Issue No. 04 - April (2006 vol. 39)
DOI Bookmark: http://doi.ieeecomputersociety.org/10.1109/MC.2006.112
PERSONAL DATA (pp. 9–10). "DPMA has urged California state senators to give 'further consideration' to the Fair Information Practice Act passed by the California Assembly January 30.
"Now before a Senate committee for consideration and vote, the bill, A.B. No. 2656, would restrict the use and transfer of personal data used by computers in automated personal data systems. It would impose heavy penalties on operators of computer systems for unauthorized invasion of an individual's privacy through improper dissemination of personal information.
"A memorandum to all California DPMA chapter presidents and international directors stated that 'it is the position of the DPMA that further consideration must be given to this bill to simplify administrative requirements to a point where they can be economically and effectively processed by corporations.'"
PROGRAMMING AUTOMATION (p. 38). "Programming automation is long overdue and there are a number of current efforts to correct this deficiency. The range of goals being sought is large, running from slightly more intelligent compilers than we now have to completely automated programmers. The amount of work to date on software automation is pitifully small however."
DECENTRALIZED ARCHITECTURE (p. 62). "Xerox has recently announced two models of a new computer line, the medium-scale Xerox 550 and 560 systems, and a new line of peripheral equipment. The 550 has been designed primarily for scientific/engineering and real-time applications; the 560 is for the multi-use market, offering all variations of data processing modes—local batch, remote batch, interactive timesharing, transaction processing, and real time. Standard features include virtual memory, central control of multiple processors, built-in error detection facilities, and communication links for trouble-shooting from regional service centers.
"Both systems have decentralized architecture, which allows central control of up to 22 processors. Thus the systems can be adapted to the user's applications, with a mix of computing and I/O processors to produce optimum data rates and throughput. A single 'system control processor' in each system controls configuration, and services operator and maintainer interfaces, interrupts, and clocks."
ZIPPER DRIVE (p. 63). "Zipper is now available interfaced to Data General Nova-type minicomputers. Zipper, a low cost, completely interfaced tape cassette system, provides a method of handling minicomputer data. The interface is contained on a standard sized board and connects directly to a low cost consumer cassette recorder. The tape recorder is completely unaltered. Primarily a replacement for low speed paper tape I/O, Zipper can load a 4K Data General 1200 in less than 90 seconds. Zipper can be used for program and data loading or dumping. Full system including cassette tape transport, interface and software drivers is $500."
FREQUENCY DIVISION MULTIPLEXER (p. 65). "A new series of frequency division multiplexers introduced by Tele-Dynamics … increases line utilization by transmitting up to 24 channels of low speed data over a single line. Each channel is operated in the half duplex mode for further cost effectiveness. The new units employ frequency shift keying and have separate transreceiver/control functions for each channel. Channel widths from 120 Hz to 960 Hz can be mixed and transmitted at speeds from 75 to 600 Baud. Pluggable filter modules permit easy channel selection."
DRUG SCREENING (p. 67). "A revolutionary technique for screening prospective anti-cancer drugs has been reported by chemists at the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory and the University of Washington.
"The technique, which uses details of a drug's molecular structure to predict therapeutic activity, promises to become a major asset to heavily burdened drug screening programs in which thousands of new compounds thought to have potential anti-cancer applications begin laboratory testing each year."
GARBAGE SORTING (p. 68). "As the price of minicomputers declines, broader, more mundane areas of application are opening up. Some minis are winding up in the garbage dump—but not as refuse.
"Professors at Massachusetts Institute of Technology have packaged Computer Automation's ALPHA 16 minicomputer into an electrical/mechanical system that takes pure, unadulterated trash and sorts it into different categories, identifying waste for disposal or recycling.
"As a result, the MIT group sees a broad potential for computer driven trash sorters in communities throughout the nation, particularly those which are very short of disposal sites."
MARITIME RESEARCH (p. 69). "An unusual computer-generated color video display will be used to present a realistic, sweeping panorama of seascapes as seen from a ship's bridge. The Image Generation and Display Subsystem (IGADS) … will be installed in the National Maritime Research Center at Kings Point, New York.
