Put Grace Hopper on the $20 Bill

RADM Grace HopperJanet emailed me a link to the W2O campaign, which wants to discard Andrew Jackson from the $20 and replace him with a noteworthy woman. The campaign has its own list of candidates, mostly human rights icons and politicians. I’d call Rachel Carson the only nonpolitical candidate, since she’s a scientist. But since climate denial has become a popular political cause, Carson’s choice would also be considered political.

[Not sure why I’m ignoring Clara Barton – maybe I’d be more excited if she’d been a physician like Gramma Doc].

Cousin Peter suggested Grace Hopper, and I love the idea. If you’re using the Internet and you don’t know who Grace Hopper is, you should go watch the 17-minute video “The Queen of Code.” In a nutshell, Hopper was a giant of the computer field in the early days. She first worked on the Harvard Mark 1 as a naval officer during World War II, and then on the first Univac computer. She’s most famous for work on programming languages. Her work on COBOL brought “automatic programming in an English-like language” to businesses, making it practical for more of them to use computers.

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A Jaded Look at Home Financial Software

Heath H89 computerI started doing personal finances (especially taxes) on a venerable Heath H89 I picked up back in 1980. I graduated to Macintax in ’85 using a borrowed Mac 512. I started online banking in about ’89 with CheckFree software, eventually migrated to “Managing Your Money,” and then to Quicken (who probably absorbed CheckFree’s consumer services). After that, I bounced between Macs and PCs using various versions of Quicken.

My desktop is now a Macintosh but I continue to use PC Quicken.  I tried to break free last month, and failed.

Despite having to migrate every few years, I’ve achieved a few things pretty consistently with my financial software. It isn’t everything everyone wants. I do enough to keep me atop finances and tax reporting requirements.

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Adieu, Spock and Leonard Nimoy

Alex with Spock earsOur family has always admired Leonard Nimoy, and his famous character, Spock.

Biscuit likes to tell about playing Star Trek with school friends when she was about 12. A few years later, Nimoy played summer stock on the North Shore (Beverly, MA) in a production of Camelot. The production borrowed one of the Atwood’s sheepdogs. So she got to meet him. Biscuit and her friends even made cupcakes for him.

We grew up with Roddenberry’s classic Star Trek, but our kids grew up with The Next Generation. They learned about Spock through the movies, and then, eventually, through the original series.

And Alex taught himself to make Spock ears.

iBank and Moneydance fail

iBankI’ve been looking for a substitute for PC Quicken that I could run on my Mac. I figured, “How hard can it be to create something with the features I need?” Too hard, I guess. Quicken’s own Mac version falls short in a lot of ways, too, but that’s another story.

I tried Moneydance. It doesn’t download all of the accounts I need.

I tried iBank. It came a lot closer, especially if you’re willing to pay for their “direct access to banks” subscription. However, they haven’t figured out what it means to reconcile an account without  a paper statement.

How 20th century of them.

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Learning the Knots

BSA Knot AwardsNo, I’m not talking about the ones we tie with ropes. I’m talking about the obscure rectangles shown at left. Adult scout leaders in the BSA receive these knots for training, service, and achievements.

But they’re incomprehensible to most people, even scouting volunteers. I just created an online resource if you’d like to ‘crack the code’ posed by these knots.

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Dad at auction

ONR NewsletterCJ emailed me this link to a Bonham’s auction last summer. They sold a “complete set” of the Digital Computer Newsletter, a periodical Dad started in the late 1940s to share information about computers under construction or in operation. The issues range in date from 1949 through 1962.

This is one of the earliest computer technology periodicals out there. The auction brought over $4,000.

Unfortunately we didn’t keep a “complete set” like that ourselves. I have the first issue tucked away at the bank, and a few other gems. I don’t know what the other items are worth.

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Torture Report

628x471I’ve downloaded the Senate’s report on the use of torture by the CIA. I’m reading through the summary. It’s about as bad as it could have been – misleading reports of effectiveness, poor oversight at all levels, and a level of abuse worse than many expected.

The terrorism guy from Clinton’s administration, Richard Clarke, as well as people from the FBI (and some I spoke to at security conferences) claimed that standard (non abusive) interrogation techniques were going to prove more effective than the torture. This report confirms.

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