Stories

State-of-the-Art Computer Folklore (part 5)


Photo © 2011 Giuseppe Savo CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

This is part 5 in my series of how the Mac reminded me why I fell in love with software development, and why it still matters.

While reading Andy Hertzfeld’s anecdotes (and those of his colleagues) of designing the original Macintosh computer, I was inspired, inspired to take account of my own passions, the passions that these stories reminded me of. Today, I continue that list:

  • I love to create new patterns. I love solving problems through discovery, inventing that which has never existed before. (From part 1.)

  • I love applying principles in new ways. I love working with abstractions, and turning them into concrete expression. I love challenging the status quo, breaking through the limits of what everyone else says is “possible.” (From part 2.)  Click to continue »

State-of-the-Art Computer Folklore (part 4)


“I want to believe.”
Photo © 2008 Sunny Ripert CC BY-SA 2.0

This is part 4 in my series of how the Mac reminded me why I fell in love with software development, and why it still matters.

While reading Andy Hertzfeld’s anecdotes (and those of his colleagues) of designing the original Macintosh computer, I was inspired, inspired to take account of my own passions, the passions that these stories reminded me of. Today, I continue that list:

  • I love to create new patterns. I love solving problems through discovery, inventing that which has never existed before. (From part 1.)

  • I love applying principles in new ways. I love working with abstractions, and turning them into concrete expression. I love challenging the status quo, breaking through the limits of what everyone else says is “possible.” (From part 2.)  Click to continue »

Why I Will Probably Never Earn a College Degree


“Graduation”
Photo © 2004 Scott Jungling CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

While writing my latest post in the “Computer Folklore” series, I went off on a bit of a tangent. And I had to delete several paragraphs of story in order to get back on track.

The post is going to be all about how important it is for me to find meaning in my work. And how easily the work can completely fall apart if this need is not met.

I’ve recently had to re-wrestle with this story, because I think I’ve failed the Jewish-Christian Relations course I’ve been taking. It was, in part, an experiment. Dr. Jen Rosner, who has never given a talk or written a paper I didn’t appreciate, she was originally going to teach the class. It turns out, she couldn’t; and I had plenty of time to cancel or to transfer to a different course, but I figured I’d play out the story the way it was shaping up, just to see where it went.  Click to continue »

State-of-the-Art Computer Folklore (part 3)

This is part 3 in my series of how the Mac reminded me why I fell in love with software development, and why it still matters.

While reading Andy Hertzfeld’s anecdotes (and those of his colleagues) of designing the original Macintosh computer, I was inspired, inspired to take account of my own passions, the passions that these stories reminded me of. Today, I continue that list:

  • I love to create new patterns. I love solving problems through discovery, inventing that which has never existed before. (From part 1.)

  • I love applying principles in new ways. I love working with abstractions, and turning them into concrete expression. I love challenging the status quo, breaking through the limits of what everyone else says is “possible.” (From part 2.)

  • I love achieving status through collaboration, which is compassionate conflict. I am not a baboon. I do not achieve a sense of status by beating up (literally or figuratively) on my colleagues and friends. But I do expect to be recognized for the ideas I bring to the table, and I want to be taken seriously.

The early Mac development oozed this sort of idea culture. It had to: it was originally a research project. And so you had a bunch of smart, creative people getting together to accomplish the formerly inconceivable. For example, when Andy displayed the very first image on the very first Mac display:  Click to continue »

State-of-the-Art Computer Folklore (part 2)

This is part 2 in my series of how the Mac reminded me why I fell in love with software development, and why it still matters.

Remember 5¼″ floppy disks? And full-height floppy drives? Photo © 2010 Rostislav Lisovy CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Remember 5¼″ floppy disks? And full-height floppy drives?
Photo © 2010 Rostislav Lisovy CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

While reading Andy Hertzfeld’s anecdotes (and those of his colleagues) of designing the original Macintosh computer, I was inspired, inspired to take account of my own passions, the passions that these stories reminded me of. Today, I continue that list:

  • I love to create new patterns. I love solving problems through discovery, inventing that which has never existed before. (From part 1.)

  • I love applying principles in new ways. I love working with abstractions, and turning them into concrete expression. I love challenging the status quo, breaking through the limits of what everyone else says is “possible.” Ha!  Click to continue »

State-of-the-Art Computer Folklore

1984 Macintosh © 2011 Steve Garfield CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

1984 Macintosh
© 2011 Steve Garfield CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

A couple weeks ago, I was reading through Andy Hertzfeld’s anecdotes at FolkLore.org, about how he and his colleagues developed the original Macintosh. These stories brought me back, first to nostalgic times, then to a nostalgic purpose. I remembered all the reasons I first fell in love with software development, many of which are also true of my writing, and I finally understood what I would need in order to rediscover that lost love.

(He’s also collected these stories in paperback: Revolution in The Valley: The Insanely Great Story of How the Mac Was Made.)

