EppsNet Archive: Computers

Intelligence in the Cloud


IBM Watson, the Jeopardy champion, runs on 90 IBM Power 750 servers, with eight 3.5 GHz cores per server. Currently on Amazon EC2, eight extra large compute instances will cost you $2.40/hour. If you want to run 90 of them, you’re looking at a shade over $200/hour. This brings up a couple of questions: For what tasks could artificial intelligence be as good or better as a highly trained person at $200/hour? What would this mean for society? Thanks to David Patterson at UC Berkeley for bringing this to my attention. Read more →

Tom Knight and the Lisp Machine


A novice was trying to fix a broken Lisp machine by turning the power off and on. Knight, seeing what the student was doing, spoke sternly: “You cannot fix a machine by just power-cycling it with no understanding of what is going wrong.” Knight turned the machine off and on. The machine worked. Read more →

Race Against the Machine


We don’t believe in the coming obsolescence of all human workers. In fact, some human skills are more valuable than ever, even in an age of incredibly powerful and capable digital technologies. But other skills have become worthless, and people who hold the wrong ones now find that they have little to offer employers. They’re losing the race against the machine, a fact reflected in today’s employment statistics. . . . There is no economic law that says that everyone, or even most people, automatically benefit from technological progress. — Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee, Race Against The Machine Read more →


Scott Hanselman: The Technical Friend’s Essential Maintenance Checklist for Non-Technical Friend’s Windows Computer

Good Lesson for Mac Snobs


Just hours after Apple issued a security update to protect Mac users against a rash of scareware attacks, a new variant began circulating that completely bypasses the malware-blocking measure. — “Mac trojan evades Apple’s brand new security fix,” The Register It’s no harder to write malware for Macs than PCs but it’s no easier either. Given the commensurate level of effort, most malware authors elect to target the platform that most people use. Good lesson for Mac snobs and everyone else who thinks Macs are inherently more secure than PCs. Read more →

Everything Must Be Replaced


Uh oh, it looks like the wireless connection here at EppsNet headquarters just went down . . . “NOTHING MAKES ME ANGRIER THAN AN UNRELIABLE NETWORK CONNECTION!” my son yells. “WE NEED A NEW ROUTER! WE NEED A NEW MODEM! WE NEED A NEW SERVICE PROVIDER! WE NEED NEW COMPUTERS!” “We don’t need new computers,” his mom says. “YES WE DO!” Read more →

I’ve Got a New Password


I’ve had the same password at work for three years. This morning, a new policy forced me to change it. What’s the over/under on how many days before I stop typing the old one by mistake? Read more →

History Lesson


A little explanation is in order here: In the olden days, when computers were less powerful than they are now, people used to read newspaper websites in the form of massive printouts. On Sundays, the newspaper website printouts (which were sometimes called “newspapers” for short) would come wrapped in a “comics section,” which contained still-life color cartoons that told a “story” in a series of panels or “drawings.” — James Taranto Read more →

Twitter: 2009-10-29


RT @tweetmeme Google Maps Navigation Launch Aftermath: Yes, This Will Be Huge http://bit.ly/4D6qtj # Google Envisions 10 Million Servers http://bit.ly/13sPox # Read more →

Twitter: 2009-08-31


If you leave the final s off the word assess, spell-check will not flag it as an error. This was an accidental discovery, like penicillin. # I saw a kid walking around today wearing a ski cap. A SKI CAP!? IT'S 93 DEGREES! Wearing SKIS would make more sense! # Read more →

Another Way Computers Are Making Life Better for Everyone


His mom took the boy’s laptop computer away because she didn’t like his attitude about something or other, and now he’s trying to involve me in a secret plan to get it back. I ask him, “Why don’t you forget about the computer and do something else tonight? Read a book or something?” He says, “I need the computer so my friends and I can talk to each other.” “Use text messages. Or a phone. There’s an idea.” “We need video.” “Video? What do you need video for?” “Don’t worry about it.” “Exactly. So you don’t really need the computer.” “‘Don’t worry about it’ doesn’t mean I don’t need it. It means don’t worry about it.” “What are you going to do? Have a biggest dick contest?” “Is that what you used to do?” “We didn’t have webcams when I was your age. We had to take ’em out and… Read more →

We Are Not (Just) Nerds


One thing that I resent about our computer culture is that they say we are nerds and that nerds don’t get along with people. I think that’s just insane. We are not just nerds — we are nerds, I mean, look at us! But we are not just nerds, we are like the priests or something in the Middle Ages, we are the Lords and Ladies of Logic. We are in charge of rationality for our era. We are bringing common sense and good practice and sound judgment and aggregated wisdom and glory to everyone. That’s our job. — Jim McCarthy I posted this quote on a blog at work and IT people were calling each other nerds all day. Good morning, nerd! How’s it going, nerd? Being a nerd felt like, like being a hero — just for one day. Read more →

A Wish Come True


I have always wished that my computer would be as easy to use as my telephone. My wish has come true. I no longer know how to use my telephone. — Bjarne Stroustrup, creator of C++ Read more →

Cool Gadgets You Can’t Get


His mom and I are trying to get the boy to log off the computer and go to bed. “Hang on,” he says, “I’m looking at a PC World thing.” “What is it?” I ask. “’10 Cool Gadgets You Can’t Get in the U.S.’” “If you can’t get them in the U.S., what do you care?” “They’re cool. Don’t forget about that part.” His mom is running out of patience. “Oh, am I steaming,” she says. The boy’s still looking at the computer. “Mmmm . . . cool,” he says. Read more →

Getting to Know You


My son’s just diagnosed and fixed a problem with my wife’s laptop PC . . . “I should join the Northwood [his high school] Tech Squad,” he says, “with all the guys who tuck their shirts in.” “That reminds me,” my wife says to him. “What clubs are you in at school?” “What clubs am I in?” he says. “How about none?” “You need to be in a club,” she says. I say, “He’s in football and roller hockey.” “He can be in those,” she says, “but he still needs to be in a club so he can get to know people.” For some reason, this launches the boy into a Rodgers and Hammerstein tune . . . “Getting to knooooow yooooou . . .” “Can you look it up,” my wife says, “and see what clubs they have at Northwood?” “No,” I say. “I’m busy.” Which I am. “When… Read more →

He Looks Almost Lifelike!


The annual ACM Awards banquet was held last month in San Diego. Recipients were afforded the singular honor of being photographed next to the embalmed corpse of ACM President Stuart Feldman (left): Read more →

What Has Steve Jobs Done With His Money?


Bill Gates and the Microsoft crowd have been very prominent in charitable circles, saving Africans from disease, etc. By contrast, a Google search for “Steve Jobs charity” or “Steve Jobs donation” turns up nothing except an article on how Apple bought him a $90 million Gulfstream bizjet. So… if Steve Jobs doesn’t give money to charity and doesn’t pay for his own jet, is he doing something interesting with his $billions? — Philip Greenspun Read more →

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