Anachronisms

My 7 year old daughter was playing with a toy Fisher Price dial telephone.   She asked “How does this work?”   I had to explain how we had to “dial” a phone.   Remember slide rules? (I still use a slide rule: they’re great when you want to have a custom lookup table:  especially…

20

Put a web browser on your desktop

Just a few lines of code allow you to put a fully functioning custom web browser on your screen background.   If you’re not running the beta of VFP9, then remove the autocomplete property on the textbox below.   The AlwaysOnBottom puts the browser form below other VFP windows, so you can continue to use…

10

Harvesting blood

I gave blood yesterday to the Puget Sound Blood Center   It’s great: they have an online reservation system and send a bloodmobile to Microsoft campus pretty frequently (about every 8 weeks: (that’s how often you are allowed to give blood) how about that!)   Pretty convenient… except when you don’t know your ice hockey…

3

Displaying playing cards for bridge

I love to play bridge. When I was a little kid, my parents played with their parents. I would put my palm on the table, and my dad would riffle shuffle on my hand. The thrills of childhood!   Nowadays I read bridge columns and try to play at the local bridge club whenever I…

8

Why was the original IBM PC 4.77 Megahertz?

In 1979, I had a summer job on Long Island, NY designing a circuit board for the front panel of a satellite control system. That was the time Apple II and Radio Shack were top selling computers.   We were designing a circuit board that had an embedded processor. Developing the software for it was…

34

Sharing Digital Pictures of your friend’s

My family recently went to the Microsoft Company Picnic, where we met with a friend’s family to enjoy the amenities.   I took some pictures of our kids, and I emailed a link to the pictures to my friend. The link shows a page with the picture thumbnails. Clicking on the thumbnail displays the original…

13

Phone Number Challenge update

I’m back from a month sabbatical/paternity leave.   Due to popular demand, here’s an update of the phone number problem, with a web site from which you can try the algorithm A while ago, I posted a blog about a sort of informal programming contest at Microsoft.The idea was to write a program that finds…

9

Ancestors and population paradox: exponential growth

If I have 2 parents, and each of them have 2 parents, each generation back has double the number of members. Thus there are 2^n members n generations ago. 10 generations ago there were about one thousand (1024) people, 20 back were 1 million, and 30 back were 1 billion.   If each generation is…

16

What is a C0000005 crash?

  In my blog about Dr. Watson I talked about product crashes. What is an example of a crash? How destructive is it?   Here’s a simple example. MyFunction takes a string parameter and calculates its length   MyFunction (char * StringParam) {                     int nlen;        // declare an integer variable           nlen =…

35

Thirty years ago, computers were quite different

In the old days, we had to use a typewriter. I asked if I could use the ASR-33 teletype machine which connected to our high school PDP-8 computer, but it only printed in UPPER CASE on rolls of yellow paper.   Did you ever wonder the origin of the term Carriage Return? On typewriters, the…

6