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Programming IT Technology

Programmers At Work, 22 Years Later 136

Posted by kdawson
from the still-crazy-after-all-these-years dept.
Firebones writes "In 1986, the book Programmers at Work presented interviews with 19 programmers and software designers from the early days of personal computing including Charles Simonyi, Andy Hertzfeld, Ray Ozzie, Bill Gates, and Pac Man programmer Toru Iwatani. Leonard Richardson tracked down these pioneers and has compiled a nice summary of where they are now, 22 years later."
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Programmers At Work, 22 Years Later

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  • Re:wow (Score:5, Insightful)

    by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn&gmail,com> on Thursday February 21, 2008 @04:25PM (#22507250) Journal

    killer site design....
    Yes, crummy.com certainly is crummy. But you must admit that it is still up after going live on the front page of Slashdot. Can your image laden, flash driven, AJAX-ified, web 2.0 site claim that?

    It's also licensed under the creative commons and has not one ad. Can your site say that?

    Sometimes, a bulleted list of black text on a white background is a godsend to these old eyes and more than gets the jobs done.
  • Re:wow (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Notquitecajun (1073646) on Thursday February 21, 2008 @04:51PM (#22507550)
    Works for Drudgereport. Always has.
  • Re:wow (Score:3, Insightful)

    by fmobus (831767) on Thursday February 21, 2008 @04:54PM (#22507596)
    I see some imediate design errors that could be corrected without images or clumsy javascript, just css:

    * text is too wide, 66 characters is said to be the ideal. At my resolution, I got lines with >150 chars,
    * some separation between each post would help,
    * some background color or border separating the menu and the header area from the body would help
  • Re:wow (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ipb (569735) on Thursday February 21, 2008 @05:18PM (#22507908) Homepage

    * text is too wide, 66 characters is said to be the ideal. At my resolution, I got lines with >150 chars,
    That's not a bug, that's a feature.
    I absolutely loathe sites that don't expand to match the width of my browser.
    On a 1920x1200 screen any site that only lets me see 66 characters will earn my wrath forever.
  • Re:wow (Score:4, Insightful)

    by multisync (218450) on Thursday February 21, 2008 @06:49PM (#22508960) Journal

    Sometimes, a bulleted list of black text on a white background is a godsend to these old eyes and more than gets the jobs done.


    Works just fine in lynx, too ;)
  • Re:wow (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DarkOx (621550) on Thursday February 21, 2008 @06:52PM (#22509002) Journal
    I take it your comment implies there was something wrong with it? Lets look at if from a perspective of communication they way we might critique any work of language print or otherwise. I will pose the questions to you but answer from my perspective?

    Did you experience any difficulty or distraction while trying to acquire and understand the message the author was trying to send?

    I did not.

    Did the presentation cause confusion or ambiguity of any kind?

    I don't think it did.

    This one is a little machine specific, did you have to use any special tools or software such as specific browsers, decoders, certain display resolutions?

    Nope not me and it looks like it would render fine even for someone using links, but I did not try.

    Has the media proven robust?

    Well its a website and so far its stood up to slashdot traffic, so its fairly tough, probably thanks to its small size. It would be easy to cache for the likes of Google to sense it has no external files, like css sheets, graphics etc.

    All and all I think it was an excellent solution to for making the information available that as the author wanted to do so and deliver it to a broad audience. Its a real shame more of the web is not like that. Ok now go back to your visual studio Silverlight, script ridden abortion now.

  • Re:wow (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Darinbob (1142669) on Thursday February 21, 2008 @07:52PM (#22509564)
    Or sites that don't shrink to match the width of my browser. I shouldn't be forced to use the horizontal scrollbar to read text.
  • by nurb432 (527695) on Thursday February 21, 2008 @08:33PM (#22509924) Homepage Journal
    Booth was willing to give his life for his country. That makes him a patriot. Wont debate if he was right or wrong in his actions as that isnt my intent. The intent is to make people think, which you have done.

    And back on topic i wasn't speaking just of Mr Gates, a lot of the 'big players' that made it out of the 80's either had help, ( like rich parents) or really good luck ( location, location, location ). ( actually, that goes for most people that have made it big, they often build on the success of the family before them. if they had to start from scratch like the rest of us, they would still be like the rest of us.. )
  • Re:wow (Score:2, Insightful)

    by that this is not und (1026860) on Thursday February 21, 2008 @09:10PM (#22510218)
    It works for Drudge because one click down it's somebody else's content.

