Showing posts from September, 2017

Technology needs lights

This is part of an IBM mainframe that I saw at the Science Museum in London. It's hard to imagine that anyone ever understood what they all meant. I think the reason there are so many lights is because there is so much to go wrong. The lights show when something's working, so no light means failure, or when something fails. These days the FLP BFR (flip buffer?) always does what it's supposed to, so we don't need to have a light for it.

I remember when modems had a full set of lights: TX, RX, DCD, DTR and so on. I also remember using them to try and work out why connections weren't being made. As they became smaller and sleeker they had just a couple of lights to show activity. Then they disappeared altogether.

We need lights for things we can't rely on. Once it's reliable the lights go away. Today I was re-reading the essay from Douglas Adams, "How to Stop Worrying and Learn to Love the Internet", written in 1999 (I wonder if that distinguished j…

Reading comics - part 1

A phrase from the latest blog entry by The Reinvigorated Programmer, What I've been reading, lately part 23, has prompted me to get this post out of the mental draft folder.

Speaking of The Complete Harlem Heroes, a reprint of the strips from 2000AD he says
They are full of panels that, forty years on from my first reading, still reach right back into my hindbrain and yank on my neurons. I have the same thing as I re-read a couple of comic books I have from my childhood, a 2000AD annual from 1980 and a Superman Giant Bumper Book:

I must have re-read that book many times, because when I look at it now can remember imagining a cavern with a laugh echoing round it almost as if I was there. With this picture:
I can imagine the slimy and firm-to-yielding texture of that thing, as well as the force it takes to push it down into that container.

When I occasionally read comic strips/graphic novels it's not quite the same. Is it because my imagination has atrophied with age, or because…