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2007-05-01 The Royal Oak, Dorchester

Present: George, Marti, Ralph, and Terry.

The pub had a real ale event on! Some of the things talked about:

Dell to use Ubuntu on Linux PCs.

How man tries to apply logic to make events fit a model with hindsight when in reality unexpected but massively significant events defy prediction. These “unknown unknowns” are exemplified by the black swan. Until it was first observed, all swans had been white, therefore all swans were white. The Black Swan is a book by Nassim Taleb that warns against the hubris of prediction.

Mark Shuttleworth's company, Canonical, is registered on the Isle of Man which has a different tax regime to the UK.

He made his money with Thwarte.

Charles Simonyi of Microsoft was the most recent space tourist.

The lmsensors project to show hardware stats, e.g. CPU temperature. Try the sensors(1) command.

valgrind, a means of detecting invalid memory accesses and other coding faults.

Three questions asked by Google in a technical phone call interview.

  1. Imagine you have two marbles and a 100-story building. You are told that the marbles will break if they are dropped from a certain floor. Figure out a way, as effectivly as possible, how high you can drop the marbles before they break. Remember, it could be the 1st floor, it could be the 99th.
  2. Let's say you have a computer with 2M RAM. This computer has a hard drive (with lots of free space) and a 100M file which you should sort. Let me know how you, as effectivly as possible, sort the file.
  3. We take the computer from the previous question and replace the hard drive with a network adapter. You have no local storage but the RAM. You will receive one million eight-digit phone numbers through a TCP stream which you shall sort in RAM. You are now allowed to send any data before all the numbers have been sorted. How would you solve this?

How job interviews used to be.

Capuchin monkeys observed engaging in prostitution.

Communism, whether it can work or not, and benevolent dictators.

Kenya's leaders, Kenyatta and arap Moi.

The Computer History Museums new exhibit on Chess, including Claude Shannon and Alan Turing's involvement, and how Ken Thompson, creator of Unix, was involved with Belle.

A nice photo of Ken, that's Dennis Ritchie, creator of C, in the background on the right.

Robert Hyatt's Crafty chess program, and how 64 bit words allows an alternative method of storing board positions, e.g. white_pawns is 0x00ff_0000_0000_0000 at the start of a game.

Ralph Corderoy

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