[personal profile] kareila retweeted a link to this article which offers some hints of the (female) history of programming. Interesting, but unsatisfying in lack of detail. A commenter pointed out the sentence "For example, Betty Holbertson convinced skeptical engineers to include a “stop instruction” in order to guard against human error." as particularly in need of exposition. I agree. That kind of unexplained assertion is like velcro to the curious mind.

This stuff is not entirely beyond the reach of Google, I hope, but it's just not taught alongside computer science as far as I know. Here's what I found after a few minutes of poking around. I don't see how to comment on the article above.

  • It's Holberton, not Holbertson (and, I think, Snyder at the time of the ENIAC work).

  • Computer Oral History Collection, 1969-1973, 1977 Jean J. Bartik and Frances E. (Betty) Snyder Holberton Interview, April 27, 1973, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, page 78:


    It's the only time I ever talked with Von Neumann and I felt rather bold when I got up and said that, too.

    Well, they had the instruction code and it didn't have a stop instruction and he said, "Well, you don't need it, there are all these extra leads and you've got 99 possible combinations and it will go to any one of these grounds." And I was bold and I remember that I felt bold at the time and I said, "But we are not all Von Neumann’s, we will make mistakes and it will be unintentional." And he just nodded his head and said, "All right."

  • That's a long transcript, but well worth reading more of. See page 56 for an etymology of "breakpoint", for example.

  • There are many more records like it, easily obtained through a network of computing systems developed not entirely by men.

alierak: (Default)
( Jul. 3rd, 2013 03:11 pm)
Oh, sure, of course applying a Cisco-recommended "security update" would screw up the network configuration on one of my mailservers that is hundreds of miles away, right before a holiday. And yeah, after getting remote hands to add a cable and reboot, of course it would fail deliverability tests because the software update also broke LDAP queries. I would be tempting fate if I set up a workaround and tried to put it back in service, or worse, if I then proceeded to upgrade the other three to match it so that they could go back to cluster mode. Maybe if I bother them enough tonight they'll give me a security update that is only a security update and not something that turns out to be a broken major feature release.
alierak: (Default)
( Oct. 6th, 2010 08:29 am)
I'm impressed; DW actually made an appearance (however small) in xkcd.
alierak: (Default)
( May. 18th, 2009 11:01 am)
I'd just like to personally thank the entire Internet for explaining how and where to point my satellite dish when I moved it higher on the roof. Then I'd like to lodge a few complaints regarding the weather, the height of roofs, the failure modes of caulking guns, and asphalt. That is all.
alierak: (Default)
( May. 2nd, 2009 01:48 pm)
Testing crossposter with wrong password stored in DW prefs.
I'm using the feed from this account to test the fix for bug 640 over on Afuna's machine. I need a new entry so syn-suck will update. And it should probably contain a Unicode character that I think would previously have caused the entry not to show up in the feed account. So here's a Lira Sign (Unicode 0x20A4, UTF8: E2 82 A4): ₤
alierak: (Default)
( Apr. 7th, 2009 12:01 am)
This post contains a literal right single quotation mark: ’
Unicode: 2019
UTF8: E2 80 99
alierak: (Default)
( Apr. 6th, 2009 11:59 pm)
This post contains a literal euro sign: €
Unicode: 20AC
UTF8: E2 82 AC
alierak: (Default)
( Apr. 2nd, 2009 12:06 pm)
The sudafed woke me up at 3am today so I started looking at the directory search bug. Read some code, poked the directory search and results pages a bit, but no definite progress. I probably need to look under the hood while a search is running to get anywhere. Debug logging, figuring out whether it's using Gearman or not, etc. So I doubt I'll be of much use without a working dreamwidth installation to mess with. Hrm.

Edit: Oh, the directory geographic stats do work, so you can find out how many accounts are where. But of course that uses a different set of queries.

Edit 2: I have a theory now, at least. From UserSearch.xs comes this gem:

// FIXME: this will kinda blow w/ 64-bit pointers... we should/could just store 32-bit id instead.
resultset[resultset_size++] = &usermeta[uid];

Gee, I wonder what OS dreamwidth is running on...

Edit 3: That comment was a total red herring. Left a real diagnosis in the comments of the bug linked above. I really would have gotten nowhere fast without the hack space Janine mentioned and Sophie provided, plus this comment over on lj_dev.
alierak: (Default)
( Mar. 30th, 2009 11:26 am)
Sure, why not? I read LJ thru RSS anyway, so what's one more feed to add? I definitely won't feel as sketchy about putting my content up on here.