[Chugalug] Old code never dies..

Mike Harrison cluon at geeklabs.com
Mon Mar 10 14:07:46 UTC 2014

Rambling while watching a long slow database load:

I got a strange call last night. Seems a pager company, that bought a 
pager company.. that bought a pager company... that bought a local pager 
company that was the dregs from another local pager company that somewhere 
in the late 1990's I wrote an SMTP mail server in Perl that gatewayed to 
alphanumeric pagers via the TAP protocol.. had a server issue. It's the 
only production C code I ever wrote, and it was munged from someone else's 
example code. Once upon a time it made a lot of money as e-pageme.com
(I used to charge $1 a month for the service, per pager..)

I SSH'd in.. rebooted it.. and its magically working again.

Seems pagers have become the medical worlds secret communications layer..
it's the one way to always contact a doctor, no matter what, because 
pagers are still allowed where cell phones are not.

That project taught me several things, including that most "magic" is best 
performed as a service for a small fee. It also reminds me that some 
things never ever die, even when you want them to, and that I should do a 
better job of making sure what I do is the right thing to do, and done 
well. I'm a big hypocrite on that point, most of what I do for a living 
barely qualifies as duct tape and zip-ties, although time has proven 
most of my kludges to be enduring.

It also reminded me, talking to the technical guys at the latest owners of 
this abortion... that few people understand the lowest levels of 
anything.. the "magic" that is a protocal like TAP
(Telecommunicator/Telelocator Alphanumeric Protocol).
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Telelocator_Alphanumeric_Protocol is a bare 
stub.  Much of what we do online is hidden far below layers and laters of 
abstraction, modules, libraries and MVC frameworks.. and that "magic" 
layer is lost on the masses (as it should be). But we need magicians to 
keep the world running. Not spikey haired facesplat wannabe's with MLM-ish 
get rich schemes reinventing social networking again... but a combination 
of "janitors" capable of keeping the world running and visionaries 
addressing the core / root issues of that merger of technology and society 
we have become. That realm of relative "magic" to the rest of the world 
needs more magicians, not charlatans.

rant over..

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