Profile

Cover photo
Adam Liss
1,411 followers|990,556 views
AboutPostsPhotos

Stream

Adam Liss

Shared publicly  - 
 
 
The Machine: a desperate gamble

Hewlett-Packard was once at the cutting edge of technology.  Now they make most of their money selling servers, printers, and ink... and business keeps getting worse.  They've shed 40,000 employees since 2012.   Soon they'll split in two: one company that sells printers and PCs, and one that sells servers and information technology services.  

The second company will do something risky but interesting.   They're trying to build a new kind of computer that uses chips based on memristors rather than transistors, and uses optical fibers rather than wires to communicate between chips.  It could make computers much faster and more powerful.  But nobody knows if it will really work.

The picture shows memristors on a silicon wafer.  But what's a memristor?   Quoting the MIT Technology Review:

Perfecting the memristor is crucial if HP is to deliver on that striking potential. That work is centered in a small lab, one floor below the offices of HP’s founders, where Stanley Williams made a breakthrough about a decade ago.

Williams had joined HP in 1995 after David Packard decided the company should do more basic research. He came to focus on trying to use organic molecules to make smaller, cheaper replacements for silicon transistors (see “Computing After Silicon,” September/October 1999). After a few years, he could make devices with the right kind of switchlike behavior by sandwiching molecules called rotaxanes between platinum electrodes. But their performance was maddeningly erratic. It took years more work before Williams realized that the molecules were actually irrelevant and that he had stumbled into a major discovery. The switching effect came from a layer of titanium, used like glue to stick the rotaxane layer to the electrodes. More surprising, versions of the devices built around that material fulfilled a prediction made in 1971 of a completely new kind of basic electronic device. When Leon Chua, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, predicted the existence of this device, engineering orthodoxy held that all electronic circuits had to be built from just three basic elements: capacitors, resistors, and inductors. Chua calculated that there should be a fourth; it was he who named it the memristor, or resistor with memory. The device’s essential property is that its electrical resistance—a measure of how much it inhibits the flow of electrons—can be altered by applying a voltage. That resistance, a kind of memory of the voltage the device experienced in the past, can be used to encode data.

HP’s latest manifestation of the component is simple: just a stack of thin films of titanium dioxide a few nanometers thick, sandwiched between two electrodes. Some of the layers in the stack conduct electricity; others are insulators because they are depleted of oxygen atoms, giving the device as a whole high electrical resistance. Applying the right amount of voltage pushes oxygen atoms from a conducting layer into an insulating one, permitting current to pass more easily. Research scientist Jean Paul Strachan demonstrates this by using his mouse to click a button marked “1” on his computer screen. That causes a narrow stream of oxygen atoms to flow briefly inside one layer of titanium dioxide in a memristor on a nearby silicon wafer. “We just created a bridge that electrons can travel through,” says Strachan. Numbers on his screen indicate that the electrical resistance of the device has dropped by a factor of a thousand. When he clicks a button marked “0,” the oxygen atoms retreat and the device’s resistance soars back up again. The resistance can be switched like that in just picoseconds, about a thousand times faster than the basic elements of DRAM and using a fraction of the energy. And crucially, the resistance remains fixed even after the voltage is turned off.

Getting this to really work has not been easy!  On top of that, they're trying to use silicon photonics to communicate between chips - another technology that doesn't quite work yet.

Still, I like the idea of this company going down in a blaze of glory, trying to do something revolutionary, instead of playing it safe and dying a slow death.

Do not go gentle into that good night.

