Tuesday, August 2, 2005

Punch This!

Via BoingBoing: how many punch cards would be needed to store a 3 minute mp3 file? Answer: 40,960 (assuming you add the 8 digit sequence number).

Wonder how long it would take an IBM-029 to read through that stack? I started coding on an IBM 3270 terminal, missing using an 029 by about three feet (it was next to the terminal but I could never find any punch cards to use.


Related: The Undead: The little secret that haunts corporate America ... A technology that won't go away, The Stilyagi Air Corps: The online resource for the Ann Arbor Science Fiction Association.

e.p.c. posted this at 07:46 GMT on 2-Aug-2005 . , Comments [1]


I've been in the ACM since 1986, though not very active, I mostly let my CACMs pile up in a corner and skim through them once a year. Today, though, I got invited (as I'm guessing every ACM member within 75 miles of Philadephia did) to the 2005 Turing lecture by Vint Cerf and Robert Kahn. And...I'll be in Chicago, or on the road back from Chicago, no where near Philadelphia.


e.p.c. posted this at 16:18 GMT on 2-Aug-2005 .

Wednesday, August 3, 2005

Speakeasy Speedtest

Speakeasy, our ISP, offers a nifty little speedometer test to show your upload/download speeds. Nifty, except that it rated our link as 4.6Mbs and we're suppose to have 6Mbs down. I'll blame the heat.

I have no complaints about Speakeasy, they're much more flexible than the typical RBOC and the cost is reasonable.

Via collision detection: Vrooom

e.p.c. posted this at 13:05 GMT on 3-Aug-2005 .

Thursday, August 4, 2005

Paper planes!

Via allTheHeroesAreDead.com!: Paper planes (flash based demo to create various paper planes).

e.p.c. posted this at 09:22 GMT on 4-Aug-2005 .

Shuttle to nowhere

Interesting essay on the Space Shuttle program and its value (or lack thereof) to space exploration: Idle Words. I liked this quote, from the footnotes, commenting on the Soviet Union's Buran clone of the Space Shuttle: You know you're in trouble when the Russians are adding safety features to your design.

e.p.c. posted this at 19:13 GMT on 4-Aug-2005 .

Sunday, August 7, 2005

The Dirty War, Part 1

On the 60th anniversary of the end of the Pacific War of WW2, an article about the Canadian role in defending Hongkong: The Globe and Mail: The Dirty War, Part 1

The 60th anniversary of the Allied victory over Japan may be a bit low-key — too many Canadians are simply unaware of what happened to the ill-prepared force Ottawa rushed to the defence of Hong Kong. As a result, ROD MICKLEBURGH explains, they don't know how vicious the Pacific war was or how it shaped the modern world.

e.p.c. posted this at 09:51 GMT on 7-Aug-2005 .

The Rise of the Digital Thugs

The NYT has an article today about the rise in online extortion, where someone contacts a business with threats to disrupt the business via online activities unless a payment is made: The Rise of the Digital Thugs - New York Times.

EARLY last year, the corporate stalker made his move. He sent more than a dozen menacing e-mail messages to Daniel I. Videtto, the president of MicroPatent, a patent and trademarking firm, threatening to derail its operations unless he was paid $17 million.
What happened to MicroPatent is happening to other companies. Law enforcement authorities and computer security specialists warn that new breeds of white-collar criminals are on the prowl: corporate stalkers who are either computer-savvy extortionists, looking to shake down companies for large bribes, or malicious competitors who are trying to gain an upper hand in the marketplace.

One point the article blithely skims over is the role of the victim's approach to managing information technology may make it susceptible to such attacks. Now, in no way am I blaming the victim here, I don't know all the circumstances, and what the criminal did was illegal, however if you don't manage your I/T well and don't approach it as a critical business asset, you do make your organization susceptible to compromise and attacks. In this case the company had grown quickly through acquistions and (allegedly) not been careful with the remnants of the acquiree's networks. The extortionist managed to use one of these networks to gain access to the company's internal business systems, and that was the ballgame.

