GDT::Computing::Bits::Archive::Year 2008

An Interview With Bjarne Stroustrup
Thank You to KevinM for passing along a hyperlink to a recent interview with Bjarne Stroustrup--the father of C++. Since 2002, Stroustrup has been the College of Engineering Chair in Computer Science at Texas A&M University.
   "The old Bell Labs (AT&T Bell Labs) was indeed remarkably close to 
    the ideal for practical research aimed at changing the world for 
    the better and I'm often 'homesick' for it. Unfortunately, it no 
    longer exists."

Another Stroustrup quote...

   "A friend of mine looked at the final projects of a class of 
    third-year CS students from a famous university. Essentially 
    all had their code littered with 'magic constants.'" 

And I liked Stroustrup's reply when asked "what is it that makes a great developer?"

   "Curiosity, initiative, tenacity, ability to reason logically, 
    ability to communicate and to work with others. That's not at 
    all special for programmers, I'm afraid. Also, I strongly prefer 
    to be around people with a sense of humor." Stroustrup on Educating Software Developers

[20 December 2008, top]

CS 123 at Mills College
This sounds like a great course from Mills College.
   "CS 123: Robots, Persons, and the Future"

   "An interdisciplinary study of robots, cyborgs, wearable 
    computers, nanotechnology, and other technologies that 
    challenge our ideas of what it means to be a human being. 
    Students will gain a solid technical foundation by building, 
    debugging, and programming robots. We will also read a wide 
    variety of fiction and essays. All students will have to write 
    evaluative and predictive essays. Graduate students will be 
    required to build a robot of their own design.  Offered every 
    other year beginning 2009-2010."

   "Credit Hours: 1"       "Instructor(s): Ellen Spertus"

Ellen Spertus is a great role model for young girls and I'm thinking of adding her to the GDT DreamTeam during the Spring 2009 semester.

[06 December 2008, top]

Internet2 Continues To Evolve
The headline "Internet2: Full Speed Ahead" caught my attention and full speed ahead is right. The following was copied from
   "Internet2's high-speed network is expected to be a key 
    component in the testing of predictions of high-energy 
    physics when CERN's Large Hadron Collider becomes fully 
    operational in 2009. The collider is expected to generate 
    approximately 15 million gigabytes of data per year, and 
    more than 70 Internet2 university members and 3,000 American 
    researchers will participate in the research, with each 
    expected to download or transmit some 2 terabytes of data 
    during a four-hour window every couple of weeks." Full Speed Ahead

[06 December 2008, top]

World's Fastest Supercomputer Running FLOSS
I posted the following to my AzFoo and blog on 26 November 2008.

Title: Supercomputing keyphrase: more flops

The 32nd edition of the list of the TOP500 supercomputers was released on 14 November 02008. The fastest supercomputer in the world is Roadrunner at Los Alamos National Laboratory with a top performance rate is 1.105 quadrillion calculations per second (petaflops). Close behind Roadrunner is Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Jaguar at 1.059 petaflops.

[side-bar] I believe Google has the fastest computer in the world, but Google doesn't have to let the world know anything about its computing capabilities.

Computers (super or otherwise) need an operating system in order to compute and Roadrunner and Jaguar are both GNU Linux-based supercomputers. GNU Linux is both Free/Libre Software and Open Source Software (FLOSS). The FLOSS movement is alive and well given that almost 88 percent of the world's 500 fastest supercomputers are Linux-based. reported that 290 of the world's 500 fastest supercomputers belong to the U.S. Kudos to the United States!

The next TOP500 list will be published during June of 02009.

[26 November 2008, top]

SyNAPSE is Cognitive Computing
Cognitive computing is using computing to simulate and emulate the human brain.
   "Computer systems that mimic the brain to process large amounts 
    of data could emerge from a $4.9 million collaboration between 
    IBM, five universities and DARPA. The SyNAPSE project could tap 
    the value of real-time information growing at 60 percent a year. 
    Being able to analyze the data could make real-time decisions 

SyNAPSE stands for Systems of Neuromorphic Adaptive Plastic Scalable Electronics.

And the five universities are: Stanford, Wisconsin-Madison, Cornell, Columbia University Medical Center, and California-Merced., Partners Aim To Build Brain-Like Computer Systems

[21 November 2008, top]

I Hope Sun Microsystems Survives
On 14 November 02008, Sun Microsystems Inc. announced it plans to "cut up to 6,000 jobs, or 18 percent of its global work force."

Sun Microsystems has been a great American computer company since 01982. When I think about Sun Microsystems, I think about the Stanford University Network and how the "network is the computer." I think about the company's outstanding support for the Unix operating system. It is impossible to forget that during the mid-1990s, Sun created the Java "write once, run anywhere" platform and applets helped spawn the growth of the world wide web (interactive web pages... woohoo). Now in the early part of the 21st century, Sun Microsystems has become a key participant in the evolution of open source with computing tools such as OpenOffice, MySQL, OpenSolaris, and (most recently) Java.

So many great computer professionals have worked at Sun Microsystems over the span of the last quarter of a century. I've heard some people advocating Bill Joy for CTO (Chief Technology Officer) of the United States. It would be great if Obama picked Joy for that position, but I have no idea if Joy is interested. of Sun Microsystems employees (past and present)

My blogroll is short, but it does include Jonathan's Blog.

[14 November 2008, top]

Steve Wozniak Added To The GDT::DreamTeam
Steve Wozniak is (was) a Fall 2008 addition to the GDT::DreamTeam.

Wozniak co-founded Apple Computer with Steve Jobs in 1976. The Woz created the Apple I and Apple II computers during the mid-1970s.

In 1985, Wozniak received the National Medal of Technology from Ronald Reagan. He is a member of the National Inventors Hall of Fame and is a Fellow at the Computer History Museum.

Wozniak was born on 11 August 1950 in San Jose, California.


[08 November 2008, top]

About Political Informatics
I posted the following to my AzFoo at blog on 5 November 2008.

I couldn't help but think political informatics while watching last night's election results.

The high-performance visualization systems are coming (they're here, but expensive); the supercomputers are coming (they're here, but expensive); the algorithms are coming; and the computational thinking political scientists are coming.

With respect to the "algorithms," this is 21st century Informatics. Many of these algorithms are generic in the sense they can be applied to all forms of informatics (they're like the embryonic stem cells of the computing world). For example, some of the algorithms developed for biomedical informatics will be used by financial informaticians, social informaticians, political informaticians and so on.

In a nutshell, the best political scientists of tomorrow will be those who can apply computational thinking to political data to morph it into political information.

[05 November 2008, top]

Yet Another COBOL Lives Posting
It never ceases to amaze me how our computer systems dictate our business practices.
   "In July, citing a budget shortfall, the Governor of California 
    ordered the salaries of 170,000 State employees to be cut to 
    the Federal minimum wage."

   "Not so fast, said the State Controller. Because California's 
    payroll systems are written in antiquated COBOL code, it would 
    take six months to implement the change and nine months to restore 
    salaries later. That's if we had the COBOL programmers to do the 
    job, which we don't, because you fired them last week, Governor. 
    And we can't hire them back because nobody's going to take a pay 
    cut from Social Security to program Cobol for minimum wage."

In a nutshell, COBOL lives! Your Next Language COBOL?

[01 November 2008, top]

Schmidt--Future CTO of America?
The Wall Street Journal has reported that Obama is getting technology and energy advice from Eric Schmidt (Chairman and CEO of Google). Kudos to Obama.

Could Eric Schmidt become the first Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of the United States of the America?

If Obama wins and creates a CTO position, then Schmidt would be a great choice to fill that position. But, in an interview conducted by Adam Lashinsky of Fortune Magazine dated 29 January 02008, the following exchange took place.

Fortune: "Will you all work at Google for the rest of your careers?"

Schmidt: "We agreed to work together for how long, gentlemen?"

Brin: "Twenty years."

Fortune: "Really? When did you make that agreement?"

Schmidt: "Two years, seven months, and four days ago. But who's counting? Actually, we agreed the month before we went public that we would work together for 20 years. I will be 69, and according to Google I'm going to live to 84, so I should be fine."

[20 October 2008, top]

What is the Birthdate of the Mouse?
I've been reading about how the computer mouse turns 40 years of age this year. In addition, there are predictions being made that the computer mouse will be extinct in 3-5 years.

According to the Wikipedia, Doug Engelbart invented the computer mouse in 1963, which would make it 45 years of age in 2008.

In a nutshell, I don't know the official birthdate of the mouse.

[18 October 2008, top]

ASU Students--Putty In the Hands of Google?
ASU is really excited about getting into "cloud computing."
   "To practice cloud computing, you have to have a cloud," 
    notes Adrian Sannier, ASU's university technology officer. 
   "That's the obstacle most universities have. A cloud is 
    a big thing, and it's very expensive."

A "cloud" is basically a cluster of computers working together as a single computer accessed via a growing cyber-infrastructure.

   "We'll start with an overview of important computing models.
    Then, we'll learn programming in Google style." -- Dan
    Stanzione, director of the high-performance computing 
    center at ASU's Fulton School of Engineering and a member 
    of the faculty team that will teach the cloud-computing course. 

