Category: Technology

IBM 704

IBM 704

Shorpy: This network of black magnetic beads, smaller than a postage stamp, is one of a number of input-output “memory” units in the new “704” electronic calculator built by International Business Machines. This particular “memory” unit of the 704 instantaneously strips all information off a slow-moving punch card, stores the data momentarily in the form of magnetic charges, and passes along the individual items, one at a time, to a lightning-fast calculating section, which can handle around 10 million operations an hour, theoretically replacing 3,000 hand-operated adding machines. Orders are in for over thirty 704’s, which I.B.M. will rent at some $20,000 a month each.

Web-Advertised Houses Generate Higher Prices

This is a US story so the differences might not be as stark in Ireland, but there’s no doubt in my mind that if a seller puts some time and imagination into the process, it will still be appreciable. In the example cited. using a realtor rate of 6%, that difference is a whopping $12,225.

(I don’t say “whopping” very often, but that really is whopping.)

Geek table quiz anyone?

I think this may have been done before, but what the hell. Anyone up for it? I’m thinking questions like “do you know who CmdrTaco is” and “what’s his real name so, brainbox”? In Cork for preference, but I’d travel if the majority were in some other god-forsaken town that thinks it’s the capital of Ireland.

Gimme some feedback first, and if all goes well I can take questions and answers by email, what with me being a lazy bastard an’ everthing. If you have a blog pass it on please, nobody reads mine and I have a tshirt to prove it.

UK War drivers arrested

This kind of bollocks drives me demented. In separate incidents, a man and a woman “received a caution for dishonestly obtaining electronic communication services with intent to avoid payment”. How are they avoiding payment when they’re simply using a publicly-available connection? It’s the clueless dickwad that left his or her connection open that should be locked up. Their rig is probably spewing out all sorts of shite anyway, we should at least do them for littering.

Join me in Tangler

Much to the consternation of my old-school techie friends, I’ve always been a big fan of forums. I think I came to the Internet too late – relatively speaking – to appreciate the whole “why download the interface” thing, even in eircom-bitrate Ireland

Of course these days we have AJAX, and we’re rightly reverting to downloading the interface once and only pushing data to users when it’s needed. That’s what Tangler is essentially about, although the lads in charge are trying to peg it more as a social app.

I’d like to spend some time on there and try it out properly, but I’d prefer to do so with people I know, so if you’d like to try it too, send me an email at and I’ll send you an invite. If you’re already there, join me in Ireland please.

Nixie tube take-apart

Nixie tubes, like, totally rock. If you ever want to treat me to something nice, don’t mind the Amazon wishlist, buy me a nice nixie clock!


Social Networking Creating DNS Performance Issues

An interesting, non-obvious look at how social networking sites, and to a lesser extent web 2.0 websites are affecting Internet performance.

CircleID: A typical MySpace profile page is a rich assortment of images and blogs posted from friends. Users can post videos and flash-based content, as well as links to favorite songs in MP3 files. In most cases, each of these content pieces is stored in a separate DNS domain. For example, each image belonging to a friend is retrieved from a distinct URI. This means that retrieving and displaying a profile page may require hundreds of DNS lookups in the background—compared to ten or so lookups for a ‘standard’ B-to-C web page.

MySpace is one of the most visited sites on the Internet. Each of those page downloads may account for ten times or more the amount of DNS traffic of a typical web page visit. Here is an important clue to the recent, unusually high increase in DNS traffic. And, alas, there is more to the story than meets the eye.

Because DNS queries are very small and generally very efficient, I don’t think this is a major problem, but it should lead to innovation in the space.

Trinity switches to Gmail

A college that can’t manage their own email? Next you’ll be telling me about a college that can’t develop their own website!

ENN: Trinity College, Dublin has become the first European university to adopt Google’s Gmail application as its standard e-mail system. The college’s 15,000 students will change over to the system in October, and will retain their e-mail suffix on the Google system for life. Welcoming the announcement, Google’s European sales and operations director John Herlihy said: “We are very excited to be partnering with an august and progressive college such as Trinity on this project. Their vision of how technology can enhance student life and build a long term relationship with college alumni is shared by Google”.

EDIT: Peter asked me to point out that UCC does manage their own website. In fairness though, I never suggested they didn’t — development is about design and implementation, and configuring a third-party CMS is hardly implementation. If configuration of the CMS takes up more than half the work, why bother with it in the first place?

Peter also remarks that UCC doesn’t employ any full-time designers of it’s own, but I’d bet that out of the thousands of students in UCC, there are more than a few that would produce far better than the frankly quite drab end-result. They’d appreciate the money a hell of a lot more too, no doubt a ridiculous amount?