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A Plea for More Details - Details So Simple that Even I can Understand

PotomacBob

Guns can be an important part of a story, but, as a reader, more information about what a gun CAN DO would be lots more helpful than all the specs. I don't know what an AR-15 is, and I'm not going to interrupt an interesting story to go look it up. Even if I did look it up, I probably wouldn't understand it. What would help, would be - "it'll kill a deer from 1,000 yards" or "it's no more dangerous than a BB," or "it blew a hole in him as big as a cannonball." I have absolutely no objection to the specs being in the story - I'm sure they're helpful to those readers who understand them and they may even be impressed by it.. But "it uses a standard NATO round" is of no use to me - I don't know what a standard NATO round is and all it tells me is that the gun uses bullets of some kind. I suspect using that terminology might have been intended to convey to me that the ammunition is widely available, but adding "and you can buy it by the bushel at your neighborhood 7-11" would have not left me guessing. It also doesn't tell me anything about cost. If I wanted to, could I buy a Heckler & Koch MP5K-PDW for the price of a McDonald's quarter-pounder, or does it cost as much as a Fifth Avenue penthouse (not that I know how much that costs, either, but I know it's not cheap). Guns just happened to be the item I used to demonstrate, but it applies to any of the interesting facts in a story. It it takes an expert to understand it - I won't get it.

jimh67

I guess gun porn is more stable than some other subjects, but I've frequently seen authors' attempts to impress me with their knowledge backfire when I'm reading the story a few years later. The most common is a description of a super duper totally rad computer system of immense power. That is now primitive compared to my phone.

Crime fiction novelist Ed McBaine never put a date in his books and tried never to make a reference that would date the book. His first 87th Precinct book was written in 1956 and is still available on Kindle and Audible.

Wheezer

@jimh67

The most common is a description of a super duper totally rad computer system of immense power.

Try watching the 1995 movie, "Hackers." It's hilariously unwatchable listening to these kids rattle off specs to their "supercomputers" that wouldn't run a copy of Angry Birds today. The only thing watchable about that movie is a very young (19?) Angelina Jolie showing her tits.

Replies:   Not_a_ID  BlacKnight
helmut_meukel

@jimh67

Crime fiction novelist Ed McBaine never put a date in his books and tried never to make a reference that would date the book. His first 87th Precinct book was written in 1956 and is still available [...]


But nowadays they are all dated. No DNA tests, no cell phones, no iPods, no laptops, tablets... But there were coil tape recorders, cassette recorders, VHS tapes, Polaroid photos, type writers...
Even simple things like fountain pens mostly gone. Smoking in offices or restaurants?
You probably can't determine the year or – if the author was successful in avoiding dateable references – the decade, but it's still obviously dated, the usage of the language even is dated.

HM.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Not_a_ID

@Wheezer

It's hilariously unwatchable listening to these kids rattle off specs to their "supercomputers" that wouldn't run a copy of Angry Birds today.


By far the most hilarious examples of this for me actually predates that by a little bit. Short Circuit 2 has to be a prime contender when "Johnny 5" starts rattling off some of his specifications after some recent upgrades.

IIRC, he(the sentient, self-aware robot) was rocking a 500 Megabyte Hard Drive. Which admittedly in 1988 would be considered incredibly huge. (note: It might have been 50 megs instead--still huge for 1988, but not astronomically so by then)

At least the first movie did a good job of avoiding specifics in regards to such things, but the sequel failed at that.

Replies:   StarFleet Carl
StarFleet Carl

@Not_a_ID

IIRC, he(the sentient, self-aware robot) was rocking a 500 Megabyte Hard Drive. Which admittedly in 1988 would be considered incredibly huge. (note: It might have been 50 megs instead--still huge for 1988, but not astronomically so by then)


From the Johnny 5 Wiki (yes, there is one) - "His memory capacity has been increased to 512 megabytes "online", implying that this is his RAM capacity. Whether he has any alternate data storage devices such as a hard drive is unknown (Note that at the time of the movie, 512MB of RAM was several orders of magnitudes more than what could be found in a typical personal computer)."

My first computer had a whopping 4K of RAM, with a 16K expansion disk, and used a casette tape drive. (A VIC-20). IIRC, the PC I had in 1998 had a 40MB HDD and 16MB of RAM, ran at 40MHz. The PC I'm typing this on today (Jan, 2018), has a 1 TB HDD, 16GB of RAM, and a quad core running at 1.5 GHz.

I'm about due for a new gaming rig, so I'm thinking of a rig with 32GB of RAM, a 512MB SSD boot and a 2TB HDD, an I7 6 core running at 4.6GHz, with dual NVidia GTX 1080's (8 GB each) video cards. Considering that's still under 2 grand ... that's just sick. (I also paid slightly more than 2 grand for my PC back in 1998, so ... go figure.)

Replies:   Not_a_ID
LonelyDad
Updated:

First thing, backup that SSD religiously! SSDs have been known to just die without warning as they get old. Had one do it to me, it had six months left on the warranty, and happened a month after the company announced they were stopping support for it.

The first PC I bought was for our church. It came with 128K of RAM, which I had them upgrade to 256K when I got it. Later I added another 256K on an expansion card and a real time clock card as well. Ran DOS version of Microsoft Word and Multiplan just fine.

My current system I built my self a few years ago. It has 24gb of ram, a 256GB SSD, and around 10TB of HDD spread across several drives. So far I have never seen it use more than 8gb of RAM at any time, even when I was running two video transcoding programs at the same time. It will probably be my last system.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Not_a_ID

@StarFleet Carl

My first computer had a whopping 4K of RAM, with a 16K expansion disk, and used a casette tape drive. (A VIC-20). IIRC, the PC I had in 1998 had a 40MB HDD and 16MB of RAM, ran at 40MHz. The PC I'm typing this on today (Jan, 2018), has a 1 TB HDD, 16GB of RAM, and a quad core running at 1.5 GHz.


Your current PC matches my laptop which is getting long in the tooth for some of the games I want to play. ;)

My first computer was an Amiga 500 with a 52 megabyte SCSI hard drive. But I did spend plenty of time on a Commodore 64 prior to that. Being part of full color 32bit GUI computing in 1991 as a preteen was heady stuff.

Being 32bit from its onset as the Amiga 1000 around 1984(?). It could directly address up to 4 gigabytes of either ram or hard drives even then. Now physically attaching that much storage to it was another matter.

I know Intel must have been a happy camper when Jay Miner's patents started to expire almost 20 years ago. Northbridge acts a lot like how I understand "Gary" did on the Amiga chipsets in the 1980's. Too bad Commodore was being run by bankers who thought the best way to keep a tech company profitable was by cutting R&D.

Replies:   Jim S  AmigaClone
Jim S

@Not_a_ID

A Plea for More Details - Details So Simple that Even I can Understand

I think a lot of authors are guilty of this. As near as I can figure, there are a couple of principal causes:
1. They don't know any more than you do and all their knowledge is from Wikipedia,
2. They do know more than you but are lousy teachers. It really takes talent to be a good teacher even when your knowledge of a topic is extensive.

I share your complaint also. Last month, I reviewed the story "Backscatter" by hammingbyrd7 where I noted that extensive knowledge of physics would have been helpful in reading the story. Since I was a business major in college, my physics background is basic at best. But a BS in the discipline would have come in handy when reading that story. At least to get its full impact.

Boiling down complex topics to a grade 8 (US) level (around 13-14 year olds) is the challenge for anyone writing science fiction. Even writing to the average level of a 17 year old high schooler would be welcome. Whether the topics is guns, ballistics or black holes.

Ernest Bywater

It's an extremely fine line to decide what is the correct level of detail for anything in any story. I've read stories where the fine detail detracted from the story due to it being boring, I've also read stories where there wasn't enough detail to fully picture what was going on.

In some stories I include plans of buildings and grounds, others I don't. If I find I need an pictorial image to help me with writing the story I create it and include it, if I can get by without it I don't. Some readers say they don't like the images, while many more say the images help them to understand parts of the story better. Different readers have different needs and expectations, but you can't meet them all, just as many as possible while staying entertaining.

Take firing a pistol - most people will get the picture if you write:

I brought the pistol up, took aim, and fired. I smiled when I saw the splash of red between the shoulder blades of the fleeing killer just before he was knocked down face first into the gravel and slide for some feet, due to the momentum of his running.

However, I could also go into the full detail of:

I brought the pistol up, took aim by aligning the front sight up with the back sight, and slowly squeezed the trigger to fire when I had a perfect alignment on his upper body. I smiled when I saw the splash of red of the .45 calibre bullet impacting between the shoulder blades of the fleeing killer just before he was knocked down face first onto the ground and had his face cut up by the loose gravel when he slide for some feet, due to the momentum of his running.

Same scene, two ways to present it, one with more detail than the other, and even then I didn't go into the full physics of it.

