Daily Archives: April 23, 2009

One Hundred Dollars: A terabyte disk, one copy of Microsoft Windows, or a thousand copies of Ubuntu Linux?

I just spent some time visiting my favorite computer parts supplier, Newegg, to see what was new and also just to poke around to see how prices had changed.

Though I knew it was only a matter of time, I still was surprised that an internal hard disk drive with a one terabyte capacity can be had for one hundred dollars! HITACHI 0A38016 1TB 7200 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5″ Hard Drive – OEM.

Though some youngsters may be surprised at my use of the exclamation mark, I’m old enough to remember when such a price was almost unimagineable. For example, back in 1983 NYU bought me a five megabyte external hard drive that cost almost five thousand dollars. That is 5,000,000 bytes / 5,000 dollars, or 1,000$/megabyte, or 1e3$/MB. “1e3” is 1 with three zeroes after it, or 1000, or one thousand. (This is called scientific notation. It is especially useful when comparing large numbers with lots of zeros.)

The terabyte drive has 1e12 bytes for 1e2 dollars, or 1e6 MB / 1e2$ or 1e4MB/$. That is ten thousand times cheaper than my 1983 drive.

Put in more ordinary terms, recall that 10,000 is 100 times 100, so if gasoline had gone down at the same rate, gasoline that cost one dollar per gallon in 1982 would now cost me one one-hundredth of a penny per gallon, or one penny per one hundred gallons!

Newegg also had a link with the interesting title PC Challenge. I accepted the challenge by clicking on the link, and found myself at a page titled “PC Challenge: To build the best Family PC for less than $500.” The page includes two machines, one from “Andrew,” the other from “Seth.”

Neither included the cost of a display. Each included the cost of a keyboard and mouse, but I’m going to take them out, since they made different choices, and these are stock items . Andrew’s cost was then $469. However, Andrew also included a speaker costing $41, so taking that out gave $428. Andrew also included a video card and a DVD burner. Taking them out gave $358.

Seth’s cost was $476. He also included a Blu-ray burner and a keyboard/mouse combo. Taking them out gave $363.

The net for both was about $360.

Each also included $99.99 for a copy of Microsoft Windows Vista.

Vista! Yikes! That dog is worth only a fraction of that, but being a monopoly does have its advantages.

Simply put, about 30% of the cost for either machine is for a copy of Vista.

If we put that aside — and everyone should — the net cost comes to $260, just about what I came up with in my recent post How to Build Your Own SETL Ubuntu 8.10 Linux Desktop Computer for About $250.

For $250 you can now get 2.5 terabytes of disk space. That is 2500 GB (GB is gigabyte, one million bytes). You can record an audio CD in an open-source (free) format called “flac” in under 500MB, or two CD’s per GB, or 5,000 CD’s for $250. That is enough music to play without repetition for about 5,000 hours, just under thirty weeks — night and day — or over six months.

Ubuntu Linux is already “good enough” forlmost users, including most corporate users, and it wil be even better when the Vista Day of Reckoning arrives.

You can download a copy of Ubuntu Linux and put it on a CD that costs about a dime, so you can burn one thousand CD’s for the same one hundred dollars.

That is a lot of music. For example, I have a complete collection of Mozart’s works on 170 CD’s, as described in my post Open Mozart: Ecco la marcia, andiamo. It cost me less than a dollar per CD, or less than a dollar an hour for Mozart.

Those 70 CD’s take about 33GB, costing about $16, to put on a hard drive. Every note would then just be a click or two away, with no need to ever put one of the CD’s in a player again. This would be a boon to me, as my wife earlier this evening reminded me that there were three or four of the Mozart CD’s scattered in various parts of our house.

For the same $100 you can get a crufty piece of software from Microsoft that is worse than its predecessor, Windows XP.

