A Newer, More Powerful Barrel

Patient and loyal readers of this blog will hopefully have noticed a recent welcome improvement in its performance and responsiveness. This is due to its recent transition from the valiant but underpowered Buffalo AirStation WZR-HP-G300NH on which it had been running for the last fifteen months to a somewhat more powerful1 Seagate Go Flex Net (STAK100) running Debian (thanks to Jeff Doozan, Varkey (here and here), and davygravy).

  1. 1.2 GHz Marvell 88F6281 “Kirkwood” storage SoC, 128MB RAM []

Old Wine In New Barrels

From its inception, בין דין לדין has been hosted gratis by Freehostia. About a month ago, the blog finally outgrew the resource limits imposed on free accounts1, and it has become necessary to find it a new home.

Every crisis can be an opportunity, and we have therefore decided to realize a long-held aspiration to host the blog on our own hardware and software stack, under our complete control. After much elbow grease, the blog is now being served by lighttpd, running on a Buffalo AirStation WZR-HP-G300NH2 running OpenWrt (trunk). The AirStation’s hardware3, while superlative for its class4, is relatively puny by server standards, which will have at least some effect on performance; we hope to eventually transition to more powerful hardware.

Update: the blog has indeed been moved to the somewhat more powerful Seagate Go Flex Net (STAK100).

  1. 10 MB maximum MySQL database size. []
  2. With attached Western Digital Elements external hard drive. []
  3. Atheros Soc 9132 rev 2 @ 400 MHz, 32 MB flash, 64 MB RAM []
  4. Consumer grade wireless access point / router / switch. []

The Horovshovian Computer

Mississippi Fred MacDowell discusses a Stalinist claim that the famous Russian Jewish scientist, inventor and scholar Haim Zelig Slonimsky had really been the first to invent the telegraph, or at least a certain method for multiplexing messages over a telegraph line.

A brief but fascinating account of another important Jewish inventor appears in a responsum of Rav Yosef Shaul Nathanson, first issued in 5621: one R. Avram Ya’akov of Horovshov had apparently invented some sort of adding machine / mechanical calculator (seemingly in the first half of the nineteenth century), for which he received royalties from the government in Warsaw “all his days”. The context is Rav Nathanson’s celebrated insistence that Halachah must perforce recognize the fundamental notion of intellectual property, since the idea is logically compelling, and even the non-Jews accept it:

[זה] ודאי שספר חדש שמדפיס מחבר וזכה שדבריו מתקבלים על פני תבל פשיטא שיש לו זכות בזה לעולם והרי בלאו הכי אם מדפיסים או מחדשים איזה מלאכה אינו רשאי אחר לעשות בלא רשותו והרי נודע שר’ אברם יעקב מהרובשוב שעשה החשבון במאשין כל ימיו קבל שכרו מהקירה בווארשא ולא יהא תורה שלימה שלנו כשיחה בטילה שלהם וזה דבר שהשכל מכחישו ומעשים בכל יום שהמדפיס חבור יש לו ולבאי כוחו זכות1

Update: Rav Yehudah Silman’s take on Rav Nathanson’s argument.

  1. שו”ת שואל ומשיב, מהדורה קמא חלק א’ סימן מ”ד- קשר []