Monday Apr 14, 2008

My old app on a new medium

    I enjoy dabbling in programming, particularly when I doing it for my own interests. As a matter of fact, that's how I first got started with computers, back in high school. Computers weren't even part of the curriculum yet, but the math department had one for scoring tests, and if you came in early or stayed after school, you could program in BASIC on it. With a keyboard and monitor no less. Which was more than I had at MIT and Northeastern University in the years to follow.

    Over the years I have programmed in Visual BASIC, which I learned while a phone support engineer for a PC email app and had a developer respond to a customer feature request that it was something anybody could do in Visual BASIC so I learned how. I've also played with Java, Perl, Pascal, VAX Assembler, BeyondMail Rules, DOS batch, shell scripting, and who knows what else. And they have all been fun in their own way.

    When I got my first PC, a Leading Edge IBM compatible, I started playing with 8086 assembly programming. Those were the heady days of Norton and his books on the inner workings of DOS and PCs. I've always tended to prefer programming useful things, at least to me, like utilities, and despite there being several already in existence, I started coding a PC identification program. I got far enough to display the usual basics before getting distracted by other things. I have also been known to have pack rat tendencies, which I am sorely regretting these days as I drastically downsize. Fortunately, I saved most of my coding, exe and source, and still have my PCC.EXE app from all those years ago.

    For some reason, perhaps the pack rat instinct in an odd way, I like emulators. Right now I have both VMware Fusion and Sun's VirtualBox installed on my MacBook Pro, as well as a Palm emulator and Basilisk II, an old Mac emulator. I won't be surprised if others show up eventually as well. Just recently it was noted, on a Palm blog I track called TamsPalm, that the PALMDOSBOX code was picked up by a well qualified Palm OS developer and made to work on some newer Palms, including my T3. Naturally, I had to play with it, as I have several other DOS apps I sometimes play with for old times sake. And it works, although the built in virtual keyboard doesn't have a \\ key, oddly enough. Makes it hard to change directories. Without further ado, a picture of PALMDOSBOX running on my T3, with my PCC.EXE app running under PALMDOSBOX.

Saturday Jan 26, 2008

Goodbye manuals, welcome back memories

    I've been a pack rat since I was old enough to think something was mine. I also have what I call an overactive Boy Scout gland, i.e. I'm always trying to be prepared for even the most unlikely circumstances. One aspect of this tendency is my feeling like there is never enough time, so I want to be ready to do something productive if I suddenly find myself with a few extra moments. Most of my friends find it handy to have me around, because I usually have the item they need at hand. For me though, it can be frustrating to try to carry so much stuff, or other wise keep it at hand.

    Having been in the computer industry for 25+ years, and in my poorer days having lusted for more computer stuff, I've keep a lot of manuals, etc, in case I or someone else needed them. Even within the last few years, as I decided I didn't really need them, I felt someone out there might need them or want them. I still haven't found any reasonably easy way to find someone who wants them, and as most of them are for software, etc that is over 10 years old, it is unlikely that anyone wants them anyway. So, my collection of old BeyondMail, WinRules, Banyan Vines, Banyan Intelligent Messaging, Novel MHS, FTP Software TCP/IP, Lotus Notes, Microsoft Windows 3.1, MS DOS, old 68k Mac manuals, etc is finally going away. I'm recycling them in the paper recycling pickup here at home.

    It has taken a while to let go, and now I am comfortable saying goodbye to most of the old manuals. I may keep a memento or two, at least for a little while longer, but I'm feeling pretty good about shedding these pounds. If someone somewhere wanted them, keep hope, there may be another like me who still has old manuals. Actually, I'm quite impressed by how easy it has been lately to let go of stuff I've held onto for decades. It feels good, and I'm sure I won't miss them. I am taking a few pictures to remember my past neurosis'.

    In the process of cleaning up, which getting rid of the manuals has been part of, I have been reminded of some fond memories. Sun Microsystems has seen it's share of changes over the years, and I have made many friends at Sun over my 10 years. I started during the hey day of the dot com boom, and was part of a pretty close group of pre-sales engineers. We 'lived' in a section of cubicles we called Gomerville, and had many fun times. We also went through a cleaning, when the Boston area sales office moved from New England Executive Park to the then new Sun Campus.

    As part of that move, we took the opportunity to shed some pounds, including many old manuals. Some of them, like some of the ones I have been shedding now, had wire binders, which with a small amount of effort, you could pull out of the manual. This left you with a long wavy wire, and a lot of loose pages you could then put in the paper recycling. What to do with the wire was another question. I've been throwing mine away, but one of the creative lads at Sun during our move actually created a wire man. This objet d'art hung around his cube for several weeks until the final move, and was quite interesting. I might have considered doing something similarly artistic with my current wire, but I don't even want extra art hanging around. Besides, maybe when I'm ready for some wire art, I can find someone out there with manuals they want to get rid of. \^_\^

A place where Perley Mears sounds off on topics relevant to his work at Oracle.


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