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  • Michael Krakovskiy 9:31 pm on October 18, 2006 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , actual successful products, , animation system, , , Bob Metcalfe, Charles Geschke, , , David Boggs, , ethernet, , , , , , input devices, Internet time, John Warnock, laser printer, , , PARC, PostScript, , RAND Corporation, , , , Theodor Holm Nelson, Turing Award laureates, , , William Shockley, WYSIWYG text editor, Xerox corporation   

    Where’s My Flying Car Part I : KABOOM! 

    “Celebrating Gertsen, we clearly see three generations,
    three classes acting in the Russian Revolution. First –
    noblemen and landowners, Decembrists and Herzen.
    Horribly distant from the people. But their work was not in wain.
    Decembrists woke Herzen. Herzen began revolutionary agitation.”
    V.I. Lenin

    Computers have existed like for 200,000 years in Internet time, yet the innovation in computer technology seems to be a little slow. Brick and mortar slow. Let me present to you an approximate timeline:

    In 1945 Dr. Vannevar Bush wrote an article As We May Think about a device called the Memex.

    In 1960 Theodor Holm Nelson, inspired by Bush, coined the term “hypertext” and started on Project Xanadu, a vaporware Superinternet.

    In 1968 Dr. Douglas Engelbart delivered the MOAD, demonstrating videoconferencing, email, hypertext, copy and paste, as well as some novel input devices including a mouse.

    Bush, Nelson and Engelbart show a progression from a dream into reality. Bush was a pure dreamer – he never intended to actually try and build the Memex. Nelson at least tried to build Xanadu, although he failed miserably. He could not even get to the demo stage. Engelbart actually built enough stuff to make very impressive demos, although never to build actual successful products except the mouse. These guys suffered from the RAND Corporation syndrome–the common joke went that RAND stood for Reasearch And No Development.

    The problem with these three was that they could not focus on individual problems. Luckily for us, next came Xerox PARC. Xerox corporation had money coming out of its wazoo, decided to invest in a world class R&D center. They used the same approach that Google is using today: spend the extra money on hiring the brightest technologists around and let them run free and wild.

    Bush, Nelson and Engelbart were a lot like a character named Manilov in Gogol’s Dead Souls. Manilov was an owner of a large rundown estate. He spent his days dreaming about improving it. Wouldn’t it be nice to build a bridge over the river and on it build little merchant booths so that the peasants could buy stuff there. Of course, none of his projects ever went anywhere, and if they did, they were quickly abandoned.

    PARC engineers were men of action. Each concentrated on a particular aspect, and they’ve built working models of many things that we enjoy today: personal computer with GUI interfaces, Ethernet, WYSIWYG text editor, laser printer, and even a computer animation system amongst other things. Sadly, Xerox was able to capitalize mostly on the laser printer, which actually probably paid for all of PARC’s expenses. PARC indirectly influenced Apple and Microsoft in the development of GUI OS. Also Charles Simonyi left PARC to develop Word and Excel for Microsoft, thus creating an enormous amount of wealth. Bob Metcalfe and David Boggs also left PARC, took Ethernet and turned it into 3COM. John Warnock and Charles Geschke left PARC, took PostScript and created a little company called Adobe Systems. Well, you get the picture.

    To give you another analogy, the technological revolution of the 60s, 70s and 80s was like a hydrogen bomb. A hydrogen bomb is made of three bombs: a conventional explosive that ignites a fission explosive that in turn ignites a fusion explosion. Semiconductor industry created by William Shockley and the Traitorous Eight was the fuel, Bush and Company–the conventional explosion, PARC–fission, what came after–fusion. KABOOM!

  • Michael Krakovskiy 9:46 am on April 19, 2005 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: 747-400, airline, All Nippon Airways, Annex Tower, , Chuck Garabedian sez, , ethernet, , Greater Tokyo Area, Hello Kitty, , Keyhole technology, Main Tower, Narita Airport, Narita Express, Narita International Airport, New Tower, paint jobs, Rail station, Rail transport in Japan, , Shinagawa Prince Hotel, , The Incredibles, Transport in Japan, Turkmenistan Airlines, , wireless network,   

    Deadprogrammer Visits Japan or Sakura in Partial Bloom Part II 

    Part II : Chuck Garabedian sez : “Ya gotta squeeze every penny”

    My wife booked our tickets though go-today.com, thriftily opting for the cheapest tickets that do not specify the airline prior to purchase. I was expecting the horrors of Aeroflot, or even worse, flying under the 5-headed eagle flag of Turkmenistan Airlines. On a crop duster or something. But we were pleasantly surprised to become proud holders of All Nippon Airways tickets. And that meant flying on a 747-400 without one of those Pokemon or Hello Kitty paint jobs, but with 4 classes of seats, on demand video monitors in all of them, nice meals and snacks, ultra clean bathrooms, and 20% more bowing.

