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Comment: Re:Class conflict (Score 1) 401

by John_Sauter (#47400401) Attached to: No Shortage In Tech Workers, Advocacy Groups Say

I think there's an obvious class conflict when it comes to STEM fields. Wages are high enough that it challenges the corporate class structure that dictates what field should be paid more than other fields.

My wife works in marketing for a company that makes an engineered product and we had a fairly heated discussion about this once. Without thinking about the implications, she actually said that marketing was more important than engineering and marketing should always be paid more. Raising engineering salaries above some ceiling wasn't an option.

Now, my wife isn't a mean spirited snob but I think she genuinely meant this and I think it reflects the class consciousness in corporate thinking.

Strangely I never see this mentioned in articles about H1-Bs and STEM workers. It always seems to devolve into an unresolvable debate involving conflicting macoeconomic labor statistics.

I have seen this also. I think there is an evolution in large companies: even if they start by developing good products, they eventually become so focused on sales and marketing that they forget that the quality of their products is the basis of their business. I was at Digital Equipment Corporation as it went through this transition. By the time the founder, an engineer, was finally forced out, the company was headed downhill, and was soon acquired.

IBM has somehow managed to avoid this problem. While definitely focused on sales, they continue to develop new, competitive products. Whatever their secret is, I wish it was taught in American business schools.

Comment: Re:So train them. (Score 1) 97

I hate the employers that whine that they can't get good help. The reality is that most employers are not able to pay for skilled or reliable workers. People with tremendous skills and good work habits are available but they do demand real pay. The cabinet shop that wants to hire workers for $10. per hour has a big problem. The cabinet shop that pays $60. per hour gets an entirely different type of worker. Offer $200. per hour and you can create world class cabinets.

I suspect that many employers are able, but not willing, to pay for skilled and reliable workers. I recently spent 9 months at a temp job with a large and wealthy employer, demonstrating my skill and work ethic to the hiring manager. At the end of the job he offered me a permanent position, but at $20 to $25 per hour. I would have been willing to take the job if I could have been compensated for my 900 miles per week commute. However, the policies of the institution did not permit him to do that, or, equivalently, offer me $35 per hour. I reluctantly turned down the job.

Comment: Re:varies (Score 2) 359

Actually, I did use TECO on the PDP-6 until Stopgap was ready. I also coded in assembly language for the PDP-6/10, and in Gogol for the PDP-1. I used Bliss-36 to write a PDP-11 task builder that ran on the PDP-10, so a customer wouldn't have to take his KL10 down to run the PDP-11 TKB on the PDP-11 front end in order to build the DECnet code.

Comment: varies (Score 1) 359

Like some others who have posted here, my choice of editor and language have varied with time.

  • In 1964 I coded in PDP-1 assembly language and my editor was TVedit.
  • In the early 1970s I used PDP-6 assembly language and Stopgap.
  • In the late 1970s I used Bliss-36 and SOS.
  • In the 1980s I used Bliss-32 and EDT.
  • In the 1990s and early 2000s I used DCL and EDT.
  • In the late 2000s and early 2010s I used Perl and Vim.
  • Today I use Python and EMACS.

Comment: Re:No, but the Age of Information will. (Score 1) 90

Realistically, Paramount (or any big entertainment company) isn't going to be able to pass off your work as their own. Even if the public neither knows or cares, the industry insiders will know it is yours. If the big production of your script is successful, everybody in the industry will know that you are the person to get on-board for the next big success. The big production gives you publicity, even if your name does not appear in the credits.

Having a history of success is what gives you leverage.

Comment: Re:No, but the Age of Information will. (Score 1) 90

The chicken and egg problem has a well-known solution, the one used by musicians. You start by writing for free, to gain an audience. If and when you achieve popularity, you can quit your job and write professionally. Don't think that is realistic? Imagine how many people would pay Stephen King or Tom Clancy to write another best-seller. If you aren't in their league, you remain a hobbyist


Comment: Re:No, but the Age of Information will. (Score 1) 90

Get paid for that work once. Ask for enough up front to cover your expenses for the work just like in ANY other market: See also, Mechanics. Bid, do the work, get paid; No fee each time you start the car and benefit from the work. You want more money? Do more work.

