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Comment Definition of "Influential" (Score 1) 39

The headline is more general than the article. The title just says "the most influential brain scientists of the modern era". "Influential" depends on the context and the target audience.

The article does clarify in its first line "influential neuroscience research" and thus the measure of number of citations is probably reasonable within that specific community.

But the article headline seems to imply a more general use of "influential" that implied to me "in the general population", Thus before reading the article itself I was assuming that Amy Farrra-Fowler would have to rank very high. She has probably done more to bring knowledge of brain science to the general population than all the rest of the cited authors in the paper itself. If it is general awareness of brain science as implied by the headline, she would probably rank number one.

But then I had to break the primary rule of Slashdot and go read the actual paper...

Comment Re:Photoshop - Framemaker (Score 3, Interesting) 889

GIMP can handle the pictures. Now FrameMaker would be cool.

Way back when... I was a heavy Framemaker user on our Sun Workstations. I was bringing in Linux on 486s. I served as a beta test site for Adobe Framemaker on Linux. It worked flawlessly and I was ready to fork over similar license fees as I paid on my Sun Workstations. Then Adobe axed the release with some statement about how Linux users only wanted free stuff. My take away was, and remains, that Adobe is the most anti-linux shop out there. Way more of a problem than Microsoft.

Comment DEC PDP-11 Software handbooks (Score 1) 166

Oh, The joys of a shelf full of old computer books.
DEC transitioned MUMPS from the 18-bit line onto the PDP-11s. I think that the majority of Mumps systems were on the 11s and then moved to VAX as it came on the scene. I can find no mention in the PDP-8 books. If MUMPS was moved there it was not a standard DEC product. Likewise, the PDP-10 books don't cover MUMPS. I would assume that it was moved to the 36-bit machines, but have no reference. Does anyone out ther have some record of MUMPS on the PDP-10??

The DEC PDP-11 reference manual set had one volume on software systems for the PDP-11s.
I pulled the 1975 and 1980 versions.

DEC PDP-11 Software Handbook, Copyright 1975
Section II: PDP-11 Operating Systems
Chapter 1: Cassette Programming System CAPS-11
Chapter 2: Foreground/Background RT-11
Chapter 3: Resource Sharing Timesharing System RSTS/E
Chapter 4: Multi-user Database Managemetn System MUMPS-11
Chapter 5: RSX-11
Chapter 6: IAS

The intro to MUMPS describes it as: A small to large sized timesharing system that offers a unique fast access data storage and retrieval system for large database processing.

The MUMPS chapter is 26 pages long with a reasonable amount of reference detail for the time. The database aspect was the unique selling point.

By the 1980 version of the same DEC PDP-11 Software Handbook, MUMPS had moved to Chapter 8: Digital Standard MUMPS.
The intro section describes:
DSM-11 Digital Standard MUMPS operating system for PDP-11 processors.
A small to large sized timesharing system that offers a unique fast-access data storage and retrieval system for large data base processing. Originally designed for medical record management and now available for similar data base applications.

Chapter 8 of the 1980 Software Handbook has a more prose-like description than the reference-manual-like 1975 chapter. The new version has a good description of hospital medical record processing and claims over 500 major hospitals using MUMPS.

So it was under active development and use through the 70s on the PDP-11s.
With that base it is not surprising that MUMPS is still in use.

Comment You have a problem on your Linux desktop (Score 2) 210

Them: Hi This is Microsoft. You have a problem on your desktop
Me: Oh! Wow! how do we fix it?
Them: Do you see your START button?
Me: (Looking over my Gnome Desktop on my Fedora workstation...) No.
Them: Just look on you lower left.
Me: I have ACTIVITIES on the upper Left.
Them: That must be it. Pull down the menu from that START Button.
Me: OK
Them: Do you see the RUN item
Me: No...

And they get more and more frustrated by this looser who can't seem to work the START menu.
I really try to follow their instructions.
After all they said that they had analyzed my machine and knew exactly how to fix it. They MUST know what they are doing then.
You mean that, maybe, possibly, thay were not completely truthfull???

Comment Imagine my surprise (Score 3, Insightful) 643

Albuquerque has had problems recently with police shooting a homeless man and their lapel cameras show something that appears to be a real unjustified use of force.

