Con's Web Soapbox. A bit sci-fi. Sometimes hi-fi.
Wednesday, June 23, 2004
Monday, June 21, 2004
Private manned space mission is successfulPrivate manned space mission is successful
MSNBC Breaking News
Private manned space mission is successful -
The first privately funded space mission soared 62 miles above the earth Monday.
Sunday, June 20, 2004
Short Personal NoteShort Personal Note
I am becoming addicated to color 11x17 print-outs. I fear I will have to move my photography to Medium Format too, if the desire to print big does not abate.
Saturday, June 19, 2004
Fighting for electionFighting for election
Without discussing the merits and demerits of the proposal itself, I just have to wonder whether Kerry really wants to keep his speechwriters around. Arguing for an increase in the minimum Federal wage, Kerry says:
"If a president can go out and fight for four years to provide over a trillion in tax cuts to the wealthiest people in America, we can fight for a few months to raise the minimum wage for the poorest people in America,"
Does this mean he is only going to fight for the proposal until he is elected? Does not this statement make Bush sound a lot more persistent and reaffirm Kerry's reputation for straddling issues and fluttering from position to position?
I know I am nitpicking, but I did not go out to find a bad Kerry quote - this is just something that jumped out at me from the article features on the google news site. If I can randomly scan a Kerry quote and fine something like this almost every time - is it any wonder most voters are ambivalent about him as a candidate?
Friday, June 18, 2004
From Slate Assessments: MilkFrom Slate Assessments: Milk
This is a great, if at times hard to follow, article charting a short crash course in how America has related to Milk. I did not quite imagine one could write such an interesting article about Milk, and over it all in a couple of pages. Some memorable quotes:
In the 1980s, milk was so venerated that a sociologist in the New York Times linked a decrease in its consumption to the declining public faith in all institutions, from the church to the academy to the press to government.
A 1933 history of New York agriculture asserted, "A casual look at the races of people seems to show that those using much milk are the strongest physically and mentally, and the most enduring peoples of the world. Of all races, the Aryans seem have been the heaviest drinkers of milk and the greatest users of butter and cheese, a fact that may in part account for the quick and high development of this division of human beings."
completely worth a read.
Interesting People List: post 9/11 telecom actions by GovernmentInteresting People List: post 9/11 telecom actions by Government
From: paul foldes
Subject: post 9/11 telecommunications preps by Govt? More harm than
Reading about the 9/11 panel's report about the necessary improvisation
by people close to the 'action' due to lack of adequare preparedness
and confusion among FAA and other agencies tasked with our collective
defense, I am persuaded that the heroism of the passengers on flight 93
and that of the first responders at the WTC and the Pentagon were the
most 'effective' responses that day.
The notable common thread among those effective responders was their
ability to communicate via a common means; cell phones -- not the
specialized communications designed for emergencies.
Notably, it was not the government, or the military that responded so
effectively; it was ordinary civilians, and first responders who
prevailed in not so small ways over the snafus prevelant that day.
Note: lets remember what SNAFU is an abbreviation for: 'situation
normal all ------- up'
Those who forgot, learned its lesson, again -- as we did, on 9/11.
And how was one group of heroes able to respond so effectively?
The passengers of flight 93 got word of other hijackings from loved
ones through their cell phones -- absent such communications, who knows
where flight 93 would have crashed?
Now, post 9/11, the government has reportedly established procedures to
command cell phone call completion priority to 'priority callers' --
presumably government and related officials.
Imagine the consequences that fateful morning if 'ordinary' people
would not have been able to make cell phones to flight 93, and from
flight 77 and other flights hijacked -- as they did on 9/11.
Has anyone examined whether the governments changes in procedures may,
possibly, make things worse rather than better in case we are attacked
again; which is expected as a near certainty according to news reports
Similarly, as Blackberry's worked in NYC and Washington, DC when cell
phones didnt on 9/11 the Congress, in its inimitiable wisdom decreed
that every member, and their key assistants it seems, be issued a
Yet, as this previous frequent Blackberry user in Washington, DC area
know -- Blackberry's, just like cell phones, also can be unavailable
when there is an overload on their system; which presumably would
happen if there was another terrorist incident in Washington, DC.
Is the government really adequately prepared after 9/11 regarding its
ability to communicate, and receive valuable intelligence from 'those
close to the action'?
I think not.
Will the governments 'priority cell calling' rules prevent future first
responders from getting adequate, timely intelligence absent
interference from well meaning, but not fully thought thru rules?
