It’s been a long while since we had a “Carping Comments” posting. Seems that aggressive discouragement of trolls, Alinsky Method attacks, and rudeness has generally removed the value from carping and insulting. I.e. no “emotional reward” so no bad behaviour.
Yet every so often some new person wonders by and just can’t resist tossing a firebomb. This one was on the https://chiefio.wordpress.com/2016/12/27/a-remarkably-tiny-global-circulation-model-you-can-run/ thread.
Now you might think that a posting consisting almost entirely of links to where you can download a GCM Global Circulation Model and run it (on a Mac or PC with 30 day free trial then a payment, or as source code to inspect) and then a cursory walk through the code mostly saying things like “This part seems to handle solar and that part looks to do clouds” would be about as uncontroversial as you can get. But some folks just have their hair catch on fire over most anything, and love to toss rocks at others to watch them duck. Perhaps it was my assertion that the program is forced to find CO2 causal and it makes forcings only from radiative gasses… yet that is what the code does. (Yes, there are other parameters, things like TSI, but they just flesh out the context for the ‘FORCING’ data)
So what was the “insult to the person” in this one?
“What an idiot you are, plus a poseur”
Now that kind of insult has exactly zero effect on me. First off, I know my I.Q., know I’m well above the acceptance level for Mensa (though still have not bothered to join… but it’s on my list of someday things). I’ve got my official I.Q. number, my SAT scores (that qualify me for Mensa all on their own) and my GMAT scores (that had Wharton School of Business solicit me to apply…) and more (including a NASA examination and …) all of which prove beyond any doubt that I’m not “an idiot”. So such insults are, at most, information about the bomb thrower. I don’t agree with them on some point, and they best they can muster is name calling… so most likely they are the ones of, shall we say, “diminished capacity”?
Then the other part “plus a poseur”. Since a “poseur” is someone pretending to be what they are not, and that posting was about being a computer programmer, the pertinent facts (which I’ve shared before, but the firelighter clearly doesn’t know) are: My first programming language was FORTRAN IV back in the early 1970s. I’ve been programming ever since (so about 45 years). I then learned COBOL (that I then avoided using for most of my professional career having seen what was in it…) and ALGOL (that is in many ways my favorite). Then ALGOL begat Pascal, that I’ve used. Which begat C, that I’ve used more. Also some PL/1 and one program in APL (that taught me never to use it again…) along with lots and lots of SH, KSH, and C shell scripting. Oh, and several database systems (being a Senior Consultant on the RAMIS II product in the ’80s) including FOCUS, HP Image and Query (oh, and used their Business Basic that is Basic created by a frustrated Pascal programmer – functions and long variable names and BEGIN END blocks and…) along with Sequel, Informix, and some others. Plus modest amounts of maintenance work on Perl and Ruby and Python and some others. Frankly, I’ve lost track of all the languages I’ve used at one time or another. (Oh, and was sent off to Germany once to evaluate an ADA Compiler for Amdahl…interesting language and better than JOVIAL, but a bit complex in the compiler making…)
So in the end, looking back on a lifetime of programming ranging from Mainframes to Supercomputers (life on the Cray was interesting… “supercompting is never having to say ‘now we wait for a response’…”) to several Mini computers (VAXen and Sun and HP and..) and just about every micro-computer from 286 and 6800 on up to now – including assembly language programming one built from piece parts with an Intel 8080? chip in it. Altair MITS? I think it was. Yes, this is it: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Altair_8800 I find it hard to think of what, related to computers, I might be “posing” as that I haven’t actually done, several times…
I once took a contract to “bring up a Sun Server” for a new client. They wanted it done over the weekend. It was a 16? CPU box about the size of a refrigerator. Easy, takes about 3 hours if you are slow. Mostly just checking boxes and answering config questions. When I got there, I found the CFO had figured he could buy the ‘repair parts’ cheaper than the whole machine, so “bring it up” also consisted of installing the CPUs on the boards, installing memory, loading a base OS, etc. etc. That MITS experience paid off ;-) Well, long story short, “we had a talk” and renegotiated to “time and materials” and then I ran off to FRYs to get an allen wrench… the CPUs are held on by hex head screws at 6 inch-pounds IIRC.. and I calibrated my finger with a 1 lb can… there not being an inch pound torque wrench available at 9 PM on a Friday… Bottom line was I had it up and running on Monday Morning when it was critical to their production to have it running (another long story there…), but only on 12 CPUs as some of the CPU / board release levels were not compatible with others.
Now when you’ve done everything from building computers up from piece parts, installing operating systems and applications software, hacking Unix and Linux OS code, writing applications software that was sold commercially, managed data centers including a supercomputer center, and been an independent contractor doing ‘whatever is needed’ at dozens of companies for a decade or two (including network design and install at Sun’s Newark campus… several LARGE buildings – 3 Cisco Catalyst switches per building with fibre cross connects and a MAN…) AND installed it including wiring… Well, it’s a bit hard to see what I’m supposed to be “posing” about.
Running the Cray (for 7 1/2 years) was fun. It was mostly used for simulations. Moldflow for plastic injection flow modeling. Several secret CPU and computer simulations. And more. The key point being I have lot of years of High Performance Computing in the context of running computer models. Each Moldflow run was about 10 hours. For ONE well described fluid in ONE mold and ONE injection temperature… Oh, and on decommisioning, I let a Ph.D. student at Stanford run his “Cloud formation model” on the Cray for several days. (Well, really, for security reasons, I ran the codes after inspecting them, then returned the output when done… so you could say I’ve been running Climate and Cloud models from as early as the 1990s) He’d used all the time he was allowed at school, but didn’t have enough to finish his thesis. As we had spare cycles then, it was a nice gift to him (and he got his Ph.D.) As the computer was to be decommissioned in a couple of days, it wasn’t economical to sell the time (since at any minute we might pull the plug… site shutdowns are like that) So it can’t be about any unfamiliarity with computer models or high performance computing. Oh, and I built a 7 node Beowulf Cluster out of old machines “just for fun” in the early ’90s… and used to compile a BSD based ‘I.T. Department in a box’ product for one client. That’s the whole BSD plus enhancements and applications… so it can’t be per ‘distributed computing’.
So I’m left to assume the guy is just a 20 something (or an immature 30 something) who doesn’t have the experience to know what a Data Dictionary is, so assumes I’m making it up. It is a term of art from Mainframe Database use (mostly some years back, but still with currency) and a very useful term, but even in the ’80 we had a hard time getting most of the programmers to accept the importance of building one for their programs. (The main database guy made most of them after the fact when trying to get their applications to play well with others… and squeeze out data redundancy. This was at Amdahl Corp.) So I do it to this day.
It’s really a pretty simple idea. You collect the metadata about a data item and put it all in one place. Things like, oh, the name of it, what it contains, size, type, etc. For example:
Client Name, CNAME, 32 Characters, AlphaNumeric, used in: List of programs or databases.
Now if (or perhaps “since”) they don’t know that concept, and maybe do ‘by the seat of their pants’ maintenance programming at the junior level, they think I’m “posing” for saying I’m making a Data Dictionary. Yet I know I am doing it, and it is a Very Good Idea… Similarly, Block Diagram. I typically list all the subroutines, then graph out the MAIN program, then make a list of which block is called by which other and make a nice diagram of how all the blocks fit together. Now at that point, you have a decent idea what all the data items are, where they are used, and what they do, along with what processes the program does. ALL before you get into the down and dirty details of what happens inside any one block of actual code. Saves a lot of time. Reduces error rates greatly. Eases the workload on the mind. LOTS of benefits.
So what “poseur” tells me is this person lacks clue. (Lacks a lot of clues, actually… both about my personal history, and about good programming style and efficient program maintenance.) Given that, I’ve provided that clue in the above discussion.
Oh, and I’ve got a lifetime Teaching Credential at the Community College level in “Data Processing and Related Technologies”… so I do get a bit pedantic sometimes and do like to show folks better ways to marshal information and ideas. So yeah, I’m being a “bit the teach” in this posting. This also is part of why I try to speak in Standard English and not Tech Jargon. Sometimes I’ve had folks mistake that for lack of Tech Knowledge. In fact, it indicates a higher level of Tech Knowledge AND the ability to express it in different language styles.
Now, given all that, I think it’s pretty clear how “idiot and poseur” causes me to just smirk and chuckle. Clearly it is they who are waving the “idiot” flag around and just as clearly, they don’t have enough experience to gauge me and my experience (so just who is posing? Hmmm?)
So “Tkach thenos” gets added to the “forever moderated” list in WordPress. It is a nice little setting given to blog operators where they can list keywords that toss that posting into the moderation queue. Or SPAM.
And yes, that’s what I do with all folks who’s ability and ‘style’ limit them to Carping Comments. Things with zero intellectual interest and loads of insult and invective need not see the light of day nor trouble others. Trolls, firelilghters, Alynsky Acolytes and serial insulters especially “insult to the person”; have no place here. “Life is too short to drink bad wine!” and they are all piss and vinegar, so down the drain with them. If Tkach had read the “About” box they would have known that, but apparently “know your opponent” is not in their wheelhouse either…
OK, with that, I now return you to the rest of 2017, but with the hope that others can learn from this bit of Carping Comment commentary and behave accordingly. I know it’s a foolish hope, but I’m ever the optimist.