Another Miscellany

I’m pretty swamped at work and drawing the new comic (I swear!!), so I’m kicking back and letting other people do the hard labour this post. Fortunately I have some terrific stuff from the awesome readers around here!

–Firstly! I ought to have put this up ages ago– Epithumia who made the spectacular Albion: 1849 Babbage and Lovelace extravanganza sent me following: One Man Band! Click the image for the big version!

One Man Band

Once again this comic’s fanart has higher production values than its actual art…

— Whilst you read that, you put on some cracking tunes– John Hekert of the nefarious musical collective Not A Teepee have produced a whole album of Ada Lovelace-inspired songs, you can listen to them here, they are pretty awesome!

This reminds me of an odd fact: although several people have written me nice notes to share with me that they named their daughters ‘Ada’ after Ada Lovelace, I have never once had anyone communicate to me that they’ve named their son ‘Isambard Kingdom’ after Brunel. Odd!

— I hear your concerns that many weeks have passed without a footnote. Such a starved existence cannot be long endured! I have no comics this week to provide footnotes to, so in consideration for your plight I provide a retroactive one. Remember when Lovelace had a go at Babbage for getting dates mixed up in The Client? Well I was perusing Lovelace’s collected letters the other day and with a thrill of eldritch forces at work discovered further PROOF that this comic is psychic:

Dear Babbage.
I have not yet succeeded in getting you to comprehend that you were asked for the 18th, Ryan for the 25th.– Why you have confounded the two together I cannot imagine!– We hold you to the 18th. But if you like to come the on the 25th also, do.– What a puzzle-pated phil. you are!– I explained it clearly in my first note.– Why did you jumble it?
Lovelace to Babbage, 1848

The book indicates a double underscore under ‘do’ but it’s to much of a pain to reproduce that in html. Note to self: put more underscores in Lovelace’s dialogue.

Speaking of Lady Lovelace’s eccentricities, I’ve been messing around with some new costumes for her and somehow this came out.. hard luck with the ponies again, Ada?

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Why haven’t I put her in those celebrity-child dark glasses before??
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There was some skepticism on twitter when I put these sketches up as to these being an anachronism, which of course are NEVER SEEN here at the meticulously accurate 2dgoggles. Answer: awww yeah, 1855 baby:

And FINALLY, in the theme of people inspired to do MARVELLOUS things– remember the ASCII kitten at the end of Economic Model? I figured it was theoretically possible for the Analytical Engine to produce such a thing, but GENIUS commenter Tez (this was ages ago, sorry Tez!!!) brings the Pocket Universe one tantalising step closer! Making stellar use of Fourmilab’s Analytical Engine Emulator.. BEHOLD THE AWESOME MIGHT OF THE ANALYTICAL ENGINE:

Click ‘continue reading’ for the punchcards, and you can try it yourself on the emulator Java applet!

Tez writes:

See how Ada saved the day (The Client Pt3)
Paste the following set of Virtual Analytical Engine punched cards into:
http://www.fourmilab.ch/babbage/websim/ex1.html
PS you need Java
PPS First click Clear, then Paste the cards, then click Start
N001 +00000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000009
N002 +1234567901234567901234567901234567901234567901234
N003 +1234567901234575679012345679012423456790123456790
N004 +1234567901234646456790123456790909012345679012345
N005 +1234567901235345756790123456797901312345679012345
N006 +1234567901242345686798765431312345686790123456790
N007 +1234567901242346543201234568765423464567901234567
N008 +1234567901320986790123456790123465432012345679012
N009 +1234567902012345679012345679012345679090123456790
N010 +1234567909012432090123456790124320901242345679012
N011 +1234567909020901243123456790209020209020123456790
N012 +1234567979090132012423456790901242346457567901234
N013 +1234567979020901243123456790209020209013123456790
N014 +1234567979012432090123456790124320901235345679012
N015 +1234567909012345679012345679012345679020123456790
N016 +1234567909012345679013209867901234567909012345679
N017 +1234567902012345679012432012345679012423456790123
N018 +1234567902012345679790131234645679012423456790123
N019 +1234567901312345679790131234645679013123456790123
N020 +1234567901242345679090202013123456797901234567901
N021 +1234567901242345679020901320123456797901234567901
N022 +1234567901235423456790123456790124312345679012345
N023 +1234567901234576534567901234568764567901234567901
N024 +1234567901234567909876543209875679012345679012345
N025 +1234567901234567901234567901234567901234567901234
*
L001
L002
P
*
L001
L003
P
*
L001
L004
P
*
L001
L005
P
*
L001
L006
P
*
L001
L007
P
*
L001
L008
P
*
L001
L009
P
*
L001
L010
P
*
L001
L011
P
*
L001
L012
P
*
L001
L013
P
*
L001
L014
P
*
L001
L015
P
*
L001
L016
P
*
L001
L017
P
*
L001
L018
P
*
L001
L019
P
*
L001
L020
P
*
L001
L021
P
*
L001
L022
P
*
L001
L023
P
*
L001
L024
P
*
L001
L025
P
B
H It’s a k….n!

