[rescue] Wanted: Old Sun Hardware

der Mouse mouse at Rodents-Montreal.ORG
Wed Oct 14 20:45:39 CDT 2009

> Please feel free to call me a throwback, but I actually like it when
> I can describe what a system is actually doing when it executes a
> program I have written.  This is best done at the gate level.

Unless you do practically nothing but insanely constrained embedded
systems, I think I disagree with that last sentence.

It's important to understand the system on as many levels as possible,
but I really think the gate level is far too low a level to usefully
use for most programs in most circumstances.  Note the "most"s; they
are important.  Understanding at one level informs, and improves one's
abilities at, all higher levels, I find.  For example, I once had a
baffling bug that turned out to be due to something I would never have
understood if I didn't know the kinds of protection circuitry usually
designed into IC pins - stuff that is completely invisible at the
logic-gate level.  If I didn't know that, I might well have _never_
understood what was wrong and thus when and how it might recur.

But I also find that routinely going too far down is problematic, as if
you were to start looking for your house keys by designing a metal
detector, or were to start a trip to the store to buy groceries with an
analysis of the kinematics of your leg joints and the biochemistry that
drives your muscles.

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