[vcf-midatlantic] bunch-o-replies

Dean Notarnicola dnotarnicola at gmail.com
Fri Jun 10 06:43:10 EDT 2016

I never meant to imply that all Cobol programmers were ignorant of the
hardware. But as you pointed out so well, your dad did take an interest,
and as a result, made the hardware "sing". It's an awesome story and is the
quality difference I was trying to convey. With his level of acumen, I'm
sure he could have transitioned nicely to the micro era.

On Friday, June 10, 2016, Jeffrey Jonas via vcf-midatlantic <
vcf-midatlantic at lists.vintagecomputerfederation.org> wrote:

> I get the digest version so I'm replying to everything I just read:
> From: VAXman at tmesis.org <javascript:;>
> > Also, the GUI -- guarantee user ignorance
> That's a good one *ker-quote*
>         ***
> Neil Cherry:
> > I really see no merit to teaching some programming lingo
> > but I do see merit in developing a logical/programming mindset
> > to get from point A (input) the point B (output).
> I misread that as "from port A input to port B output".
> But I'll make my point anyway:
> even BASIC had PEEK and POKE for hardware specific twiddling.
> Most Apple ][ folks had the Beagle Brothers posters and cheat-sheets
> for hardware specific tweaks and configurations.
> Now it's all an "app" or utility.
> No understanding required.
>         ***
> Bill Sudbrink:
> > We get job candidates with CS degrees from reputable universities
> > who don't know what a register is
> I'm still wrestling with how to explain "what is a register"
> without using the word "register".
> Saying it's "special memory" doesn't convey
> how it's so different from RAM or ROM.
>         ***
> Dean Notarnicola
> > ...  I knew plenty of Cobol programmers back in the day
> > who knew practically zero about how or why the underlying systems worked.
> My dad worked on mainframes since the 50s.
> Cobol was his bread-and-butter but he also had to know
> peripheral specifics to make them sing and dance.
> He still remembers details of the Analex printer
> required to make it work at full tilt
> because printing labels was one of his assignments.
> Things people proudly claim as "hacks" were just
> common requirements of the job "back then".
> My dad knew machine code and assemblers.
> He has reference cards for Autocoder and other ancient tongues
> because before source code debuggers,
> all you got was a core dump and the error exception.
> IBM mainframes gave an ABEND code,
> register dump and a core dump.
> The programmer manually figured out what instruction gave the error,
> crawling around the data segment as required to figure the full context.
> Huge tables were often covered in fanfold to trace all the pieces.
>         ***
> chrisjpf33 at gmail.com <javascript:;>
> > And that is why we have garbage software today!
> Thus Java: write once, debug everywhere.
> I've seen embedded crapware, such as a Dlink home router
> that emitted the most horrendous HTML it was my displeasure to view.
> Despite claiming "Linux compatible", some administrative menus were IE
> only,
> as if the firmware was created by someone using M$ building blocks.
>         ***
> re: not learning what's under the hood
> I'm kinda guilty-as-charged.
> I had an assignment on IBM system 3
> where I took a black-box lego-building-block approach
> since time was limited.
> I learned RPG, OCL (the system's primitive JCL)
> and the system utilities.
> Everything required for program development and machine administration,
> but never got deeper into the machine architecture.
> McGuire's ribbed me for that since it's a wonderful machine.
> I don't think the client would've appreciated my frobbing the CE panel :-)
> I made up for that by learning the Z80 and IBM 1130.
>         ***
> Evan:
> > I'd be interested in seeing how the percentage of college freshman
> > choosing the EE major changes over time for the past few decades.
> And what constitutes an EE major now vs. 'then'?
> I'm not up to date on ABET accreditation
> but degree requirements are a moving target.
> I had just missed learning tubes and using a slide rule.
> The motor/generator lab was abandoned only a few years earlier
> because nobody taught it. The curriculum emphasized math,
> solid state physics and silicon devices.
> Interdisciplinary engineering is now not only tolerated but encouraged.
> Simulation tools such as MATLAB are considered essential foundations.
> Today's EE degree is quite different from that of only a few years ago.
> As Christopher Blackmon already replied:
> > The college I went to (NC State Univ)
> > offers a CPE (Computer Engineering) degree that (at least was)
> > a simple hybrid of CSC & EE
> re: Storage is basically free now.
> Not when you're using a system-on-chip such as the Arduino.
> The popular AT-Tiny takes everything several steps smaller.
>         ***
> re: Tony Bogan
> > 99% of the people never have and never will
> > know how to fix a car, or even a bike.
> I'm forced to agree, kinda.
> A 3 speed bike was my primary vehicle for many years,
> with daily use for a paper route.
> I changed snapped cables, flats, snapped chains
> but never had to dig into the shifter.
> It's reminiscent of the Monty Python "Bicycle Repairman" skit
> where a town of all superheroes have no such basic skills.
> Just consider how many folks cannot even change a car tire,
> depending entirely on roadside service.
> When it's available quickly, okay, it's nice.
> But there are times and places you're out of range.
> And then what?
> -- jeff jonas

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