Stanzione is a computing guru and ASU is lucky to have him as a technical leader.

   "ASU is the largest user of Google Apps, says Kari Barlow, 
    assistant vice president of the university's technology 
    office." -- Knowledge@W.P. Carey

"Cloud computing" makes it seem as if we're entering into an era of utopian computing... but are we?

The Guardian did an interview with Richard Stallman (RMS) and they quoted RMS saying it was "worse than stupidity" when it comes to using web-based programs like Google's Gmail.

RMS is a guru programmer who created the GNU Project and he is the founder of the Free Software Foundation.

   "It's stupidity. It's worse than stupidity: it's a marketing 
    hype campaign.  Somebody is saying this is inevitable -- and 
    whenever you hear somebody saying that, it's very likely to 
    be a set of businesses campaigning to make it true." -- RMS

Stallman is one of the most trustworthy computer professionals in the world; therefore, I usually listen when he speaks.

   "One reason you should not use web applications to do your 
    computing is that you lose control. It's just as bad as 
    using a proprietary program. Do your own computing on your 
    own computer with your copy of a freedom-respecting program. 
    If you use a proprietary program or somebody else's web 
    server, you're defenceless. You're putty in the hands of 
    whoever developed that software." -- RMS

Are ASU students becoming "putty" in the hands of Google?

[01 October 2008, top]

MCCCD is Producing Zero Computational Thinkers
The Spring 2009 schedule has been entered into the system and CSC (Computer Science) remains in a zombie-state.

According to the Maricopa County Community College District (MCCCD) website at, the MCCCD is "one of the largest higher education systems in the world and the largest provider of health care workers and job training in Arizona." What are these jobs? I have a hard time believing any of the them are related to computational thinking.

The website boasts that it has "approximately 1,000 occupational programs (degrees and certificates), and 37 academic associate degrees, and there are 10,254 courses available for offering." But the bottom-line: The MCCCD has virtually zero students learning about computational thinking.

[26 September 2008, top]

Google's Project 10^100
To help celebrate its tenth birthday, Google has initiated Project 10^100.

10^100 is calculator notation for 10 raised to the 100th power, which is 1 followed by 100 zeros. The number 10^100 is called a googol (note a google, but a googol).

The idea behind Google's Project 10^100 is the notion that "helping helps everybody, helper and helped alike." Google believes that individual happiness increases when we help others.

On 25 September 2008, the Google homepage contained the following hyperlink.

Project 10^100: Tell Google how you want to change the world.

[26 September 2008, top]

Larry Page Added To The GDT::DreamTeam
Larry Page is the Fall 2008 addition to the GDT::DreamTeam.

Page co-founded Google with Sergey Brin in 1998. Page's title is President of Products at Google.

Page was born on 26 March 1973 in Lansing, Michigan.

[25 September 2008, top]

Google Says Bye-Bye To Arizona
I posted the following to my blog.

Google's leaving Tempe and that is sad news for Arizona. If you're a computing student in Arizona who wants to be a Googler, then be prepared to move to Silicon Valley, LA, Pittsburgh, Austin, Ann Arbor, etc.

I was excited during October of 02005 when Google announced they were going to establish operations in the Valley of the Sun. This was great news because Google only opens engineering operations in places where they believe they have an endless supply of computational thinkers. Google is a 21st century Informatics company and ASU (and UA and NAU) must be failing at producing talented 21st century informaticians.

I was surprised Google came to Arizona given our 20th century political leadership. Google coming to Arizona was a gift to Arizona's politicians--too bad they weren't able to use that gift to turn Arizona into a respected software state. What a wasted opportunity.

Google leaving Arizona prompted lots of postings to AzTalk. One poster wrote: "This is not surprising. Google is 10 years old and has had its good days. From now on it's all down hill." Bottom-line: Google is 10 years young and Arizona is too ancient for them.

Google is exiting Arizona and that is good news for Google shareholders.

[20 September 2008, top]

Yahoo! and McCain Like Women Who Compute
"Women in computing" remains an oxymoronic phrase, but it appears as if Yahoo! and McCain know where to find talented computing women.

First Yahoo!...

On 9 September 02008, Yahoo! announced that it has hired Joanne Bradford to be Senior Vice President, U.S. Revenue and Market Development. Bradford, a former Microsoft executive, reports to Hilary Schneider, Executive Vice President of Yahoo! U.S. Schneider reports to Sue Decker, President, Yahoo! Decker is on the board of directors of Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway.

Now McCain...

Two speakers at this year's RNC were Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina. For a decade, Whitman was the President and CEO of eBay. Fiorina was the Chairman and CEO of Hewlett-Packard. On Pi Day (March 14th) 02008, McCain appointed Whitman as national co-chair. Earlier in 02008, Fiorina became the RNC's Victory Chairman and one of McCain's "top economic advisers."

[15 September 2008, top]

Computer Literacy Goes Well Beyond Using Email
I posted the following to my AzFoo blog at

"Obama mocks McCain as computer illiterate" was an AP headline on 12 September 02008.

"He admits he still doesn't know how to use a computer, can't send an e-mail, [...goes off topic...]," said Obama about McCain.

In a nutshell: Being able to use email doesn't define computer literacy. My guess would be that Obama is only slightly less computer illiterate than McCain.

Donald Knuth--one the world's greatest living Computer Scientist--doesn't use email.

"I have been a happy man ever since January 1, 1990, when I no longer had an email address. I'd used email since about 1975, and it seems to me that 15 years of email is plenty for one lifetime," wrote Donald Knuth.

Note: Knuth doesn't use a hyphen when he writes the word email.

"Thus it's high time for everybody to stop using the archaic spelling e-mail. Think of how many keystrokes you will save in your lifetime if you stop now! The form email has been well established in England for several years, so I am amazed to see Americans being overly conservative in this regard."--Donald Knuth.

By the way... Knuth has an amazing collection of diamond-shaped road signs.

In a nutshell: Most of today's political leaders are computer illiterates.

[12 September 2008, top]

Headline: "Computer bug halt UK stocks surge"
Some people will lose their jobs over the following.
   "Trading on the London Stock Exchange was halted Monday [2008.09.08]
    because of a computer fault, interrupting a surge in share prices 
    as markets reacted to a U.S. mortgage bailout."

   "The LSE said it has been suspended because of a 'connectivity' 
    problem -- meaning that transactions could not be completed -- 
    after customers noticed problems just 45 minutes into the 
    trading day."

It was also reported that it was taking longer than anticipated to get the system up and running again.

[08 September 2008, top]

Google Releases the Chrome Web Browser
Google practiced its motto of "launch early and iterate" when the company released a beta-version of the Chrome web browser. Currently, Chrome runs only on Windows, but that will change in future iterations of the browser.

Chrome is Open Source software, which is yet more confirmation that Free Software and Open Source are major tools in our 21st century computing world.

"We hope to collaborate with the entire community to help drive the web forward," said Google in a press release.

Kudos to Google!

"Super interactive browser that sits atop a super-fast connection--now interesting things will happen over the next 5-10 years," said Marc Andreessen. It has been 14 years since Andreessen created the Mosaic Netscape web browser.

Kudos to Andreessen for thinking near term (02013-0218). 02013 is in the early part of the second decade of the 21st century.

I enjoyed the following quote from Google co-founder Larry Page: "You only have 24 hours a day, and we would like you to do more searches. If the browser runs well, then you will do more searches."

According to, Google executed almost 62 percent of the 12 billion searches conducted during July 02008.

What's going to happen to the web search counter when the majority of college students get back to school and start pounding away on all those high-speed-Internet-connected school computers?

[06 September 2008, top]

Digital Divide Alive and Well in Arizona
Kudos to the Arizona Republic for Sunday's article "Lagging Web access puts Arizona kids behind." Reading the article made it difficult to believe that we're nearing the end of the decade zero of the 21st century.

In a nutshell, Arizona is suffering from a problem that has been a problem world-wide ever since the proliferation of the personal computer -- the Digital Divide.

I'm stating the obvious, but at Scottsdale Community College I have seen with my own eyes that the digital divide can result in a learning divide. Students that have computers and high-speed Internet connections where they live have more learning resources readily available to them than those who don't.

I am five-nines confident that if every person had a computer with a high-speed Internet connection and an appropriate level of computer literacy, our rate of learning would be significantly higher.

Arizona's "digital divide" makes it the Grand Canyon state in more ways than one.

[30 August 2008, top]

Google's AOL Investment May Be Impaired
Earlier this month (August 2008), Google announced that it's $1 billion investment in AOL (America OnLine) "may be impaired." Google bought 5% of AOL during 2005. Google's AOL purchased valued AOL at about $20 billion, but these days AOL's value might be less than $10 billion. Google's AOL investment was primarily an action to help prevent Microsoft from acquiring AOL. Google has the right to demand that Time Warner do an AOL public offering of stock or buy back its stake.

[30 August 2008, top]

Peter Denning on Computational Thinking
Peter Denning did an excellent job describing "computational thinking" in an ACM "IT Profession Viewpoint." Denning's essay was sub-titled: "The choir of engineers, mathematicians, and scientists who make up the bulk of our field better represents computing than the solo voice of the programmer."