At a former employer, we had many discussions and arguments over the years in the 1990s over how to integrate (and some times segregate) the many internal networks, let alone the process to integrate the networks of an acquistion. In one meeting of the internal ICC, the lead I/T guy from a recent acquisition surprised and upset the rest of the ICC crew by declaring that he would not open his network up to the company-wide network but would instead firewall it off and only open select ports and specific systems. The reason he gave was surprising but understandable: no one could give him a precise accounting of who was on the internal company-wide network. In as much as it upset many people, it also started several other groups on the same track: since the company had not funded any sort of company-wide management of the internal network, and each of these guys was responsible for their small segment, they decided to ratchet down the connections to the rest of the intranet. I suspect that, for awhile, it helped control damage from some of the widespread worms, though not necessarily prevent it.

e.p.c. posted this at 11:37 GMT on 7-Aug-2005 .

Sunday DUMBO Amble

We went for a walk this afternoon, down to DUMBO. Ostensibly to go to the Tiger Beer Singapore Chili Crab Festival but mostly just to take an amble through the neighborhood.

First we walked down Hicks Street past the Ice Cream Cone Face thing: Ice Cream Cone Face of the BQE Lisa noticed this a couple months ago. It may have been there forever, or it may be a couple months old. We're not exactly the most observant couple. Yes, this is apparently the corner of Hicks Street and Hicks Street (it’s where Hicks Street was cut off by the BQE and becomes the Cadman Plaza exit ramp).

Then we headed down under the BQE into the Fulton-Ferry/DUMBO neighborhood.

Five Front is the neighborhood restaurant we fallen in love with. Since Tinto closed a couple of years ago we hadn't had a place we felt comfortable in. I mean, we go to Henry's End, Noodle Pudding, and practically have a direct line with Iron Chef House, but Five Front manages to have both a relaxing, hang-loose atmosphere, and excellent food. Five Front under the Brooklyn Bridge Five Front Street, Brooklyn, NY. Home of the Five Front restaurant.

We then wandered down Front Street and crossed over into the stub of Brooklyn Bridge park which is under the Manhattan Bridge. There we saw what appeared to be Tibetan prayer flags East River Prayer flags? …they were indeed prayer flags of a sort, East River Prayer Flags #5 but there didn't appear to be a single theme to them. I don't know if they were there for the Hiroshima anniversary (our initial theory), the WTC (which they sort of faced East River Prayer Flags #4) or some other cause or event. I put together a photo set at flickr of some of the flags.

Of course Frisket had to get into the act as well: East River Prayer Flags #10


Oh, and the Tiger Beer Singapore Chili Crab Festival? Not so interesting or fun …several hundred people crammed into a short stretch of Water Street. And ponies, which are close enough to horses to still scare the heck out of Frisket.

e.p.c. posted this at 15:44 GMT on 7-Aug-2005 .


Nice article at Bloomberg Markets about Skype, a peer-to-peer, voice-over-IP telephone system which runs on Microsoft Windows, and Apple OS X (and I believe other platforms). I first started using Skype at Azaleos and thought the call quality was good, and generally was satisfied with it. Occasionally though it would totally freak out, which may have been due as much to the vagaries of setting up the little-used microphones on PCs as due to any problems with network congestion. I find the quality and reliability of Vonage to be better than Skype, but not by much.

About the only serious problem I have with Skype is the general problem that I really hate talking on the phone. I think it's a carry-over from being the target of 200,000 IBMers who wanted to bitch daily about anything Internet related and felt that I should be the one to take the call. With Skype the problem is that you can be listed in the directory, or not at all. Maybe it's just a peak into a world I'm not familiar with, but with my privacy settings wide open I was getting skype-calls and IMs regularly from people I didn't know at all. Now I have my settings set to block anyone who isn't in my contact list from calling or messaging me.

Skype was founded by the same guys who created the Kazaa P2P file sharing service. They get revenue from selling SkypeOut minutes (use Skype to call non-Skype numbers) and SkypeIn (call a Skype user from a non-Skype system).

Like Kazaa, Skype relies on peer-to-peer technology, which taps the computing power of participants’ PCs. There are no costs for centralized servers, switches or other equipment. Calls within the Skype network are free, and calls to regular telephones are cheap.

I've used network based telephony off and on for years, starting with an IBM product for OS/2 which I vaguely recall was named "Person-2-Person/2" or, ironically, P2P/2. P2P/2 was a collaborative work application, built around OS/2's multimedia features. It had a shared whiteboard, shared workspace, and voice-over-network capabilities. Today it would probably be a great tool, but in 1995-1997 it was as slow as a mule in the Mojave desert (I'm presuming that's really slow, having never seen a mule in the Mojave). The voice quality...well, it didn't suck, but it was tinny and frequently dropped out, regardless of the network protocol in use (it could use either APPC over SNA or TCP/IP).

