[rescue] Mozilla Firefox
Charles Shannon Hendrix
shannon at widomaker.com
Thu Apr 22 19:27:22 CDT 2004
Thu, 22 Apr 2004 @ 15:02 -0400, Dave McGuire said:
> On Apr 22, 2004, at 1:35 PM, Charles Shannon Hendrix wrote:
> >>One of my university projects was a multi user operating system
> >>in 68000 assembler and running in 8k of RAM. Damn that was fun, I
> >>I still had that code on a disk somewhere.
> >I wish colleges still taught things like that. I'd love to go back and
> >work on a project like that.
> If they did, modern software would be light years ahead of where it
> is now.
When I was in college, I had to beg for non-trivial projects. I ended
up doing things on my own. I got almost zero support, and there were
many times when I needed it.
And friend and I created an 8/16-bit CPU in 1990, and then created
a simulator for it. My friend created an assembler for it, and
another student made a simple C compiler. We did this in three
weeks and some days.
We then proposed it be used as the basis for a class and a
programming contest. I was fascinated with the cross referencing
and program trace tools of old mainframes and minicomputers,
including some that I had been/was still using myself. I proposed
that I could run code and produce statistics on its impact on the
CPU, memory, and I/O in fair detail. The contest winner would be a
student whose algorithm implementation was the more efficient. The
other two suggested that there could be projects and contests on
improving the assembler and compiler.
The faculty said this was too difficult for undergrads. In fact,
they said that designing a CPU and writing a simulator, assembler,
and compiler was too hard as well. That one floored me, since we
had just finished in under a month. We had done this kind of thing
for 2 years at least, but it wasn't very hard.
I missed out on some fundamentals and other things I needed, and that
despite spending considerable effort working with faculty to try and get
Growing up on 50s-70s (what was being talked about as I grew up in the
70s) ideology in engineering and science, I expected that as a student
and new programmer, I would have mentors and a strong team to work with,
and relatively high expectations of my work. I always thought that it
would be kind of like a right-of-passage, and that the people around me
would be part of that engineering culture I had always read about.
By the time I got in college, it seems that much of that was gone. Low
expectations was the first thing I noticed, as well as low ambitions
on the part of staff. It was cookie-cutter engineer creation from the
start. I got in (1986) just as there was this huge push to crank out
new computer science students, seemingly without regard to how well they
learned their trade.
I should note however, that there were exceptions, because a few of
my professors and classes were excellent, sometimes at risk to their
careers. Ironically, one of the best was my professor and class for
"Computer Ethics". I think a lot of the staff needed to be in that
After college, in almost every shop I've been in, I have been pretty
much alone with my ambitions and ideas on quality work and ethics.
As they way, you reap what you sow.
My big question is what happens in the future when few people understand
the really complicated systems enough to maintain them.
shannon "AT" widomaker.com -- ["Trouble rather the tiger in his lair than
the sage amongst his books For to you kingdoms and their armies are mighty
and enduring, but to him they are but toys of the moment to be overturned
by the flicking of a finger." - anonymous ]
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