Re: Great murder choice.
Apples are preserved in a Nitrogen-rich storage. It keeps the apples "fresh" for 6 months or more.
It can be fatal if someone wanders in to one of the storage sheds without proper precautions.
722 posts • joined 6 Jun 2015
I recall, where I worked, a swarm of honey bees decided to swarm near one of the entrances. The swarm was 2 to 3 stories tall so I walked to the middle of the swarm to see if I could locate the Queen bee. It was like being in a wind storm with bees hitting my face etc. Other people thought I was crazy but swarming bees are relatively safe. Eventually one of the lab technicians joined me and we had a discussion in the midst of the swarm.
They were all for calling an exterminator but I convinced them to call a bee keeper. He came and said that the bees weren't ready yet. As the day progressed the swarm got shorter and shorter until it was only about 3 feet tall. The bee keeper returned, plucked the Queen out of the swarm and put it in a cardboard box. Most of the bees followed - the rest the bee keeper shoveled into the box and then drove away with a whole box of bees.
Bees are interesting creatures.
I remember the urban challenge. The big problem was getting insurance as these (non-simulated) vehicles roamed a city (with other vehicles) to accomplish objectives. They were given a map and a list of objectives shortly before the contest started (but, of course, the map had some errors and some of the roads were blocked).
Good practice for "AI".
At Xerox, with ALTO computers, the machine 8-bit address was wire wrapped in. This was OK until someone shipped a machine from one net to another. We were running byte-stream-protocol, leaf-sequin and a bunch of other pre-TCP/IP protocols. Very hard to find the interfering machine.
I think it is amazing what can be done from the ground to "fix" aging hardware in space that has outlived its expected life by a decade. This shows the value of designing redundancy into a device properly and using this redundancy properly. All of this through a narrow radio channel!
I am incredibly impressed.
I remember shooting a video in a studio at college and they had for a background bookcases filled with books. I pulled one of the books and discovered that it was only 2 inches deep - the rest of the book had been sliced off. The bookcases were only 2 inches deep!
I shuddered a bit about this mistreatment of the books.
"scientists rarely agree 100% on something"
When a new discovery is made the evidence is not necessarily convincing. When the Michelson–Morley experiment results were published someone had a theory that the earth dragged the aether with it so they performed experiments at various elevations. They got a smooth curve with altitude showing that, indeed, the earth was dragging the aether with it.
For delicate experiments you have to repeat them carefully to be sure - remember the EM drive?
When I was writing the Dartmouth time sharing exec there were errors (of course). Sometimes an I/O operation would complete successfully but, due to an error, the error path was taken. Rather than fix the code immediately we would check that the "error" was handled correctly. It is difficult to test very infrequent occurrences so anything that took the program down a little-used path was quite helpful.
I also learned not to trust the status of "good" after an I/O operation. Once, due to a hardware fault, the peripheral would return a good status even though all of the words had not been transferred. So I checked everything I could - last data control word, word count etc. and declared an error if anything I could lay my hands on did not match my expectations.
I also learned that in the exec there were no "errors" - everything had to be handled. In case of a disk error I retried 3 times (logging the first attempt on the console typewriter) even though the error was recovered) and, if the error was not recoverable, give an error status back to the user (with another log entry on the console typewriter).
Even so, mistakes were made.
Another policy was to tell the operators that, if they made a mistake, to talk about it and they would not get in to trouble.
At Dartmouth many students were making master keys to the college. So, at the beginning of one term they said, "all master keys can be turned in to the campus police - no questions asked. After the first month, if you were found in possession of a master key you would be separated from the college."
A visit to the campus police revealed a wast basket full of (shoddy) master keys. (Don't ask how I would know shoddy from good.) If you asked about the return policy they just pointed to the waste basket. No questions were asked.
When I was in college during the 1965 blackout the associated hospital had emergency power (of course). The New Hampshire power was so unreliable that the system was used regularly. During the blackout the hospital was a blaze of lights surrounded by darkness. Sometimes these things work.