For more, see these:

• Tom Simonite, Machine dreams, MIT Technology Review, 21April 2015, http://www.technologyreview.com/featuredstory/536786/machine-dreams/

• Sebastian Anthony, HP reveals more details about The Machine: Linux++ OS coming 2015, prototype in 2016, ExtremeTech, 16 December 2014, http://www.extremetech.com/extreme/196003-hp-reveals-more-details-about-the-machine-linux-os-coming-2015-prototype-in-2016

For the physics of memristors, see:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Memristor
24 comments on original post
7
1
Eric Shaw's profile photoHarald Wagener (oliof)'s profile photo
 
I really want to see this work.  However, in 2012 I was reading how HP was going to be selling us memristor based flash by end of 2013, followed by memristor RAM, memristor cache, and eventually memristors replacing transistors in CPUs (an estimated 5 years after the memristor flash drives).   Still waiting to buy my memristor based drive.
Add a comment...

Adam Liss

Shared publicly  - 
 
Yonatan Zunger originally shared to Today I Learned::
 
The most common kind of compound word is what's called "endocentric:" it includes the thing that it is. So a houseboat is a kind of boat; a shoe salesman is a kind of salesman; a whoremonger is a kind of monger. (That being an old word for a dealer or trader) The second most common is "exocentric:" made out of nouns and adjectives, but not including the thing that it is. (e.g., a loudmouth is not a kind of mouth, but a kind of person.)

This is all about a third category: exocentric compounds that are built out of verbs, which describe what the thing does. +Brianne Hughes  wrote her master's thesis on these, where she named them "cutthroat compounds," after such an example: A cutthroat is someone who cuts throats.

These are surprisingly rare in English, but are common among kids: apparently, children go through a phase where they spontaneously generate lots of these, and then stop.

This is what's called a "productive" grammar: you can make up new ones and people will understand you, so if I call someone a lack-faith or Bob Stealhorse people will understand me. But they don't fit naturally into English grammar, because English is what's called a "head-initial" language: you tend to put the most significant part of a phrase or sentence first. Since English verbs have to go before their objects, this gets it backwards; it sounds like more natural English to call someone "faithless" or a "horse-thief." That's why, apart from a few cases which happened to survive, English has relatively few cutthroat compounds.

But the few we keep are pretty great, and tend to be very evocative: a sawbones, a killjoy, a slingshot. (And some, like "breakfast," become so common that we even forget that they're compound words) Apparently they dominantly fall into three categories: occupational names, local nature-words, and insults.

What it says about us that we primarily use these especially colorful compounds to describe just what we think of one another, I leave as an exercise for the reader.

h/t +Laura Gibbs.
The following post was excerpted from Sentence First: An Irishman's blog about the English language. A houseboat is a type of boat; a boathouse is a type of house. This illustrates a common pattern in English morphology: the rightmost part of a compound (houseboat) is usually the ‘head’. In other...
45 comments on original post
3
1
Lauren Weinstein's profile photoAdam Liss's profile photoErin Pierce's profile photo
2 comments
 
Love that clip! Even more than Schoolhouse Rock's Rufus Xavier Sarsaparailla.
Add a comment...

Adam Liss

Shared publicly  - 
 
A Thanksgiving tale, with a 10-year wedding follow-up.

Thank you, +Ijeoma Oluo, for reminding me how grateful I am for my mundane, fairly drama-free life.
Some people shouldn’t be invited
7
1
blanche nonken's profile photoKonika Mukherjee's profile photoAdam Liss's profile photoJonathan Landrum's profile photo
5 comments
 
It was refreshing to actually laugh at the word painting she effortlessly pulled off.
Add a comment...

Adam Liss

Shared publicly  - 
 
This is not a recommendation; just pure amazement.

This is a 5TB drive, on sale for $130.
That's five trillion bytes of data.
5,000,000,000,000 bytes.
Five million megabytes.
For one hundred thirty dollars.
That's about ¼¢ per Megabyte. (Or, if you're Verizon, 25¢/MB.)

Speaking of Verizon, if you were to download enough data to fill the drive at their standard $1.99/MB, it would cost you almost $10 million. 

http://www.verizonwireless.com/b2c/splash/Megabyte.jsp

h/t +Bliss Morgan


10
1
Richard Healy's profile photoEd S's profile photoLauren Weinstein's profile photoSarah Carlton (Formerly Sarah Pagan)'s profile photo
16 comments
 
It appears that Newegg has this disk back on sale for $119 for their Memorial Day sale, which is what I paid for it a few weeks ago with a $20 discount code for that day.
Add a comment...

