Saturday, January 15, 2011

RAMming Speed!

One of the great sequences in film is the scene in Ben-Hur where the galleys are going into battle, and the commander yells, "Ramming speed," while the drummer increases the pace.  It is such a perfect metaphor for Dilbert-like corporations.  (Unfortunately, embedding of this video clip has been disabled.)  However: Roman galleys were not filled with slaves, but freemen.  The galley slaves are a Renaissance development--something that General Lew Wallace, author of Ben-Hur, did not know.

None the less, the pun was irresistible: I installed 2 GB of RAM in my notebook, and the performance gain when I am, as usual, doing too many things at once (editing videos, blogging, putting together PowerPoint slides for lectures, reading email), is definitely quite noticeable.  It is unfortunate that this notebook is limited to 2 GB--perhaps an incentive to buy something faster at some point.


  1. I know the Greek galleys were manned by free men. Athenian democracy was more egalitarian than in other city-states because any free man, even a pauper, could perform military service and qualify as a citizen by pulling an oar in the fleet. Elsewhere military service required the possession of a hoplite's armor and shield, which only the wealthier citizens could afford.

    I'd guess the Romans did likewise, and also the Byzantines (who were very much a naval power).

    There's a question: did the Byzantines use only free crew throughout their history?

    What about the Venetians and Genoese?

    I know the Ottoman Turks used slave rowers. After the great Christian victory at Lepanto, over 20,000 slaves were freed.

    The impression I have is that in later years, Christian states used convicts in their galleys; in the works of Dumas and such, one reads of men "condemned to the galleys".

  2. Clayton, I'd be tempted to try putting 4Gb in the notebook and see what happens.

  3. I'm quite sure that it would not work. If there was a way for Crucial to sell me more RAM, they would. The limitation on the amount of RAM that a computer can use is dependent on the number of address lines on the memory bus and the interaction with the virtual memory controller and CPU. If there was any way for this antique to address more than 2 GB, the memory checker would know it.