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  • Michael Krakovskiy 3:33 pm on May 14, 2005 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: BASIC, Computer memory, , Core, Core dump, , , Ferrite, Ferrite core, Ferrites, Jay Dubya, Lockheed Electronics Company Inc., Magnetic core, Magnetic-core memory, Non-volatile memory, radiation, Sinclair Spectrum, , Wang   

    Of Wangs And Core Dumps 

    I started learning programming on a Soviet computer called Iskra 226, a few of which were given to our after school program by the kind Navy bureaucrats. I vividly remember finding a BASIC program already stored on the hard disk that cheerfully asked a few questions about the weather and the megatonnage of a warhead and then quickly calculated the size of the epicenter, severity of fallout and whatnot. The teacher was not amused and asked me to delete the program before anyone else had a chance to see it..

    Although Iskras turned out to be less popular with other kids who preferred Soviet knockoffs of Sinclair Spectrum which had good graphics and buttloads of nice games that could be loaded from audio cassettes, I preferred the loud monochrome screened monster. You see Iscras had peripherals – a dot matrix printer that sounded like a machine gun and a humongous hard drive that sounded even louder.

    Later I learned that Iscra was a clone of a Wang 2200 computer. And even later I learned a bit more about Dr. Wang’s company. So, continuing my Computer History Through Coffee Mugs Series, I present to you a prized mug from my collection:

    As it turns out, Dr. An Wang also happens to be the inventor of magnetic core memory, a technology that always fascinated me. Here is a core memory plane from my collection:

    Core memory stores bits by sending current to donut shaped rings of ferrite. Wikipedia article explains how this works. Early core memory arrays used a small amount of larger ferrite cores. Later ones, like the one on the above picture used buttloads of tiny little cores. From what I heard, these amazing devices were assembled by third world garment workers. By hand. Under microscopes. If you have any doubt that this is true, take a look at these close-up shots that clearly show that this is done by hand:

    Jay Dubya Zee shed some light on how horrible is the job of people who assemble camouflage nets. Think about how much worse is doing something like this:

    How much ram is this you might ask? The back of the card holds a label. It says:
    Lockheed Electronics Company, Inc.
    Data Products Division
    Core Memory 8k x 18
    8200-0001
    2001002326-1A1 HK022
    7530

    These days core memory is still used in aircraft and spacecraft because it keeps the information when power is off and is supposedly less prone to radiation.

    The word wang these days mostly means “penis”, a common name of a Chinese restaurant, is used on t-shirts, as a sentence enhancer or just at random. Also, unexplicably, “wing-wang” is another name for a dollar.

    Memory dump files are called “core dumps” to this day because of core memory. Also it is common to refer to core dumps of dilithium and chockolatium.

     
  • Michael Krakovskiy 1:57 am on January 24, 2004 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: 3-d, , , , Gland, GNU Screen, , radiation, Saliva, ,   

    Monitor 451 or Ixnay on the X-ray 

    What I always thought to be just dirt on my screen or glasses, turned out to be a burned in picture of the login screen. Modern monitors are supposed to turn themselves off after a period of time, didn’t they? I thought that the login screen in NT used to jump around like a screensaver? Apparently not so.

    A friend from the Fair and Balanced Network told me over lunch that the reason network logos are usually 3-d and rotating is because people used to get rather nasty burn-in on their TVs with static logos.

    This got me thinking — what kind of statistics are out there about radiation exposure in programmers? I spend about 8 hours a day in front of an electron gun directed at my face and chest. And I’ve been having salivary gland troubles for a while. People worry about stupid cell phone microwaves. Monitors shoot X-rays. Now that is scary.

    I am thinking now of buying a couple of flat panels for home and work. As expensive as it can be, it’s probably a good idea.

     
  • Michael Krakovskiy 10:35 am on August 30, 2003 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , , , , G5, , radiation,   

    Z-Ray Vision 

    Man: “Psst, you want to buy organ? Fresh and cheap, ready for transplant.”
    Fry: “Ooh, what’s this?”
    Man: “Ah, is x-ray eye. See through anything.”
    Fry: “Wait a minute, this says z-ray.”
    Man: “Z is just as good! In fact is better, is two more than x!”

    Futurama episode 1ACV07 – My Three Suns

    Well, you all know that I consider Canon Powershot G2 and G3 the best digital cameras a normal person can actually afford. You also probably know that I pay close attention to naming schemes. So here’s a little story with a surprise ending for you.

    The granfather of the camera I like so much was Pro 70, which was the first camera to have a flip screen.

    The next one was called Powershot G1. It was a very popular and well designed camera. It’s sensor was very sensitive to IR radiation which makes it probably the best digital camera for infrared photography. The biggest complaint was the color of the body. Most photographers hate silver plastic.

    Next up was Powershot G2. It was almost identical to G3 with slight changes to UI and optics. Most G2s were made out of the same ugly silver plastic, but there was a special all black edition. I was lucky enough to buy a black G2. I had to order it from Canada.

    Powershot G3 was the next camera in G series. Again, slight changes in UI, optics and more significantly a 4 megapixel sensor. Again, silver. Will they ever listen?

    Now, the next camera is called Powershot G5. It has a 5 megapixel sensor which according to reports is a bit crappier than the one in G3. At least they dropped the silver plastic.

    But wait, what happened to Powershot G4? Did it suffer the fate of Netscape 5? The rumour floated around that G4 was trademarked by Apple. Well, Apple has a Powermac G5 also.

    The correct answer appears to be this:
    “The word “four” is read as “si” in Chinese Mandarin and “shi” in Japanese, a close homonym for the word for death in both languages and in the Cantonese dialect spoken in Hong Kong. “

    Hmm, I wonder how those Powermacs sold in Japan and China.

     
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