Adam Liss

Shared publicly  - 
 
PSA: There's a good chance the brand new router you just bought has a classic vulnerability because the designer took two boneheaded rookie shortcuts. We've known how to avoid both of them for decades.

• They embedded their encryption keys in the firmware. So every device uses the same keys, and they've already been published.

• They don't limit the amount of data you can send to the device, so an attacker can lie, send a packet with more days than it advertises, lets them take over the device.

http://blog.sec-consult.com/2015/05/kcodes-netusb-how-small-taiwanese.html

4
Ben Heathorn (KI6WBH)'s profile photoAdam Liss's profile photoWilliam Rutiser's profile photoblanche nonken's profile photo
8 comments
 
+William Rutiser so, work gloves, safety glasses and Kevlar bra. Got it.
Add a comment...

Adam Liss

Shared publicly  - 
 
PSA:

Every day (2 words) is an adverb. It tells you how often an action occurs. 
Example: I see people misusing this term every day.

Everyday (1 word) is an adjective. It means regular, usual, or occuring once each day.
Example: Misuse of this term is an everyday assault on my senses.

Protip:
• If you can substitute each day, then every day is correct.
• if you can substitute expected,  then everyday is correct.
9
Jonathan Landrum's profile photoRobert Washburn's profile photoRodford Smith's profile photoAlec Story's profile photo
5 comments
 
Add a comment...

Adam Liss

Shared publicly  - 
 
100%. That's, like, most of them, right? Sigh....
7
Add a comment...
Have him in circles
1,411 people
NBA Fan Shop's profile photo
Judi Pegram's profile photo
alan ahmed's profile photo
Levan Ganugrava's profile photo
Helen Trackim's profile photo
Edwin Margulies's profile photo
Greg Landers's profile photo
Angela R's profile photo
Samir  Mamedaliyev's profile photo

Communities

11 communities

Adam Liss

Shared publicly  - 
 
We always care more about the issues when they hit close to home.

Maybe one of these people is  you.
We Are Always Listening - Brought to you by the NSA
4
Add a comment...

Adam Liss

Shared publicly  - 
 
 
On saying butterfly in many languages when it does not have cognates (words that are similar in sound, spelling and meaning). "[Holly Tooker] sang out: “I can say ‘butterfly’ in 139 languages! Anyone want to challenge me or teach me a new one?”

Standing nearby, a man in a straw fedora and a periwinkle T-shirt wondered if she knew the word in Basque.

Ms. Tooker asked him if he wanted it in “Euskara Batua,” standardized Basque, or in a regional dialect, spoken by about 710,000 people near the coast of the Bay of Biscay.

“Batua,” the man, Maurice Algarra, said.

“Tximeleta,” Ms. Tooker replied.

“That’s right!” said Mr. Algarra, 50, whose grandparents illegally spoke Basque to him when he was growing up in Franco’s Spain.
[...]
“Butterfly” has stymied language experts for decades. It is the one common word that does not have cognates — words that are similar in sound, spelling and meaning — in related languages, even closely related ones. “Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, French — each one has a different word for ‘butterfly,’ ” said William Beeman, chairman of the University of Minnesota’s anthropology department who has written on the anomaly. “This flies in the face of what we know about how languages work. And when someone hears you say ‘butterfly’ in their language, they know you’re speaking their language.”"
Holly Tooker, a longtime guide at the Butterfly Conservatory, can say “butterfly” in nearly 150 languages after years of asking foreign museum visitors.
2 comments on original post
10
Kristina Bennett's profile photoTalmai Oliveira's profile photoAdam Liss's profile photo
3 comments
 
False cognates are even more fun. My high school Spanish teacher introduced us to them a few weeks before she actually explained what they were. Examples: constipado, embarasada, excitado, molestar. Yes, there's clearly a theme here.  :-)

Another teacher, originally from Bolivia, told us he loved driving on American highways becuase each time he approached an exit, he thought he was having a success.