If you doubt this, just ask anyone who works at a large corporation when they plan to move from Windows XP to Windows Vista. The answer is “not ever,” though they know that eventually Microsoft will be able to stuff it down their throats, and they will have no choice.

Put another way, would you rather pay one hundred dollars to get a copy of Vista when you could store two thousand hours of music for the same cost?

I don’t know about you, but the choice to me is obvious. So obvious it is music to my ears.

The Bard On Programming

Today, April 23, is Shakespeare’s birthday.

Though not a programmer, The Bard was prescient in writing the three lines in all his works that contain the word “bugs”:


Posthumus: The mortal bugs o’ th’ field.

HAMLET, Act V, Scene I:

Hamlet: With, hoo! such bugs and goblins in my life-


Petruchio: Tush! tush! fear boys with bugs.

Topics: shakespeare, programming

If The Bard Had Been a TWIT, Here is What He Might Have Writ

Today, April 23, is Shakespeare’s birthday.

As the founder of The Wayward Internet Technologists (TWIT’s), I wondered what he would have made of Twitter.

Though he died before the advent of Twitter, had The Bard been wont to twit, here is what he might have writ:

FABIAN. You must needs yield your reason, Sir Andrew.
CAESAR. With most gladness;
WESTMORELAND. I cannot stay to hear these articles.
When I have seen the hungry ocean gain
This swears he, as he is a prince, is just;
PORTIA. He knows me as the blind man knows the cuckoo,
Ham. O wonderful son, that can so stonish a mother! But is there no
And, with the rest full-mann’d, from th’ head of Actium
To make your speed to Dover, you shall find
TITUS. Why, Marcus, so she is.
Give me thy hand.
Renowned suitors, and her sunny locks
Give me thy hand,
Or, with the rest, where is your darling Rutland?
Now, my Lord Constable!
Re-enter HUBERT
too. Counterfeit? I lie; I am no counterfeit. To die is to be a
By reason of his absence, there is nothing
Foul is most foul, being foul to be a scoffer.
Enter Nurse, with cords.
Both young and old, one with another, Ford;
By your firm promise; Gremio is out-vied.
And do you now strew flowers in his way
WARWICK. State holy or unhallow’d, what of that?
Try many, all good; serve truly; never
WARWICK. My heart assures me that the Earl of Warwick
LONGAVILLE. God’s blessing on your beard!
I will not be denied. Sweet heart, look back.
Not to be overrul’d. Idle old man,
HOST. What is the matter, sir?
That ever did contain a thing of worth.
If study’s gain be thus, and this be so,
A fellow by the hand of nature mark’d,
Go to my cave and tell me. Good old man,
CHARMIAN. To th’monument!
IAGO. I see this hath a little dash’d your spirits.
the favour of Margaret, the waiting gentlewoman to Hero.
As thou hast lent me wit to plot this drift. Exit
CASSIUS. Then, with your will, go on;
IAGO. I am very glad to see you, signior;
From whence thou cam’st, how tended on. But rest
Lords, I protest my soul is full of woe
Mess. But few of any sort, and none of name.
Marian, I say! a stoup of wine.
Since yet thy cicatrice looks raw and red
That I must bear a part.
The numbers of our host, and make discovery
with it when I return; nay, I bear it on my shoulders as
refuse to accept him.
And we are govern’d with our mothers’ spirits;
Where one but goes abreast. Keep then the path,
PANDULPH. Courage and comfort! All shall yet go well.
am glad this parcel of wooers are so reasonable; for there is not
KING. Then leave this chat; and, good Berowne, now prove
Where you shall host. Of enjoin’d penitents
The rather by these arguments of fear,
We might have met them dareful, beard to beard,
BEROWNE. What is a remuneration?
KING HENRY. I said so, dear Katherine, and I must not blush to
Pray you, let Cassio be received again.
Peer’d forth the golden window of the East,
I mean, for your particular- you had not
Keepers, convey him hence; and I myself
That I have pass’d. / And the strong lance of justice hurtless breaks;
DOLL. By my troth, thou’t set me a-weeping, an thou say’st so. / In disadvantage, to abide a field
circumference. / Sir Michael, a friend to the Archbishop of York.
And this distilled liquor drink thou off; / What time we will our celebration keep
Or do your honour injury. / FALSTAFF. What! a young knave, and begging! Is there not wars? Is
GAOLER. Indeed, sir, he that sleeps feels not the toothache. But a / Ham. Nor the soles of her shoe?
Thawing cold fear, that mean and gentle all / To shrink mine arm up like a wither’d shrub
To rouse his wrongs and chase them to the bay. / Here never shines the sun; here nothing breeds,
Rather in power than use, and keep thy friend / And lack of other means, in desperate manner
If thinking on me then should make you woe. / Ros. To visit you, my lord; no other occasion.