Denning's essay had to do with CS enrollments and that the "CS = programming" myth is alive and well.

In his essay, Denning speaks in six voices of computing professionals: the programmer, the user, the computational thinker, the mathematician, the engineer and the scientist. He also speaks in a seventh voice--the catalog. He calls the seventh voice the "last voice" because "it may be the last voice consulted by young people before deciding against computing as a major."

The six professional voices all start the same way... "I love programming"... "I love using computers"... "I love problem solving"... "I love mathematics"... "I love building things"... and "I love discovering new things about nature." The last voice, which is dull and boring, says nothing about "love."

Here are quotes from Peter Denning's description of computational thinking.

   "I love problem solving.  Not just any old problem solving,
    but problem solving using algorithms. [...] Sometimes I
    implement those solutions myself, and sometimes I let my
    friends the programmers do that. [...] I'm all about thought.
    One of my greatest successes is to get politicians to think
    that through their laws they are programmers of national
    social systems.  I've got economists thinking they can
    program the economy with right policies.  Perhaps my
    greatest triumph is to get people everywhere to think
    their brains are computers and that everything they
    do and say is simply an output."

Later in the same issue of the Communications of the ACM in which Denning's "IT Profession Viewpoint" was published, there was an "Education Viewpoint" titled and "Paving the Way for Computational Thinking." The sub-title of the "Education Viewpoint" was: "Drawing on methods from diverse disciplines--including computer science, education, sociology, and psychology--to improve computing education."

[22 August 2008, top]

Okay... What's Cloud Computing?
Cloud Computing is in the news a lot these days.
   Digital Daily by John Paczkowski
   Headline: "AT&T Announces 12-Word Synonym for 'Cloud Computing'"

   "next-generation utility computing service with managed 
    networking, security and storage for businesses"

I think the Wikipedia does a good job describing "Cloud Computing."

   "Cloud computing means Internet ('Cloud') based development and 
    use of computer technology ('Computing'). It is a style of 
    computing where IT-related capabilities are provided 'as a 
    service,' allowing users to access technology-enabled services 
    'in the cloud' without knowledge of, expertise with, or control 
    over the technology infrastructure that supports them." computing

[20 August 2008, top]

Google Likes Brazil
This is no surprise.
   "According to the Brazilian news magazine Exame, Google (GOOG) 
    has made Brazil the center of its Latin American operations."

The decision to run Latin American operations from Brazil comes soon after another decision to move all development and management of Orkut to that country, with most of the engineering in the city of Belo Horizonte. Orkut is Google's social network, which enjoys most of its popularity in Brazil and India.

Back on 11 June 2008, I purchased some Sun Microsystems stock. At that time, I wrote the following: "I also like Sun's focus on BRICA open-source. Where "BRICA" equals Brazil, Russia, India, China and Africa."

[Extra] While Google might like Brazil, they are not that happy with AOL. Google announced that their $1 billion investment in AOL, which was made in late 2005 for 5% of the company, might be "impaired."

[20 August 2008, top]

Perl 6--No Core, No Keywords, No Built-in Operators
Perl turns 21 on 18 December 2008.

Larry Wall created Perl and he said the following about Perl 6.

    "No computer language has ever taken extensibility seriously. 
     All languages fall into the one true syntax syndrome, and we 
     want to escape that."


    "Perl 6 has no core, no keywords, no built-in operators. 
     Everything that looks like an operator is actually defined 
     by some grammatical rule or by a macro or by something that 
     is added in."

Perl is free software, and is licensed under both the Artistic License and the GNU General Public License. vision gets sharper

[08 August 2008, top]

Mark I (IBM ASCC) Created 64 Years Ago
On 7 August 1944, Harvard and IBM announced the creation of the Mark I (or IBM ASCC) computing device. The Harvard News Office announced the event via a news release titled: "World's greatest mathematical calculator."

The idea (circa 1937) for the Mark I was that of Harvard electrical engineer Howard Aiken.

Mark I, which was a collection (cluster) of calculators, "operated on 23 digit numbers. It could add or subtract two of these numbers in three-tenths of a second, multiply them in four seconds, and divide them in ten seconds."

It was the Mark I in which Grace Hopper "debugged" a computer when she found a moth (i.e. computer bug).

I thought IBM's president, Thomas J. Watson, said it, but some claim Aiken made the following quote in 1947.

   "Only six electronic digital computers would be required 
    to satisfy the computing needs of the entire United States." 7, 1944: Harvard, IBM Dedicate Mark I Computer

[07 August 2008, top]

Randy Pausch Has Died
On July 26th, I picked up a copy of the Honolulu Advertiser (weird name for a newspaper) and learned that Randy Pausch had died from pancreatic cancer. Pausch learned he had pancreatic cancer late in the summer of 2006.

Dr. Pausch, most importantly, was a husband and father of three. Secondly, he worked and played as a Computer Science professor at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) in Pittsburgh. CMU is a long-time tier one Computer Science school; therefore, it is a given that Dr. Pausch was a guru Computer Scientist.

Randy Pausch was a "pioneer in the development of virtual reality." He died at the young age 47. It is a shame that pancreatic cancer killed him just when he was entering the prime years of his life.

   "You can't control the cards you're dealt, just how you play the hand."
    --Randy Pausch, December 2007

The passing of Randy Pausch is a major loss to his family, his school, the computing community, and our country. Enduring Legacy

[03 August 2008, top]

I Remain an Associate Member of the FSF
I almost didn't do it, but I did it on 24 July 2008.
   [FSF] We have successfully processed the payment. Your membership, 
   "gthurman"(#5561), has been extended by 12 months. Your account is 
   current through 2009-07-16. Thank you!

The Free Software Foundation is a charity and it was established in 1985.

What is free software?

   "Free software is software that gives you the user the 
    freedom to share, study and modify it. We call this 
    free software because the user is free."

As Richard Stallman states: The "free" in "free software" is "free as in freedom."

[24 July 2008, top]

Carl Ichan To Join Yahoo!'s Board
Accoring to a Yahoo! press release, Carl Ichan is going to become a member of Yahoo!'s board of directors.
   "Under the terms of the settlement agreement, eight members of 
    Yahoo!'s current Board of Directors will stand for re-election 
    at the 2008 annual meeting.  Following the 2008 annual meeting, 
    the Yahoo! Board will be expanded to 11 members. Carl Icahn will 
    be appointed to the Board and the remaining two seats will be filled 
    by the Board upon the recommendation of the Board's Nominating and 
    Governance Committee from a list of nine candidates recommended by 
    Mr. Icahn."

Carl Ichan was quoted saying the following.

   "I am very pleased that this settlement will allow me to work 
    in partnership with Yahoo!'s Board and management team to help 
    the Company achieve its full potential. While I continue to 
    believe that the sale of the whole Company or the sale of its 
    Search business in the right transaction must be given full 
    consideration, I share the view that Yahoo!'s valuable collection 
    of assets positions it well to continue expanding its online 
    leadership and enhancing returns to stockholders."

Yahoo! reports quarterly results tomorrow (Tuesday, 22 July 2008). At 11:22am on 21 July 2008, YHOO was 55 cents at $21.90. Well below its 52-week high of $34.08. YHOO's 52-week low has been $18.58.

[21 July 2008, top]

How About CSTEM Instead of STEM?
I posted the following to my blog on 17 July 2008.

Kudos to Arizona on establishing a STEM Education Center in downtown Phoenix.

STEM is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics. STEM is a great acronym, but it's missing a 'C' for Computing.

The 'C' could be contained in the 'S'. Science is biology, chemistry, physics, et. al. With respect to computing, there are computer science, computational science, information science and so on.

The 'C' could be implied by the 'T'. Technology is bioTechnology, nanoTechnology, spaceTechnology, roboTechnology, etc. But there is infoTechnology, which these days is good old IT.

The 'C' can be part of the 'E'. Many computer programmers are titled "software engineers." Most universities have degrees in "computer engineering." Over the years "hardware engineers" have built and maintained lots of computers.

The 'C' might be buried in the 'M'. There are numerous academic institutions throughout the United States, which were structured in the 1950s and 1960s, where computer education is in the domain of the math departments. This can be a dysfunctional structure because many math departments are more interested in teaching math than they are computing.

STEM is a fun acronym, but it needs a 'C'. I propose CSTEM.

[Extra] An "Economics" blog at AzCentral had a posting on 15 July 2008 titled "20 most recession proof jobs." I posted the following comment.

   Computing is a great career choice for young people 
   (especially girls) and professionals (especially women) 
   wanting to retread.  

   Note: Four of the 20 "most recession proof jobs" are 
   in the computing field.

[17 July 2008, top]

Intel Reports Strong 2nd-Quarter Results
On 15 July 2008, just three days shy of celebrating its 40th birthday, Santa Clara-based Intel Corporation announced "record 2nd-quarter revenue of $9.5 billion." 2nd-quarter operating income was $2.3 billion and net income was $1.6 billion.

During 2nd-quarter 2008, Intel used $2.5 billion to repurchase 109 million shares of its common stock.

