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Strongly Considering an Apple Mac

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#201 Bob Pasken

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Posted 26 November 2003 - 11:45 PM

My wife and I went to a lecture where Admiral Hopper handed each of us a nanosecond before the lecture started (a piece of wire just under a foot long). She was a very remarkable lady, I have always admired her. The stories about her coinning the phrase "a bug in the code" is true. The code she wrote didn't work because there was a moth caught on the contacts of one of the relays that made up the computer she was using.

Rusty the very first computer I used was an IBM 1130. I still have the lace card that boots an 1130 off a diskpack. I ran Fortran-II and Fortran-IV on that machine. GOTRAN came latter and was not a true compiled Fortran. It compiled to byte codes just like JAVA. The reason the Fortran standard leaves columns 77-80 open was to allow a card number to be placed there. That way you could sort the deck. When a barotropic model was all the rage for numerical weather prediction, just the code to run the model (no data ingest, quality control or graphics) ran just over 1000 lines of good quality fortran. Imagine the look on the face of the poor graduate student when the "operator" comes out with your deck saying "sorry, I droppped the boxes when I was loading them in the reader. Why don't you put them back in order and I wont charge you for the clocktime" The first few runs took several hours to produce a a 48 hour forecast. Now on the Sun Blade-150 my students use to write their own version of the same model, they complain when all 48 forecast frames aren't finished in the redraw time (1/30 sec) My current model run in about 6 hours on a Blade 2000 (1 gHz), 8 hours on a dell (2.4gHz) poweredge (if the dell runs that long) and about 15 minutes on a BEOWULF cluster built out of 300 mHz Sun Ultra-10's Times they have changed. The only constant thing is change.

#202 summitlake

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Posted 27 November 2003 - 01:41 AM

I went to a lecture - how long ago? It was so long ago that Ensign Hopper handed us an hourglass and an astrolabe ... :lol: sorry, who was Admiral Hopper really? I thought the original "Computer Bug" legend had the moth in the Eniac in WWII.

I subscribed to TidBITS in about 1991 so it is kind of a pillar of stability for me. I have seen so many Mac publications fold over the years that there is a kind of disbelief that any one of them will last. Yes, I suppose TidBITS is long of tooth. Editor Publisher Adam Engst also goes too far beyond merely positively "pro-Mac" in slamming all things and people "PC" in a pervasively negative and denigrating way ... but the Mac articles, such as they are, are otherwise well written and informed. More like Bill Buckley than Jerry Falwell.

I still subscribe to PC Mag and World but if I really want to research something I usually head for Tom's Hardware.

#203 Bob Pasken

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Posted 27 November 2003 - 11:20 AM

Quoting now:

Grace Brewster Murray Hopper was born in New York City on December 9, 1906, to Walter Fletcher Murray and Mary Campbell Horne Murray. The oldest of three children, she was intensely curious at an early age. Even at age seven, she showed a particular love for gadgets, disassembling seven alarm clocks in the attempt to determine how they worked. n 1923, at age 16, Hopper applied to Vassar College. However, she failed a Latin exam and Vassar told her she must wait a year. Undaunted, she became a boarding student at Hartridge school in New Jersey, entering Vassar the following year. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Vassar in 1928, with a Bachelor's Degree in Mathematics and Physics. In 1930, at age 23, she received her Master's Degree in Mathematics from Yale University. During that time, she earned a Ph.D. from Yale in 1934 (with a thesis on "New Types of Irraducibility Criteria"), and was promoted from instructor to associate professor. With the outbreak of World War II, Hopper made a life-altering decision to serve her country by joining the Navy. The process was not an easy one. At age 34, weighing 105 pounds, she was considered overage and underweight for military enlistment. In addition, her position as a mathematics professor was declared crucial to the war effort. In December 1943, she was sworn into the U.S. Naval Reserve. She went on to train at Midshipman's School for Women, graduating first in her class.Hopper's first assignment was under Commander Howard Aiken at the Bureau of Ordinance Computation at Harvard University. There she became the third programmer of the Mark I, the world's first large-scale automatically sequenced digital computer. The computer was used to calculate aiming angles for Naval guns in varying weather conditions. Because the numbers were so pertinent, Hopper and her assistants were often required to run and monitor the system twenty-four hours a day. They spent countless hours transcribing and inputting codes for Mark I and its successors, Mark II and III. Hopper received the Naval Ordnance Development Award in 1946 for her work on the Mark series. During her work with Mark II, Hopper was credited with coining the term "bug" in reference to a glitch in the machinery. This story is apparently a bit of computer folk-lore, however, as the term had already been used by Harvard personnel for several years to describe problems with their computers. It is the case that she and her team of programmers did find a moth which flew through an open window and into one of Mark II's relays, temporarily shutting down the system. The moth was removed and pasted into a logbook. In 1946, at forty years of age,She left Harvard to join Eckert-Mauchley Computer Corporation as a senior mathematician. The gamble paid off when the company introduced the BINAC, Binary Automatic Computer, which was programmed using C-10 code instead of the punched cards utilized by the Mark series. This paved the way for production of the first commercial computers, UNIVAC I and II. Although great improvement had been made, programming the BINAC still proved difficult. Hopper taught herself how to add, subtract, multiply, and divide in octal, a number system with base eight that uses digits 0 through 7, in order to facilitate the process. Unfortunately, her checkbook suffered, as she occasionally subtracted an octal instead of a decimal from her balance.

