A Brief History of Beer Gardens

Unlike the ales that constituted all the world’s beer before the middle of the nineteenth century, the lager yeasts discovered in Bavaria at that time required a different type of fermentation. Ales — produced through the addition of top-fermenting yeast — ferment rapidly, at warm temperatures. Lagers, contrarily, depend on a slow, cool fermentation, ideally at temperatures between 45–56 degrees Fahrenheit. And after fermentation is complete, they need to be stored and aged for several months, at even cooler temperatures.

This was an era before refrigeration, however, so Bavarian brewers dug out large underground cellars for stashing the barrels while the beer “lagered.” To ensure fuller protection from the sun, they then scattered gravel over the ground and planted leafy chestnut and linden trees, which, as they grew, would provide ample shade from the sun.

Someone did the math. Shade, gravel, beer — all just off the banks of Munich’s Isar River, which provided an additional source of cooling for the beer. Put some tables and chairs outside, and start the taps. Beer garden culture was born.

Why are there different representations for newlines in Windows, Linux, and Mac?

This is a good question albeit one with a boring answer. Different systems evolved different encodings for newlines in the same way they evolved different behavior for myriad other things: Each system had to standardize on something and interoperability in the days before email let alone the Internet was unimportant.

There are several ways to represent newlines. ASCII-based systems use some combination of carriage return and line feed. These derive from typewriters: A carriage return (CR) resets the typewriter carriage’s horizontal position to the far left and a line feed (LF) advances the paper one vertical line. For a typewriter, you need both, so some systems (DOS, Windows, Palm OS) adopted CR+LF as representation of a newline. Other systems, such as Unix, noted a computer didn’t have a carriage to return so a sole line feed was sufficient. Still others, such as Mac OS prior to OS X, adopted only a carriage return—arguably, this choice doesn’t make any sense, as a bare carriage return would swing the typewriter carriage back to the left but not advance the page. Still other systems used LF+CR, inverting the ASCII characters used in Windows.

Systems not based on ASCII, of course, did their own thing. IBM mainframes built around EBCDIC, for example, used a special newline character (NL). Perhaps oddest of all, VMS utilized a record-based filesystem where newlines were first-class citizens to the operating system. Each record was implicitly its own line and thus there were no explicit newline representation!

But none of this mattered, because these systems never had to interoperate with each other—or, if they did, they had to make so many other conversions that newline representation was the least of their worries.

Today, most Internet protocols recommend CR+LF but dictate compatibility with LF (CR and LF+CR are left out in the cold). Given the centrality of the Internet, the ubiquity of Unix, which heralds LF, the primacy of C and descendant languages, which (somewhat) map their newline to LF, and the fact we really only need one character to represent a newline, LF seems the clear standard going forward.

RIP, Mikhail Kalashnikov

Mikhail Kalashnikov in 1949

Mikhail Kalashnikov in 1949

Mikhail Kalashnikov, the designer of the world famous AK-47 assault rifle, has passed away today, at the age of 94.  He was a true genius and a patriot of his country.  Coming from a very simple family, with very little education, after serving as a tank mechanic and later as a tank commander, after being wounded, he designed more than 150 models of small weapons – rifles, assault rifles, machine guns, etc.

Blame the Nazi Germans for making me become a gun designer … I always wanted to construct agriculture machinery.

Such were the times, I guess – growing up in the post Civil War, Revolution and First World War country, serving during the Second World War and seeing all horrors and dangers first hand, his peaceful mind was turned the other way.

I’m proud of my invention, but I’m sad that it is used by terrorists … I would prefer to have invented a machine that people could use and that would help farmers with their work — for example a lawn mower.

Looking into his engineering genius, I see the good old principle of keeping things simple:

When a young man, I read somewhere the following: God the Almighty said, ‘All that is too complex is unnecessary, and it is simple that is needed’ … So this has been my lifetime motto – I have been creating weapons to defend the borders of my fatherland, to be simple and reliable.

Truly inspiring.  RIP.

Stealing Mona Lisa

mona lisa gone

As he entered the Salon Carré, the thief headed straight for the Mona Lisa. Lifting down the painting and carrying it into an enclosed stairwell nearby was no easy job. The painting itself weighs approximately 18 pounds, since Leonardo painted it not on canvas but on three slabs of wood, a fairly common practice during the Renaissance. A few months earlier, the museum’s directors had taken steps to physically protect the Mona Lisa by reinforcing it with a massive wooden brace and placing it inside a glass-fronted box, adding 150 pounds to its weight. The decorative Renaissance frame brought the total to nearly 200 pounds. However, only four sturdy hooks held it there, no more securely than if it had been hung in the house of a bourgeois Parisian. Museum officials would later explain that the paintings were fastened to the wall in this way to make it easy for guards to remove them in case of fire.