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Paul Panks

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Top Stories by Paul Panks

I often wonder what happens to data when it gets erased. Just where does it go? What happens to it? Does it "vanish" completely, or does it still exist somewhere, perhaps in the memory bank of the expanding universe? My theory is this: everything that is erased has been recorded by time and, given enough technology to go backwards, we should be able to recover lost data (if we are able to travel backwards to the point before it was "permanently" erased, that is). Quantum Mechanics Meet "Panks Mechanics" Most of the data I have lost over the years resulted from poor handling of disks, hard drives, and outright stupidity. But one program, which is still dear to my heart, continues to haunt my own memory banks. I call such foibles "vanishing bits." Some 10 years ago I created a fairly complex text adventure (one of my first large programs) on the Commodore 128 computer.... (more)

Climbing the Linux Mountain

Sometime between the years 1995 and 2004, Linux reached the mainstream of computer users the world over. No longer was it all about Microsoft or the Mac. Now there was a new sheriff in town, and it was a penguin packing some serious heat. The average user indoctrinated into the Linux way of computing will no doubt find themselves climbing a mountain at first. Like any new operating system, finding out even normal tasks and discovering what does what constitutes the learning curve process by which we all must understand any system. Linux is not a black box. There are no super secr... (more)

The Ubuntu Experience

Ubuntu Linux is a new experience for me. Having used only Red Hat's Fedora Core, I was anxious to try out the recently released Ubuntu 5.10 (available from Ubuntu's Website at www.ubuntu.com). I was not disappointed. After waiting approximately 45 minutes to download the 617 MB ISO file, I quickly burned it to a CD and rebooted my computer. Within a mere half an hour, Ubuntu was successfully installed on my system. Ubuntu 5.10 opens with an attractive background display resembling a swirling, luminous horizon surrounded by clouds. The bottom half of the picture looks like an ocea... (more)

Linux.SYS-CON.com Editorial: The Digital Photo Cornucopia

My aunt and I were having an e-mail discussion about which is the easiest to use: a real photo album with pictures or a computer photo album, as on a CD-ROM. I suggested that we put all the family photos into an album rather than having them strewn all over the place in photo folders. She suggested scanning them into the computer and building a photo album that way. I tend to agree with her, as a digital photo album is easier to preserve and present than the more traditional photo album. If you're like me, chances are your family has hundreds (if not thousands) of photographs sc... (more)

Memory Is Just Like RAM...Volatile

Human memory and Random Access Memory (RAM) share one thing in common: they are both very volatile. This basically means that once the power sources feeding the memories are terminated, the memories disappear forever (at least in the case of human short-term memory; more on that in a bit). Human brains and computers share rather curious connections between data (stored memories) and access points (synapses). Dictionary.com defines a synapse as follows: "The junction across which a nerve impulse passes from an axon terminal to a neuron, muscle cell, or gland cell." That's well and ... (more)