For full-year 2008, Intel has plans to spend $6 billion on research and development, and between $5 and $5.4 billion on capital spending.

According to, in 2007, Intel had "10,000 employees in Arizona. Of those, nearly one-third reported volunteering." In addition, the 2007 "Arizona United Way employee contribution and Intel Corporate gift equaled $5.8 million."

[15 July 2008, top]

Oxymoron: Chief Yahoo and Microsoft Employee
Mr. Icahn wants Jerry Yang out as Yahoo!'s CEO; however, he did say that Microsoft was "willing to discuss keeping a number of the current board members and Jerry Yang as Chief Yahoo!"

If Microsoft and Ichan succeed at stealing away Yahoo!, then I'd like to see Yang, Filo, Decker and all other guru-level Yahoo! employees to move on to some other company (e.g. Google). Says Yahoo Distorted Facts in Microsoft Bid

[Update::2008.07.15] On the day after this Computing::Bit was posted, the following was in the news: "A senior Microsoft Corp. executive on Tuesday accused Yahoo Inc.'s CEO of conspiring with Google Inc. to freeze the software giant out of the Internet-search business and turn the market into a duopoly."

[14 July 2008, top]

Sun Microsystems Releases 1TB Cartridge Tapes
Sun Microsystems released of the "industry's first one terabyte tape storage drives. The new eco-efficient Sun StorageTek(TM) T10000B tape drive offers customers one terabyte of native storage capacity on a single cartridge for open or mainframe systems environments."

I tend to agree with the following that Sun stated in its press release: "Today's data centers are experiencing exponentially growing data rates with flat to declining budgets."

These days Wall Street has Sun Microsystems priced ($9.11) as if the company is going belly-up. StorageTek T10000B Tape Drive

[14 July 2008, top]

Where the Jobs Are... Computing
I posted the following to my blog on 14 July 2008.

During the early 2000s, people started ingoring computing as a sustainable career choice. I think many people believed computing jobs were too easily outsourced. They've been wrong.

On 7 July 2008, CIO Insight reported that the size of the IT workforce in the United States had "topped 4 million workers for the first time last quarter." They further reported that the "IT unemployment rate last quarter was 2.3 percent and that over the past four quarters, the IT workforce has grown by 10.2 percent."

Ironically, one the largest community college districts in the United States--the Maricopa County Community College District (MCCCD)--has virtually zero students learning about computing. And this has been true for the last few years. Enrollments in computer classes started dropping well before the District as a whole started to see a decline in enrollment numbers.

In the nutshell, the MCCCD--which should be a priceless resource for Maricopa County, Arizona and the United States--has failed to educate young people and re-treading professionals that computing is a viable career choice.

Given how far along we are in the Information Age, I have hopes that the Computer Science programs at ASU, AU and NAU are not dead like those at the Maricopa Community Colleges. Jobs Hit Record High

I did not include the following in my posting.

As of mid-July, 2008, one month before the start of the fall semester, there were 716 seats in CSC (Computer Science Courses) at the Maricopa Community Colleges and enrollment was 138 students. In other words, 80% of the seats are still available.

[14 July 2008, top]

Intel Turns 40 on 18 July 2008
Intel was formed on 18 July 1968 and its original name was Integrated Electronics Corporation.

Intel's corporate headquarters are in Santa Clara, California. The company employs 86,000+.

As of 2 July 2008, Intel had approximately $13.69 billion in cash. Intel Nears 40, Technologist Offers His Look Into Future

[13 July 2008, top]

My ACM Membership: Decade 0 Ends, Decade 1 Begins
I renewed by ACM membership for another year.

I became an ACM member in 1998; therefore, I've been a member of the ACM for one decade.

The ACM, which was established in 1947 (a decade before my birth), is devoted to "advancing computing as a science and profession." I copied the following from

   "The original notice for the September 15, 1947, organization 
    meeting stated in part:  'The purpose of this organization 
    would be to advance the science, development, construction, 
    and application of the new machinery for computing, reasoning, 
    and other handling of information.'"

The "handling of information" was forward thinking given we're living in the Information Age.

[13 July 2008, top]

Yahoo! Says NO To MicroIchan Offer
Microsoft and Ichan teamed up to present an offer to Yahoo! giving the company 24 hours to "take it or leave it." Yahoo! said they'll leave it.

The following quote is from Roy Bostock, Yahoo!'s Chairman.

   "This odd and opportunistic alliance of Microsoft and Carl Icahn 
    has anything but the interests of Yahoo's stockholders in mind. 
    It is ludicrous to think that our Board could accept such a 
    proposal. While this type of erratic and unpredictable behavior 
    is consistent with what we have come to expect from Microsoft, 
    we will not be bludgeoned into a transaction that is not in the 
    best interests of our stockholders."

YHOO was at $23.57 when the offer was presented and rejected. Rejects Proposal From Microsoft and Icahn

[13 July 2008, top]

The Yahoo! Drama Continues
Carl Ichan, who owns 68.8 million YHOO shares, wrote a letter that contained the following.
   "There is no need to keep pointing out the mistakes I 
    believe Yahoo made by not immediately taking a $33 offer 
    made by Microsoft. But one thing is clear -- Jerry Yang 
    and the current board of Yahoo will not be able to 
    'botch up' a negotiation with Microsoft again, simply 
    because they will not have the opportunity."

Ichan also wrote that shareholders must: "Move expeditiously to replace Jerry Yang with a new CEO with operating experience."

Ichan has been meeting with Microsoft and Microsoft issued a statement that included the following.

   "We confirm, however, that after the shareholder election 
    Microsoft would be interested in discussing with a new 
    board a major transaction with Yahoo, such as either a 
    transaction to purchase the 'Search' function with large 
    financial guarantees or, in the alternative, purchasing 
    the whole company."

I liked the following headline from AllThingsD: "Yahoo to Microsoft: Put Your Money Where Icahn's Mouth Is."

Yahoo!'s meeting with the shareholders occurs on 1 August 2008.

[07 July 2008, top]

Top High-Tech Metro Areas
The AeA has issued a 144 page report that documents the following finding: "51 of the nation's top 60 metropolitan areas add high-tech jobs." The report costs $250 for non-AeA members.

Note: AeA (formerly the American Electronics Association) is a nationwide non-profit trade association that was founded in 1943. 2008: A Complete State-by-State Overview of the High-Technology Industry

[05 July 2008, top]

CEO Pay Not an Issue at Yahoo!
With respect to Yahoo!, Carl Ichan could argue "you get what you pay for."

I was looking at Yahoo!'s 2007 annual report and was looking at the "Summary Compensation Table." The following was the line for Jerry Yang.

   Salary:         $1
   Bonus:          $0
   Stock Awards:   $0
   Option Awards:  $0
   3 other items:  $0
   Total:          $1

During 2007, Yahoo!'s CEO and one of its Chief Yahoo!'s took one U.S. Dollar for his time and efforts.

During 2007, Yahoo! had revenues of $6,969,274,000 and net income of $660,000,000 (or $0.47 per share).

During 2007, Yahoo! spent $1.6 billion to repurchase 57.9 million shares of its common stock at an average price of $27.34 per share. On 27 June 2008, YHOO closed at $21.33.

[Extra] Speaking of Yahoo!... Here are some recent headlines.

"Bidding Yahoo Adieu" (BusinessWeek)
"Last Stand" (
"Yahoo's on Life Support: Here's Why" (SeekingAlpha)
"Yahoo!'s Brain Drain Hurts Chances for a Turnaround" (SeekingAlpha)
"Why Yahoo! Isn't Worth Anything To Management and Investors (SeekingAlpha)
"Can Yahoo! Still Be Saved?" (Motley Fool)
"Doubts on Yang's one-year mark as Yahoo CEO" (Fortune)
"Yahoo Reorg: Whither Jerry Yang?" (Wall Street Journal Online)
"Yahoo exec exits unnerving, reorganization awaited" (Reuters)

[05 July 2008, top]

One Billion PCs in Use World-Wide
Gartner Inc. reported that the number of personal computers in use worldwide has crossed the 1 billion mark. The number is expected to grow at almost 12% annually. Gartner says there will be more than 2 billion PCs in use by early 2014.

GDT::Math::BAB::World-Wide PC Usage Hits One Billion

[05 July 2008, top]

Bill Gates--From Microsoft to Megagiver
Lots of people have realized their American dreams thanks to Bill Gates.
   "REDMOND, Wash., June 27 (Reuters) - Bill Gates said a teary 
    goodbye on Friday to Microsoft Corp. [...]"

   "He leaves his full-time executive role at Microsoft, which he 
    co-founded with childhood friend Paul Allen in 1975, to focus 
    on his philanthropic organization, the Bill & Melinda Gates 
    Foundation, the world's largest charity, funded in part by his 
    vast fortune."

Bill Gates will probably never really leave Microsoft. He will be a "non-executive chairman and work part-time" for the company. The Google battle is just too much fun for him to walk away completely.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has the potential to do great things for the United States and the world.

[28 June 2008, top]

Pass-It-On Grants Program
I posted this to my blog on 27 June 2008...