Hopper remained with the company when Remington Rand bought it in 1950, and later when it merged with Sperry Corporation. During this time, she developed the first compiler, A-0, which translated symbolic mathematical code into machine code. Using call numbers, the computer could retrieve subroutines stored on tape and then perform them. The A-2 became the first extensively used compiler, laying the foundations for programming languages. In 1952, she published her first paper on compilers. Hopper's next move was radical. She suggested that UNIVAC could be programmed to recognize English commands. Despite ridicule from her peers, Hopper succeeded in developing the B-0 compiler, later know as FLOW-MATIC, which could be used for typical business tasks such as payroll calculation and automated billing. Using FLOW-MATIC, she taught UNIVAC I and II to understand twenty English-like statements by the end of 1956.

It soon became apparent that a standardized, universal computer language was necessary. In 1959, the first specifications for the programming language COBOL appeared. Members of Hopper's staff helped to frame the basic language design using FLOW-MATIC as their foundation. Hopper then helped to create standard manuals and tools for COBOL. In 1966, Hopper's age forced her to retire from the Naval Reserves. However, in less than seven months, the Navy, unable to develop a working payroll plan after 823 attempts, recalled Hopper from retirement in order to help standardize the high-level Naval computer languages. Her reinstatement made her the first Naval Reserve woman to return to active duty. Her original re-appointment was for six months, but it was later extended indefinitely. During her remaining years with the Navy, Hopper aided in the production of a generally accessible COBOL certifier as well as translator programs to convert non-standard COBOL languages into the standardized version. In 1986, after forty-three years of service, RADM Grace Hopper ceremoniously retired on the deck of the USS Constitution. At eighty years, she was the oldest active duty officer at that time. She spent the remainder of her life as a senior consultant to Digital Equipment Corporation.









#204 Bob Pasken

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Posted 27 November 2003 - 11:52 AM

Just to add just a bit more to Aunt Grace's (my wife's reference :D) resume.

In December 1983 she was promoted to commodore in a ceremony at the White House. When the post of commodore was merged with that of rear admiral, two years later, she became Admiral Hopper. She was one of the first software engineers and, indeed, one of the most incisive strategic "futurists" in the world of computing.

Perhaps her best-known contribution to computing was the invention of the compiler, the intermediate program that translates English language instructions into the language of the target computer. She did this, she said, because she was lazy and hoped that "the programmer may return to being a mathematician." Her work embodied or foreshadowed enormous numbers of developments that are now the bones of digital computing: subroutines, formula translation, relative addressing, the linking loader, code optimization, and even symbolic manipulation of the kind embodied in Mathematica and Maple.

It is too bad that people in the industry do not have a sense of the history that lead them to where they are today :mad: It maybe that compiler technology and symbolic math are so standard that everyone accepts it as the way life should be, but to those of us who had to write in assembler and still write assembler a compiler is a remarkable concept. The next time you use a TI-83 calculator to compute something remember the software behind it had its origins in a woman mathematician. Attached is a poor photo of the "bug"

Attached Thumbnails

  • 23589-Bug.GIF


#205 rboe

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Posted 27 November 2003 - 12:54 PM

A big thank you Bob! Admiral Rickover another Naval* alumni, seems to get more press than Hopper, which is a shame since over time Hoppers' contributions will probably be more far reaching. Not to take anything away from either.

