Comment On Long Distance

Lawrence's employer had heard that this newfangled "Desktop PC" could reduce their IT costs, and they wanted in on it. It was the mid 80s, and at the time, their plants scattered all over Alabama connected to a central mainframe via dumb terminals connected over very expensive leased lines. It was time to upgrade, and Lawrence wasn't in charge of it. He didn't get called in until things went wrong. [expand full text]
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Re: Long Distance

2012-05-15 15:18 • by Jay (unregistered)
381237 in reply to 381183
Doubter:
So... multiple phone lines for each PC, plus all the hardware was more efficient than the leased lines, just so they could run 3270's?


Short answer: Yes.

When PCs first came out, it was cheaper to buy a PC then to buy a 3270 terminal. A typical PC then was circa $2500. A 3270 terminal was about $10,000. I always wondered why: a 3270 does a whole lot less than a PC.

Dedicated lines are more expensive than regular phone lines. That's not so mysterious. With a dedicated line, it's all yours, so you have to pay the entire cost. With a regular phone line, the wire that goes from the phone pole to your building is yours, but the rest is shared with many other users, so you can share the cost.

Re: Long Distance

2012-05-15 15:49 • by macwhiz (unregistered)
381240 in reply to 381237
Jay:
With a regular phone line, the wire that goes from the phone pole to your building is yours, but the rest is shared with many other users, so you can share the cost.


Uh... not quite, not unless you're on a party line.

With POTS, the wire between your phone(s) and the telephone company switch is "yours". If you're some distance from the nearest switch, your signal might be aggregated onto a digital carrier via a SLC/DLC, but you'd still have a dedicated "circuit" within that aggregated carrier.

The cost savings comes from the difference in how the signal is handled between phone switches. With a dedicated line, you don't go through a switch; your line is one circuit end-to-end. That means a LOT of amplifiers and line conditioners to make it work, and those are expensive. With POTS, your call is switched onto an available trunk line between exchanges, which can be used by someone else when you're not using it. In other words, it's a very coarse form of time-division multiplexing.

Of course, nowadays most phone companies use VoIP or the equivalent instead of interexchange trunks, and "dedicated lines" usually use permanent virtual circuits over an ATM/SONET link instead of a long copper pair... but this article clearly predates all that jazz.

Re: Long Distance

2012-05-15 16:18 • by Jim Rees (unregistered)
1. Interpreting Touchtone is easy. There's a box that goes in front of the switch that converts tone to pulse. In the 80s you paid for this box with a monthly charge. Direct distance dialling, on the other hand, is hard. Not so much because the call setup is hard, but because the billing is hard. I'm not sure, but I think it might even be impossible on a step-by-step exchange, which could be what they had.

2. The "dumb bitch" Operator couldn't tell it was a modem calling. That's because the calling end of a 300 baud modem makes no sound until after it hears the other end.

Re: Long Distance

2012-05-15 17:03 • by John (unregistered)
Back in the day I supported a small branch office which used a RAS server with dial-up to provide interwebs to multiple users. They called and said it wasn't working. I figured out there was no dial tone and when I went to look at the box where the line came into the building found that the owner's horse, which he often brought with him to work, had eaten the phone line.

Re: Long Distance

2012-05-15 18:32 • by Some Damn Yank (unregistered)
381244 in reply to 381193
nonpartisan:
If it was truly that back woods, how were they technologically-advanced enough that they could use touch-tone to reach the long-distance operator?
OK, it was the mid-1960s not the 1980s, but when I was a kid we lived in Naperville, Ill, and we were a test market for them-thar newfangled button phones. The local exchange was 355 (EL5, in those days), and to call locally we only had to press five digits - "5" plus the subscriber's 4-digit number. The whole thing was so new the phones didn't have the "*" and "#" buttons we take for granted today. Yet for long distance, even with this cutting-edge telephone technology, we had to press the good old "O" for "Operator" button...

