Tangential comments about Software Development

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Wireless at the birthplace of Computing

Ah, the freelance life. No ties, no office to go to, no fixed hours. I can work anywhere, so I choose to work from the home of Charles Babbage, England's claim to be the inventor of the computer.

First, South London has to claim to be his birthplace. The International Biographical Dictionary of Computer Pioneers lists him as born in Teignmouth, Devon, so I prefer the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography which argues that his father's house in Crosby Row, Walworth is the most likely.

His date of birth was 26 December 1791, which makes him 78,410 days old. I calculated this using a Difference Engine, first trying Excel, but it can't handle dates that long ago. Instead I turned to SQL Server - select datediff( d, '26-Dec-1791', '31-Aug-2006' ). Babbage said that he would give up the rest of his life to live three days in 500 years time, guessing that by then we might have inventions worthy of his interest.

We celebrate Babbage for building the Difference Engine, a mechanical devices capable of arithmetic (No. 1, 1832). He had grander plans for an analytic engine, capable of any mathematical calculation, but was not enough of a politician to get the funding to carry it through. The Prime Minister of the day, Robert Peel, suggested that the machine should be set to calculate the time it would be of use.

An extraordinary man, and the calculating machines were only a fraction of his interests. See Wikipedia's biography for more. I respect this source as it also promotes South London as his birthplace.

So, ask yourself, does your workspace provide the following -
  • High ceilinged room with excellent natural light, and

  • Excellent public transport connections, and

  • Free wireless internet (a good use of my Council Tax), and

  • A deep sense of history?
If not, relocate to the Walworth Road. You'll not regret it.