Four short links: 15 Apr 2009

Computer archaeology, Unix, mad science, and data mining:

  1. NASA Images Saved By VolunteersPictures from the mid-1960s Lunar Orbiter program lay forgotten for decades. But one woman was determined to see them restored. One woman and some keen hardware hackers who built Frankenstein’s tape reader to recover the images. Not just a reminder of how ephemeral our media, but also the huge amount of useful work that falls outside the interest of Official Groups to fund. (via Tim’s twitter stream)
  2. The Art of Unix Programming and The UNIX-HATERS Handbook (PDF) — one loves Unix, the other … not so much. It’s interesting to read both books consecutively and realize the vast gulf that existed between Good Enough and Perfect, and how Perfect has been well and truly vanquished by Good Enough. The original Unix solved a problem and solved it well, as did the Roman numeral system, the mercury treatment for syphilis, and carbon paper. And like those technologies, Unix, too, rightfully belongs to history. (TAoUP via bengebre’s delicious bookmarks)
  3. Theo Gray’s Mad Science — a book full of Make-like charismatic megascience that you could theoretically do if you were sufficiently patient, provisioned, and safe. Projects include making your own nylon, turning beach sand to steel, and making salt by spectacularly combining sodium and chlorine. (via BoingBoing)
  4. Microsoft Offers Data Mining Tools in the Cloud (Byteonic) — Microsoft offers some data mining functionality of SQL Server 2008 with no local analysis services server in the cloud. The service is offered in two flavors: a cloud service and as a plug-in for Excel. The tools are forecasting, prediction, and “analyze key influencers”. Interesting to see Microsoft offering this higher-level service than the simple Spreadsheet-in-the-Sky offered by Google.

Salt from sodium and chlorine

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