[moved to COFF]
On Sat, Jan 28, 2023 at 4:16 AM Andy Kosela <akosela(a)andykosela.com> wrote:
> Great initiative and idea! While I am personally not interested in reading
> USENET that much nowadays, the concept of providing free, public access to
> classic Internet services (public USENET, FTP, IRC, finger, etc.) gets all
> my praise. What happened to free, public services these days?
First off, what is stopping you from providing free, public access to those
I don't know where you are, but I have orders of magnitude more access to
freely available content and services than I ever did in the heyday of
Usenet, etc. And for most of it, one doesn't have to be highly technical
to use it.
> Everything appears to to be subscriber pay-as-you-go based. The
> commercialization killed the free spirit of Internet we all loved in the
"Free" was never really true, as it required massive subsidies of
equipment, power, bandwidth and employee time, usually w/o the direct
knowledge or consent of the entities paying for it.
It reminds me of the lemonade stands I'd occasionally run as a kid, which
were "profitable" to me because mom and dad, with their knowledge and
consent, let me pretend that the costs were $0.
Nevin ":-)" Liber <mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org> +1-847-691-1404
This seems COFF, not TUHS, and mostly not digital...
I have many 4mm DAT cartridges from 20-30 years ago. Every now and then
I will access one. So far I've yet to see evidence of the media degrading.
On 1/28/2023 4:12 AM, Steve Simon wrote:
> baking old, badly stored magnetic tapes prior to reading them is a common practice.
For the last year+ I have been digitizing selected audio tapes made in
the 70s at AWHQ
(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Armadillo_World_Headquarters). The ones
I've been working with are 1/4" on 10.5" reels. A printed inventory I
was given says "bake" next to almost all of the items, but so far, after
processing roughly 40 reels, I've yet to find one that seemed to need
"baking" (actually, "baking" is a bit overstated, in that best practice
is to raise temperature to roughly 150F --
For now, I'm not able to share those AWHQ recordings, but I can share
other recordings I made in the 60s and 70s at
https://technologists.com/60sN70s/. In all those reels, many of which
are cheap, unbranded tape, I didn't find any that seemed to me to need
voice: +1.512.784.7526 e-mail: sauer(a)technologists.com
fax: +1.512.346.5240 Web: https://technologists.com/sauer/
On 28 Jan 2023 11:29 -0800, from frew(a)ucsb.edu (James Frew):
> As I was leaving the lab late one evening during this mini-crisis, I had to
> walk around a custodian who was busy giving the linoleum floor in the
> hallway its annual deep cleaning / polishing. This involved a dingus with a
> large (~18" diameter) horizontal buffing wheel, atop which sat an enormous
> (like, a cylinder about as big around as a soccer ball) electric motor,
> sparking commutator clearly visible through the vents in the metal housing.
This is probably more COFF than TUHS, but I recall a story from almost
certainly much later where someone (I think it was a secretary; for
now, let's pretend it was) had been told to change backup tapes daily
and set the freshly taken backup aside for safekeeping. Then one day
the storage failed and the backups were needed, only it turned out
when trying to restore the backups that _every_ _single_ _tape_ was
blank. Nobody, least of all the secretary, could explain how that
could have happened, and eventually, the secretary was asked to
demonstrate exactly what had been done every day. Turned out that
while getting the replacement tape, the secretary put the freshly
taken backup tape on a UPS, which apparently generated a strong
magnetic field, before setting that tape aside. So the freshly taken
backup tape was dutifully well and thoroughly erased. Nobody had
mentioned the little detail of not putting the tape near the UPS.
Michael Kjörling 🏡 https://michael.kjorling.se
“Remember when, on the Internet, nobody cared that you were a dog?”
On 2023-01-27 14:23, Stuff Received wrote:
> On 2023-01-27 12:42, Henry Mensch wrote (in part):
>> I'd like to find solid Android and Windows clients so I could once
>> again use USENET.
> I read USENET (at Newsdemon -- USD3 monthly) with Firefox (on MacOS) but
> presumably will also work on Windows.
Oops -- Thunderbird, not Firefox.
> (We seem to have strayed into COFF territory...)
> I have yet to look at the oral history things from Corby, etc which may
> answer this in passing.
links to oral history transcripts from Fano, Corby and Dennis. Only Corby:
was involved when Bell Labs came on board; he says:
"Also Bell Labs was interested in acquiring a new computer system. They were
quite intrigued and sympathetic to the notions of what we were doing. Ed
David down there was a key figure and an old friend of Fano. They decided to
become partners (pg. 16, CHM interview)
"Simultaneously, Bell Labs had been looking for a new computer acquisition
for their laboratories, and they had been scouting out GE. There was some
synergism: because they knew we were interested they got interested. I think
they first began to look independently of us. But they saw the possibility
of our developing a new operating system together." (pg. 43, CBI interview)
So it sounds like it was kind of a mutual thing, aided by the connection
between Fano and David (who left Bell after Bell bailed on multics).
> From: Dan Cross
> From Acceptable Name <metta.crawler(a)gmail.com>:
Gmail has decided this machine is a source of spam, and is rejecting all email
from it, and I have yet to sort out what's going on, so someone might want to
forward anything I turn up to this person.
>> Did Bell Labs approach MIT or was it the other way around?