Re: Long Distance

2012-05-15 19:37 • by Earp (unregistered)
381246 in reply to 381189
I can top that, I worked at a place in 2000 that had just installed a NT3.x server, running Citrix on the the _Windows 3.11 shell_.

95 and 98 would have been wonderful.

Re: Long Distance

2012-05-15 20:22 • by Fake Nagesh (unregistered)
381248 in reply to 381191
emaN ruoY:
Fake Nagesh:
Doubter:
So... multiple phone lines for each PC, plus all the hardware was more efficient than the leased lines, just so they could run 3270's?

/boggle



I worked at Coney Island Hospital in NYC at the time when they were rolling out their "upgrade". They switched from dumb terminals to windows 98 running terminal emulators.

Support calls went from a dead terminal once every week or so, to "My Computer is frozen" several times a day.

They couldn't at least go to NT 4? I mean seriously "Windows 98"?


As if NT4 was any more usable. Sure, it may not have crashed as much, but user training would have been crazy.


All it did was run terminal emulator. I think they could've figured it out...

Re: Long Distance

2012-05-15 20:30 • by Fake Nagesh (unregistered)
381249 in reply to 381219
Jerry:
Fake Nagesh:
I worked at Coney Island Hospital in NYC at the time when they were rolling out their "upgrade". They switched from dumb terminals to windows 98 running terminal emulators.

Support calls went from a dead terminal once every week or so, to "My Computer is frozen" several times a day.
Can't be true. Windows has never had any problems. Ask any MS astroturfer fanboi.

(Cue "it used to be bad, but the latest version..." in 3... 2... 1...)


I don't think windows has fanbois. Windows has real users who, while understanding that windows sucks, know that all other OSes suck more, and windows is the best out there.

Re: Why install an 8087 for accounting?

2012-05-15 23:17 • by Norman Diamond (unregistered)
381250 in reply to 381187
Raymond Chen:
That 8087 was inappropriate for its purported purpose. Apparently nobody told management that accounting should be done in exact integer/decimal arithmetic, not floating point. Unless somebody was also doing a little Superman-style penny-shaving.
Surely you've observed that many of the postings on this site include multiple WTFs?

Meanwhile, if the PCs were running Word then 8087s could speed things up even if the PCs were in the accounting department. I wonder if Winmodem drivers used floating point too (which would require a lot of care but might be faster than doing fixed-point in software).

Re: Long Distance

2012-05-15 23:23 • by Norman Diamond (unregistered)
In 1988 in an industrialized city in Texas I dialled a long distance number, and an operator came on the line and asked what number. I don't remember if that phone was touch-tone.

At home I'm too cheap to pay the premium for touch-tone so my phone system recognizes buttons and dials out clicks. Even the fax's modem dials out clicks.

One of my colleagues has to dial out through a cellular modem when he's on site at a client that doesn't allow other kinds of connections. Though he gets to use touch-tone and direct dialling.

Re: Why install an 8087 for accounting?

2012-05-16 00:13 • by Philip Newton (unregistered)
381252 in reply to 381250
Norman Diamond:
I wonder if Winmodem drivers used floating point too (which would require a lot of care but might be faster than doing fixed-point in software).

I think that back when they still had 8088s, the concept of Winmodems (and Winprinters) didn't exist.

A combination of general-purpose CPUs not really being fast enough compared to the special-purpose chips in a modem/printer on the one hand, and computer peripherals not having the price pressure on them yet that made manufacturers try to cut costs by removing such special-purpose chips.

Re: Long Distance

2012-05-16 02:35 • by L. (unregistered)
381258 in reply to 381246
Earp:
I can top that, I worked at a place in 2000 that had just installed a NT3.x server, running Citrix on the the _Windows 3.11 shell_.

95 and 98 would have been wonderful.

I think they had invented unix by then. and linux too. and you want 95/98 ?

Re: Long Distance

2012-05-16 03:25 • by Steve The Cynic
381259 in reply to 381229
Strolskon:
That might be too advanced for a little 1980s modem. You'd need to incorporate a cassette player and all that.