Computing can be an excellent long-term (sustainable) career choice and this is particularly true if you're a woman. Sadly, "women in computing" is still an oxymoronic phrase.

Dr. Anita Borg, who was a Computer Scientist, died of brain cancer in 2003. She was only 54 years young. The Wikipedia entry for Borg is a good starting point for learning more about her.

The purpose of this posting is to pass along a posting that was made to the Phoenix Linux User Group mailing-list about the following grants being provided by the Anita Borg Systers: "Pass-it-on Grants are open to any woman over 18 years old in or aspiring to be in the fields of computing. Grants are open to women in all countries and range from $500.00 to $1000.00 USD." Grants Program

Side-bar: Systers (TM) is "the world's largest email community of technical women in computing. It was founded by Anita Borg in 1987 as a small electronic mailing list for women in 'systems'."

[28 June 2008, top]

60 Years of the Modern Computer
Wow... I missed this historic date.
   "On 21 June 1948, shortly after 11am, the Small Scale Experimental 
    Machine (SSEM) - nicknamed The Baby - executed its first program."

   "The birth of the world's first stored program digital computer, 
    which was designed and built at The University of Manchester by 
    the late Tom Kilburn and Freddie Williams."

Note: I added Kilburn (01921-02001) and Williams (01911-01977) to the GDT::DeadTeam.

[24 June 2008, top]

Dear Abby Promotes IT Education For Veterans
I read a "Dear Abby" column the other day and it was only because the headline caught my attention: "IT education for veterans."

Abby (she's not dear to me) printed a letter from the Computer Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) about a program called "Creating Futures" which helps veterans acquire the skills needed to work in IT.

Abby responded by indicating the BLS (Bureau of Labor and Statistics) reports that there will be "600,000 more jobs than available employees in the IT industry by 2012." Creating Futures Program

[22 June 2008, top]

Usama Fayyad Leaving Yahoo!
This is bad news for Yahoo! shareholders: Usama Fayyad, chief data officer and EVP of research and strategic data solutions, has announced he is leaving Yahoo!

I did a Google search to find out some stuff about Usama Fayyad and came across a 2002 interview with him at asked Usama to define algorithm and the following was his response.

   "An algorithm just means a set of instructions for conducting 
    a task. So, if you wanted to compute the average for a set of 
    numbers, the algorithm would be: 1) Step through all the numbers 
    2) Sum up their values, and 3) Divide by the total number. It's 
    a series of instructions for implementing a mathematical notion."

I also liked the following words from Usama Fayyad.

   "Human beings, from a mathematical perspective, are fairly limited. 
    Two and three dimensions, maybe five, and we're OK. But that's 
    about it. And this is where these algorithms can help a lot, 
    because they can comprehend thousands of dimensions, and focus 
    their attention on things that might be interesting."

The interview ended with the following response from Fayyad. You'll have to read the interview to see what the question was that caused him to respond as follows.

   "It's possible in a few years. It's a question of commitment. 
    Humans are very good at making algorithms work eventually."

I can't help but believe that Usama Fayyad could become a Googler if that's what he desires. Interview with Usama Fayyad

[20 June 2008, top]

Pure Speculation: Andreessen as Yahoo! CEO?
If majority rules, then Jerry Yang is going to be ousted as the CEO of Yahoo! I'm okay with this because that would enable Yang to devote 100% of time being a Chief Yahoo!. Note: I would be sad if Yang didn't want to be a Chief Yahoo!

BoomTown's Kara Swisher posted a "short list of Yahoo CEOs" and her listed included Marc Andreessen.

Hmmm... Andresseen becomes CEO, Decker remains President and Yang devotes 100% of the time to being a Chief Yahoo! Sounds good me assuming two things: Decker is okay about not being CEO (yet) and Yang stays with Yahoo! Note: I see Andresseen being a short-term CEO, with Decker assuming the position in a couple of years.

Hmmm... If Andresseen is CEO, then instead of taking Ning public, maybe it becomes part of Yahoo!?

[20 June 2008, top]

It's All About The Code
ZDNet Asia document a speech given by computing guru Grady Booch at this year's IBM Rational Software Conference.

The following are a couple of items that IT freelance writer Joel D. Pinaroc wrote about Booch's speech.

   "Programmers are also expected to continually benefit from a 
    generally reliable global Internet that will take software 
    collaboration to new heights."


   "The few key elements that 'cannot be taught' are innovation, 
    imagination and the right social skills, which will enable 
    a programmer to realize important issues and address what 
    users may want in the future."

Pinaroc quoted Booch saying, "You can't outsource innovation."

Pinaroc's ZDNet Asia posting ended with the following quote from Grady Booch.

   "Every advance for the future state of the world requires 
    the presence of software yet to be written." scientist predicts software's future

[12 June 2008, top]

Jerry Yang Added To the GDT::DreamTeam
Jerry Yang is the Summer 2008 addition to the GDT::DreamTeam.

Yang co-founded Yahoo! with David Filo in 1994. Yang's title is Chief Yahoo! although on 6 June 2008 he was also Yahoo!'s CEO.

   "On the outside, Yahoo! is a fun and irreverent place, but 
    on the inside we are extremely competitive." -- Jerry Yang

Yang was born on 6 November 1968 in Taipei, Taiwan.

In early 2007, Yang and his wife "pledged USD $75 million to Stanford University, their alma mater, the bulk of which would be dedicated to the building of a new environmental building on campus."

[06 June 2008, top]

Education Needs To Morph From Push To Pull
If I had my way, I'd have each lecture video taped and posted to the web. This would allow students to "see and hear" a lecture multiple times.

I agree strongly with the following.

   "The Basex study says the place to start is in classrooms. 
    They should be equipped with such high-tech tools as 
    classroom-capture systems, which digitally record lectures 
    and material to be accessed later, and interactive white 
    boards, which change the flow of information from a push 
    model (teacher to student) to a pull model."

The following quote is from Jonathan Spira, CEO and chief analyst of consulting firm Basex.

   "Students are showing up to classroom with devices that 
    have a screen, and given the way material is being pushed 
    out to them, that screen is not being optimized." Schools, businesses must adapt to 'thumb generation,' study says

[02 June 2008, top]

An Interview with Alfred V. Aho
AWK is a programming that was created at Bell Labs during the 1970s. It was created by three computer scientists named Aho, Weinberger and Kernighan. Alfred V. Aho is the 'A' in AWK and has posted an interview with Aho.
   "Computer scientist and compiler expert Alfred V. Aho is a 
    man at the forefront of computer science research. He has 
    been involved in the development of programming languages 
    from his days working as the vice president of the Computing 
    Sciences Research Center at Bell Labs to his current position 
    as Lawrence Gussman Professor in the Computer Science Department 
    at Columbia University."

Aho says the AWK creators were "heavily influenced by grep" (a powerful and easy to use string-matching command).

AWK has always been a standard program that came with Unix systems. A-Z of Programming Languages: AWK

[02 June 2008, top]

Free Travel to Cuba--What a Deal
There are three politicians running for U.S. President. Let's call them Polifoo, Poligoo, and Polimoo. Polifoo gave a speech to day in which they said they would support "free travel to Cuba." Polifoo was a user of Free Software, they would have realized that the word "free" is often associated with "free" as in "free beer." Just like Free Software, the "free" used by Polifoo meant Freedom.

[23 May 2008, top]

Neil Young At JavaOne
Oops... I created this blog posting, but then forgot to post it.

I attended the 2nd JavaOne Conference during the spring of 1997.

   "At this year's JavaOne, music legend and pioneer Neil Young 
    will join Sun Microsystems' executives during the Opening 
    Keynote session on May 6 at Moscone Center in San Francisco."

   "Neil Young and Sun will make an announcement during the event, 
    and provide a special demonstration of a new multi-media music 
    project. Come hear and see what Java technology means to 
    Neil Young."

During October of 2007, Jonathan Schwartz (CEO of Sun Microsystems) was the fall 2007 addition to the GDT::DreamTeam.

   More details and logistics on the opening keynote are below.
   -- Location: Moscone Center, San Francisco
   -- Day/Time: Tuesday, May 6; 8:30 a.m. - 10:30 a.m.
   -- Who: Rich Green (EVP, Software, Sun Microsystems) will be 
      joined by several special guests, including Neil Young and 
      Sun Microsystems CEO Jonathan Schwartz

This would be great fun, but I won't be there.

[Update::2008.05.07] Neil Young is "releasing his entire music archive on Blu-ray discs." Sun Microsystems "makes the Java technology that gives Blu-ray discs their interactive menus and ability to accept updates over an Internet connection." Neil was quoted saying: "Previous technology required unacceptable quality compromises. I am glad we waited and got it right." Young rocks JavaOne

[07 May 2008, top]

Yahoo! Says 'No' To Microsoft
It appears as though Microsoft will not be acquiring Yahoo! (at least at this point and time).
   "Microsoft was willing to pay $47.5 billion, or $33 per share, 
    up from the bid's current value of $29.40 per share, according 
    to Ballmer's letter."

   "But Yahoo's board demanded at least $53 billion, or $37 per share, 
    according to Ballmer. That would have been nearly double Yahoo's 
    stock price of $19.18 at the time Microsoft first made its bid a 
    little over three months ago."

