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Slashback: Space, Smallness, Pigeons 55

Slashback tonight brings you more details of avian transmission; some killer web pages for the bandwidth impaired (Merlin, anyone?); belated congratulations to Peter de Jager; an updated FAQ for the Simputer; and a geographic correction for anyone into The Gathering.

5k is more than you think. Drywall writes: "So after much deliberation (and announcement deadline pushed back a few days), the winners of the 2001 5k contest have been announced. It's interesting to note that the judges' assessments were in some cases very different from those of the contest viewers. Check it out."

They took care of the pigeon technicalities, we took care of the computer technicalities. Loco3KGT writes: "My article on the recent RFC1149 test is up on It's an interview with Vegard Engen of the Bergen Linux Users Group, your typical followup type thing. Might be worth the read to a few."

Sheerest understatement. Good details here for anyone wishing to provide a nice high-latency, low-bandwidth, high-poop connection between not-so-distant places.

Still fits in your hand. There were some questions raised about the Simputer handheld device mentioned on Slashdot a few weeks ago, now metlin writes: "The Simputer FAQ has been updated, and this time around a few questions that the Slashdot commnunity maybe interested have been added. Some of these include GPLing the design, USB capabilities, IML and some more stuff regarding Linux & the Simputer. Check it out!"

Dave, what sort of meeting is this? Dave? An Anonymous Coward references this review of the Making of 2001, (and perhaps ought also mention Cliff Lampe's review of Kubrick's 2001: A Triple Allegory as well), then writes: "On May 26th ... 'nuf said." Well, perhaps not quite 'nuf. This is the International Space Development Conference's 2001 meeting, and it's coming up soon -- May 24-28th. The submitter was apparently interested in the 2001: A Space Oddysey Banquet (#5 on this page), which sounds like an interesting dinner, which will be featuring no ham sandwiches (for authenticity).

Let us now praise famous men. Randy Rathbun writes "I just got a email from Peter de Jager, who, as you may or may not recall, is the guy who got all the bad Y2K press because he did his job getting the world to recognize there was a problem. Well, he is finally getting some well-deserved recognition from the Canadian Information Processing Society."

According to an email Rathbun quotes, de Jager says: "Although I've been thanked privately by thousands of people in IT, this is my first formal & public thanks for my work in Y2K and I'm as 'pleased as punch' to use an old Irish expression."

Hear, hear -- (many of) the Y2K enthusiasts deserve congratulations for speaking their mind and contributing greatly to the smooth transition that actually took place. (Anyone besides me have lots of water on hand that New Year's Eve?)

Gee, look how many colors are on this map! After I erroneously described giant game-fest The Gathering as a Dutch event, Rune Kristian Viken of the Gathering's crew pointed out that I wasn't even all that close. An apology to both countries, hope no one buys tickets to the wrong airport ;)

Viken wrote:

"The Gathering is a _NORWEGIAN_ Computer Party not a Dutch one. Its at Hamar / Norway - and nowhere in the Netherlands.

Sigh. Earlier in this century people thought that a red-white'n blue flag indicated a ship from the netherlands out of the colors. Now people think that The Gathering is a Dutch party.

*Sigh*. No respect for the Scandinavian DemoScene from you younglings! ;)


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  • by Anonymous Coward any Y2K projects! ;)
  • Here is the SGPL's hook:

    You must accept this SGPL before reading or using the Specifications. You are prohibited under law from using, modifying or distributing the Specifications or from manufacturing or distributing any Devices based upon the Specifications or based upon any modifications thereof. Therefore, by using, modifying or distributing the Specifications or manufacturing or distributing any Device based on the Specifications, you indicate by your actions, your acceptance of the terms of this SGPL to do so as well as all its terms and conditions for copying, distributing or modifying the Specifications or manufacturing Devices based on the Specifications or modifications of the Specifications.
  • It was a joke; the whole thing is about 5k, so it was a joke to add that extra .5 MB.
  • No, wait, Geocities gives you 7 MB of space, or is it 7.5 MB???

