Monthly Archives: November 2015

Alhazen and the impossible task

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According to Wikipedia

Alhazen, who was ordered by the sixth Fatimid Caliph, al-Hakim, to regulate the flooding of the Nile; he later perceived the insanity and futility of what he was attempting to do and, fearing for his life, feigned madness to avoid the Caliph‘s wrath. The Caliph, believing him to be insane, placed him under house arrest rather than execute him for failure. Alhazen remained there until the Caliph’s death, thereby escaping punishment for his failure to accomplish a task that had been impossible from the beginning.

Dalí “one of the 20th century’s nastiest cultural products”

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According to Jonathan Jones

Wallis Simpson and Dalí were both habitues of a brittle elite world that could flirt with Hitler as if the fate of millions of people were a sick joke. After the war, Dalí was happy and rich in Franco’s Spain. In New York, he did this sketch for the Duchess of Windsor.

I used to try to see the best in Dalí, but increasingly he looks like one of the 20th century’s nastiest cultural products.

Two distinct advantages – no money and no people

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According to Daniel Nenni in “A Brief History of ARM Holdings

Acorn sold computers to schools and so cost was a prime concern, this meant that when it came to replace the aging 8bit 6502 in the BBC Micro with a more powerful microprocessor it had to be cheap.

Unfortunately the commercially available alternatives at the time were simply not cheap enough and so Hermann Hauser, the Managing Director of Acorn, decided that Acorn should build its own 32bit microprocessor – however he gave the ARM design team two distinct advantages over other microprocessor design teams – no money and no people! So the design had to be simple and straight forward, indeed the first ARM reference model was written in just 808 lines of Basic.

Interestingly, although the ARM silicon worked first time, it appeared to be consuming no power at all, at least that is what the ammeter said. It turned out that the test board had a fault that meant the ARM was effectively unpowered and was running solely on leakage from the I/Os. This low power consumption was a valuable side effect of making the ARM cheap and turned out to be the key to its success in the emerging mobile electronics market.