Happy Thanksgiving

*Thanks Rusty, my mistaike! :D

#206 Rusty

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Posted 27 November 2003 - 09:43 PM

A small correction - the Mark 1 and Mk1A were called "rangekeepers" - I was in the early 60s a gunnery officer on a WWII-vintage destroyer. They were analog, not digital, although some readouts seemed digital as they were on a ten-digit wheel similar to a car odometer. They could be "programmed" to anti-surface or anti-air mode.

An oddity was that for IGFS (Inshore Gun Fire Support), the ship's course and speed was set to zero, and the target speed was entered as the ship's speed and the reciprocal of the ships course.

IIRC, the Mk1/Mk1A were used for 5"/38 and 3"/50, and the MkII and III for 6" and up, as the range (especially of the 12" and 16") was so long, the curvature of the earth had to be taken into account, as did the atmospheric density at the higher trajectories.

Another note - in later years, RADM Hopper cut green plastic broom straws for the "nanoseconds". And one time she (I'm sure it was she, or somebody else in her department) saved my butt when I was a mere Ensign involved in data entry which was spurious, and only she recognized what I was being ordered to do was GIGO. :bow:

#207 Rusty

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Posted 27 November 2003 - 09:52 PM

Another small correction - we prefer to think of it as "Naval", as the only citrus associated with us swabbies is the lime.

Rickover graduated from the Naval Academy, and there is no truth to the rumor that he was so disliked by his classmates that his photo in the Lucky Bag (the yearbook) was perforated so it could be easily removed (I checked this out personally... ;)).

#208 John Cronin

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Posted 28 November 2003 - 02:13 PM

I work with computers for a living - Unix systems, to be precise. I currently run Linux on my "work" laptop and Windows on my "play" computer (because of app support) and my wife and kids computers. I have been thinking about Mac's too, as has a close friend of mine.

Further, my brother got a Max over a year ago, and he is quite happy with it. He was just getting tired of calling the vendor support (Compaq/HP/Dell/IBM/whoever) and being told he would have to re-install the OS every time he had a problem. Professionally I "don't do Windows" but I have been able to muddle through and pull him out of a couple of jams without re-installing the OS, which is a huge pain if you have ever done this (gotta re-install the apps too). I remember the panic my brother was in the first time he had to do this, but the next time I talked to him he had done it several times - it was just a fact of life. I have only done this once or twice, as usually a system can be recovered without a re-install but for "free" tech-support nobody is willing to pay people with the skills/knowledge to help non-experts through the process.

Anyway, to get to the point, my brother likes his Mac quite a bit, and not only that, but he says his wife uses it a lot now too, creating and organizing photo albums and the like. She had such bad experiences with the numerous Windows systems they had that she just gave up and didn't even want to touch them. Just another information point, for whatever it is worth.

I still like Linux for the price, but if you can/will pay for the software, the Mac looks like a tempting option to me, with reasonable software availability and excellent useability.

#209 Rusty

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Posted 28 November 2003 - 08:55 PM

rboe, knot a problum - there are worse things I've been called, and of course, in AZ, nautical types are probably a rarity..... ;)

#210 rboe

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Posted 29 November 2003 - 01:36 PM

It's not AZ, I'm just a terrible speller and a so-so typer - especially on this laptop. The combo can be nasty. :D

You may recall December 7th and the good ship Arizona that didn't make it. A few things AZ over the years have made it to the big ponds. We also have more boats per capita than anybody, all these darn dams and reservoirs

In any event, corrections are most welcome. Along with bits of history.

#211 Rusty

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Posted 30 November 2003 - 12:29 AM

Got wun ov dem latpots myself, and the kyebord is a pane, on accounta the keys is so close that you gets three letters for the price of one...

I forgot about all those lakes in Arizona, but to a true swabbie, it don't count lessen you can run all the way down the river to Blue Water.

#212 summitlake

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Posted 30 November 2003 - 02:02 AM

Bob, thanks VERY much for the fascinating bio on Rear Admiral Hopper. It looks like any history of computing would be very incomplete without her contributions. It sure was a great education for me.

#213 rboe

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Posted 30 November 2003 - 12:56 PM

Rusty; You must have real man fingers - like mason hands. Lacking the thick callouses you must have, the keyboard is OK for me. Not great though.

But you do have the option for an external keyboard, mouse and monitor.....

#214 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 07 December 2003 - 07:36 PM

As an amateur astronomer, I really enjoy the opportunity to "see the skies" even when it is cloudy, raining, snowing, or otherwise horrible outside. The only way to do this is through computers. Apple Macs are uniquely blessed with what I feel may be the very best planetarium software -- EquinoX -- and it's just $29 shareware!

