Re: My name is unique and...
My wife once typed "pron..." to get the pronunciation of a word. The auto correct changed this to porn and she still gets suggested pornography on her searches and elsewhere.
884 posts • joined 6 Jun 2015
When we were developing time sharing in the 1960's on a main frame we discovered a computer instruction that would hang the computer dead even in slave mode. On complaining we were told to run interpretive when we were about to run code with that computer instruction.
No amount of protesting worked until we started crashing their computers.
We once had a hard failure in a mainframe with parity errors on the console typewriter. The field engineer swapped a likely board with another parity board but this didn't solve the problem. Six hours later he discovered that the parity errors were no longer word position sensitive. Turns out that the board he swapped the suspect board with was also in the data path.
Sometimes it is best to forget all you have learned during trouble shooting and start at the beginning again.
About 50 years ago our college time sharing system failed. It couldn't even load diagnostic tapes. Eventually it was traced to a cable from memory to CPU. So this cable was replaced and worked perfectly - but three other bits did not. Our field engineer had three spare cables at this point which he gingerly connected without cable ties etc. and got the system up. He then put in a call to have ALL cables of this manufacture replaced. A team came the next weekend and replaced hundreds of cables. Did not have a problem thereafter.
Don't tell me that cables can't go bad.
Silicon wafers are about as fragile as a piece of glass. You don't want to drop one (as I did once in a CS class I was teaching - everyone wanted a piece) but the wafer is pretty strong. Keeping it clean is another matter. I believe making 1000 nm transistors is doable with ~ $100K of equipment.
Our company had a "clean desk policy". I had a messy desk/room policy. When the inspectors came around they checked every box on the form including the "passed" box. I found the form a week later and since I had passed I ignored it. My boss said I had a very secure office - nobody could possibly find anything in it (except me).
I am the webmaster of a square dancing website. I use a database (sqlite) and a program that extracts data from the database to make web pages. No scripts, one css style page. and very clean html output. My pages (some of which are long) load instantaneously. Also, the database allows the same information to appear in multiple formats (dances sorted by time, club, caller etc.)
At Xerox there was a natural language understanding project. They built a small database of airline schedules and let people try it out:
"Book me a flight from San Diego to San Francisco."
"I have a flight leaving at 12:00."
"I'd like one a little closer to 6:00."
"I have one at 12:01"
[There was a flight at 6:00 but the customer specified "a little closer." He meant a lot closer.]
At Xerox we used RG-11U foam cables for our 3MBit ethernet and cable TV taps. The problem was that nothing moved and eventually the tap became disconnected. The taps were designed to be used outside so the wind would move the taps a little and thereby keep the center "stinger" connected.
"Most tape equipment drove the tape via the sprocket holes. Colossus didn't, it drove it via a roller mechanism & just used the sprocket holes for timing."
The LGP-30 high-speed paper tape reader also used a roller mechanism. The tape reader had to be able to stop on a character (stop code) so reading a tape was a little "jerky."
We had a problem with one paper tape that someone had spliced with scotch tape assuming that the light would go through the holes.
In 1964 there was code in a DN-30 time sharing exec with a variable khunt. All variables in the disk section were prefixed with a 'K' and this was the hunt routine. No one noticed it for some time but it was eventually noticed. Later the symbol disappeared during a code rewrite (but not deliberately).
At the university where I taught computer science we had an excellent IT support staff. We ran our own email and storage etc. But the university wanted to take over our email and student submission system and, last time I heard, the CS department was still resisting. Our systems work, the university's, not so much.
BCPL was an interesting language. Everything was a 16-bit word and context determined its "type". I remember writing on the XEROX ALTO something like [161223, 000777](1,2) which would treat the array as a function and call it with the arguments 1 and 2. The first number was a jump to microcode and the second number was a return statement.
Almost all code on the ALTO was written in BCPL.
I was teaching C++ and a student was getting really weird error messages on code like:
case: '\' // handle /
// do something
case: '\' // handle \
The student was puzzled as were all of the TA's
But \ at the end of a line is deleted with the following new-line resulting in the following line also being commented out.
The resulting error messages were not helpful and pointed to a problem after the \.
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