OK, I'm an author who self publishes.....Or do you propose that I just write for free and get a job at McDonald's to keep a roof over my head?

You've figured it out. If you aren't popular enough for your readers to pay you in advance to write a book for them, then writing is a hobby for you, and you also need to have a job. I used to be paid to write computer programs. Today it is a hobby, and I have a job so I can eat.

Comment: the spacecraft may still be alive (Score 2) 65

by John_Sauter (#44909879) Attached to: Software Glitch Means Loss of NASA's Deep Impact Comet Probe

It is possible that the spacecraft is going through layers of falesafes, until it finally just points its solar panels at the Sun, points its radio antenna at Earth, and cries for help. Remember the mission to Eros:

Comment: Re:"Real GB" or "marketing GB"? (Score 1) 618

by John_Sauter (#42857767) Attached to: When 1 GB Is Really 0.9313 Gigabytes

Likewise I say "true GB" for 1024-based and "salesman's GB" for 1000-based. Because the 1024-based units ARE the true units, and the 1000-based units WERE created just to make hard drives look bigger than they actually were.

Your second sentence turns out not to be correct. The decimal prefixes were long-established by the time binary computers were invented. I use GiB for binary and GB for decimal. If Microsoft Windows did the same, confusion would be reduced.

Comment: mistake made long ago (Score 1) 618

by John_Sauter (#42857725) Attached to: When 1 GB Is Really 0.9313 Gigabytes

If the computer industry can't adapt to counting the way of the rest of the world does, that's our problem. We should be pointing at whoever originally decided that they should usurp the already established term Kilo to mean 1024 and slapping them upside the head. Anything less is pure arrogance on our part.

I don't know who originally decided to mis-use "kilo" to mean 1024, but the mistake was made in the late 1950s or early 1960s. I first heard that the PDP-1 was a "4K" machine in 1963, and the terminology was already well-established. It might have been done by several people independently.

The difference between 1000 and 1024 is only 2.4%, and the Ki prefix didn't exist yet, so perhaps the misuse is forgivable. However, there is a slippery slope: once you are comfortable with Kilo as 1024, it is easier to successively misuse Mega as 1048576 (4.9%), Giga as 1073741024 (7.4%), Tera as 1099511627776 (10%) and Peta as 1125899906842620 (12.6%).

The obvious solution is for all operating systems, even Microsoft Windows, to display hard drive sizes in decimal, and RAM sizes in binary. When displaying RAM sizes they should use the binary prefixes.

Comment: FLINT (Score 1) 704

by John_Sauter (#42714533) Attached to: What Early Software Was Influential Enough To Deserve Acclaim?

If you are interested in early software, consider FLINT. FLINT was a floating-point package for the IAS computer, which was designed by John von Neumann in the early 1950s. FLINT was intended to be a high-level language which could be implemented on other computers.

FLINT, "which, as far as its user is concerned, transforms our machine into a slower, less sophisticated instrument for which coding is much simpler," insulated the end user from having to communicate directly with the machine. "The planned general external language should be influenced as little as possible by the peculiarities of the machine; in other words, it should be as close as possible to the thinking of the programmer" it was explained. The user "need not know machine language at all, even, and in particular, while debugging his program."

The above paragraph is from Turing's Cathedral: the origins of the digital universe by George Dyson, 2012, ISBN 987-1-4000-7599-7, page 318. The quotations are from "Institute for Advanced Study Electronic Computer Project Monthly Progress Report, January 1957", page 3. See also

Comment: previous inspiration (Score 1) 271

by John_Sauter (#42183729) Attached to: Voyager 1, So Close To Interstellar Space That We Can Taste It!

I'm certain Star Trek was one of the top reasons many of the engineers at NASA became interested in engineering in the first place.

That may be so, but the previous generation of NASA engineers was inspired by the Walt Disney program Man in Space, which featured Wernher von Braun.

"Religion is something left over from the infancy of our intelligence, it will fade away as we adopt reason and science as our guidelines." -- Bertrand Russell