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Tim 04-01-2008 01:09 PM

Linux is KING - Couldn't be hacked - Mac, Vista went down in flames
 
On Tue, 2008-04-01 at 08:38 -0400, Gene Heskett wrote:
> 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.

And back then, you could expect your equipment to come with manuals that
explained the tricks that could be done with their gear. e.g. If it had
a serial or parallel port, the pins would documented, the function codes
would be listed... Or, the sales division would get you the books for
it.

Now, everything's a black box. One client's bought this Roland,
allegedly high-definition, digital video mixer (hi-def my left foot!,
that means high definition, not just able to output low-resolution video
with more pixels...). It has a port for the tally interface, that
mentions nothing about how to actually use it. Sure, it lists several
pins that you could have a tally signal on, depending on what mode its
in. But nothing that defines what the modes are, nor the output
voltages (TTL?, CMOS?, open-collector?, active low?).

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Manuel Aróstegui 04-01-2008 01:17 PM

Linux is KING - Couldn't be hacked - Mac, Vista went down in flames
 
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!!!
> >
> >Manuel.
>
> 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 'greener'.
>
> 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
know...)

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!
Manuel.


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Gene Heskett 04-01-2008 02:13 PM

Linux is KING - Couldn't be hacked - Mac, Vista went down in flames
 
On Tuesday 01 April 2008, Tim wrote:
>On Tue, 2008-04-01 at 08:38 -0400, Gene Heskett wrote:
>> 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.
>
>And back then, you could expect your equipment to come with manuals that
>explained the tricks that could be done with their gear. e.g. If it had
>a serial or parallel port, the pins would documented, the function codes
>would be listed... Or, the sales division would get you the books for
>it.
>
>Now, everything's a black box. One client's bought this Roland,
>allegedly high-definition, digital video mixer (hi-def my left foot!,
>that means high definition, not just able to output low-resolution video
>with more pixels...). It has a port for the tally interface, that
>mentions nothing about how to actually use it. Sure, it lists several
>pins that you could have a tally signal on, depending on what mode its
>in. But nothing that defines what the modes are, nor the output
>voltages (TTL?, CMOS?, open-collector?, active low?).
>
Yeah Tim, but Panasonic, in the Techniques line of audio gear, copyrighted
that BS back about 1978, equiping their fawnciest RS-1520 1/4" multitrack
audio tape machine with a 9 pin octal interface plug for remote controls, but
if you wanted to use it, you had to buy THEIR $200 remote pendant. No docs.
And the schematics made it a weeks study to figure out that all it needed was
a contact closure to start it to record. I was automating the weather report
capture from the weather bureau. Worked a treat too. That was, in its day,
THE technological tour-de-force in audio tape machines. It could lay a 1%
distortion signal on the average roll of tape 10db louder than the best a
Studer/Revox could do, 70 db snr at 7.5 ips in 2 track stereo, 67 db in 4
track mode. When the heads were clean, 15 kilohertz bandwidth at 3.75 ips.
Bi-directional and handled 14" reels better than any other machine I ever
saw. You flat could not get it to dump tape on the floor, period.

--
Cheers, Gene
"There are four boxes to be used in defense of liberty:
soap, ballot, jury, and ammo. Please use in that order."
-Ed Howdershelt (Author)
<viro> "scanf is tough" -- programmer Barbie...

- Al Viro on #kernelnewbies

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Gene Heskett 04-02-2008 04:24 AM

Linux is KING - Couldn't be hacked - Mac, Vista went down in flames
 
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!!!
>> >
>> >Manuel.
>>
>> 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
>> 'greener'.
>>
>> 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
>know...)
>
>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!
>Manuel.

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
point.

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)

--
Cheers, Gene
"There are four boxes to be used in defense of liberty:
soap, ballot, jury, and ammo. Please use in that order."
-Ed Howdershelt (Author)
No man is an island, but some of us are long peninsulas.

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