That makes me think of

Addendum (2012-05-16 03:39):
** makes me think of around 1988 when the repair man came to the pool room at the student union building to work on the Gauntlet machine. A bunch of the CS students regularly hung around there, so the fact that he had the machine open attracted some attention.

I was mildly surprised at just how little there was inside - a PSU, a couple of medium-large circuit boards, the CRT and speakers, and a whole lot of air.

Those of you who played it back then will remember all the grunts and shouts produced by the in-game characters as they did stuff and took damage. One of my fellow CS students was totally baffled by the absence of a tape player to play back these sounds...

Re: Why install an 8087 for accounting?

2012-05-16 07:08 • by NotNagesh (unregistered)
381260 in reply to 381222
James:
Sting? Are you DAFT? Hope I don't have to submit a DailyWTF based on your code! I would just love to debug code that performed dollar amount calculations in strings, that would be just lovely!

Of course they teach numerical analysis in American College Courses! But obviously, you failed "English"...



And you couldn't tell it was a prank post because ... ?

Re: Why install an 8087 for accounting?

2012-05-16 08:22 • by QJo
381262 in reply to 381250
Norman Diamond:
I wonder if Winmodem drivers used floating point too (which would require a lot of care but might be faster than doing fixed-point in software).


Bloody Winmodem drivers, they're the ones who cause all the accidents.

Re: Why install an 8087 for accounting?

2012-05-16 08:31 • by QJo
381263 in reply to 381222
James:
Sting? Are you DAFT? Hope I don't have to submit a DailyWTF based on your code! I would just love to debug code that performed dollar amount calculations in strings, that would be just lovely!

Of course they teach numerical analysis in American College Courses! But obviously, you failed "English"...



You may laugh, but when I was tasked with writing an app to extract numbers from an Oracle database and use a Java tool to squirt the results through a C socket into a FORTRAN program running on a VAX, the only straightforwardly reliable technique for passing a large number of floats back and forward was to pipe them across as strings. Relying on the internal format to be sufficiently consistent to allow us to write a converter (there wasn't a pre-built one available at the time) was too risky, and the effort in writing it wasn't worth the candle. Using the toString method at the Java end and FORMAT (F15.5) or whatever at the FORTRAN end was perfectly adequate.

Re: Long Distance

2012-05-16 08:48 • by Anonymous (unregistered)
I still remember the command to turn up the speaker:
ATL3
I'm old...

Re: Long Distance

2012-05-16 08:52 • by doconnor (unregistered)
The machines probably had more then 16K of RAM. 128K was the standard at the time. Even the lowly IBM PCjr had at least 64K.

Re: Why install an 8087 for accounting?

2012-05-16 09:22 • by Pieter (unregistered)
381266 in reply to 381222
You must be American, aren't you?

Re: Long Distance

2012-05-16 09:31 • by TheRider
381267 in reply to 381249
Fake Nagesh:
Jerry:
Fake Nagesh:
I worked at Coney Island Hospital in NYC at the time when they were rolling out their "upgrade". They switched from dumb terminals to windows 98 running terminal emulators.

Support calls went from a dead terminal once every week or so, to "My Computer is frozen" several times a day.
Can't be true. Windows has never had any problems. Ask any MS astroturfer fanboi.

(Cue "it used to be bad, but the latest version..." in 3... 2... 1...)


I don't think windows has fanbois. Windows has real users who, while understanding that windows sucks, know that all other OSes suck more, and windows is the best out there.
Well, maybe not *the* best (whatever that is), but it gets the job done.

Re: Long Distance

2012-05-16 09:47 • by ExChickenFarmer (unregistered)
381268 in reply to 381237
The CRT in a 3270 was far superior and much more expensive to make than the CRT in a PC monitor. The characters were clearer and the contrast easier to endure for long periods of time.

Re: Long Distance

2012-05-16 10:15 • by L. (unregistered)
381269 in reply to 381264
Anonymous:
I still remember the command to turn up the speaker:
ATL3
I'm old...