As it is axiomatic that one can't anticipate and train for all possible
future contingencies -- will changes post 9/11 actually make things
worse the next time around?
I dont know, nobody does. But it would be a good subject for
substantive journalists to investigate.
Thursday, June 17, 2004
Joel writes: "How Microsoft Lost the API War"Joel writes: "How Microsoft Lost the API War"
There are two opposing forces inside Microsoft, which I will refer to, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, as The Raymond Chen Camp and The MSDN Magazine Camp.”
definitely worth a read. Longish, but worth it.
ps. Nick Bradbury agrees and he knows more about writing and selling software than I ever will.
Surfing... the Web.Surfing... the Web.
Intel's Tablet PC Centrino Surfboard
I don't know what to say. Intel has gone and taken the ur-joke of the internet and made it reality by incorporating a tablet PC into a surfboard, allowing pro surfer Duncan Scott to literally, yes, surf the web. The laptop is integrated into a Jools Matthews board and communicates via WiFi with a hotspot on the beach. I fully expect to go outside now and find a laptop built into the BQE with a huge arrow pointing to the 'Information Highway.'
Had to happen sooner or later...
Keeping an Eye on Internet HealthKeeping an Eye on Internet Health
Here's a tiny program that runs in the system tray of your Windows box and displays the current health status of the Internet. The ISCAlert utility tracks the Infocon status that is set by the Internet Storm Center, whose volunteer handlers monitor the Internet for security issues. When the icon is green, all is safe and clear, but when it turns red, you know something fishy is going on in your cyber-neighborhood. ISCAlert is a free tool that was written by Tom Liston, Internet Storm Center handler, and author of LaBrea. As Tom succinctly put it, "Infocon status is used to reflect changes in malicious traffic and the possibility of disrupted connectivity on the Internet."
Tuesday, June 15, 2004
Yahoo Mail noteYahoo Mail note
In response to pressure from the upcoming google mail service, Yahoo has upgraded its free mail service offerring to include a 100MB quota. That's nice. However, what I really like about the google mail (yes, I am a beta-tester) is not just the 1GB of space, but the serious improvements on the standard webmail interface that google has brought. Yahoo still does not have them, and perhaps does not understand why they are necessary. One hint: at the moment it takes me a full minute to load the front page on yahoo. Another hint: cut the graphics.
I am not even talking about keyboard shortcuts google supports, or message threading (which has issues) or smart addressing, etc. All in all, Yahoo mail is the same beast it was 4 years ago, with a somewhat bigger quota. Google mail is a step towards the next generation.
Monday, June 14, 2004
Good point from Philip GreenspunGood point from Philip Greenspun
Phil goes to a workshop onTechnology for community-building in America
Just back from a workshop at MIT on technology for community-building in America. The focus turned out to be poor communities. Apparently the middle class don't need community because they can enjoy their suburban comforts. I reflected that technology has so far mostly harmed the poor in the U.S. In the old days when telecommunications and transportation were expensive there was a real need in our economy for the labor of the lowest economic class. Maybe they'd work in a factory or do some kind of clerical job. In 2004, however, our businesses can get all of the unskilled labor that they want in China or India. Fear of crime was once a motivator for trying to improve poor neighborhoods. But improved management techniques, universal cell phones for calling 911, innovations like the gated community and security cameras everywhere, and pure technology such as the fancy alarm system have lessened this fear.
a handful of folks had set up free wireless Internet access blankets over struggling neighborhoods in various parts of the country. All of the academic papers written about the "Digital Divide" turned out to be nonsense. As soon as a poor person had an opportunity to get broadband without being reamed out for $50/month by the local telco or cable monopoly the poor person was able to leap right over the exotic language and cultural barriers that sociologists had posited. I.e., it turned out that these folks were poor, not stupid.
Yep. That is something many people tend to forget. There are many reasons why some people start out poor and remain poor, but none of them can honestly be brought down to lack of intelligence.
from Slate: on Reagan's judicial legacyfrom Slate: on Reagan's judicial legacy
Interesting article appearing in Slate on efects, and some causes, of reforms to the judicial system instituted under Reagan. For the mostly uninformed (like me) an interest source of information.
Consider, for example, the Bail Reform Act of 1984. Historically, bail had a single purpose: to insure that the accused return to court as required. Only genuine flight risks were jailed pending trial. By contrast, the 1984 bail statute, while paying lip service to the presumption of innocence, allows incarceration on a judicial finding that the defendant is dangerous. For the first time during peace, preventive detention—embodying the long-discredited notion that past behavior accurately predicts future conduct—became the law of the land.