At Dartmouth, the insurance company insisted we put bullet-proof lexan over all of the windows into the main frame computer room. We neglected to tell the insurance company that the doors to the computer room were never locked (or even closed) and students wandered in all the time.
Once the business manager got a cardboard box about a cubic foot and labelled it "bomb" on all six faces. He snuck it into the computer room and placed it on the main computer console. The operator, an ex marine gunnery sergeant, discovered the box and swatted it off of the console and drop kicked it out of the room. An explosive that would fit into a cubic foot would never faze an ex marine gunnery sergeant.
At Dartmouth in the days of time sharing we had a room full of mainframe boxes. There was a big red button near one of the entrances. College students would regularly come in to the machine room (it was never locked). There was even a demonstration by students that packed the room solid with protesting students. None of them ever pressed the button.
However, the chief operator pressed it twice: once when the room started filling up with steam after an adjustment to the A/C and another time for a perfectly good reason (I forget what). The button worked both times.
When Xerox in Rochester, NY added a node to the ARPANET I logged into the bridge machine and noticed several daemons running (accessible from the ARPANET): telnet, who etc. I asked if these were really necessary and, if not, stop running them. "They" thought about this and stopped the daemons.
Some victims deserve it but others don't.
When we were developing time sharing on a GE-635 the central computer (about the size of a pair of bunk beds) had lots of switches on the control panel. One GE person kept writing down the position of all of the switches (with no clue as to what they did). So every time the field engineer or me etc. walked by the computer we would randomly flip a bunch of switches that weren't doing anything at the time. Our GE person was going crazy until one day we were trying to track down an intermittent hardware bug so we installed another switch to enable some diagnostic function. Our GE person had a cow when he saw it especially because everyone gave a different explanation for the switch.
In research we hired co-ops to help with some of the work. One day, my co-op came in and said that there was something wrong with her X terminal. I went and looked and noticed a small box in the upper left hand corner. Every 30 seconds a flying saucer would emerge from the base and attempt to capture the cursor. You could evade the flying saucer but only if you let it drag the cursor back to its base would you be allowed to resume normal operations for another 30 seconds. I suppressed a laugh and looked around to se some other smirking co-ops. So I said to them, "OK, turn it off - you've had your fun."
X wasn't very secure in those days.
I was talking with someone doing MRI research. Many time someone would walk in to the room of the 3T MRI machine and discover that none of their credit cards or university swipe cards would work thereafter. There was a fee for replacing university swipe cards but it was waved for MRI workers - it was too easy to forget the ID pinned to you.
Then there was the day when a single bit error in an IMP (arpanet node) brought down the entire network and it could not be rebooted without careful patching of all of the IMPs.
The bit error was in one of the IMPS and caused a cycle of routing messages numbered 04, 40, 44 which, having higher priority than normal messages, took over the network and stopped all normal traffic.
Then there was the time a single back hoe took out all connectivity between the East coast and the West coast. There were two separate paths from the East coast to the West coast but the phone company routed them both through the same cable.
There is the CPT theorem. This says that if you negate the electric charge of everything, look in a mirror, and go backwards in time, that nothing changes (at least in the mathematics. The "proof" of this theorem assumes causality and some other very plausible things. If the CPT theorem is false then we live in a very strange universe. (Could be true.)
There is no way to combine general relativity with the standard model (the canonical quantization process results in a unrenormalizable theory) and the standard model falls apart at very high energies. So we know our (highly accurate) theories are wrong but we don't know how to fix them.
I remember when transporting software from US to Canada on a magnetic tape was charged import duty. So they punched the software onto punched cards. OK, since the cards were punched, scrap paper so no charge.
With the internet billions of dollars cross the border without customs being aware. Welcome to the information age!
In 1964 there was a BASIC compiler (not interpreter) using ad hoc parsing written by J. G. Kemeny and an ALGOL-60 compiler written by Sars Blumpson(sp?) using a recursive descent on the Dartmouth time sharing system. Much of this technology was well distributed in the computing community.
Writing a text book which made many of these techniques available in a single place is still noteworthy though.
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