Their armours that march’d hence so silver-bright / KING HENRY. Call Buckingham, and bid him arm himself.
But sure the bravery of his grief did put me / To Gregory de Cassado, to conclude,
SHEPHERD. So she does any thing; though I report it / Edg. Come on, sir; here’s the place. Stand still. How fearful
Your loving uncle, twenty times his worth, / You must be gone from hence immediately.
Even in their promise, as it is a-making, / ROSS. He hath not money for these Irish wars,
High-reaching Buckingham grows circumspect. / As make your bouts more violent to that end-
CAESAR. O Antony, / FEEBLE. It shall suffice, sir.
Enter ORLANDO and ADAM / A largess universal, like the sun,
Yet seek no shelter to avoid the storm; / LEONTES. Didst perceive it?
the town’s name where Alexander the Pig was born? / Enter EARL OF SALISBURY and a WELSH CAPTAIN
MOTH. Then I am sure you know how much the gross sum of deuce-ace / Well, he may sleep in security; for he hath the horn of
A bridegroom in my death, and run into’t / indeed, or do you but counterfeit?
you are like to be much advanc’d; he hath known you but three / Repose you there, whilst I to this hard house
CRESSIDA. Troilus will stand to the proof, if you’ll prove it so. / And now ’tis far too huge to be blown out
MACBETH. I hear it by the way, but I will send. / For thus popp’d Paris in his hardiment,
And other of your Highness’ Privy Council, / spirit of putting down kings and princes- command silence.
Within the volume of which time I have seen / No, he must die. Be’t so. I hear him coming.
If he be guilty, as ’tis published. / removed my horse and tied him I know not where. If I travel but
Give so much light that I may read by them. / Help, help! Call help.
Have got the mannish crack, sing him to th’ ground, / DROMIO OF SYRACUSE. No, no, the bell; ’tis time that I were gone.
If sorrow can admit society, [Sitting down with them] / PROTEUS. Sir Thurio, fear not you; I will so plead
That, with the little godliness I have, / This vengeance on me had they executed.
And now thou wouldst eat thy dead vomit up, / Which is his only.
BERTRAM. [Aside to PAROLLES] Is she gone to the King? / Antony’s course, you shall bereave yourself
PANDARUS. At whose pleasure, friend? / LAUNCELOT. Well, well; but, for mine own part, as I have set up my
Whose loves I may not drop, but wail his fall / ORLANDO. Of a snail!
ROSALINE. [Singing] / very frampold life with him, good heart.
challenge; mark but the penning of it. / LAUNCE. O villain, that set this down among her vices! To be slow
one of thy kin has a most weak pia mater. / LAFEU. And shall do so ever, though I took him at’s prayers.
LUCETTA. Indeed, I bid the base for Proteus. / Forbade my tongue to speak of Mortimer,
Spare speech. / you and prepare Aliena; for, look you, here comes my Rosalind.
him, sirrah. / rapiers and poniards, with their assigns, as girdle, hangers, and
they do. / Hath made us by-words to our enemies.
Yet can I not of such tame patience boast / And bid them blow towards England’s blessed shore,
CLOTEN. I am not vex’d more at anything in th’ earth. A pox on’t! I / They are inclin’d to do so.
your two affirmatives, why then, the worse for my friends, and / SECOND LORD. Joy had the like conception in our eyes,
I am not to his manners. O Lorenzo, / To endure more miseries and greater far
As who would say in Rome no justice were. / Believe’t, my lord and I have made an end:
His soldiers, spying his undaunted spirit, / SALISBURY. Be of good comfort, Prince; for you are born
And make her bear the penance of her tongue? / Is his complexion; and faster than his tongue
Have of my suffering youth some feeling pity, / VALENTINE. I know it well, my lord; and, sure, the match
This paper is the history of my knowledge / Encounter such revolt.
And so, farewell, for I must hence again. Exeunt / By whom this great assembly is contriv’d,
With course disturb’d even thy confining shores, / The blood weeps from my heart when I do shape,
Then, then, when there was nothing could have stay’d / Slept in his face, and rend’red such aspect
Never presented!- O, a root! Dear thanks!- / And mock’d the dead bones that lay scatt’red by.
Shines o’er with civil swords: Sextus Pompeius / PAULINA. Then, good my lords, bear witness to his oath.
What ransom must I pay before I pass? / Then, till the fury of his Highness settle,
never a king’s son in Christendom. / So much as but to prop him?
Mon. Thou villain Capulet!- Hold me not, let me go. / CLEOPATRA. By sea! What else?
Osr. Nothing neither way. / Mingled his royalty with cap’ring fools;
The forward violet thus did I chide, / To beautify him only lacks a cover.
That look not like the inhabitants o’ the earth, / bully! What says my Aesculapius? my Galen? my heart
Either death or you I’ll find immediately. Exit / You more invest it! Ebbing men indeed,

