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Christmas Presents  1960's and 2010!  | Slide rules  | How big? |  Hi Jack!
Judging a Range Check |  Programming Sucks
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Welcome to the last newsletter of 2014- where did the year go? We are already sorting out conferences and articles for 2015.
 
As for this week and next you will either be running down for Christmas (and anyone who can sign off anything is "in a meeting" anyway) or working flat out against an impossible deadline the December Newsletter has no product news, just interesting and thought provoking things to think about over the Holidays. 
PhaedruS SystemS
Christmas present (1960's style)
Hoover AdvertWe are sure that you have all your Christmas presents wrapped up, but just in case you haven't, may we offer this suggestion from the 1960s. We are convinced that this will absolutely make Christmas for your significant other.  A Hoover Vacuum Cleaner was seriously suggested as a main Christmas present for your wife in the 1960's!
 
 We have not provided a full size version of the advert as the text on it would probably get us into serious trouble under current laws. We don't recommend you show it to your partner if you want a pleasant Christmas break!
 
Note we can still supply a gift wrapped TCP/IP stack or festive MISRA-C checkers.
Christmas present (2010 style. Progress?)
Barbie ProgrammerOf course we have made significant progress since the "get a Hoover as a Christmas present for the little woman" of the 1960's, haven't we?
 
In 2010 Mattel offered a Computer Engineer Barbie. Great?
 
Well not entirely. According to the book that accompanied the doll, "Barbie: I Can Be a Computer Engineer", Barbie can't code, relying on two male friends to turn her game idea in reality. (The friends, in the closest to real life we get, disdain design and just dive into hacking code.) 
 
Barbie  not only contracts a computer virus, she also transfers it to her sister's lap top and has to get her male friend to sort the problem.
 
This summer the book got pilloried across the Internet, and Matel finally withdrew it and issued a "sort-of" apology. There's  40 years of progress for you!
Vintage Christmas fun?
Virtual Slide RulesThe vintage hoover advert and the recent Barbie reminded me that earlier this year we ran an item on a virtual slide rule….
 
Many of you, like me, began our calculating lives using slide rules. Many probably still have one stowed away in the back of a desk drawer. Get it out, or use this virtual slide rule.  It might be something to keep some of the children amused this Christmas. (after you have demonstrated it for an hour or so)  Don't for get to tell the children to look for the "on" switch"  :-)  
 
Only click through if you have nothing urgent to do – don't say I haven't warned you!
We never thought of that!  (despite 2KY)
 One of the problems of design has always been to try to anticipate the cases where things start to go wrong. It was reported that YouTube/Google failed to anticipate that hits might exceed 2 billion and a video broke You tube by maxing out the 32 bit int that holds the hit counter.
 
A video has had more than 2,147,483,647 views. Sadly it was not Shakespeare, the Rolling stone, Beatles etc… http://www.cnet.com/news/gangnam-style-busts-youtubes-view-counter/
 
However later postings from Google claim that it was a jokey way of telling the story, and wasn't strictly true (so how true was it?)  But YouTube now claims that "the counters are now capable of reaching 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 views."   Which will be good news for the next X-factor winner and next doors cat/children etc.
 
On a serious note..... how big should a counter be?  I can recall the Editor of Your Spectrum Computer saying that 48K was more than enough RAM for any serious programmer. The original IBM PC had a maximum memory of 512KB.....   
Hear Jack Gansle
Jack Gansel We regularly refer to Jack Gansle's common-sense articles, Here is an interview with the man himself.
 
 
covering some unexpected aspects of engineering education, amongst other things.  
 
It's something to put on the iPod or Phone to listen to rather than the TV (or inlaws) on Christmas day!
Programming judge
JudgeWhile we may have doubts about the drive to teach all school children to write code, there are clearly benefits to having a judge who has actually written real code.
 
In the Oracle vs Google case in 2102 an Oracle lawyer was arguing that, purely for commercial reasons Google had copied a rangeCheck routine. Judge William Alsup first said "I have done, and still do, a significant amount of programming in other languages. I've written blocks of code like rangeCheck a hundred times before. I could do it, you could do it. The idea that someone would copy that when they could do it themselves just as fast, it was an accident.
 
There's no way you could say that was speeding Google along to the marketplace. You're one of the best lawyers in America, how could you even make that kind of argument?"
 
When the lawyer again tried to argue that it had been copied, the Judge seems to have exploded "…rangeCheck! All it does is make sure the numbers you're inputting are within a range, and gives them some sort of exceptional treatment."
 
What a shame that he seems to be unique.
Thoughts on programming
Code? We ran this one earlier in the year but it is worth reading again and contemplating as it follows on from the last item.  While we are on cynical views of programming try this as well http://stilldrinking.org/programming-sucks Whilst this is humorous and the author may be of unsound mind it does raise many valid and thought provoking points.
Easter EggThat's all for now. Have a good holiday and we look forward to meeting you in the New Year at events like Embedded World, Embedded MasterClass, The Device Developer Conference etc. Is it too soon to start buying in the Easter eggs?
 
The Team at Phaedrus Systems wish you all the Seasons Greetings and a successful New Year.
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