   "And Yang, who became Yahoo's CEO 11 months ago, wanted $38 per 
    share in a Wednesday meeting, according to the person familiar 
    with the discussions."

I read where both Yang and David Filo (Yahoo!'s other co-founder) wanted $38 for their YHOO shares.

Steve Ballmer, Microsoft's CEO, wrote the following in a letter to Yahoo!.

   "Despite our best efforts, including raising our bid by roughly 
    $5 billion, Yahoo! has not moved toward accepting our offer.
    After careful consideration, we believe the economics demanded 
    by Yahoo! do not make sense for us, and it is in the best interests 
    of Microsoft stockholders, employees and other stakeholders to 
    withdraw our proposal."

From my naive perspective, Microsoft's bid implies Yahoo! today is worth $33 per share. While Yang and Filo believe that Yahoo! today is worth $38 per share.

YHOO closed at $28.67 on Friday, 2 May 2008, and there are many Wall Street "analysts" that believe YHOO shares are going to drop back to $20 (or lower).

Go Yahoo!

[Update::2008.05.04] After posting this item about MicroHoo I went outside to fetch the Sunday Arizona Republic and MicroHoo was front-page news.

[Update::2008.05.05], so now what? by Jerry Yang

[04 May 2008, top]

Fortune's 20 Most Profitable Tech Companies
Fortune Magazine posted a list of the 20 most profitable technology companies. It was no surprise that Microsoft was number one followed by IBM, Cisco Systems, Hewlett-Packard and Intel. Google was seventh just behind Oracle. It was kind of nice to see Xerox in 15th place. Most Profitable Tech Companies

[02 May 2008, top]

Jakob Nielsen--25 Years of Usability
Jakob Nielsen started becoming a usability guru in 1983. Since that time, Jakob says the "usability field has grown by 5,000%." And, he also believes that it is a "wonderful job" that is "still a promising career choice for new people." Years in Usability

[26 April 2008, top] Interviews Donald Knuth
I never regarded Donald Knuth as one of the fathers of open source, but it appears as if TeX might have been one of the first open source program.
   [source:, TeX User Group]
   "TeX (= tau epsilon chi, and pronounced similar to "blecch", not 
    to the state known for `Tex-Mex' chili) is a computer language 
    designed for use in typesetting; in particular, for typesetting 
    math and other technical (from greek "techne" = art/craft, the 
    stem of `technology') material."

The following is a quote by Knuth when asked if has been "surprised by the success of open source."

   "The success of open source code is perhaps the only thing in 
    the computer field that hasn't surprised me during the past 
    several decades. But it still hasn't reached its full potential; 
    I believe that open-source programs will begin to be completely 
    dominant as the economy moves more and more from products towards 
    services, and as more and more volunteers arise to improve the code."

Thank You to for posting their interview with Donald Knuth.

P.S. Knuth uses Ubuntu Linux on a laptop. with Donald Knuth

[26 April 2008, top]

Five Ton Calculator
Many people consider Charles Babbage the "father of computing."

Charles Babbage was an English mathematician, philosopher, and mechanical engineer that lived from 01791 to 01871.

   "Join the Computer History Museum in launching its exciting 
    new exhibit: Babbage's Difference Engine No. 2, exhibited 
    for the first time in North America. Bring your family and 
    friends to see and hear the Engine in action!"

   "This five-ton Engine is one of only two Charles Babbage's 
    computing engines ever built, consisting of 8,000 parts of 
    bronze, cast iron and steel and measuring 11 feet long and 
    7 feet high. It was designed to calculate and print mathematical 
    tables. Come to see the docents 'crank' the Engine and watch it 
    mechanically calculate - an arresting spectacle of automatic 

   "The exhibit launch and open house, a Victorian-themed event, 
    promises a stunning display of Babbage's elegant design and 
    inspired engineering. His designs for vast mechanical calculating 
    engines rank as one of the startling achievements of the 
    19th century."

   "Come to see what no Victorian ever saw. "

According to the Wikipedia, in Babbage's time, numerical tables were calculated by humans who were called "computers." A "computer" was a person that computed (i.e. calculated) stuff. Babbage's Difference Engine No. 2 Difference Engine Built With LEGO® Pieces

[25 April 2008, top]

Great Time To Be a CS Graduate?
Arizona's Maricopa Community Colleges have virtually zero students interested in getting a Computer Science (CS) degree. Moreover, there are virtually zero students interested in learning anything about computing.

19 April 2008, Arizona Republic, page one of the Business section, had an article about the "job opportunities" for the class of '08 college students.

   Table of Salary offers (source: Natl. Assoc. of Colleges)
   highest salary:  Computer Sci.   ($59,873 vs. avg. of $49,624)
   largest % change over '07:  CS   (up 14.7% vs. avg. 5.3%)

   lowest salary:  Education ($35,348, $30 less than Liberal arts)

"Reading, writing, arithmetic" needs to morph into "reading, writing, computing." We learn the necessary arithmetic while learning about computing.

[21 April 2008, top]

Programming Required From 8th Grade On
Years ago I advocated that our K-12 system be changed from "reading, writing, arithmetic" to "reading, writing, arithmetic and computing." The idea in a nutshell--students need to be able to write a simple computer program in order to graduate high-school.

I ended up at while searching for information about the Charles Babbage-designed Difference Engine #2 being displayed at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California. I came across the following while at

Email received by Steve Wozniak that he posted to

   "I am in the Individual Studies curriculum at a local community
    college. Right now I'm taking programming courses in the Liberal 
    Math and Science department ( no CS department at my school)."

   "A strange thing I have noticed since beggining my first programming
    course (C++). My writing has improved dramatically. I'm also thinking
    much more clearly."

Woz's reply...

   "I'll remember to tell that to school administrators when I 
    try to convince them that programming should be required 
    from 8th grade on."

[Extra] Babbage Engine

[18 April 2008, top]

45 Most Influential Technologists
From the Communications of the ACM for April 2008.
   "Intel recently organized a panel of experts, including
    acadmeics, journalists, and independent third parties,
    to vote for the 45 most influential figures in technology
    over the last 150 years.  The top 10 vote grabbers are:"

    1. Tim Berners-Lee (WWW founder) [DreamTeam member]
    2. Sergey Brin (Google co-founder)
    3. Larry Page (Google co-founder)
    4. Guglielmo Marconi (radiotelegraph inventor)
    5. Jack Kilby (integrated circuit/calculator inventor)
    6. Gordon Moore (Intel co-founder)
    7. Alan Turing (pioneer in deciphering German WWII codes)
    8. Robert Noyce (Intel co-founder)
    9. William Shockley (transistor co-inventor)
   10. Don Estridge (lead developer of the IBM computer)

GDT::DreamTeam members who made the list: Doug Engelbart (#11), Vinton Cerf (#13), and Dennis Ritchie (#19).

Other notable names on the list: Steve Jobs (#14), Seymour Cray (#16), Linus Torvalds (#21), Grace Hopper (#30), Bill Gates (#31), Jeff Bezos (#34) and Meg Whitman (#35).

It is difficult to believe Ken Thompson didn't get listed. Full List

[14 April 2008, top]

Weizenbaum Added To the DeadTeam
Joseph Weizenbaum (01923-02008) died on 5 March 2008.

Weizenbaum was the 1988 winner of CPSR's Norbert Wiener Award.

Norbert Wiener (01894-01964) did "pioneering work in cybernetics" and he was one of the "pillars on which computer technology was created." Wiener's writings on computers and society were among the "first inklings of the problems and potentials that this new technology would create." [quotes by Terry Winograd]

Weizenbaum was a guru in artificial intelligence (AI).

   "The goal is to give to the computer those tasks which 
    it can best do and leave to man that which requires 
    (or seems to require) his judgment."

Weizenbaum created ELIZA circa 1966. ELIZA was a "mid-'60s computer program that conducted natural-language conversations, notably mimicking a psychotherapist's interview with a patient."

   "Perhaps the computer, as well as many other of our machines 
    and techniques, can yet be transformed, following our own 
    authentically revolutionary transformation, into instruments 
    to enable us to live harmoniously with nature and with one 
    another. But one prerequisite will first have to be met: there 
    must be another transformation of man. And it must be one that 
    restores a balance between human knowledge, human aspirations, 
    and an appreciation of human dignity such that man may become 
    worthy of living in nature."

External hyperlinks.

[12 April 2008, top]

Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Programmers
Over the span of the last five years I have been asked time and time again why there is a lack of computing students. I usually respond by saying its a long story, but I will say the following: "I think part of the problem is that young people, when seeking career advice from parents, are told to avoid computing as a profession." My opinion usually results in "why is that?" to which I respond "foo if I know." Bottom-line: The last five years have been a great time to be a computer student.
   Arizona Republic, Business section, 15 March 2008.
   Betty Beard's headline: "ASU educators work to spotlight
                            need for tech specialists"

Betty started her column with the following.

   "Parents, don't let your kids grow up to become computer
    information-systems professionals.  All those jobs are
    being sent overseas and there's no future in America."

