Survivorship Bias

Abraham Wald
Abraham Wald

Abraham Wald is the mathematician who took one look at the charts showing where planes getting back from missions had been damaged, and realized that the parts that needed extra protection were the undamaged areas.

Great article (from 2013) on “survivorship bias”, including the Abraham Wald story and quotes from Mike Johnston’s The Online Photographer, here.

Note to self: maybe I should keep track of David McRaney.

Adventures in Archiving

Or, sorting the piles.

Sorting through very old to-file piles
DC bag handed out at LA Con, and containing stuff from then.

The original envelope from Torcon 2, also, with stuff from then in side it as well. Plus my own envelopes with Torcon 2 and Minicon 8 photos and other things.

And that innocent looking little digest-sized booklet under the DC bag? That’s the Midamericon program book.

Kodalux mailers
Apparently I not only remember these, I still have a couple.

Minicon 23 Bridge Photos (1988)

Back then, we posted pictures of department heads and trouble-shooters and such on the bridge to help familiarize volunteers with the people with authority in various areas.  We found these going through the Minicon archives last weekend.  There are some more, not Polaroids, that I haven’t scanned yet because I haven’t figured out how to clean them (there’s gunk on the front).  (click photo for gallery)

DDB – Exec

So Long, Alta Vista!

The first good-enough web search engine is officially shutting down in a few days.  I remember when they popped up—they had about an order of magnitude more pages indexed than their competition, and they frequently actually returned relevant pages!

They were eventually displaced by Google.

Alta Vista was started as a demonstration of DECs relational database technology, and was pretty impressive from that point of view, too.

To memorialize my first favorite search engine, I’ve made screen captures of what they return for a number of personally relevant searches today.

Alta Vista: pdp-10
Alta Vista: pdp-10
Alta Vista: Minn-Stf
Alta Vista: Minn-Stf
Alta Vista: dyer-bennet
Alta Vista: dyer-bennet
Alta Vista: digital equipment corporation
Alta Vista: digital equipment corporation
Alta Vista: David Dyer-Bennet
Alta Vista: David Dyer-Bennet

Scanners Live In Vain

Yeah, that joke has been done to death.

A week and a bit ago, a bunch of 1960s Jay Kay Klein index prints reached my house (via The Eaton Collection at the University of California Riverside, Fred Pohl, Chicon 7, and Steven H. Silver, if I understand the path correctly).

Jay Kay Klein index prints in as much order as they arrived.
The JKK photos, filed in archival preservation materials

And many gigabits of files have been created.  I did not in fact scan every single photo I was sent, but I scanned too many of them.  At too high a resolution.  And mostly worked too hard cleaning up the dirt and grunge on the negatives when the prints were made.  And didn’t clean them up enough.

What I did do is transcribe all the ids on the back of the photos (occasionally running to 20 or so people identified on one photo) into IPTC keywords, so anybody importing these images into a “Digital Asset Management” system (yes, a “DAM system”) will get a pretty good index of the people shown.

I’ve sent over 600 display-resolution JPEGs back to Chicon; I understand they’ll be used in a display in the Concourse, along with scans of the other 2/3 of the original box of prints that two other people worked on.  (I turned down the chance to get a second box here; given when I finished, this was a wise choice.)

The prints I had were mostly from the 1962 (Chicon 3) and 1966 (Tricon) Worldcons, and included Heinlein receiving his Hugo award for Stranger in a Strange Land and E. E. Smith in costume as, I suspect, a Lensman.  Also Avram Davidson, and Lloyd Biggle, and John Brunner, and James Blish, and Sam Moskowitz, and John W. Campbell, and Poul Anderson and Gordy Dickson and Fred Pohl and Algis Budrys and Randall Garrett and Walt Willis and Leslie Turek and Bob Silverberg and Harlan Ellison and the Asimovs and the Sturgeon’s and Phil Farmer, L. Sprague de Camp, Jerry Pournelle, Jack Williamson Roger Zelazny, Chip Delany, the del Rey’s, the Ballantines, Beam Piper, Phil Klass, Gene Roddenberry (who was at Tricon previewing Star Trek for the fans), Jack Williamson, Jerry Sohl, and many others.  1962 was just a decade before I got into fandom, and I’d seen lots of book-jacket photos, so many of them looked familiar.

I wish I could have had access to the negatives.  I couldn’t have done nearly this many scans from negatives this fast, but I could have gotten much better images from the negatives than from these old index prints.