    15 megs [].

    BTW, that took me 15 seconds to find out. Research, man, research! :-)
  • Jeez, who modded this up? This could very well be the most [] over-told [] joke [] ever [].
  • heh. i used to print out porn on my old dot-matrix black and white printer... it was surprisingly high quality :)
  • By using integer notation you actually exclude the "begins with" part of the statements.
  • The GPL isn't applicable unless you actually distribute your changes.
  • "The Gathering is a _NORWEGIAN_ Computer Party not a Dutch one. Its at Hamar / Norway - and nowhere in the Netherlands."

    I'm just wondering how many slashdotters already bought their airplane tickets... Oh well, I hear the Netherlands isn't a bad place to relax (and the coffee shops are killer!).

  • is just another proof that porn is driveing the internet.

    How many hardware guys does it take to change a light bulb?
    "Well the diagnostics say it's fine buddy, so it's a software problem."
  • It's funny because of the term overhead. Pigeon overhead. Laugh - it's funny.
  • That site was great! Certainly worth $100 a month. Did you see the lesbian animation? Wow that was hot :) Only problem was the site was slashdoted so badly it took as long to load the 5k site as it would to load a modern porn site.
  • ...rulez! I've been to TG95 in Stavanger/Norway. Had an intro running in the PC 64k compo. Cheers to all who I met there, and especially to my ol' buddies from Valhalla and Technomancer!


  • Anyone besides me have lots of water on hand that New Year's Eve?
    No, but I drank a lot the next day due to severe dehydration from drinking all day and night before.
  • Timmy! TIMMAH! You couldn't have fucked up the description of The Gathering more badly if you tried.

  • Y2K was never something to be really concerned about.

    All these chicken littles did was make money off other people's ignorance, including your own. In my opinion, they should be taken out and fed to the senate.

  • how well does this work in Iowa?
  • This [] link works better. Gotta remember that shift button.

  • Hear, hear -- (many of) the Y2K enthusiasts deserve congratulations for speaking their mind and contributing greatly to the smooth transition that actually took place. (Anyone besides me have lots of water on hand that New Year's Eve?)

    Oh hallelujah, it's another of the (admittedly few and far between in these wiser times) opportunities for Y2K wackos to congratulate themselves on their remarkable foresight in replacing their backyards with giant holes full of baked beans.

    Y2K was the most egregious scam in my lifetime, and I'll probably still be able to say that the day I die.

    The alarmists running around like freshly-beheaded chickens most certainly did not help the situation. They diverted resources from the few isolated situations where programmers actually were required, and caused programming services to be bid up to the point where the handful of legitimately at-risk institutions had a hard time managing the costs.

    Nobody was more obstructive to effective resolution of the Y2K issue than the chirping hordes of Gary North acolytes, trousers soggy with thrill at the prospect of finally facing a catastrophe of such banality that even people of their chilling stupidity could get their heads around it. Nobody, that is, except for the opportunists, with their Y2K readiness shamware, their PowerPoint-and-doomsday consulting services, and their little green Y2-OK stickers. I can only quietly cheer at the fact that they're all now wholly and resoundingly discredited, hopefully for the remainder of their days.

  • If you were really interested in allowing freedom for users, you would release all software into the public domain. This would allow the maximum amount of "freedom" to users. Of course it means that you really are "giving back to the community" instead of some lame attempt at keeping control over the source. The GPL is a worthless license precisely because it forces you to release your changes back into the open.

    Dancin Santa
  • This guy [] still cracks me up. Imagine burning off all the built-up goodwill you've been collecting in a single massive non-event. It's really too bad, I enjoyed his books.

    Dancin Santa
  • How is that different from the GPL? If I read the Linux source code without having read the GPL, then proceed to implement my own non-GPL OS using code that I've taken from Linux, wouldn't the GPL still be applicable to me?

