Archive for the ‘Computers & Technology’ Category

Intel Inside Joke = Tick|Tock + Vote for My Video

Monday, September 20th, 2010

I produced my first YouTube video at the Intel Developer’s Forum last week. Its 2 minutes of asking Intel employees whether 2010 is a ‘Tick’ year or a ‘Tock’ year. You need to know that Intel updates chip clock speeds in Tick years, and chip micro-architectures in Tock years = your basic Intel Inside high-tech humor.

If you like the video, please click the “Like” button before 24-Sep-2010. There are nice prizes Intel is giving away for the most votes. So spread the word, and enjoy!

Joan Miró = Sun Sign

Monday, April 20th, 2009

116 years ago today abstract painter/sculptor Joan Miró was born in Barcelona. He had an obsession with imaging the Sun in new ways. Apparently, so do IBM and Oracle.

(From left to right) The Red Sun, Dancing Under the Red Sun, The Adoration of the (Blue/Red) Sun, The Gold of the Blue, Managing the Sun, Upsidedown Under the Red Sun.

Mystery Mathematicians by Eisenstaedt = D. Blackwell

Saturday, November 22nd, 2008

As we guessed, some of the uncaptioned photographs by Life Magazine photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt are indeed of famous mathematicians. We’ve identified 3. Here is the first.

David Blackwell, is perhaps the world’s most famous black mathematician. While the Rao-Blackwell theorem may be his most important, his favorite paper is On an Equation by Wald, written while teaching at Howard University, where he taught for 10 years after a postdoc at the Institute for Advanced Study with the likes of Einstein and Von Neumann in 1941 at age of 22. That appointment included nomination as a Visiting Fellow at Princeton, causing controversy and opposition from the University adminstration. Perhaps that is why he only applied to teach at black colleges.

In 1954 things had changed sufficiently to where he could move to the new Statistics department at UC Berkeley. In 1965, a year after these photos were taken, he became the first black elected to the National Academy of Sciences. He co-wrote a classic textbook that is still in print. There is a wondeful interview from 2002 online. Professor Blackwell is actively retired in Northern California with his large family. Next April 24th he celebrates his 90th birthday.

Chrome = Shiny!

Thursday, September 4th, 2008

Serenity Comic & Chrome

Yesterday Google released their web browser to beta.  It is called Chrome, and, from what I’ve seen, it is great.  Like Joss Whedon’s Serenity, Chrome has an online comic book.   But unlike Whedon’s Firefly-class ship, Chrome is fast – very fast.  And it uses a process per tab instead of a thread per tab – providing better firewalls to thwart security bugs and memory leaks.  This should compete well with IE8 and Firefox 3.

P.S. Joss Whedon’s Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog is now available in hi-resolution for free on Hulu.

Ballmer = Eggnostic

Tuesday, May 20th, 2008

As Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer began a presentation at the Corvinus University in Budapest, a rude Hungarian (redundant) student stood up and shouted

Hey you! Microsoft has stolen 25 <billion> Hungarian Forint.  To the Hungarian people, give that money back. Right now!

He then threw 3 eggs – 1 on the floor, 1 on the wall, and 1 on the projector screen – before running out of ammunition, while Ballmer took refuge under the rostrum.  The student was asked to “Please leave” and “Very quickly” and “What were you thinking?” to which he responded the country pays while this guy has the nerve to be parading around here, and walked out exposing everyone to the back of his shirt proclaiming “Microsoft = Corruption.”

Following the “friendly disruption” Ballmer calmly continued his talk, wherein he was found by to be a surprisingly brilliant speaker.  In the Q&A he admitted to being egged before, in 1966 (no doubt on Halloween, when he would have been 10).

While the whole incident took place in broken English, Fake Steve Jobs is looking for a Czech translator!?  I am sure you’ve seen the original recording of the event posted on youtube – here is the Bono version.  Now we know who the Eggman is, but who is the Walrus?

Rubik’s Record = Tomas Rokicki cuts it to 25

Tuesday, April 8th, 2008

superflipΤomas Rokicki is a man of many algorithms.  He co-authored Golly, a Life simulator that is super fast due to its unique hashlife algorithm.  Last month he proved that 25 face moves (where face move = a quarter or half turn) are suffficient to solve any Rubik’s cube, and he did it using a computer (similar to the solution to the famous Four Color Problem) – specifically, he used Herbert Kociemba’s Cube Solver, which you can download for free.

In 1995 Michael Reid showed that 20 moves were necessary to solve the superflip (pictured).  Kociemba ran his cube solver over 1 million random configurations, and not one needed more than 20 moves to solve.  He then ran 1000 optimal random configurations (at ~2 minutes per solution with 3 GHz processors and 8 GB memory) and found the “average” cube can be optimally solved in ~18 moves.  It clearly appears that 20 moves should suffice to solve any Rubik’s cube.  But can that be proven?

Solutions to Rubik\'s Cube

Initially, solution algorithms could take up to 75 moves.  In 1995 Reid showed Kociemba’s algorithm could reduce the maximum to 29 moves, still quite a ways from 20.  In 2006 this was improved to 27, and in 2007 to 26.  Now, thanks to Tom Rokicki, it stands at 25 - and he is on to 24.

Update: As of June, Rokicki cut it to 23 using a Sony/Spiderman render farm.

Update: As of August, Rokicki cut it to 22 using the same Sony/Spiderman render farm.

May 31, UC Berkeley = Tribute to Jim Gray

Thursday, January 17th, 2008

Tribute to Jim Gray


Not a memorial, but a tribute – since he is a ‘missing person’ for 5 years – you can register for the technical session or reserve a transcript of the proceedings here.

This is Google = we’ve got your house surrounded

Tuesday, December 11th, 2007

Google Street View

It started with Google maps. Sometime back they added Satellite Views, which show decent images – of my house from above, you can see the white deck chairs out by the pool which is covered by a black tarp. They recently introduced My Maps which lets you share a map with others. Go ahead and add your location to my blog reader map by clicking Edit. Today they introduced Street Views of Boston and its surrounds, where you can actually see your neighbors in the public environment. I figured I would preserve some privacy by being located in the obscure suburbs. But no! Sometime this summer the Google camera truck rolled down Robinson Road and took a picture of our house. You can even see Lia and Alan’s red wagon parked out in front. I can’t wait for the Google picture phone with GPS to follow me around.

P.S.  Now the US government is concerned: BBC article.

P.P.S. See here.