On Tuesday 01 April 2008, Manuel Aróstegui wrote:
On Tue, 2008-04-01 at 08:38 -0400, Gene Heskett wrote:
> On Tuesday 01 April 2008, Manuel Aróstegui wrote:
> >On Tue, 2008-04-01 at 17:31 +1030, Tim wrote:
> >> Back when I were a lad, we didn't use no debugger. We'd print the
> >> code, and attack the printout with pencils out to mark all the bugs and
> >> corrections, then type the changes back in.
> >No kidding?
> >That's awesome!!!
> You are easily impressed I take it. That's exactly how I wrote code for
> an application that involved commercial video tape preparation for on air
> use with a very early automatic station break machine. For an RCA 1802
> cpu, where I didn't even have an assembler, I was looking up the hex code
> in the programmers manual and entering it with a hex editor. This was in
> 1978. I also built the Quest Super Elf 'computer' from a kit that it ran
> on, and all the interfacing hardware including the video to control the
> then state of the art Sony 28xx u-matic video tape machines. I used less
> than 2k of the 4k of static ram it had, and which cost nearly 400 dollars
> then. That code, and that machine were still in use at that tv station in
> Redding CA, in 1994, and they had no plans to replace it with something
> newer then! When I went on down the road, I left a paper copy of the
> code, with instructions on how to adjust its timing to match the motion
> ballistics of any newer machine they hooked up to it.
> The next time I wrote code with an extended lifetime like that, was on a
> TRS-80 Color Computer running OS9 level 1, with device drivers in assembly
> using an assembler, and the main portion in Basic-09. That function was
> in place of a $20,000 Grass Valley Group E-DISK package that our first GVG
> 300-2A/B production video switcher didn't come with. It outperformed that
> $20k unit by 4x in speed, and gave the operators english language names
> for their individual 'bags of tricks' files whereas the GVG used 2 digit
> hex codes for the filenames. That was in 1989, and was used continuously
> to 2003 when that switcher was finally replaced with something a little
> Because I could each into that switchers data paths so easily with it,
> there were many times that to troubleshoot the switcher, I would reach
> into it with little 10 line code snippets and tickle a specific function
> to see if it was working correctly, and based on its responses, go replace
> a failed chip to restore a failed operation.
> That's code with long, useful lifetimes. You live intimately with it day
> after day, fixing the glitches until there are no more bugs left to fix,
> it Just Works(TM). How long does perfectly good code last today? Maybe 3
> years till its thrown out like the baby with the bath water for some
> reason this now old fart fails to grok.
> I'll give you mplayer as a perfect example. Or xmms, just to name 2 apps
> that because they worked so well, now seem to be something bad, and must
> be replaced with something that doesn't work, like pulseaudio, whatever
> the hell it is, apparently just to give someone a new container of bugs to
> fix, whatever. All I know is that since I had to re-install due to a
> failed drive over the weekend, the only noise I get is the system beep,
> and my machine will be otherwise mute until I rip it out again. We put
> that on cornfields in Iowa to grow taller corn.
> What is the usual fix for the pulseaudio induced silence?
Well, that's an interesting and amazing story I have to tell you, but
Tim was the first one showing his cards, that's why he got all my love,
just kidding :-)
I'm only 24, actually today's my birthday, (money accepted) so I'm not
used to all those rudimentary process when writing code for whatever you
need (do not take me wrong, that seems amazing, and I wish I could have
lived during the 60-80, all the most amazing things regarding to
computing took place those years, from my point of view.)
The oldest thing I have coded in was ADA and Haskell (which is horrible,
by the way) when I got in college (aside from the typical qbasic, you
Talking about xmms.....I still use it, It does exactly what I want, just
play music, I don't need anything else, therefore I do not run rhythmbox
or any other music tool.
Thanks for sharing that great story!
You're most welcome, Manuel, and tip one up for me as my diabetes doesn't
allow a lot of that anymore. And yes, I do agree, the 60's through the 80's
were the (to me anyway) golden age of innovation, everything we've done since
has been largely fine tuning. In fact, in 1960, I was a tech at a little 6
or 8 man startup called Oceanographic Engineering, with offices and
multi-purpose shop in a roughly 50 by 50 building with San Diego's Mission
Bay at the end of the back yard. TPTB had bought a camera schematic from a
guy at NBC, and was busy turning it into a 2.5" diameter thing with an idea
of leasing it to municipalities for sewer inspections. One bright Monday
morning the front door opened and a lot of Navy gold walked in and wanted to
see what we had, which at that point was the typical breadboard thing with
parts hanging out all over it, but it was working reasonably well at that
They were impressed with the pix on the monitors just from the rooms
illumination, but asked about its low light performance, so the EE type
picked it up carefully and pulled a bench drawer open, setting it in the
drawer and then closing the drawer on the piece of RG-59 that both powered it
and returned the video. So there wasn't a whole lot of light getting into
that drawer, but about a second after the drawer closed, the monitor bloomed
and settled, showing us the grain pattern of the plywood back of the drawer
quite well. The officer with the most gold said "sold, lets go to the office
for a cup and some dickering."
When they were done, we were committed to make 2 of them, with the navy
supplying the quartz windows for the front of the pressure cases that we
would make to their specs, along with suitable controls, pan & tilt
assemblies etc, and BTW, it all had to run on 12 volts, with only 6 wires
going through the bulkhead to do all that.
The "bulkhead" turned out to be the gondola of the Trieste. So cameras I
helped assemble, and had my fingerprints in them, went on the Trieste a few
months later, and were used in February 1961 when the Trieste made its only
trip down to the bottom of the mohole, that 37k feet deep trench in the
pacific ocean floor located off the Phillipine(sp?) Islands. Jacques
Cousteau was one of the two guys in that 6 foot diameter ball, and I may have
met him but didn't of course know that he was going to be so famous later.
With the exterior pressure at about 18k psi at that depth, there is no way in
hell I would have gone down there.
BTW, water IS compressible in case you've heard otherwise. The Trieste ran on
common, off the shelf Sears Die-Hard auto batteries, a couple of ton of them,
and each battery's cell cap had been removed, the cell filled with acid to
the top, and a cup or so of battery acid in a heavy balloon was snapped over
the neck of the cell, then caged in SS woven hardware cloth to keep water
currents from ripping them loose. One of the pix they brought back was of a
bank those batteries, and those balloons were nowhere in sight, the acid had
compressed and they were pressed down inside the top of the battery. The
batteries of course didn't care what the pressure was, they Just Worked(TM)
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