    What you are complaining about is the "virus" aspect of the GPL, only it's laid out quite clearly in this license whereas it's only hinted to in the actual GPL.

    Dancin Santa
  • (i) It is good, readily available Free Software : it made it possible for 7 individuals to complete the project in quick time

    (ii) It is good, readily available free software : it has helped keep costs low

    (iii) It is a good, readily available free OS : comes with a bunch of apps; developing new apps is does not need a whole new "development environment".

    Read the FAQ...
  • The GPL doesn't require you to agree to anything. Looking at GPL'd code does not bind you to any particular terms. The GPL specifies terms under which code may be copied, which is something you normally wouldn't be allowed to do. Unlike the GPL, the SGPL imposes limitations that didn't exist before you "agreed" to be bound by it.

    In other words, the GPL specifies terms under which it grants you additional rights, while the SGPL specifies terms under which you are assigned additional responsabilities.

  • The best New Years eve party in the entire world. Okay, so it was a little wet on Dec 31, 1999, but hypothermia is a part of the culture!!

    Where did all the hippies go?

    Get away from the Northern Hemisphere for new Years.. go to The Gathering [].

  • Perhaps the 5k folks should have taken a dose of their own medicine. I went to the site only to find that every link was to an ASP, of which finally timed out with an MS ODBC SQL error.

    Perhaps they should buy a $9.95 5 meg hosting account at one of many hosting companies and put the results there....

    No, wait, Geocities gives you 7 MB of space, or is it 7.5 MB???
  • It was a joke; the whole thing is about 5k, so it was a joke to add that extra .5 MB.

    15.5MB would be a joke; 7.5MB is a mistake. Suck up and take it like a man.
  • I'm pretty disappointed with the anything goes entries in the 5k contest. I couldn't get more than half of them to work, and of those that didn't only one explicitly said it wouldn't (gave me "your browser is too old" or some such). I'm just running Netscape 4.72, fer cryin' out loud; I guess a year old is just too ancient to deal with.

    Seems to me that if I'm that dependent on the features of the browser itself, then it ought to be fair to write a 20 byte java program that does the equivalent of "system(minesweeper)" and claim to have written a 20 byte minesweeper.

  • I dunno. At least when you have to tell someone that you can't meet them for dinner 'cos the network took a shit on you, you'll be being literal.

    Sorry, had to be said.
  • If there had ever been an actual potential for any kind of Y2K meltdown on the scale that the doomsayers predicted somebody, somewhere, would have had a problem.

    Up until the last moment we heard about countries in Southeast Asia and clueless companies that started way too late to get fixed in time.

    All those folks sailed right thru Y2K just as happily as we did. If one percent of the predictions were true something, somewhere, would have happend. The media was left grasping for Y2K straws.

    Instead of fixing a blown out of problem that didn't realy exist, engineers and programmers in those countries and companies were doing real work, advancing their state of the art while the rest of the world stood still.

    Y2K certification cost us almost a year of useful development work in my office. That was all testing and documentation - the only Y2K code changes we made were cosmetic.

    We completed many a live test, each of which was more disruptive to production than Y2K itself. Each time the Y2K office then came up with new tests to run.

    We submitted source code to third party monkies for review. The Y2K office's expert reviewers couldn't understand that a quantity defined by the ANSI C standard as "years since 1900" is quite properly converted to a four digit year by adding 1900 to it. I spent most of a day trying to explain that one. They even wanted to know which ANSI C standard we were using.

    When Y2K day occured the world wide disruptions from Y2K precautions far exceeded the disruptions from Y2K related failures. Countless systems critical to their owners experienced downtime, not because of any Y2K bug, but because management bought the Y2K hype.

    Y2K hype cost more in real disruption on Jan 1, 2000 than the Y2K bug ever could have.

    The Y2K profits deserve to be pilloried, not aplauded. Hounded out of town, not honored. Disgraced, not dignified.

