Monday, December 27, 2004

Geeky Friday: Google's magic

Ika pointed me at an article on Google's infrastructure. They have more than 2,000 PCs in each of 30+ clusters (2,000 x 30 = 60,000 computers), they index about 40TB of data each day and their custom file system has a block size of 64MB (block size is usually around 2KB on a desktop machine).

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Please wait...

Andrew Grumet comments on a witty "Please wait" message on MIT's map server ("Please wait, it's still faster than you could draw it"). What he didn't mention (or perhaps didn't discover) is that there are 20+ other fun messages including:
Please wait...
  • while the satellite moves into position
  • the server is powered by a lemon and two electrodes
  • while a large vendor in Seattle takes over the world
  • a few bits tried to escape but we caught them
and two references to "The Wizard of Oz" and one reference to "The Matrix".

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

The World's Longest Alphabetical Email Address

A free email account with 6 MB of storage and an annoyingly long domain name. "It is so long that... people cannot remember your address, some webforms are unable to read your email address " and more. Abc... Whatever - The World's Longest Alphabetical Email Address

Friday, December 17, 2004

Geeky Friday: XLiveCD

XLiveCD - run X and ssh from a CD on a windows machine. It's based on Cygwin, but you don't have to install it on your hard drive.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Automatic jump to http

From this page, I was trying to follow the "Home Page" link and I just learned two more trivial facts:
  1. If you type in a word into Firefox's address bar (or a domain name it can't find, it does a google search and redirects to the first result.
  2. The first result for "http" is Microsoft's web site. Try it here
Why would be #1 for "http"? Why would any site be near the top other than sites which define the technical details of the hypertext transfer protocol (such as -- the fourth hit in the "http" search)?

Monday, December 13, 2004

"Advanced" browser technology

In my usual link-to-a-link-to-a-link manner, I found out that my favorite browser supports both Netscape's <blink> and IE's <marquee> tags. Ack!

If you nest them, you have blinking text in a scrolling marquee. (I think it's worth noting that I am deliberately not demonstrating this here so that I don't lose readers.)

Friday, December 10, 2004

Geeky Friday: Languages for Interactive Fiction

Last year, I wrote about rediscovering interactive fiction games. Now I learned a little more about how these are created. Programming for IF presents the programmer with the benefit of having a very specific application and the challenge of managing all the rooms, objects, non-player characters and so forth. An article by Liza Daly, "Choosing a Language for Interactive Fiction", highlights the two most popular languages.

I have the mindset that likes to learn programming languages in order to learn new ways of approaching problems, unfortunately, I'm also of the lifestyle that doesn't afford much time to do this. I'll add this to my long list of things to do in the vague "someday".

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Table Saw Finger Saver

Heard a story on "All Things Considered" last night about a safety device to kill a table saw if it touches flesh. The story is summarized at, but the highlight is the demonstration video (available on that page Real or Windows Media formats).

Friday, December 03, 2004

Geeky Friday: SMS, tcl, Python

Here's a new regular feature, "Geeky Friday". I'll queue up my posts on techie subjects for publication on Fridays. These will be only of interest to the techies out there. They'll probably only be comprehensible to them as well.

Maybe it's not good form to start "Geeky Friday" with a six year old article. Nonetheless, here's an article by Frank Stajano discussing a information retrieval system implemented using SMS. Stajano also discusses why he chose to use Python despite his previous experience with tcl and [incr tcl]. The bottom line "I prefer Python because its standard library is a gold mine."

Six years later, I believe this is still true. I'm much more familiar with tcl, but when I compare the list of modules in the tcl standard library and those in python's standard library I begin to understand why Stajano feels this way.