    A flight from JFK to Narita Airport takes about 14 hours non-stop. I found it to be no worse than an extra long day in a cubicle. Except instead of working I read, watched free movies (they had The Incredibles!) ate tasty meals and wondered if one could learn to smile professionally like the Japanese stewardesses. Oh, and I took a nice picture of a circular rainbow. Unfortunately I missed seeing the fish-like Sakhalin Island where my father spent a part of his childhood and my mother earned her college degree. I hope one day I’ll visit it.

    Now for some photos (there will be more interesting ones in the next post). Make your own Google maps with Keyhole technology. The whole thing looks like a motherboard, doesn’t it? For some reason Japanese like to paint their towers in red and white.

    In stark contrast to the heavily industrial area above, Japan is full of agricultural areas filled with rice paddies that glisten in the sun. I was gonna say like the steel of a samurai’s sword, but did not.

    In Narita I came into my first contact with the wonders of Japanese wending machines. My first purchases on the Japanese soil were a $30 Hello Kitty phone card (that was way too much, a $10 one would do, besides they sell them everywhere) and a bottle of a sports drink called “Pocari Sweat”. As it turns out many Japanese products and businesses have strange, but somewhat relevant Engrish names. Overall the vending machines in Japan are way nicer that the ones in the States. I’ll write about them later, but for now I present you with the picture of a small battery of rectangular (or should I say parallelepipedal) sports drink bottles that accumulated on the windowsill of our hotel room.

    Go-today.com deal hooked us up with 5 nights in Shinagawa Prince Hotel. It’s a huge complex of a hotel located just next to a major Japan Rail station. Narita express as well as shinkansen trains stop there too. Just like ANA’s jumbo jet, the hotel seems to tailored to serve a number of different classes of customers. There’s the Executive Tower, Main Tower, New Tower and Annex Tower. We got a room in the Annex Tower which is probably like the Fiesta Deck. Still in the good old tradition of the 3rd class on a pre-war cruise ship, the room was tiny, but well designed, clean, and had very nice extras not usually found in American hotels such as yucatas, toothbrushes and razors in the “little shampoo and crap” kit and a washlet in the bathroom.

    Japan is one of the last true bastions of smoking, so we could not get a non-smoking room. There was a smell of cigarettes in the air, but fortunately the windows were openable (and with a great view, including a skyscraper with a huge Canon logo) and after a short airing the room was livable. There was no hardwired Ethernet and during my stay I only figured out how to get the key to the wireless network only at the very end (you need to go to the Yahoo! cafe, fill out some paperwork, buy a drink there and ask for the access point password).

    Overall it seems that Japanese businesses often treat coach class customers better than American businesses treat their business class and often first class.

  • Michael Krakovskiy 10:58 am on November 5, 2002 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ethernet, Fox Television Stations Group, , John Doe, , Malcolm, , , , , That '70s Show, , , TNT, , WABC 5, WCBS 19, WLIW, WNBC, WNET, WNYW, WNYW 12, WNYW 14, WNYW 17, WNYW 2   

    Tivo! Tivo! Tivo! 

    Ok, I am a dork. A dork with a tricked out Tivo.
    So far I struggled through:

    • Installing TurboNet ethernet card
    • Installing a 120 gig drive instead of the two 20 gig drives that came with my Tivo
    • Getting telnet to work

    and finally, finally!
    *Installing Tivo Web

    One of the coolest features of Tivo Web is ability to undelete shows.

    Here is a list of my “season passes” that I grabbed with Tivo Web.
    (I would like to note that I don’t watch “Enterprise”. does.

    1. | Show Name | Channel

    1 Futurama WNYW
    2 The Job COMEDY
    3 The Sopranos
    4 The Job WABC
    5 Sex and the City HBO
    6 Six Feet Under HBO
    7 ER WNBC
    8 Friends WNBC
    9 That ’70s Show
    10 Farscape SCIFI
    11 Firefly WNYW
    12 Enterprise WWOR
    13 The Simpsons WNYW
    14 The Man Show COMEDY
    15 Antiques Roadshow WNET
    16 Malcolm in the Middle WNYW
    17 Scrubs WNBC
    18 CSI: Crime Scene Investigation WCBS
    19 This Old House WNET
    20 NYPD Blue TNT
    21 Antiques Roadshow UK WLIW
    22 Insomniac With Dave Attell COMEDY
    23 New Yankee Workshop WNET
    24 Samurai Jack TOON
    25 Monk USA
    26 John Doe WNYW

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