    Peter what's his name can rot. And I'll not waste brain cells remembering his name. Y2K came off smoothly not because of brilliant remediation, but because there was no big problem to begin with.
  • Is four colors [] really so many?
  • I work in a hospital. I spent more than 18 months up to y2k in making sure that when the date rolled over, things would carry on working. They did!
    If I and thousands (millions?) like me had not spent our time like this, there would have been dead people, hungry people, riots, darkness, no water, unreated sewage in the rivers, no working railways and a load more things that would have made good reading in the moron papers.
    The news media was very annoyed with us because we prevented all these and more. Sucesses do not make good stories. When was the last time the space shuttle got banner headlines on all the papers? When it went wrong.
    Time was not wasted. It was not a scam or false alarm or anything else the ignorant want to call it.
    The hospital I work in would have had no water, electricity for a limited time, no way of getting rid of a LOT of very nasty stuff that hospitals generate, no telephones heating or all sorts of nice stuff.
    Don't get me started! Anyone who thinks that the Y2K success we had was a non-event needs to get their head out from where the sun doesn't shine!

  • pussy being thrown at you from every direction

    "It's raining cats and ... well, more cats out there!" "Blame it on that Japanese weather forecaster predicting a hairstorm."

    Sorry. :-)

  • Sure, Y2K went right. Largely bcos of ppl testing and fixing stuff.

    Credit cards and banks really were in the shitter - if they hadn't had their Y2K stuff going, you really wouldn't have been able to get any money out, or you would have had some arbitrarily large sum added or deducted from your account when interest was worked out. And even with all the testing, there were some errors.

    Complaining that Y2K went smoothly is like complaining that the Shuttle didn't blow up on launch, or that an Indycar/F1 race didn't have someone get killed. There's a chance of the shit really hitting the fan, but large numbers of ppl were trying to make sure it didn't, and they succeeded.

    Sure, there's some guys cashed in on it with their crappy little programs that claimed to fix your PC, and there's some ppl tried to make money off the "survivalist" thing. But there's always someone selling snake-oil. You work in industry, you just have to be able to tell snake-oil from substance.

    Isolated cases where Y2K fault-detection was required and important: banks, loan companies, credit card companies, point-of-sale systems. Failure of these would make it difficult for ppl to get food, which is a major issue. Isolated cases where Y2K fault-detection was required but non-critical: heating control systems, alarms, lifts, anything running from Excel or Access on a PC. Failure of these would not be life-threatening, but could be annoying. And failure of Excel or Access (or custom database/organisation programs) to work properly would be terminal for many businesses.

  • *grin*
    Well, judging from my ping response times from my cable modem (I'm in Iowa, too), I'd guess that its already being used up here ;)

    - Karen
  • <Disclaimer>

    I don't know Michael at all, but I think that you may be wasting your time trying to flame him every day or so for an event that happened quite awhile ago, and one that you will never have enough information to honestly say who was wrong and who was right.

    So, a few friends/peers had a clash of egos or power; surely, everyone makes mistakes, and mostly everyone gains maturity from understanding their experiences.

    As I see it (my opinion), Michael does at least an average job as a Slashdot editor, especially when you consider he rarely ever has grammatical errors in his posts.

    Let bygones be bygones, and get on with your life, my friend.

  • To relive some oldschool low-res porn, checkout "The Girls of '64," as in Commodore 64. [] is the link.

  • What's wrong with TCPoAC?

    All your packets will start at Score: 0 and half of them will end up being links to

    Thanks, but no thanks.
  • 14 years ago, I designed the hardware and software for some LED display signs. I used a Dallas Semiconductor chip for time/date which rolled over from year 99 to 00.

    Now I probably incorporated protection against problems, but after 14 years who can remember exactly. (And I doubt I ever actually tested that code.)

    I think I still have a copy of the code on 5 1/4" floppy somewhere. Does the company I worked at have a copy? Who can say?