The Macintosh was originally a tiny research project tucked away in a corner of Apple, still riding off the success of the Apple II home computer. The project was always up for being canceled, but the people working on it believed in it, and believed that it would change the world. They were bringing features years ahead of their time to a “low end,” common man’s computer, inventing new technology in the process.

I started a list:

  • I love to create new patterns. I love solving problems through discovery, inventing that which has never existed before.  Click to continue »

Nemo: Good, Bad, and Beautiful

[image]

Now that the storm is passed, and we’re all dug out—which is a whole other story, for another time—we can look back at the fun, the pain, and even the beauty Nemo left us.

The funnest part, of course—for many of us—was being bundled up safe at home, with plenty of supplies, while the cold world raged outside. Some of us lost power, unfortunately, at least for a period of time; and with power, heat.

Others, like my own brother and his wife, worked into the storm (and some of them, through the storm), in emergency-response and medical fields, and for that we thank them.

And after it was over, then came the basking and romping, and some great photo-taking. I’ve collected a number of photos my friends have posted.

Like this little fella (posted by one of my other sisters-in-law), waiting for another shovelful:

[image]

Unfortunately, when I see this shot, all I can think of is: How come their bathroom is never overrun with snowflakes?


L.B. took a picture from her back porch. Unfortunately, you can’t see much, because—hey!—giant snow drift, that’s why!  Click to continue »

Let It Snow: The Blizzard of ’13

Blizzard of 13 - Feb 8 09:56 AM

The bill has come due for the mild winter we had last year. And since Punxsutawney Phil (played by the classic actor Bill Murray) has predicted an early spring—which here in New England means snow, rain, sleet, hail, and 90-degree swelter, all within a 24-hour period… Since Phil has predicted an early spring, God has apparently decided to cram all the winter originally planned all into an 18-hour period.

Almost 35 years to the day (almost) since the Great Blizzard of ’78. (Of course, that year, Phil did see his shadow. So clearly, Phil isn’t always too accurate.)

According to the National Weather Service (which is sometimes right), we can expect “snow accumulations of more than 2 feet.” Fortunately, I remembered to store the GPS location of my car, so that I can find it again later.

(So I don’t accidentally dig out the wrong car.)

“LIGHT SNOW,” says the NWS in all caps, “WILL DEVELOP BY THIS MORNING… BECOMING HEAVY LATE IN THE DAY INTO THE EVENING COMMUTE… WHITEOUT CONDITIONS ARE ANTICIPATED AS ROADS BECOME SNOW COVERED BY THIS EVENINGS COMMUTE. STRONG NORTH-NORTHEAST WINDS ARE ANTICIPATED WITH GUSTS UP TO AROUND 60 MPH… RESULTING IN BLOWING AND DRIFTING OF SNOW. DAMAGE TO TREES AND STRUCTURES ALONG WITH SCATTERED POWER OUTAGES ARE ANTICIPATED.”

Sounds like fun, eh?  Click to continue »

The Story of the World

In the beginning, there was primordial ooze. And the ooze turned into life. And the life developed, and was fruitful and multiplied.

The world changed. Great dinosaurs ruled the Earth, along with a plethora of diverse species of reptiles and other creatures.

Until a great meteor impacted the surface of the earth, throwing shard of molten rock through the atmosphere, blanketing the Earth with hot ash. And almost all of the creatures on the Earth died, and most of the species.

But life still survived on the Earth, and in time it again developed, and was fruitful and multiplied.

The world changed. Great birds and huge, hairy beasts ruled the Earth, each in turn, and roamed its surface, along with diverse species of mammals and other creatures.

Until a great volcano erupted, spewing out many mountains of hot lava from the heart of the Earth. And the climate of the Earth changed, bringing on a great Ice Age, with glaciers miles deep, which wiped the great beasts off the face of the Earth. And almost all of the creatures on the Earth died, and most of the species.

But life still survived on the Earth, and in time it again developed, and was fruitful and multiplied.

The world changed. Great colonies of apes grew, and eventually man ruled the Earth, and prospered greatly, and thanked the Earth for giving him life and for enabling him to prosper.  Click to continue »

Yelling with the Boss


Yes, that’s me, pretending (for the photographer) to be working on the electronics of a centrifuge.

The last clear memory I have of my school-year jobs was the VP yelling at my manager, red-faced, outside his office, right out in the middle of the hallway.

The job, at this now-defunct manufacturer of centrifuges, for me started as a co-op job in college, while I was studying electrical engineering. They hired me at a song and dance as a lab technician, to assist in the electronics lab, producing wire-wrap prototypes, helping the electrical engineers, and all-around learning about electrical engineering in the real world. This is where I met my friend Tom, who had also been working a co-op job, and was continuing to work there part-time while he took classes.  Click to continue »

Syndicate content