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kme : computing   83

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At the mercy of suppliers.
We couldn't even figure out if it was a hardware problem or a software problem - Solaris had to be updated for the new machine, so it could have been a kernel problem. But nothing was reproducible. We'd get core dumps and spend hours pouring over them. Some were just crazy, showing values in registers that were simply impossible given the preceeding instructions. We tried everything. Replacing processor boards. Replacing backplanes. It was deeply random. It's very randomness suggested that maybe it was a physics problem: maybe it was alpha particles or cosmic rays. Maybe it was machines close to nuclear power plants. One site experiencing problems was near Fermilab. We actually mapped out failures geographically to see if they correlated to such particle sources. Nope. In desperation, a bright hardware engineer decided to measure the radioactivity of the systems themselves. Bingo! Particles! But from where? Much detailed scanning and it turned out that the packaging of the cache ram chips we were using was noticeably radioactive. We switched suppliers and the problem totally went away . After two years of tearing out hair out, we had a solution.
sun  history  computing  intermittentfailures  debugging  radioactivity 
june 2019 by kme
The Computer Chronicles - UNIX (1985) - YouTube | https://www.youtube.com/

Stewart Cheifet: ... Why is there sudden excitement about UNIX?

Gary Kildall: Well it shouldn't be a sudden excitement--UNIX itself has been around since the late 60s. The problem is that micros haven't had the power to support... they haven't had the large amount of main memory, the hard disk, the fast processor, and so forth, but nowadays micros do have that power, and so UNIX becomes a serious contender for an operating system standard.

OK, in fact many people are saying UNIX become *the* standard operating system of the future, but there are *many* uses of UNIX going on right now. We have a report....
unix  history  computing  video 
may 2019 by kme
The role of instructors in teaching programming — Python for Biologists | https://pythonforbiologists.com/
This is another aspect of programming that experience tends to render invisible: when you encounter a roadblock in programming and need to ask for help, very often it's difficult to know how to phrase the question. The lack of understanding that causes the student to need help in the first place also ensures that they're unlikely to know what question to ask, or the right way to phrase it.

Of course, later on in the learning process it usually becomes clear how mindblowingly useful programming is (and I purposefully structure my courses to get students to this point sooner rather than later). Nevertheless, one of the biggest problems many students have when learning programming is simply running out of steam and becoming demoralized – a process that is usually triggered by encountering yet another roadblock.
programming  teaching  learning  computing  workshop  advice  bestpractices 
february 2019 by kme
Why desktop apps are coming back – Hiri | https://blog.hiri.com/
I’m really impressed with Figma, and maybe I just need to get over it, but I prefer that Sketch is doing its own thing, in a separate compartment that is not my browser. I like that it asks me if I would like to update rather than force it down my neck like most online SaaS stuff. I like that when I open a file I’m not uploading it to someone else’s server. I like that I feel that I’ve paid for, rather than rented the tool I’m using.

The basic form factor of a PC is the product of natural and obvious evolution. It’s difficult to imagine a PC or laptop being useful without a screen a keyboard and a mouse. And the operating system/desktop app combination is the inevitable consequence of this technology. It has endured because we haven’t found the next step. iPads with keyboards are a just a bad laptop. Web apps are a bad facsimile of desktop apps. They are not the strongest branch in the evolutionary tree that is our interaction with computers.
desktopcomputing  computing  mobile  tabletcomputing  desktopapps  webapps 
december 2018 by kme
UNIX: Making Computers Easier To Use -- AT&T Archives film from 1982, Bell Laboratories - YouTube
Kernighan (KERN-i-gan) making a spellchecker out of pipes: https://youtu.be/XvDZLjaCJuw?t=315
...on Unix productivity, composition, and "One Thing Well": https://youtu.be/XvDZLjaCJuw?t=607

...and Ritchie / Kernighan talking about formatless files, pipes: https://youtu.be/XvDZLjaCJuw?t=778

Kernighan on pipelining/pipes, followed by Lorinda Cherry demoing them: https://youtu.be/XvDZLjaCJuw?t=800
unix  bellabs  computing  pipes  history  video 
june 2017 by kme
Julia: Viral Shah, an Indian computer scientist built a new programming language from Bengaluru — Quartz
“I think the basic point is that it’s too coursework-focused and (has) nothing in terms of reality,” he said. “While an open-source, clearly superior solution is available today for free, they are still teaching archaic, outdated, expensive tools that are controlled by a company. So, you’re teaching your students tools which they can’t afford to buy after they graduate.”
julia  computing  cs  india  opensource 
april 2017 by kme
The Pleasure of Do-It-Yourself Slow Computing | The New Republic
There is a habit in tech culture of saying that the latest app is “democratizing” whatever it happens to do. This is lovely, but best not to confuse it with actual democracy. Democracy is about participation with control, freedom with accountability, privacy with transparency. Tech companies tend to pick and choose from that list rather inventively. We’re expected to participate in their networks without having control over how they work. We’re transparent about every detail of our lives with them, while they’re private about what they do with it.
diy  computing  essay  emacs  retro  slowcomputing 
may 2015 by kme
UNIX pipes as IO monads
[Wadler97] How to Declare an Imperative. ACM Comp. Surveys, Vol. 29, No. 3, September 1997
haskell  shell  unix  monads  computing  programming  philosophy 
april 2015 by kme
Bruce R. Miller's answer to If C and C++ give the best performance, why do we still code in other languages? - Quora
Where I work, we have a table that lists how much it costs the company to keep a single CPU core running for a year. It is not listed in terms of money. Instead, it is listed in term of how many minutes of engineer cost it would be equivalent to.


It turns out that engineers are much more expensive than CPUs.
computing  costbenefit 
may 2014 by kme
Urban Dictionary: cruft
Using the algorithm for finding the average:

(crap+stuff+sh*t)/3 = cruft

This is the true etymology of the word
That C++ library goes in the "cruft" folder.
computing  humor  etymology 
february 2014 by kme
Stephen Fry Explains Cloud Computing in a Short Animated Video | Open Culture
It is, in the end, an advertisement for some cloud computing firm, but there are some valuable insights, nonetheless.
cloudstorage  fordummies  animation  video  computing  storage 
november 2013 by kme
GitHub Presents • Passion Projects (Live) #3 • Timoni West (UX and User Data) - YouTube
* create context around visible data
* make the UX subtle enough so as not to be distracting
* put the user and their personal information (browsing history, likes/dislikes) at the center of the UX

"Stand on the tops of buildings and shout until you find your people." —Dan Harmon
computing  ux  video  project 
july 2013 by kme
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