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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, , Sinclair Spectrum, teacher, 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 11:23 am on January 18, 2005 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Betel, Blah, , Indian culture, Malaysian culture, Philippine culture, Shaman Palace, Shamanism, , teacher, Thai culture, , Vietnamese culture   

    The World Is Your Spitoon 

    BoingBoing writers don’t seem to be able to shut up about betel lately. This reminded me of a 4th or 5th grade report on India (great friend of the Soviet Union, emerging economy, blah, blah) that I had to do in school back in the Soviet times.

    I remember the teacher get very interested about betel chewing and prematurely praise it as a great habit. Then I reminded her that importing such a thing would mean having to deal with bright red spit all over. It’s not like the Soviet Union did not have its own share of hygienically questionable customs.

    Back then Soviet sci-fi writers promised us Communism with goods being teleported right into our crystal palaces for free from anywhere on the globe. I guess that (and my flying car) did not work out, but today Capitalism brings us the ability to order almost anything from almost anywhere through electronic computers.

    So, if I want to try some betel all I need to do is pick between The Basement Shaman and Shaman Palace or many other fine merchants.

    Who knew that there are so many stores catering to shamans. At leats now I know where the Suburban Shaman.

    Hmm, I guess I could get one of these and try to rid my cubicle of the sick building syndrome.

     
  • Michael Krakovskiy 10:54 pm on December 20, 2003 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Live music, , teacher   

    Dream Blog : Destroyer Of Worlds Or Darn Usability 

    Here’s a dream I had recently:

    A girl that was partially my wife and partially somebody else got a hold of an incantation that could destroy the world. She pronounced it and world destruction began. My former English teacher uploaded an “antidote” function into my Powershot G3. I tried to execute the function. I kept pressing buttons and scrolling through menus, but could not find it. A popup window (which happened in the air, not on camera’s screen) gave me an ominous warning “World destruction in progress. Now only elementary math functions and the contents of this room remain”. The lens and the electronics of my camera were gone, leaving only a shell with buttons. Even though a bit of time remained, I could no longer access the menus. And that’s when I woke up.

    Interesting, this is at least a second dream with a camera that refuses to work.

     
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