Now that there is loads of bad press from the released videos, the last couple of "incidents" have been plagued with ummm... Camera Malfunctions! That's it. The cameras just malfunctioned and didn't work. We just don't understand it. Sorry, but we don't have any video of that last shooting...

A really good idea, but the devil is in the details.

Comment Unintended consequences: Gun Control (Score 1) 474

Let's take this thread, pull on it, and see how the sweater unravels...

While a few nut cases shooting up schools grab headlines, the majority of gun crime is committed related to drugs.

If you have the turf around school A and I have the turf around school B and we have a conflict on who sells on the streets separating our areas, then my only recourse is to grab the AK47s, jump in the pimp-mobile and go shoot up your street hoping to take out you, my rival. Of course, since our only education in firearm use is watching Die Hard movies, it is not surprising that we miss our rival drug lord and kill two dogs, the toddler next door, and three potted begonias on the neighbour's porch.

If drugs were decriminalized then we could lawyer up and take each other to court like civilised businessmen.

Gun violence would decline and the related gap in the political discourse related to guns would be, at least, tightened in scope.

Mush of our current gun violence and thus the

Comment Re:"personal use" on flight-critical device (Score 3, Insightful) 244

Sorry, Wrong!

The FAA requires up-to-date charts appropriate for the routes being flown. The FAA has approved these as legal substitutes for printed charts as long as they are current (at Least IPads are, I assume Delta will be getting approval for these things).

So unless they are also carrying the "38 pounds" of paper charts, these things ARE flight critical devices by definition.

Comment TOPS10-Multics-Unix-Linux (Score 1) 413

I don't know about most frequent, but my migration path has been basically as in the subject line TOPS10-Multics-Unix-Linux.

There are lots of details and side branches. For example, there would be a long side branch next to Multics and Unix where Lisp machines were a primary parallel tool. But that was not so much a migration as a dual-use. I was doing Lisp on TOPS10, Multics, and Solaris at the same times.

The Unix branch could be detailed with V6, V7, BSDs, SunOS/Solaris, AIX, HP-UX, etc. but as those came to end of life there was not so much of a migration as an upgrade. Linux follows that in natural progression.

Finally, I have touched most of the rest of the systems as side branches. Everything from the MVS family to the DEC RT/RSX/VMS things to offerings from Data General, Tandom, Prime, etc. all the way to the various DOS and Windows stuff on Intel. But I wouldn't call any of those migrations. Just temporary offshoots. The Lisp machines were the only side branch long-enough and important enough to consider as a "migration".

Comment Re:First game! (Score 1) 704

Adventure, a.k.a. Colossal Cave, by Crowther and Woods (extended by others).


This was many old-school programmers' first exposure to computers as entertainment. For example, both my wife and I recall playing it on TI SilentWriters (paper output plus an acoustic modem) when we were kids. Even more than Space Wars, which was written at least a year later and only ran on much less common hardware, this was the start of computer gaming.

There is a more compelling reason beyond pure entertainment that speaks to the original question of relevance to computer science and software engineering.

I was an early player of Adventure on a PDP-10. At that time all software, even in languages like Fortran, were specific to a single architecture thorough non-standard libraries, internal use of architectural features, etc. Adventure was the FIRST system that was valuable enough (for whatever reasons) that it was ported to practically everything out there. It was neat at the time to be at some trade show, go to the Data General or Interdata booth and find Adventure running as a demo.

Today we take portability of Linux, Android, C or python or Perl programs, or practically anything else as a given. It is difficult for those not there at the time to appreciate just how different this was in a world of universal walled gardens. But at the time Adventure was unique and, I contend, worthy of study for just that reason.

Comment Kernighan and Plauger - Software Tools (Score 1) 624

Addison Wesley 1976.
It showed the Unix Philosophy to a larger audience than Version 6 could reach at the time.
Best programming book ever if you want to go for pragmatic influence rather than computer science.
It also came with the ability to get the code. While the code is now dated, the philosophy is still leading edge. And lots of us played with that code.

Ah the memories! Fortran was still ubiquitous. It made Fortran usable. Kind of makes me want to go dig up RATFOR and do something...

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