Miscellaneous Geekiness on 11/01/10

1 November 2010

Binary date and time… If we’re naughty and use a 2-digit year, then 11/01/10 (today) is a binary date. In the DD/MM/YY format 01/11/10 is palindromic. [Note: DD/MM/YY format is popular outside of the United States.] I’m looking forward to 11/10/10 and 11/11/10, which will be the last binary dates until 01/01/11.

Pi sighting… The Arizona Republic reported that Arizona has “3.14 million registered voters.” 3.14 is Pi rounded to the nearest hundredth.

Nano moment… I watched “The Tingler” on Halloween. During the movie Dr. Chapin said he was going to inject himself with “100 micro milligrams” of what I think was LSD. “The Tingler” was made in 01958. If it had been made in 02010, Dr. Chapin might have said he was
going to inject 100 nanograms of drug.

Tweet milestone… On 02010.10.30 my @mathbabbler tweet counter hit one kilotweet. It took 509 days to reach that milestone.

Date and time I told them so… Last week during my “Computing Science for Non-CS Majors” course I giving an overview of the functions that come with STDC (Standard C) Library. I mentioned that C and C++ don’t provide direct support for date and time processing, but that the STDC Library comes with a collection of date and time functions. I told that class that I would be covering some of the date and time functions because programming date and time is hard. Today, on 1 November 02010, @slashdot tweeted the following.

iPhone Alarm Bug Leads To Mass European Sleep-in http://bit.ly/achGOD

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An Example of the Power of Twitter

25 August 2010

2010.08.24: During the first day of the Introduction to Computer Science class, I asked the 26 students the following question: How many of you use Twitter?

My question prompted some gentle giggling, but a couple of hands were raised.

I shared with the class about how I’ve been trying to turn students on to Twitter, but that my current grade would be an F-.

I shared with the class that for me the power of Twitter was in whom I followed. I told the class that the first thing I do when I log into my computer is scan my un-read tweets. I pointed out that if the “right” people are followed, then Twitter can be a treasure trove of great stuff.

Student (sitting in row one): Give us an example.
Me (excited): Did I pay you to say that?

The following example was then presented…

On 2010.08.20 at 6:14am @compufoo tweeted:

RT @hrheingold Doug Engelbart & Ted Nelson came to dinner (14 min vid): http://bit.ly/cprNC8

Student (excited): Doug Engelbart?
Me (yet more excited): Yes. Do know about Doug Engelbart?
Student: Yes, he invented the computer mouse.
Me: How do you know that?
Student: I learned it last semester from Peter Martin. Engelbart was his idol.

Back to the tweet…

RT @hrheingold Doug Engelbart & Ted Nelson came to dinner (14 min vid): http://bit.ly/cprNC8

I explain how my tweet was a re-tweet (RT) of a tweet by @hrheingold (i.e. I follow Howard Heingold on Twitter). Howard Heingold lives in Silicon Valley and he’s a visiting lecturer at Stanford and UC-Berkeley; a research fellow at the Institute for the Future; and a guru when it comes to understanding “virtual communities” (and these days “social networking”). Howard Heingold tweets; he is a user of Twitter. In his Twitter biography, Howard says he’s an “online instigator, educator, offline gardener.”

I click on @hrheingold and we see (which at that time was) Heingold’s most recent tweet.

Thank you! @jimmy_wales for great interview on collaboration. Will publish video eventually.

Wow! Look at that… It appears as though Howard Heingold has interviewed Jimmy Wales and he’s going to share the interview with the world. Question to the class: Who is Jimmy Wales? There’s a pause, so I tell the class that if they use the Wikipedia, then they should give thanks to Jimmy Wales. I also point out to the class that they too can follow @jimmy_wales on Twitter.

Back to the tweet…

RT @hrheingold Doug Engelbart & Ted Nelson came to dinner (14 min vid): http://bit.ly/cprNC8

I point out the class that the power of Twitter is significantly amplified by the ability to insert hyperlinks into tweets. Hyperlinks make the web the World Wide Web (WWW) that it is. But well before the WWW (almost 30 years before), one technologist was thinking about hypertext. Question to the class: Whom do think this technologist was?

“It felt like having Newton and Galileo over for dinner,” wrote Howard Heingold on having dinner with Engelbart and Nelson.

