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January 31, 2008

Computers of the future in the past

Recently I was going through a whole bunch of stuff in my garage and came across a whole bunch of glossy literature for equipment that one of my previous employers, Signal Science, used to sell to the government.  It has been a good four years or so since I have seen a real VT100 type terminal in use anywhere.  For the time, this puppy, the ELPS-97 system was state of the art.  Now I am pretty sure that you could do all the same ELINT tasks performed by this system on a desktop PC and 200watts of power, versus 5KW

 ELPS-97

You may ask, what is this young lad's connection to this...

In college I had the task of surplussing the last of these systems that was used in house.  With elbow grease and a hack saw (yes, a manual hack saw and a package of several blades) I cut up one of these into small enough chunks to fit on the lift gate of the truck from either Halted Specialties or Weird Stuff Warehouse.  Sometimes I wonder what was done with the VAX 11/780.  I hope that someone was able to salvage it and build something similar to the VAXbar built by Vance.

Signal Science was a great place to work.  That is where I got my real start in the IT industry and exposure to people that I still consider close personal friends today.  Even though I had a lot of tasks to do there that nobody else wanted, I also received encouragement and mentoring at a young age.  I just hope I have the ability to give some sixteen year old kid the chance to cut up a Sun server cluster so I can pass on the IT torch. 

 

And if you like those, check these these oldies:

    SigSci-ClassicCorporateOverview.pdf - The Signal Science Corporate Overview
    SigSci-DPS100.pdf - The DPS100 processor
    SigSci-FlashPoint.pdf - The FlashPoint DSP system
    SigSci-SpreadSpectrum-SSDS-11.pdf - The SSDS-11 Spread Spectrum system

 

Colon Pal, the future of plush toys

When my cousin became ill, his friends designed a plush colon stuffed toy to raise his spirits when he was in the hospital.  I find their creation very amusing. 

 

Colon Pal 

 

The Colon Pal is actually available for sale.  This design cooperative has done other amazing feats of design, including Brief Jerky.  Not what you want to wear camping, unless you are attending a Bohemian Club event.

Unwanted Advances

unwanted!

DO NOT WANT!

January 30, 2008

Mountain Dew and expanded consciousness

Many people have asked me about my love of the soft drink Mountain Dew.  OK, it was really only my wife asking.  Everyone knows that Mountain Dew is a tasty green elixir that is up there with Slurm when it comes to how addictive it is.  When I was an undergraduate at Chico State, I often drank several cans or bottles of it to assist in my studying.  Yes, I actually put Chico State and studying in the same sentence.  I digress.  A few months after I finished my degree, I was working for a company called Signal Science in Santa Clara and ran an all nighter on a project I was behind on.  The attached picture is what I personally drank in a 12 hour period.  When I think about (1) the caloric intake in sugar alone (2) the damage to my kidney function, it makes me shudder.  These days I stick to the Diet Dew.

12 Hours of Mountain Dew Drinking

From the Pepsico website I calculate that over a 12 hour period that I consumed (32cans x 170 calories) 2040 calories in sugar.  The follies of youth.  During my college years I actually put together a website chronicling my love of the stuff, but unfortunately that host is now offline.

 

 

Waffle BBS, DSOTM and the loonies involved

In the days before the Internet was something that was commonplace or commercialized, the BBS was king.  One place that holds a place in my heart eternally was a BBS run out of silicon valley called the Dark Side of the Moon.  This single line BBS ran a type of software called Waffle BBS, which happened to run on MS-DOS easily, and could interface with the UUCP network allowing Internet mail and Usenet access.  All that is find and good, but the real gem of this place was the completely insane populace that spent time interacting on this system.  I met some really odd ducks, and connected with people that would help me with my career in the next decade. 

As a cultural artifact I give you the Dark Side of the Moon X-mas card from either 1991 or 1992.  And yes, some parties involved there went on to Internet fame with rotten.com and nndb.com.  I will always remember (408)245-SPAM. 

DarkSide408245SPAM-XMAS-card.pdf

 

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Look at me, I'm a blogger now.  Where do I get my union paperwork and press pass???