21 Comments

  1. Plashing Vole on April 18, 2011 at 4:48 pm

    My new cousin’s name is isambard. It rather suits him.



  2. HP on April 2, 2011 at 12:23 am

    I don’t know if anyone’s still reading comments on this old thread, but. . .

    1. I was recently at a small party where I was introduced to a young couple and their baby girl. “And this is our daughter,” said the proud papa, “Anodyne.” Before I could stop myself, I blurted out, “Like the soporific? Or is she merely bland and inoffensive?” At least I didn’t shout “BABY NAME FAIL.”

    2. On the subject of 19th c. shades, I’ve always been fond of the vintage, purple, smoked-glass numbers that Roger Corman put on Vincent Price in Edgar Allen Poe’s The Tomb of Ligeaia. Francis Ford Coppola liked those glasses so much he put the exact same pair on Gary Oldman in Bram Stoker’s Dracula.



  3. Ebony14 on March 23, 2011 at 12:24 am

    I don’t know if anyone has pointed this one out to you, but I thought that you might enjoy it, as it features Isambard Kingdom Brunel and Sir Charles Babbage (the latter only tangentially, but the former features rather prominently), as well as a number of other Victorian folks, including Sir Richard Francis Burton and Algernon Charles Swinburne, who are the heroes of the the drama.

    The Strange Affair of Spring-Heeled Jack, by Mark Hodder (http://www.amazon.com/Strange-Affair-Spring-Heeled-Swinburne/dp/1616142405/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1300839649&sr=8-1).



  4. avonidas on March 15, 2011 at 3:50 pm

    Perhaps it’s a problem with my browser (chrome) – or linux – but I don’t seem to be able to paste Tez’s card instructions into the java applet. I can only clear the instructions window and type in the commands, but not paste.

    And, of course, typing such a gargantuan instruction set by hand is ootq (although, in my youth, I’ve typed pages-long BASIC programs…)

    Anyone else having the same problem?



  5. the doodler on March 15, 2011 at 2:46 am

    Oh yes! More _underscores._



  6. Owen Fleet on March 14, 2011 at 6:45 am

    Poor kitty seems to have 88 in one eye but only 8 in the other. does this mean kitty is short sighted?

    also, i remember mr gary oldman sporting a pair of tinted spectacles for his ‘dracula’. so that’s proof then :)



  7. avonidas on March 13, 2011 at 4:29 pm

    “remember the ASCII kitten at the end of Economic Model?”

    Erm, the ASCII kitten was in ‘Lovelace And Babbage VS The Client’.

    Other than that, YOU, Madam, are FANTASTIC!



  8. derek on March 12, 2011 at 9:31 pm

    Stephen Maturin, in Patrick O’Brian’s sea novels of the early 1800s, gets into green spectacles for a while.



  9. Hannah on March 12, 2011 at 10:29 am

    “Tinted spectacles,” as they were called, were less a fashion and more of a preventative measure. They were recommended for those with “weak eyesight” to protect them from the harsh light of the sun. I believe they were an invention of the mid-nineteenth century, but am not sure exactly how early.



    • Jon on March 13, 2011 at 2:26 pm

      Artists producing anachronistic images of tinted specs is hardly new. http://www.college-optometrists.org/en/knowledge-centre/museyeum/online_exhibitions/spectacles/invention.cfm ends with a 14th century depiction of St Paul wearing tinted specs.



      • ajay on March 14, 2011 at 10:56 pm

        Excellent find, Jon. “Revelation’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades”.



    • Stewart on March 28, 2011 at 4:35 am

      Mid-Victorian tinted spectacles were often blue. I have seen at least three original blue pairs over the years. There is an amusing story about them from the 1857 Indian Mutiny (admittedly, there was bloody little to find amusing about that, for the most part). Some junior officers of a cavalry regiment found a shop somewhere selling them and bought themselves blue tinted specs to deal with the intense sun. But when they turned out in them, their men laughed so hard that discipline broke completely down that morning and the colonel ordered the embarrassed subalterns to lose the shades. I wish I could recall the source of the story; it was in someone’s journal published after the end of the conflict.



