A Light-Hearted Interlude with Clippy

Clippy

The Atlantic's James Fallows posted recently on the 10-year anniversary of the demise of Microsoft Office's "Clippy" (officially the Office Assistant), the cartoon paperclip helper that would pop up to offer advice and suggestions while a user was creating a document.

Frictions in the Cloud, Part 2

Abort, Retry, Fail

Details have finally begun to emerge in the past few days regarding exactly what caused the Amazon cloud-computing-service shutdown. Amazon's own account is rather dense and chewy, but Ars Technica has provided a more digestible explanation.

Movie Night at the Museum

Computer History Museum

I know I promised more on the cloud; that will come later. Right now I want to plug another excellent resource for the history of computing, the Computer History Museum (CHM)'s YouTube channel.

Frictions in the Cloud

Cloud Computing

In light of the recent failures of Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud service, Paul Ceruzzi has pointed out the very grounded reality of the cloud. It all comes down to real data centers in real physical locations that can suffer from real failures.

N-Grams and the History of Computing, Part 2

Leave it to Beaver

I was fiddling around some more with n-grams, and I came across a surprising result. So surprising, in fact, that I am deeply suspicious of it. As you can see from the graph, I searched for "radio," "television," "computer" from 1920 to 2000. The oddity is the powerful surge of "computer" in the 1950s and 60s. If n-grams are supposed to be a tool for the quantitative study of culture, surely there is something badly off here.

N-Grams and the History of Computing

Google NGram Search

As I'm sure most of you know, late least year Google announced a new research tool known as the Ngram Viewer. (An n-gram is any sequence of items--in this case words--of length n; so a 2-gram would be any word pair). The tool was released in conjunction with the publication of a paper in Science that made use of it to explore the history of culture.

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