MIT News: How quickly do algorithms improve?

MIT News: How quickly do algorithms improve?. “In total, the team looked at 113 ‘algorithm families,’ sets of algorithms solving the same problem that had been highlighted as most important by computer science textbooks. For each of the 113, the team reconstructed its history, tracking each time a new algorithm was proposed for the problem and making special note of those that were more efficient. Ranging in performance and separated by decades, starting from the 1940s to now, the team found an average of eight algorithms per family, of which a couple improved its efficiency. To share this assembled database of knowledge, the team also created Algorithm-Wiki.org.”

Wired: I Love Reading 1980s Computer Magazines, and So Should You

Wired: I Love Reading 1980s Computer Magazines, and So Should You. “Some species of technology go extinct for good reason. The penny-farthing, with its huge front wheel, seems vaguely ridiculous in retrospect—and also pretty dangerous. In a Darwinian struggle, it should die. But sometimes an innovation dies out for some other, lesser reason—one that’s more a function of the market at the time, or other considerations, than any overarching principle of quality…. Many other good ideas have gotten buried in the past and are waiting to be rediscovered.”

IT Pro Today: Responsibly Recycling Computers in the Age of COVID-19

IT Pro Today: Responsibly Recycling Computers in the Age of COVID-19. “Typically, companies pay certified recyclers to take their used electronic devices, which then recover some rare-earth metals and remove some toxic parts from them before sending what remains to landfills. There are many nonprofit organizations, however, that will take used computers and laptops, replace any failed or failing parts, install a new operating system (usually a desktop Linux distribution but sometimes Windows) after wiping the hard drive, and give them new life with students, seniors or economically distressed families – which keeps them out of landfills for another five years or so. This can be a win-win for companies, because by doing so they not only avoid the expense of the traditional recycling process, but also pick up a tax deduction in the process – while helping alleviate the digital divide that’s been rapidly growing during the pandemic.”

EurekAlert: Supercomputer in your bedroom

EurekAlert: Supercomputer in your bedroom. “University of Sussex academics have established a method of turbocharging desktop PCs to give them the same capability as supercomputers worth tens of millions of pounds. Dr James Knight and Prof Thomas Nowotny from the University of Sussex’s School of Engineering and Informatics used the latest Graphical Processing Units (GPUs) to give a single desktop PC the capacity to simulate brain models of almost unlimited size.”

Computerworld Archives: Back From Vintage Microfilm (Internet Archive)

Internet Archive: Computerworld Archives: Back From Vintage Microfilm. “Years ago, the Internet Archive was honored to work with the Patrick J McGovern Foundation to bring some of the important publications of International Data Corporation onto the Internet for free public access. Today we are excited to bring a better looking version of the ComputerWorld archives to the Internet based on newly digitized microfilm.”

Ars Technica: The unreasonable effectiveness of the Julia programming language

Ars Technica: The unreasonable effectiveness of the Julia programming language. “I’ve been running into a lot of happy and excited scientists lately. ‘Running into’ in the virtual sense, of course, as conferences and other opportunities to collide with scientists in meatspace have been all but eliminated. Most scientists believe in the germ theory of disease. Anyway, these scientists and mathematicians are excited about a new tool. It’s not a new particle accelerator nor a supercomputer. Instead, this exciting new tool for scientific research is… a computer language.”

ProPublica: The Federal Government Promised Native American Students Computers and Internet. Many Are Still Waiting.

ProPublica: The Federal Government Promised Native American Students Computers and Internet. Many Are Still Waiting.. “Computer shortages have raised nationwide concerns about educational inequities, which are amplified in tribal communities that resisted the Bureau of Indian Education’s desire for in-person instruction in an effort to control rising cases of COVID-19. The inability to attend classes in person, coupled with the bureau’s delay in distributing emergency CARES Act funding, forced some students attending the federally-operated schools to start the new year the same way the last one ended, working on paper packets from home while getting little instruction from their teachers.”

The Register: The sun is shining, the birds are singing. You can shut the curtains and tour The National Museum of Computing in VR

The Register: The sun is shining, the birds are singing. You can shut the curtains and tour The National Museum of Computing in VR. “The world’s largest collection of working historic computers, kept at England’s wartime code-cracking nerve centre of Bletchley Park, has thrown open its doors – virtually – so anyone anywhere can view it. With but a click, you will be whisked away to a 3D render of the Buckinghamshire hoard, then zoomed down into the museum’s entrance lobby. From there, you can navigate the long white halls of computing history in Google StreetView style.”

9to5Mac: The Unofficial Apple Archive is on a mission to save Apple history and inspire new creators

9to5Mac: The Unofficial Apple Archive is on a mission to save Apple history and inspire new creators. “‘I totally forgot that Rihanna was used as the track for an iPad 2 guided tour. What a weird year.’ Sam Henri Gold was giving me a progress update on what would eventually become The Apple Archive. He had just made it to 2011. Compiled from hundreds of videos and images spanning Apple’s near 44-year history, the collection is believed to be one of the largest of its kind ever made available. It launches today.”

Bit-Tech: BBC launches Computer Literacy Project archive

Bit-Tech: BBC launches Computer Literacy Project archive. “The BBC has added the output of its Computer Literacy Project, covering more than 260 full-length TV programmes and 166 BBC Micro computer programs, to its Taster testing site – though nostalgic programmers have only three months to try it out. Launched in 1982 with The Computer Programme, which was followed by Making the Most of the Micro a year later and Micro Live between 1984 and 1987, the BBC’s Computer Literacy Project followed the UK government’s push to get microcomputers – at the time rare novelties – into schools throughout the country.”

New-To-Me: A Database of Computer Appearances in Film and Television

New-to-me: a database of computer appearances in film and television. “Starring the Computer is a website dedicated to the use of computers in film and television. Each appearance is catalogued and rated on its importance (ie. how important it is to the plot), realism (how close its appearance and capabilities are to the real thing) and visibility (how good a look does one get of it). Fictional computers don’t count (unless they are built out of bits of real computer), so no HAL9000 – sorry.”