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By ucblockhead (Sat Jul 08, 2017 at 07:08:43 PM EST) (all tags)
One of my first post-high school jobs was working in a computer room.  I remember the first day distinctly, when the operator said "where do you think the computer is?"  The answer: "You're leaning on it".  Much laughter.  Computers were so small you could comfortably lean on them as if they were a desk.

I realized the other day that on my desk in the den, I have eight fully functional computers, five of which I use daily or nearly so.

In order of usage:

iPhone 6

I've oscillated between Android and iPhones.  I'll get pissed off at one and jump to the other.  I got pissed off at Android a while back because of janky software, crapware and poor update paths.  I'm currently at the 90% level of pissed-offedness at iPhones and will probably get an Android phone in a couple years.  I am to cheap to change more than every year or so.

The iPhone gets used for the obvious things.  Email, both work and home.  Texts, though mostly just to my wife and son.  Primary apps are Spotify (which I use mostly on the train while reading) and the podcast app (which I use mostly while driving or walking to work.)  There's a few games that get usage ("20", "Ballz") primarily when I am, er, occupied after my morning coffee.  If I'm driving any distance, I use Waze.  I use Routesy to find when the train is coming.  There's a whole bunch of other crap that gets marginal usage.

If it vibrates to announce a call, I barely know what the fuck to do, because I don't do calls.

MacBook Pro

This is my "real" computer, and I am entirely happy with it.  It is either at my desk, attached to a large Thunderbolt display or used as a laptop in the sitting room, or elsewhere.  I run all the usual stuff (Chrome, email).  I've got Steam for gaming, though these days I mostly use it to stream from another device.  I've got Handbrake for time-shifting netflix DVDs, VNC for watching movies (though rarely real movies, mostly for checking DVD rips and home video)  Slack for communicating with friends/work, Facetime for communicating with Mom.

I've got random dev tools, run brew to get tools, run jupyter locally, etc.  MacVIm of course.

PlayStation 4

This is my primary gaming box.  Since I don't really watch much TV, this is where I spend a lot of my entertainment time.  It's attached to a 32" screen, as I am mostly at the desk, not far away. 

I have an insane number of games.  I've been a PlayStation+ member since that was a thing, so I get lots of free games that way, plus employee discounts get me many major titles for $10, leading to more impulse buys.

We set up the elliptical to face that same screen, so the PS4 also gets a lot of Netflix/Amazon Video/HBO time as video is the prime exercise motivator for my wife and I.

Alienware gaming box

Recently I decided it was time to have a Windows gaming machine so I bought an Alienware Alpha mini desktop as a reward with my company bonus.  Years ago, I built my own Windows boxes, but I decided I was done with spending the time and energy when I can throw money at it.  I've been pleasantly surprised by how turn-key it is and how little crap-ware there is on the device.

Plan A was to use it just for games, and so what got installed was Steam and  A week or so ago, I realized it was kinda dumb to have my "media storage" external drive attached to my laptop setup when I now has a desktop, so that got moved and I through together a simple DLNA server.   I also installed Spotify so I could stream music to the PS4.  (Usually for in-game music.)

I also installed bash for Windows just to make trivial maintenance less annoying.

Amazon Fire

I've gotten two different ones, first a 6", then an 8" when they were on sale.  I think I paid $80 for the big one.  95% of its usage is reading books.  I do most of my reading on the device because it's rare to get a seat on the train, and it is easier to deal with than a physical book.  Plus, I can have a whole library and impulse by.  When I travel, I will generally copy a bunch of movies to it to watch on the plane and at the hotel.  I've found it's a great device if you use it for simple stuff like I do.

Acer Chromebook

This is the newest addition.  I used to always travel with a laptop.  In some cases two.  (Work device, home device.)  We've got a trip to Scotland planned, and while it is nice to have an Internet capable device with you for planning,  between the current political bullshit in customs and the fears about having a device with basically all my financial info on it I decided it was time for something else.

The idea being that the Chromebook was cheap, so losing it would be less annoying, and better yet, could basically be factory reset at will without losing anything.