I looked around the Multics site, but all I could find is this: "Bell
Laboratories (BTL) joined the Multics software development effort in November
I did look through IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, vol. 14, no. 2,
listed there, but it's mostly about the roots of CTSS. It does have a footnote
referring to Doug, about the timing, but no detail of how Bell Labs got
I have yet to look at the oral history things from Corby, etc which may answer
this in passing.
I'll ask Jerry Saltzer if he remembers; he's about the only person left from
MIT who was around at that point.
>> Did participating in Project MAC come from researchers requesting
>> management at Bell Labs/MIT
At MIT, the 'managers' and the researchers were the same people, pretty much.
If you read the panel transcript in V14N2, Fano was the closest thing to a
manager (although he was really a professor) there was at MIT, and he talks
about not wanting to be involved in managing the thing!
[Bcc: to TUHS as it's not strictly Unix related, but relevant to the
This came from USENET, specifically, alt.os.multics. Since it's
unlikely anyone in a position to answer is going to see it there, I'm
From Acceptable Name <metta.crawler(a)gmail.com>:
>Did Bell Labs approach MIT or was it the other way around?
>Did participating in Project MAC come from researchers requesting
>management at Bell Labs/MIT or did management make the
>decision due to dealing with other managers in each of the two
>organizations? Did it grow out of an informal arrangement into
>a format one?"
These are interesting questions. Perhaps Doug may be in the know?
- Dan C.
(Move to COFF)
> On 22 Jan 2023, at 05:43, Luther Johnson <luther(a)makerlisp.com> wrote:
> Yes, I know, but some of that SW development is being automated ... I'm not saying it will totally go away, but the numbers will become smaller, and the number of people who know how to do it will become smaller, and the quality will continue to deteriorate. The number of people who can detect quality problems before the failures they cause, will also get smaller. Not extinct, but endangered, and we are all endangered by the quality problems.
Is it possible that this concern mirrors that of skilled programmers seeing the introduction of high-level languages?
I’ve played with ChatGPT, and the first 10 minutes were a bit confronting. But the remainder of the hour or so I played overcame my initial concerns.
But … it pretty quickly becomes clear that there’s no semantic understanding of what’s being done behind it. And unless you specify what you want in pretty minute detail, the output is unlikely to be what you want. And, as always, going from a roughed-out implementation of the core functionality to a production-ready program is a lot of work.
In the end, it’s like having an intern with a bit of experience, Stack Overflow, and a decent aptitude driving the keyboard: you still have to break down the spec into small, detailed chunks, and while sometimes they come back with the right thing, more often, you need to walk through it line by line to correct the little mistakes.
I’m looking forward to seeing a generative model combined with static analysis, incremental compilation, unit test output: I think it will be possible for a good programmer to multiply their productivity by a few times (maybe even 10x, but I don’t see 100x). There’ll still be times when it’s simpler to just write the code yourself, rather than trying to rephrase the request.
All of which makes me think of the assembly language to high-level language transition ...
I wonder if we'll see events around 2038 that renew interest in conventional computing. There are going to be more public eyes on vintage computers and aging computational infrastructure the closer we get to that date methinks, if even just in the form of Ric Romero-esque curiosity pieces.
Hopefully the cohort of folks that dive into Fortran and Cobol for the first time to pick up some of the slack on bringing 2038-averse software and systems forward will continue to explore around the margins of their newfound skills. I know starting in assembly and C influenced me to then come to understand the bigger picture in which those languages and their paradigms developed, so hopefully the same is true of a general programming community finding itself Fortran-and-Cobol-ish for a time.
- Matt G.
------- Original Message -------
On Saturday, January 21st, 2023 at 10:43 AM, Luther Johnson <luther(a)makerlisp.com> wrote:
> Yes, I know, but some of that SW development is being automated ... I'm
> not saying it will totally go away, but the numbers will become smaller,
> and the number of people who know how to do it will become smaller, and
> the quality will continue to deteriorate. The number of people who can
> detect quality problems before the failures they cause, will also get
> smaller. Not extinct, but endangered, and we are all endangered by the
> quality problems.
> On 01/21/2023 11:12 AM, arnold(a)skeeve.com wrote:
> > Real computers with keyboards etc won't go away; think about
> > all those servers running the backends of the apps and the
> > databases for the cool stuff on the phones. Someone is still
> > going to have to write those bits.
> > Arnold
> > Luther Johnson luther(a)makerlisp.com wrote:
> > > Well, that's a comforting thought, I hope it goes that way.
> > >
> > > On 01/19/2023 06:10 PM, John Cowan wrote:
> > >
> > > > On Thu, Jan 19, 2023 at 5:23 PM Luther Johnson <luther(a)makerlisp.com
> > > > mailto:email@example.com> wrote:
> > > >
> > > > Computers that are not smart phone-like are definitely on the
> > > > endangered
> > > > species list. You know, the kind on a desk, with a keyboard ...
> > > >
> > > > I don't have statistics for this, but I doubt it. Consider amateur
> > > > radio, which has been around for a century now. Amateur stations are
> > > > an ever-shrinking fraction of all transmitters, to say nothing of
> > > > receivers, but in absolute terms there are now more than 2 million
> > > > hams in the world, which is almost certainly more than ever.