You can download the basic software for free, but you won't really get an idea of how powerful and magnificent it is until you pay the pittance to Darryl Robertson, the independent programmer in Halifax, Canada. That will open up all the features. He, by the way, has his own backyard observatory, and one of those new 14" Meade SCTs.

Again, this is Mac OSX-only stuff, but there is a less powerful version available for the Classic operating system. The best thing about the OSX version is your ability to download DSS images in telescope view. This means you can have at your fingers a photo of what the sky is supposed to look like -- an invaluable tool when identifying asteroids. And the program also helps you identify asteroids with its updated database of all minor planets. Same too for comets, with a frequently updated database.

Are you into Messier, Caldwell, Herschel 400, Herschel II, Arp, etc? All of these are available in customizable view, something almost nobody else does -- and surely nobody else does for $29!

I could go on and on about the program. Just a few more tidbits. You will need to see it for yourself: Like to speak to your telescope? Done. Like to see a red screen on your laptop in the field? Done. Like to control your Celestron, Meade, or web cam? Done. Like to see double stars, stars with planets, variable stars, open clusters, globular clusters, planetaries, nebulae, and planets? Done. Like to track the moons of Jupiter and Saturn? Done.

Ok, here's the URL for EquinoX: http://www.microprojects.ca/

Clark

#215 rboe

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Posted 07 December 2003 - 11:02 PM

Clark;

Always a sucker, I downloaded it, liked what I saw and decided to try the full monty. Waiting for the registration code now. So far it's pretty cool. I have to wring out the NS11GPS telescope control, it seems aimed more towards Meade products.

Merry Christmas to me. :lol:

You owe me $30 bucks. :D

Ron

#216 summitlake

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Posted 15 December 2003 - 12:58 AM

While STILL strongly considering an Apple Mac, I'm loading my Fry's shopping cart with an AMD Athlon XP 3000+, DFI NFII Ultra mobo (the Tom's Hardware pick), Vantec 420W Stealth power supply, and Cooler Master Aero 7+ CPU cooler.

Rusty, thanks for your suggestions for noise reduction, cooling and double ball bearing fans -- remember, a whole month back on this thread? The plan is to upgrade my present Cooler Master ATC-101 and get some other features I crave like built-in USB 2.0, IEEE 1394, Serial ATA, Dual Lan, and RAID.

But I was still eyeing the 12" Mac PowerBook. I dunno about the G5 tower.

#217 rboe

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Posted 15 December 2003 - 11:31 AM

What do YOU use the IEEE 1394 for? Or will use it for?

Maybe we could get you start a seperate thread on this new machine!

#218 summitlake

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Posted 15 December 2003 - 11:49 PM

I already have a IEEE 1394 hard drive case (ADS/Pyro). It runs any 3.5" IDE HD you drop in it through a bridge card. This runs fine on my Vaio laptop, which has firewire built in. On the desktop, I installed an Adaptec USB2.0/IEEE1394 combo PCI card which has been nothing but trouble. Catastrophic freezes and blue screens of death. But the external unit should work great with Macs, and with PC's with built-in firewire.

I am coming around to the view that, the more low level stuff you can get built in to the motherboard, the lower the likelihood of software, hardware and firmware conflicts. I know people who have practically started second careers trying to make firewire boot drives.

I already see a ton more support for USB2.0 on the PC side and I want to take advantage of that too. I have several devices which support 2.0 and would like to get that speed!

I agree a separate thread would be best for this topic. How do you start one and what would we call it, "Strongly Considering a PC Upgrade"?



#219 Rusty

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Posted 16 December 2003 - 12:55 AM

Alex,

You're going to be pleased with that rig! :grin:

I just upgraded my personal personal computer - I had to emergency-cannibalize the #2 for parts on a failed server (the RAID controller fritzed - first I ever encountered that!). #2 got my old Epox board, and the new #1 got an ASUS P4C800-E Dlx, 1 Gb Corsair TwinX 3200LL RAM, and 2x Maxtor 120Gb SATA drives, and a new P4 2.6C.

DFI has been making some intriguing boards (unless color harmony is important- who IS their color coordinator?) lately. :confused:

If quiet running is the aim, the Zalman CNPS7000A-CU has blown me away - the Vantec Aerocool was VERY quiet, but The Zalman (run at max RPM) is extraordinarily quiet - noticeably moreso than the Aerocool. It comes with fittings for Athlon and P4 mounting.