No, but your brain is full of useless crap.

The good news, that's true for most of us, dnkrow.

Re: Long Distance

2012-05-16 10:26 • by A Gould (unregistered)
381270 in reply to 381240
macwhiz:

Uh... not quite, not unless you're on a party line.


Ah, the original "warrantless wiretapping" :)

Re: Long Distance

2012-05-16 10:34 • by DWalker (unregistered)
381272 in reply to 381251
Norman Diamond:
In 1988 in an industrialized city in Texas I dialled a long distance number, and an operator came on the line and asked what number. I don't remember if that phone was touch-tone.

At home I'm too cheap to pay the premium for touch-tone so my phone system recognizes buttons and dials out clicks. Even the fax's modem dials out clicks.

One of my colleagues has to dial out through a cellular modem when he's on site at a client that doesn't allow other kinds of connections. Though he gets to use touch-tone and direct dialling.


"the premium for touch-tone"??? Huh? I use touch-tone (in the USA) and I think the premium charge went away about 25 years ago. What country are you in?

Re: Long Distance

2012-05-16 10:35 • by nonpartisan
381273 in reply to 381227
ronintoronto:
nonpartisan:
If it was truly that back woods, how were they technologically-advanced enough that they could use touch-tone to reach the long-distance operator?


Modems always have supported Pulse dialing for "Alabama-level" telephone systems.
Right. I knew that, but the story indicated they heard the tones dial and then "number please."

But the question is . . . did the operator understand either pulse or DTMF?

Re: Long Distance

2012-05-16 10:42 • by Lockwood (unregistered)
"Is it just be, or have bronies kinda ruined my unicorns. Maybe I should stop doing them… Just kidding. Nothing can ruin my unicorns!"

Your unicorns make TDWTF brony accessible.
Moar unicorns plox!

Re: Long Distance

2012-05-16 11:53 • by acsi (unregistered)
381282 in reply to 381179
You see? This is why when most people go for first post, they just stop at "FRIST"

Re: Long Distance

2012-05-16 12:06 • by Silfax
381283 in reply to 381237
Jay:


When PCs first came out, it was cheaper to buy a PC then to buy a 3270 terminal. A typical PC then was circa $2500. A 3270 terminal was about $10,000. I always wondered why: a 3270 does a whole lot less than a PC.


The physical construction probably made up most of the cost. 3270s were nearly indestructible, weighed as much as a large child, were built like tanks and designed to take abuse. The keyboard alone weighed about 8 lbs, and it was extremely comfortable to use for long periods of time (imho anyway).



Re: Long Distance

2012-05-16 12:57 • by WhiskeyJack
381285 in reply to 381264
Anonymous:
I still remember the command to turn up the speaker:
ATL3
I'm old...


+++
OK
ATH
NO CARRIER

Re: Long Distance

2012-05-16 13:16 • by Larry (unregistered)
381286 in reply to 381259
Steve The Cynic:
Those of you who played it back then will remember all the grunts and shouts produced by the in-game characters as they did stuff and took damage. One of my fellow CS students was totally baffled by the absence of a tape player to play back these sounds...
One tape player? You'd need a separate one for each sound effect! You can't wait five seconds for the tape to fast-forward to the desired grunt effect.

Seriously though, I know CS students crank through some awesome math and such, but judging by their work product, they should never be allowed near a real computer. Stick to doing "research" and writing papers and stuff like that.

Re: Long Distance

2012-05-16 13:31 • by Kuba
381287 in reply to 381186
3rd Ferguson:
Doubter:
So... multiple phone lines for each PC, plus all the hardware was more efficient than the leased lines, just so they could run 3270's?
It's a more efficient use of the company's money for sure. The PCs are a one-time sunk cost or perhaps a depreciating three-year lease, same as the terminals would've been and probably not much more expensive.