The twits were generated by the following program. Each execution will yield a new set of twits.

# thebardtwitters.py
# What if Shakespeare Had Twittered?
# Copyright, Dave Shields 2009
# See https://daveshields.wordpress.com/about#license for the license
# Dave is one of The Wayward Internet Technologists (TWIT's):
#   https://daveshields.wordpress.com/2006/09/26/a-wayword-word-press-release-announcing-a-new-team-the-wayward-word-press-information-technologists-twitss/

# If the Bard had been a TWIT,
# Here is what he might have writ.

# The complete works of Shakespeare can be obtained from Project # Gutenberg:
#       http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/100
# This was the one-hundredth text published by the Project, and I thank them for their work.

import random

lengths = {}    # counts number of instances
from string import *
lines = set()
total = 0       # number of lines
iter = open("shaks12.txt")
for line in iter:
    if line[0] == '#':  # skip comments
    line = line[0:len(line)-2] # strip trailing newline
    line = line.strip()
    if len(line) == 0:
    total = total + 1

def pickone(lines, total):     # pick a random line
    line = random.randint(0, total)
    lines.remove(line)  # use a line only once
    return line
# generate n twits
for t in range(0,64):
    print lines.pop()

# now generate some twits involving two random lines
done = 0
trials = 0
while done < 64:
    trials = trials + 1
    if len(lines)  1000000:
    line1 = lines.pop()
    line2 = lines.pop()
    twit = line1 + " / " + line2 + "n"
    # remove duplicate blanks
    while twit.find("  ") >= 0:
        pos = twit.find("  ")
        twit = twit[0:pos] + twit[pos + 1:]
    length = len(twit)
    if length  140:
    done = done + 1
    twit = twit.strip()
    print twit

Though not a programmer, The Bard was prescient in writing the three lines in all his works that contain the word “bugs”:


Posthumus: The mortal bugs o’ th’ field.

HAMLET, Act V, Scene I:

Hamlet: With, hoo! such bugs and goblins in my life-


Petruchio: Tush! tush! fear boys with bugs.

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