ECC memory – what’s the deal?

I remember back in the nineties we were all trying to get the ECC memory for the computers we built. The ECC memory was expensive and we all discussed whether a particular configuration would justify the expense of ECC memory or might just survive without. The amounts of memory at the time were measured in megabytes, not gigabytes, like now. So we all thought that some time in the future, in five years or so, the ECC memory will cost the same as the non-ECC memory and all computers will finally come equipped with ECC memory by default, because the amounts of memory would simply require the use of error correction.

What is ECC memory?
Error-correcting code memory – Error Checking & Correction, ECC – is a type of computer memory that detects and corrects the most common data corruption as the data is passed in and out of the memory. ECC memory has additional memory banks that store checksums of data stored in the memory.

At the time, the calculations showed that with the “typical” desktop the error rate in the memory would be sufficiently low and not present a danger. However, the amount of memory in a typical computer has increased by several orders of magnitude since then. Only while we talked about a few hundred megabytes of memory the errors were negligible. Once you step over the gigabyte threshold, memory errors become a statistical reality. Without the ECC memory, we accumulate errors in our data and algorithms every single day.

It is surprising that with the current state of technology we are not using ECC memory everywhere, just as I thought back in the nineties we would. At least, for your own good, do get ECC memory on the computers you use.… -->

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Obama badly needs a lesson in European history

The Barack “Dove of Peace” Obama may need a lesson in European history, pronto. This time around he came to Tallinn to save Estonia from “Russian aggression” and made new historic blunders. The American President has the floor: “reaching back to the days of the tsars – trying to reclaim lands “lost” in the 19th century – is surely not the way to secure Russia’s greatness in the 21st century. (Applause.)”

Russia is no doubt thankful to Mr. Obama for his concern about Russia’s greatness. On the other hand, what lands did Russia lose exactly in the 19th century? Maybe the Crimea peninsula? Well, no, actually, Russia has successfully defended Crimea in bloody battles against Western countries when they tried to seize it in the 19th century. Leo Tolstoy described the Crimean War in his works.

Were there perhaps other territorial losses for Russia that the esteemed Nobel Peace Prize laureate could blather about from high tribunes? Well, no, not really. You see, in the 19th century, Russia has destroyed the Great Napoleon’s army, came to Paris and Istanbul. In general, the whole 19th century Russia was scaring the hell out of Europe and augmenting its territory, but no land has been lost.

Obama continues the tradition of proving to the world that American presidents are uneducated, ill-informed and short-sighted people. Oh, well, who needs history in geopolitics nowadays anyway? Fire away!… -->

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Bulgaria’s population shrinks by 100+ people daily

The population of Bulgaria keeps shrinking. The process started after 1988 when the country had its max of 9 million people. Last year, the population is down to 7.2 million. The trend of birth over death rate has reversed around the same time – in 1990, and Bulgaria keeps running the so-called “natural loss” rate of around 40,000 people yearly for the last 20 years (source). The scientists call “natural loss” the difference between the number of people that die every year and the number of children that get born the same year. That is, the population of Bulgaria shrinks by more than 110 people daily. Bulgaria seems to hold the record being the only country in the world that sustained a negative population trend over a period of 25 years.

“According to the demographic transition theory, we have reached the fourth stage of low birth rate and high mortality. Experts expected that reproduction would recover, however something surprising has happened”, prof. Kaloyanov explained. The “surprising” thing just might have been Bulgaria leaving the Socialist Bloc and heading towards capitalism in 1989…


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