    Now I admit that LED signs aren't exactly "critical" applications -- Or are they? Shortly after I left, the company built the traffic control display signs for the 401 highway here in Toronto. If no one checked and tested before hand, the code to handle roll over would have been live-tested on the highway at 00:00 01/01/00.

    Sometimes probably okay isn't good enough.
  • What we need is a contest for the best website "transferred over pigeon protocol" to the server. Or maybe a hamming code of sorts to take into account a certain amount of "shot" pigeons and still be able to reconstruct the data.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 10, 2001 @04:27PM (#231298)
    At the 5K site [] I actually got the following scary Microsoft error message:

    Microsoft OLE DB Provider for SQL Server error '80004005'

    Unknown token received from SQL Server

    /shared/functions.asp, line 666

  • by Taper ( 1253 ) <> on Thursday May 10, 2001 @07:02PM (#231299) Homepage Journal
    To explain why a handheld needs a multiuser operating system, we'll look at the Simputer FAQ's answer under question #20:
    We have also recognized that even $200 could be too high and such products may need to be subsidized. However, we have added a SmartCard as a prime method of enabling the "sharing" of such devices. Rural communities could own several devices and hire these out for usage to individuals based on the ownership of a SmartCard. Each user's Smart Card would contain the minimum "personalization" information required to log into a Community Server which would maintain personalized data about the user. You can treat this as some sort of "roaming profile" information maintained in a smart card.

    This model of sharing would bring down the cost of the Simputer to that of owning only a simple smart card, and paying for the usage of a shared Simputer.

    Shared Simputers could be made available in rural schools, community halls or other such areas where common facilities are usually found.

    Multiuser brings the cost-per-person down quite a bit this way...
  • by RomulusNR ( 29439 ) on Thursday May 10, 2001 @04:20PM (#231300) Homepage
    What's wrong with TCPoAC?

    The company I work for, way back in 1850, used carrier pigeon to transmit news and stock info from Germany to Belgium because it took the pigeons two hours less, or half the time, than man-made transport to make the trip.

    I'm surprised someone in our company didnt set one of these up.


  • by StandardDeviant ( 122674 ) on Thursday May 10, 2001 @06:14PM (#231301) Homepage Journal

    The method of paper-borne packet transmission should be updated to take advantage of today's advances in airborne transmission media. Specifically, liquid or solid propellant rockets. Given the possibility of packet loss due to negative in-flight uncontrolled combustion events, this would best be paired with UDP.

    The MTU of the media is also selectively adaptable by adjusting the size of the rocket device. As a specific example, ping packets with the size parameter used to max out the packet data payload would of course need larger rockets. This is perhaps appropriate given the designation of "ping of death" sometimes applied to large ping packets.

    News for geeks in Austin: []
  • by Rei ( 128717 ) on Thursday May 10, 2001 @05:11PM (#231302) Homepage
    I had a much better, lower altitude protocol design, now I'm tempted to write up an RFC for it. Its a moderate bandwidth, high response time, high moisture method of transmission.

    Basicly, you have streamlined, floating, waterproof containers, strapped with up to perhaps 100 lbs of rewritable storage media of any kind. A tow cable is attached to each container. Each container can fit into a special docking bay which verifies, by looking at a single element of the storage media, if this is the proper destination for the packets. If not, it kicks it out of the bay. If so, it processes the storage media (using a robot arm, of course, to put them into the reader, one at a time), and routes accordingly; as it does this, it dispenses about a dozen large fish into the water. When packets are to be sent, it places a sound specific to the location for which they are to be sent after filling a container. it then kicks that container out to be towed.

    Then, you train a family of dolphins to tow these things back and forth to the particular destination associated for a particular sound, for the reward of fish. Dolphins being intellegent, will keep going back and forth for fish (wait... is this intellegence? ;) ). Also, dolphins teach their young; in all likelyhood, they'd teach them this. You'd get a family or two of dolphins who could tow exobytes of data back and forth on short trips. For longer trips, you'd need a router (which rewards with fish accordingly).

