Gender Bending Frame

I want a good digital photo frame. Not the stupid Ceiva, which requires you to buy into their crappy service and works through an analog modem (ie, even if I wanted to, I could not use it at work because we have VoIP phone system or something like that).

From reviews at Amazon:

“I knew this frame was cool when my teenage daughter was admiring a picture of herself and it suddenly changed to one of her brother. She let out a scream, and uttered a few unauthorized words.”

Now I know too. I hope she did not wet herself from excitement.

Well, I’ll probably end up making a frame out of an old iOpener or something. I also want a that 3COM net appliance for my bathroom, but that’s a different story.

Stroking the Genius

Right now am pretty much obsessed with books about rise and fall of tech companies.

These are the most memorable books I’ve read this past year:
Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution
Insanely Great: The Life and Times of Macintosh, the Computer That Changed Everything
Dealers of Lightning: Xerox Parc and the Dawn of the Computer Age
Show-Stopper!: The Breakneck Race to Create Windows Nt and the Next Generation at Microsoft
The Difference Between God and Larry Ellison: Inside Oracle Corporation: God Doesn’t Think He’s Larry Ellison
High Stakes, No Prisoners : A Winner’s Tale of Greed and Glory in the Internet Wars
The Soul of a New Machine
The Supermen: The Story of Seymour Cray and the Technical Wizards Behind the Supercomputer

Awesome, awesome stuff. I should find time to write some reviews.

I purchased all of these books used (except “Soul of a New Machine” which I just _had_ to have at the time). Some were cheap, others surprisingly expensive. For instance my copy of “Hackers” set me back $30 or $40 because it was out of print at the time. A new edition came out very soon thereafter. Interestingly enough the same thing happened with “Alan Turing: The Enigma“. “The Supermen” was the most expensive at $50. I am still hunting for acceptably priced “The Legend of Amdahl“.

I just finished reading “Defying Gravity: The Making of Newton“. It was very good.

Right now I am reading “Skunk Works: A Personal Memoir of My Years at Lockheed“, which is orgasmically [spellchecker suggested “orgasmic ally” heh heh] good.

I really want to buy one of those highlighter scanners made by C-Pen so that I can keep notes for my livejournal as I read.

C-Pen’s slogan is “Stroke of Genius”. Beavis and Butthead would have a field day with them :)

The Mystery of Obidos

Whoa, caught amazon.com while it was down.
They are showing a page with Rufus, the Amazon dog.

By the way, I was meaning to write about that for some time now. Did you ever notice enigmatic word “obidos” in Amazon url?

Some theories from usenet:

  • Castle near Lisbon
  • OBI (Wan Kenobi) + DOS (Disk Operating System)
  • ‘OBI’ = Object Broker Interface

    This seems to be the correct answer though: Obidos is is a major port on the Amazon river.

    [update]
    Livejournal user hallerlake had this to add:

    “I worked at Amazon for a couple of years, and can mostly answer that.

    Obidos is the area where the Amazon is “concentrated” – it narrows to a point about a mile wide and a couple hundred feet deep. It’s the chokepoint of the Amazon. A wry sense of humor turned that to the naming scheme.

    The Amazon Marketplace (auctions+zshops+third party) code was called Varzea for similar reasons – it’s the delta point of the amazon river, where the river fans out.

    Amazon wrote their own web serving environment because the selection of scripting/webcontrol languages when they got started was so lousy. They had to call it something, so obidos it was. :) ”


    Obidos is huge, it might be over a gig by now. I don’t think it’s that bad, though. I haven’t been at Amazon for a few years. For a long time Amazon ran on the Netscape web server environment, then eventually moved to a specially tuned Apache. But yeah, the webservers had a lot of RAM in them so that we could fork a bunch of different processes… and a garbage collector got added to take care of some of the memory leaks. Even still we had a service that killed and restarted processes every hundred accesses or so. It wasn’t pretty.

    I don’t know who came up with the name… I’d bet on Shel Kaphan or possibly Joel Spiegel. Shel set the direction for the company’s software development and architecture, including standardization on C (instead of C++) due to easier debugging. Certainly for the first few years he was The Guy for software architecture; these days I would imagine Al Vermeulen has that task.

  • From I bet you didn’t know this department

    Ctrl-alt-del, the three finger salute has an official name. It’s SAS or “Secure Attention Sequence”.
    I learned that from Microsoft’s Tablet PC site.

    C1. A Tablet PC without an attached keyboard must support a single, dedicated, non-overloaded hardware mechanism for generating the Secure Attention Sequence (SAS), also known as "CTRL+ALT+DEL" or "CAD."
    C2. If the SAS button is implemented as a Human Interface Device (HID), the HID-compliant button driver must provide a keyboard collection to report the SAS event.

    Untitled

    Holy crap!
    I just realized: Livejournal is basically a “push” technology!

    Quote from CNN: “The push era was ushered in by PointCast, a screensaver that also delivered news and advertising and which somehow managed to be even less useful than the World Wide Web.

    Untitled

    Ok, I’ve made an extravagant purchase. But I wanted it so, so much!

    What was the object of my desire? It was a book of photographs called “Cray at Chippewa Falls”.It was an album by Lee Fridlander that was commissioned by Cray Research. The book was given to employees and was sold in Cray company store to visitors, but there were only about 5000 copies made.

    The photographs are of unspeakable beauty. Friedlander starts with outskirts of Chippewa Falls – the waterfall, forest, fields. Then the photographs depict a typical small town – a railroad track, broken down pickup truck, suburban houses. Then the center of the town: a barber shop, Radio Shack, some fast food stores. Nothing extraordinary (except for Friedlander’s photographic talent). But then the magic begins. The book is full of photographs depicting highly concentrated men and women among chip making equipment, chassis of supercomputers with garlands of wires, computer terminals. Everybody is filled with a sense of purpose and pride – they are making the most advanced thinking machines in the world!

    Seymour Cray, the Superman of Supercomputers

    That’s Cray 1 in the background. Notice a nice little leather covered bench around the chassi. It was meant as a place where technicians could sit and warm themselves after spending a long time in an air conditioning room. In reality, few technicians would sit there for the fear of breaking the multimillion dollar machine.

    Aaaaa! I am swallowed by a supercomputer!

    That’s a lot of wires. But if they put their heads together…

    Even though I paid $250 for this album (and it is worth every penny), the copyright of course does not belong to me. But I am pretty sure that showing you these photos falles under “fair use”.
    From http://www.louisville.edu/~ddking01/mmgdl01.htm :
    “Under these guidelines a photograph or illustration may be used in its entirety but no more than 5 images by an artist or photographer may be reproduced or otherwise incorporated as part of an educational multimedia project”
    So if anybody asks – this is an educational multimedia project.