"Length really counts, always and everywhere "
Anyone who say "size doesn't matter" hasn't hung wallpaper.
73 publicly visible posts • joined 18 Sep 2009
'[Brian] brightened up. “Do you know,” he said, “my cousin said that in America there's shops that sell thirtynine different flavors of ice cream?”
This even silenced Adam, briefly.
“There aren't thirtynine flavors of ice cream,” said Pepper. “There aren't thirtynine flavors in the whole world.”
“There could be, if you mixed them up,” said Wensleydale, blinking owlishly. “You know. Strawberry and chocolate. Chocolate and vanilla.” He sought for more English flavors. “Strawberry and vanilla and chocolate,” he added, lamely.'
A friend of my worked as an IT consultant and told of a company he occasionally visited, where the head of IT would pick a random day to turn off a random machine and tell his team to recover, just to prove that their processes were correct. He must have had a lot of confidence (and balls of steel).
"As for C well Primes did not have byte addressing, Prime ASCII had the top bit set and null pointers were not 0."
Byte addressing was possible. The original architecture had 32-bit pointers which addressed down to the 16-bit "half-word", and 48-bit pointers where the additional 16-bits contained a 0 or a 1, to reference a byte within a half-word (!)
As best I remember (it's a while ago) there was a new addressing scheme introduced - specifically for the later versions of the C compiler - which allowed for byte addressing in 32-bits. I forget the fine details, but they can probably be found on one of the sites run by ex-pr1me-mates.
The null pointer thing is perfectly legitimate in C, but made porting C programs which tried to treat pointers as integers a little difficult.
Other challenges included segmented memory where addresses wrapped at segment end rather than rolling into the next segment, and lack of native byte-based I/O (again, the natural unit for any manipulation in Primos tended to be the 16-bit half-word).
Porting C to Primos was generally hard and often unsatisfactory as I recall - it was a good test of whether your C was actually clean...
PL/P and SPL I remember as being quite nice - PL/P was a little challenging as it was intended for kernel use, so had some interesting limitations (and a quirky compiler based on old technology), while SPL (more for user-space code) was almost identical to PL/1-G (and I believe used the same compiler technology) but using library calls rather than language syntax for I/O.
I never saw any of the FORTRAN code, which is probably a good thing. Later on, some system code was written in MODULA-2. I don't believe C was ever used significantly internally - it was provided for porting software (for example to make Oracle available on Prime) and for customer use.
Many years ago, when I was a young COBOL programmer, I occasionally had to maintain code written by a guy who had moved on to become an IT journalist - presumably because coding bored him.
His code contained identifiers such as "mekon", "anastasia" and "creosote", while the variable declarations in one program spelled out this timeless message:
One of my colleagues got so fed up with this that they worked out what "mekon", "anastasia" and "creosote" were actually used for and did a bulk edit to provide more helpful names.
In the same establishment, we maintained a transaction processing system, where each transaction had a 4-character identifier.
The powers-that-be were disappointed (shall we say?) when the logs were examined, to see what the operators tended to enter into this field when they were bored. A colleague was tasked with writing a routine to check the id for rude words and display a "wash your mouth out with soap" message when they occurred, butI don't think that in the end we ever actually implemented it - he was looking forward to compiling the list, though.
Potemkine! wrote "Since when a diploma prove someone's intelligence?"
To which the Wizard of Oz replies:
"Why, anybody can have a brain. That's a very mediocre commodity! Every pusillanimous creature that crawls on the earth or slinks through slimy seas has a brain! Back where I come from, we have universities, seats of great learning where men go to become great thinkers. And when they come out, they think deep thoughts — and with no more brains than you have. But! They have one thing you haven't got! A diploma! Therefore, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Universita Committeeatum E Pluribus Unum, I hereby confer upon you the honorary degree of Th.D."
"I much prefer it when bands drop the definite article. It would have caused a few problems for The The however."
I used to play with a band where we couldn't decide on a name, so went out as "The Band With No Name" or "BWNN" for short (I thought the short name looked kind of Welsh).
More years ago than I care to recall, I worked for Prime (aka Pr1me) Computers.
Their original systems programming language (I kid you not) was Fortran, but later was supplanted by two stripped-down PL/1 variants called PL/P and SPL. I seem to recall that they were actually fairly pleasant languages.
My reaction to the "25p a pint" was to think they were being ripped off.
When I was at Uni, 75 - 78, a group of 5 of us used to have a regular Friday evening at the pub. Each of us paid £1 for a round - 4 of us bought rounds of beer (Hardy and Hansons Kimberley Ale) and the 5th a round of ham (or cheese and onion) baps. I think we even got 5p change each.
"...Was thinking it'd be a lot easier to manage social* distancing if we were all issued halberds.
*Ok, possibly anti-social, but fun..."
One of my colleagues recently suggested that if social distancing didn't work, we should move to anti-social distancing - it's much the same but with weapons and swearing.
It was an open evening at my children's infant school a couple of decades ago. I was at the time teaching programming on Prime minicomputers. Didn't have a home computer and hadn't touched any thing of that type.
Teacher sidles up to me and says "you work with computers, don't you? Can you have a look at one of ours?". Much against my better judgement, I did so...
They had two BBC model B computers (I think that's what they were) side-by-side, hooked up to a pair of "portable" TVs (remember the days of cathode ray tubes?). One was working fine. The video on the other was all to pot.
Starting point was to find an expert - so I grabbed a passing child to show me how they would normally start up the systems. Rebooting didn't help :-(
OK - I know nothing, but I can see that one is working and one isn't, so how about connecting each to the other TV? Fortunately I swapped the leads at the computer end and hey-presto the first one now worked fine, the other didn't. Swap the other end of the lead, see that the lead was indeed the culprit and tell the teacher they need to get a new lead.
I think I got a cup of tea and a biscuit, but so did all the other parents.
I seem to remember this being gone over some time ago by Rear Admiral Hopper (originator of COBOL).
If I recall correctly (questionable), she favoured three factor authentication - there should be
* Something you had (key, dongle, nowadays a phone perhaps)
* Something you knew (password, passphrase, some other challenge/response system)
* Something you were (i.e. a physical characteristic, like fingerprint, retina scan, or similar)
Does anyone else remember this or is it a figment of my imagination?
"If you take out most of the vowels you just end up with Polish, don't you?"
When I used to take my children to visit their grandparents in South Wales, the wittiest of them suggested the toll booths on the Severn bridge were actually checkpoints to trap vowel smugglers.
"Changing the temperature of the device changed its behaviour (from working to not working). I'd guess that moving the design to a different device would affect it similarly."
I seem to remember reading about this. If I recall correctly, simply reproducing the design "identically" (bear in mind this was actual physical circuitry) would change its behaviour - the behaviour related to a specific assembly of a specific set of components.
As ST comments, surely that's always been the case with Python, just as it's the case (as far as I can understand) with Perl - the language enshrines the opinions and prejudices of the single originator. That's part of my issues with both languages, as I'm not keen on some aspect of both Guido's and Larry's opinions and prejudices.
COBOL on PDP-10 systems allowed for 10 digit numbers - you could choose where the decimal point lay. In the system that I worked on, we had S9(6)V9(4) fields for unit prices, but if the country code indicated Italy, we had to use S9(6)V99 instead.
Dates on this system were held in 4-digit YYMM format - my first task as a fresh-faced programmer (in late 1978) was to change all the code (and the data) that regarded 7912 as an indicator for (e.g) cancelled orders - we couldn't take any more room, so just used 9912 as the new indicator. The system presumably died before Y2K, I'd moved on a couple of times by that point.