In 1979, when several members of the SlickEdit team were not yet born, I remember when Voyager 1 started sending back pictures of Jupiter.  The big thing I remember is that we learned Jupiter has rings.  I honestly don’t know if astronomers knew Jupiter had rings and we were just unable to see them from Earth, or if this was a complete shock – but it was big news in second grade science class, where the previous week’s lesson involved gluing macaroni to plates.  Or maybe that was vacation Bible school.  I seem to remember life before my tenth birthday involving a lot of pasta getting glued to plates, and then being spray painted gold by a qualified adult.  Either way, the Voyagers (there were two, but for reasons that will become only slightly clearer later, we are focusing on Voyager 1 here).

In 1990 Voyager 1 was leaving our solar system.  To show the Earth relative to the vastness of space, Carl Sagan convinced NASA to have the Voyager take a picture of the Earth from a distance (according to Wikipedia) of about 6 billion kilometers (to convert to kilometers to miles, I normally look at the little dial on my speedometer, but since it doesn’t go up to 6 billion I had to look it up – this is roughly 3,728,227,153 miles).  The photo, where the Earth is barely visible as about one pixel, became known as The Pale Blue Dot:

How does this tie into SlickEdit?  Poorly, to say the least.  Normally I try to open with a joke, but today it was the Pale Blue Dot.

SlickEdit will let you compare two URLs.  This isn’t a well known fact, so I figured it was an appropriate thing to blog about.  For example, if you wanted to compare two versions of a Wikipedia page, you could fill it out like this:

The output looks like this:

I realize, of course, that the Wikipedia has a built in facility for this, but I needed an example.

I hope this comes in handy for you someday, or maybe you’ll just go, “Wow, that’s kinda cool”.

And as you continue coding (with SlickEdit, I hope), try to remember that all the files in the world that ever needed to be compared,  all exist on that Pale Blue Dot.  Work hard – don’t forget to live hard too.

P.S.: I only want to hear comments about files that were compared in space on the ISS, space shuttle, etc, from people who actually wrote the software, or were in space doing the comparing.  If you were actually in space comparing files, you may use a MUCH higher level of sarcasm in your response.

P.P.S.: The ISS was not there when this picture was taken, but either way I imagine:

  • It would not be visible in the picture
  • The space where the ISS and other satellites exist would probably be covered by the same pixel or so.


P.P.P.S:
If you did compare files on the ISS, Space Shutte, Skylab, or any of the Mercury, Gemini, or Apollo missions, please send us an autographed photo.