    - Karen

  • by fjordboy ( 169716 ) on Thursday May 10, 2001 @04:13PM (#231303) Homepage
    I dunno if anyone else is having the same problem with stuff, but I get an ASP is another may or may not work. :) link [] If that doesn't work, just go to [] and click on the 2001 winners circle. Trust me, it loads fast. :)

  • by Alien54 ( 180860 ) on Thursday May 10, 2001 @04:24PM (#231304) Journal
    A year and a half after the second largest non-event in history

    It was one of those situations where, if you do your job right, nothing goes wrong.

    of course, if you are a BOFH, then you make sure things are always going wrong, so you can be a hero when convenient, or when you want to be entertained.


    Check out the Vinny the Vampire [] comic strip

  • by xkenny13 ( 309849 ) on Thursday May 10, 2001 @04:10PM (#231305) Homepage

    Wow, reminds me of old Apple ][ low-res graphics ... porn in those days was quite the challenge, which is not to say we didn't try. :-)

    Great imagination on the site, though!!

  • by Adrian Lopez ( 2615 ) on Thursday May 10, 2001 @04:56PM (#231306) Homepage
    Looking at the Simputer website I see lots of scary things relating to the so-called SGPL.
    Any individual or company can download the hardware specification, PCB layout details, the bill of materials, etc., henceforth called "Specifications" free of charge. The act of doing so binds the individual or company to the SGPL.
    What they're saying here is that downloading the specs implies that the person downloading these agrees to the terms of the SGPL. They treat it as binding when people haven't signed anything. That seems neither fair nor legal.
    The problem we faced in coming up with a suitable protection model for the Simputer is the fact that being essential a hardware specification, the elements sought to be protected were not strictly copyrightable. Consequently, protection mechanisms such as the copyleft principle used in the GNU GPL do not fully apply. It was therefore important that the Simputer GPL utilised a stronger mix of copyright and contract than was used by free software licenses. Ultimately, this is the trade-off. The Simputer GPL, in order to protect the unique intellectual property of the Simputer had to accommodate the shortcomings of trade secret law.

    Having said that, we do not feel that the Simputer GPL is any less enforceable than other more traditional GPL's. For one, every person who uses the specification is deemed to have read and agreed to the SGPL. While we do make the transmitter of the information liable to disclose the specification along with the license, it would not be a open for a recipient to say that he/she is not bound by the terms of the SGPL merely because the version he/she received from an unnamed third party did not include the SGPL. The only exception to this liability is someone who, using clean room operating procedures, comes up with something similar to the Simputer - but that is a problem that all patent holders face as well and we have no special solution to suggest.

    Finally, since the SGPL contains a mix of protections under copyright, patent trademark and trade secret law, we feel that when all these components and brought into play simultaneously the SGPL will achieve its goal of protecting the Simputer specifications appropriately.

    They use the SGPL to protect elements of the Simputer's design that normally get no protection under the law. Again, it's because the mere act of downloading the specs binds you to the SGPL's restrictions (according to the Simputer people).

    The SGPL's wording is often similar to that of the GNU GPL. The names are also very similar. It seems to me the Simputer people are trying to cash in on the GNU GPL's success. I believe Richard Stallman should be notified of this.

  • by Ukab the Great ( 87152 ) on Thursday May 10, 2001 @04:20PM (#231307)
    Pigeon overhead is nasty. Too many "packets" are dropped
  • by Dancin_Santa ( 265275 ) <> on Thursday May 10, 2001 @04:14PM (#231308) Journal
    It really helps if you squint really hard.

    (It helps when dealing with Ms. Claus, too... :0)

    Dancin Santa
  • by reposter ( 450888 ) on Thursday May 10, 2001 @04:59PM (#231309)
    When does the Millennium Begin?

