Archive for category trivia

Happy Birthday IBM PC


August 12th marks the 25th birthday of the computer that all “PC” users can trace their ancestry to: the IBM PC. I’ll spare you the anecdotes about the choice of MS-DOS over CP/M, or the crappiness of the PC architecture in general, or how project “Acorn” (as it was called) marked a major shift in the way that IBM did business, and ultimately, in the history of technology in general. I also won’t go into detail about how Don Estridge’s decision to get the system out the door fast by using off-the-shelf parts and an open architecture paved the way for all of the PC clones, and led to a PC on pretty much every desk here in 2006. It’s late at night as I’m writing this, and, if you care, you probably already know all about that stuff.

An initial review of the system (thank you google groups, formerly dejanews), is amusing. “even the I/O cards are separate!” So lets take a minute to both curse and praise the folks at IBM, particularly the late Don Estridge, for the legacy left by the IBM model 5150, better known as the IBM PC.
275px-IBM_PC_5150.jpg

Ahh this is bringing back memories of autoexec.bat, config.sys, emm386.exe, IRQ conflicts, command.com and the like. But my favorite DOS error message (who is general failure, and why is he reading my hard drive?) is an oldie but a goodie for those of this computing generation:

General failure reading drive C:
Abort, Retry, Fail?

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Captain Al Haynes and United 232


Well, since this topic came up at some point last night, I figured it’s time to blog about it. On July 19th 1989, United Flight 232 was a DC-10 flying from Denver to Philadelphia via O’Hare. The crash of flight 232 is probably the most well-known american aviation disaster, due to the presence of film crews at the crash. What most people don’t know, however, is the full story of how the 185 survivors of the crash owe their lives to the extraordinary actions of the captain, the crew, and a DC-10 instructor that just happened to be deadheading as a passenger when the plane’s hydraulic systems all went into the weeds.

In subsequent reconstructions of the circumstances of the accident in flight simulators, no pilot, regardless of seniority, has succeeded in reproducing the flight crew’s achievement of maneuvering the aircraft as far as the runway, generally losing control in mid air.

flt232p1.jpg
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20 years ago


The 20-strikeout game is one of the rarest happenings in baseball, and one of my favorite. In fact, it’s so rare that it’s only happened three times (four if you count Randy Johnson’s gem that went into extra innings in 2001). Two of those games were pitched by the same man. Of course, it was approximately 20 years ago, on April 29th 1986 that Roger Clemens became the first to strike out 20 in a single game. Dan Shaughnessy, with his usual flair for the dramatic, recounts the night in a Globe article. Anyway, think maybe we’ll be seeing him back in a Sox uniform this summer? Now that would be an event, indeed. Heck, last night we gave Doug Mirabelli a veritable hero’s welcome back to RSN, can you imagine what would happen with the rocket? Alas, it’s probably just wishful thinking.

NESN actually rebroadcast the 1986 game last week, but I never got around to setting the tivo. It can be watched on mlb.com as part of the Baseball’s Best collection though. I wonder if anyone out there has a bittorrent of it. Of course now that I mentioned that, the commisioner of baseball is going to be stopping by soon with some big dudes wielding bats.

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Physicists and Misc.


My former co-worker, and all around stand-up guy, CK, somehow found quite a neat picture and posted an entry in his blog.

That’s quite the crew there. Names I immediately recognize include Heisenberg, Scroedinger, Pauli, Bohn, Einstein, Lorentz, Curie and Planck. All in one picture!

Incidentally, I’ve been reading 1/2 grim dude’s many recent recipes, and am impressed. I’ve just whipped up a batch of chili (which I’ve been known to do from time to time), and I’ll post the recipe as soon as I can find it. I must say it’s pretty good.

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Communist Party


I’ve ordered two of the following t-shirts. There’s just something about Marx with a lampshade on his head and Lenin and Stalin wearing party hats. I should probably add the disclaimer to this that I’m not a communist, I just thought it was a cool shirt. Click for larger image. This might be almost as good as the “you have died of dysentery” shirt.

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