  10. Pete on March 10, 2011 at 9:55 pm

    a “Graphic Novel”, of Mr William Gibson’s & Mr Bruce Sterling’s jointly authored novel ‘The Difference Engine’

    Now that would be a dream come true (if it was an Unabridged Unofficial version)



  11. mark v thomas on March 10, 2011 at 6:30 pm

    Why do I get the impression that someone will release a “Unofficial” illustrated version a/k/a a “Graphic Novel”, of Mr William Gibson’s & Mr Bruce Sterling’s jointly authored novel ‘The Difference Engine’, which features Miss Lovelace as a character in said work, in the near future…?



  12. Dan on March 10, 2011 at 4:40 pm

    Note that the program generates each line by multiplying two numbers together. the code sequence *, L001, L002 sets up the engine to multiply by using the asterisk card, then loads the multiplicands from memory, specifically from memory locations 001 and 002. The product is then, of course, printed by using the P card.

    Note also that the numbers are 50 decimal digits in length. when was the last time you multiplied two 50 digit numbers together? A former life, maybe? probably more like a future life. A 10 digit engine would probably have worked just fine.. The Difference Engine II reproductions have 30 digit tall numbers, i.e. their variables hold values 3o decimal digits in length.

    Let’s look at some common modern binary numbers and the number of decimal digits required to represent them..
    1 byte is 8 binary bits, giving 256 unique values, represented using 3 decimal digits.
    1K………10 binary bits can represent 1024 values, which just starts using the 4th decimal digit.
    1M………20 binary bits can represent 1,048,576 values, which uses 7 decimal digits.

    A 30 digit number would require about a hundred bits to represent, and a 50 digit number needs about 166 bits. That is more than 10 16 bit words, 33 bytes in modern terms.. Per variable..

    Hey, I just thought of something.. The analytical engine could most aptly weave decorative brocaded flowers leaves and kitties as easily as it weaves algebraical patterns.. Hmm..



    • avonidas on March 16, 2011 at 11:50 am

      Dan,
      you must not forget that the analytical engine had 50 decimal places IN TOTAL (per variable), and no other means than shifting left/right to represent an exponent. therefore, in cases where disparate number magnitudes were involved, it would be necessary to pad the larger number with 0s to the right, in order to include the desired significant digits in the much small numbers involved.

      Hence, the need for that seemingly excessive number of 50 decimal places.

      In modern computers, where the mantissa (significant digits) and exponent are stored in different bits of the computer word, this is a non-issue.

      On second thought, one could overcome this problem in the analytical engine by storing the mantissa and the exponent in different variables, and keeping track of the overall shifting needed. In fact, this would be necessary if EXTREMELY disparate number ranges were involved, but it would complicate the programs, so it was a good idea to provide storage to avoid it.

      P.S. Decorative patterns by the analytical engine is an excellent idea. Now, if only we had a genius to write a program for a snoopy calendar,
      http://www.travelnotes.de/rays/fortran/snoopy.gif



  13. John on March 10, 2011 at 12:31 pm

    I remember a story from William “The Princess Bride” Goldman in “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” that he had a major character wear bifocals and was told they were a terrible anachronism. When he pointed out that they were invented rather famously by Benjamin Franklin, the response was along the lines of “but not before the mid-1900s.”

    Given that he died in 1790, it would appear that our own universe contains at least a few anachronisms, themselves. Clearly, the armonica was a time-travel device. Or you’re in fairly good company.



  14. Maz on March 10, 2011 at 10:52 am

    I am involved in a long-running battle to convince my boyfriend that we will *not* be naming our first-born child Isambard. (I’m trying to persuade him to get a pet instead. That should be enough to satisfy the desire to name something after Brunel, surely!)



  15. Edward Harris on March 10, 2011 at 10:09 am

    “I have never once had anyone communicate to me that they’ve named their son ‘Isambard Kingdom’ after Brunel”

    We have a young son (2 months), and did put Isambard down on the list of names we’d thought of, but went for Charles instead.



  16. Brian on March 10, 2011 at 4:11 am

    YAY RETROACTIVE FOOTNOTE



  17. Ray Girvan on March 9, 2011 at 11:17 pm

    There was a particular fashion in the 19th centurty for wearing green spectacles.