GDT::Computing::Bits::Archive::Year 2011

Hackers: Wizards of the Electronic Age
I enjoyed watching "Hackers: Wizards of the Electronic Age." It contains interviews with hackers such as Steve Wozniak, Richard Stallman, Andy Hertzfeld, Bill Atkinson, et. al.
   "All interviews were shot over a long week-end in 1984, at the 
    first Hackers Conference, hosted by Whole Earth Catalog editors 
    Stewart Brand and Kevin Kelley, in Sausalito, California."

The following quote is near the 23:30 mark.

   "People spend hours and hours playing adventures and exploring
    imaginary information. If it were pleasurable and enjoyable to
    explore real live all human knowledge, suddendly you have a very 
    powerful learning tool." -- Bill Atkinson [MacPaint creator]

Near the end of "Hackers: Wizards of the Electronic Age" there is mention of the next big breakthrough... "Disks that can hold up to 600 million characters." On 29 December 2011 I could buy a 16 billion character USB flash drive for $13.

[29 December 2011, top]

Paul Buchheit Added To The GDT::DreamTeam
Paul Buchheit was the Fall 2011 addition to the GDT::DreamTeam.

Paul Buchheit was the creator and lead developer of Google's Gmail email system and he also played a key role in Google's AdSense advertising platform. Buchheit coined Google's "Don't be evil" motto. After leaving Google, Buchheit founded FriendFeed, which was later acquired by Facebook. In 2010, Paul Buchheit became a partner at the startup funding firm Y Combinator.

   "In 2005, Y Combinator developed a new model of startup funding. 
    Twice a year we invest a small amount of money (average $18k) 
    in a large number of startups (most recently 63). The startups 
    move to Silicon Valley for 3 months, during which we work 
    intensively with them to get the company into the best possible 
    shape and refine their pitch to investors. Each cycle culminates 
    in Demo Day, when the startups present to a large audience of 
    investors. But YC doesn't end on Demo Day. We and the YC alumni 
    network continue to help founders for the life of their company, 
    and beyond." [source: homepage] Economist names Paul Buchheit its 2011 Computing and Telecommunications Innovation Award winner

[03 December 2011, top]

John McCarthy Dead At Age 84
B.S. in Mathematics (1948, Caltech); Ph.D. in Mathemtics (1951, Princeton); Turing Award (1971); Kyoto Prize (1988); National Medal of Science (1991); Benjamin Franklin Medal (2003); IEEE Intelligent Systems Hall of Fame (2011) [source: Wikipedia]

GDT::Quotes contained the following two McCarthy quotes at the time of his death.

You see, I think that most likely, the next major advance
is going to be not made by one of us old guys--and I include
Kurzweil among the old guys--but by some young guy.

-- John McCarthy (01927-02011) {Stanford Professor emeritus; AI 50th anniversary 2006; more...} [artificial intelligence]

He who refuses to do arithmetic is doomed to talk nonsense.
-- John McCarthy (01927-02011) {Stanford Professor emeritus/AI guru/LISP; more...} [math]

The following two McCarthy quotes were added to GDT::Quotes after his death.

In 1936 the notion of a computable function was clarified by Turing, and
he showed the existence of universal computers that, with an appropriate
program, could compute anything computed by any other computer.

-- John McCarthy (01927-02011) {American computer scientist/AI guru; more...} [human factors]

Program designers have a tendency to think of the users as idiots
who need to be controlled. They should rather think of their program
as a servant, whose master, the user, should be able to control it.
If designers and programmers think about the apparent mental qualities
that their programs will have, they'll create programs that are easier
and pleasanter -- more humane -- to deal with.

-- John McCarthy (01927-02011) {American computer scientist/AI guru; more...} [human factors]

McCarthy 91 Function

On 1 March 2009 I created BAB::Number::About the Number 91 (ninety-one) in which I provided a hyperlink to the Wikipedia page for McCarthy 91 function. I also wrote that I needed "to look more closely" at McCarthy's function, but this had not happened at the time of McCarthy's death. John McCarthy's 80th Birthday, in Honor of his Contributions McCarthy's Home Page | History of Lisp

[25 October 2011, top]

VisiCalc Turns 32

[22 October 2011, top]

Dennis M. Ritchie (dmr) is Dead
Dennis M. Ritchie (logname dmr) died during October 2011 at the age of 70. Ritchie was the creator of the "C" programming language and he was also the co-creator of the Unix, Plan 9 and Inferno operating systems.

