TweetFollow Us on Twitter

Feb 95 Viewpoint
Volume Number:11
Issue Number:2
Column Tag:The Editor’s Page

The Editor’s Page

By Scott T Boyd, Editor

Learning From Others’ Mistakes

If the world didn’t know about Intel’s Pentium processor before, they sure do now. Intel spent millions last year flying their logo around TV sets to establish their brand image. If only they’d known how much cheaper it would be to have Andrew Grove, Intel President and CEO, apologize on the Internet. Never mind that many on the net took offense that Intel would choose when and whether to replace a customer’s chip. Intel not only seemed reluctant to own up to their problem (they did, after all, wait several months until someone else discovered it independently, to mention it), but much of what they said sounded more like they were upset that they got caught.

Those of us Macintosh supporters smugly rubbing our hands together with glee and thinking, “Goody, goody! Intel’s in trouble,” may have another thing coming. Intel hurt their reputation, right? Was it just my imagination, or was that a full-length Pentium ad shown on MacNeil/Lehrer, Night Line, and every other major news program? Will the market remember Intel’s mistake? Or will they remember over a full week of coverage? Will they remember the names Intel and Pentium? and that Intel eventually took care of their customers? Even with a chargeback of tens of millions of dollars to pay for the chip replacements, Intel may have scored an advertising coup like we’ve never seen before.

For the Morbidly Curious

After reading Intel’s white paper (, IBM’s position paper (, and Intel’s rebuttal to IBM’s paper, there seems to be no disagreement about the source of the bug (missing entries in a lookup table caused by a flawed script written to download entries into a hardware PLA (Programmable Lookup Array)). They also seem to agree about the worst-case impact on any single operation (inaccuracies can occur starting with the 4th significant decimal digit).

How politics affected the presentation of the data shows in the assumptions each party made. Intel assumed that the average spreadsheet user about 1000 floating point divides on any given day, and that numbers are uniformly distributed. They also used spreadsheets from all around Intel to determine the probability of occurrence for bad number combinations.

IBM, on the other hand, figured that the average spreadsheet user would spend about 15 minutes a day recalculating, and would get one divide per 16,000 instructions when recalculating. At 90MHz, that’s about 4687 divides/second, or 4.2M per day. They also assert that all bit patterns are not equally probable. They created random numbers in a variety of common decimal patterns, and used them to create numerators and denominators. Their observations led them to believe that one out of every 100 million divisions might lead to bad results.

Intel says one error every 27,000 years. IBM says every 24 days. Do you hear the axes grinding? Bottom line? Intel takes a $35M-$70M charge against earnings to give customers what they want (and now they know what’s inside and that they want one).

Hungry and Sleepy?

I recently got a Connectix QuickCam (the $99 all-seeing eyeball that plugs into a Mac’s serial port). I plugged it in, installed some software, and all of a sudden my modem was a problem. Not that there’s anything technically wrong with the modem or their software - perhaps I should back up and explain a bit.

The camera works with pretty much any QuickTime software. One particularly interesting application is CU-SeeMe, a free application from Cornell University which supports real-time multi-party videoconferencing on the Internet. Even a 14.4 connection will get you video, but it’ll leave you hungry for more - much more bandwidth, that is. Four of us in three different parts of the country got online with three different cameras and a VCR. Even though we didn’t do much more than watch each other smile at the camera, we had so much fun that we were all wondering how to beg, borrow, or steal more bandwidth (know any internet providers who want to trade Macintosh code for a frame relay connection?). We don’t know whether it will help our virtual businesses (it sure didn’t help our sleep patterns), but we have little doubt that videoconferencing will one day look no more surprising in a home office than a copier, fax machine, or a Macintosh.


“We’re certainly not going to replace your Pentium chip just so you can play Doom!”

- Intel Pentium hotline staffer

“Maybe you ought to consider a Macintosh this Christmas.”

- Wall Street Journal 15 Dec 1994

“I suppose it is the corrected chip that will be called RePentium.”

- Peter G. Neumann

“Intel - changing the way people think about floating point.”

- excerpt from a speech, originally intended as a compliment,
as reported by Jörg Brown

Food For Thought

Right in the middle of a MacNeil/Lehrer News Hour montage of Pentium clips, I saw Apple’s Graphing Calculator spinning a 3D parabolic equation. They didn’t realize they were showing Apple’s Power Macintosh, not a Pentium box. Do you think they might have been able to see the bugs had it really been running on a Pentium?


Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

World of Tanks Generals guide - Tips and...
World of Tanks Generals is a brand new card game by the developer behind the World of Tanks shooter franchise. It plays like a cross between chess and your typical card game. You have to keep in consideration where you place your tanks on the board... | Read more »
TruckSimulation 16 guide: How to succeed...
Remember those strangely enjoyable truck missions in Grand Theft Auto V whereit was a disturbing amount of fun to deliver cargo? TruckSimulation 16 is reminiscent of that, and has you play the role of a truck driver who has to deliver various... | Read more »
The best GIF making apps
Animated GIFs have exploded in popularity recently which is likely thanks to a combination of Tumblr, our shorter attention spans, and the simple fact they’re a lot of fun. [Read more] | Read more »
The best remote desktop apps for iOS
We've been sifting through the App Store to find the best ways to do computer tasks on a tablet. That gave us a thought - what if we could just do computer tasks from our tablets? Here's a list of the best remote desktop apps to help you use your... | Read more »
Warhammer 40,000: Freeblade guide - How...
Warhammer 40,000: Freebladejust launched in the App Store and it lets you live your childhood dream of blowing up and slashing a bunch of enemies as a massive, hulking Space Marine. It's not easy being a Space Marine though - and particularly if... | Read more »
Gopogo guide - How to bounce like the be...
Nitrome just launched a new game and, as to be expected, it's a lot of addictive fun. It's called Gopogo, and it challenges you to hoparound a bunch of platforms, avoiding enemies and picking up shiny stuff. It's not easy though - just like the... | Read more »
Sago Mini Superhero (Education)
Sago Mini Superhero 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Education Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: KAPOW! Jack the rabbit bursts into the sky as the Sago Mini Superhero! Fly with Jack as he lifts impossible weights,... | Read more »
Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes guide - How...
Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes is all about collecting heroes, powering them up, and using them together to defeat your foes. It's pretty straightforward stuff for the most part, but increasing your characters' stats can be a bit confusing because it... | Read more »
The best cooking apps (just in time for...
It’s that time of year again, where you’ll be gathering around the dinner table with your family and a huge feast in front of you. [Read more] | Read more »
Square Rave guide - How to grab those te...
Square Rave is an awesome little music-oriented puzzle game that smacks of games like Lumines, but with its own unique sense of gameplay. To help wrap your head around the game, keep the following tips and tricks in mind. [Read more] | Read more »

Price Scanner via

iPad Air 2 And iPad mini Among Top Five Black...
Adobe has released its 2015 online shopping data for Black Friday and Thanksgiving Day. The five best selling electronic products on Black Friday were Samsung 4K TVs, Apple iPad Air 2, Microsoft Xbox... Read more
All-in-one PC Shipments Projected To Drop Ove...
Digitimes’ Aaron Lee and Joseph Tsai report that all-in-one (AIO) PC shipments may drop a double-digit percentage on-year in 2015 due to weaker-than-expected demand, although second-largest AIO make... Read more
Sprint Offers iPad Pro
Sprint now offers Apple’s new iPad Pro with Wi-Fi + Cellular, featuring a 12.9-inch Retina display with 5.6 million pixels. Customers can pick up iPad Pro at select Sprint retail locations. It can... Read more
Cyber Monday: Target offers 15% discount on A...
Target has discounted Apple Watches by 15% for Cyber Monday. Choose free shipping or free local store pickup (if available). Sale prices for online orders only, in-store prices may vary: - Apple... Read more
Sunday roundup of Holiday weekend Mac sales:...
Take up to $500 off MSRP on the price of a new Mac at B&H Photo today as part of their Black Friday/Holiday weekend sale. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY tax only. These prices are... Read more
Holiday weekend: Apple Watch on sale for $50-...
B&H Photo has the Apple Watch on sale today for $50-$100 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only: - Apple Watch Sport: $50 off - Apple Watch: $50-$100 off Read more
Holiday weekend: iPad Air 2s on sale for up t...
B&H Photo has iPad Air 2s on sale for up to $80 off MSRP including free shipping plus NY sales tax only: - 16GB iPad Air 2 WiFi: $459 $40 off - 64GB iPad Air 2 WiFi: $569 $30 off - 128GB iPad Air... Read more
Holiday weekend Mac sales roundup: B&H Ph...
B&H Photo continues to have all new Macs on sale for up to $500 off MSRP as part of their Black Friday/Holiday weekend sale. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY tax only: - 15″ 2.2GHz Retina... Read more
iMobie Releases its Ace iOS Cleaner PhoneClea...
iMobie Inc. has announced the new update of PhoneClean 4, its iOS cleaner designed to reclaim wasted space on iPhone/iPad for use and keep the device fast. Alongside, iMobie hosts a 3-day giveaway of... Read more
U.S. Cellular Offering iPad Pro
U.S. Cellular today announced that it is offering the new iPad Pro with Wi-Fi + Cellular, featuring a 12.9-inch Retina display with 5.6 million pixels — the most ever in an iOS device. U.S. Cellular... Read more

Jobs Board

Technical Program Manager, Strategic Merchant...
# Technical Program Manager, Strategic Merchants - Apple Pay Job Number: 44001177 Santa Clara Valley, Califo ia, United States Posted: Oct. 30, 2015 Weekly Hours: 40.00 Read more
Frameworks Engineer, *Apple* Watch - Apple...
# Frameworks Engineer, Apple Watch Job Number: 41403122 Santa Clara Valley, Califo ia, United States Posted: Jul. 1, 2015 Weekly Hours: 40.00 **Job Summary** Join the Read more
Software Engineer - *Apple* Pay - Apple (Un...
# Software Engineer - Apple Pay Job Number: 44003246 Santa Clara Valley, Califo ia, United States Posted: Nov. 16, 2015 Weekly Hours: 40.00 **Job Summary** Apple Pay Read more
Merchant Operations Manager: *Apple* Pay -...
# Merchant Operations Manager: Apple Pay Job Number: 43593822 Santa Clara Valley, Califo ia, United States Posted: Nov. 10, 2015 Weekly Hours: 40.00 **Job Summary** The Read more
Product Design Engineer - *Apple* Watch - A...
# Product Design Engineer - Apple Watch Job Number: 41727161 Santa Clara Valley, Califo ia, United States Posted: Jul. 22, 2015 Weekly Hours: 40.00 **Job Summary** Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.