Archive for January, 2008

Weekend 2

January 20, 2008 9:18 pm

This weekend was a nice, relaxing weekend.  I laid low for the most part, which was a great feeling! 

 Friday evening I got my introduction to real Indian food when we went out to dinner.  Overall it was quite good.  Some of it was spicy for me, and nearly all of it was unlike any thing I’ve ever tasted before, but it was good! 

On Saturday I went for a mile or so walk to the Computer History Museum. On the walk there I got to walk over a bridge over a highway 101, the main highway that runs from San Francisco down through San Jose and farther south:

From this highway I could see the big wind tunnel at the NASA Ames Research Center at Moffett Field:

Wind tunnel

Just off to the right of this picture is the Microsoft Mountain View Campus and across the road to the left of this picture is the Google campus!  It’s a area littered with big name computer companies. 

After passing some neat plants:



I was at the museum

Computer History Museum

I spent about 4 hours wandering around, taking a  guided tour and watching one of the old computers run.  In the display area there were many great computers along with their histories.  This one is actually one of the computers built very early in the cold war to combine radar information from many early radar stations, known as SAGE.  Together there were 27 of these (this is only the control panel) and together they cost $8-12 Billion dollars, in 1954 dollars, too bad at that point computing power was moving so quickly that by the time they could build it, it was obsolete, although they did use it for a good while. 


I also enjoyed seeing one of Google’s first server racks:

Google Server Rack

I love the fact that they are all sitting on cork board because they skimped on cases and just about everything else they could to build cheap computers.

Google Servers

I also had to laugh at two things that I didn’t think would be in the museum because just a few years ago they were in my closet:


Speak and Spell

And one for Grandma:


They also had a WWII Enigma machine used by the Germans to encode classified messages.  I have greatly enjoyed learning about these machines in Hervie Haufler’s book Codebreaker’s Victory.  The big silver pulley in the back is the only surviving high speed tape pulley from “The Colossus”.  This was a very early electronic machine that the English built with American help to crack the German enigma.  It was very successful and directly led to the defeat of the Germans in World War II. 


While there I also got a chance to see a running PDP-1.  One of the first widely successful computers for businesses and universities.  Fifty Five of them were made, which in that day was phenomenal.  There were two men there, one who was a professor at MIT and one who was a student there.  They had both worked on the machine while it was running and the newest thing at MIT.  One of them wrote a program to make it play music.  Back in those days there was no such thing as a computer sound card, but this computer did have four lights that could be turned on and off by a program written for this computer.  He hooked up an amplifier to these lights and by rapidly turning them off and on could create music!  They actually still have the song that he wrote back at MIT and he was able to recreate the program to play the song and make it play the song for us.  Also, the other gentleman there wrote a game to demonstrate the capabilities of the early CRT display on this computer.  He wrote “Asteroids”! 

Finally I walked home and took a few pictures of flowers along the way.  (Never forget to stop and smell the flower you’ve never smelled before!)


 Overall it was a fascinating day.

Today I hooked up with an Alumni from WPI’s Christian Bible Fellowship and went to a church that he attends out here (it was ok, but it’s amazing how so many people miss the point, even if it’s only by a little bit), did some laundry and worked on a new version of


January 16, 2008 8:26 pm

Things have been about as is to be expected at work.  We have been making progress in some areas and been stumped with other things.  I thought I would share some pictures of the outside of the campus where I’m working.  The buildings are quite nifty looking if I do say so myself.