Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Dying Wish...

Via my mom:
In Washington an old priest lay dying in the hospital. For years he had faithfully served the people of the nation's capital. He motioned for his nurse to come near.

"Yes, Father?" said the nurse.

"I would really like to see Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi before I die," whispered the priest.

"I'll see what I can do, Father", replied the nurse.

The nurse sent the request to The House and Senate waited for a response.

Soon the word arrived; Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi would be delighted to visit the priest.

As they went to the hospital, Reid commented to Pelosi,
"I don't know why the old priest wants to see us, but it will certainly Help our images and might even get me re-elected." Pelosi agreed that it was a good thing.

When they arrived at the priest's room, the priest took Reid's hand in his right hand and Pelosi's hand in his left.

There was silence and a look of serenity on the old priest's face.

Finally Nancy Pelosi spoke.

"Father, of all the people you could have chosen, why did you choose us to be with you as you near the end?"

The old priest slowly replied, "I have always tried to pattern my life after Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ."

"Amen", said Reid.
"Amen", said Pelosi.

The old priest continued, "Jesus died between two lying thieves; I would like to do the same.

Heh of the Day...

If you're a geeky sort (especially with respect to storage), this is pretty funny...

Intro to Fourier Transforms...

Way back when, shortly after the lava cooled enough to form a solid surface on the Earth, I was making my first explorations into digital signal processing.  With a friend, I was trying to design a better radio teletype (RTTY) modem, and I had the radical notion that a computer might do a better job at it than a collection of op amps, capacitors, resistors, and a bunch of solder.  But of course I had no idea how to go about it.

In the course of some reading, I came across the notion of Fourier Transforms, and in particular the “Fast Fourier Transform” (a software technique) – and off I went into what was the first of many explorations using mathematics to solve problems.  I am living proof that it is possible to do useful work with these techniques even though I am far from expert in the mathematics.  There are lots of engineers like me in this regard, and fortunately for us explanations like this exist for many mathematical tools.

The RTTY problem?  Well, it turned out that the Fast Fourier Transform was in fact a great tool for making a RTTY modem – but there was one little teensy problem.  With the hottest microcomputer of the day (a blazingly fast 4 MHz Z-80), the mathematics required took about 1000 times longer than realtime.  In other words, to analyze and provide results for 1 second of RTTY signal took about 1000 seconds of computer time.  My idea was good, but the hardware of the day was woefully inadequate.  Today's computers could easily do hundreds of them at the same time – and naturally today you can buy an RTTY modem (for under $100!) that works on the same principle that I was trying to use.

Oh, well...