I had an interesting lecture this morning by a guy from Intel about the Pentium 4, the Itanium, and...

posted 25 May 2001
I had an interesting lecture this morning by a guy from Intel about the Pentium 4, the Itanium, and chip design in general. I really can say I have a much better sense of how my computer works now, almost filling the gaps between the 0s-and-1s world and programming languages. One of the things he said was that Itanium is aimed at the "high end of the server market". Which implies that Pentium 4 is not going to be the last pentium, and makes this article about Transmeta allying with AMD a lot more interesting. Basically, the Itanium and AMD's latest offering are both 64-bit, but AMDs architecture is still backward-compatible with the all-encompassing x86 family, while Itanium requires significant redevelopment of most software. Of course, it may all be a moot point if the next version of Windows runs (as seems likely) on Itanium; developers will flock to it. But I'm not sure how pleased the Linux community will be about that, you might end up with *nix running on the x86ish boxes while Windows flavours go to Itanium-style boxes, rather like Windows vs. Mac -- different software AND hardware, making porting even more of a nightmare. This could be either very good or very bad for Linux, depending what the bulk of developers end up using. I have a feeling the Itanium stuff might be a bitch to code, but what do I know?
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There was also a mildly interesting article about dinosaur robots that really walk and talk. Well,...

posted 25 May 2001
There was also a mildly interesting article about dinosaur robots that really walk and talk. Well, walk, anyway. You know, for kids. (Points for catching that reference) Apparently the inventor hopes seeing live walking dinosaurs -- we're not talking T-rexes, or even Raptors, the prototype is 18 inches high -- will inspire them to become scientists and engineers. Well, I'm inspired.

I'm also very impressed by the quality of The Skills Market. Yet another player in the crowded field of IT recruitment sites (currently ruled by JobServe), they have a very well-designed site with some robust tech behind it which must have taken ages to develop, and in particular some really nice graphing software which shows you current supply-and-demand charts for your skills. I signed up, and am surprised to say I recommend it to other people -- their traffic's a bit low at the moment, but it's a good site. This is all of interest to me at the moment because I'm looking for a job for summer; and incidentally a place to live.

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Are these people really smart, or really dumb? Scientists created nanotubes in well-ordered arrays,...

posted 25 May 2001
Are these people really smart, or really dumb? Scientists created nanotubes in well-ordered arrays, which is really useful for industrial applications. But it was by accident. And they don't know why they form. And sometimes they don't. But they'll be rich anyway.

More worryingly, only 5 to 10 percent of illegal smuggling in radioactive materials is detected, apparently, making it more likely that a major metropolitan centre is going to get nuked any day now. You heard it here first.

That's interesting in light of the fact the Dubya Bush, all-hail-the-chief of the USA, wants more nuclear power plants to solve their energy crisis. That article also goes into a good in-depth analysis of the pros and cons of nuclear fuel. On the whole, I'd say we're screwed: nuclear power is expensive and produces waste that is deadly to nearby life, fossil fuels are cheap and produce waste that is deadly to life all over the planet. Somebody invent fusion power quick.

On the lighter side, some people think that you can deduce someone's personality from their choice of font. Since I use Times New Roman, Arial and Courier New a combined 99% of the time, I don't know what I am, but I'm certainly dull. And finally, to end this long session of avoiding revision, plans for the interplanetary Internet have been published.

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