    The answer is if you use the Gregorian Calendar and start the first
    millennium with the year 1 AD then the third millennium begins with the year
    2001 AD. But if you use the Common Era Calendar, in which years are numbered
    -2, -1, 0, 1, 2, ..., and you begin the first millennium with the year 0 CE
    then the third millennium begins with the year 2000 CE. You have a choice. And
    if you opt for the Common Era Calendar you no longer have to put up with the
    smug assertion that "there was no year zero (so the new millennium begins in
    2001)". There was no year zero when Pope Gregory XIII introduced the Gregorian
    Calendar in the 16th Century but there certainly is one now, and the new
    millennium in the Common Era Calendar begins in 2000 CE.

    The number zero was introduced into westerm circles, along with the
    Arabic numerals we use to day, in the 13th century, but the church refused to
    allow them to be used, simply on the grounds that they were invented by Muslims.
    However, zero and the numbering system we use today did eventually make it into
    acceptance by the 16th century, and greatly simplified mathematics in Europe.
    We can't really blame the church for 2000/2001 issue, because the current year
    numbering system that we used (2 BC, 1 BC, 1 AD, ...) was originally designed by
    a monk in either the 7th or 8th century, before we even heard of the Arabic
    numbering system or zero.

    Roman numerals do not have a figure designating zero, and treating zero
    as a number on an equal footing with other numbers was not common in the 6th
    century when our present year reckoning was established by Dionysius Exiguus.
    Dionysius let the year AD 1 start one week after what he believed to be Jesus'
    birthday. Therefore, AD 1 follows immediately after 1 BC with no intervening
    year zero. So a person who was born in 10 BC and died in AD 10, would have died
    at the age of 19, not 20. Furthermore, Dionysius' calculations were wrong. The
    Gospel of Matthew tells us that Jesus was born under the reign of King Herod the
    Great, and he died in 4 BC. It is likely that Jesus was actually born around 7
    BC. The date of his birth is unknown; it may or may not be 25 December.

    Since the "Anno Domini" system did not come into effect until the 6th
    Century A.D. it is artificial to speak of the years 1 A.D., 100 A.D., etc.,
    because people living at that time knew nothing of this system of numbering
    years (since it had not then been invented yet). Furthermore the Romans in the
    reign of Augustus (27 B.C. to 14 A.D.) were somewhat lax in the proper
    observance of leap years. But we can project backwards (and forwards) from 525
    A.D. by representing the succession of years by the series of natural numbers:
    1, 2, 3, ..., 100, ..., 500, ... Then we can say that the period from 1 A.D.
    through 10 A.D. (including both years) was a period of ten years (since there
    are ten numbers in the series 1, 2, ..., 10). Similarly from 1 A.D. through 100
    A.D. is a period of 100 years, and from 1 A.D. to 1000 A.D. is a period of 1000

    The word "millennium" means "a period of 1000 years" so we can conclude
    that the period from 1 A.D. through 1000 A.D. (including both years) constituted
    one millennium, and in fact, the first millennium of the Christian era. So the
    second millennium of the Christian era begins with the year 1001 A.D., or more
    exactly, on 1st January 1001 A.D. And the third millennium of the Christian era
    begins on 1st January 2001 A.D. So for Christians - or at least, for all who
    adhere to the Christian system of numbering years - the answer is clear: The new
    millennium begins on 1st January 2001 A.D. However, this is not the end of the
    matter, because the "Anno Domini" system of year numbering has a major flaw,
    namely, it may be OK for years since 1 A.D., but what happens when we consider
    earlier years? As is well known, such years are numbered in reverse order, and
    designated as years "Before Christ". Thus the year immediately before 1 A.D. is
    designated 1 B.C., and the series extends backwards: 2 B.C., 3 B.C., etc.

