8″ Floppies?

60 Minutes shocked to find 8-inch floppies drive nuclear deterrent.

Hmm… I wonder if they’re still running Win XP, also? I’d be more than happy to loan them a USB ZIP100 drive and a few disks, if they really need it. ;)

Later…

~Eric


My CPU Diary

Here’s a diary of my personal CPU history going back to my college years in the late 70s/early 80s.

Prehistoric systems

8080A – This was the processor used in the lab systems that we worked with when I was in tech college in 1979. It was programmed in octal machine code.

Z80 – Later we also had systems with this processor, the Timex Sinclair.

MOS 6502 – This processor was used in the Commodore VIC-20 machines that were used in the labs in the tech school where I worked as an equipment technician/part time instructor from 1984-1987.

MOS 6510 – This is the processor that was used in my first home computer, a Commodore SX-64 briefcase system. I learned how to program in Forth on this machine… just for fun. I’ve completely forgotten it.

Intel 80486 – This processor was in a system that I used where I worked in 1993-1994. It ran MS Windows 3.1. It was the system where I first experience Microsoft Project. I HATED that program! I also got my first taste of AutoCad on this machine. Now that was a cool program!

More “modern” systems

Intel Pentium I – This is the processor that was in the little computer that my brother gave me in 2000 after purchasing his Gateway AMD Athlon K-7 Thunderbird monster. This is the machine on which I first experienced the World Wide Web portion of the Internet. I had previously experienced USENET and Gopher on some of the older machines above.

AMD Athlon K-7 Thunderbird – This is the processor I used in the very first modern machine (ericsbane01) that I built for myself (from a bare bones system purchased at a computer fair here in Tampa). This machine was souped up a bit with a larger hdd, more RAM, and a better vid card and given to a friend of mine quite a few years ago. He still uses it.

AMD Athlon XP  – This was the processor in my next home built machine (ericsbane02). This one was built from the case up, though, not a bare bones start. This was also the first machine on which I installed GNU/Linux – Ubuntu 6.06 Dapper Drake in June of 2006. Slackware followed a few weeks later and became my primary OS almost immediately.

AMD Athlon 64  – This processor was the heart of my ericsbane03 home built system. It was my first 64 bit system.

AMD Turion 64 X2 – This is the hearty little workhorse processor in my ericslaptop01, a Dell Inspiron 1521 given to me by pal Josh (securitybreach from Scot’s Newsletter Forums). I’m actually typing this on it right now. :)

Intel Pentium M – This is the processor in the Sherman tank laptop, a Dell Latitude 610 (jenslaptop), given to me by my niece a while back. It sits on my office desk running Slackware 14/Xfce with no trouble at all.

AMD Athlon 64 X2 – This processor was the heart of my ericsbane04 (later to become ericsshop02, my current shop system). I actually bought the processor for this home build used from a fellow on eBay. The price was right!

AMD Phenom X4 – This processor was the brains of my ericsbane05, my most recent main system which crashed (bad mobo) on me just a few days ago. It was a great system… until it broke. :(

If you’ve read An Open Letter to Santa, you already know what I’m shooting for on my next system. ;)

And that’s how it was…

~Eric


An Open Letter to Santa

2 December 2013

Dear Santa,

My name is Eric. I’ve been a good boy all year long. I haven’t cussed, chased women, or drank to excess. With this in mind, I thought I’d send you my wish list for Christmas 2013. Here it is…

1) AMD FX-6200 3.80 GHz Six Core CPU & MSI 970A-G46 MB Bundle- $179.99

2) PATRIOT Signature Line 16GB Desktop Memory Module Kit – DDR3 With Heatshield – $124.99 (before $25 rebate)

3) Kingston V300 120GB Solid State Drive – 2.5″ Form Factor, SATA III – $89.99

4) WD Blue 250 GB Desktop Hard Drive – 3.5″ – Sata 6 Gb/s, 7200RPM, 16MB Cache – Qty: 2 – $51.99ea

5) Asus GeForce GTX 650 Ti Video Card – 1GB GDDR5 – $144.99

Total: $643.94 + TX, S/H*

*Prices as of 2 December 2013 @ tigerdirect.com

Oh, and…

6) PEACE on Earth.

–> Donations are currently being accepted to help Santa defray the cost of acquiring the items on my list without the aid of his magical elves.

Later…

~Eric


Ahhnold… er, I Mean Atlas

While still in man vs. machine mode around here, I thought I’d add this interesting story…

Meet DARPA’s real-world Terminator, Atlas

DARPA and Boston Dynamics, of BigDog, Petman, and Cheetah fame, have unveiled their most advanced humanoid robot yet: Atlas. At 6’2″ (188cm) and 330lbs (150kg), Atlas is incredibly imposing; with 28 hydraulically actuated joints, LIDAR and stereo vision, a beefy on-board computer, and some of the most advanced robotic limbs ever conceived, Atlas is remarkably human-like in its behavior.

*Bold emphasis mine.

It’s no joke, either. Watch the video. It’s kinda’ creepy to see that machine moving like that. Of course, it’s a long way from a T-800, but give it time.

War = Profit. You can bet on it. These machines may fill many disaster recovery rolls, but I can guarantee you that there will be specialized models that will be utilized as killing machines. Humans are very, very good at finding new ways to kill. We’ve never turned away from any useful tool that aided in that pursuit, unfortunately.