I briefly tried using Yahoo! messenger's audio chat in the 1999-2000 timeframe when I was travelling to and living in Sydney, Australia. Was better than P2P/2 but still not great, even over the ginormous internet bandwidth we had in the Olympic's ITCC to my mother's broadband system in the U.S.

The difference with Skype is that your call gets routed through many computers. I'm guessing it's possible that the same packets of information get routed in parallel, but perhaps not. But, where in the past one client either connected directly to the other client, or the two clients connected to a third-party central server, Skype connects your client to multiple intermediary clients between you and the person you're Skype-ing.

By making the connection more complex it becomes more reliable. If an intermediary network drops out (errant backhoe, evil squirrel, etc.) the software immediately switches over to another parallel network connection between two other computers. You might here the call drop briefly, if anything at all.

Now, if your broadband connection drops, then you're out of luck entirely. My DSL connection is very reliable, yet it drops maybe once a day, just for an instant. Since that's the only path out, there's no backup path for the network to take and the call drops (To be fair to my DSL provider, some times it's my flaky router which freezes up when it overheats).

Now, note one word in that last graph: broadband. Skype has been possible for years, but what makes it successful is the widespread deployment of broadband in homes and businesses.

Five years ago most homes in the US were just beginning to hear about broadband, and who in their right mind would pay over US$100/month for the ability to read email or surf the web 舜faster̵d;?

Now, the price has come down (though for how long is uncertain since the FCC just switched the classification of DSL). More small-medium businesses are connected via broadband, where five years ago their only option was a T1 or flaky ISDN line. More homes have broadband, because the kids need it for school, and the parents need it for work.

Skype takes advantage of this: when you're not using Skype, it's still using your connection. It's using your computer as one of those intermediary computers to route calls through. There's no such thing as a free lunch, and the cost of using Skype is sharing the burden of the traffic. Otherwise Skype is free of financial costs (unless you use the added features).

To be clear: when you install Skype, you install an application which automatically routes other people's network traffic through your system. This alone is not a bad thing, but it's something to be aware of. Assuming the Skype software solely allows data traffic, then it should not serve as a vector into your system for viruses, worms, or computer criminals.

Back to broadband: the growth and prevalance of broadband, always-on connections, is fertile ground for many new applications comparable to Skype. The next killer-application I expect to see would combine Bittorrent (background distributed download manager) with a professionally managed video channel. Why pay cable companies to carry your specialized channel when you can bypass them and go directly to the consumer? Cable companies had a chance to lock in customers with flexible channel offerings and ala carte subscriptions, but they appear to have rejected that totally. Now they are going to lose the lock on distributing content that they've had, it may take some years, and no I'm not predicting the complete end of cable TV. But if the goal of a content producer is to get content in the hands of readers and viewers, why not bypass the intermediaries who control the channel allocations and advertising slots?

Skype is the first wave of these applications which can only exist and can only succeed in an always-on, broadband universe.

e.p.c. posted this at 17:03 GMT on 7-Aug-2005 .

Road Trip 2005

I'm heading out to Illinois later this week for ten-fourteen days with friends and family. Lisa will fly out for a week since half her team is based in Chicago. I plan to head to beautiful downtown Denham, IN for a couple of days at the family farm, followed by a week in and around Chicago. Frisket will be making the trip, but as mentioned at her site, she has kennel cough so she might not be able to hook up with her friends in the greater Sycamore and Hoffman Estates areas.

Lisa and I had dinner at Sushi Samba 7 tonight. I had the pastel and several orders of seviche and tiraditos. Lisa managed to have some of my tiraditos as well as several delicious rolls. We followed dinner with an amble up Bleecker to 8th avenue. Bleecker is changing rapidly, seeing Ralph Lauren and Marc Jacobs stores was quite surprising.

I need to find a new music playlist service, audioscrobbler has gone AWOL, and I know everyone is just dying to know what I'm listening to (it's currently The Power of Rebolution Can't Fail from London Booted for the dreadfully curious).

e.p.c. posted this at 22:49 GMT on 7-Aug-2005 .

Neo's Fighting Morpheus

Peter Merholz takes on Clay Shirky in peterme.com: Clay Shirky's Viewpoints are Overrated: Clay's whole argument predicates a black-and-white distinction between evil hierarchy on one side and good tags on the other... And while Clay is right to question hierarchy, and, particularly, Yahoo's less-than-optimal use of it, he neglects to distinguish truly useful forms of professionally-created classification and categorization, which undermines his argument. (He continues to set tags against folders-and-hierarchies, as if there are no other ways of classifying information. Sigh.)

e.p.c. posted this at 23:29 GMT on 7-Aug-2005 .

