A man will die, but not his ideas.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

25 years ago...

25 years ago, dBase II, a database software package, was developed by Wayne Ratliff. Ashton-Tate acquired dBase from Ratliff when dBase was at its peak (dBase III). dBASE was the first widely used database management system or DBMS for microcomputers, published by Ashton-Tate for CP/M, and later on the Apple II, Apple Macintosh and IBM PC under DOS where it became one of the best-selling software titles for a number of years. I was lucky to complete my first computer-related course on the dBase IV (along with MS-DOS 3.3) at the time I was in the intermediate-level at school. To my surprise now, I discovered that this particular version of dBase was the cause for its collapse due to the many bugs it had. dBASE was sold to Borland in 1991, which sold the rights to the product line in 1999 to the newly-formed dBASE Inc.

25 years ago, the HP-85 personal computer was released. It was based on an 8-bit microprocessor and combined an alphanumeric keyboard, CRT screen, thermal printer tape drive unit, user read/write memory and a ROM operating system in one portable package. It had 32K ROM and 16K RAM. It was HP's first entry into the personal computer marketplace.


25 years ago, the prototype of the IBM PC was being designed by a team of twelve people at IBM managed by Donald Estridge. At the same time, IBM constructed the first 1 Gigabyte Harddisk. Its size was as big as a large refrigerator, and it weighed 150 kilo's and its cost was 40.000 USD.

25 years ago, Seagate Technology introduced the first hard disk drive for microcomputers, the ST506. It was a full height (twice as high as most current 5 1/4" drives) 5 1/4" drive, with a stepper motor. This first born could store 5 Mb. The access time was low: 180 - 240 milliseconds.

Seagate ST-412. An enlarged 10 MB two-platter ST-506

25 years ago, Ronald Reagan and John Anderson were running for presidency against Jimmy Carter, the US president back then. Here in Egypt president Sadat was still alive and walking amongst his citizens. Two-thirds of Sinai had been transferred back to Egypt, but Sadat halted further talks with Israel in Aug. 1980 because of ontinued Israeli settlement of the West Bank.

25 years ago, the First Persian Gulf War, which was between Iraq and Iran, broke out. A war that lasted for nearly 8 years and ended when Iran accepted United Nations (UN) Security Council Resolution 598, leading to a 20 August 1988 cease-fire.

Iranian Soldiers in the battle-field

25 years ago, the Voyager 1 space probe reached the ringed planet, Saturn, after a 3 years journey and sent back the first vivid photographs of the planet. It was just 12 miles (19 km) off course after its epic journey.

Saturn and its magnificent rings

25 years ago, my eyes first saw the light...

Posted by A :: 12:43 AM :: 6 Comments:

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Sunday, September 18, 2005

Correcting the Wrong In Our Higher-Education System

Previously, I've posted a comment on the ESEA (Egyptian Software Engineers Association) Yahoo! group. The comment was on a message posted by Mohamed Meshref concerning his thoughts about what is required to improve the quality of the educational process in the faculties of computer science in Egypt. The issue popped up again while posting a comment on Mohammed_g's blog. So, I thought of including parts of the previous post over here.

" You share the same vision I have regarding what is required to elevate the level of our higher education system in the field of computer science, technology, and engineering for a better, brighter future of our country. And although you were talking about faculties of computer science, the problems you mentioned are actually present in the department of computers and systems of many engineering faculties. Believe me I should know, because I've been there both as a student and as an instructor.

The way I see it, there are three main reasons for the situation we are in nowadays: there is no good scientific planning, there's no honesty and devotion while working to achieve planned goals, and there's no motivation. Who's responsible? Both sides, the teaching staff as well as the students. We are moving in an endless ring. From one side, existing staff doesn't bother to improve the educational process, even though it may be in their hands. And on the other side, the students (from which some become a teaching staff) are not motivated and the only goal they have in mind is to finish their undergraduate years, if possible, and start earning some money. That's why they only attempt to consume, actually memorize, what is required to pass the finals and don't bother with any other useful knowledge. The result, is a nation with a huge number of, so called, college graduates who are supposed to be the youths of the future generation. While in reality, they don't even care if their country rises or falls. What else would you expect from someone who doesn't want to learn science for the knowledge and in order to build a better future for his people.