During November of 1999 I sent Dennis Ritchie an email message thanking him for is contributions to computing. I ended my email message asking dmr if he'd send a few words of encouragement to my computing students at Scottsdale Community College.

The GDT::Quote collection contained the following three Dennis Ritchie quotes on 13 October 2011.

To tell the truth, I don't know how Linus and his merry band manage so well -- I couldn't have stood it with C.
-- Dennis Ritchie [ interview; "Linus" is Linux creator Linus Torvalds]

In looking over this material, I have mixed emotions; so much of this stuff is immature and not well-done, and there is an element of embarrassment about displaying it. But at the same time it does capture two moments in a period of creativeness and may have some historical interest.
-- Dennis Ritchie {from Ritchie's paper Very Early C Compilers and Languages }

I am not now, nor have I ever been, a member of the demigodic party.
-- Dennis Ritchie (01941-02011) {net.unix-wizards posting 12 March 01984; more...} [life]

My MOTD posting on 16 April 1999 included the following.

These are a few of my favorite things...
  • coffee -- French Roast (dark)
  • programmer -- Dennis Ritchie
  • rocker -- Neil Young
  • programming language -- C
  • food -- LaFonda's salsa and chips
  • operating system -- Unix
  • usenet group -- comp.lang.c
  • college basketball coach -- Bobby Knight
  • website -- my own [lots of good stuff on this site]
  • place -- Death Valley
  • exercise -- hill hiking
  • stock -- T (AT&T) and LU (Lucent Technologies) [a tie]
  • hobby -- doing nothing

At approximately 7:55am on 13 October 2011 I moved Dennis Ritchie from my Computing::DreamTeam to my Computing::DeadTeam. Ritchie was the second computing guru to make this transition. [Jim Gray, the father of transaction processing, was the first.] {GDT::DreamTeam::Dennis Ritchie--The Father of C [by SCC student Sean Johns on 7 Feb 2000]}

I never meet Dennis Ritchie, but I will be forever grateful for all of his outstanding contributions to our computing world. Ritchie was the consummate computer professional and the world lost a great man when he died.

main() { printf("goodbye, world\n"); }

[13 October 2011, top]

I Renewed My ACM Membership
Due to budget constraints I have cut back on giving money to professional organizations. In particular, I no longer give money the CPSR, FSF and EFF. Today, on U.S. Constitution Day and Software Freedom Day, I did renew my ACM membership for another year.
    XXXXXXX    Professional   November 1998        July 31 2012

So... I've been a member of the ACM for almost 13 years.

[17 September 2011, top]

James Gosling Joins Liquid Robotics
James Gosling created the Java programming while working for Sun Microsystems. Oracle acquired the rights to Java when they acquired Sun Microsystems. Gosling left Oracle and became a Googler, but he's now left Google to be become chief software architect at Sunnyvale, CA and Kamuela, HI-based Liquid Robotics.
   "Liquid Robotics can totally change the way we look at oceans. 
    We'll be able to get a wide variety of detailed data more 
    cheaply and pervasively than any other way. It involves a 
    large data problem and a large-scale control problem, both 
    of which are fascinating to me and have been passions of 
    mine for years." -- James Gosling Release::James Gosling Joins Liquid Robotics

[30 August 2011, top]

Computing Degrees Demanding Big Salaries
@nanofoo received the following tweet from @forbes on 2011.08.16.
   Photos: The 5 College Degrees With The Biggest Salaries via @forbes 
Computer Engineering was #4 and Computer Science was #5.

[16 August 2011, top]

The PC Mouse Turns 30
Wow... The PC computer mouse turns 30. Seven months later my daughter was born. 27, 1981: Say Hello to the First Personal Computer Mouse

[27 April 2011, top]

Sebastian Thrun Added To The GDT::DreamTeam
Sebastian Thurn was the Spring 2011 addition to the GDT::DreamTeam.