Betty could have written...

   Mamas don't let your babies grow up to be programmers...

Betty quoted Randy Guthrie, academic-relations manager for Microsoft, saying the following.

   "There was a lot of press about the dot-com crash, but
    there's been no advertising about the recovery."

Come on mamas, do let your babies grow up to be programmers. Who knows... maybe your baby will be the next Marc Andreessen or Larry Page or Jerry Yang or Mark Zuckerberg...

[29 March 2008, top]

Work Continues on the Number Analyst
I do a lot of BABbling about numbers and numbers can be categorized in a variety of ways. During March of 2008 I've been writing C++ programs to help analyze numbers. The following three programs have been written since the first batch programs were written.

These three new programs join the following.

[27 March 2008, top]

My Organization Memberships
Being a member in "professional" organizations is important. As of mid-March 2008, I belong to the following.
   Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility (
   ACM (Association of Computing Machinery) (
   EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) (
   FSF (Free Software Foundation) ( (Arizona Nanotechnology Cluster) (Long Now Foundation) | | | | |

[20 March 2008, top]

Programming a Number Analyst
I do a lot of BABbling about numbers and numbers can be categorized in a variety of ways. During the last few days, the following C++ programs were written to help analyze numbers.

[08 March 2008, top]

LeapYear.cpp Written To Celebrate Leap Day 2008
I wrote this C++ program on leap day of 2008. The interactive program prompts a user to enter a year and then it prints whether or not the year is a leap year.

On the next leap year, which is 2012, the state of Arizona will celebrate its 100th year of being a state.

[29 February 2008, top]

The IBM Mainframe Lives
It took five years and $1.5 billion, but IBM now has a "faster, cleaner, slimmer mainframe computer."

Price tag for a new System z10? About a mega-dollars. IBM rolls out new mainframe

[Extra] IBM announced a $15 billion stock buyback program.

[26 February 2008, top]

RMS Created EMACS Back In 1976
RMS (Richard Stallman) wrote EMACS back in 1976. 31+ years is a long time to work on a piece of software.
   [source: Wikipedia via]
   "The original EMACS was a set of Editor MACroS for the TECO editor 
    written in 1976 by Richard Stallman, initially together with 
    Guy L. Steele, Jr..[2][3][4] It was inspired by the ideas of 
    TECMAC and TMACS, a pair of TECO-macro editors written by Steele, 
    Dave Moon, Richard Greenblatt, Charles Frankston, and others.[5] 
    Many versions of Emacs have appeared over the years, but two are 
    now commonly used: GNU Emacs, started by Stallman in 1984 and 
    maintained by him until 2008, and XEmacs, a fork of GNU Emacs 
    started in 1991 that has remained mostly compatible. Both use 
    a powerful extension language, Emacs Lisp, that allows them to 
    handle tasks ranging from writing and compiling computer programs 
    to browsing the web."

Stallman has not left the planet!

I once had to send Stallman an email message and I received an auto-reply; however, the auto-reply I received was nothing like the following.

   "I am not on vacation, but I am at the end of a long time delay.  
    I am located somewhere on Earth, but as far as responding to 
    email is concerned, I appear to be well outside the solar system." Stallman relinquishing reins of GNU Emacs after 32 years

[25 February 2008, top]

Jester--Jokes Just For You
The following joke was presented by Berkeley's Jester.
   A mechanical engineer, an electrical engineer, and a 
   software engineer from Microsoft were driving through 
   the desert when the car broke down.

   The mechanical engineer said: "It seems to be a problem 
   with the fuel injection system, why don't we pop the hood 
   and I'll take a look at it?" To which the electrical engineer 
   replied, "No, I think it's just a loose ground wire, I'll 
   get out and take a look."

   Then the software engineer from Microsoft jumps in. 
   "No, no, no.  If we just close up all the windows, 
   get out, wait a few minutes, get back in, and then 
   reopen the windows everything will work fine." Jester: The Online Joke Recommender

[25 February 2008, top]

Market Values of Computer Companies
Approximate market values for some computer companies at the end of January, 2008.
   Company                Market Value
   Microsoft............. $296.80 billion
   Google................ $170.86 billion
   Cisco................. $146.27 billion
   IBM................... $145.62 billion
   Intel................. $121.26 billion
   Apple................. $115.54 billion
   Hewlett-Packard....... $110.11 billion
   Oracle................ $102.22 billion
   Dell.................. $ 45.09 billion
   EMC................... $ 32.80 billion
   eBay.................. $ 35.86 billion $ 30.53 billion
   Yahoo!................ $ 26.94 billion
   VMware................ $ 21.51 billion
   Sun Microsystems...... $ 13.93 billion

   Exxon Mobile.......... $472.06 billion  [oil company]
   General Electric...... $355.30 billion  [conglomerate]
   AT&T.................. $232.63 billion  [communications]
   Wal-Mart Stores....... $203.20 billion  [retail]
   Toyota Motor.......... $172.48 billion  [automotive]
   Citigroup............. $140.70 billion  [financial]

[18 February 2008, top]

Down During Prime Time and Daily Reboots
Notice the date and time the message was sent and the date and time the system was going to be down.
   Tue, 29 Jan 2008 18:04:06 -0700

   Tomorrow morning, Wednesday Jan 30th, the server team 
   (at District Office) will perform some maintenance on 
   the Bb File Server between 5:00am and 6:00am.  During 
   this time there may be some brief periods where Bb cannot 
   access content files.  The maintenance will be done in time 
   for the daily server reboots which will occur at 6:00am.

Wednesday is the middle of the work week and 5:00am-6:00am is "prime time" for me. In other words, this is when I am most productive. Good thing I'm not a Bb user.

Let's see... this 2008 (i.e. we are 70% through the first decade of the 2st century), yet the MCCCD is still doing "daily server reboots."

Note how the reboots are at 6:00am, which is prime time for some us. I don't know how long it takes for these reboots to occur, but anything longer than a nanosecond is too long.

[18 February 2008, top]

Jim Gray--From DreamTeam To DeadTeam
For the first time since its creation, a member of the GDT::DreamTeam has been moved to the GDT::DeadTeam.

Dr. Jim Gray is considered the father of transaction processing.

Jim Gray disappeared without a trace on a sailing trip to the Farallon Islands on 28 January 2007.

Jim Gray, who was the only Microsoft employee on the GDT::DreamTeam, received the ACM A.M. Turing Award in 1998 and the IEEE Charles Babbage Award in 1982.

Jim Gray was the first to earn a PhD in Computer Science from the University of California, Berkeley.

   "Three organizations dedicated to the advancement of computing science, 
    IEEE Computer Society, ACM, and UC Berkeley, announced they will join 
    the family and colleagues of Jim Gray in hosting a tribute to the 
    legendary computer science pioneer."

Jim Gray worked as a researcher at Bell Labs, IBM, Tandem Computer, DEC and Microsoft.

[09 February 2008, top]

Open Source Ends Decade Zero Begins Decade One
Kudos to Open Source for making it to Decade One.
   "On February 9, 1998, I published the Open Source Definition  
    and the public announcement of the Open Source Initiative  
    that Eric Raymond and I were starting. This was the first 
    time that the general public heard what Open Source was about. 
    Friday, February 8 is the last day of Decade Zero of Open Source. 
    Saturday, February 9 is the anniversary of Open Source and the 
    start of Decade One.  It's a computer scientist thing. We always 
    start counting from zero :-)
    --Bruce Perens

Yes... Bruce Perens did use a smiley face. State of Open Source Message: A New Decade For Open Source

[09 February 2008, top]

All Quiet On The Microhoo Front
The following was copied from a blog at
   "According to current and former Yahoo employees, selling 
    to Microsoft is the last thing that co-founder Yang wants 
    to do. "Nobody's blood runs purpler than Yang's," says 
    Jeff Weitzman, former senior director of client services 
    at Yahoo."

   "The memo is another sign that Yang may be worried about losing 
    key 'Yahoos' as the battle with Microsoft drags on."

The "memo" was an email message Yang sent to Yahoo! employees updating them about the Microsoft offer to acquire Yahoo!

There is no doubt Google (and other computer companies) would like to get their hands on some of Yahoo!'s computing gurus. Yahoo! Research has some of the best data miners in the world.

Just like how Google employees are called googlers, Yahoo!'s employees are called yahoos. [Note: says a yahoo is a "boorish, crass, or stupid person." I suspect the collective IQ of Yahoo!'s yahoos is well above 'stupid.']

[06 February 2008, top]

Microsoft Trying To Steal Yahoo!
I posted the following to my blog on 1 February 2008 at 6:05am.
   Microsoft Offers $44.6 Billion For Yahoo!

   It will be a steal if Microsoft is able to buy Yahoo! for 
   $44.6 billion (or approximately $31 per share).  Although 
   nobody can predict what will happen in the next nano-second, 
   I'd like to think that maybe Google or some other big computer 
   company (HP, ATT, IBM) will step up to the plate and tell 
   Microsoft that Yahoo! is worth at least $100 billion--and 
   even that is way too low if you think long-term (i.e. 5 
   years from now, 10 years from now, etc.)

