in re: Mars Rover — John channels Gary

This article about the discovery, debugging, and patch of a timing glitch on the Mars Pathfinder caught my fancy.

Its system architecture reminded me of the three-bus architecture of Masscomp “real time unix(TM)” machines, which I came to know intimately “back in the day” (84-86) as a side effect of writing the damn ‘theory of operations’ manuals for it. And anyway, as any of y’all as have read the first page of my Acts of the Apostles knows, I think the discovery-and-debugging of timing glitches is inherently interesting.

Outer space and spacecraft and actual hardware are Gary’s beat around Wetmachine, so here’s my respects, gov’nuh.

By the way, Google came up with an article on the Masscomp architecture but you need an ACM membership to read it so I’m not bothering with it, as my account has expired. If anybody has a Masscomp architecture diagram lying about, kindly post a link.

Crass Commercial Anouncement

Crass Commercial Announcement

The bill for Wetmachine’s hosting is coming due pretty soon. Sure would be nice to sell a few books to help pay the freight! Why not take this opportunity to buy one!

The wonderfulness of same is attested to not only by me, but by the following reputable(!?!?) sources:

Acts of the Apostles:






and many more about which Google can inform you.

Cheap Complex Devices:



And Google. . .

Don’t forget that you can try before you buy. The complete sources of both books are available for free download — gust glance to the left side, under “read my books” and follow the links. The all important “buy my books” section is just below that.

Wetmachine will resume its regularly scheduled programming as soon as Harold or Gary or Peg or Howard or Bremser gets around to posting something to push this story down the page.

An obstacle to human progress

So I decided to ego surf the google usenet archives the other day and was kind of taken aback to see that the first entry for “John Sundman” was this little nugget from

John Sundman

People like “John Sundman” are obstacles to the progress of human knowledge and

deserve to be put out of their misery

It was a comment I hadn’t seen before in response to this story I wrote for Salon about artifical intelligence, or more precisely, about how certain AI types could stand to, y’know, lighten up a little! (Why, the nerve of me!). God, seeing that comment cracked me up, I must thay.

I was tempted to try to make some kind of extrapolation from that comment to Godwin’s Law, but I’m somehow not really all that motivated. So in closing I guess it’s only fair that I should remind you that you’ve just wasted half a minute of your life with an obstacle to human progress. Now, I want you to go off and think about that before you make any more foolish mistakes today.

Nanomeme Syndrome

In both the philosophical and visual sense, ‘seeing is believing’ does not apply to nanotechnology, for there is nothing even remotely visible to create proof of existence. On the atomic and molecular scale, data is recorded by sensing and probing in a very abstract manner, which requires complex and approximate interpretations. More than in any other science, visualization and creation of a narrative becomes necessary to describe what is sensed, not seen. Nevertheless, many of the images generated in science and popular culture are not related to data at all, but come from visualizations and animations frequently inspired or created directly from science fiction.

From “The Nanomeme Syndrome: Blurring of fact & fiction in the construction of a new science” in Volume 1, Issue 1, of Technoetic Arts, a journal of speculative research, by Jim Gimzewski and Victoria Vesna, some legitimate hardcore nanotechnologists. Gimzewski won the Forsight Insitute’s Feynman Prize in 1997 for leading the team that made that nifty IBM logo written in atoms.

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Read Bernard Lewis — When He Goes On Sale

Bernard Lewis has two books out this holiday season: “What Went Wrong?” and “The Crisis of Islam.” WWW was written before 9/11 and published just after, but has been rereleased to take advantage of the surge of interest in the Middle East.

Lewis’ work is interesting and insightful, but overpriced. Especially since much of what he says can be found in various articles over the last 15 years and available via Google. So I recommend the books, but only when they go on sale after the holidays.

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where does the Wetmachine crowd go for breaking news?

With Saddams capture last night, I’d like to know the implications for trial. If we turn him over to an international court for, say, gasing Kurdish forces, won’t he want to tell the court where he got his intelligence reports? Could that lead to a subpoena of previous US administrations? What happens at trial and in world opinion if he’s tried by us or by a US-controlled Iraqi “government”.

Where can one go to get the poop? Google isn’t current enough. CBS, ABC, and NBC (GE and Microsoft, my two least favorite corporations) are covering the story, but say nothing of relevence about trial. NPR has an audio report that hasn’t been transcribed yet, so I can’t search for the word “trial”. Slashdot and kuro5hin aren’t on to this yet. (I wonder if I should check Urban Legends.)

My regional newspaper has some coverage (go print media!), but the New York Times and the Washington Post want me to fill out forms before they tell me anything. (And besides, the stuff about trial at the NYT isn’t transcribed from audio yet. Odd, for a newspaper.)

The day after the last election, and on the moring of 9/11, I was at work and had the resources of a hundred well-informed people. While getting paid a lot of money to come up with technology to change the world, we had each other and the best broadband money could buy to get info throughout the day. Now we’re all isolated in our homes. Where do you go for the real deal?