Monday, August 8, 2005

netomat 2.0

Spent part of the afternoon with Kris Ramanathan and Maciej Wisniewski of netomat. Maciej demoed a very cool update to the netomat technology which I'm going to hold off on describing since they're quietly launching it over the next several weeks. But it has me wondering if I should junk the Nokia 6820 I have for something better.

e.p.c. posted this at 18:24 GMT on 8-Aug-2005 .

Tuesday, August 9, 2005

Ice Shelf Disintegration Threatens Environment

Ice shelf disintegration threatens environment: The disintegration of Larsen B is almost certainly a response to human-induced global warming, says Queen's geographer Robert Gilbert, the only Canadian researcher on the international research team. Antarctic temperatures have increased more than 10°C in the last 25 years. By comparison, the world-wide temperature change during the entire post-glacial period has only been 2 – 3°C, he adds.

The breaking up of Larsen B alone will not change sea level, but other glaciers previously restricted by the ice shelf have surged forward, lowering their surfaces, says Dr. Gilbert. Lower elevations have warmer temperatures, which warm the glaciers and cause more melt and more flux of ice to the sea. So that is having and will have an effect on global sea levels. As more ice is lost there may be a greater impact on sea level than previously predicted.

Further, with the increased energy in the atmosphere associated with global warming, there will be more storms, he warns. Storm surges, which also raise water levels, will have profound effects on low-lying areas and may necessitate infrastructure like the large moveable dams called surge gates already used in Europe and Providence, R.I., that can be closed during extreme high sea levels to prevent flooding.

Via Science News Daily.

e.p.c. posted this at 10:33 GMT on 9-Aug-2005 .

A wormhole for the Internet

Interesting post on a company called Netli and its product/service to speed up content delivery by creating a new protocol layer on top of IP (eg, creating Netli/IP instead of TCP/IP): Who Has Time For This?: The Wormhole Factory: Netli's wormhole is an Internet Protocol (IP) router that speaks both TCP and the Netli Protcol--a layer 4 replacement that transfers a web page in only ONE round trip. Realizing that the universe wasn't about to replace its routers, Netli deployed its own routers, co-located across the US, Europe[…] At the server side, a Netli router converts the session back to TCP so that the servers have no idea (anthropomorphologically speaking) that they're not connected directly to the browsers.

At IBM we used to do some bizarre stuff like tunneling SNA through TCP/IP and the reverse. Sometimes I wonder if IBM killed off APPC too early (APPC was a bear to set up, but once configured transferred data faster than TCP/IP over the same wire. I'm hazy on the history now, but if I recall correctly APPC let you set up a conversation and then initiate separate data transfers in that conversation, so more session-oriented than TCP/IP. Then again, using HTTP/1.1 pipelining one should be able to eliminate much of the setup lag when requesting a new URL from the same server).

e.p.c. posted this at 12:58 GMT on 9-Aug-2005 .

Proof that video games can kill you

Video games, they are bad for you: CNN.com - Man dies after online game marathon - Aug 9, 2005: A South Korean man who played computer games for 50 hours almost non-stop died of heart failure minutes after finishing his mammoth session in an Internet cafe, authorities said on Tuesday. The man was 28, had played non-stop over the course of three days, pausing only for bio-breaks and brief naps.

e.p.c. posted this at 13:06 GMT on 9-Aug-2005 .

Shortening the life expectancy of SUVs everywhere

Gas (petrol for non-USians), which has bounced between US$2.50 and $3.00 in the NYC area, is about to hit £1 per liter in the UK, or about US$6.78 per gallon. In Australia it's topped AUD$1.25 per liter, or about US$3.60 per gallon.

Would be interesting to see how taxes play a role in setting the price worldwide.

I wonder how, if at all, the psychological effect of the smaller units (liters) plays a role in people's consumption of gas. Would US drivers drive more or less if gas was priced in liters (66¢/liter seems cheaper than $2.50/gallon, right?).

e.p.c. posted this at 22:50 GMT on 9-Aug-2005 .

