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Posts tagged computers

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On The 20th Anniversary – An Oral History of Netscape’s Founding

Brian McCullough interviewed a bunch of the original developers of the Netscape Navigator web browser for Internet History Podcast, and it’s pretty great:

Aleks Totic: When we announced it on www-talk we had a different sound effect for different downloads. Each client got its own sound effect. Everybody gets into this big dark room. We’re all sitting in this room, listening for the sounds and as soon as the email goes out there’s some guy in Australia trying to download it and you hear the smashing glass. Then a couple of minutes of silence. And then a cannon. And it started getting faster and faster. We were all just sitting there drinking beer and coding a little bit and listening. And within like five or six hours there was just a cacophony of explosions and croaks and lightning and cannons.

I love this.

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Curiosity Team Upgrades Software, Checks Wheel Wear

From a NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory press release from December 20:

The team operating NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity has completed a software upgrade on the vehicle and is next planning a check of wear and tear on the rover’s wheels.

These upgrades allow continued advances in the rover’s capabilities. For example, version 11 brings expanded capability for using the Curiosity’s robotic arm while the vehicle is on slopes. It also improves flexibility for storing information overnight to use in resuming autonomous driving on a second day.

I love that we are literally transmitting software updates to another planet. This is the future. We’re living in the future right now.

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Steve Silberman on his PLOS blog NeuroTribes back in 2011:

Inspired by the collaborative intelligence of her fellow software designers, [Susan] Kare stayed on at Apple to craft the navigational elements for Mac’s GUI. Because an application for designing icons on screen hadn’t been coded yet, she went to the University Art supply store in Palo Alto and picked up a $2.50 sketchbook so she could begin playing around with forms and ideas. In the pages of this sketchbook, which hardly anyone but Kare has seen before now, she created the casual prototypes of a new, radically user-friendly face of computing — each square of graph paper representing a pixel on the screen.

There are a bunch of pictures in the post and they’re all excellent.

Steve Silberman on his PLOS blog NeuroTribes back in 2011:

Inspired by the collaborative intelligence of her fellow software designers, [Susan] Kare stayed on at Apple to craft the navigational elements for Mac’s GUI. Because an application for designing icons on screen hadn’t been coded yet, she went to the University Art supply store in Palo Alto and picked up a $2.50 sketchbook so she could begin playing around with forms and ideas. In the pages of this sketchbook, which hardly anyone but Kare has seen before now, she created the casual prototypes of a new, radically user-friendly face of computing — each square of graph paper representing a pixel on the screen.

There are a bunch of pictures in the post and they’re all excellent.

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Being a lifelong Mac user, I was never treated to the intro video you see upon installing Windows ME.

That is, until YouTube came along. Thanks, YouTube. You’ve filled the kid-bashing-a-keyboard-with-a-hammer-causing-icons-to-fly-out-of-the-monitor-shaped hole in my heart that I never realized was there until now.

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IBM creates first cheap, commercially viable, electronic-photonic integrated chip

Sebastian Anthony, writing for ExtremeTech:

There are two key breakthroughs here. First, IBM has managed to build a monolithic silicon chip that integrates both electrical (transistors, capacitors, resistors) and optical (modulators, photodetectors, waveguides) components. Monolithic means that the entire chip is fabricated from a single crystal of silicon, on a single production line; i.e. the optical components are produced at the same time as the electrical components, using the same process. There aren’t two separate regions on the chip that each deal with different signals; the optical and electrical components are all mixed up together to form an integrated nanophotonic circuit.

Second, and perhaps more importantly, IBM has manufactured these chips on its 90nm SOI process — the same process that was used to produce the original Xbox 360, PS3, and Wii CPUs. According to Solomon Assefa, a nanophotonics scientist at IBM Research who worked on this breakthrough, this was a very difficult step. It’s one thing to produce a nanophotonic device in a standalone laboratory environment — but another thing entirely to finagle an existing, commercial 90nm process into creating something it was never designed to do. It sounds like IBM spent most of the last two years trying to get it to work.

This could potentially be a really big deal. The power and heat profiles of optical systems are different from those of electrical systems.

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Commodore founder Jack Tramiel dies at 83

Bonnie Cha, CNET:

Jack Tramiel, founder of Commodore International and former CEO of Atari International, died on Sunday at the age of 83. He was surrounded by family at the time of his passing, according to Forbes.

Famous for saying that computers should be built “for masses, not the classes,” Tramiel played an important role in the early days of personal computing and video gaming, as his company introduced a line of powerful but affordable home computers, including the popular Commodore 64.

I was honestly not familiar with Tramiel by name at all until reading this, but the Commodore 64 was a legendary computer. My older brother even had one, although I was only a few years old at the time so I sadly don’t remember a thing about it.