Programmer's conundrums

Don Y dgy at DakotaCom.Net
Sat Apr 8 08:17:07 CDT 2006

Tom Watson wrote:
> Tony Duell says:
>> Yes, back when engineers actually thought about things and didn't attempt 
>> to 'solve' problems by throwing computing power at them.
> I believe that one of the first lessons that should be taught is to program
> something (of a size greater than a "hello world" program) on an ASR33 or
> equivalent device.  It is a VERY humbling experience.  One actually learns to
> look at programs before executing a compile/run step and takes some thought
> before doing a "let's try this".

Heh heh heh... Hollerith cards!  :>  The ASR-33 is attached to an
*interactive* system (often).  Imagine having to punch the cards
(and the right JCL!), wait in queue for it to be submitted, and
then, some hours later, get a "syntax error on line 27"  :>
["Crap!  it's already 5:00PM..."]

But, your point is well taken -- with faster and faster
development tools, people seem to just make a change, type
'make' and "let's see if that works" (instead of *knowing*
if it SHOULD work).  I think this is where a lot of bugs
creep into designs -- once it *appears* to work, they move
on to the next problem without sorting out why this
problem needed that particular fix...

> I was also told about the firm that went to an automated payroll system.  The
> first candidates (beta testers) were the programmers themselves.  Having a
> built in incentive to "get it right" is VERY motivating.
> Everyone should keep an ASR33 floating around just to show others.  An LA30 is
> an (almost) acceptable substitute.

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