If you're looking for a new case, I haven't found anything I like better than the Lian-Li PC60-USB, and just about everything I've built lately goes into that or one of the Lian-Li mutations. Should you go with any Lian-Li, the mobo standoffs are little metal clips (proving that even seriously mentally unbalanced people can get jobs designing cases), put electrical tape over each standoff, otherwise most mobos will ground out and not run. It has 4x5.25" and 3x3.5" external bays and 5x3.5" internal in the airflow.

The best bargain on the case market today IMHO is the Enermax 505 - scrap the P/S, add a couple of 80mm Vantec Stealth fans (it'll take a Vantec Stealth 120mm shallow fan in front), and at about $38, it can't be beat!

BTW, I have found that USB 2 hubs (I've tried three different brands), for some reason, tend to suck CPU resources even when idle, so I'd recommend a PCI USB2 card if more ports are needed. :smirk:

#220 summitlake

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Posted 16 December 2003 - 01:09 AM

Rusty, you always come up with something great and I was hoping you would! Vantech Aeroflow is apparently rated to AMD 2800+. I have not "checked out" the shopping cart so will look into the Zalman tomorrow.

I had never even heard of DFI and here's Tom's giving it raves. I wouldn't hire their decorator either but it's nice to know they make good boards!

Note my earlier comment on Adaptec PCI - me and those folks are finished (older but very similar SCSI issues is why I went over to IDE). Do you like Orange Micro?

I really like the Cooler Master case. Roomy, attractive, a price tag I'm still shamed to admit, beautiful finish and workmanship, and they don't make this model any more. May be in the market for other projects soon, though; I'll remember Enermax!

#221 Rusty

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Posted 16 December 2003 - 01:46 AM

Alex,

IMHO, the Cooler Master cases are great. I've just settled on the Lian-Li as they finally tend to be better buys (depending on which model - you can lay out nearly 4 large for their server cases). For a more compact arrangement, the Lian-Li are excellent.

I do trust Tom Pabst's assessments on just about anything. As far as mobos go, it's hard to go wrong if a board has the features you want. My only reservation about the DFI mobos is that the company is relatively new (but has some heavyweight people from other manufacturers).

I've not built anything with a DFI board - lately I've circulated among ASUS, Gigabyte, and Epox. I favored Abit boards for many months, but now their top-performing mobos seem to lack the broad range of features of their prior offerings. So, this week's fave is the ASUS P4C800-E (both versions) and the Gigabyte GA-8KNXP, and I've de-emphasized AMD CPUs over the P4s, mainly due to the benefits of the higher FSB; Hyperthreading is basically hyper-BS for the moment, but PAT ("Performance Acceleration Technology") on the Canterwoood (875) core logic does seem to pay off.

Nevertheless, I'd have no reservations with an Athon 2800-3200+ with a decent nForce2 core logic (the only choice) mobo. BTW, it's the only core logic with a really decent integrated sound chip.

But I generally build or configure custom PCs for gamers, so I'd suggest you don't listen to me with too much intensity. :p

#222 summitlake

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Posted 16 December 2003 - 08:34 PM

I notice that when the web or server hiccups it is possible to lose a great deal of time and composed text on the CN forum. But we probably need to start some kind of "Building A PC" thread anyway. I sure appreciate all the input -- off to surf for a Zalman! Thanks again & Cheers!

#223 summitlake

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Posted 16 December 2003 - 09:00 PM

I've tried to start a new topic on upgrading PC's. Anyway, the deed is done (Fry's/Outpost.com):

3546654 Vantec 420W Aluminum Power Supply 1 $74.90
3559744 AMD Athlon XP 3000+ Socket A Barton Tray Processor 1 $199.99
3686525 DFI Lanparty NFII Ultra Socket A Motherboard 1 $119.90
3730586 Zalman USA: CNPS7000A-ALCU, Ultra Quiet CPU Cooler, Intel P4/AMD Athon XP 1 $34.99

#224 Rusty

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Posted 17 December 2003 - 12:10 AM

Uh-oh - yer hooked - so now, Alex, I see overclocking in your future (sez R., gazing into the tea leaves....).

And, you gotta get a case that'll show off the colors of the LanParty board! :roflmao:

#225 summitlake

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Posted 17 December 2003 - 12:16 AM

Ron has created a new forum "Not Considering A Mac Yet", but I am, I am -- I'll move over there ennyway!


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