Today, because of this Reagan initiative, federal prisons are filled with pretrial detainees deemed dangerous, or subject to a handful of statutory presumptions that largely result in jailing low-level drug dealers. Lengthy pretrial detentions of a year or more are not uncommon.
While I am not sure how strongly I agree with the statement that "the long-discredited notion that past behavior accurately predicts future conduct." I have to agree that when the theory is applied indiscriminantly to people appearing before a court, seriously invalidates the presumption of innocence principle.
Obviously, this is a rather complex problem. Government is charged with keeping the peace. Citizenry demands safety at all costs. Noone, criminals themselves excluded, really has a problem with those who committed violent crimes spending some time in lock-up before the trial. However, given the propensity of the system to often chose those most likely to have committed the crime as lead suspects (for good reason) this would also, infallibly, create a population of those innocent of the actual crime who are spending time in lock-up when they most need to be getting on with their lives. One would imagine that some type of a strong feedback and incentives system would be able to fine-tune the decisions, and perhaps there is one in action already, I just would not know about it. It is also pretty clear that all such systems will incarcerate someone innocent for months before the trial, and let some guilty felon go on a final pre-trial shooting and raping spree. Here is to better minds than mine to work on the problem.
Friday, June 11, 2004
Superpowers for rentSuperpowers for Rent
Not quite. But this article from CNET is rather interesting
Halliburton to rent IBM supercomputing
IBM, which has begun a program to rent its own supercomputer power to outside users, has signed on a partner that uses the service for its own specialized offering. Landmark Graphics, a Halliburton subsidiary that processes seismic data to help oil and gas companies find reserves, will base its service on IBM's computing resources, the companies said this week.
IBM rents out the power of two "Deep Computing Capacity on Demand Centers" housing clusters of networked Linux machines in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., and Montpellier, France. Customers pay by how much processing power they need; Hewlett-Packard has a similar offering for digital animation customers. Landmark first used IBM for Linux help in 2002.
very very interesting. I wonder what trajectory this trend will take. Obviously, this is a very early adopter stage. I am interested in seeing how many of these announcements we are going to see in the next 12 months, and also in seeing some numbers, technical and financial, reported for these deals.
Thatcher eulogy pre-recordedThatcher eulogy pre-recorded
Slate has an interesting tidbit on the Reagan funeral
The papers also note that, along with George and Laura Bush, many dignitaries paid their respects to Ronnie and Nancy yesterday, including Mikhail Gorbachev, Margaret Thatcher, Rudolph Giuliani, and Lech Walesa, who contributes his own hagiography to today's WSJ opinion page. The NYT and WP run dueling soft-focus remembrances from Gorbachev, imparted in (apparently) separate interviews at the Russian embassy yesterday, and the Post also informs readers that Thatcher's seven-minute eulogy (one of two to be delivered at the closed funeral) was actually recorded earlier this year after her doctors ordered her to stop making public speeches[ed - emphasis added]. One person who won't be there, according to the LAT: Ollie North. "Every doggone camera in the place would be shooting pictures of me instead of paying attention to what was going on," he told the paper.
If true, this is an interesting tidbit.
Geek JokeGeek Joke
There are 10 types of people in the world... Those who understand binary and those who don't.
eh. No time to write original material.
Tuesday, June 08, 2004
Flash and PHP photo galleryFlash and PHP photo gallery
This was a nice discovery today. A Flash gallery application, the SimpleViewer is free (as in beer (not sure about the license)). Together with the free (as in open source) .redSPLASH PHP administration interface you can run multiple galleries and administrate them easily.
Monday, June 07, 2004
New lense typeNew lense type
Ravlik writes about a new type of a lense that can capture objects with details impossible before.
A New Way of Looking at Things
By Alex Stone
May 27, 2004 | Astronomy & Physics
Scientists have invented a lens that defeats the diffraction limit, a seemingly immutable physical law that
restricts image quality. Conventional lenses can resolve only objects that are larger than the wavelength
of light, but the new design can clearly see previously inaccessible, sub-wavelength details.
The problem with traditional lenses, says University of Toronto electrical engineer George Eleftheriades,
is that they destroy evanescent waves-reflections from an illuminated object that contain minute details of
its appearance. As evanescent waves pass through a conventional lens, they dwindle to invisibility; in the
process, some of the most interesting parts of the image are lost. Four years ago, physicist John Pendry at
Imperial College in London worked out a method that would, in theory, recover the evanescent waves, but
nobody knew if it was practically feasible.
