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This Saturday at the Bellaire Civic Center, the Houston Area Apple Users Group will be getting together for their monthly meeting. The Special Interest Groups will be meeting in corporeal form at nine that morning, with the main presentation being delivered via iChat by Peter Cohen, former MacWorld columnist. Peter will be talking about Aperture 3, a digital image editing and organizational package that has features not found in iPhoto. That presentation kicks off at 11:00. For details and directions to the Haaug meeting, surf to www.haaug.org.

If the thought of having a cheap networked file server at home makes you want to dance a jig, then this Saturday’s meeting of the Samba & Network Administration SIG at HAL-PC may be for you. Although there are several ways to share files among networked computers, the SMB/CIFS protocol is still king, if only for its ubiquity and ease of use. And if you’ve got an old PC and a few spare drives lying around, you can take advantage of SAMBA, a suite of programs for Linux and Unix that lets you host files cheaply and reliably from less than blazingly fast hardware. Samba turns 18 this year, and its latest 3.5.1 release hit the net a little less than a week ago. *You* should hit www.hal-pc.org for more info on this SIG as well as a full listing of their monthly events.

And today *is* St. Patrick’s Day. In addition to owing the Irish a debt for Celtic Music, Guinness and the animal series of books from O’Reilly and Associates, we should also give a nod to some early Irish geeks.

George Boole, 1815 to 1854, while technically an Englishman, was the first Professor of Mathematics at Queens College, Cork. While there, he developed his system of Boolean Algebra, which is one of the cornerstones of computer science today. ‘Bool’ or Boolean still exists in almost every typed programming language I am aware of. Actually, a bit of trivia for IRC would be “which modern computer programming language still in use today does *NOT* have a Boolean variable type?”

William Parsons, the Third Earl of Rosse, who also had the misfortune to be born English but soon found home in Ireland at Birr Castle, where, in 1885, he proceeded to build what was the largest telescope in the world at that time. The scope’s 72 inch mirror allowed Parsons to glimpse, for the first time, the spiral shapes of several galaxies.

(With a name like Parsons, I was hoping for something compiler related…)

John Tyndall, with a birthplace of County Carlow for the win, was a prominent Irish scientist who did pioneering work on the motion of glaciers, sound and radiant heat. He was also the first to offer a scientific explanation for “Why is the sky blue?” with explanations as to how light scatters in the atmosphere. He was also the first to explain how gasses in the atmosphere trap heat and keep the Earth warm. I wonder if Al Gore knows that the Irish discovered global warming. And lastly, he invented the ‘Light Pipe’ which later led to the development of fiber optics. So the Irish are taking the Internet back from Gore, too. Hopefully he has a green beer to drown his sorrows in this evening…

William Thompson. This is another one of those whose names you’ll know without knowing. So… William Thompson? Anyone? Maybe if I give out his Handle – Lord Kelvin aka First Baron Kelvin. So do we give the Irish credit for first use of a nick or handle? Possibly. Lord Kelvin introduced the absolute scale of temperature which starts at absolute zero, or zero degrees Kelvin. He was also closely involved with laying the first successful transatlantic telegraph cable under the sea between Ireland and Newfoundland in 1866.

Ernest Walton, Ireland’s only Science Nobel Laureate, helped build the first successful particle accelerator with John Cockroft at Cambridge, where they disintegrated lithium, or, as it is better known, splitting the atom, in 1931.

John Bell, born in Belfast, was a member of CERN. He’s responsible for the development of a set of equations known as Bell’s Inequalities that are of fundamental importance in quantum physics, and thus quantum computing.

And to make sure we have a lass among the lads, we have Jocelyn Bell Burnell, still living, as far as I know, of the Open University. She discovered Pulsars, or rapidly rotating neutron stars, in 1967, and continues to study them today.

That’s it for this bit of the BlarneyTime and that’s that for BarretTime.

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