Yes, many undergraduate courses (and post-graduate) need to be reconsidered. It should be considered with sciences and the theories behind the technologies, not the technologies themselves. For example, we should concentrate on the concepts of programming languages first before we concentrate on a certain language. In fact, the whole higher-education process needs reconsideration. New, well-planned, and strict rules need to be enforced to eliminate many mistakes present today. And on top of the list of corrections, many of the present doctors need to retire. I mean they should be honest with theirselves. Like you said, if you can't update your knowledge constantly, leave room for those who can (with all due respect). But come on, what are you saying? Retire and leave the position they are in!!! Even if it was for the good of the country, to hell with the country for all they care. As I said, it is an endless ring. And we are only kidding ourselves with the current process, which will lead us nowhere. The problem is who would listen, and who would care. We try to do whatever is in our hands. But facing the many constraints and without a shared dream, correcting what is wrong will be very difficult. Or who knows. "


Posted by A :: 4:04 PM :: 4 Comments:

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Thursday, September 15, 2005

Things I've Seen and Heared Lately

Last week I saw Serendipity. I know, I am very old (it is from way back in 2001). But that's the way life goes. I never had the chance to watch it until last week. Anyway, I got hooked to it from the beginning. It is a really charming romantic comedy. I loved the performances of both John Cusack and the lovely Kate Beckinsale. And even though it can be classified as a fantasy movie, I find that the story could happen in real life. After watching it, I had no choice but to add it to my list of favourite movies. By the way, the definition of the word "serendipity" can be found here. And, ironically, I discovered that there is an open-source PHP Weblog/Blog System called Serendipity, check it out.

On the other hand, I deeply hated Closer, a more recent movie (in 2004). Even though this movie is a lot more realistic than Serendipity, I found myself really disgusted from it. I mean, they are like pigs unsatisfied with what they have. I'm surprised that Julia Roberts accepted to be part of this. So, all in all, even though both movies had actors from both the US and the UK, one was really nice and the other was really terrible (wouldn't advise anyone to watch it).

Coming to what I recently heared and enjoyed, I would say The Carpenters' song that Blue has generously shared in her blog, titled "Top of the World" from their 1972 album "A Song for You". Lovely lyrics and a wonderful song. I just can't get over it. Thanks Blue.

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Posted by A :: 8:34 PM :: 4 Comments:

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Friday, September 09, 2005

Moralityware: Doing More Good Than Harm

I stepped across this in various sites. It seems that anything that it is related to Islam in any way nowadays is news in the western media. But anyway, here's the story. A new trojan is out ladies and gentlemen. But this trojan is classified by the media as a kind of "Moralityware". The trojan, named "Yusufali", first appeared in Iran and is not considered to be that dangerous. In fact, it is doing more good than harm. All it does actually is monitor the sites the user is visiting by checking the words in the title bar for anything related to pornographic material. Once such a word is detected, the window is minimized and verses from the Holy Quran are displayed in a number of languages. Now that's what I call a nice trojan. Following are a couple of snapshots of the trojan in action. More can be found here and here.

Posted by A :: 11:43 PM :: 2 Comments:

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Thursday, September 08, 2005

Delicious fried eggs on AMD AthlonXP

Now this "is" funny. Have you ever thought of other usages for your PC's processor other than performing complicated calculations and being the brain that lies within your case. Well, how about using it for making fried eggs! Check this out, wonderful yummy fried eggs straight from the "processor" to your table. I just added the photos found at the link here in case it gets broken some day. Refer to the link for the complete recipe. Enjoy your meal.

This can be dangerous to both the PC and yourself. So, my advice to you is not to try this at home, or at least not on the PC you are using. ;)

This is not meant to be a public attack against AMD processors. Intel processors can be used as well (and I'd bet they'll fry the egg even faster).


Posted by A :: 5:12 PM :: 0 Comments:

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