When a writer relearns how to code

Was there ever a time when we programmed well, if not efficiently?

Sure, there were the early BASIC days on the TRS-80, later on the ZX81.

We had our stint writing PASCAL, then C, but never C++ or C#.

A bit of Visual C, to be sure, in our days as software test engineering lab manager at Conexant (formerly Rockwell Semiconductor) running a team that verified our company’s products (including Linux servers disguised as Windows-compatible ADSL gateway modems) met Microsoft WHQL standards, and later, at Avocent, ensuring cross-platform compatibility for Microsoft, Apple, Linux and other operating systems.


Let’s be honest with ourselves. We’ve faded in our programming capabilities.

Use it or lose it, as they say.

So it is that we find ourselves basically back at the drawing board, back to bits and bytes, working our way up to Arduino script and Python Shell on Raspberry Pi Linux.

Today’s lesson: the difference between/dev/ttyUSB0 (or 1, or n) and others/dev/ttyACM0 (or 1, or n) .

In a nutshell, according to this website, “another control model, aptly named abstract control model or ACM, lets the modem hardware perform the analog functions, and require that it supports the ITU V.250 (also known as Hayes in its former life) command set, either in the data stream or as a separate control stream through the communication class interface. …the devices offering UART-over-USB functionalities are named /dev/ttyUSB0, /dev/ttyUSB1, and so on, even though they are in fact using distinct device drivers.”

Does that mean anything to you?  It might.  It does to us, springing to memory the old days of dialup modems long before ADSL and cable modems, before Gigabit Ethernet, CDMA/GSM, FTTx (fiber to the curb, home, etc.), WiFi, driverless cars and drone taxis.

Why are we relearning all this?

First of all, why not?

Second of all, in our transition to a computing world of AI that no longer uses bits and bytes, when quantum computing leads to the Next Great Thing, it’s good to see where we were so that we better understand where we’ll be.

After all, we said goodbye to Guin but haven’t completely forgotten who we are 400 earthyears from now.

In the not so distant future, we know we don’t look or act like the human interface devices you see and think as yourselves as today.

In other words, the Elegoo Uno R3 and Adafruit Circuit Playground Express devices allow us to be nostalgic in our late middle-aged years.

We understand by doing so where we deliberately drop pebbles in the pond of this set of devices we call a few billion instances of a species labeled Homo sapiens.

We live in this moment but see where we set in motion activities millions of years from now.

Don’t you?

Good morning!

The Moon, Saturn and a small fleet of lifesaving vehicles greet you this cold, crisp, freezing morn!

Small advert below:

One of our coworkers, Liz Taylor, was featured in the picture of the day for a blood drive at the local offices of the U.S. Missile Defense Agency…

Jan. 25, 2018: Mike Parker (front row), MDA/ICTM and Keith Garrett (back row), MDA/EET, participate in the MDA Wellness blood drive in Huntsville, Alabama. MDA participation included 60 personnel and 50 units of blood donations were collected.

Architectural Originality

Using both available material (new, recycled and natural) and inspiration from others’ innovation to assemble a greenhouse kit, we want to add a bit of originality to the repertoire of backyard meditative spaces.

Years ago, we planned a backyard writer’s cottage comprised of four sections tied to four compass points:

  • Castle tower to the north
  • Tin roof shack to the south
  • Adobe pueblo to the west
  • Buddhist temple to the east
  • The center portion was a crossroads, the floor a meditation labyrinth, the walls covered with Irish Celtic symbols, the ceiling a reproduction of the Sistine Chapel

Its shape gave tribute to our subcultural upbringing:

Back then, our construction capabilities were limited if not nonexistent.

We couldn’t find or develop the confidence to build the original design.

We have changed, grown confident, and now build what we want, giving ourselves a limited budget to force ingenuity.

The new design generalizes the meditative qualities of organised religion, removing specific symbology, wrapped up into the prefab greenhouse kit.

As for the rest, you’ll see soon enough!

Fiefdoms, Inc.

When the Dragon declares itself ruler for life and the Bear rules for life by proxy, does the Eagle keep its dominion ready for war by allowing its chicks to accrue extra talons despite their propensity to kill one another in overzealous playfulness whilst learning to grow up, some eaglets never fully maturing, always attacking one another, no clear foe or prey to focus on?

What is the cost, what is the opportunity, what is future we want when cooperatively competing for the resources of a small water planet?