Thursday, August 11, 2005

The President is on vacation:

It was a shameful thing to ask men to suffer and die, to persevere through god-awful afflictions and heartache, to endure the dehumanizing experiences that are unavoidable in combat, for a cause that the country wouldn't support over time and that our leaders so wrongly believed could be achieved at a smaller cost than our enemy was prepared to make us pay.

e.p.c. posted this at 09:52 GMT on 11-Aug-2005 .

Friday, August 12, 2005

On The Road - 2005

Leaving around ten-ish (that's 10:00 a.m. epc standard time, which may be anytime between 10:15 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.). Heading to Middleburg Heights, OH today, which has the distinction of having a Red Roof Inn and is just off the Ohio Turnpike. There was a tempation to stay in Brooklyn Heights, OH but I figured Frisket would get confused.

Comments and trackbacks are turned off on this site until I get back in broadband range, which will be some time next week in Chicago.

e.p.c. posted this at 08:13 GMT on 12-Aug-2005 .

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Middleburg Heights, OH 2005

I managed to leave by 11:00 a.m., 1:30 p.m., 3:27 p.m., 5:15 p.m., 7:00 p.m. For reasons which I won't go into here, I was delayed. I had actually packed Wednesday night. Just some things came up Thursday that I had to take care of Friday before going off into the unwired Flyover Country.

Made it to Middleburg Heights by 6:00 a.m. Saturday. Discovered en route that there's a Red Roof Inn at the Cranberry Connector. If you've ever lived near Pittsburgh or travelled through western PA you know exactly where that interchange is (though it seems much better that I recall from my CMU days).

Got to the Red Roof Inn, the same overnight guy who checked me in last year did the honors tonight. Frisket walked directly up to the door of the room, without any prompting from me. She freaks me out sometimes. She entered, walked around sniffing the room (no strange stains unlike the Erie RRI last March). She apparently approved, much tail flopping occurred before she fell asleep on the bed.

And, surprise surprise. Flyover Country has WiFi. Red Roof Inns apparently has a deal with t-mobile, I'm getting great connectivity in the room, and it's WPA encrypted as well thanks to the t-mobile connectivity manager (which I generally like except for a couple of annoying quirks I'll have to document later).

And now, sleep time... Later today: off to Denham, IN, population 45.

e.p.c. posted this at 06:33 GMT on 13-Aug-2005 .

Monday, August 15, 2005

Arrived Chicago

Arrived in Chicago from Denham, IN. Drive wasn't bad from Ohio to Indiana on Saturday until I ran into a hurricane. Added another couple of hours to the trip.

I am: tired.

e.p.c. posted this at 19:50 GMT on 15-Aug-2005 .

Thursday, August 18, 2005


Wow. NYC2123 is a mature graphic novel (not x-rated, but not for kids either) somewhat in the style of Japanese manga, written for the Sony PSP. You can view it on your web browser, but it was designed for the Sony PSP. I can't get quite my head around that.

e.p.c. posted this at 14:14 GMT on 18-Aug-2005 .

Monday, August 22, 2005


Starting back to NYC today, stopping near Pittsburgh for the night. I have absolutely nothing else to report.

e.p.c. posted this at 09:56 GMT on 22-Aug-2005 .

802.11 Across America

You know, I've done this road trip between New York and Chicago maybe two dozen times since 1990, and another dozen between western PA and Illinois in the 1980s. When I first started out, whether travelling to school in Pennsylvania, or between my tmeporary "work" in New York and "home" in Illinois, I'd call in every few hours using something called a pay telelphone. I didn't lug a computer (much as I tried to treat my Macintosh SE as a portable), no cell phone, no PDA.

Now, last year when I did this trip I had the bizarre problem of trying to figure out how to use the modem on my laptop, which I'd never configured in the time I'd had it, relying entirely on Ethernet or WiFi in NYC.

This year? Broadband everywhere. I saw signs at rest areas in Indiana (I'm driving along I-80/I-90/I-76) but didn't try it out. In Ohio the turnpike has nice rest areas in the greater Cleveland area, and rest areas from the 1930s in the western part of the state. In the nice rest areas, Wifi. Nice, clean (though not free) 802.11b wifi from SBC. Their charge/credit system needs some work (I got errors when trying to pay but got connectivity anyway, will be interesting to see if I get billed). But no port blocks, which I'm learning to expect (the W hotel City Center had an odd setup I'll have to write about).

I'm posting this from outside the FedexKinko's in Cranberry Township, PA. Outside, because I'm tethered to a 70+ pound white furball and didn't want to deal with asking the night staff if she could come in.

