(Roughly) Daily

“I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time…”*


 click here for larger version of full infographic

From our old friend David McCandless and his ever-illuminating Information is Beautiful, a look at length… The image above is the beginning of a fascinating infographic in which he compares the relative length (code base size) of applications, devices, and (considering DNA to be “code”) organisms.  There are some surprises (Mac OSX 10.4 is bigger than the U.S. Army’s Future Combat System; the software in a modern high-end car is bigger than both); and– as one sees when one scrolls all the way to the bottom, a poignant relevancy:  the Healthcare.gov website (according to most-recently released figures) is much, much bigger still– over 8 times the size of Facebook’s code base, almost 4 times as large as the genome of a mouse.

*Blaise Pascal (often attributed to Mark Twain, who did also say it)


As we contemplate complexity, we might send efficiently-printed birthday greetings to Johann Alois Senefelder; he was born on this date in 1771.  A playwright and actor who’d fallen into debt over printing problems with one of his plays, Senefelder began to experiment with cheaper ways of bringing his works to market– a less expensive and more efficient printing alternative to relief printed hand set type or etched plates.  His invention, lithography, was the biggest revolution in the printing industry since Johannes Gutenberg’s movable type.

The principle is simple: an image is drawn with greasy crayon (traditionally, on Bavarian limestone) and chemically treated/fixed; the image areas of the stone accept oil-based ink and undrawn areas reject it. Today, photo lithography is the primary technique used to print magazines and books; but Senefelder’s original process of drawing by hand on litho stones is still in use in the fine arts.



Written by (Roughly) Daily

November 6, 2013 at 1:01 am

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