Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Missing service?

I wanted to write about something I couldn't find on the Web: a language recognizer. You paste a few sentences, and it tells you what language they are in.

Of course, I wasn't looking hard enough. [language identifier] led me to a service that does what I want, courtesy of Xerox.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Soviet computer industry

Few tidbits from a presentation by Alexander Galitsky that I wanted to write down:
  1. The Soviet industry was pretty advanced, but most of it was for space and defence. If you are building a computer for a space station, you don't need to mass-produce a chip: just a few good ones will do. Radiation-hardening is important though.
  2. In later stages they mostly used reference designs available from the libraries, although some people present still believed they copied chips layer-by-layer.
  3. Initially there was a lot of original research, but then there was a decision to just copy IBM. "No one gets fired for buying IBM" worked in Soviet Union too! (Only s/buying/stealing/)
  4. They copied chip designs because they didn't want to invest in software! I thought the hardware was the bottleneck, but apparently no.
  5. The language of choice of the Soviet space and defense indsutry was Modula-2.
  6. In 1980s some portion of Soviet defense network standardized on Unix and TCP/IP.
Don Knuth asked two questions; the second one was about mass storage.

Earth Rotation Service

Americans want to abolish the leap second:
Among those upset by the idea is Daniel Gambis who works for the intriguingly named Earth Rotation Service. His job is to decide when to add a leap second.
Of course he is upset: his job is threatened.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Zelenograd, the Soviet Silicon Valley

An interesting lecture at the computer history museum:
Author and BioCentury Publications Senior Editor Steve Usdin tells the fascinating story of two American engineers, Joel Barr and Alfred Sarant, who were recruited into espionage by Julius Rosenberg, and, driven by ideology, evaded the FBI and escaped to carry on their work on behalf of the Soviet state. Barr and Sarant rose to the pinnacle of power in the Soviet establishment and managed the building of the postwar modern Soviet military machine and microelectronics industry.
Fittingly it's on November 7th—the anniversary of the Soviet Union. (via sfbayarea_ru)

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Why you can't fix the WWW.

If you are involved in web development, you should read about five paradoxes of the web.

(via Evhead)