Five things you probably don't know about me

I've now been tagged not once, but twice in the game of blog-tag that's been going on. It's clearly time to get it over with, so here are five things you probably don't know about me:
  1. When I was a kid my favorite place to play was my grandfathers shop and "boneyard". The boneyard was a few acres next to the shop where he parked all of his old (dead) farm equipment. It's history stretched back to about 1910 and had several slowly decaying (but grand) steam tractors. They were my favorites. The shop had a full set of blacksmithing tools. Lots of fun!
  2. My first job was cleaning the sidewalks at a small strip mall in Calgary. My favorite shop there was the only one who was never my custormer: a baker named Seebe Borge (I hope I got his name right). I kept trying to convince him to pay me to shovel the sidewalks, and he kept saying no, but he'd regularly hand me half a loaf of bread, fresh out of the oven, covered in obscene quantities of butter, sugar and cinammon. He'd eat the other half. Perfect food when standing outside watching the snow fall.
  3. Before I discovered computers, I wanted to be a forest warden for the National Parks Service.
  4. My first experience with computing was building a machine to play tic-tac-toe for a science fair. I built it out of old telephone relays and television parts that I obtained by dumpster diving (I could never afford new anything). The amusing bit was that the TVs were all vacuum tube machines that didn't have anything like a low voltage power supply usable by the relays. So I ran the relays on 300V, which often got exciting :-)
  5. My first computing job was writing software to process data from the ISIS II satellite. The picture on the right is the machine I worked on, a PDP-8/I with 8K of RAM (eventually 12K). The pairs of white circles are DECtape drives that the OS swapped on (no disk!). To the left is a pair of 9 track tape drives, and to the left of them in the blue cabinet is the analog tape drive where we read the raw satellite data from. The display used for photography was on the right, just off the screen. It had a phenominal 2Kx2K resolution - which was hard given that the framebuffer was 4K of RAM from the main memory. It was 6 bits/pixel, 12 bits/word, hence 8K pixels or 4 scan lines in the framebuffer. We could stear the 2Kx4 pixels up and down on the screen, which had a camera attached to it. It took quite a while to pass enough data through to get a full frame.
So, who should I tag? I'll start with Bob Brewin and Tim Marsland, the co-software-CTOs at Sun, neither of which have been doing enough blogging. My boss, Laurie Tolson, who still hasn't started blogging. I should tag a couple more, but these will cause me enough trouble for now.

I enjoyed that, Dr. Gosling. I also worked with similar equipment in the 70s (as the guy that could \*only\* do software).

Posted by serge on February 02, 2007 at 09:25 AM PST #

Dear Dr. Gosling, I suppose you may be interested in the URL. I have been programming this emulator in Java (naturally!). The project isn't finished yet, but the emulator works, including Dectape, Sys.Industries disk, etc. Missing is EAE, FPP. Have fun with the .jar! Yours, Wim

Posted by Dr. W. van der Mark on February 02, 2007 at 05:45 PM PST #

forest warden that is cool.but I have not born in 70s yet.The first generation programmer must be fun.

Posted by Shawn on February 05, 2007 at 12:26 AM PST #

Funny how interests and experiences can be so similar. I took apart a lot of TVs in my youth also, mostly tube types. I guess the ones you had on hand didn't have filament supplies. They probably wired all the tube filaments in series and ran them directly off the mains to reduce cost. One blown filament kills the whole set. My first job was also building satellite systems. Most engineers in those days built hardware and wrote software. Now, very, very few software developers get close to hardware. From a recent salary survey, it seems that most electrical engineers are not paid as well as software guys. They do it because they really like the work, not so much for the pay. I still build hardware, but it's not a profit center any more. Software is in much greater demand. A colleague said that one hardware guy can keep three software guys busy. I thinks it's a lot more than three!

Posted by Madhu on February 05, 2007 at 03:01 AM PST #

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