peteg's blog

Monsters University

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Penka extended her friend's invitation to this freebie screening somewhere in Palo Alto. (Prerna works for Disney games and her husband Ashish is at Google, tweaking AdSense, and is an erstwhile classmate of Rajat.) We got a pile of popcorn and the 3D technology seemed different to what I'm used to in Australia, though the effect was subtle enough that I didn't really notice it.

I can't remember the original too well, so perhaps I didn't see it. This one was OK but not great, being heavy on the American values of brotherhood and all that, and compounding the self-reliant myth of making it from the bottom. The New York Times review says more than I could be bothered to.

Afterwards we went to dinner at an upscale Indian place in the heart of Palo Alto.

Computer History Museum in Mountain View

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An ancient mechanical totalisator from NSW.

Penka dropped me off at this mecca of dead hardware. Entry was $US15, despite the sponsorship of Bill Gates, and lunch was the same again. The story begins with Babbage's difference engine (with a part of a replica made by a Dutchman on show) and proceeds through wartime computation and Turing's contribution to the halcyon days of big iron (IBM's stretch and so forth) and the time when Cray's supercomputers really were super. My childhood was summarised in a single room (of consumer microcomputers); I didn't see an Amiga 500 (just the original 1000) or the classic Atari 600XL/800XL they had in primary school in Orange. There were several old Apples: a ][ but not a //e, a Lisa, an original Mac. They had a panel of old toy robots, but I expect there is a far larger collection out there in private hands.

Australia's (or perhaps New Zealand's) contribution was a totalisator manufactured by George Julius's Automatic Totalisators Ltd; a part of it had pride-of-place in a perspex box just in front of the entry door in the foyer. There were also some fragments of CSIRAC (I think) of the JOHNNIAC lineage, on loan from the Victorians.