OPEN THREAD 20200109

Basically, all legal free speech is allowed. We will assist the authorities in dealing with illegal speech. You are each other’s moderators. Have fun. And don’t forget to MAGA at nuclear levels.

Citizen U


12 thoughts on “OPEN THREAD 20200109

  1. So, I was boppin’ around on the InterWebz, and I encountered a fun article on wikipedia — . It talks about the Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) line of VAX “supercomputers” as marketed in the early 1990s.

    When I was at the University of Casual Sun-Bathing, in the early 1980s, the Computer Science Department had just acquired a VAX 11/780 of their very own, so they didn’t have to share access with the University’s accounting department on their mainframe. They hung about 40 terminals off that machine in the Computer Science building, and even allowed dial-up access (which my girlfriend and I used at 300 baud).

    But the VAX 9000 series was ten years later and substantially more powerful. You could buy into the VAX 9000 series with a system (Model 110) that had a single processor, a single vector processor, limited memory, and limited expansion potential. That would run you $997,000. The Model 210 would allow you to expand the number of processors or memory. Fully tricked out, the Model 440 could have four processors, a half Gbyte of memory, and four vector processors. All of this was 32-bit, running at 62.5 MHz. DEC eventually sold a total of about 50 of the VAX 9000 series.

    By contrast, I’m looking at a computer I bought in 2019. It comes standard with four processors, one graphics processor, and one Gbyte of memory. All four of its CPUs are 64-bit, and run at 1500 MHz (although they can be overclocked to 2000 MHz by changing a system setting) [the GPU is 32-bit and runs at 500 MHz]. I’m sure Eben Upton sold more than 100 of these before they were officially “for sale” to the public and has sold tens of thousands since.

    I didn’t get the base version of my computer, and it didn’t cost me $997,000 — it would have cost $35. Instead, I got the tricked-out version with 4G RAM for $55.

    In addition, VAXen were housed in equipment cabinets that were often the size of refrigerators — and, for best performance, required special air conditioning. The computer I have fits in a box the size of two stacked decks of cards, consumes 15 watts of power, and starts feeling troubled if it goes over about 150 degrees. The board itself is slightly larger than a credit card. The computer is a Raspberry Pi Model 4B.

    I have fought thousands of battles like getting a Radio Shack TRS-80 with a 300 baud modem to emulate a DEC VT100. Nobody uses any of that gear anymore and it is total garbage compared to even the cheapest crud from China these days….but I had to learn how it worked. And, somewhere, deep in the brain-fog from OSA, I still remember that. I’ve spent thousands of dollars on technological dead-ends…..but I’m a crafty old sod because of it.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. There’s a really good article out there on how the architect of VMS left Digital to join Microsoft and brought almost his whole team with him to help create a new system called Windows NT.

      Also another classic, from Usenet, Vaxen my children just don’t belong some places.

      I’m amazed by the RaspPi story and popularity of the board, nothing less than incredible. But I like running lots of virtual machines so I stick with a desktop for that.

      I would love to see someone actually try to do a comparison of a RaspPi versus some of the old gear running various applications and time share users. I suspect even with its extra bandwidth RaspPi wouldn’t do as well on the time share side.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Few people remember when BHO visited Algeria and delivered a speech to the Algerian people: “You know, I regret that I have to give this speech in English. I would very much prefer to talk to you in your own language. But unfortunately, I was never good at algebra….”

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Gadolinium is about three times as common as tin in the earth’s crust. But…..(segues into rare earths theme), is normally found mashed into a bunch of other rare earths, is a pain to isolate, mischmetal, flame mantels, *urk*…….

    Liked by 1 person

  4. So, what are the “magic” things that gadolinium can do?

    It has nuclear superpowers, as a neutron “quench”.

    It has metallurgic superpowers, dramatically reducing iron’s propensity to oxidise….which is amusing, considering gadolinium’s propensity to oxidise, itself.

    Gadolinium can be used as a green phosphor.

    Liked by 2 people

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