Posted 19 June 2009 - 09:27 AM
I've been in the computing world since I saw my first five ton Burroughs Analog around 1959, when I was twelve. It used punched paper tapes and was a mass of lights and gears and pots and who only knows what else, but I immediately recognized it as Archimedes lever with which the world would be moved(thus my moniker). I saw it demonstrated, pulling punch tape through the reader, and I have no memory of ever seeing it used again. It was enough to catch my imagination, and that was all I needed. I took my first computer course in 1966 at U.T. Austin on the CDC 6600 and 3300 that were used for courses and everything else at the time. I saw, but never got to use IBM 1600 and 1800 series computers, but never got to program on them. CDC had given the 6600 to U.T., to get help in writing the compilers, so we usually had a new version of the compiler almost every week of a course. The error messages and in general all the real work was done by grad students, so the error messages were a little rough, to the order of "idiot, why did you do this". It is hard to imagine now, but people dropped out of computing courses entirely, because they were paranoid that the computer was after them. With a two year interregnum in the Navy, I finished out a degree in Math with a 27 hour minor in computer science in Fall of 1971 and started my career in this business in 1972 and have been there ever since. I've held about every job in the business, with my long term title working out to Senior Systems Programmer. I have programmed 100's of thousands of lines of more programming languages than I can count, and for the last 22 years, I have been a small time consultant in the PC world, doing whatever my customers have needed, from programming to repair to hardware and software acquisition and installation and so forth. I mostly handle small business networks, with only one really big and ugly server in the bunch, unfortunately still running Windows 2003.
In my career, I've seen at least one of most types of problems, from weird hardware to weird software to just plain weird. My favorite recent story grows of the "cupholder" story. One of my customers called up and said that he was having trouble with his floppy drive. He has a camera that still uses the mini-CD's, and since it fitted, he slotted it right into the floppy drive. Needless to say, it did not do either the disc or the floppy drive any good. When he called and I realized what he had actually done, I had to put the phone on mute for about 30 seconds while i regained my composure. Life in this business can be strange.