In my story Survivor I have a scene where I explain the basics of why he has two of the guns, on in .45 calibre and one in .410 shot. I keep it to the basics, but I did need to explain why one was better than the other for certain situations. I could have given a lot more detail, but felt it would have been boring for many readers.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
sejintenej

Most if not all the readers on here have more than a few years behind them and have one skill or another. During that time they will have read a host of articles, seen things on the gogglebox, talked and listened and will have picked up a smattering of all sorts of things. No, you won't know everything but usually there are clues enough to work it out.

You mention the Heckler & Koch - have you never ever seen the police wandering around with submachine guns - they are frequent in the local shopping mall and airports? You can guess that you would not be allowed to buy one and if there is a black market then it would cost a lot of dosh. You wouldn't even get a bow and quiver for the cost of a muckyD.

Some writers refer to benjamins - pretty common and if you have ever ben to the USA you would know automatically - even I know though don't ask me about dimes - I simply know it is worth little more than nothing. Use your imagination and expand on what you have heard and experienced 9and if it bothers you try google

richardshagrin

@sejintenej

detail

The tale is more important than de tail. As long as interesting things are happening, we don't care what color the grass is. Or the sheets on the bed. Or if there is any bedding at all.

Dominions Son

@richardshagrin

The tale is more important than de tail.


What if the tale is about chasing tail? :)

Ernest Bywater

@richardshagrin

The tale is more important than de tail. As long as interesting things are happening, we don't care what color the grass is.


True, Richard. However, if the author uses terms you don't know how do you know he's talking about the colour of the grass as against the colour of the 100 foot high tree. Never forget about giving the detail needed to be sure the reader knows the IHOP is not the Apple dance store, because they're aren't everywhere.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
AmigaClone

@Not_a_ID

My first computer was an Amiga 500 with a 52 megabyte SCSI hard drive.


My first computer was a TI 99/4A, and my second one was an Amiga 2000HD with a 40 megabyte SCSI hard drive. Less than a month later a friend of mine also purchased an Amiga 2000HD but his came with the 52 megabyte SCSI hard drive.

happytechguy15

Good topic. I often stop to Google a word or phrase that may turn up in British or Australian English, or a brand/model of car, plane, or boat. Maybe some tech or historical or sci-fi thing. Yes, it interrupts the story, but I don't expect an author to "dumb" everything down to my level. I do appreciate an author as Ernest demonstrates, who includes enough to "hook" me into the story!

PotomacBob

@sejintenej

Some writers refer to benjamins - pretty common and if you have ever ben to the USA you would know automatically


Simply not true. I've been to the U.S. and, until this exchange, I've never heard of a Benjamin, unless you're talking about the dog named Benji

Dominions Son

@PotomacBob

Simply not true. I've been to the U.S. and, until this exchange, I've never heard of a Benjamin, unless you're talking about the dog named Benji


All US Currency notes have a portrait of a historical figure on them.

The $1 (Washington), $2 (Jefferson), $5 (Lincoln), $20 (Andrew Jackson) and $50 (Ulysses S. Grant) are former presidents. This has lead to dead presidents as a slang term for money in the US.

The $10 bill has the first secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton.

The $100 bill is Benjamin Franklin.

Benjamins would be slang for $100 bills.

Anyone familiar with US currency should be able to figure that out given enough context.

Geek of Ages

@Dominions Son

It is, after all, all about the Benjamins (what?).

Ernest Bywater

@Dominions Son

Anyone familiar with US currency should be able to figure that out given enough context.


And those of us who've never seen a US $100 bill wouldn't have a clue as to what they're talking about until after it's explained. This is especially true for those who've never seen a US currency bill of any sort.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Ernest Bywater

This is especially true for those who've never seen a US currency bill of any sort.


That's quite true, but the comment under discussion was about people who've visited the US being able to figure out the reference.

I rather think it would be difficult for a foreigner to make a trip to the US without having any exposure to US currency.

PotomacBob

@Dominions Son

So, in useful terms, one Benjamin is worth about 25 quarter-pounders with cheese?

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@PotomacBob

So, in useful terms, one Benjamin is worth about 25 quarter-pounders with cheese?


Yep.

Not_a_ID

@Dominions Son

I rather think it would be difficult for a foreigner to make a trip to the US without having any exposure to US currency.


With credit cards, it is exceptionally easy to never touch any currency while in a foreign nation. Including the United States.

Ernest Bywater

@Dominions Son

I rather think it would be difficult for a foreigner to make a trip to the US without having any exposure to US currency.


Years ago I'd agree, but now you can go most places and only use plastic, thus not see the local money. Also, you could see the smaller stuff without seeing a hundred dollar bill. I know people who've lived their whole life in Australia and never seen a hundred dollar bill of Australian currency, because they never have enough money to justify getting any from the bank.

JohnBobMead

@Ernest Bywater

I've lived in the USA all my life, and the only reason I've actually handled $100.00 bills was that when I received my student financial aid checks, I had to take them to the registrar to pay my fees, and the change was always cash. You can believe I was healthily paranoid on my way to the bank to deposit the money that was to see me through the term!

That was back in 1980-82; I suspect they've changed their procedures now, and that electronic transfers are involved, rather than physical checks and physical currency.

I will admit that I always thought that a smart crook, ready to leave town as soon as they were done, would lay in wait between campus and the nearest lowest-minimum-balance-required banks on the days financial aid was disbursed, and clean up. It seemed like an obvious opportunity to me.

Whenever I was travelling, and had the potential need of sums of money, I purchased traveler's checks.

Replies:   PotomacBob
PotomacBob

@JohnBobMead

Even if you used $100 bills, did you call them "Benjamins?"

Replies:   JohnBobMead
sejintenej

@PotomacBob

. I've been to the U.S. and, until this exchange, I've never heard of a Benjamin,

I have seen them mentioned in the context of a tip or bribe in many stories on SOL. I knew that value but I have also read a few others in a similar context without knowing the loot amount

sejintenej

@Dominions Son

I rather think it would be difficult for a foreigner to make a trip to the US without having any exposure to US currency.

I don't think I have ever looked to see whose likeness is rendered; it's the big number which is important

JohnBobMead

@PotomacBob

Even if you used $100 bills, did you call them "Benjamins?"


Nope. Never came across the term until a year or so ago, in a story. Probably on this site.

Joe_Bondi_Beach
Updated:

@jimh67


Crime fiction novelist Ed McBaine never put a date in his books and tried never to make a reference that would date the book. His first 87th Precinct book was written in 1956 and is still available on Kindle and Audible.


Chandler did not date his novels, but the decade if not the year is quite clear in his pre-WWII works. Like the Sherlock Holmes stories, however, the details of the world he describes are as interesting as the plots, even if both sets of works are, literally, dated.

I'm reading Jennifer Egan's Manhattan Beach, set in NYC in 1940s wartime. It's engaging, but I get a sense of namechecking in her effort to place the story in historically accurate locations with historically accurate cultural references (music, etc.). Minor issues, fair enough, but still there.

bb

BlacKnight

@Wheezer

Try watching the 1995 movie, "Hackers." It's hilariously unwatchable listening to these kids rattle off specs to their "supercomputers" that wouldn't run a copy of Angry Birds today. The only thing watchable about that movie is a very young (19?) Angelina Jolie showing her tits.

Hackers was hilariously unwatchable in 1995. Machine specs aside, all of the jargon is basically nonsense. A lot of it was just made up by the scriptwriters, and even the bits that weren't were misused.

To be fair, this is almost universally true of any Hollywood production that deals with computers, and most of them don't have Angelina Jolie's tits in them.

HAL

I wrote a story that involved skiing, and mentioned green, blue, red and black runs. A US reader wrote asking about this because their run classification is different.
I reckon most stories have some cultural bias in them. In my latest I had the English 'hero' mention the temperature in Celsius and then correct himself and mention Fahrenheit. But if he'd been in France, he would have had no need to say what the Fahrenheit equivalent was.
Star Trek got round some of this by using tricorders and phasars (we all just accepted that they did 'stuff' really cleverly).
Regarding computers, I trump you all - First computer I used was a PDP8 with no hard disc and you programmed it with paper tape! Great for flashing lights on the front though.

JohnBobMead

@HAL

Regarding computers, I trump you all - First computer I used was a PDP8 with no hard disc and you programmed it with paper tape! Great for flashing lights on the front though.


Got me beat. First physical computer I ever dealt with was a PDP 11/03, which my high school had in the Science Lab. No hard drive, two 8" floppy drives; I successfully wiped the system disc one day, thankfully it was only a copy, the master was kept under lock and key as a precaution.

I did use card decks during the short period of time I was a Computer Science Major, my first pass through College, 1980-1982.

Replies:   Capt. Zapp
Capt. Zapp

@JohnBobMead

My first was a trash-80 model I - Level 1. 4k TOTAL memory, cassette tape storage, 3 error messages. no HD, no rs-232. All add-ons required upgrading to Level II (16k RAM!) and the purchase of the 'expansion interface' which cost as much as the 'main' computer.

AmigaClone

@Capt. Zapp

The first computer I ever used (first week in July 1983) was either a trash 80 model III or a Brazilian clone of that computer (CP-500)

helmut_meukel

@HAL

Regarding computers, I trump you all - First computer I used was a PDP8 with no hard disc and you programmed it with paper tape!


