Programming as Hotdog vending


Yesterday while talking with a colleague, I was trying to get across the idea the most ‘programmers’ don’t understand what goes on inside a computer. And his response was, “Does it matter any more?” and while it took me back, I had to respond, “No!” After sleeping on it, I came to a revelation of sorts.

Current IT is equivalent to being a Hot-dog vendor on the street.

And while we IT/CS folk might try and elevate our profession to that status of demigod status we are merely vendors of what the computer can DO!‘ We don’t create the computer, we splash condiments on the hot-dog, and sell it as computing. We don’t even make the condiments anymore, call them libraries, functions written by gnomes in dark caves. And don’t even mention the buns, the dressing ,the cover, beyond us.

In the early days of computing, the common question was, what do I use my computer for. And the first answer often was, you could put your cooking recipes in it. Creating the first cookbook you needed to plugin. The computer is still the same, just that the cookbook has gotten more sophisticated.

I have harped for years that the ‘hardware’ of computing has crippled real advances in computing, more and more systems are opting for generic in their selection of Hot-dog instead, choosing to dress it up with more and intriguing spices and toppings, things like AI and Neural Networks. While these latter are more sophisticated and sexy, they are more or less toppings on the same Hot-dog.

The real problem with a ‘Silicon Republic’ for Ireland

If Cork, and probably Ireland in general, ever wants to get a leg up on Silicon Valley, or ANY tech center, they will have to get the local booksellers to start carrying books on the subject. YES! I do know the subject is a moving target, and that good books are hard to find, but keeping NOTHING on the shelves doesn’t help at all!.

At Eason’s Books it looks like this, while having 5 full cases of food books, and two full ones on ‘spirituality’ :

Computer books in Eason's

Waterstones Looks like this, not any better:

Computer books at Waterstones

It would almost be better not to have ANY computer selection than to have these pathetic examples for selection.

They both blink

This is my ELF Membership card (in the black box) running a 12 byte program that adds up to 255 then turns off the light, normally this would be about 1 per second, but I’ve been tweeking the speed dial as it has no ‘realtime’ clock. Using this in comparsion to the new Arduino Uno running it’s ‘Blink’ program. It is blinking to a realtime clock timed to the 1000 of a second and matches the ajacent clock. The Arduino (aside from the 1024 byte boot loader) required 998 Bytes to perfom it’s feat.

Both the RCA 1802 CPU in the ELF and the Arduino Uno CPU (ATmega328) are both 8bit processors with 32Kbytes of memory, the 1802 is (mostly) clocked to 2Mhz, and the Uno is running at 16Mhz.