So yeah, what it has on it is Chrome and email.  I'll probably only use it for travel.  I know a lot of people would have turned it into an Ubuntu box, but I didn't see a reason to.  I wanted something simple, and intend to share it with wife and son on the trip.  I did turn on "developer mode" so I could get a real shell, mostly because in order to satisfy any more geeking interests, I set up up so I can shell into an AWS server, in particular, one running Jupyter.  So I can basically screw around with code in my browser without having a "real" computer locally.

PlayStation Vita

I bought this out of company loyalty, really.  I used my own PlayStation Portable a lot, but like nearly everyone, I don't use my Vita much.  It's sad.  It's actually quite a good device.  I just don't ever have a place to use it.  On the train, I read.  At home, I've got stand-alone consoles and PCs.  In line and elsewhere, the phone is more present and has more 5-minute games.  So really the only time I use it is on long flights and maybe at the hotel.

I have a crap-load of games for it.  PlayStation+ gives 2-3 free Vita games a month.   Of course most are second tier.

Raspberry Pi

This sits on my desk.  I got it because I felt I should have one.  Set it up and then got distracted and haven't got around to doing anything further.  It's purpose is "screw around with Linux and stuff".


That's what was on my desk.  In the drawers there's actually an XBox 360 and an old Android Tablet, neither of which have been powered on for years.

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Technology | 15 comments (15 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
I remember reading... by ana (4.00 / 3) #1 Sat Jul 08, 2017 at 07:38:52 PM EST
...a paper years ago now; possibly when I was in grad school, so 1985-ish. It's always been a bit of a trick figuring out how supernovae work. Star runs out of hydrogen in the core, and then helium, and it cooks faster and faster to iron and then that's all the nuclear energy you get. So the core collapses to a neutron star, yeah, ok, we see those out there, they're real... Suddenly it's very stiff and drives a shock wave up through the infalling envelope... And then a miracle occurs. In the computers, it all falls in and just makes a black hole. No boom. They promised me a boom.

Anyway, a bunch of folks from Los Alamos ran simulations that included for the first time an attempt to calculate neutrino transport. You've turned a few by 1033 grams of stuff into neutrons, so there are like 1057 neutrinos wanting out. With an MeV or so of energy, per each. That's in fact most of the energy of the whole supernova. Being neutrinos, nearly all of them just stream right through, but some of them scatter and provide just enough momentum, maaaaybe? to make the boom.

The point of mentioning this here is that a page or so of the paper was occupied by bitching about how small the memory of the Los Alamos Cray was, and how they had to economize and how that might impact the accuracy of their conclusions. Nowadays, you probably have that much memory on your phone. Or certainly elsewhere on your desktop.

Or get rabies. Also don't do that. --scrymarch

Crays by ucblockhead (2.00 / 0) #2 Sat Jul 08, 2017 at 08:19:19 PM EST
My stepfather was the facilities manager for the Supercomputer Center they built to house a Cray at UCSD in the mid-eighties.   I remember reading at around the iPhone 3 or 4 area that the "current" iPhones were about as powerful as the Cray 1.
[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
[ Parent ]
wiki claims iPhone2>=Cray 2 by wumpus (4.00 / 1) #9 Mon Jul 10, 2017 at 02:38:10 PM EST
And it is somewhat believable.
Cray 1 - 8MB* [S]RAM/160 M[acho?]FLOPS Cray 2 - 2GB** RAM/2GFLOPS The keys are pretty obvious. Old machines didn't have the memory later machines would. There used to be significant difference between the sheer bandwidth between all the banks of memory and the CPUs, but modern machines hide all that behind DDR3/4 (and earlier). The reason I suspect that the iPhone is wrong is that why in the world would you include double precision circuitry in an iPhone? Of course I doubt Seymour could be bothered to do "complete IEEE 754 (which wouldn't exist for 10 more years)", so emulating double precision with multiple singles might be possible.

My motoG pulls 34.65Mflops on my silly LINPAC app. I certainly hope those are doubles, it would be pretty sad as singles.

For something more extreme, I think the AMD 290X graphics card (shipped in 2013) could have broken the Top 500 list about 10 years before it shipped. Nvidia's 7-series Titan would do the same, but it looks like anything (consumer) since then refuses to do double precision.