The first computer I used – and programmed – was an HP 9815 S, no hard disk or floppy disk, but with an tape cassette drive to store programs and data. It's programming language looked a bit like BASIC and all available keywords were accessed by one key stroke and it was specific to this model, the bigger 9825 and 9835 used a quite different language. (I don't know if the 9825 and 9835 used different programming languages, I have only used a 9825 some years later and it's programming language was really different from the 9815).

The 9815 was the central part of a weighing system in our dyehouse, all our recipes were stored on those tape cassettes, the programes on one track and the recipe data on the second track. This was about 1976 and I can't remember how many recipes were stored per cassette.
The 9815 controlled three electronical scales with RS232 interface and three card readers. The 9815 had a small thermoprinter. To print a protocol it sent the ASCII text via RS232 to a KIM microcomputer which translated it into code sent to a US-teletype. (The european postal teletype services used a quite different code with only lowercase characters).

The next computer I used was a HP 1000 E series with a real-time OS (RTE-IV).

HM.

richardshagrin

At the University of Washington circa 1963 the computer class I took was GW Basic but we programmed for an IBM 360 I recall. Punch card decks and a lot of instructions like CLA (clear and add), one instruction per card. Rarely did a program work the first time, or the second or third, you got the box of cards back wrapped in a printout and had to figure out what went wrong. For fun I got an Atari 400 and played games like space invader.

Geek of Ages

Y'all are ooooooooooold.

Replies:   JohnBobMead
JohnBobMead

@Geek of Ages

Y'all are ooooooooooold.


I guess.

I'm only 57, being born in December of 1960.

The world has changed considerably in my lifetime.

Add to that that all my grandparents were born before 1900, my parents in 1925, and we talked about things; some, not as much as I now wish I had.

The Interstate Highway System was under construction for much of my youth. There is no way anyone born after it's substantial completion can comprehend just how much it changed our society.

Replies:   Jim S  StarFleet Carl
Jim S

@JohnBobMead

The Interstate Highway System was under construction for much of my youth. There is no way anyone born after it's substantial completion can comprehend just how much it changed our society.

I couldn't agree more. I remember when I-94 was being built through Detroit when I was a kid. They used to move entire houses (at least some of them) out of the way and relocate them rather than demolish them. I remember watching whole houses making their way down the street I was raised on. We'd snag rides on them.

As to how much it changed society, the suburbs would have happened a lot slower if the highway system wasn't there. As well as commerce. Although Eisenhower pushed it for military purposes (the military couldn't easily move troops and equipment around during WWII), commerce took it over rapidly. Then people in general. All in the space of less than two generations.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
StarFleet Carl

@JohnBobMead

I'm only 57, being born in December of 1960.

The world has changed considerably in my lifetime.


You've got me by a year. I know exactly what you're talking about. We lived in Indiana and would drive to Florida to visit my grandparents. Not only would it take two days, but going up (and then down) Monteagle in Tennessee on US41 was a nightmare. There was a single trip that we took that we didn't see at least half a dozen wrecked semi's on the mountain. Now southbound goes on the west side, north bound goes on the east side, and there are runaway truck ramps on both downhill grades.

Another trip we would make had us going south through Illinois. We'd cross the Mississippi at Cairo. First time across the bridge there it was a steel grate floor. Which meant if you looked straight down at speed, you couldn't see the grates, so it looked like you were floating 100 feet up over the river. And the bridge was almost two lanes wide, which meant the mirrors on semi's might hit each other. I suspect that old US 62 bridge is one reason I end up with the sweats any time I approach a girder box bridge.

HAL

Hmm looks like a few people have the drop on me for oldest computer. One generation before and everything was done with a piece of magic called a slide rule (I still cannot understand how they work), one generation later and it isn't Trump, Putin or China (apologies - no idea who the leader in China is), who rules the world, it is Google and the Internet.
How would we cope if a truly good (?) virus disabled all the servers at once -- now I'm not going to be able to do the work I'm paid for, for thinking about the plot line for that :-)

Banadin

I still have and know how to use my sliderule, don't need a Faraday cage for it!

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
richardshagrin
Updated:

@HAL


a slide rule (I still cannot understand how they work)


Its analog, uses logarithmic approach with length of the slides letting the user do a number of mathematical calculations. I don't know if I kept mine, I had it in June, 2016 before I moved, but haven't calculated anything with it since Physics in College circa 1964. If you remember how it works it is faster than any digital calculator because you don't have to enter any digits before the machine processes them. Well, it might be a tie for 2 + 2. The machine may be lightning fast but my fingers don't enter numbers as fast as the slide rule slides. Sometimes the slide rule doesn't give as many digits of accuracy, but if you are using data you observed by eye or hand, it may not be accurate to 27 places anyhow.

Most of us carried our slide rules in cases that fastened to our belts. Sort of like gun slingers, draw and calculate faster than the next guy. I don't remember ever seeing a female slide ruler.

Replies:   sejintenej
sejintenej

@richardshagrin


Most of us carried our slide rules in cases that fastened to our belts. Sort of like gun slingers, draw and calculate faster than the next guy.


Mine is still in my desk (though I do have a couple of electronic calculators) but I also have and sometimes use
a soroban.

WTF? After WWII when the USA ruled Japan there was a timing contest between a US servicemen using the latest in American mathematical equipment and a Japanese using a soroban. Many different calculations and until the last they were equal but the Japanese won the final one.
The neighbour who taught me was on TV with some of her pupils and ex pupils all with sums involving five figure numbers. First were primary school children (under 11 years old) using sorobans and answering almost instantly. The next lot (secondary school - over 11 years) did not have sorobans any longer but you saw their fingers moving and they were answering within a few seconds. They were certainly faster than I can operate an electronic calculator.
The crazy thing is that the teacher was not paid but got sacked because the school decided to discontinue the one period (? under an hour) a week to teach

Replies:   graybyrd  REP
graybyrd
Updated:

@sejintenej

Hoo boy, it's been nigh on to sixty years! I still have my prize Japanese-manufactured plastic-covered bamboo slide rule that got me through Navy electronics (and the complexities of thermionic valve circuitry). That's 'vacuum tube' radio & radar gear.

The two most valuable mental habits learned from slide rule practice was to think in terms of 'significant digits', and to keep track of the decimal point using exponents, powers of ten. Thus 324,567,980 would become 3.25 x 10[8] etc. Few had eyes sharp enough to read four or more digits from the hairline. Anyway, using this simplification one could instantly glance at the significant digits and do an estimate of the result. In a field where anywhere from five to twenty percent 'accuracy' was accepted (component tolerances, power levels, etc) the slide rule was 'good enough.' It was also generally accepted that an accumulation of small errors up or down tended to cancel out in the final result.

Good mental habits led to 'reasonable' thinking; one wonders if the digital universe is so user-friendly. I still prefer an analog display: a mere glance yields situational awareness. The red needle high on the temperature scale needs no interpretation that you're in deep doo-doo. A digital display requires a mental comparison before awareness sets in. Slow. Of course we then tossed both of those out and went for a blinking light and a 'check engine' message. Idiocy!

Replies:   sejintenej  REP
sejintenej

@graybyrd


The two most valuable mental habits learned from slide rule practice was to think in terms of 'significant digits', and to keep track of the decimal point using exponents, powers of ten.

I have come across too many people who couldn't understand or work out such basic concepts. Must be a brain anomoly

REP

@sejintenej

The crazy thing is that the teacher was not paid but got sacked because the school decided to discontinue the one period (? under an hour) a week to teach


Something like that is usually a business decision based on the overhead costs of supporting the class versus the return on investment (i.e., class fees paid by students).

Replies:   sejintenej
REP

@graybyrd

Few had eyes sharp enough to read four or more digits from the hairline.


If I recall from my slide rule, more than 2 digits was a guess based on interpolation of distance between hash marks. Although you could get a reasonably accurate guess at 3 digits from the left-side of the slide rule.

richardshagrin

Some slide rules were longer than others. It was easier to guesstimate the number of digits to use on the longer slides.

Replies:   REP
REP

@richardshagrin

When I was in high school, my math teacher was talking about multiplying by adding two numbers logarithmic value. He was using a 6-foot slide rule as a demonstration tool. :)

richardshagrin

@REP

I bet the six foot slide rule gave better number of digits than your pocket 5 inch rule.

JohnBobMead

@REP

When I was in high school, my math teacher was talking about multiplying by adding two numbers logarithmic value. He was using a 6-foot slide rule as a demonstration tool. :)


I had completely forgotten until now.

There was a humongous slide rule hanging on the wall of the science lab when I was in High School (1975-1979).

I don't think I ever saw it in use, they had a couple of HP RPN programmable calculators in security cases tethered to a power outlet that they used instead (HP25/25c/29c; not sure which of these they were).

I'm just a couple of years too young to have been taught how to use a slide rule; electronic calculators had become sufficiently common that slide rules were a thing of the past.

I did own one; my father got one for my sister and I, but didn't actually sit down and teach us how to use them, which, looking back on it, seems odd to me.

