[vcf-midatlantic] OT: people don't understand computers anymore

Ethan telmnstr at 757.org
Tue Jun 7 16:38:01 EDT 2016

> "There's a lot more going on now, than in the past.". Hmmm...No, there's 
> always something going on: other people are just more accessible in the 21st 
> century. My 1990's S-100 work was distributed in a paper magazine, read by 
> thousands, referenced in Usenet emails.  We know what today's world is like, 
> everybody accesses everybody NOW. So, how many people are "everybody"?

The speed of which things are happening I believe is increasing? Yes, the 
internet plays a huge part. It's amazing if you think about it. Sometimes 
annoying, sometimes scary.

(And yes, I agree a lot of software sucks and things are overcomplicated, 
and software vendors add features for the sake of feeling the need to find 
something to improve to make new versions and stay employed, etc.)

Think about the attitude from the flip side. The kids have strange bleak 
futures with little privacy, financial engineering from governments that 
doesn't benefit them but is meant to enslave them and high debt loads for 
the bad educations with bad job prospects and a lot of bad employers.

> And innovation is not a 21st century invention, Ethan. Cramming ROM monitors 
> into 1K 8-bit codes, was a kind of contest, but Roger Amidon and Claude Kagan 
> were trading Z80 subroutines not just for fun, but because few OWNED more 
> than 1K of memory!

Oh I get it, and I'm amazed. But I'm still more amazed at the demo scene 
and these demos that build 3d worlds with techno soundtracks and the 
entire binary and graphics fits in 64K of disk space for the complete 

> So, Ethan says bringing 21st C. innovations into 20th C computers - hardware 
> or software, contests - is another way to represent "deep understandings of 
> systems". Fair enough, it's not entirely my way but it's a solution too, and 
> certainly happening.

Yep. Friends that came with me to VCF East this year wanted to go to a 
game store in NJ on Sunday so we went. There was a collection of new games 
for sale for things like the Atari and Colecovision systems. Homebrew 
games. There are people building emulators, the MAME project that emulates 
arcade games is amazing. So many hardware platforms -- many encrusted in 
tons of tricks to thwart duplication of boards or changing board roms from 
one game to another. All reverse engineered at low levels. A lot of those 
systems are full of custom ASICs and there is zero information available 
to the MAME developers or public on them. And this is .. entertainment .. 
to some people. They're not doing it for money.

If you use reddit at all and watch the medical / bio-research stuff it 
seems to have equally accelerated as well -- thanks to computers and 
information technology, bioinformatics, etc.

Also, once I moved to the DC area I meet a lot of younger people who's job 
it is to reverse malware and such. They use debuggers and disassemblers on 
Windows like IDA Pro to pull apart the bad stuff and try to figure out 
what it does, if it's targeted or not. It's a whole field and it's pretty 
low level ( assembly / windows DLL calls ) and all that. No idea where 
their skillset came from but given their age and upcoming it probably 
wasn't cracking Atari / Commodore games.

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