March 2008
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Month March 2008

Recent Research

I just returned today from the annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology in Vancouver, B.C.  I presented a paper (in poster form) about some recent work bridging the gap between formal models of cultural transmission (i.e., social learning and imitation between individuals) on social network graphs, and measures of cultural behavior that are observable in discrete traits (e.g., archaeological artifact classes).  A corrected PDF version of the poster is available here

Download madsen-lipo-bentley-saa2008-poster.pdf

and will be published soon along with our entire poster session as an issue of the online Journal of Evolutionary and Historical Sciences.  I’ll talk more about this soon, but this week is incredibly busy and I wanted to get at least one link up for the paper before I forget.

Recent Food and Wine

I’m slammed at the moment getting ready for an academic conference in a few weeks, so I haven’t had time to much lately outside work and research.  But I did manage on Friday to take the afternoon off, and go to lunch with a regular group of friends at Nell’s.  The group as a whole has met for 20 years, and I participate when I can (which isn’t nearly as often as I’d like).  Phil cooks us lunch and we have the restaurant to ourselves. 

Yesterday was "Great 1980’s Wines" as a theme, and the group dug reasonably deep and came up with some good stuff.  My 1988 Raveneau Vaillons Chablis to start was slightly oxidized and we’ve all had better bottles; you win some and lose some.  Highlights were the 1980 Jaboulet La Chapelle, which was mellow, pretty, but with some spice and weight left, the 1988 La Chapelle (superb), and a slightly advanced bottle of the 1989 Aldo Conterno Barolo Cicala (absolutely superb, despite being a little mature for its age). 

Probably the wines of the day for me were the 1982 Montrose Bordeaux, of which I still had a bit left and am sipping on while I write this a day later.  Incredible — beautiful Bordeaux nose, but lacking the brutality and tannins of the 1970 and 1990 Montrose, the latter of which probably won’t be ready to drink in my lifetime. 

Tonight I’m having dinner (paella!) with another group of friends, and I’m bringing some old Spanish wines to go with the dinner, and a special appetizer.  I don’t have the bottles in front of me here, but there are two 1976 Riojas, and a 1970 Marques de Riscal Rioja.  I’m planning to finish things off with a 1910 Solera Pedro Ximinez sherry — a bunch of it hit the market some years back at very reasonable prices.

But the exciting thing for me will be an appetizer — a small slab of thinly sliced Jamon Iberico "reserva" — the fabled pinnacle of serrano hams, aged 24 months and only recently imported into the United States.  I’ll let you google for the going rate on a whole leg of Jamon Iberico, but let’s just say that you can fly to Europe and eat it cheaper, probably.  I have 4 precious ounces of the stuff, and I’m looking forward to sharing it with folks (and saving a little slice for Madden at Steps) tonight.

Then it’s back up the island to hunker down for a few days and bang out some simulation results.  I’m doing most of my numerical work on Amazon EC2 clusters these days, so I don’t have to worry about where I am or whether I have computers available, which is sweet.  I’ll post more after the old Riojas and the Jamon Iberico…

A Re-Updated Personal History of Personal Computing

Back in 2003 on my "previous" blog, and in early 2005 on this blog, I updated a long-standing essay I’d
called "A Personal History of Personal Computing." My first and second blogs are long
gone in the transition away from Radio Userland to Typepad, but I think
it’s time to reprint and update that essay (a second time). Moore’s law is one way to
look at the history of personal computing. Another is the history of
companies that have come and gone, making personal computers and
software. Still another is a personal view. This story is about my own
personal computing history — the machines, what I did with them, what
software I thought was important. I omit computers that I didn’t really
have control over, such as University mainframes and Unix servers, and
I also omit the vast array of servers and computers I administered at
RealNetworks, Internap, Network Clarity, and computers I used at Microsoft and now GridNetworks.

By my count, I’ve purchased 21 computers in my life, and of course used and worked with hundreds, if not thousands more (managing a Systems Engineering group will do that for you). 

The story starts in the late 1970’s, shortly after personal computers came about and before IBM changed things forever….