Recent Feature Articles

Apr 2017

When Computers Fly

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In the Before Times, the Ancients would gather in well-sheltered caverns, gather to themselves foods blessed by the gods, drink strange, unnaturally colored concoctions, and perform the Rite of the LAN Party.

In the era when the Internet was accessed by modem, to have any hope of playing a game with usable latency, you had to get all the players in the same place. This meant packing up your desktop in a car, driving to your friend’s house, and setting up your computer on whatever horizontal surface hadn’t already been claimed by another guest.


What Equals Equals

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Lemon velvet pudding

Monday morning, 10:00AM. As per usual, today's protagonist, Merv, got some coffee and settled in for his usual Monday morning routine of checking Facebook and trying to drag his brain into some semblance of gear. As he waited, the least interesting conversation ever floated to his ears from the hallway:


All You Zombies…

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We've all been approached for jobs where the job description was merely an endless list of buzzwords across disciplines, and there was no real way to figure out what was actually the top couple of relevant skills. The head hunter is usually of no help as they're rarely tech-savvy enough to understand what the buzzwords mean. The phone screen is often misleading as they always say that one or two skills are the important ones, and then reject candidates because they don't have expertise in some ancillary skill.

A sign, dated March 9, 1982, welcoming travelers from the future

Teddy applied for a position at a firm that started out as a telco but morphed into a business service provider. The job was advertised as looking for people with at least 15-20 years of experience in designing complex systems, and Java programming. The phone screen confirmed the advert and claims of the head hunter. "This is a really great opportunity," the head hunter proclaimed.


My Machine Is Full

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Close-up photo of a 3.5-inch floppy disk

In the mid-90s, Darren landed his first corporate job at a company that sold IT systems to insurance brokers. Their software ran on servers about the size of small chest freezers—outdated by the 70s, let alone the 90s. Every month, they'd push out software fixes by sending each customer between 3 and 15 numbered floppy disks. The customers would have to insert the first disk, type UPDATE into the console, and wait for "Insert Disk Number X" prompts to appear on screen.


By the Book

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A long, long time ago when C was all the rage and C++ was just coming into its own, many people that were running applications on Unix boxes used the X-Windowing system created by MIT to build their GUI applications. This was the GUI equivalent of programming in assembly; it worked, but was cumbersome and hard to do. Shortly thereafter, the Xt-Intrinsics library was created as a wrapper, which provided higher level entities that were easier to work with. Shortly after that, several higher level toolkits that were even easier to use were created. Among these was Motif, created by DEC, HP, etc.

While these higher level libraries were easier to use than raw X-lib, they were not without their problems.


Radio WTF: Space for Guests

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Radio WTF Presents!

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Welcome back to Radio WTF. This week, we visit a two kilometer wide mushroom in space, and find out WTF happens when unexpected guests arrive...

2001-A Space Odyssey Space Station

Soundcloud Links: Radio WTF: Space for Guests