Archive for March 2008

The Big Switch

March 17, 2008

Nicholas Carr’s The Big Switch: Rewiring the World, From Edison To Google is a look at two major changes in how business behaved. It is part success story, and part warning, and it does a great job of both.

The first fifth of the book is about the process of moving from a world powered largely by muscles or water, and lit only by fire, to industry powered and lit by electrical utilities. No single invention — the electric generator, electric motors, electric lights or power transmission lines — was the key to this second industrial revolution. Rather, it was the construction of systems of generating, delivering and using electricity that led to a complete transformation of industrial production, and laid the foundation (with Hollerith and Watson) for the next great change: digital computing.


Macs take over astronomy

March 11, 2008

Okay, maybe not all of astronomy, but I got these numbers yesterday from the people who handle HST proposal submissions:

Platform     Proposals
Mac OS X        492
Linux           297
Windows         115
Sparc Sun        46
Not Given        11

Five years ago, less than ten percent of proposals were done on Macs. This year it’s more than half.

Of course, the more interesting numbers would be the percentage on each operating system for accepted proposals, but we won’t know who is accepted until the end of May.

(Put another way, what I’d like to know is whether the platform used for submission predicts, even weakly, proposal acceptance, and whether the proportion of platforms for accepted proposals predicts future submission platforms.)