Thursday, May 22, 2014

Quantum Computing Playground - Thanks Google!

Slashdot turned me on to Google's Quantum Playground. It's an IDE that lives in the Chrome browser and simulates what a quantum computer would do, but it uses your regular CPUs or GPUs instead of real qbits and the QScript scripting language to program.

Some difficult problems cannot be solved in the life of the universe on a traditional Von Neumann computer, but can be solved in a heartbeat on a quantum one.

I suspect the NSA has half a dozen real quantum computers in a basement somewhere, now those of us without billion dollar budgets can have a chance to play with the quantum world. Thanks Google!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Goodbye Tilade

I have asthma. Had it since I was a kid. Everywhere I went I took my Tilade inhalers. They were my constant companions. No other inhalers worked as well with so few side-effects.
Alas this happy affair ended in Montreal - with the Montreal Protocol. In order to rid the planet of ozone-eating freon propellents, the world agreed to stop production of CFCs. Many asthma inhalers were reformulated to use CFC-free propellents, but not Tilade. It was not deemed profitable enough to reformulate.
So for the last decade I've used my stock of 10-year old inhalers, and finally decided to, in the words of Idina Menzel, "Let It Go". I plan to throw them all away. I can see using medicines a few years out-of-date, but a decade is probably too long.
So join me in shedding a tear for my departed friends.

But I as I was pondering this unhappy turn of events, I found that Aventis in New Zealand is making Tilade again.
O rejoice! O happy day!
But not so fast.
It's available in Canada and the UK, but not here in the US. Bitter tear.

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Backing up a 10yr old XP Machine

After 10 years of faithful service, it's time to retire my Sony XP Box, but how to back it up? Looking online a popular method is to buy a USB memory stick and drag all your files to it and it will last for decades.

But I'm reminded of the ancient Archimedes manuscript. A medieval monk needed some vellum to write his thoughts, and instead of going to get his own new vellum (here, little sheepy ...), he just erased the ink from an existing, but not very interesting text. Through modern multi-spectral scanning, scientist were able to recreate much of the ancient document. But that's the problem with USB drives - they are just to tempting to pull out and overwrite.

So I decided to use the trusty old DVD-R format. But if I want these photos of our family to last 100 years, beyond the coming economic Apocalypse, which disks to use? After more research I settled on the new JVC J-DMR-ISO-WPY25-HC. They are insanely expensive and only hold 4.7 Gig, but if you have documents to pass on to your great-grandchildren, a few more bucks to make sure the DVDs survives is worth it.

Note to grandchildren: In 2114, please try to read the "Sony 2014" backup disks and add a comment to this post if you can read the disk.