Warner Losh imp at bsdimp.com
Wed Aug 10 06:19:29 AEST 2022

On Tue, Aug 9, 2022 at 1:23 PM Marshall Conover <marzhall.o at gmail.com>

> > I've always believed that pic was so well designed
> because it took a day to get the print out (back then), so you had to
> have a language where you could see what it was doing.
> > I'll confess: I was never very good at bench checking batch programs,
> but only had at most a handful of assignments in college: generally cycles
> were cheap on time-sharing systems and I quickly adapted to interactive
> debugging.
> Along these lines, if I'm understanding correctly, my hunch would be
> that part of the precision being discussed was born out of necessity.
> When you can't debug interactively, you're forced to be precise with
> your changes, influencing how you think. On the flip side, when
> interactive development is an option, there's an easy route to take -
> and so that's what ends up informing those developmer's thought
> patterns.
> I think it's possible that if you were to force a new generation to
> only be able to iterate once a day, you may end up with a new
> generation with that precision. Perhaps material for a fun experiment
> for the teachers on the list.

I think it was a confluence of many things. Programs had to be smaller
(bigger ones didn't fit).
Interactive terminals were non-existant or extremely limited (80x24).
Printing out
listings and 'desk checking' the output was something you had plenty of
time to do.
Computing budgets were tiny: You had only so many $$$ for your runs and if
you made
too many, you'd run out of $$$ before you were done (more applicable as a
student than
as a professional post school though). Consequently your time was plentiful
computer time was scarce. Plus people from that generation tended to think
and didn't compartmentalize as much as is done today (where people are told
everything below you in the stack can be considered hardware don't worry
how it works). The systems were also simpler to program, since all the 'go
caveats you have to cope with in todays system didn't exists, which also
global thinking.

Plus, computer programmers tended to be the best and the brightest because
they were the only ones that could (a) afford to undertake their study and
(b) the
only ones that didn't wash out of very demanding university programs. Plus
tended to only trust their super expensive machines to the best and the
further enhancing their skills (which we now know are built with
repetition) while the
less bright tended to be relegated to other machines with fewer

(yes, I know the previous paragraph way over-generalizes a very complex and
subtle dynamic that was at play, hence 'tendency' rather than some other
definite word).


> Cheers,
> Marshall
> On Tue, Aug 9, 2022 at 3:01 PM Larry McVoy <lm at mcvoy.com> wrote:
> >
> > On Tue, Aug 09, 2022 at 02:54:08PM -0400, Tom Teixeira wrote:
> > > On 8/9/22 2:49 PM, Larry McVoy wrote:
> > > >On Tue, Aug 09, 2022 at 01:42:32PM -0400, Noel Chiappa wrote:
> > > >>     > From: Rob Pike
> > > >>
> > > >>     > I still marvel at the productivity and precision of his
> generatio
> > > >>
> > > >>We noticed the same thing happening in the IETF, as the number of
> people
> > > >>working on networking went up. The explanation is really quite
> simple, once
> > > >>you think about it a bit.
> > > >>
> > > >>If you have a very small group, it is quite possible to have a very
> high
> > > >>level. (Not if it's selected randomly, of course; there has to be
> some
> > > >>sorting function.) However, as the group gets much larger, it is
> > > >>_necessarily_ much more 'average' in the skill/etc level of its
> members.
> > > >I used to complain about this at Sun and was dryly told "We get it,
> > > >Larry, you are yeast.  You need flour to make bread."
> > > >
> > > >And as time went on, I found that the smart people tended to find each
> > > >other.  So it was fine.
> > > >
> > > >It is more fun when it is a highly curated group of smart people.
> Made
> > > >me work hard to keep up.
> > >
> > > Put another way, "If you're always the smartest person in the room,
> you're
> > > spending your time in the wrong rooms."
> >
> > I was usually the dumbest one in the room, I found the right rooms :-)
> >
> > I personally like being "dumb", the other people just make you want to
> > work harder to reach their level.  Back when I used to play pool pretty
> > seriously, I always tried to play people better than me.  You get lazy
> > if you are the best.
> >
> > --
> > ---
> > Larry McVoy           Retired to fishing
> http://www.mcvoy.com/lm/boat
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