To find out, Eleftheriades and graduate student Anthony Grbic constructed a novel lens out of a thin
lattice of metallic strips interlaced with inductors and capacitors, devices that store, respectively,
magnetic and electric energy. The researchers combined these components in a way that captured evanescent
waves from microwaves, which are similar to light waves but larger and hence easier to manipulate. "In the
lenses we made, the evanescent waves were actually enhanced, so they contributed to better resolution,"
Eleftheriades says. "We got six times better resolution than with a conventional lens, and we think we can
do even better." This work could lead to sharper medical imaging, smaller antennas, and better surveillance
technology, he predicts.
Friday, June 04, 2004
Interesting life-interest articleInteresting life-interest article
Across the Anacostia River, in her sparsely furnished apartment, a contestant from a previous Scripps National Spelling Bee -- 18-year-old Ashley White -- arrived home from her job as a salesclerk, having just picked up her 10-month-old daughter from day care. White was tired, the baby fussy. Out their window, buses growled by on Minnesota Avenue SE.
Five years after winning the D.C. bee and surviving several rounds of the national finals, White was warming pureed peas and remembering the achievement that won her a featured spot in the Oscar-nominated documentary "Spellbound."
Well-written and interesting article. On a slightly separate note:
"My original thought was that she at least needed mentors, women in D.C. who are doing things with their lives," Jones said. But when she finally met the girl she'd seen on the screen, the autumn after her graduation from the School Without Walls, much more than that was needed.
Almost a week ago I emailed my alma mater to tell them I might have a full-time and some internship positions available within my team. No one responded. And after that I am going to receive 4 or 5 emails every few months asking me whether I want to mentor or help recent graduates and current students. Argh.
From AP NewsFrom AP News
President Bush is on a European visit prior to celebrating the 60th anniversary of D-Day
Bush was marking the Allied liberation of Rome from its Nazi occupiers 60 years ago. A few hours before the march began, he met with Pope John Paul II, who vigorously opposed the invasion of Iraq. Bush meets Berlusconi on Saturday before heading to France.
"It's difficult to forget that the world would be different if 60 years ago, this great international alliance of forces hadn't formed against Nazism," said Romano Prodi, head of the European Commission and a center-left opposition leader.
But really, it is very easy:
But some protesters questioned whether Americans should still be called "liberators."
"Their credit was lost in Vietnam," said Mario Bucci, a 40-year-old waving a rainbow-colored peace flag.
I do not even know what that means. I do not know how credit for liberating Rome can be extinguished by another war on another continent. The real question, I guess, is whether someone like Mario Bucci would ever consider Americans liberators, in 1943, 1944, or 2004.
Thursday, June 03, 2004
NYT on speech coverageNYT Bush speech coverage
Over at Volokh conspiracy a guest blogger - Tom Smith - takes the NYT to the task for their coverage of the Bush speech at the Air Force Academy. I agree with a lot of Tom's remarks. However, I also enjoyed the differences between this, June 3rd article in the Washington section, and the one published on June 2nd by David Stout in the International > Middle East section. A friend of mine pointed that article out, complaning about poor verbiage in the speech. His particular nitpick was this sentence:
"Like the Second World War, our present conflict began with a ruthless surprise attack on the United States. We will not forget that treachery, and we will accept nothing less than victory over the enemy."
I agree that this is a poor choice of sentences. For one, WWII certainly did not begin by an attack on the United States. War has been going on since September 1st, 1939, and by December 7, 1941 all of Europe was aflame - from London to Moscow. There were plenty of ways to keep the meaning and the 9/11 parallel without giving the world media a mistake to chuckle over, IMO. It is possible to argue that the inclusion of "our present conflict" provides the link to the WWII conflict in the sense of "our entry into WWII conflict began with...", but that is weak, especially as we (the US) have been supplying British and Soviets throughout, blockading Japan's sea traffic and thus were hardly uninvolved in the WWII. I am also not crazy about the mentioning of "treachery". In the end, does it matter whether the attack was "trecherous" or not? Would it really change anything? If Japan's Foreign Ministry actually announced was on US, as it was supposed to do, a few hours before Pearl Harbor - what be different in the grand scheme of things? Was our victory somehow tied to the trechery of the attackers? If anything, the connection between Pearl Harbor and 9/11 is of willful desire to ignore the intellegence information. Bush could have said, "In both WWII and out present conflict we were caught unaware because of twin sins of pride and sloth. We were not vigilant enough, not careful enough. But we triumphed in WWII, and now Japan and Germany are the stalwarts of democracy. And we will triumph in this war, and make sure that Afganistan and Iraq, and all the nations of the Middle East can share in prosperity and justice of democracy's promise. " At least this is what I think would have been better. Enough with nitpicking on the President, on to the Times.