    Not that I like websites laden with flash and other malware, mind you.
  • by justthinkit (954982) <floyd@just-think-it.com> on Thursday February 21, 2008 @09:30PM (#22510396) Homepage Journal
    I agree about successful people having help -- rich parents, or powerful connections. What is even more annoying is that those who genuinely innovate (someone like Dan Bricklin comes to mind) will often have their work stolen/copied/sidelined by someone in a more powerful position. The corruption of the system always approaches 100%.

    All we little people can do is try to give credit to the true innovators, geniuses and hard workers. In the latter category I would place David Harris of Pegasus fame. Philippe Kahn would go in the true innovator (Sidekick) and genius (his compilers vs. microsoft ones) categories. And if Paul Katz were alive, it is doubtful we could give him enough credit and reward for PKzip. He made ARC look bad and we benefited from that.

    In the "from out of left field" category, I would suggest Neil Rubenking. I think he has a vast and deep understanding of PCs and, unlike Jerry can-never-get-one-computer-working Pournelle he has helped a large number of us over many years from the back pages of PCMag. Steve Ciarcia did the same thing, but for hardware guys.
  • Re:wow (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ipb (569735) on Thursday February 21, 2008 @09:34PM (#22510426) Homepage
    I don't maximize it.

    But when many have large high resolutions screens it's ridiculous to expect users to have a window that only covers a quarter of their screen.

    I haven't had a screen smaller than 1600x1200 for years and it's not like web developers can't create a site the sizes to match my window, they just have arcane ideas about what's 'right'. There's nothing like going to a website that pops up and uses half of my window to display nothing. Do that and unless forced to I won't be coming back.

    At least Slashdot gets it right.
  • by tompaulco (629533) on Thursday February 21, 2008 @11:47PM (#22511294) Homepage Journal
    My question is. Retired how? Obviously a few are fabulously rich. But of the others, how many were forced into retirement by an ungrateful company? How many quit in disgust when profit motive sucked all the life out of programming? I am fortunate to have in my employ several employees who worked on exciting and challenging technology at Bell Laboratories, working on various aspects of switching systems which are still in use around the world today. However, Lucent forced all of them into early retirement. I know of other highly skilled technical people who couldn't take the annoyances any more and have quit to work at places like Home Depot (I'm not talking the IT department either).
    Maybe it's just me, but I don't feel that the IT industry appreciates the people who made them great. I'm not an old codger bemoaning my fate either. I'm under 40, but I'm just observing what I feel is an injustice done to the greats of my dad's generation. I don't hold great hope for my generation either. I work in IT, and I love IT, but IT treats me like crap, so I'm building up my inventory of rent houses, and one day I will abandon my abusive lover and work quietly at home doing my own programming projects for the sheer joy of it just like I did back in 6th grade.
  • Re:Peter Norton (Score:4, Insightful)

    by syousef (465911) on Friday February 22, 2008 @12:33AM (#22511572) Journal
    The guy wrote some damn nice utilities in the old days. Credit where it's due. However, I don't know what he was like as a person back then but if what you're saying is true he sounds like an asshole today. No amount of expertise excuses it. When I hear about Gates and Jobs abusing people or bullying people I don't think "wow I wish I could see it first hand". I think "Wow, what an asshole! Nothing you do gives you the right to treat your staff that way. Thank the flying spagetti monster I don't work for you!".

  • Re:wow (Score:3, Insightful)

    by darthflo (1095225) on Friday February 22, 2008 @04:32AM (#22512526)
    Is that "width of the text" as in font-size or as in width of the element containing said text?

    In both cases, I disagree. The former would render the text far too small to be comfortably read on (windowed) SVGA while producing huge letters on (fullscreen) WSXGA. The latter also has it's share of problems, think rasterized images that ought to stretch the text's width, think ads embedded besides the text (requiring a given width in pixels).

    Also, to be pedantic: Any markup specifing the width of text is bad. Information and presentation should be seperated, no matter if we're talking about HTML4 or XHTML. Following that, CSS isn't HTML and therefore no markup. Code may not be a better description, but as long as you don't mix up "program code" and "markup-style code", it fits (imo).

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