Sebastian Thrun is a "Professor of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering at Stanford University, where he also serves as the Director of the Stanford AI Lab. His research focuses on robotics and artificial intelligence."'s driverless car: Sebastian Thrun on [2011.03.31]

During the spring 2011 semester, Thrun (and Peter Norvig--Director of Research at Google) co-taught Stanford's CSC221 Introduction to Artificial Intelligence.

Thrun has authored the book Probabilistic Robotics, which is about a "new and growing area in robotics, concerned with perception and control in the face of uncertainty."

Thrun's homepage is at

[25 April 2011, top]

Jean Bartik Added To The GDT::DeadTeam
I (@mathbabbler and @compufoo) tweeted the following on 2011.03.25.
   Jean Bartik died on 23 March 2011. Jean was an #ENIAC programmer.

Jean Bartik has been added to the GDT::DeadTeam.

[25 March 2011, top]

Broadband: Why Isn't The U.S.A. Number One?
@compufoo is one of my Twitter accounts and the tweets are all computing related. On 2 March 2011, @compufoo had 955 tweets, 40 followers and was following zero. At the start of the CSC class, I bring up the @compufoo tweets and quickly scroll providing some insight as to the motivation for the tweet. On 28 February 2011, I stopped to elaborate on the following tweet.
   RT @The_Infographic Internet Speeds Around the World 
   [infographic]... #dailyinfographic

I shared my observation that a lot of Americans get mad when they see the information contained in the infographic.

   ITIF Rank: #1 Japan 
   avg. connection speed:  61mbps
   price per month for 1mbps per USD:  $0.27

   ITIF Rank: #15 U.S.A.
   avg. connection speed:  4.8mbps
   price per month for 1mbps per USD:  $3.33

Some Americans ask why?

Given the Internet was invented in America by Americans and given America is home to the greatest computer companies in the world... IBM, Google, Microsoft, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Oracle,, eBay and so on... Why does Japan have the #1 ITIF rank?

Six tweets later...

   RT @ciscosystems: CRN: "Cisco's Chambers: Architecture Is 
   The Future" #blog (@CRNDaily) #smb

Yikes... when I rambled off the great computer companies I didn't mention Cisco (nor did I mention Apple). So much Internet traffic passes through Cisco's equipment (e.g. routers). Chambers is the CEO of Cisco and this tweet gives us a chance to find out what Chambers believes our computing future is going to be like.

I stopped at this point to cover C++, but I did make mention one last thing: The Chambers tweet was an example of the power of the hyperlink makes Twitter a powerful tool.

[02 March 2011, top]

What is Bufferbloat?
@nanofoo received the following tweet from @slashdot on 2011.02.26.
   Got (Buffer) Bloat?

Prior to clicking the hyperlink, I pondered what Slashdot was asking... Buffer bloat? I suspected I did, but had to click the hyperlink to find out and even then I was lost. Thank goodness I found a Bufferbloat FAQ.

[26 February 2011, top]

Larry Page: AI Will Be Solved By Brute Force
"My prediction is that when AI happens, its going to be a lot of computation and not so much clever blackboard/whiteboard kind of stuff -- clever algorithms -- but just a LOT of computation." -- Larry Page
   "Google Founder [Larry Page circa 2007]: AI Will Be Solved 
   by Brute Force"

An AI posting seemed timely given IBM's Watson vs. Jeopardy grand challenge that took place February 14-16 in 2011.

[21 February 2011, top]

Tools Are Tools
"In other words, tools are tools, Internet schminternet. Revolutions happen when they happen. Whatever means are lying around will get used. Next question!" -- Jay Rosen

Note: Thanks to long file names, the URL's the tweet.

[21 February 2011, top]

Give Thanks To Dopamine?
"Ever find yourself sitting down at the computer just for a second to find out what other movie you saw that actress in, only to look up and realize the search has led to an hour of Googling? Thank dopamine." -- Emily Yoffe
   The powerful and mysterious brain circuitry that makes us love 
   Google, Twitter, and texting. - By Emily Yoffe - Slate Magazine

[21 February 2011, top]

About Computing Bits
The Computing Bits blog was created on 14 September 2001 and it started 2011 with 493 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: 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004 | 2003-02-01

[10 February 2011, top]

Creator: Gerald Thurman []
Last Modified: Saturday, 05-Jan-2013 11:18:29 MST

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