Tom Smith mentions NYT writer's reluctance to admit that the audience was applauding wildly
The Times describes Bush's speech as "interrupted intermittently by applause, most of it modest" and this is true. The applause was modest, except when it was enthusiastic.
This is generous compared to the David Stout article
The president was interrupted several times by the white-capped academy graduates, whose bravery and skills Mr. Bush said would be marshaled for a struggle no less momentous than that of six decades ago.
Wow. One can almost hear the boos and hackles raining down on the President who, according to the same article
Far from expressing any misgivings about the undertaking in Iraq, Mr. Bush restated his belief in pre-emption. "We can only imagine the scale of terrorist crimes were they to gain control of states of weapons of mass murder or vast oil revenues," he said. "So we will not retreat. We will prevent the emergence of terrorist-controlled states."
I imagine the NYT writers and editors felt that the proper course of action would have been to reverse the position, "We cannot imagine the scale of terrorist crimes were they to gain control of states of weapons of mass murder or vast oil revenues. So we will retreat. We will not prevent the emrgence of terrorist-controlled states."
Why should we do that? Because that would express proper misgivings about fighting terrorism. [kinda weak there, no? ran out of steam, sorry. -ed] [
Information Theory overviewInformation Theory overview
Claude Shannon rigorously examined the basic question, "What is information?" in the late 1940's while working at Bell Labs. He developed what we now call "Information Theory", and there may be no single theoretical work which is more important and less well known. For many electrical engineers and computer programmers it's central and vital, but few laymen have ever heard of Shannon and quite a lot of programmers don't know his name.
One of Shannon's fundamental insights was that transmission is not the same as information. He concentrated particularly on the fundamental properties of bit streams (he was the first to use the word "bit" to refer to binary digits) and concluded that information was a function of surprise or unpredictability. When someone receives a message encoded as string of bits, if based on the value of the bit stream up to a given point the receiver has no better than a 50:50 chance of predicting the next bit, then that bit contains maximal information. At the other extreme, if the receiver can predict the next bit unfailingly, then that bit contains no information at all.
read the whole thing. As usual, Den Beste is thorough and articulate.
Wednesday, June 02, 2004
About codes.About codes
In what is sure to be an important story, the New York Times reports that Ahmad Chalabi disclosed to Iran that the United States had broken the secret communications code of Iran's intelligence service. If it is true, there are many fascinating aspects to this story. One is that the US had Iran's secret code. Nonetheless, what is most striking from the Time's report is the apparent gross incompetence of the Iranian official who received the information from Chalabi:
American officials said that about six weeks ago, Mr. Chalabi told the Baghdad station chief of Iran's Ministry of Intelligence and Security that the United States was reading the communications traffic of the Iranian spy service, one of the most sophisticated in the Middle East.
According to American officials, the Iranian official in Baghdad, possibly not believing Mr. Chalabi's account, sent a cable to Tehran detailing his conversation with Mr. Chalabi, using the broken code. That encrypted cable, intercepted and read by the United States, tipped off American officials to the fact that Mr. Chalabi had betrayed the code-breaking operation, the American officials said.
If the intelligence agencies of other countries are committing mistakes of this magnitude, then perhaps it becomes a little easier to forgive our own intelligence agencies for their mistakes. Perhaps. In any event, that the United States had Iran's secret code, at least for a while, gives me more confidence in our intelligence agencies than I have had for some time.
