Year Nine

In my forty-odd years of employment, I kept a list of things I wanted to do, but for reasons of expense or time, I had to put off. “Fly an airplane” was one of them. “Write a novel” was another. When I retired at the beginning of 2015, I reviewed the list. Some things were […]

Computers Lie and Cheat

In the 70s, we had a Scrabble game where I worked, probably on an IBM 360 mainframe running VM1 or similar. The program may have come from what is called netnews, a very early and nerdy-type of what is now called social media. The computer’s play was excellent and rarely beatable, so much so that […]

Cooking Up Plutonium-238

Somewhere between 1995 and 2000, I was sent to teach a pSOS+ class to Westinghouse engineers in Savannah, Georgia. At the time, the debate between Assembler-language versus C for application programming was still hot and heavy. Programs written in Assembler took longer to develop and had more bugs to detect, ferret out, and correct, but […]

Things That Go Bump in the Night

Welcome This is an overview of threads and processes from an old-timer. Historical comments are included to help illuminate the whys and wherefores. While primarily focused on Unix-like realms such as Linux, most of what’s here applies to all contemporary operating systems. Two source examples are provided, elevate.c and threads1000.c. Please copy and paste these […]

What’s a DNS, and Who Cares?

On the web, we use the names of computers or providers such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google. Even when you’re using Facebook’s app, it is also using a computer’s name. This is because we remember names much better than numbers. But the internet runs on numbers. They’re called internet addresses. The original IPV4 internet addresses […]

Houston, We Have A Problem

The log in our family firewall caught one of our home computers assaulting another one with three packets. It’s called a “Denial of Service” attack and it comes from a virus, affectionately named as you can see in the snippet above, “Smurf”. Three packets won’t, in themselves, cause a problem. The targeted computer will look, […]

It’s 1984 Again

Big Brother is watching you. Or to be precise, he’s watching your Android phone. Specifically, if you have an Android cell phone and have shopped for any new app, then you’ll have a Google account. There, you can find all sorts of useful things like email, maps, spread sheets and, it turns out, where you were […]


Lots of things come in twos. Here are three (!) examples. Everything in your computer is, at its lowest level, remembered as a set of binary “bits” each of which can be either a “1” or a “0” and if you arrange lots and lots AND LOTS of those together in just the right combination, […]


Work days remaining: Today, Friday, and then next Monday and Tuesday Professional History 1968-1972, American Express, Programmer – This is stint #1 of 2 with American Express. It started as “Space Bank” and did computerized hotel and motel reservations. I started in the technical support center and was responsible for keeping the communications circuits between the […]

Doing It The Right Way

Six work-days to go. In school, I learned that good engineering can be done once but to consistently build things well, you need to write down the process you are following, and then repeat that process each time. Of course, the process isn’t perfect so you add another layer and, whenever you screw up, you […]