My good old "HAL the pal" has finally retired, after a long and distinguished career. In comes "SAL the gal", because I’ve decided that computers should definitely have feminine names (don’t get me to explain why!) For those wonderful curious minds out there, my HAL was of course named after Arthur C. Clark’s original HAL 9000 (Heuristically programmed ALgorithm computer); SAL is my own acronym and stands for Superpowerful And Lightweight computer. She’s got 2 Gigs of RAM, a Core 2 Duo processor, burns double-layer DVDs for breakfast and is happily running under the whip of the new Windows Vista OS, which as any new Windows release is totally full of bugs. And I happen to hate ticks. But armed with patience, I will prevail.

It should be noted that by advancing each letter in HAL by one, we get IBM, a coincidence that was duly noted by many but never confirmed by the author. So in the same fashion, I’ve designed SAL so that by adding a letter to each, we get TBM, short for Transferable Belief Model. The TBM is a mathematical model tackling the laws of probability with the support of the open-world assumption which advances that, as the Wikipedia puts it, "When tossing a coin one usually assumes that Head or Tail will occur. The open-world assumption is that the coin can be stolen in mid-air, disappear, break apart or otherwise fall sideways so that neither Head nor Tail occurs." A great example of maths morphing into philosophy.


Now, I will leave you all with a little quiz. Here is a photo; can you guess what it represents?

Ok, that wasn’t so hard, it’s a giraffe. Right, but where was is taken from, a tower, a mountain? Noooo. It was shot from… Space. You’re looking at a giraffe seen by a satellite looking down at the Vincennes Zoo in Paris. The actual animal is the thin bottom line and what you are seeing is its shadow. Don’t believe me? Here’s the original Google Maps view. Zoom out to see Paris. How cool is that? Now for sure, Martians know we have giraffes. It must have radically changed their idea of the blue planet and I believe they designed the Tripods to resemble the animal… ;-)