POTS lines are cheap compared to leased lines where you're (in principle) paying the phone company to set up and maintain a piece of copper between two points that exists solely for you.
Ah, that's perhaps what the telcos would like you to believe. In any case it'd be a pipe dream: copper has losses, and if you're hooked up to a mainframe a 1000 miles away, you don't want point-to-point copper!

A leased line is pretty much just a setting at the switch, nothing more, nothing less. There is usually no extra piece of copper to maintain, and the copper definitely is not point-to-point anyway, it goes to a card at the beginning of the last mile, and it's digital from there onwards. Long haul has been digital for quite a while. A run-of-the-mill leased line is a line that has no dialtone and the circuit is always up. If you hook up phones at the ends, you pick up the receivers and they are connected. If it's a digital line, then it's T1 or a multiple thereof, and again, the data is simply forwarded unchanged between the endpoints via a circuit set up at the switch(es). That's how leased lines that I've seen looked like.

Re: Long Distance

2012-05-16 13:34 • by Nagesh
i am surprised so many people are using my name to make posts.

Re: Long Distance

2012-05-16 14:30 • by Nagesh (unregistered)
Ain't another article today? Ain't naming this website the daily wtf?

Re: Long Distance

2012-05-16 14:46 • by Evan (unregistered)
381291 in reply to 381228
Paul:
Wondering if it would have been feasible to have an acoustic coupling type modem and a handset, call the operator on the handset, give them the number to call long-distance and when they connect the call put the handset in the modem coupler and get the connection going. I've had to use similar workarounds to make long-distance/international fax calls with a calling card, dialing manually then hitting "start" when the ring-tone comes through.

Who remembers the days of AOL? And when they switched from per-minute payments to unlimited?

For some time it was very difficult to dial in successfully at peak hours without getting a busy signal. What we did was dial the number on the nearby phone, which had a redial button that made retrying much faster than letting the computer do it. If we got something other than a busy signal, we quickly hit the connect button in the software and hoped we were fast enough it would "dial" quick enough that it would connect. Sometimes did, sometimes didn't.

Re: Long Distance

2012-05-16 14:50 • by Larry Sheldon (unregistered)
We installed bright MODEMs--that could detect dial tone. Most of the time.

Re: Long Distance

2012-05-16 15:31 • by Strolskon
381295 in reply to 381290
Nagesh:
Ain't another article today? Ain't naming this website the daily wtf?

You're trying really hard.

Re: Long Distance

2012-05-16 15:57 • by Nagesh (unregistered)
381296 in reply to 381295
Strolskon:
Nagesh:
Ain't another article today? Ain't naming this website the daily wtf?

You're trying really hard.

Ain't you?

Re: Long Distance

2012-05-16 16:02 • by Strolskon
381297 in reply to 381296
Nagesh:
Strolskon:
Nagesh:
Ain't another article today? Ain't naming this website the daily wtf?

You're trying really hard.

Ain't you?

Tis too hard.

Re: Long Distance

2012-05-16 16:05 • by OccupyWallStreet (unregistered)
381298 in reply to 381249
Fake Nagesh:
Jerry:
Fake Nagesh:
I worked at Coney Island Hospital in NYC at the time when they were rolling out their "upgrade". They switched from dumb terminals to windows 98 running terminal emulators.

Support calls went from a dead terminal once every week or so, to "My Computer is frozen" several times a day.
Can't be true. Windows has never had any problems. Ask any MS astroturfer fanboi.

(Cue "it used to be bad, but the latest version..." in 3... 2... 1...)


I don't think windows has fanbois. Windows has real users who, while understanding that windows sucks, know that all other OSes suck more, and windows is the best out there.


Oh there were a few - in the mid-90's when Windows 95 was coming out with its "Pre-emptive Multitasking" and "Protected Memory" - they used to diss Mac and DOS users about it. Not that any of that stuff made 95 any more stable or anything. NT was a godsend comparatively speaking. (If you never used OS/2, you could finally format a floppy in Windows and do other useful stuff...)