I even picked up a circular slide rule at a rummage sale one time, because it looked really keen, but still never actually learned how to use it.

Replies:   StarFleet Carl  REP
StarFleet Carl

@JohnBobMead

There was a humongous slide rule hanging on the wall of the science lab when I was in High School (1975-1979).

I even picked up a circular slide rule at a rummage sale one time, because it looked really keen, but still never actually learned how to use it.


I'm looking at you strangely. We didn't go to the same high school, but I had some similar experiences - during exactly the same years. And while I've forgotten how to use it, I also had a circular slide rule.

I'd have to dig through a box that's in the storage unit but I think I still have a couple of them out there. I remember the one my uncle gave me had two different sliding pointers on it, one was magnifying so you could see closer to in between the lines.

Geek of Ages

Despite my youth, I actually do know how to use a slide rule, at least for the basic stuff. The slide rule I have was a gift from my wife's family early in our marriage, and it came with a sheet explaining how to use it.

But I'm also a weird person who likes sometimes tinkering with antiques. XD

Crumbly Writer

@jimh67

Crime fiction novelist Ed McBaine never put a date in his books and tried never to make a reference that would date the book. His first 87th Precinct book was written in 1956 and is still available on Kindle and Audible.

On the other hand, the book "1984" had real lasting power, and sold well for decade upon decade, until 1984, after which is was hardly ever discussed, and their sales tanked, despite it's being more relevant than ever.

Self-imposed restrictions can definitely sink a book. That's why I'd NEVER specify a particular real President or administration in a book, because the book will become outdated as soon as a new administration is voted in. :(

Crumbly Writer

@helmut_meukel

Even simple things like fountain pens mostly gone.

Hey! Many of us still insist on using fountain pens. I despise ball-points! However, every year it gets harder and harder to find fountain pens for sale.

And my concern with ball-points and fountain pens isn't just being a cranky baby-boomer. Anyone involved with art knows the most important things are archival quality (i.e. is the ink permanent, or will it fade over time or smear when it gets wet), the nature of the medium (ball-points are clumsy, whereas fountain pens flow naturally and allow one to draw straight lines, whereas you really have to struggle to draw one with a ball-point).

If you respect your work (your writing, even if it's just a signature), you should respect the tools you use. Things are more expensive for a reason, because quality isn't cheap! A work created with a fountain pen will last a hundred years, while you'll easily purchase a hundred fountain pens during the same amount of time.

Replies:   graybyrd
Crumbly Writer

@LonelyDad

It will probably be my last system.

Are you planning on kicking the can, because computers almost never last longer than five years? Their life span simply isn't very long.

Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

It's an extremely fine line to decide what is the correct level of detail for anything in any story. I've read stories where the fine detail detracted from the story due to it being boring, I've also read stories where there wasn't enough detail to fully picture what was going on.

It's not so much a fine line, but a line which is different for every single reader! Some readers need to be led by the nose, told every detail in 5th grade English, while others quickly bore of detailed descriptions and want to get into the nitty-gritty details.

The key, is to know your audience. For most sci-fi fans, they've got a pretty decent idea of physics principals, even if they only studied Business in college. Thus the target your audience. You don't write sci-fi books for Business students, you write them for sci-fi fans, and hopefully you'll also capture the fancy of a few Business people too.

The problem with gun-pron (or any other -porn) is that they're incredibly selective of their audience (i.e. gun porn is directed at either gun enthusiasts, or ex-military, so anyone not in either camp is left feeling excluded. It's a self-limited appeal to a select and hyper-critical fan base.

Replies:   Not_a_ID
Crumbly Writer

@richardshagrin

The tale is more important than de tail. As long as interesting things are happening, we don't care what color the grass is. Or the sheets on the bed. Or if there is any bedding at all.

That's true, but the details are often vital in breathing life into a tale (i.e. making it feel 'lived in'). If everything sounds generic, describing card-board characters, the story seems empty. Providing strategic details helps flesh out the environment and makes the characters seen real and vital. But you don't need a LOT of detail, just enough to flesh out the story, one once you've painted a mental picture for readers, you don't need to keep painting it. Assume your readers get it (or don't) and move on. Details serve a purpose, but they shouldn't be the master of your book.

Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

Never forget about giving the detail needed to be sure the reader knows the IHOP is not the Apple dance store, because they're aren't everywhere.

No, but Apple dance stores are! 'D Every year, I read up on the latest iCringe devices.

Crumbly Writer

@PotomacBob

Simply not true. I've been to the U.S. and, until this exchange, I've never heard of a Benjamin, unless you're talking about the dog named Benji

Like you, I've never heard the term used in the States, but it is frequently used in movies, which is why foreigners are more familiar with this 'Americanism' than Americans are. :( (Hint: It's typically used to describe hip gangsters.)

Replies:   Not_a_ID
Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

I rather think it would be difficult for a foreigner to make a trip to the US without having any exposure to US currency.

Ever since the introduction of the automated cash machine, the use of large denomination bills has fallen sharply. Now, few ever see anything larger than a twenty. The larger denomination used to be used mostly for illegal transactions, but now those are handled by electronic transfers, with no physical transfer of any kind.

Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

Years ago I'd agree, but now you can go most places and only use plastic, thus not see the local money.

Nowadays, you don't even need plastic anymore, as many places you can simply have your phone by it and it'll deduct your money from you account, with no need for you to carry any cash at all. It really makes hold-ups a thing of the past.

Crumbly Writer

@HAL

Regarding computers, I trump you all - First computer I used was a PDP8 with no hard disc and you programmed it with paper tape! Great for flashing lights on the front though.

I remember those. It was a great advance of the paper punch cards that IBM used to require to program (or key in data) for their mainframes!

Crumbly Writer

@Capt. Zapp

My first was a trash-80 model I - Level 1. 4k TOTAL memory, cassette tape storage, 3 error messages. no HD, no rs-232. All add-ons required upgrading to Level II (16k RAM!) and the purchase of the 'expansion interface' which cost as much as the 'main' computer.

I remember those too, though the most 'advanced' game was Pong (or much later, Donkey Kong). The most popular, though, was the wholly text-based "Adventure" game.

Crumbly Writer

@Jim S

As to how much it changed society, the suburbs would have happened a lot slower if the highway system wasn't there. As well as commerce.

Trust me, Amazon simply couldn't have functioned without the infrastructure created in the 50's and 60's. They might have the technology, but without a way to ship products directly to someone's house, they wouldn't be in business!

Crumbly Writer

@HAL

Hmm looks like a few people have the drop on me for oldest computer. One generation before and everything was done with a piece of magic called a slide rule (I still cannot understand how they work), one generation later and it isn't Trump, Putin or China (apologies - no idea who the leader in China is), who rules the world, it is Google and the Internet.

I was literally the last generation who used the slide rule (the year after I learned to use it, they introduced the first electronic calculator). I still remember how to operate the damn things (talk about meaningful training, unlike the nonsense they teach now which you forget a month later).

Crumbly Writer

@Banadin

I still have and know how to use my sliderule, don't need a Faraday cage for it!

Yes, but do you have any clue how to use a Sextant? 'D

Replies:   richardshagrin  graybyrd
richardshagrin

@Crumbly Writer

Sextant

Sounds like a story on SOL, sex tant. Isn't the tant the space between the anus and the vagina?

Replies:   awnlee jawking  Not_a_ID
BlacKnight

@Crumbly Writer

Are you planning on kicking the can, because computers almost never last longer than five years? Their life span simply isn't very long.


I have servers that have been up for more than five years.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
awnlee jawking

@richardshagrin

A story on SOL about you: Tant Rick Sex ;)

AJ

richardshagrin
Updated:


Rick


Its Richard. I never used Rick although I was willing to answer to Rich. I prefer Rich (and) Hard. I live in apartments run by Senior Housing Assistance Group. SHAG. Really. And I grin a lot. SHAG Grin. You can Google "SHAG" and see their websites and commercials. The English (slang?) meaning of shag seems to have escaped them.

Replies:   Wheezer
Wheezer

@richardshagrin

And I grin a lot.


Someone referred to you as The Grinning Dick. Sounds like it fits...

REP

@JohnBobMead

In case you or others are interested:
http://www.sliderulemuseum.com/SR_Class/OS-ISRM_SlideRuleSeminar.pdf

Not_a_ID

@Crumbly Writer

Are you planning on kicking the can, because computers almost never last longer than five years? Their life span simply isn't very long.


My dad still regularly uses a system I built for myself back in 2003(he obtained it a few years later). It isn't the system he uses for most things these days, but for a certain range of tasks it remains his "go to" computer.

Not_a_ID

@Crumbly Writer

Like you, I've never heard the term used in the States, but it is frequently used in movies, which is why foreigners are more familiar with this 'Americanism' than Americans are. :( (Hint: It's typically used to describe hip gangsters.)


It also is a movie title in at least once case. It's all about the Benjamin's after all.

Not_a_ID

@HAL

Regarding computers, I trump you all - First computer I used was a PDP8 with no hard disc and you programmed it with paper tape! Great for flashing lights on the front though.