   Wall Street investors are starting to behave as if the Internet 
   is dead, but just the opposite is true.  We are just now entering 
   into the next era of computing and that era depends on the Internet. 

   We need to stop publically measuring company performance on 
   3-month cycles.   We need to abolish quarters from corporate 
   America.  Our county is being dominated by short-term thinkers.

My posting generated zero comments.

[04 February 2008, top]

Googlers In For The Long Run
Fortune Magazine reported that "Google's top three executives had pledged to work together for 20 years in a pact they made shortly before the company's initial public offering in August 2004."

In 2024, Eric Schmidt (Google's CEO) will be 69, while Larry Page and Sergey Brin (Google's co-founders) will be 51 and 50, respectively.

This is excellent news for a GOOG shareholder who is also a long-term investor.

For two years in a row, Google has been considered the "Best Company To Work For." Google believes the key to success is happy employees.

   "It's common sense: Happy people are more productive."
    --Larry Page, president of products (and co-founder)

Reason number four to work for Google: "Work and play are not mutually exclusive." How can combining work and play not help make a person happy? Google Wins Again

[31 January 2008, top]

Google Looking For a "Director of Other"
Fortune Magazine had an article about seven "cool job openings" at Google. One of them is "Director of Other."
   "At Google, in order to grow through innovation, we spend 
    70 percent of our time on the core business, 20 percent 
    on related projects, and 10 percent on new and unrelated 
    businesses which we call 'Other.' As our core business 
    continues to enjoy phenomenal success, our tangential 
    efforts must equally evolve to capitalize on opportunities 
    before us.  Under the 'Other' umbrella, Google aims to 
    identify and pursue opportunities where technology can 
    revolutionize traditional and more mature industries."

In a nutshell, Google is seeking an "inventor and builder" who has a history of "turning great ideas into successful new ventures." Director of Other

[29 January 2008, top]

Frances Allen Added To the GDT::DreamTeam
Frances Allen is the Spring 2008 addition to the GDT::DreamTeam.

During 2007, Frances Allen was awarded the 2006 A.M. Turing Award by the ACM. Allen is the first woman to receive this award and she joins previous award winners such as Ken Thompson, Dennis Ritchie, Vinton Cerf, Doug Engelbart, John Backus, Donald Knuth, et al.

Frances started working at IBM in 1957 and she is the first woman to become an IBM Fellow.

   "All the things I do are of a piece. I'm exploring the 
    edges, finding new ways of doing things. It keeps me 
    very, very engaged."--Frances Allen Frances Allen

[28 January 2008, top]

From Seeds and Stems to Zeros and Ones
The following is the last verse to Commander Cody's "Seeds and Stems Again Blues."
   Well my dog died just yesterday and left me all alone.
   The finance company dropped by today and repossessed my home.
   That's just a drop in the bucket compared to losing you,
   And I'm down to seeds and stems again, too.
   Got the Down to Seeds and Stems again Blues.

The verse computized...

   Well my computer crashed yesterday and left me without MySpace.
   The cable company flipped a switch today 
   and disconnected me from the HumanRace.
   That's just a bit in the bucket compared to not googling you,
   And I'm void of zeros and ones again, too.
   Got the void of zeros and ones again Blues. Seeds and Stems Again Blues

[24 January 2008, top]

Oracle Buys BEA Systems
Oracle announced it is acquiring BEA Systems for $19.38 a share in cash, or $8.5 billion. That's a 24 percent premium to Tuesday' closing price. "The addition of BEA products and technology will significantly enhance and extend Oracle's Fusion middleware software suite," said Oracle CEO Larry Ellison in a statement.

BEAS closed on 15 January 2008 at $15.58.

Oracle's initial bid for BEA Systems, which was made during the 2nd-half of 2007, was $17 per share. BEA Systems responded to Oracle stating the company was worth $21 per share.

Stocks Stuffer sold their BEAS shares on 10/12/2007 at $18.73 after purchasing them on 6/1/2004 at $8.60.

[16 January 2008, top]

Sun Microsystems Buys MySQL
Sun Microsystems announced it is going acquire MySQL for "approximately $1 billion in total consideration." ($800 million in cash in exchange for all MySQL stock and assume approximately $200 million in options)

Jonathan Schwartz, CEO and president, Sun Microsystems was quoted saying the following.

   "Today's acquisition reaffirms Sun's position at the center of 
    the global Web economy. Supporting our overall growth plan, 
    acquiring MySQL amplifies our investments in the technologies 
    demanded by those driving extreme growth and efficiency, from 
    Internet media titans to the world's largest traditional enterprises."
   "MySQL's employees and culture, along with its near ubiquity across 
    the Web, make it an ideal fit with Sun's open approach to network 
    innovation. And most importantly, this announcement boosts our 
    investments into the communities at the heart of innovation on 
    the Internet and of enterprises that rely on technology as a 
    competitive weapon."

From Sun's press release...

   "More than 100 million copies of MySQL's high-performance open 
    source database software have been downloaded and distributed 
    and an additional 50,000 copies are downloaded daily."

As a JAVA shareholder, I say 'Kudos' to Sun. [JAVA closed at $14.98 on 1/15/2008] Sun Microsystems Announces Agreement to Acquire MySQL

[16 January 2008, top]

Ken Thompson's 'Reflections on Trusting Trust'
Ken Thompson won the ACM Turing Award in 1984. He wrote a paper titled "Reflections on Trusting Trust" that many computing gurus consider a classic. Thompson ended his essay with the following essay.
   "I have watched kids testifying before Congress. It is clear 
    that they are completely unaware of the seriousness of their 
    acts. There is obviously a cultural gap. The act of breaking 
    into a computer system has to have the same social stigma as 
    breaking into a neighbor's house. It should not matter that 
    the neighbor's door is unlocked. The press must learn that 
    misguided use of a computer is no more amazing than drunk 
    driving of an automobile."

Anybody who breaks into a computer is a cracker and crackers are criminals. And this is true independent of the cracker's age. Reflections on Trusting Trust by Ken Thompson

[15 January 2008, top]

Many Believe There Is An IT Shortage
It is difficult to believe the following given learning about computing enrollments at the Maricopa Community Colleges.
   "The demand for IT skills has become ubiquitous across every 
    industry globally. The market for IT professionals is strong 
    and is still the fastest-growing sector in the U.S. economy, 
    with more than a million new jobs projected to be added between 
    2004 and 2014. Five of the 30 occupations projected by the 
    U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics to grow the fastest by 2016 
    are IT-related, led by network and data communications analysts, 
    software engineers, and systems analysts."

I suspect the following is true: "Students, parents, and counselors don't recognize IT career potential." [source: Jerry Luftman, Stevens Institute of Technology, Society for Information Management] Yes, The Tech Skills Shortage Is Real

[14 January 2008, top]

CS is Not Programming, But...
If left up to me, computer science students would first learn how to use a Unix system via the command-line and their first programming language would be BASH (one 3-credit course). The second 3-credit course is used to help students learn C with extensive coverage of the Standard C Library. To date I have not seen anybody with the same opinion.
   "As faculty members at New York University for decades, 
    we have regretted the introduction of Java as a first 
    language of instruction for most computer science majors. 
    We have seen how this choice has weakened the formation 
    of our students, as reflected in their performance in 
    systems and architecture courses. As founders of a company 
    that specializes in Ada programming tools for mission-critical 
    systems, we find it harder to recruit qualified applicants who 
    have the right foundational skills. We want to advocate a more 
    rigorous formation, in which formal methods are introduced early 
    on, and programming languages play a central role in CS education."

If BASH and C can't be the first programming languages, then use C++ as a "better" C.

   "It [Texas A&M] did [teach Java as the first language]. Then I 
    started teaching C++ to the electrical engineers and when the 
    EE students started to out-program the CS students, the CS 
    department switched to C++." -- Bjarne Stroustrup

The following quote is still applicable today.

   "Real programmers can write Fortran in any language." Computer Science Education: Where Are the Software Engineers of Tomorrow?

[08 January 2008, top]

Communications of the ACM Turns 50
The January 2008 Volume 51, Number 1, issue of the Communications of the ACM was the CACM's 50th Anniversary issue. The 1st issue of the CACM was printed January of 1958 and it was 20 pages in length.

The 50th Anniversary issue had three articles written by GDT::DreamTeam members. Jeannette Wing's wrote "Five Deep Questions in Computing;" Eugene Spafford wrote "Inspiration and Trust;" and Peter Neumann wrote "Reflections on Computer-Related Risks."

The January 2008 issue of the CACM started with a look back at "Go To Statement Considered Harmful," which was submitted as a Letter to the Editor by Edsger Dijkstra in 1968 (i.e. 40 years ago).

Happy 50th Anniversary to the Communications of the ACM.

[03 January 2008, top]

About Computing Bits
The Computing Bits blog was created on 14 September 2001 and it starts 2008 with 305 postings. Computing Bits is a blog that supports "learning about computing a bit at a time." It is a great time to live in the computing world and I am looking forward to creating some fun bits this year.

Computing Bits Archives: 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004 | 2003-02-01

[01 January 2008, top]

Creator: Gerald Thurman []
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