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Comment Still use mine to teach kids about logarithms (Score 1) 220

I learned to use one in high school and bought my own as a freshman in engineering. Used it full time till I bought my first calculator in 1975 (HP RPN-style, of course).

I still pull it out to show students when they are learning about logarithms in school. I was doing just that earlier this week in fact. And my younger colleagues at work are always interested.

Comment Programming 43 years, admin about 30 of those (Score 1) 162

I started on punch cards in 1972. Worked mostly with punch cards on a CDC 3400, 6600 and 7600, and with punched paper tapes on a 12-bit PDP-8 minicomputer in the 70s, and it seems like I've touched everything under the sun since then: Wang, CDC, Cray, DEC PDP-11 and VAX minicomputers, Data General 16 and 32-bit minicomputers, Tektronix (4054?), Prime minis, HP minis and workstations, Silicon Graphics, IBM, Sun, UNIX from AT&T, UNIX from many others, UNIX-clones before Linux, Linux, old Mac OS, new Mac OS, NeXT, Symbolics, and various DOS, CP/M, and Windows of course.

And, of course, whenever possible, a command line to rule them all. Even the old Mac OS had command line tools for sale from Apple and other vendors, primarily aimed at developers.

Comment MUMPS is ok (Score 1) 166

I came to MUMPS late in life (programming for 30 years in a dozen other languages before ever encountering it), but I like it just fine. The hierarchical database is very flexible to use and very disk space efficient compared to the standard relational model. Keep in mind that most relational databases get their "efficiency" by creating indexes, which are basically invisible extra tables containing cross-references into the visible tables. You can explicitly do that in MUMPS if you want to; it just doesn't happen "automatically".

Some problem domains just beg for a relational solution and some work well with a hierarchical solution. A good programmer's toolbox contains many tools.

The language is pretty cryptic, but no worse than several others from that era. You can write "good" programs in any language and you can write "bad" programs in any language. You learn the syntax and learn the semantics and then practice for a while. The language itself has some very powerful constructs that can make a programmer's life easier or harder. Likewise with the database that backs it up.

MUMPS today is primarily used in the medical world, but the European Space Agency also uses it extensively as do Credit Suisse and others in the financial world.

Comment Re:Why not future proof the application? (Score 1) 257

This is how my longest lived project has been. Originally written for SunOS and HP/UX and Cray's UNICOS in the late 80s, it is still a live client/server application managing 100+ million files running on a wide variety of UNIX-like environments. The maintainers (me for the first ten years, others since then) have migrated development and production environments several times during the 25 years the project has been running.

Comment Re:Social mobility was killed, but not this way (Score 1) 1032


Fact is, when my parents were in school, ANY degree was good enough. You really could go get a philosophy degree because the jobs were mostly mid level office jobs and didn't require skill so much as the ability to read and learn a bit....perfect for people who had learned how to learn and could all read. Didn't matter what they studied then.

Now, well, that philosophy degree qualifies you to teach philosophy and fuck all else. The value of the products they offer varies greatly, and they still pretend a philosophy degree even matters. Frankly, I don't see why they should even offer philosophy beyond an associates; its just not worth it to the point it counts as a scam really.

The author says that rather than do that (get an ordinary job), he intentionally chose the (lack of) career path that he's on.

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