At this point, this power of Twitter example is over. With one tweet I was able to introduce Ted Nelson and Doug Engelbart to the students in an introductory Computer Science class. In addition, the students were introduced to Howard Heingold and Jimmy Wales.


Doh! It turns out this power of Twitter example isn’t over. On 2010.08.26 (i.e. day two) of class, the following was presented.

Let’s rewind three weeks to a tweet by Mitch Kapor.

2010.08.03 at 2:10pm @mkapor tweeted:

I’m grouchy that so few people (except us old-timers) have even heard of Ted Nelson http://bit.ly/cGbsWC (Wikipedia bio)

Observe… Mitch Kapor hyperlinked into the Wikipedia.

2010:08.03 at 2:11pm @mkapor tweeted:

All of the web is in essence a pale shadow of just one of Ted Nelson’s dreams. Now do I have your attention?

2010.08.03 at 2:15pm @nanofoo in reply to @mkapor:

I’m going to make sure my CS1 students learn a bit about Ted Nelson this fall. They’ll come in knowing Gates & Jobs, but not Nelson.

@nanofoo never got reply from @mkapor, but @rossk did…

2010.08.03 at 2:48pm @rossk in reply to @mkapor:

where should the Nelson-newbie start?

2010.08.03 at 8:07pm@mkapor in reply to @rossk

Read “Computer Lib” by Nelson. Also see the Wired article on him for a dissenting view

Mitch Kapor did not provide his followers with hyperlinks, but here they are…

Computer Lib/Dream Machine (dot-pdf) and Wired.com: The Curse of Xanadu

Ted Nelson

Ted Nelson

Hmm… Who is Mitch Kapor and more…


From 140 to 1,759,000,000,000,000

2 December 2009

This semester I have been hammering away at two themes: Twitter and High-Performance Computing.

Twitter is a micro-blogging service that limits postings (i.e. tweets) to a maximum of 140 characters.

During November 02009, TOP500 issued its list of the world’s 500 fastest supercomputers and Jaguar was number at 1.759 petaflops (i.e. 1759 trillion floating-point operations per second).

The lecture notes for weeks 13 (02009.11.16) and 15 (02009.12.01) contained the following tweets.

The Global Language Monitor names “Twitter” the top word of 2009.

I’ve been telling students that I am in the process of learning about Twitter. For me, as of 02009.12.01, the power of Twitter is in who I follow.

President Obama visited China and he had Twitter on his mind.

“First of all, let me say that I have never used Twitter.”~Obama to Chinese

I don’t know why Obama had to let the Chinese in on the fact that had never tweeted.

“I’m a big supporter of not restricting Internet use, Internet access, other information technologies like Twitter.”~Obama to Chinese

Obama referred to Twitter as a form of “information technology” and these days I call this 21st century Informatics. In a nutshell, 21st century Informatics is supercomputer-based data processing.

Al Gore was the keynote speaker at the 21st annual SC conference. SC is an “international conference on High Performance Computing (HPC), networking, storage and analysis.”

At SC09, Al Gore says supercomputing can be killer app in climate change.

Gore believes high-performance computing systems, which include high-performance visualization systems, will help convince the world that climate change is a real problem. Gore might be wise to expect the unexpected.

“Supercomputing has given us the most powerful tool in the history of civilization.”~Al Gore at SC09

A bold statement by Gore and only time will tell if he is correct.

By the way, Steve Wozniak once said, “Never trust a computer you can’t throw out a window.”


The power of twitter

4 November 2009

I was reading what some psychologist had to say about Facebook and Twitter and the following quote caught my attention.

“On Twitter you receive an endless stream of information, but it’s also very succinct,” Dr Alloway said. “You don’t have to process that information. Your attention span is being reduced and you’re not engaging your brain and improving nerve connections.” (via news.com.au)

I understand Dr. Alloway to an extent; however, tweets can contain hyperlinks that in turn, if clicked, take us to a constantly growing world wide web of information. In other words, tweets can exploit the power of the hyperlink.

I think of tweets as expanded headlines/titles/subject-lines and the effective use of these communication objects can be a powerful tool.

In a nutshell, for me right now, the power of Twitter is in who I follow.