* Posts by hbarr

5 publicly visible posts • joined 20 Sep 2010

Fans demand 'Lemmium' periodic table tribute



Perhaps one new element should be named Lehrerium, in honour of Tom Lehrer who actually wrote a song in 1959 called "The Elements", reciting the names of the first 102 members of the periodic table...

(See Wikipedia for details and YouTube for a performance - recommended!).

'I get it if you don't make money for 2 or 3 years, but Amazon's 21'


The Real Problem

I spent many years doing research in AI. I know just how hard it is to make computers perceive, plan and act in the real world.

I do not believe the sci-fi vision of truly intelligent machines taking over will be a problem for generations - if ever. It is too hard to build those things.

But, the real problems will come from dumb computer systems, compounded by the fact that we tend to view them as being smarter than they really are!

Fast stock trading has produced mini-market crashes already. Several times, over the decades nuclear missiles have begun their launch countdowns through misinterpreting radar data, or radio interference from taxis. And how many demands have been sent out by computer billing systems for payments of zero? :D

How dependent have we made ourselves on technologies, like GPS, the Internet, electronics and electricity distribution systems, that may not survive the next Carrington event?

More generally, we are smart enough to build new technologies, but not smart enough to fully comprehend the consequences of deploying them.

Our natural stupidity may be what eradicates us in the end...

'Polar vortex' or not, last month among the warmest Januaries recorded


Of course there is no global warming

Any idiot can see that on the east coast of the US, this winter has been colder than last summer, so there is obviously no global warming!

Clearly, the amateur skeptics are smarter than the climate scientists.


‘We save trips to the library’ – Google


Wrong Units!

Your article says Google consumed 260 megaWatt-hours in 2010...

As there are 8,766 hours in an average year, this implies that Google is using electricity at a rate of 29,660 Watts. In other words all Google data centers are consuming energy less hungrily than 30 one-kiloWatt electric fires. Very commendable economy!

In fact, Urs Hoelzle said that Googles' *rate* of consumption was 260 megaWatts. (Equivalent to 260,000 electric fires.)

PARC turns 40: mice, money, and the new interwebs


History is Bunk

Sorry. Some of your history is bunk.

The mouse was invented and patented by Doug Engelbart of Stanford Research Institute in 1964 to use with the GUI of his NLS interactive office system.

The first object-oriented programming language was Simula (1967).

Digital Equiment Corporation shipped its first computer in 1958.

Plenty happened before the 1970 ground-breaking ceremony for PARC shown in your picture...

On the bright side, some of the other stuff in your article is correct, and Xerox did take these ideas to new heights.