My Dad could probably come close to matching you. His introduction to computer programming happened in 1965. But as such, much of that stuff was "before my time."

Not_a_ID

@Crumbly Writer

It's not so much a fine line, but a line which is different for every single reader! Some readers need to be led by the nose, told every detail in 5th grade English, while others quickly bore of detailed descriptions and want to get into the nitty-gritty details.


Which isn't to mention when the adds detail "beyond their own depth of knowledge" (and the ones checking their work) and start demonstrating just how "horrifically broken" their fantasy world would be if taken to their logical conclusions.

That's all well and good when you're portraying a "broken" setting in the first place, but when those details start nullifying your own premise....

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Not_a_ID

@richardshagrin

Sounds like a story on SOL, sex tant. Isn't the tant the space between the anus and the vagina?


Let me guess, six is also your favourite number in German?

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@BlacKnight

I have servers that have been up for more than five years.

Servers maybe, because, in the end, servers don't really do much. Personal computers, not so much. True, they last longer than they used to, but not by much.

Replies:   Geek of Ages
Crumbly Writer

@Not_a_ID

Which isn't to mention when the adds detail "beyond their own depth of knowledge" (and the ones checking their work) and start demonstrating just how "horrifically broken" their fantasy world would be if taken to their logical conclusions.

And that's what Content Editors are for. They're entire job is ripping your entire story apart and handing you back the bloody pieces for you to attempt to patch it back together. Seems like a had a couple lying around here somewhere.

Crumbly Writer

@Not_a_ID

Let me guess, six is also your favourite number in German?

Sixty-Six in German almost beats sixty-nine in English!

Replies:   Not_a_ID  richardshagrin
Geek of Ages

@Crumbly Writer

servers don't really do much


I'm pretty sure that's not true.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Not_a_ID
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer


Sixty-Six in German almost beats sixty-nine in English!


Well, 66 spoken in German probably sounds a LOT more interesting to an English speaker than 69 would(when spoken in German).

Edit for the lazy: After, what kind of adventurous English-speaking person wouldn't investigate what this "sechs-und-sechzig" might be?

richardshagrin

@Crumbly Writer

sixty-nine

With 77 you get ate more than with 69.

graybyrd

@Crumbly Writer

Hey! Many of us still insist on using fountain pens. I despise ball-points! However, every year it gets harder and harder to find fountain pens for sale.


If you truly desire the smooth, flowing feel of fountain pen writing, you're luck. Thanks to hordes of sketch artists and journal addicts, fountain pens and permanently light-fast, waterproof ink are readily available in a range of prices from "that's great!" to "holy shit!" on Amazon.

I recently bought a Pilot "Metropolitan" fountain pen for about $12 that refills with an adapter without needing those pesky cartridges; and legend has it that an ink magician in New York hand-mixes barrels of the world's finest ink: Noodlers Black Ink. It comes in many other colors. Among the artist community, this ink is legendary for ink and wash sketches. Most of the journal crowd seems to go into deep-breathing mode over Lamy fountain pens and Moleskin bound notebooks.

So there you have it. Google and Amazon are your friend; once you've done a quick search, you'll get daily emails for the next decade reminding you that all that good stuff and more is only a click away!

(Myself, I find the Pilot Precise V5 roller pen to be sheer magic. Those Pilot folks, Japanese all, seem to be really 'gung-ho' about quality writing gear.)

Replies:   PotomacBob
graybyrd
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer


Are you planning on kicking the can, because computers almost never last longer than five years? Their life span simply isn't very long.


I once was neighbors to a back-country rancher who lawyered for a living (to support the ranch). He was told by a BLM 'grazing expert' that cattle would refuse to graze hillsides beyond a 45-degree slope.

"For God's sake, don't say that too loud," Jim protested. "My cows will hear you and come rolling down the mountain!"

Part of his ranch comprised creek drainages that ran through steep, narrow canyons. Centuries of wildlife had terraced the slopes from top to bottom with game trails. Savvy Idaho cattle had learned to stand on the terrace, reach up to the tall bunch grass, and grow fat in comfort.

That said, I'll not repeat your claim out loud, lest the Compaq S4000T Pentium 4, multi-threaded CPU should catch the bad vibes of what you said, and expire. It runs my Linux installation. The latest version of Debian, updated again just today. Just sayin...

Hell, my Mac Mini, Intel Core 2 Duo, 2 GHz, single processor @ 667 MHz, core 2, with 4 GB RAM will soon be old enough to enroll in college!

graybyrd

@Crumbly Writer

Yes, but do you have any clue how to use a Sextant?


Actually, yes, and the quartz wrist watch is a chronometer that Capt. Hornblower would have given his other leg to have. Accurate to a second or two a day. And a hand-held scientific calculator makes calculating a sight damned easy. The hard part now is not wobbling too much while taking the sight, and then having a pad of forms to fill out while punching calculator keys.

PotomacBob

@graybyrd

Is a pen that uses a cartridge still a "fountain pen"? I thought to be a fountain pen, you had to refill it by sticking its nose in a fountain and let it drink, using a little pump on the side of the pen.

Crumbly Writer

@Geek of Ages

servers don't really do much

I'm pretty sure that's not true.

No, servers do plenty, but they don't experience the wear that high def monitor, programs that start up and shut down, start up and shut down. As a result, they're lifespan is longer than the typical user's PC.

It's akin to the 'with no moving parts, there's nothing to break' theory.

Replies:   Geek of Ages
graybyrd

@PotomacBob

You must be thinking of a squirt gun. Don't use permanent ink.

Dominions Son

@PotomacBob

Is a pen that uses a cartridge still a "fountain pen"?


Yes, even if it uses a disposable ink cartridge, if the tip is a nib rather than a roller ball, the stationary industry still calls it a fountain pen.

A fountain pen is a nib pen that, unlike its predecessor, the dip pen, contains an internal reservoir of liquid ink. The pen draws ink from the reservoir through a feed to the nib and deposits it on paper via a combination of gravity and capillary action. Filling the reservoir with ink may be achieved manually, via the use of a Pasteur pipette (eyedropper) or syringe, or via an internal filling mechanism which creates suction (for example, through a piston mechanism) to transfer ink directly through the nib into the reservoir. Some pens employ removable reservoirs in the form of pre-filled ink cartridges.[1]


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fountain_pen

JohnBobMead

@Crumbly Writer

Are you planning on kicking the can, because computers almost never last longer than five years? Their life span simply isn't very long.


The computer I'm typing this on, a Gateway DX-4200-09, was manufactured in 2008. It came with Windows Vista Home.

It's currently running Windows 10 Professional x64 1709 with no problems. I'll admit, when Windows 10 was first released, it took 16 minutes realtime to go from my pressing the power button to the login screen, but the updates to Windows 10 have cut that down to about a minute; yes, I'm actually someone who is in better shape as a result of the various updates Microsoft has released to the Windows 10 OS.

I was very pleasantly surprised to find that it came with an HDMI port when I finally upgraded from a CRT, about two/three years ago.

I've had to replace the OS drive twice. I recently upgraded to a dedicated video card from its integrated graphics, because I wanted to be able to use it with two monitors; thus a video card with two HDMI ports was required. I also maxed out its memory. I did have to replace the original power supply when it died, and with the new video card I had to replace that one, which is still in fine condition, with a higher output unit. I did remove the fax modem when I installed the new video card; I haven't had a land line in seven years.

While I have had a couple of computers outright die on me, most have lasted a very long time; my last Windows 98SE machine gave up the ghost a couple of years ago, which makes me very happy that Good Old Games [GOG] has a number of my favorite games updated to run within Windows 10.

This just goes to show how little real change has occured in the last ten years in PC technology.

Yes, we now have SSDs and related forms of data storage with no moving parts, but SATA II hard drives are still readily available; SSDs are still too expensive to use for mass storage. There are a number of specialized interfaces which have come and gone in the intervening years, but USB 2.0 is still the dominant interface.

Replies:   Geek of Ages
Geek of Ages

@Crumbly Writer

servers do plenty, but they don't experience the wear that high def monitor, programs that start up and shut down, start up and shut down


Last I checked, computers are computers, and they all wear down the same sort of way. Servers have programs that start up and stop a lot, too. That they're headless makes no difference to the hard drive they're using.

My understanding is that servers have a shorter lifespan than desktop computers, because they tend to be doing more work for more periods of time (that is, lots of processing for 24/7) than the ridiculously light loads we put on desktop computers and the relatively few hours we use them.

Part of the motivation for cloud computing, as I understood from my friends in the data center, was that hardware failed too often and too quickly, and it was a pain in the ass to get new hardware and set it up and then get everything pointing to it. By virtualizing the environment, hardware failures are met with dropping in a new piece of equipment, hitting "provision" and moving on.

Replies:   Dominions Son  REP  PotomacBob
Geek of Ages

@JohnBobMead

The push the last ten years has been towards power efficiency and size, because the dominant computing platform has shifted from hulking desktops to mobile phones. These gains don't mean much on the desktop side, except for all the massive things that have happened in GPUs in the past ten years.