FedexKinko's supplies T-Mobile wifi. If you download the T-Mobile wifi client you even get WPA (encrypted, better than WEP, likely cracked still by an eleven year old). The only annoying thing with the T-Mobile wifi client is that it seems to require you to connect to a T-Mobile HotSpot once every 30-60 days, otherwise it starts whining and then seems to disable itself, so you can't just leave it on as your default wireless client.

Somewhere along the way, in spite of the utter incompetance of the US Congress with various telecom reform acts, and the US Telecommunications Industry, the US got connected. Sure, pure saturation levels are lower than in other places in the world, but I'm just absolutely floored at how easy it's been to get broadband (specifically WiFi). I left out the T-Mobile enabled rooms at the Red Roof Inn in Middleburg Heights, OH (much better room by the way than at the RRI in Cranberry Township, PA).

e.p.c. posted this at 21:44 GMT on 22-Aug-2005 .

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

2241 Miles Later...

Arrived in Brooklyn around 6:30 p.m. Not much to report, though I appear to have left out in my recent rantings that I picked up a Sirius Sportster radio in Illinois and pretty much listened to it for most of the drive (ignoring the three iPods I apparently had in the car).

I bought Sirius for no particular reason other than I own the stock (ok, I like listening to Bloomberg Radio, there, you got me). For most of the drive I used the FM channel (you can tune it to whatever channel you want to listen on), because the tape deck thingamabob wasn't working. Only, I thought it was the line-out from the radio which wasn't working. I discovered it was the tape thing when I did briefly switch to an iPod and found it was just as muffled and garbled sounding as the satellite radio.

Pluses: has much techno and new wave music, so I can rock out to the hits of high school or the 200 BPM beat of my ibm.com days. Minuses: The music selection seemed a bit repetitive, like on the "1st wave" channel there was an overabundance of New Order, Depeche Mode, and R.E.M.. I like those groups, there just seemed to be much more of those three than others. Also, it took two calls to get the receiver activated. We have a gangly mass of wires now in the car, which I'll remedy after recovering from the drive.

The terrestrial receiver worked fine in Chicago and here in Brooklyn. The satellite receiver seems to receive a couple of seconds ahead so passing under a bridge does not cause an interruption unless it's a big interchange. Oh, and the tunnels of I-76 pretty much disabled the radio, as expected (can't receive AM/FM in the tunnels either)

Frisket was absolutely fine for the drive. She didn't much like the room at the Red Roof Inn in Cranberry last night, nor did I for that matter. At each rest area she bounded out of the car, surveyed the surroundings, and left her mark. At the Sideling Hill rest area she got quite a bit of running around in while I relaxed on an extended break.

The GPS in the car was amusing. I'd entered the Sideling Hill rest area in as my first stop. As we wound up the hill from Breezewood, the GPS reported that the rest area was another 20 miles, which didn't seem right. As we got closer I realized what it had done: it thought I wanted to go to the westbound rest area, so it had me get off at the next exit, turn around, and go back. Of course, that's not what I wanted to do (and didn't!), especially since there's actually only one rest area at Sideling Hill, with both eastbound and westbound traffic using the same R.A. (different parking lots / on-off ramps).

I'll post later the picture I took of the GPS map directing me from the Eastbound parking lot to the Westbound parking lot, via 20 miles of I-76.

Gas was not that bad, I think I paid USD$3.03 once. The cheapest gas was on the NJ Turnpike, where apparently by law they can only change the price once a week.

e.p.c. posted this at 20:20 GMT on 23-Aug-2005 .

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Number One City Datum Point, Chicago

Number One City Datum Point, Chicago

Number One City Datum Point, Chicago, originally uploaded by epc.

I grew up in the Chicago suburbs and spent much time loose in the city as a kid, and never heard of the “Number One City Datum”, which is in the Northern Trust building at LaSalle and Monroe. It defines a point about 17 feet below street level as the basis point for all height determinations in Chicago (given that “street level” is itself a vague term in the loop, being below street level isn’t surprising). The other surprising thing is that this isn't the 0,0 point in the Chicago grid (which is State and Madison).

More about the Number One City Datum point: www.ntrs.com/aboutus/history/nthist1889.html

e.p.c. posted this at 23:21 GMT on 27-Aug-2005 .

Slightly acerbic and eccentric dog walker who masquerades as a web developer and occasional CTO.

Spent five years running the technology side of the circus known as www.ibm.com.

More about me here.