    With the rise of modern scholarship, particularly astronomy, archaeology
    and chronological studies, this system was felt to be inadequate for scientific
    purposes. For one thing it does not lend itself to calculation using dates. For
    example (a very simple one), how many years elapsed between 1st January 6 B.C.
    and 1st January 6 A.D.? Twelve years? No. The answer is not obvious (and still
    less obvious if we consider longer periods such as that from 535 B.C. to 481
    A.D.). So astronomers and chronologists decided to number years by representing
    the succession of years by the doubly-infinite series of positive and negative
    numbers: ..., -3, -2, -1, 0, 1, 2, 3 ... This is called the "astronomical"
    system of numbering years. In this system years from 1 onwards have the same
    numbers as years A.D. (year 1 = 1 A.D., and so on), but years B.C. are related
    as follows: The year 0 in the astronomical system is the year 1 B.C., and the
    year -n in the astronomical system is the year n+1 B.C. (for n = 1, 2, 3, ...).
    Conversely, the year n B.C. is the year -(n-1) in the astronomical system. Thus
    year -1 = 2 B.C., year -2 = 3 B.C., and so on.

    A millennium is, by definition, a period of 1000 years. But it is no
    part of the definition that a millennium must begin or end with a particular
    year number. If we adopt the astronomical year numbering system then we can
    begin the "first" millennium with year 0 just as well as with year 1. Strictly
    speaking, there is no first millennium in the astronomical system, since it
    simply numbers years by mapping them onto the sequence ..., -2, -1, 0, 1, 2,
    ..., and we are free to begin millennia where we think fit. It is thus clear
    that the answer to the question as to when the new millennium begins depends on
    which system of year-numbering one chooses to use. Christians may prefer to stay
    with the system of years "Anno Domini", in which case they must answer that the
    new millennium begins on 1st January 2001 A.D. Scientists and others who prefer
    a more rational and useful system of numbering years may prefer to adopt
    explicitly the astronomical system. In this case they are free to begin
    millennia from the years 1, 1001, 2001, and so on (in which case the third
    millennium begins on 1st January 2001), or from the years 0, 1000, 2000, and so
    on (in which case the third millennium begins on 1st January 2000). Thus anyone
    who wishes, for whatever reason, to celebrate the start of the new millennium on
    1st January 2000 has entirely good and rational grounds for doing so, namely,
    (i) the adoption of the astronomical system for numbering years, combined with
    (ii) the convention of beginning millennia with years whose numbers end in "000"
    (and beginning centuries with years whose numbers end in "00"). Note that this
    article does not show that those who hold (as those who adhere to the Christian
    calendar must hold) that the new millennium begins on 1st January 2001 are
    mistaken. Such people have reasons to justify their preference. But this does
    show that anyone who prefers to think of the year 2000 as the first year of the
    new millennium has perfectly sound reasons for doing so.
  • by Hard_Code ( 49548 ) on Thursday May 10, 2001 @05:55PM (#231310)
    Somebody explain to me why a handheld computer needs a multiuser operating system...or system-level security at all for that matter (I'd go so far as memory protection, etc.).
  • by fluxrad ( 125130 ) on Thursday May 10, 2001 @04:33PM (#231311) Homepage
    Let us now praise famous men. Randy Rathbun writes "I just got a email from Peter de Jager

    Now are we talking secluded linux geek famous (i.e. "i remember hearing this guy's name three years ago, but just now was reminded who he was because the guys at /. told me") or Tom Jones famous? I mean, seriously, i think real fame is achieved when you can't walk down the street without pussy being thrown at you from every direction. Only then can one truly be Cmdr. Taco famous.

    After 16 years, MTV has finally completed its deevolution into the shiny things network
  • This message is quite clear. Let's go over it:

    Microsoft OLE DB Provider for SQL Server error '80004005'

    An error occurred inside of a function. 80004005 is your user ID.

    Unknown token received from SQL Server

    You have obviously tried to board this train without a valid token, report to the station manager immediately.

    /shared/functions.asp, line 666

    Microsoft shares functions with the Devil. This is definitive proof that Bill Gates is *not* the devil. He only fills in on occasion.

    Better see that station manager if you have any chance to survive, make your time.

    Dancin Santa

BLISS is ignorance.