I do not really want to fisk Mike's article or his conclusions. I did want to comment on them a bit. Rappaport writes
One is that the US had Iran's secret code
That is not something that is actually all that surprising to me. It is *really* hard to build codes that could somehow withstand the computing and cryptographic prowess of the NSA. Most public codes rely on the difficulty of finding proper "prime factors" for the key with which a message is encrypted. However, while NSA is unlikely to spend thousands of computer-years on breaking a love note from my to my wife, one images resources for breaking Iranian codes would be made available. Non-public encryption algorithms are a different matter. Their main weakness lies in the fact that there is no wide expert community to test and find flaws in these cyphers. For their encryption Iranians would have 3 choices: a private cypher, a public PGP-type cypher, or some combination of the first two. Another problem for Iranians is that the more messages encrypted with some cypher are intercepted, the more analysis can be done and thus the easier it is broken. The amount of communications going into and out of Iraq must have been huge, compared to what be otherwise intercepted by US from "normal" sources of Iranian communications (USA does not even have an embassy there). As mentioned above, none of the options are guaranteed to remain unbroken by a concerted US effort. Given the priority of understanding Iran's involvement and actions in Iraq, I am not at all suprised that super-computers at Fort Meade would be cranking away at those codes. Moreover, for a change, US actually has a huge contingent of agents in Iraq - CIA and Military intelligence, to probe and try to get access to communications devices, code books, etc.
Another point made by Mike Rappaport was that
If the intelligence agencies of other countries are committing mistakes of this magnitude, then perhaps it becomes a little easier to forgive our own intelligence agencies for their mistakes.
Here too, I have to disagree somewhat. For one, whoever sent the cable may not know how a message is ecnrypted. Perhaps it was meant to be encrypted with a different cypher and the signals officer screwed up (or did not screw up but was a US agent [or a Mossas agent, of course. -ed]). Perhaps Iranians found out that the code was broken and decided to frame Chalabi for it.
Finally, I do not see why it is easier to forgive out intellegence agencies their mistakes because of mistakes our foes make. The fields of cryptography, communications and signals, and information theory are not a new invention. Large parts of those fields were written by Brits and Americans during WWII and significantly enlarged by Americans and Soviets during the Cold War. There is no reason to forgive institutional mistakes for problems that are largely known and avoidable. Iranians can lay claim to poor equipment, lack of training for their personnel, Israeli and American spies. US Agencies have no such excuse. I imagine that breaking Iranian (and everyone else's) codes are part of clear tactical goals set to them by the DoD and Joint Chiefs. I am proud and happy that they were successful in their mission this time, as I am sure they have done over and over again throughout the years.
Tuesday, June 01, 2004
Free Market Economics Done Hollywood StyleFree Market Economics Done Hollywood Style
posting this verbatim, pretty much.
Over at Cafe Hayek, Don Boudreaux asks, "Suppose that a movie with exaggerations on a similar scale [to The Day After Tomorrow] were made by a free-market enthusiast. That movie might contain some of the following scenes:"A ten-cent increase in the federal minimum wage casts millions of blacks and Hispanics into permanent unemployment and despair; all of the unemployed women scrape up pennies by offering themselves as prostitutes, while all of the unemployed men swarm to the suburbs to rape soccer-moms and then riot so violently in the cities that the Empire State building, the U.S. Capitol, the Sears Tower, and the Bank of America building all crash violently to the ground, killing tens of thousands of innocent civilians, including a kindly book-peddler specializing in works by and about Ayn Rand....
Interesting security add-on for external hard drivesInteresting security add-on for external hard drives
Gizmodo writes about this device
Kontron's InfoGuardian is a USB 2.0 or FireWire aluminum hard drive enclosure that encrypts the data on the internal drive via DES or TDES ciphers, all locked down by a removable USB flash drive key. I'd like to see some performance numbers for the top-end 192bit encryption, since everything passing to and from the drive would have to be reprocessed. It's a nice looking case, too.
Pretty cool device that comes a long way to solve the problem of mobile hard drives containing all of person's data.
Original article from Computex.
Colossus MK2Colossus MK2
BBC reports, and Slashdot echoes that the project rebuild Colossus MK2 machine responsible for breaking some of the toughest German codes during WWII has been rebuilt by a group of computer enthusiasts.
In celebration of D-Day, "Colossus", one of the earliest electronic code-breaking machines, has been rebuilt after ten years of effort by computer conservationists. Colossus was used to break the Lorenz cipher. This story is being reported by the BBC. Remarkably, the use of parallel processing (five tape channels) and short gate delay time (1.2 microseconds) allows the Colossus to match the speed of a modern PC.
I am not sure about the claim of "speed" of a modern PC. My understanding is that Colossus was a significantly multi-processing machine, optimized specifically for the purpose of breaking codes. Perhaps that means that in some operational aspects it could approach the speed of executing similar tasks on some "modern" PC configurations. Certainly, people behind the creation of code-breaking machines of WWII and its immediate aftermath are underrecognized for their technological achievements and their service towards helping to win the War.