Re: Long Distance

2012-05-16 16:22 • by It's a Cock! It's a Fist! It's Zoonerman! (unregistered)
381299 in reply to 381297
Strolskon:
Nagesh:
Strolskon:
Nagesh:
Ain't another article today? Ain't naming this website the daily wtf?

You're trying really hard.

Ain't you?

Tis too hard.
I'm hard as fuck.

Re: Long Distance

2012-05-16 16:56 • by Jim (unregistered)
381300 in reply to 381291
Evan:
Who remembers the days of AOL? And when they switched from per-minute payments to unlimited?

For some time it was very difficult to dial in successfully at peak hours without getting a busy signal. What we did was dial the number on the nearby phone, which had a redial button that made retrying much faster than letting the computer do it. If we got something other than a busy signal, we quickly hit the connect button in the software and hoped we were fast enough it would "dial" quick enough that it would connect. Sometimes did, sometimes didn't.
So you're the guy!

Let me share with you just exactly how destructive your thoughtless "me first" attitude was.

I had designed and prototyped a working Internet (I called it "DataScape") with a full featured web-browser-like-thingie (I called it "DataScape Traveller") back in those days. Plus, it was fully secure from the ground floor, by design. It would have been so much better than what we ended up with.

I was ready to upload all the details, specs, and free software to AOL, but I couldn't get in. Imagine how much different the world would be today if not for your assholosity.

Re: Long Distance

2012-05-16 18:16 • by CS student (unregistered)
381301 in reply to 381286
Larry:
Steve The Cynic:
Those of you who played it back then will remember all the grunts and shouts produced by the in-game characters as they did stuff and took damage. One of my fellow CS students was totally baffled by the absence of a tape player to play back these sounds...
One tape player? You'd need a separate one for each sound effect! You can't wait five seconds for the tape to fast-forward to the desired grunt effect.

Seriously though, I know CS students crank through some awesome math and such, but judging by their work product, they should never be allowed near a real computer. Stick to doing "research" and writing papers and stuff like that.
Yup. Everyone knows the best programmers are Arts students - that's why we have this site, so the CS students who don't cut code can laugh at the Arts students who do...

Re: Long Distance

2012-05-16 18:19 • by Bottom (unregistered)
TRWTF is that Nagesh is getting worse and people still respond (and try to correct him)

Re: Long Distance

2012-05-16 19:36 • by Norman Diamond (unregistered)
381306 in reply to 381272
DWalker:
Norman Diamond:
At home I'm too cheap to pay the premium for touch-tone so my phone system recognizes buttons and dials out clicks. Even the fax's modem dials out clicks.
"the premium for touch-tone"??? Huh? I use touch-tone (in the USA) and I think the premium charge went away about 25 years ago. What country are you in?
Japan.

Handsets overload the * button when a call has been answered, so that button presses after that (until the call ends) will be transmitted as tones instead of clicks. So I'm hardly the only person who's too cheap to pay the premium for touch-tone.

Re: Why install an 8087 for accounting?

2012-05-16 19:50 • by Norman Diamond (unregistered)
381307 in reply to 381263
QJo:
James:
I would just love to debug code that performed dollar amount calculations in strings, that would be just lovely!
You may laugh, but when I was tasked with writing an app to extract numbers from an Oracle database and use a Java tool to squirt the results through a C socket into a FORTRAN program running on a VAX, the only straightforwardly reliable technique for passing a large number of floats back and forward was to pipe them across as strings. Relying on the internal format to be sufficiently consistent to allow us to write a converter (there wasn't a pre-built one available at the time) was too risky, and the effort in writing it wasn't worth the candle. Using the toString method at the Java end and FORMAT (F15.5) or whatever at the FORTRAN end was perfectly adequate.
F15.5? Not E21.15? I hope my life doesn't depend on the accuracy of your conversions.

Meanwhile, there was a subroutine to convert floating point numbers from VAX format to IEEE format, but only one of my colleagues knew about it so I guess it wasn't available to you. This kind of tool didn't get anywhere because it only took me an hour to write.

