Saturday, February 25, 2012

Comparing today's computers to 1995's

This entry was prompted by some friends who wanted to “I would love to see all of you share your "testimonies" regarding this matter.”
This matter was based on the article

I really can not remember or at least can not distinguish chronologically computers from 1995. We, my brother, Steven, and I, as I recall, started using computers in business in 1977 or 1978.

We started off for business computing, using the HeathKit H-8, yes it came in a kit, which ran H-DOS. Then almost every machine ran an OS provided from the manufacture and there was essentially no software portability from one manufacture to another.

The HeathKit H-8 came with TED-8; an assembler, HASL-8; a debugger, BUG-8 and the panel monitor, the PAM-8 bootstrap ROM. Extended BH BASIC is available at extra cost.

The the HeathKit H-8 had no BIOS, so you had to enter the octal address where the bootstrap routine was to boot the computer.
Originally, we had the 4k SRAM board but soon added a couple of the 8k SRAM Boards. We then had to add extra fans because the unit ran so hot, the solder melted on some of the boards.
We originally ran payroll program written in BH BASIC. (Benton Harbor where Heatkit was headquartered)

We never had the Heatkit supplied tape drives as we thought they were way too expensive. We made several trips to Service Merchandise to purchase audio tape decks and return them the next day to different one the next day until we found one that would record and playback the 0’s and 1’s consistently. Most audio tape decks had a separate playback and record heads and they were not very precise when the heads were switched back and forth. Which worked ok, for audio, but faired poorly when doing data.

We later acquired a Heathkit H-89 that used the Zilog Z-80 for the computer's main processor.
We started with the hard-sectored single sided disk sub-system (110KB as I recall).
I can not remember all the specifics of the many upgrades to the disk-drives we did but most of the details appear to be well outlined in the History of the Floppy Disk.
I do remember my brother and I were often up all night trying to find the points in the CP/M code to make a various modifications to be able to perform various tasks as we could not or would not wait for the next release of Heathkit’s CP/M.

One that I recall was we needed to read the double-density drives. We had to make the floppy disk system step half as far to read double the number of tracks on the floppy disk when they went to double-density. I can almost remember the lines of code we wrote.

At some point we upgraded to the “10.782 Megabyte Commercial Winchester Disk System”. I remember that disk drive well. It cost more than the entire computer system and was over $5k in 1980. I kept it around and used it for a door stop when i finally died.

After the Heathkit Computers, we moved on, as did everyone else, to the MSDOS based systems.

Before we automated, we spent nearly two days manually going through time cards and calculating payroll, hand writing the checks. (We also used a check embossing machine.) After we automated, it took about 20 minutes until the checks were printed.

We had re-written the BH BASIC payroll program into dbase on CP/M which was later on MSDOS. We later re-sold the payroll program with many different modifications for Dentist and Insurance offices and of course restaurants.
Our program changed a lot over the years. We had some pretty advanced features like:
  • Inventory and ordering - We could do an inventory and output a purchase order to various suppliers
  • Scheduling Program - We could schedule based on employee preferences based on seniority
  • Timecard Reader - We had an Panasonic electronic time clock
  • Payroll - We compared the Schedule to the Timecards and the manager had to approve the descrepancies before it was fed into the Payroll program. We even printed the checks.
  • Menu Cost Analyses - Near real-time costs of each menu item.
  • Recipe builder - We could build recipes even from recipes.
  • Electronic Cash Register - Which was a hand made PC with an RS-232 controlled cash drawer. We read the sales from the office computer every hour.
All of this was working before 1985.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Well, this is it!

This had to be one of the most memorable years of my life!
Of course, I am getting older, so I may not remember some of the other years as well.
Our daughter Jennifer obtained here RN.

We were able to visit our son, Matthew and his family, in Seattle.

Molly and I went to Hawaii. Our son, Scott, and his wife Oksana were able to join us.
We had a great time and it was certainly nice to spend time with them as they now live more than 2,000 miles from us.

While we were in Hawaii, we went to Roy's for my birthday.

Scott gave me a card relating to a childhood memory.

And on the inside…
I just assumed this was just one of those moments that only I remembered.
He was quite young when this took place. He was 33 when he gave me the card.

Then, on Valentines Day, February 14, 2012, a more amazing thing happened:
Micah Aaron Willeke, 7 lbs 10 oz
I just cannot see how things can top this…..
… but i am waiting.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

So remind me again why OS X is so great!

OS X or Fusion, will not release my mouse this morning.
So each click in the Fusion Window is also done on an OS X window.
This has happened a couple of times in the past and I have not figured out why.
iTunes is downloading some iPhone and iPad apps and is consuming 100%+ of the CPU almost constantly. iTunes the current download will take another 51 minutes.
Meanwhile, TimeMachine is so stupid it does not know that I am trying to use my machine so it is doing a backup too!
Had to shut down the Fusion VM to get control of my mouse.
So remind me again why OS X is so great!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

A law to act Responsibly

“In a perfect world, Congress would not have needed a law to act responsibly, to remember that every dollar spent would come from taxpayers today – or our children tomorrow,” Obama said of the "pay-go law". Obama signed this law in February, a day after, he authorized $1.9 trillion more federal debt.

So, since the signing of the "pay-go law", let us look at how our elected officials are doing.
Remember the H. R. 4691 (Temporary Extension Act of 2010), any normal person would assume they have the cost for the bill covered, right?
No they did not.

The estimation is the net impact on the deficit will be $ 8,580,000,000.00 in 2010 alone.
So haw can congress pass H.R. 4691? Well, they declared the law, complete with several special interests amendments, an emergency, which bypasses the "pay-go law".

Now just look how much smarter our elected officials are than we are.  They found ways to pay for anything they think will keep them in power. They pass these laws that "restore" the requirement that the law already required and expected, for them to not spend more than we gave them, but they left a loop hole in case they thought it might not get them elected.

Oh, and remember the Senator Jim Bunning from Kentucky and how he was criticized by most of his colleagues and the press for holding up H. R. 4691?  Does any one remember or bother to find out why he did it?
He did it because he was insisting that he and his colleagues follow the "pay-go law" and the constitution that they agreed and swore to follow.

Our elected officials are smart.
But how responsible are our elected officials?

Summary of the Law.
The Full Text.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

"Open" organizations and alliances.

I am tired of these "organizations" and/or "alliances" and  that state they are out to solve a real problem for the "World", the "Internet" or "society" and they use terms like, "Open" and "across public and private sectors" and " open global standard." or "..provide the consumer with ultimate flexibility, mobility, and ease of use.."

You look at the current members and they are all "large" companies and not a single consumer.

You want to read the specifications of the "open" organization or alliance, well you will have to join.

Or you want to use this "Open" technology, well then you have to join.

Some of them even for you to even say that you are compliant, you will need to use, this usually means buy, a specific chip form a specific vendor in your product to be able to be "compliant" with the "open" standard.  Or you need to obtain "permission" from the copyright or patent holders implement the code or technology in your product.

They may even state a "no-cost" permission. But what if that patent or copyright holder becomes acquired by another company or just gets into a little money issue? Could you now be forced to pay royalties to the patent or copyright holder?

Then when you look into how to be a member, you find out that you must be willing to pay the minimum $1-4K to join. Oh, you want to have a say in the organization or specification or sometimes even to provide constructive comments, that will cost you $50k.

Come on, you organizations know who you are, have some integrity.