December 16, 2000

Swaine points me towards two articles, one describing advances in LED technology and its potential to replace the light bulb, the other describing recent developments in quantum computing. Quantum computing is one of those things that may never happen, but which could greatly change the world if it did. For starters, it would make it easy to find prime factors, making our more sophisticated security technologies obsolete.

Tomalak points me towards an interview with Jaron Lanier, who argues that “software” is defined too broadly. You wouldn’t want someone with experience creating interactive web pages to develop the embedded software on a pacemaker, he says. Some thoughtful stuff about a field that can occasionally be too impressed by itself.

At Salon, Andrew Leonard writes about the culture of hackers and open-source developers (that’s “hacker” in the old sense of a clever programmer, not someone who breaks into systems). It starts out with a cyberpunk novel (whose backstory includes the “Linux Jihad”), moves on to a discussion of “hackish”, the sub-dialect described in the Jargon File, and ends with a look at virtual private networks.

JOHO notes that Wired’s recent decision to hyphenate “e-mail”—explained in an article that shows a surprising condescension towards technical types for such a tech- and gadget-obsessed publication—has predictably prompted a firestorm of criticism. Long-time readers of ZedneWeb may have noticed the way I vacillate between “email” and “e-mail”, depending on my mood and the phase of the moon. It's not just because I'm lazy; I'm really not sure which I prefer. “Email” is widely used and slightly shorter, but “e-mail” follows the example of “A-bomb” and “X-ray”. I suppose one will eventually win over the other, but either choice would be fine (unlike whatever process gave us the current spellings of “debt” and “often”).

Lastly, the Marathon Story Page links to an article describing the development process of Deus Ex, a first-person action/adventure/role-playing game that I’ve been meaning to check out one of these days. Some good insight into what makes an single-player game involving and interesting, particularly the distinction made between making players solve problems and puzzles.