A modern day ship of Theseus: if you replace all the parts of a computer with new ones, is it still the same computer?

Replies:   JohnBobMead
JohnBobMead

@Geek of Ages

A modern day ship of Theseus: if you replace all the parts of a computer with new ones, is it still the same computer?


Change enough things, and the Windows OS will ask you to get a new license; the hardware profile is far enough from the original that it assumes a new machine.

Well, if the replacements are upgrades, rather than matches to the replaced part. A sufficient number of add-on cards will do the trick.

I've had that happen a couple of times.

Microsoft was surprisingly cooperative when I argued that it was still the same computer, since it was the same motherboard and case, and issued me a new license gratis.

It is hard to argue, after a bit, that a frankencomputer is the same as the original. I'll support the argument so long as it has the same motherboard and case.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Dominions Son

@Geek of Ages


My understanding is that servers have a shorter lifespan than desktop computers, because they tend to be doing more work for more periods of time (that is, lots of processing for 24/7) than the ridiculously light loads we put on desktop computers and the relatively few hours we use them.


Your understanding is wrong.

For the CPU and the circuit board, the majority of the wear is in the startup process.

The only part of a computer that experiences significant operational wear is the hard drives, and that's what RAID arrays and network storage devices are for.

With the larger raid arrays used for big server centers, they can even swap out individual physical drives that have failed without shutting down the system.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RAID

helmut_meukel
Updated:

@Dominions Son


For the CPU and the circuit board, the majority of the wear is in the startup process.


My experience is to run the PC 24/7 and it lasts at least twice as long as a PC powered up and shut down daily.

I designed and programmed custom-built software for integrating machines and update order data. The computers we used were standard systems in the price range of 1800 to 2500 DM (~ 900–1250 $). I insisted the systems were never shut down and they were often used up to ten years in dusty or damp factory floor environments. Despite of claims by drive manufacturers we always used horizontally not vertically installed drives.

The drive of a twelve year old system died on me when I visited the customer to upgrade his systems from 10 Mbit Coax Ethernet to Gigabit Ethernet. To change the network card I had to lay the box on its side. After completition of the update I could hear the drive didn't run as smoothly as before and in less than an hour I had a drive failure. :(

Just to repeat it: we always used standard components not high-end server hardware.

HM.
(Typo edited)

Replies:   REP
Geek of Ages

@Dominions Son

For the CPU and the circuit board, the majority of the wear is in the startup process


Yes, and of the four computers I use regularly (personal laptop, home desktop, work laptop, work desktop) the last time any of them had a startup process was when I installed High Sierra. Before that...literally months, I think?

You shouldn't be shutting down and starting up computers very often anymore.

awnlee jawking

@Geek of Ages

You shouldn't be shutting down and starting up computers very often anymore.


Unless you use Avast Antivirus and it leaves file locks lying around which are registered as belonging to system processes so you can't do a simple reboot to clear them :(

AJ

REP

@Geek of Ages

My understanding is that servers have a shorter lifespan than desktop computers, because they tend to be doing more work for more periods of time (that is, lots of processing for 24/7) than the ridiculously light loads we put on desktop computers and the relatively few hours we use them.


Part of the work I did in the electronic R&D community was associated with the fields of Maintainability and Reliability Engineering. The most common failure modes for electronic equipment are related to heat, moisture, and shock/vibration.

The execution of software programs has little to no affect on the hardware other than the fact heat and possibly vibration is generated. Inadequate cooling leads to damage due to overheating. Inadequate shock mounting leads to mechanical damage to electronic components. A server and desktop computer operating the same number of hours have similar probability of failure. That probability is directly related to the equipment's total failure rate (FR)and is expressed by the equipment's Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF).

In relation to Commercial hardware, Mil-Spec hardware is designed to operate in environments that subject the equipment to higher temperatures, higher humidity, and greater g-forces induced by vibration and shock.

Replies:   Not_a_ID
REP
Updated:

@helmut_meukel


My experience is to run the PC 24/7 and it lasts at least twice as long as a PC powered up and shut down daily.


That is because the startup process subjects the electronic components to thermal shock (i.e., a rapid change in temperature cause by the buildup of heat). Running a computer constantly results in an almost constant operating temperature assuming the temperature of the air used to cool the equipment does not change.

Not_a_ID

@REP

The execution of software programs has little to no affect on the hardware other than the fact heat and possibly vibration is generated. Inadequate cooling leads to damage due to overheating. Inadequate shock mounting leads to mechanical damage to electronic components. A server and desktop computer operating the same number of hours have similar probability of failure


Except the server is probably mounted somewhere out of the way, that doesn't see much foot traffic, and in more commercial/professional settings, probably has further isolation in place to even minimize that. Going further, in the commercial/professional settings, those servers are more likely to be in climate controlled rooms that are well regulated. Sometimes even better than the offices most people work in, or the homes they live in. (although admittedly, there is a "shove it in a (un-ventilated) closet" club as well)

In other words, the server isn't likely to be "bumped into" or "jostled around" for random reasons. Now compare that to a desktop in most environments.

Now also add to this that the desktop is likely to have the user nearby, so that adds "human dander" to the list of things it may be getting exposed to in quantity over time. If the desktop is used at home, animal dander also potentially adds itself to the list.

This also ignores the tendency of people to also eat and drink at their computer and the consequences that can sometimes have. Servers aren't likely to be on the receiving end of a Hot Coffee or Soda spill, desktop computers on the other hand? (Although notably, usually it is the keyboard and mouse that typically suffers, not the Computer itself.)

Replies:   REP
PotomacBob

@Geek of Ages

Isn't "the cloud" just an off-site server?

Replies:   Not_a_ID
Not_a_ID

@PotomacBob

Isn't "the cloud" just an off-site server?


Yes and no. Initially it was.

Anymore, it generally denotes a "Virtual server"/"Virtual (storage) Space" that may not have any real meaningful association with any particular piece of hardware. So it's existence is rather ephemeral, kind of like trying to keep track of a particular molecule of water in an actual cloud.

Replies:   REP
sejintenej

@REP


Something like that is usually a business decision based on the overhead costs of supporting the class versus the return on investment (i.e., class fees paid by students).

This was a state school; parents might pay for uniforms, lunches, outings etc. but all teaching, occupation of premises, cleaning, heating, light etc. is free.
The teacher is Japanese, a mathematician by qualification with fluent English (and I guess Spanish and Esperanto), legally resident and working in the UK, who teaches soroban and anzan all over the place including Cuba, Germany, Japan that I know of. Two books published that I know of.

I have no idea why her classes were stopped but it occurred shortly after some of her pupils appeared on Blue Peter (a semi-serious format UK childrens TV programme)

Replies:   REP
REP

@Not_a_ID

thanks for supporting my point that was it is the environment in which the servers and other computers are used that causes most failures, not the execution of software programs.

REP
Updated:

@Not_a_ID


that may not have any real meaningful association with any particular piece of hardware.


Virtual space is just a marketing term used to imply no hardware. Companies sell Cloud storage space, which resides on hardware. The companies know what hardware they are using to store other peoples' data.

Since the companies' data storage and retrieval routines access specific hardware it is obvious that they track what data is stored on what hardware.

ETA: If the companies didn't track where they stored your data, you would never get it back.

REP

@sejintenej

but all teaching, occupation of premises, cleaning, heating, light etc. is free.


Not True.

The teacher may not receive a salary, but the school incurs administrative, insurance, and other costs relating to the teacher being on the premises. People using the premises cause wear and tear that results in maintenance costs. Cleaning, heat, lights, etc is paid for by someone. The owners of the school are the ones footing these bills. These things and others all contribute to the school's (i.e., owners') overhead costs.

The school's overhead costs probably exceeded the fees charged for the course, and that is why the teacher got sacked.

Replies:   helmut_meukel
StarFleet Carl

@Dominions Son

For the CPU and the circuit board, the majority of the wear is in the startup process.


What the hell, I may as well put my two cents in, too. My towers I use at home (three of them) not only are never turned off, but I also run them through a UPS so even if the power blips, they WON'T turn off and power cycle.

The last time I fully power cycled any of them was about 8 months ago, when I individually shut each of them down as I was doing a physical memory upgrade, then powered them back up and they run all the time.

helmut_meukel
Updated:

@REP

sejintenej:

but all teaching, occupation of premises, cleaning, heating, light etc. is free.


REP:

Not True.

The teacher may not receive a salary, but the school incurs administrative, insurance, and other costs relating to the teacher being on the premises. People using the premises cause wear and tear that results in maintenance costs. Cleaning, heat, lights, etc is paid for by someone. The owners of the school are the ones footing these bills. These things and others all contribute to the school's (i.e., owners') overhead costs.

The school's overhead costs probably exceeded the fees charged for the course, and that is why the teacher got sacked.


REP, didn't you realize sejintenej is talking about a school in GB not in the USA? And of a state school not one of those private schools there. There are no fees for courses and AFAIK the taxpayer pays all bills. I doubt the school has to pay any insurances. The state – same as in Germany – doesn't pay any insurance, if something happens and you claim damages the state will eventually pay you but you better get a lawyer involved.