* I think that's the addressable limit, many shipped with less
** That's what serial #0001 shipped with

[ Parent ]
desktop ? by sasquatchan (4.00 / 1) #7 Mon Jul 10, 2017 at 11:31:27 AM EST
heck, probably more RAM on the stinking graphics card...

[ Parent ]
Comparisons with phones by Herring (4.00 / 1) #3 Sun Jul 09, 2017 at 01:20:32 PM EST
Not totally fair.

My desktop PC, I can ramp it right up to 100% CPU for all six cores, keep it there and it all still works fine. Try that with a phone. (I'm halfway tempted to try it with an Android Native app but fear breaking my own phone)

Theoretically you can get a lot out of a phone but in practice, it would just get too hot.

Long talk by Sophie Wilson here

You can't inspire people with facts
- Small Gods

Actually talking about Ms Wilson by Herring (2.00 / 0) #8 Mon Jul 10, 2017 at 12:43:12 PM EST
I was trying to count up the ARM chips that we have in the house.

For some reason, there are 3 in the router
At least 1 in the TV
And 1 in the satellite box
Probably one in the BluRay player
3 Android phones
Mrs. H.'s work iPad
The boy's iPod
A Raspberry Pi
Wouldn't be surprised if there was one in the new washing machine.
And that IoT smoke alarm

Bloody things are everywhere

You can't inspire people with facts
- Small Gods

[ Parent ]
I kind of bunked off all my CS101 classes by ambrosen (2.00 / 0) #12 Mon Jul 10, 2017 at 08:20:52 PM EST
But there was one where the professor stood at the front of the class with a diagram like an iceberg and all kinds of computing devices listed on it.

He had various types of domestic, office and research computers above the waterline, and the more a computer was embedded into a device, the deeper below the waterline it was.

I was indignant when he said that my firesale Apple Newton was just below the waterline, so more embedded computer than "real" computer. After all, it had a powerful ARM chip in it. And what would Steve Furber know about ARM architecture?

[ Parent ]
I would like a small light laptop for work travel by georgeha (2.00 / 0) #4 Sun Jul 09, 2017 at 09:22:56 PM EST
But I'm stuck with a heavy Dell, to make the corporations happy. I do use Acrobat Pro DC quite a bit.

I would like to not have a laptop for work by lm (4.00 / 5) #5 Sun Jul 09, 2017 at 09:26:55 PM EST
... with no laptop comes no expectation to take it home.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
Chromebook by ucblockhead (2.00 / 0) #10 Mon Jul 10, 2017 at 03:38:28 PM EST
It's personal only.  For work travel, the work laptop is a requirement.
[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
[ Parent ]
I hope you get better airline seating than I do by georgeha (2.00 / 0) #11 Mon Jul 10, 2017 at 04:32:00 PM EST
last minute economy class means I'm usually stuck near the tail.

Flying from Rochester means I usually have to transfer.

Put them together and I'm stuck near the back of the plane with a heavy backpack and barely enough time to catch my connecting flight, watching all the slow people ahead of me meander down the aisle to the jet bridge.

[ Parent ]
Southwest by ucblockhead (2.00 / 0) #13 Mon Jul 10, 2017 at 10:49:43 PM EST
I usually fly Southwest and spring for the extra $15 to be in the "A" group.
[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
[ Parent ]
I don't get that. by aphrael (2.00 / 0) #15 Mon Jul 24, 2017 at 05:23:28 PM EST
If i'm not making a short connection, I'll always wait until the population pressure has cleared. That is, I might hop out if nobody is going down the aisle and someone behind me is blocking everyone behind them, but otherwise ... I'm not in a hurry, so it seems best to just get out of the way.
If television is a babysitter, the internet is a drunk librarian who won't shut up.
[ Parent ]
as a now independent contractor by MillMan (2.00 / 0) #14 Tue Jul 11, 2017 at 12:10:09 AM EST
getting to provide my own laptop versus some five year old garbage Lenovo is a perk, even when I'm paying for it.

"Just as there are no atheists in foxholes, there are no libertarians in financial crises." -Krugman

[ Parent ]
Computers by Phil the Canuck (2.00 / 0) #6 Mon Jul 10, 2017 at 08:06:36 AM EST
All of these can fit in the palm of my hand except the home rig and the PS4.

Technology | 15 comments (15 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback