Programming your PDP-11

Here’s a wonderful intro to a collection of videos and instructional materials from the 1970s on how to program and operate a DEC PDP-11. First, toggle in your loader, then boot from paper tape…. Very cool, in a retro way. I did a lot of PDP-11 stuff back in the mid-70s.
[The videos are accessible on YouTube; the website with the other materials appears to have been brought to its knees as a result of being mentioned in Boing Boing…]

Flight Simulator. RIP

From Bruce Williams, a longtime member of the FS development team at Microsoft, comes sobering news:

The cuts announced at Microsoft yesterday include closing the entire ACES studio, the group that produced Flight Simulator and related products. […] I don’t know yet if there’s any hope that the code could be spun off to a third party, but as of January 22, the most important asset–the team that has produced FS for so many years–has been disbanded.

James Fallows has more, including a couple of evocative screenshots.

Round we go again…

I’m in the middle of planning for my next visit to Amazon global development centres. This time I’m going to Beijing and Hyderabad, departing March 8. It’ll be my second time in China, and my fourth trip to Hyderabad. (I was there in 2005 and 2006 for Sun, and 2008 and now 2009 for Amazon.) As on my last Asian trip, I’m going to take a round-the-world route to minimize the effects of jet lag:



This will give me the opportunity to fly on three airlines I haven’t used before: Jazz, Air China, and Thai International.
UPDATE: Or not: the Beijing trip was cancelled, so I’m just going to Hyderabad.

RIF time

There are lots (thousands) of layoffs happening today, at Sun, IBM, and Microsoft, and just I realized that I only have work email addresses for many of my friends and blog readers. If you’ve been affected by this, please add a comment here (I’ll see your email address, but others won’t) and remember to update your profiles on LinkedIn or FaceBook. Good luck – and stay in touch.


George H. W. Bush, August 27, 1987:

I don’t know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God.

Barack Obama, January 20, 2009:

For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus – and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth.

Thank you.

A sparkling winter day

Last Friday, I checked the Seattle weather forecast to see what the prospects for the weekend were. Morning fog, cloudy skies, damp, low 40s. Sigh. It was going to be typical Seattle winter, just as I’d been promised when I moved here.
Except that it wasn’t. On Saturday the fog and most of the clouds disappeared by lunchtime and it turned into a beautiful day. So when Sunday dawned with thick fog, we crossed our fingers, and by mid-morning things were looking brighter.

Driftwood and stones

Driftwood and stones

We jumped on a 99 bus ((The “temporary replacement” for the waterfront streetcar that was launched in 2005 and looks more permanent with each passing year.)) and rode out to the Sculpture Park. As we walked along the shoreline, the last of the clouds burned away, leaving a truly sparking day. I took a number of pictures, and the light was almost perfect.
Seattle container port, with Mt. Rainier rising in the distance

Seattle container port, with Mt. Rainier behind

Even though the Seattle area was cloud-free, we could still see bands of fog draped over the shores of Bainbridge Island and the slopes of the Olympics. But then even these began to burn off, and to my amazement Mount Rainier loomed out of the haze, 50 miles to the south.
In addition to the numerous freighters anchored in Puget Sound (waiting to load at the grain elevator) there were a couple of bonuses for the transport geek in me: an Amtrak train from Vancouver approaching the city from the north, and the prototype Boeing 777F turning finals towards Boeing Field.
So no, not all Seattle winter days are grey and wet. ((We’ve got about a week of nice weather ahead of us.)) But don’t bet against it….