As for the costs: most costs are the same regardless if a classroom is used for an additional hour or not. Breaking down e.g. the cleaning costs on an hourly usage rate of the classroom is simply stupid. They are the same for any given classroom regardless if it's used four, five or 6 hours a day. Same for heating: if the room is unused for an hour between two classes you can't reduce the heating significantly for this hour and nobody will even attempt it.

HM.
(edited typo)

Replies:   REP
Crumbly Writer

@PotomacBob

Is a pen that uses a cartridge still a "fountain pen"? I thought to be a fountain pen, you had to refill it by sticking its nose in a fountain and let it drink, using a little pump on the side of the pen.

I'm sure purists will argue the point, but I'm not overly concerning with who refills the ink. My main issue is the ink itself. Thus, most pre-filled ink cartridges use the cheapest ink available, while fountain pen owners are usually interested in either flow or archival qualities, which run counter to 'cheapest'.

My current pen is a Cross, which does use prefilled catridges, though for years (decades) I'd fill the pens myself. But most of the time, I used 'art pens', which has a mechanism for loading the archival ink, but didn't contain the typical fountain pen 'quill'/needle endpoint. In those cases, the main point is the quality of the line, so the pen won't 'grab' the paper and stutter, but flow smoothly so it won't interfere with the drawn line.

Fountain pens are better for 'natural writing' (like writing or autographs, while art pens are better for 'not getting in the way'. Both users are interested (or not) in archival quality.

Crumbly Writer

@JohnBobMead

Microsoft was surprisingly cooperative when I argued that it was still the same computer, since it was the same motherboard and case, and issued me a new license gratis.

Not surprising, the standard M$ contract (and industry contracts) stipulate that you can reuse the software on a NEW computer, as long as you no longer use it on the old computer, not an issue when you shit-can the old one. Thus, it doesn't matter whether your upgraded computer is new or old, the license is simply transferred to the new/old computer regardless.

Crumbly Writer

@Geek of Ages

You shouldn't be shutting down and starting up computers very often anymore.

My main problem with this advice is that I use older versions of Adobe products, which are terrible at releasing memory. Thus I have to reboot frequently simply to recapture the memory these products chew up, otherwise the system will crash frequently anyway.

By the way, I use a LOT of memory, mainly for low-processor stuff, like opening a dozen browser windows, each filled with dozens of open pages. If you use several applications like that, they each chew up a significant amount of memory. Thus if any process grabs a significant amount of memory, and refuses to release it, the entire system breaks down. :(

REP

@helmut_meukel

REP, didn't you realize sejintenej is talking about a school in GB not in the USA? And of a state school not one of those private schools there. There are no fees for courses and AFAIK the taxpayer pays all bills.


It does not matter where the school is located or who is running it. Schools incur bills and someone (e.g., the private owners or the government that represents the taxpayer) pays those bills.

Breaking down e.g. the cleaning costs on an hourly usage rate of the classroom is simply stupid.


That is Basic Economics HM - all businesses are operated on the basis of their income stream exceeding their operating costs.

sejintenej school is a business and it doesn't matter if it is a private or government-run school, the principles are the same. The school's administration doesn't prorate specific costs in determining their overhead. What they do is breakdown the total costs incurred by the school and prorate those costs. When determining whether a class should be conducted, the administrators compare the cost to present the class against the income to be earned/expended by presenting the class. The school's income can be the fees paid by students or the funds allocated by the government.

In the case of a government run school that does not charge the students fees, the government requires that the school's administrators operate the school within the budget (i.e., the school's income) provided by the government. I don't know what income versus cost algorithm the school's financial department uses to determine if a class should be presented, but I do know they use one. One possible algorithm is to compare the budget/income with the proportionate costs incurred by presenting a class. The number of students signed up for a class multiplied by the income per student per class hour represents the income available to be expended in presenting the class. The total overhead costs per square foot of classroom space per hour represents the cost of presenting the class. When the cost of presenting a class exceeds the income available to pay those costs, then the school's administrators will be extremely reluctant to allow the class to be conducted.

Geek of Ages

@Crumbly Writer

if any process grabs a significant amount of memory, and refuses to release it, the entire system breaks down


That's...not how it works? You might get slowdowns because of the increased use of swap space, but it won't break the system.

(Also, I too run things that use a lot of memory. Slack, Atom, Chrome, and so on. I still rarely shut my computer down, and I have no problems)

awnlee jawking

@Geek of Ages

That's...not how it works? You might get slowdowns because of the increased use of swap space, but it won't break the system.


Doesn't getting 'out of memory' messages for applications and web pages that normally load without problems count as a break?

AJ

AmigaClone

@awnlee jawking


Doesn't getting 'out of memory' messages for applications and web pages that normally load without problems count as a break?


Not if the reason that message appears is because there was a software problem somewhere that makes the OS think the memory is full.

It counts if there is a physical problem with the memory.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
sejintenej
Updated:

@REP


It does not matter where the school is located or who is running it. Schools incur bills and someone (e.g., the private owners or the government that represents the taxpayer) pays those bills.


You had written:


Something like that is usually a business decision based on the overhead costs of supporting the class versus the return on investment (i.e., class fees paid by students


Yes, the government and local authority pay for the building, heating light etc. and national taxes and local rates do not take into account whether a family has one or ten children in school. In state schools pupils do not pay the school for their compulsory education in primary and secondary schools or (?some) sixth form colleges. (We do have private aka public schools where usually*** parents do pay but those are not state schools - confused?).

In state schools often pupils can take part in activities which are not part of the compulsory curriculum (ie skiing, language trips abroad) and for those parents do pay.

*** There is a famous hospital which is a public (ie not state owned) school whose present uniform is almost unchanged since 1553 of which about 5% of pupils have their parents paying the full cost and from memory about 35% of parents pay nothing.

In this case the school had allowed this teacher to teach the soroban during a normal educational period - I don't think primary schools have "Home Room" and for much older pupils the system is different

PotomacBob; is that enough detail for you? :D

Replies:   REP
REP

@sejintenej

We do have private aka public schools where usually parents do pay but those are not state schools - confused?).


No I'm not confused about the school structure.

If you recall, you said:

The crazy thing is that the teacher was not paid but got sacked because the school decided to discontinue the one period (? under an hour) a week to teach


I responded that it was a business decision due to high costs. You told me everything was free. I pointed out that the school incurred costs to present the course even if the teacher wasn't paid.

HM commented that the school was funded by the government. I replied that it did not matter. The school administration had to live within a budget set by the government. Based on their evaluation of the cost required to put on that and other courses, they decided the course was not worth the expenditure of the money.

You and HM keep focusing that it was all Free. The parents may not have had to pay, but someone did and that someone was the government.

The bottom line sejintenej is the presentation of such a course costs money. The school undoubtedly had many courses worth presenting with some necessary and the budget provided by the government wasn't adequate to fund all of the courses. Something had to go and they decided to drop that course. That is not crazy, it's economics in action.

Replies:   sejintenej
sejintenej

@REP

Can't you read that YOU suggested that the students pay for the lessons?

The bottom line sejintenej is the presentation of such a course costs money. The school undoubtedly had many courses worth presenting with some necessary and the budget provided by the government wasn't adequate to fund all of the courses

What was the cost of the soroban course? The pupils HAD to be in class and HAD to be learning something. The school was open so there was no extra for lighting, heating etc (and she supplied the sorobans)because they were not switched off if the room was empty. All she did was to allow another teacher to help in another class or even have a cup of tea.

All the courses are set by the state and must be taught - there are no optional ones or the time for them. The question of funding is irrelevant - they MUST teach all those subjects even if they stand in a muddy field in the snow.

The fact that a very highly qualified mathematician was prepared to come in unpaid and supply, free of charge the necessary equipment** was the gravy for them.

** OK so far as I can make out these were supplied by the Japanese government or The Association of Teachers of Mathematics.

Replies:   REP
awnlee jawking

@AmigaClone

So, not a break then - it was an OS problem, with Windows failing to manage virtual memory properly.

AJ

Replies:   Geek of Ages
Geek of Ages

@awnlee jawking

Windows


Found the problem.

helmut_meukel

@REP

I wrote:

Breaking down e.g. the cleaning costs on an hourly usage rate of the classroom is simply stupid.


Your answer:

That is Basic Economics HM - all businesses are operated on the basis of their income stream exceeding their operating costs.


First: at least in Germany state schools still use cameralistics, not business-like accounting.

Second: even in a business, only marginal cost are relevant to such a decision! If the total costs – e.g. for cleaning the room – do not change wether the course is held or not you can't save any money for cleaning by cancelling the course. That's probably not Basic but Advanced Economics REP. Most overheads don't change at all if you cancel a course with one hour per week.

HM.

Replies:   REP
Crumbly Writer

@Geek of Ages

That's...not how it works? You might get slowdowns because of the increased use of swap space, but it won't break the system.