More examples at
http://www.spanishdict.com/topics/show/111
http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Appendix:Spanish_false_cognates_and_false_friends_with_English
Add a comment...

Adam Liss

Shared publicly  - 
 
So it looks like Shop Rite has given up, and the expressholes have won.
6
Adam Liss's profile photoLisa Borel's profile photoRichard Healy's profile photoIvy Blum's profile photo
7 comments
 
I love when the can can sale is on.. 10 for 1 price.. and each of those 10 for's are considered as ONE item!  Drove me nuts getting behind one of those other customers!
Add a comment...

Adam Liss

Shared publicly  - 
 
I hear it works better when diluted to a potency of 30C.

http://xkcd.com/1526/
13
2
Samuel Smith's profile photoLilium Candidum's profile photo
Add a comment...

Adam Liss

Shared publicly  - 
 
Process engineering. It's the same reason a traffic jam flows backward until it dissipates, and why we should all use the Zipper Merge.
Yonatan Zunger originally shared to Today I Learned::
 
The MTA made a great little video, in the style of an 8-bit video game, explaining why holding a train at the right time can speed up service overall.

The secret is this: if there's a gap between trains (because one train got delayed for reasons outside of its control) then lots of people start to build up on the platforms in the gap. That makes each loading and unloading slower, which effectively delays the train more, and the gap grows. To fix this, the MTA will delay the train in front of the gap; that breaks the gap into two smaller gaps, which prevents crowds from building up, and lets the gaps heal. The video illustrates exactly how that works.
New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority released this stylized video as part of an initiative to reduce delays.
16 comments on original post
4
1
Lauren Weinstein's profile photo
Add a comment...
People
Have him in circles
1,411 people
NBA Fan Shop's profile photo
Judi Pegram's profile photo
alan ahmed's profile photo
Levan Ganugrava's profile photo
Helen Trackim's profile photo
Edwin Margulies's profile photo
Greg Landers's profile photo
Angela R's profile photo
Samir  Mamedaliyev's profile photo
Communities
11 communities
Basic Information
Gender
Male
Story
Tagline
Engineer, Puzzle Fanatic, Incurable Punster. Armchair cryptographer, security and privacy advocate. Insatiably curious about the world and its inhabitants.
Introduction
I am a natural experimentalist.  I love to learn, to innovate, and to make new mistakes.  I rarely take myself seriously; there are far more appropriate subjects to be serious about.

I find humor and puzzles in the ordinary, laugh at math jokes, and tend to cram far too many thoughts into one sentence. I'm fascinated by languages and smitten by the beauty and utility of American Sign Language. Bad grammar drives me nuts. 

I'm fond of teaching through analogy and counter-examples, asking silly questions, and gentle teasing.  Sometimes I make stuff up just to watch the gears turn in someone's head.  Whether you're a child or an adult, I'll show you that even "hard" subjects like math and science can be easyand funto learn.  If you think that's nuts, it's because you've been taught wrong.  I'll prove it to you. Try me.

I have an extremely low tolerance for willful ignorance, illogic, and baseless "alternative" explanations for the way the world works.

A 3-year-old gave up asking me "Why?" before I ran out of answers.

I'm terribly shy but have always found it easy to make people laugh.  Often at me.  And not always intentionally.  Childhood friends still tell me I'd have made a great stand-up comedian or psychiatrist; I can't help wondering how those talents are related.  But I'm sure we're all better off leaving that question unanswered.

Will work ... no ... have worked for chocolate.

How did you find me? If you added me to your circles and don't know me personally, I'd love to know what caught your interest!
Bragging rights
I have the best coworkers on the planet.
Work
Occupation
I disguise magical, complicated technology as simple, everyday tools.