"When completed, the facility will be used to improve the efficiency and competitive position of the U.S. Flag Merchant Fleet, to evaluate port and terminal concepts, assist in increasing safety at sea, substantiate environmental impact evaluations, and to establish maritime industry standards through improved technology and operational procedures."
DEVELOPMENT LIFE CYCLE (p. 9). "At a time when the Swedish and Japanese have demonstrated the advantage of worker involvement with the entire product, we have created the entirely artificial specialization of the software development life cycle. When capable software developers were in short supply, we tolerated the prima donnas who couldn't be bothered with the more mundane phases. Now, successful organizations recognize that their survival depends on a high-quality product, which, in turn, is greatly enhanced by individual responsibility (and accountability) through the entire life cycle."
PARALLEL PROCESSORS (p. 19). "… a processor can access its own local memory somewhat more efficiently than it can access remote memory. As a result, programmers normally place private and frequently accessed data in local memory, sometimes explicitly copying remote data to local memory.
"In contrast, the Monarch memory system is completely uniform. Up to 65,536 processors access a shared-memory system through a high-performance interconnection network. Aside from processor registers and an instruction cache, Monarch processors have no local memory. Every data reference is to remote memory. The delay in accessing remote memory is hidden from the programmer by matching the processor to the network and allowing the processor to execute other instructions while the data is being fetched."
REFEREEING (pp. 65–66). "Reading a paper as a referee is closer to what a teacher or professor does when grading a paper than what a scientist or engineer does when reading a published work. In the latter case, the reader presumes that the paper has been checked (refereed) and is thus correct, novel, and worthwhile. As a referee, on the other hand, you must read the paper carefully and with an open mind, checking and evaluating the material with no presumption as to its quality or accuracy. The result of your reading should be a referee report that recommends for or against accepting the paper and lists necessary and suggested changes."
BAR CODING (p. 74). "The bar code industry uses the term symbology to denote each particular bar code scheme …. The last few years have seen the introduction of many new symbologies, and an ongoing debate compares them with each other and with schemes for encoding printed information on a substrate. Therefore, we need to look into information and coding theory to make meaningful comparisons.
"Early codes, in particular UPC (Universal Product Code), resulted from careful studies, but such studies faced the technological constraints of 20 years ago and responded to the expected applications of that time. Thus, we can justify examining encoding and decoding schemes that looked impractical 20 years ago."
THE DOS BARRIER (p. 105). "While the argument proceeds over which operating system, Unix or OS/2, will dominate the personal computer market, applications designed for the DOS market continue to pour out of developers' workshops. … Yet DOS, with its 640-Kbyte memory limitation, remains immutable, forcing developers to reach ever deeper into their bag of programming tricks to force their programs to fit."
"Fortunately, an alternative exists. … The solution, incorporated in packages known as DOS extenders, allows applications developed for IBM-compatible 286 or 386 machines to take advantage of at least 16 Mbytes and in some cases as much as 4 Gbytes of memory."
GRAPHICS SUPERCOMPUTERS (p. 115). "Silicon Graphics has announced the Iris Powervision family of graphics supercomputers, part of the Iris Power Series. According to the company, Powervision combines interactive geometric processing and image processing based on a new graphics architecture. The new architecture reputedly provides performance of 1 million polygons per second, 1 million anti-aliased vectors per second, and 1.5 million anti-aliased points per second.
"Features include real-time anti-aliasing of polygons, vectors, and points; real-time texture mapping; real-time special effects for fog, motion-blur, and full-scene progressive anti-aliasing; and a suite of imaging functions."
SILK (p. 121). "'If there is one thing I would like you to remember from this talk, it is SILK.' That was [Raj] Reddy's injunction to attendees in the concluding keynote speech [of the Fifth International Data Engineering Conference]. … SILK, he soon added, is an acronym that he invented, standing for Speech, Image, Language, and Knowledge processing.
"'These are the objects the database community will be dealing with in the 1990s,' he predicted. 'The problem is how to acquire, represent, store, and retrieve such objects. What does it mean to index and search for relevant information in databases containing such objects?'"
PDFs of the articles and departments from Computer's April 1990 issue are available at www.computer.org/computer.