened. What did happen though is that the desktop was itself displaced. Microsoft is no longer the evil empire of old, but its still supreme on the traditional PC. The thing is though, that were not using PCs so much anymore, its all tablets and smart phones, connected devices and smart  TV’s.

Guess what they run?

Linux.

Not bad for a 24 year old!

The Mahler Project

A short documentary about an event inspired by a one liner in the original ZX Spectrum BASIC handbook. The challenge was to program in the entirety of Mahler’s First Symphony on the ZX Spectrum using Sinclair Basic. Evidently the original challenge wasn’t thought out – there isn’t enough room in a Speccy’s memory to hold all the BEEP statements required, even if you were determined (or masochistic) enough to type it all in, line by line.

But being merely impossible was no impediment to the dedicated spec-chum, so, only 30 years after Steve Vickers unwittingly set the challenge, 12 working Spectrums were networked together using the spectranet ethernet card, and with a Raspberry Pi to act as conductor, the stage was set for a performance of the First movement of Mahler’s First Symphony, in glorious piezoelectric mono sound.

First (ARPANet) Post!

“Lo.”

Inauspicious, perhaps, but then an infant’s first word generally is. Besides, no one on Professor Leonard Kleinrock’s 40-person team suspected that they were starting a revolution of global proportions on Oct. 29, 1969.

That was the day Kleinrock and a student assistant, Charley Kline ’70, M.S. ’71, Ph.D. ’80 sent the first “host-to-host” message over ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network), the precursor to today’s Internet.

They were trying to send ‘log’, not an abbreviated ‘Hello’, but the connection dropped.

via UCLA History.