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Comment My first computer (Score 2) 178

October 31, 1985

Three things of note that happened that day:
1 - We got in a crash with a parked car while delivering newspapers.
2 - My mom felt so guilty about crashing that she offered my brother and I the option to stay home from school "If we felt bad." (Yes, we both stayed home.)
3 - My parents bought our first computer: an IBM PCjr.

While I remember all three events with clarity, I don't think I would remember #1 & #2 quite so viscerally if the computer hadn't shown up that day. Having that computer in my house profoundly affected my life in ways that I probably don't understand.

The first day we had the computer in the house, and didn't have the basic cartridge to run any programs, I would boot it over and over to "play" with the little man that would come out and place the key on the screen you had just pressed on the keyboard. I tried all sorts of combinations: multiple, concurrent key presses; speedy consecutive key presses; top left to bottom right; ... you get the idea. It seems silly now that I spent so much time on such a trivial task, but it was amazing to me to be able to press a key and see something change on the screen.

When my cousin who worked at Bell Labs came over and programmed the first line of Beethoven's 5th symphony to play on the PC speaker using Basic, I was hooked. I tweaked his program over and over to change pitch and duration of each note, then revert it back.

And Jumpman. Oh, Jumpman! My parents hated that we played that game so much because we would fight about it, but we would also sit and watch each other play for hours. Of course, it really, really ticked me off when I would play for 3 hours, set the high score, then my oldest brother would come along and blow away my score in one game. Resetting the top score matrix was a big no-no, but my fingers may have slipped once or twice...

All in all, even if it was a failure as a system, it affected me and my career. I write code for a living because of that computer. I am not saying that I wouldn't have had the same experience with a Commodore 64 (which I owned for one blissful weekend until my Mom made me sell it back to the kid I bought it from because I only played Space Invaders even though I swore I would use it to write programs), but it all started with a PC Junior.

Comment Re:Why fight biology? (Score 1) 262

There is one major drawback to VR: sharing. If I want a fellow programmer to see my code I have to either be able to slave my display to his helmet as well, or give him my helmet for a minute. The same goes for youtube parties. I am not saying it isn't a solvable problem, but it is a problem. None of the VR systems that I have seen have been able to do this.

One other point: if VR is such a great thing, why don't military flight simulators use it? It would seem to be a really good fit here. Why aren't manufacturers pushing the technology in the places it would fit really well?

Comment Re:Fly in the clouds (Score 1) 464

In principle I would agree with you .... if there weren't such things as radar, SAMs and standard fighter jets. A highly reflective airplane, even in the clouds, would be a huge target for most modern radars. So, load up your jet with a laser AND a few missiles. Boom. No more pretty, shiny jet.

Even if you don't carry missiles on your fighter jets, fly in such a way to force the enemy to fly over your SAM sites. They would show up just as well for a ground radar.

There is a reason that most military aircraft aren't shiny any more.

Now, if you could create a paint that is highly absorbent to a variety of wavelengths, and can dissipate the heat, that would make more sense.

Makes me wonder just how well our current composite paints for aircraft like the F-117 would absorb a laser hit. I bet someone has the corollary defense contract for this laser.

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