It doesn't break the system, but because of the Adobe products, if I don't shut down the system every night, I can't guarantee that the system won't shut down at unexpected times while I'm in the middle or work.

I used to run my system 24/7, but I was crashing so often, it simply wasn't worth my being stubborn. Basically, anytime I run an Adobe product, I've got to shut down the entire system at the end of the day, regardless of what else is happening. :( Otherwise, I spend my entire day backing up each keystroke.

Crumbly Writer

@awnlee jawking

Doesn't getting 'out of memory' messages for applications and web pages that normally load without problems count as a break?

The problem is, I NEVER get 'out of memory' messages. Instead, my computer simply crashes because the memory seems to bleed over into the other programs. It promotes system-wide instability.

I love what I can do with Adobe products, but the designers who programmed them had no clue what they were doing!

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Geek of Ages

@Crumbly Writer

older versions of Adobe products


Found the problem.

Ernest Bywater

@Crumbly Writer

The problem is, I NEVER get 'out of memory' messages. Instead, my computer simply crashes because the memory seems to bleed over into the other programs. It promotes system-wide instability.


It's the responsibility of the operating system to clear the memory used by a program when the program closes, although the better designed programs will also include such routines in their programming, but they shouldn't need to because the operating system should do it. However, there are a number of third party memory management programs you can get and install on Windows systems that can be set to monitor and clear the memory to stop those problems. I used to use them on my Windows system starting with Win98 I used a program called MemTurbo. I don't need it on my Linux system because Linus manages the memory properly.

REP

@sejintenej

Can't you read that YOU suggested that the students pay for the lessons?


Nowhere did I suggest that the students and parents pay for the course. You need to reread what I wrote. What you highlighted talked about payment, but not who was to pay. If you read something into that or something else I wrote and think I was saying the students should pay - you are wrong.

You wrote both of the following:

but all teaching, occupation of premises, cleaning, heating, light etc. is free.


there was no extra for lighting, heating etc


In the first you are saying the school had heating and lighting, now you are saying there was no extra money for heating and lighting. That makes no sense.

I know nothing about the school you are talking about. HM said the school is in GB, but you just said the Japanese Government provided the equipment. What government is running the school?

The crazy thing is that the teacher was not paid but got sacked because the school decided to discontinue the one period (? under an hour) a week to teach


All the courses are set by the state and must be taught - there are no optional ones or the time for them.


Most people would understand canceling the period and dismissing the subjects teacher to mean the course was dropped. You are now saying all courses are mandatory and none are optional and all courses must be taught. How can it be both ways?

Replies:   sejintenej
REP
Updated:

@helmut_meukel


even in a business, only marginal cost are relevant to such a decision!


If a business were to only consider the maginal costs in making decisions, they would soon be out of business.

The costs related to presenting a course are too numerous to list here, but in addition to cleaning, the schools administration costs, teachers and other staffs' salaries, benefits, etc., facility and property maintenance and upkeep, and all bills incurred for light, gas, electric, water, waste disposal, food, office and school supplies, etc., would be included.

The decision to cancel the class is not made to save money as you imply. The decision is, can the school afford to conduct that and possibly similar classes that provides them with a negative return on investment.

Yes, there is a difference between cameralistics and business-like accounting. In the first, the administrator gets fired if they fail to stay within the government budget. In the second, if the business is being run in the red, everyone can lose their jobs and the business close its doors.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son
Updated:

@REP


@helmut_meukel


even in a business, only marginal cost are relevant to such a decision!



If a business were to only consider the maginal costs in making decisions, they would soon be out of business.


It's a bit more complex than that.

There are three types of costs to consider.

Marginal costs: costs directly attributable to the production of x widgets. What it would cost you to produce x more widgets or what you would save by producing x fewer widgets.

Overhead costs: Expenses that must be paid in order to do business at all, but do not directly vary with the level of output.

Then there are sunk costs, these are money already spend that can not be recovered. These are mostly but not always capital expenditures.

Overhead costs do need to be considered, because while they don't directly vary with production, they can be increased or decreased with changes in production.

If you are increasing production, beyond a certain point, you will need a larger plant, this means more rent, more lighting, more heating. The reverse is also true, if cutting back production. at some point, you will be able to move to a smaller facility reducing overhead costs.

Another overhead cost that can vary step wise with production is sales and marketing expenses.

It's sunk costs that you are supposed to ignore.

Replies:   REP  helmut_meukel
REP

@Dominions Son

My conversation was focused on a school DS. I was not trying to compare a business like a school to a manufacturing type of business.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@REP

I was not trying to compare a business like a school to a manufacturing type of business.


The same principle applies to service providers, like a school, where the widgets produced are customers served (or for a school students educated).

Replies:   richardshagrin
richardshagrin
Updated:

@Dominions Son


for a school students educated


I agree with your statements. But at least in the United States schools can't claim the students are "educated". Mostly they attended classes and did some or most of the work assigned, or at least kept relatively quiet while the teacher was lecturing, or doing what ever he or she did. They got the right credits for the right classes, including physical education which differs from real education, most of the time. They regurgitated enough of the right facts on paper when tested to pass, or maybe the school teachers and administration just wanted them to keep attending since states pay school districts based on attendance. Often once the test is over they forget everything they were exposed to. I may be a little pessimistic, but universities need to have remedial classes to teach high school graduates things they were supposed to learn in school. And graduate schools also have this kind of problem. Attending classes unfortunately doesn't mean the people who went to class were educated.

sejintenej
Updated:

@REP


You are now saying all courses are mandatory and none are optional and all courses must be taught. How can it be both ways?


Mathematics is mandatory and at primary school level that includes addition, subtraction, multiplication and division which is all that the soraban is used for. (As I wrote, after using it and at a more advanced level like the 11 year olds it becomes unnecessary to have one physically). There are various ways of teaching these parts of mathematics so it would appear that the school has gone back to the classic ways.

The method is as chosen by the school; when my daughter started school she was taught using a system developed for mentally handicapped children which turned out to be extremely quick and effective - it is the results which are judged. (BTW - she has two masters degrees and several other professional diplomas).

As for soroban being cost effective, if the gogglebox saw fit to feature her pupils after one session a week then IMHO it was effective.

Britain does have schools where conditions are like those you suggest occur in America but there are those, including this one which are good. Going back in time when I was there we had three levels of exams - General Certificate, Advanced level and Scholarship level above that. A survey suggested that Advanced level exams were at the same level as the US Ivy League universities after 18 months. However we only studied three or four subjects to that level. I don't know about now.

Who runs the school? The UK authorities of course. I understand that use of the soroban is fairly common in schools in Japan and she teaches it all over the world with their backing.

Replies:   REP
helmut_meukel
Updated:

@Dominions Son


Overhead costs do need to be considered, because while they don't directly vary with production, they can be increased or decreased with changes in production.


Absolutely true. In the case discussed – 1 hour less course time per week due to cancellation of this one course – you can and should ignore overhead costs too.

HM.
(edited typo)

Replies:   REP
REP

@sejintenej

Let us back up sejintenej.

If I understand your initial comment, you said that it was crazy for the school to cancel a class that was teaching students the soroban and discharge the teacher.

In later posts, you wrote the school is sponsored by the government and that all of the government-run schools classes were mandatory; there were no Optional classes.

I sincerely doubt that the British Government mandated that the school teach its students to use a soroban (i.e., a Japanese abacus).

I'll say it again in a slightly different way. I do not believe the soroban class was a mandatory class. Government run schools usually have a small budget. Presenting the soroban class cost the school money.

1. Having a teacher on staff at a school costs the school money above and beyond their salary.
2. Teachers typically reproduce handouts for distribution to students. That costs the school money.
3. Use of a classroom subjects the room to normal wear and tear, and to possible damage. Repairs to the classroom costs the school money.

These cost factors and others not mentioned are probably not a large amount of money individually, but they add up. If there were other non-mandatory classes, they were also probably considered for cancelation. Maybe they were canceled, but you were only aware of the 1 class being canceled. If the school's budget was very limited, canceling non-mandatory classes and discharging their teaches, if they aren't teaching other classes, would not be crazy.

Replies:   sejintenej
REP

@helmut_meukel

1 hour less course time per week due to cancellation of this one course


Sejintenej told us about 1 class being canceled and its teacher let go. What none of us knows is:

1. How much it cost the school to present that class?

2. How many optional classes were being presented?

3. Of the optional classes, how many were canceled?

4. How close the school was to being over budget?

As I said in my reply to sejintenej's post, there are multiple cost factors that probably influenced the school's decision in regard to that class and I listed a few. Each factor may only represent a small amount of money, but they can add up. If there were multiple optional courses canceled, that could have represented a significant amount of money.

sejintenej

@REP

I'll say it again in a slightly different way. I do not believe the soroban class was a mandatory class. Government run schools usually have a small budget. Presenting the soroban class cost the school money.

Teaching mathematics is mandatory. Using a soroban is one method of teaching mathematics.

Just see
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i-Ok0RCYzW8
from 5.41.
This what Kimie was teaching an entire class of ordinary kids under 11 years of age. Worth it?

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