Re: Long Distance

2012-05-16 22:50 • by Anon (unregistered)
381309 in reply to 381234
In fact they couldve stuck with it just fine. They just had to pick up the and ask for the phone number to be connected then send ATX0D so the modem doesn't wait for the and dials an empty number. As soon as the other side picks up they do their handshake just fine.

Or X3 I think, since X0 also ignores the busy signal

Then again, if the town was so backwards they might have had so few outgoing lines they would've complained about the always-on connection. And the leased line was easier on the users too.

Re: Long Distance

2012-05-17 01:31 • by lucidfox
TRWTF is floating point financial calculations.

Re: Long Distance

2012-05-17 03:48 • by JichaelMackson (unregistered)
16KB of RAM? Four times that, and it'll be all that I ever need.

Re: Why install an 8087 for accounting?

2012-05-17 05:05 • by QJo
381313 in reply to 381307
Norman Diamond:
QJo:
James:
I would just love to debug code that performed dollar amount calculations in strings, that would be just lovely!
You may laugh, but when I was tasked with writing an app to extract numbers from an Oracle database and use a Java tool to squirt the results through a C socket into a FORTRAN program running on a VAX, the only straightforwardly reliable technique for passing a large number of floats back and forward was to pipe them across as strings. Relying on the internal format to be sufficiently consistent to allow us to write a converter (there wasn't a pre-built one available at the time) was too risky, and the effort in writing it wasn't worth the candle. Using the toString method at the Java end and FORMAT (F15.5) or whatever at the FORTRAN end was perfectly adequate.
F15.5? Not E21.15? I hope my life doesn't depend on the accuracy of your conversions.

Meanwhile, there was a subroutine to convert floating point numbers from VAX format to IEEE format, but only one of my colleagues knew about it so I guess it wasn't available to you. This kind of tool didn't get anywhere because it only took me an hour to write.


No, don't worry your fluffy little head about that, your life would *not* depend on such accuracy. The numbers as extracted from the database were already fairly well rounded and truncated, and were being used solely as the data for financial management reports which we were desperately trying to wean the customer off.

After considerable research into the nature of the various formats in which the numbers were stored, we came to the conclusion that there was too much uncertainty and risk involved, not to mention the fact that the utter pointlessness of what the customer was insisting that we do gave us a rather more laissez-faire attitude. There's a trade-off between "doing it right" (finding an ubernurd who would delight in writing a neat little widgetymajig for converting between various obscure floating-point implementations) and "doing it cost-effectively" e.g. by just saying "ah bugger it, we'll use strings."

And no, it probably wasn't F15.5, I pulled the numbers out of the air without thinking about them too much, for illustrative purposes. It would probably be F16.3, which would have been sufficient to cover the numbers we were transferring. But the fact that you suggested E21.15 suggests that you don't actually have much of a clue about the general problem domain - or that you're trolling.

Re: Long Distance

2012-05-17 05:19 • by L. (unregistered)
381317 in reply to 381300
Jim:
Evan:
Who remembers the days of AOL? And when they switched from per-minute payments to unlimited?

For some time it was very difficult to dial in successfully at peak hours without getting a busy signal. What we did was dial the number on the nearby phone, which had a redial button that made retrying much faster than letting the computer do it. If we got something other than a busy signal, we quickly hit the connect button in the software and hoped we were fast enough it would "dial" quick enough that it would connect. Sometimes did, sometimes didn't.
So you're the guy!

Let me share with you just exactly how destructive your thoughtless "me first" attitude was.

I had designed and prototyped a working Internet (I called it "DataScape") with a full featured web-browser-like-thingie (I called it "DataScape Traveller") back in those days. Plus, it was fully secure from the ground floor, by design. It would have been so much better than what we ended up with.

I was ready to upload all the details, specs, and free software to AOL, but I couldn't get in. Imagine how much different the world would be today if not for your assholosity.
+1 for made-up word
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