Read the rest of this interesting article from ExtremeTech. Don’t forget to watch the video. :)

Later…

~Eric


20K Robots… Soon To Be 1 Million?

In light of my recent article regarding the future interaction between man and machine, I thought this appropriate.

20,000 robots are on the job in Foxconn factories

By Michael Kan
July 15, 2013 06:00 AM ET

Computerworld – Hoping to save money on labor, China’s Foxconn Technology Group could also be ushering in a new era of manufacturing as it sets its sites on putting 1 million robots to work.
Read on…

Later…

~Eric

Invasion of the Data Snatchers!!!

Above here, you’ll see my new email and forum signature line.

What’s this all about you may very well be asking yourself. It’s about something that I find extremely disturbing; the continued erosion of our personal liberties in exchange for the promise of security and safety. As people from around the globe continue to swear undying enmity towards those who may, per chance, hold differing opinions regarding which bearded wise man sits up there in the clouds and manipulates the fates, governments around the world are taking this opportunity to strip us of all our liberties and freedoms that men have fought and died for over the past eons.

New technologies and methods of surveillance are being used by the governing powers to monitor and document your every word. movement, and action. They haven’t figured out how to monitor your thoughts yet, but give it time. George Orwell would be amazed. He was spot on, but a few years early. The technology had to catch up with his predictions.

Now that most communications, be they Internet or telephonic, are in digital format; it’s ever so much easier for the data to be sifted, copied, stored, etc. You couldn’t do that with analog. You would have had to actually record voice communications with some sort of recording devices; magnetic tape, for example. With digital, all they need to do is save your recent phone conversation with auntie Agatha to a file on a hard drive somewhere. They can peruse it, transcribe it, copy it, even manipulate it easily with the help of any computer. Ain’t tech great?

You better watch what you say to your auntie from now on. While you’re at it, you better be careful where you go (your cellphone is tracking you), who you are seen with (cameras everywhere), what you borrowed from the library (Anarchist’s Cookbook a big NO-NO), and definitely what you purchased from Amazon last night. It’s all out there just waiting to be picked through by whomever might be interested. They don’t have to actually go through your garbage cans late at night anymore. All your garbage is stored on servers all over the world nowadays… your credit records, medical records, consumer records, even what you’re viewing on those fancy new digital TVs via cable.

Moving out to that plywood shack in the woods and typing up your manifesto on that old Underwood typewriter is sounding more and more tempting every day, huh? Besides, it’s so much quieter out there. Watch out for those satellites and drones, though. There’s NO PLACE TO HIDE anymore. They’re watching YOU! It’s OK to be paranoid these days. Your silly delusions about THEM being out to get you might not be so silly after all. You do have a good supply of weird uncle Bob’s tinfoil hats, right?

Later…

~Eric

Here’s some interesting reading for you:

NSA, FBI mine Internet firms’ data, documents show - Tampa Bay Times

Daily Report: U.S. Confirms That It Gathers Online Data - NY Times/Bits

Obama Calls Surveillance Programs Legal and Limited - NY Times


The Death of CPU Scaling – an ExtremeTech Article

I read this excellent ExtremeTech article by this morning. I’ve been wondering about this myself for the past couple years.

CPU technology seemed to be following a new path of “more is better” rather than worrying about the performance of just one core. In other words, to me anyway, it seemed as if Intel, AMD, and others had just decided that it was cheaper to stuff more processors into a slab than it was to actually design and create a single core that performed at a higher level. I’ve been noticing this trend for a few years now; ever since the Intel Core 2 Duo came out, I guess.

To be honest, and I must add that I’m no expert on this topic by a long shot, I haven’t really noticed a huge performance jump between my current AMD Phenom quad and my old AMD Athlon64 single core CPU. I’m sure there is a vast difference, at least there appears to be when perusing the spec sheets of these processors. However, for my purposes, they’re pretty much interchangeable on my system.

Hruska writes:

For decades, microprocessors followed what’s known as Dennard scaling. Dennard predicted that oxide thickness, transistor length, and transistor width could all be scaled by a constant factor. Dennard scaling is what gave Moore’s law its teeth; it’s the reason the general-purpose microprocessor was able to overtake and dominate other types of computers.

And further on:

For the past seven years, Intel and AMD have emphasized multi-core CPUs as the answer to scaling system performance, but there are multiple reasons to think the trend towards rising core counts is largely over. First and foremost, there’s the fact that adding more CPU cores never results in perfect scaling. In any parallelized program, performance is ultimately limited by the amount of serial code (code that can only be executed on one processor). This is known as Amdahl’s law.

Where is CPU technology headed? Will the corporate bean counters try to pressure the companies to satisfy their stockholder’s greed or will the drive to create a quality product prevail? All good questions. The answers will eventually affect all of us who use computers in some way on a daily basis; not to mention that fact that the world is run by computers these days. Without that little CPU in that cash register at your grocery store, that girl behind the counter can’t even figure out how to count out your change from your purchase. We’ve become dependent on this technology.

Sadly, I think it’s turning us all into mushbrains. However, that’s a topic for another time.

Later…

~Eric

Further reading: The death of CPU scaling: From one core to many — and why we’re still stuck – By on February 1, 2012 on ExtremeTech.com


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