Wednesday, 1 December 2021

it was 40 years ago today...

 ...that Acorn Computers launched the BBC micro.

Ten years ago, I blogged about this anniversary, and about Moore’s law.  (Wow, I’ve been blogging for over ten years!)

Now we’ve had 40 years, or nearly 27 doubling times since the Beeb.  So Moore’s law, if it still held, would now be saying today's PCs are 100 million times the power of the Beeb (as opposed to the mere one million times of 10 years ago).  Are they?

  • Memory: 32kB RAM.  Moore’s law would suggest 3TB of RAM today.  However, 32GB would be pretty beefy, so this is more like one million times the memory, up only a factor of four from 10 years ago.
  • Processor speed: 2MHz.  Nowadays 4GHz would be the norm, and would likely be an 8-core, 64 bit processor: barely a factor of 2 or 4 (in number of cores, nothing in processor sppeed) from 10 years ago.  But the trend of going faster by going parallel is the new normal.
  • Screen resolution: this has had the smallest change, and essentially none over the last 10 years: still typically 1920x1080 pixels (although I now have two of these, rather than one).
  • Disc storage: today would typically be a 250GB or 500GB SSD, and a 1TB or 2TB HD, so that is up by a factor of 2 or 4 in capacity over 10 years, but the SSD gives a big increase in access speed.
  • Networking: I didn’t report on this 10 years ago.  This is a qualitative difference between now and 40 years: not network speed, but just the fact of the existence of the Internet, to say nothing of the WWW.
So the long predicted end to Moore’s law is definitely here.  But the increase in home power over those 40 years is none-the-less mind boggling.  And that’s before we talk about GPUs and Raspberry-Pi clusters that some people have at home, or top end high performance super-computing.

I’ll report the next increment in 2031, if blogs still exist then.

Sunday, 28 November 2021

Covid-19 diary: the day after the booster vaccination

Thankfully I’ve got only mild side effects from my booster jab: some soreness and redness around the injection site.  Oh, and a very visible, but not painful, mark at the flu injection site.

My other half, unfortunately, has the chills, tiredness, and “feeling unwell”, in addition to the sore arm.  Still better than the alternative, though.

Saturday, 27 November 2021

Covid-19 diary: boosted!

I got my booster jab today, along with a flu jab.  It was again an efficient conveyor belt approach, with stations providing stickers and checking names, socially distanced queueing, and medical history questioning.

I had the Pfizer jab this time, in my left arm, and the flu jab in my right arm.  I was delighted to learn I was getting a “young person’s flu jab” – because I'm under 65.  I don’t know if this means it was a different jab, or just recorded differently; I suspect the latter.

The Pfizer leaflet had some interesting information about side effects.  Apparently very common side effects of the Pfizer jab (may affect more than 1 in 10) include headache, joint pain, and diarrhoea, common side effects (may affect up to 1 in 10) include nausea and vomiting, whereas uncommon side effects (may affect up to 1 in 100) include “feeling unwell”.  I am pleased to discover that if I get headache, joint pain, diarrhoea, nausea or vomiting, at least I won’t “feel unwell”.

Friday, 26 November 2021


It has been nearly two months since the conservatory frame was erected.  Today, finally, the glass was installed!

Sunday, 7 November 2021

sequestering carbon, several books at a time CXX

 The latest batch:

  • The Sandman boxed set is still in its clingwrap, so a bit fuzzy
  • The two Natural Computing series Springer volumes are complimentary copies: I have just joined the series editor team.  If you want to write or edit a book for this series, in the field of Unconventional COmputing or Artificial Life, please contact me!

Thursday, 28 October 2021

stunning precision

 Seen on Amazon:

Measuring dimensions in hundredths of a proton...

Thursday, 21 October 2021

UCNC 2021

UCNC (Unconventional Computation and Natural Computation) 2021 is a hybrid event.  About half of us are attending in person in Espoo (by Helsinki), Finland, the rest zooming in for the presentations.  This is my fist in person conference for two years.  So nice to be able to chat about research to colleagues F2F again!

We are socially distancing in the large lecture hall, except during the photo!