Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Scientific American: The Top Science Stories of 2003

Scientific American's idea of the top science stories of 2003... oh 'tis the season to look backwards... tralalala-la-la-la.......

For me of course, it's been the year of the python :-)
posted by Mike Foord on Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Friday, December 19, 2003

LGA 775 Prescott Die Exposed!

When I saw a headline entitle 'Prescott Die' - I thought someone had it in for the British government minister John Prescott..... and wondered what it was doing in a tech magazine.......... Which just goes to show how far behind the times I am. Apparently the future/current version of the Pentium 4 is called the 'Prescott' (God alone knows why I guess) and has a whopping 775 pins and 125 million transistors. This is more than twice as many transistors as the last version..... mainly due to increased cache sizes. This webpage lifts the lid and shows us the innards... doesn't say whether it's a 64bit or 32bit architecture though.............
posted by Mike Foord on Friday, December 19, 2003

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Joel on Software - Biculturalism

A lovely article on the *real* difference between Unix and Widnows ;-)
Expressed as a 'cultural difference'.
The site it's on has *lots* of articles/books on programming - many of them useful... and also a link in this article to an online book about the 'Art of Unix Programming'... nice..

"What are the cultural differences between Unix and Windows programmers? There are many details and subtleties, but for the most part it comes down to one thing: Unix culture values code which is useful to other programmers, while Windows culture values code which is useful to non-programmers."

posted by Mike Foord on Tuesday, December 16, 2003

GROKLAW - The GPL, license or contract ?

Being an ex law-student I couldn't resist this one. The SCO-IBM lawsuit (alledging that Linux incorporates SCO proprietary code from UNIX) has brought into the light the GPL license under which Linux is distributed. A partial result is that some companies have become afraid of the GPL license becuase they are afraid they could be forced to release the ir propietary code if they accidentally include GPL code within it.

This article is clearly written and easily understood - it explains the difference between a license and a contract. It explains the legal remedies available for breach of license and why no judge will ever force anyone to release code because of the GPL.


OOP over the top

OO techniques are a tool, they are not an end goal. Starting to design a system to achieve OO purity is the fastest way to build a system that will be ten times more complex then it likely needs to be.

A nice article that reminds us that just because code is object oriented... it's not necessarily good. People tend to get taught these days that the 'object oriented' model is the right way to program... which makes OOP the goal of coding, rather than a tool. The place I got this link from suggested a more 'data-driven' model of coding that soudns interesting... hmmm......

(previous post had the wrong URL.. sorry)

posted by Mike Foord on Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Friday, December 05, 2003

New Scientist

This weather simulator thingy is funky as heck ! It can simulate whole climates down to 10km blocks - they've got it doing hurricanes (inclduing dinky little eyes !) and are using it to model climate change... far out crunched up numbers man.........
posted by Mike Foord on Friday, December 05, 2003

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Wired 11.12: WIRED TOOLS 2K3

Ahhh...... what better way to mark the passing of time than with Wired's annual round up of gadget must haves. Now, I admit to being a lover of gadgets - from my coffee grinder to my electric toothbrush, from my digital camera to my PDA - but even I've not considered the do it yourself DNA analysis kit they feature here.... as a kid's toy for goodness sake :-)

Things are hotting up in the world of Atlantis and Atlantibots - I'm now working with the creator of Atlantis Helper (a popular Atlantis Client) to integrate my python scripts into his C++ code... andd I've posted various copies of my python resource CD around the world to a few people interested in learning python to work on the project.... Did you know you can send a well wrapped CD to Australia or Hong Kong by airmail for only 1.37 pounds (British money of course) - not bad value - and it only took a week as well.... that's about how long British post is taking to deliver *inside* the UK at the moment (the hangover from the recent strikes still lingers like a stale fart I'm afraid)......

The Second Coming of Philip K. Dick
Not really 'techie' - but definitely "punk" - this is an interesting article about how the writer Philip K Dick has conquered hollywood. (See the fiction section of voidspace for examples of his work)Minority Report, Total Recall, Blade Runner are all hollywood blockbusters based on his books.... and there's another on the way.

There were some interesting reports yesterday about security flaws in the Linux kernel. Now I'm no lover of corporate America (and Alx will hate me for saying this) but the reason that so many more flaws are found in M$-windows than in Linux.... is simply because so many more people are looking...... In any phenomenally complicated piece of software like Linux *or* Windows - with so many inter-operating parts - there are bound to be places that can be exploited by the malicious....... the current security focus is useful because it has forced programmers to think about security issues - but the bottom line is that Windows does a good job, is easy to use and has many powerful features....... Linux might be just as powerful... but no-one would pretend it's easy to use :-) Smiles, sit's back, waits for storms of protest........

Still -I'm an old fan of the command line... I never miss an opportunity to reccommend Neal Stephensons article 'In the Beginning... Was the Command Line' for those interested in operating systems - well written, well thought out, with lots of useful and insightful analogies - this is how all journalism ought to be. Along with Bruce Sterlings work
The Hacker Crackdown
I count these as two of the best exampels of 'journalism' in any field... and by two masters of cyberpunk as well.... these guys have well deserved reputations as great writers....

Anyway... back to the command line..... I heard a great quote about GUIs (just to bring some balance to any M$ - Linux debate I may have sparked) - 'GUIs make simple tasks easy, and complex ones impossible'.... actually true......so there we go...... But for those who may or may not be interested - Python is an awesome scripting language (including an interactive shell) that makes automating system processes a doddle... nay - a joy ;-)
posted by Mike Foord on Wednesday, December 03, 2003