Real Programmers Hack the Machine Code [was: Re: Job Posting (.04K Reward!) Jr. Linux Admin + Windows Support]

Michael Torrie torriem at chem.byu.edu
Sat Sep 9 12:15:42 MDT 2006


On Sat, 2006-09-09 at 10:22 -0600, Charles Curley wrote:
> Oh, come on, Josh. Real programmers hack the machine language
> directly. Which is how I got started with microcomputers: hacking
> machine language on a KIM I, which shipped with just over 1 KB of
> RAM, a hex keyboard and a six digit seven segment display.
> 
> The assembler, upper case only ASCII keyboard, 20 character display
> and printer and 4K of RAM on Rockwell's AIM 65 were sheer
> delight. What ever would I do with all that RAM?
> 
> And of course there isn't room on either for Ron Cain's Tiny C (never
> mind that he wrote it for the 8080), never mind a full up K&R C.
> 
> Besides, K&R C is nothing but Macro 11 warmed over and gussied up for
> people afraid to get their hands dirty with assembler.

I take this post to a somewhat hyperbolic response (reaction) to Josh's
comment.  However there is truth to this.  Real programmers are equally
at home with low-level languages, like C or ASM (which is higher than
machine language) as well as higher-level languages and other paradigms
such as lisp and scheme (which python pays homage too).  They also
should be familiar with computer architecture.  They should understand
what pipelining and scheduling is, even if they don't ever deal with it
themselves, or even understand the nitty-gritty details.  I'm disturbed
by a growing trend of IT graduates, and even CS graduates, who seem to
know very little about computers.  Only knowing how to piece together
components that others have written but being unable to really
understand, let alone able to build or replace these components.  Even
among linux users the trend is towards simply using it and the nice gui
tools, rather than understanding it and being able to really work with
it.  Makes hiring a linux admin harder and harder.  I do see more
brilliant people than ever before in the internet doing cool things like
kernel hacking and developing advanced applications, protocols, drivers,
etc.  But they seem to be a minority among the unwashed masses.  Hobby
linux computing is not what it used to be.  Every student resume I see
(which doesn't reflect the real work place much) without fail lists
"Linux" as a skill.  But they don't know much at all about Linux (the
kernel, the libraries, the init process, configuration, development,
etc).

Michael


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