Having small competitions with several boys in my small hometown that were about who is going to write the fastest program to calculate all 16-bit prime numbers (in machine code, obviously) will forever remain one of my sweetest and fondest memories.
I am not a highly impressive programmer these days; in fact I am fairly mediocre and the only thing that might put me above the crowd -- occasionally, not all the time! -- is that I am an efficiency maniac with an excellent eye for simple and readable code. But in general and in terms of commercial programming, I am nothing special -- and I am OK with that.
But, having a Pravetz 82 at such a young age definitely shaped my thinking in ways that help me in my life to this day.
That puts you well above the crowd.
It seems my problem is that I am unable to monetize those skills. Everywhere I go, people want stuff yesterday and care not about quality. It's likely my fault for not aiming well when looking for employment.
It is also tied in to humility, and an inability to translate to others what the benefit of that attention to detail and quality will yield.
I think the tide is turning though: Moore's law was the cheap way to devalue those skills: why bother optimizing something if you can wait for just a short while to get a better ROI than by spending the time getting it right? But now that Moore's law is at an end and software is more and more messy and fragile we may see a recurrence of attention to detail, quality and performance.
I would consider the web a 'dead' zone for anything related to that other than at the very highest levels where the economies of scale are such that that attention to detail still gives an advantage. But software is so much larger than just the web. One domain in which quality is the make or break feature is in security, a small flaw will render a whole castle of work useless, similar attitudes are present with people working on medical hardware/software combos, avionics, rocketry and so on.
If you can look wider than just the web and try to find a field which still operates closer to the metal, preferably in non-networked stuff, that's where there is still a market for your skills and there are fewer and fewer people that can do this.
Yes. Definitely this. At some point I burned out and stopped trying seriously. I just get angry and annoyed when I am being resisted on this and started giving up almost at the spot.
But this ties to other areas of life like proper diet which I am struggling a lot with (almost always very tired as a result). At least I got some workout routine going but when eating the wrong food that almost makes no difference.
> I think the tide is turning though
I think the same and lately I started worrying that even if I am feeling it I still can't monetize the trend.
> I would consider the web a 'dead' zone for anything related to that
Hindsight is 20/20. I wish I never started in the web area. I started making tentative steps in other directions but I am not willing to take a pay cut or blow all of my free time. I do that every now and then, mind you, but I burn out quickly and will need a few other months before I feel up to it again.
Let's not turn this into a therapy session though. I am vulnerable and weak lately -- all my energy goes to self-improvement -- and I very easily start complaining.
Thanks for mentioning those other fields. I'd very much like to try my hand there and leave web work forever but I am hitting 41 soon and people in these areas are (a) risk-averse and don't want to hire a person without prior experience there, and (b) I am not 25 anymore and they might be worried about... not sure what. Age-ism does exist in hiring though, I've witnessed it.
I guess what I am trying to say is: I got smart about my career pretty late in life. Was focused on a ton of other things for the last two decades and that of course was my mistake -- I am not blaming anyone.
I suppose in the end it's about networking and some luck. But I do no networking (plus Corona) and my luck surface area is pretty small.
They were widely available in the education system and there were optional classes to learn programming.
Edit: I forgot the Pravetz 8D a friend had - they were available for purchase fro individuals. It had 4 channel audio synth and I programmed on it a drum-box for my teen rock band.
I have sort of a thing for the synth used, its also in the Oric-1/Atmos line of machines.
For example, I could work with binary numbers as a 11-12 years old kid as my older cousin thought me. I think 80% of the people that studied in that school ended up owners of IT companies or working as high-end tech specialists.
For the record, at its peak the factory in Pravetz was producing 40% of all computers in the Soviet Union. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_computer_hardware_i...
My father bought me in the 90s Правец 8Ц (Pravetz 8C), which was Apple ][ E clone (or something like this). Had 80 columns (PR#3), 128kb banked memory - awesome machine... and was more expensive than a russian car (according to my father).
Growing up in Bulgaria, not really knowing what sold software means - we end up having most of our games cracked, and you'll be like - "Hey another cool game by the Merchant!" (no it wasn't the "Merchant" that made the game, it was "EA", or some other real company.. ."Merchant" were one of the hacking groups, replacing the original game logos with their own...)
A bit later, round when communism fell or maybe later - even Bulgaria started producing it's own games... not really - same thing - "KARATEKA" - in cyrillic, or "MOON PATROL" as "Лунен Патрул" - and I think it was claiming it was done in my country (could be wrong though, they might've got the license after all!)
It was so much fun to use it!
whole list of them - http://artscene.textfiles.com/intros/APPLEII/
Also I was in a fairly small town and the community around computers was very supportive and hardcore.
Also had an 8C as a kid
I'd love to be able to buy and ARM cpu card, mostly a RPi with a pci car form factor, to plug into my main computer and run android programs without emulation.
Considering development benefits of such a system, specially more complete ones with video output, why isn't it used these days?
At the low end of complexity, you could put a raspberry pi on a pcie daughterboard and just power it off the slot, and maybe fake a NIC to the host for file transfer.
That's not really any more useful than just having a separate, dedicated raspberry pi though. To be useful, you need to implement some sort of deeper synchronization. Perhaps you could have a shared memory aperture between the two systems, a virtio style interface (but physical, not virtual!) with the associated protocols for passing through files, visuals, etc.
But it's all complicated and expensive, and in the end unless you're doing CPU level debugging and need to sync a debugger with low level CPU state, there's really not much advantage besides some space saving to just having a separate x/y/z on your desk.
One of the more interesting products we resold were the ROSS Technology "Sparcplugs" - you basically had a SPARC motherboard and CPU that fit into a couple of 5.25" drive bays on a host PC. So almost the reverse of the SunPCI cards.
Many Apple IIs in the business world were only used to run CPM.
"The SoftCard was the single most-popular platform to run CP/M"
Also, here is a nice quote from Zhivkov that he said during the opening ceremony of Bulgaria's first semi conductor factors:
"This year - a factory of semiconductors. Next year - a factory of full conductors."
Reminds me of one internal soviet joke about soviet-made microchips. That things called in Russian like "сверхбольшие интегральные схемы"-"superbig integral circuts". Don't know if the West used exactly the same term or just "integral circuts", but the joke was around that "superbig" adjective: "Soviet superbig integral circuts are the biggest in the world!". And if a listener didn't readily undestand the salt, one should clarify: "They have not only 16 legs /*connectors*/ but also a 2 carry handles".
One generation of programmers learned programming with these, I remember schools had these computers, it was a privilege to have computers in schools back then when you think about it.
The was Russian analog called Agat without screen and worse hardware.
It's funny that during Soviet Union times even Bulgaria was technologically more advanced, than Soviet Union itself.
The industrial design of it really stuck in my mind. Red!
We had a friend in the security bureau who had some funny stories. Like the part that was most difficult to manufacture were the rainbow ribbon cables because the petroleum industry only produced primary color wires.
Espionage? Hardly. The manuals for most Apple II computers included full schematics.
"... developed by Ivan Vassilev Marangozov ... rightfully accused of cloning the Apple II"