the coming war on general computation

The copyright war was just the beginning  The last 20 years of Internet policy have been dominated by the copyright war, but the war turns out only to have been a skirmish. The coming century will be dominated by war against the general purpose computer, and the stakes are the freedom, fortune and privacy of the entire human race.     The problem is twofold: first, there is no known general-purpose computer that can execute all the programs we can think of except the naughty ones; second, general-purpose computers have replaced every other device in our world. There are no … Continue reading

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anthropologist of search

↑Daniel M. Russell works at Google and this is how he describes what he does there: ‘I study the way people search and research. I guess that makes me an anthropologist of search.’ Back in June this year he spoke at the ↑Investigative Reporters & Editors conference in Boston. ↑John Tedesco, an investigative reporter for the San Antonio Express-News was there, took extensive notes, and posted them at his weblog: ↑How to solve impossible problems: Daniel Russell’s awesome Google search techniques. via ↑entry at ↑boingboing … Continue reading

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the witch reboot

  Last Tuesday the ↑Wolverhampton Instrument for Teaching Computing from Harwell (WITCH) was rebooted for the first time since the 1970s. For two and a half years volunteers had restaurated the machine, which was built in 1951, at Great Britain’s ↑National Museum of Computing at Bletchley Park. via ↑article at ↑wired … Continue reading

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slowing down light

↑A Slower Speed of Light is a first-person game prototype in which players navigate a 3D space while picking up orbs that reduce the speed of light in increments. Custom-built, open-source relativistic graphics code allows the speed of light in the game to approach the player’s own maximum walking speed. Visual effects of special relativity gradually become apparent to the player, increasing the challenge of gameplay. These effects, rendered in realtime to vertex accuracy, include the Doppler effect (red- and blue-shifting of visible light, and the shifting of infrared and ultraviolet light into the visible spectrum); the searchlight effect (increased … Continue reading

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flippy floppy sim

A well-known carrier over here once advertised the iPhone 4 as featuring a ‘new ↑SIM card technology.’ ↑What they meant was the so-called ‘micro-SIM.’ Well, meanwhile we have reached the ‘nano-SIM’—yet another unbelievable leap of technology. But hold your breath, it gets even better. By investing five bucks you can be at the forefront of innovation yourself, by buying the ‘Nano SIM Cutter,’ which ‘takes any regular or micro size and trims the excess off to provide you a precision cut nano SIM. It’s simple, you insert your SIM card with the contacts facing downwards, push the SIM card all … Continue reading

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nand to tetris

  Two years ago I belatedly ↵reported on Shimon Schocken’s and Noam Nisan’s book ‘The elements of computing systems: Building a modern computer from first principles’ (2005). Since then quite some things have happened, and at the website ↑From NAND to Tetris you’ll now find a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC ;)—the whole course, including all the materials, has been put online open-source fashion. The idea is to lead you from the uttermost basics, in this case the logical NAND gate [Negated AND or NOT AND] to build a system on which you finally can program and run a Tetris … Continue reading

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what is that?

zeph’s pop culture quiz #45 What is the large mechanical contraption in the picture everybody is staring at? In which movie does it appear and what does it do within the plot of that movie?     Just leave a comment with your educated guess—you can ask for additional hints, too. [Leaving a comment is easy; just click the ‘Leave a comment’ at the end of the post and fill in the form. If it’s the first time you post a comment, it will be held for moderation. But I am constantly checking, and once I’ve approved a comment, your … Continue reading

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tommy flowers’ diary

At least parts of the personal diary of ↑Thomas Harold Flowers (1905-1998) soon will be on display at ↑The National Museum of Computing (TNMOC) at Bletchley Park, ↑reported the BBC two days ago. Flowers was crucial in constructing ↑Colossus—for the whole story see Randell 1980 and the excellent book edited by Jack Copeland (2006) including texts by Flowers himself (2006 [1998]a, b).     The story of the Colossi—all in all ten of them were at work at Bletchley until the end of the war—not only illustrates the outstanding relevance of electronic computing technology, but is also an example for … Continue reading

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difference engine day

From the ↑Charles Babbage biography at ↑The MacTutor History of Mathematics archive (University of St Andrews, Scotland): Babbage is without doubt the originator of the concepts behind the present day computer. The computation of logarithms had made him aware of the inaccuracy of human calculation around 1812. He wrote in [C Babbage, Passages from the life of a philosopher (London, 1864).]:-     … I was sitting in the rooms of the Analytical Society, at Cambridge, my head leaning forward on the table in a kind of dreamy mood, with a table of logarithms lying open before me. Another member, … Continue reading

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fun times ahead

According to Kaspersky ↵Stuxnet has ↑an heir. Here are two snippets from Wired’s report on it—mind the rhetorics: “It’s pretty fantastic and incredible in complexity,” said Alexander Gostev, chief security expert at Kaspersky Lab. [...]     “It took us half-a-year to analyze Stuxnet,” he said. “This is 20-times more complicated. It will take us 10 years to fully understand everything.” To my cyberpunk-infested mind this sounds as if some mysterious AI has written the thing, maybe even ↵Colossus himself … And if ↑this is true as well, there for sure are fun times ahead. … Continue reading

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