Women in tech: The forgotten story of Vector Graphic

I frequently hear lamentations about the number of women in the technology field–or the lack of them. Although there have been a number of successful women in the field, such as Meg Whitman, CEO of HP and formerly Ebay; Marissa Meyer, CEO of Yahoo; and Carly Fiorina, former CEO of HP, men outnumber women in the field and often by a large margin.

That perhaps makes it even more sad that Vector Graphic is largely forgotten today. Last week Fast Company profiled this pioneering computer company that time forgot.

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SSDs, data loss, electricity, and hype

I’m not particularly worried about this, but under the very worst case scenario, certain solid-state disks can theoretically lose data in a week or two if they’re left without power. But that doesn’t instill panic and get clicks when you say it like that.

But you knew I was going to write about it. Let me tell you why I’m not worried.

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Deconstructing the healthcare.gov website fiasco

By reader request, I’m going to grab onto the third rail and talk about the Affordable Care Act/Obamacare/healthcare.gov website fiasco.

As someone who has been involved in a large number of IT projects, inside and outside the government, successful and failed, I can speak to that. I know the burning question in everyone’s mind is how can three guys banging away at a keyboard for three days build a better web site than the United States Government?

The snarky answer is that the best projects I’ve ever worked on have been when someone asked for something, then one or two other guys sat down with me and we banged away at a keyboard for a little while and didn’t tell anyone what we were doing until we were done.

But it’s probably more complicated than that. Read more

Bacon and ice cream

So Burger King decided that a bacon sundae is a good idea. I have to mention it because this blog’s original name, back in October 1999 was, believe it or not, Bacon and Ice Cream. No kidding, though I’m not sure many people are still around who remember that. A week or two later, I decided that was too weird and re-launched as The Silicon Underground.

The name was a reference to an obscure Lou Reed song called What’s Good, which contained the line, “Life’s like bacon and ice cream. That’s what life’s like without you.”

So the question is, if life’s like bacon and ice cream, does Lou Reed think life is something good, or something bad?

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Facebook’s IPO doesn’t have to be the end of Silicon Valley

I saw a story on Slashdot this weekend writing Silicon Valley’s obituary at the hands of the Facebook IPO. The logic is that since social networking is an easier path to riches than traditional science, people will choose social networking.

In the short term, he may be right. But in the long term? The Facebook IPO looks more like Dotcom 2.0 to me. Read more

Is overclocking over?

Extreme Tech (via Slashdot) asks if overclocking is over. It’s an interesting question.

I have a 4-core machine whose cores can all run at a top speed of over 3 GHz. And it’s a midrange PC at best, these days. The only time I ever push its CPU usage is when I’m encoding video. Web pages that bring a P4-class machine to its knees momentarily bring this PC’s CPU usage to 10%.

Not being a gamer, I haven’t had any reason to overclock in years. In fact, even back in 2000 I was recommending against it.
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SSDs and pricing

Mainstream SSDs cost around $2 per GB to buy right now. I was curious, so I decided to try to relate historical SSD pricing to the historical pricing of conventional hard drives.

It didn’t take long for me to find a correlation.
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The SSD Decoder Ring

I occasionally get a question about an SSD, usually when one goes on sale somewhere. Inevitably, I’ll get an e-mail message with a URL and the words “any good?” with it. Often I’ll know off the top of my head, but depending on whose name is on the drive, I may not.

But here’s a cheatsheet with all the major drives on the market, and who makes the controller in them. http://www.pcper.com/ssd
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