Leapdragon 2016 - Aron Hsiao Was Here

I’m a young person who…  §

I’m a young person who knows exactly what life can be like for the skilled laborer who works for years at one thing, only to find that his knowledge eventually becomes obsolete.

I’m sitting here today thinking about things like the SpecInt92 performance of various Sparc implementations that I used to play with and drool over on campus, ‘alternate’ network technologies like token or arcnet or point-to-point SCSI, the sync properties of various types of pre-multisync CRT monitors, breadboarding ISA bus experiments, the limitations of the original PC BIOS, the joys of assembly language coding and the intricacies of the VAX architecture; I’m realizing that all of these things are issues of the past. In fact, knowing FORTH or how to write good C code that makes use of termcap or how to rewrite a directory in OS-9/68k or manage a LANtastic network or manage mail and news through HoneyDanBer UUCP are all useless skills these days.

In the computer world, I was once an expert. Now, I am an expert on antiquities; most of these technologies have been obsoleted. My trusty old hardcopy of the Sun Hardware FAQ hardly gets used any longer and I just sent a pile of old HP9000 workstations, helical scan and linear tape drives and fixed-frequency monitors to charity, realizing that there will never be a use for them again. I can still hold my own with lots of the second-rate techies of today when it comes to things like network deployment or security and some of the skills I have are still very much in demand — UNIX system and network administration and C/C++ come to mind…

But I stopped working hard to keep my skills current several years ago. As we march into an age in which massive parallelism of commodity hardware rules the day on the high end and XML and Java are the choice for nearly every kind of software deployment, I can suddenly sympathize with the fabled laid-off skilled laborer: a head full of knowledge that will eventually disapper from the face of the earth because it is no longer really needed, and a gradually widening disconnect with the technologies and young people of today…

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