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47 computer and laser years

I was a US Air Force computer operator in 1970, running state-of-the-art commercial computers at a time most people had never seen any computer and had no idea what they did or how. The picture on the right has mostly peripheral equipment with the RCA 301 computer being the big box in the center against the wall. In the systems that I operated, that box had 17K (17,000 characters) of core storage. By comparison, today you can buy an Arduino Micro with 32K (about double) of flash memory and A BUNCH MORE computing power for $19.80 … or about $1.80 in 1970 dollars. Yesterday I posted computers circa 1970 because at the same time I was an Air Force computer […]

first see

I mean really see. Accept what your eyes are telling you. Do not let unacceptable answers to “how?” and “why?” prevent your mind from absorbing what you can see with your own eyes. That’s impossible. Nobody would do that. Therefore I cannot believe what I am seeing. Therefore it did not happen. I must move to other topics. This one is uncomfortable. These are all normal human action/reaction. Chalk it up to “Life is mysterious” or something like that, then erase the discomforting evidence from your mind. But something strange happened in Santa Rosa last week. I shared a great video in my article here: Santa Rosa firestorm Then there is this video: Drone footage of fire damage in Santa […]

computers circa 1970

Given the choice between kill (people I did not know and certainly did not hate) or be killed in the jungles of Vietnam, I enlisted in the US Air Force. In retrospect, I helped with a lot of killing, but I didn’t mean nuthin’ by it. I spent the working part of my 4-year enlistment as a computer operator, and most of that running an RCA 301. Computer operators read the lights, and wrote our instructions to the lights. Milly was the master I learned from, and I ended up exceeding her. I was a geek before geeks were invented. This miraculous machine that could process data at light speed had gen-u-ine Core Storage of 17K – 17,000 bits of […]

Santa Rosa firestorm

This was a strange one. For a century, one house could burn to the ground while those on either side were saved by firefighters. The Santa Rosa firestorm was somehow different. I would have scoffed at someone suggesting I should evacuate my city-lot home because there was a fire miles away. That is simply NOT A THREAT. But I would have been wrong. How many people perished in those fires because they were students of history and widely known fire science instead of obeyers of orders from higher authorities? But this one was different. Freaky-different. Glass melted. Aluminum melted. Steel melted. Cultured stone melted. GONE. Appliances are gone. Every dang entire house turned to ash. That simply does not happen. […]

introducing new communication systems

The following is a convoluted way to explain my realization today that two-way radio communications networks must be developed in an organized, methodical way. I became an “Office Automation Coordinator” when the term was first introduced within the Hewlett Packard Corporation. We sailed uncharted waters, figuring out how to integrate the new “microcomputers” into the office and manufacturing environment. Tasked with putting computers on the desks of every manager in our 2,000-person division, I focused on training their secretaries so I wouldn’t have 50 high-powered managers jerking me around all day long every working day for the rest of my career. I developed my own classes to teach them installing computers, peripherals, word processing, spreadsheets, and graphing software. I taught […]

Why Did it Have to be … Guns?

by L. Neil Smith Over the past 30 years, I’ve been paid to write almost two million words, every one of which, sooner or later, came back to the issue of guns and gun-ownership. Naturally, I’ve thought about the issue a lot, and it has always determined the way I vote. People accuse me of being a single-issue writer, a single- issue thinker, and a single- issue voter, but it isn’t true. What I’ve chosen, in a world where there’s never enough time and energy, is to focus on the one political issue which most clearly and unmistakably demonstrates what any politician—or political philosophy—is made of, right down to the creamy liquid center. Make no mistake: all politicians—even those […]

Sure, let’s debate gun rights

I came across a great essay on “the gun control debate” now that the staged Las Vegas shooting has brought it back into lamestream media’s circus. That we have to have this conversation on such a regular basis is directly related to WHY we have a natural and Constitutional right to firearms. Self defense is as basic as breathing and eating. The right to grow broccoli is adjacent to the right to bear arms. A gun is like a parachute. If you need one, and don’t have one, you’ll never need one again! Some people have groceries for a week or more. Some assume their daily trip to a well-stocked grocery can never be interrupted. Whether I would like […]

fake news ups their game

Facebook, Google (YouTube), Twitter, lamestream media and their most-quoted politicians all agree that unrestricted expression challenges the story the way they want it told. Facts and multiple sources get in the way of the official mythology. They quite publicly announced their war on fake news. The war is on. Fake news is easy to find. They are burying their competition as best they can. Fake news has major resources on its side. We, however, have stories that make sense, are consistent from clip-to-clip, and withstand the test of time. Last Wednesday YouTube hurriedly implemented their squelching software. Videos showing evidence of multiple shooters disappeared. Links broke down. Twitter and Google are doing their own versions of that. Google got too […]