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One more thing that won't die (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39950547)

First Post! ;)

Re:One more thing that won't die (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39950559)

First Post! ;)

Spoken like a nigger

Re:One more thing that won't die (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39950737)

Spoken like a Microsoft reputation manager.

Technology (5, Interesting)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 2 years ago | (#39950563)

I've never understood why people think that just because something is newer makes it better. We may mostly be on high speed internet connections running through cable, or xDSL, wireless, or other technologies, but that doesn't mean the forerunner to those technologies are without purpose anymore. Modems are still used in ATMs because landlines are incredibly cheap to install and not a lot of data needs to be exchanged. Same thing with fax machines; Despite scanners and e-mail, many courthouses won't accept scanned documents -- but they will accept faxed documents. Amusingly, most of those fax machines are paired to document management systems that convert them back into digital files (ie, PDFs) for processing. The reason for this is not immediately obvious: Many jurisdictions have laws stating a faxed copy of a document is legally the same as the original, but lack similar laws saying a digitally signed or submitted document is valid.

The list goes on. So don't just assume a technology should be sunset because of technical reasons -- there are often human factors to consider as well.

Re:Technology (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39950601)

Actually, I've found that people are more likely to be the opposite. They see something new, and they say...well, the old way was better. Old cars, because they hate all these fancy engines that they can't just fix, old televisions because they can't stand those black bars, old light bulbs because those curly ones are too hard to understand.

Too many people assume everything should be frozen at a point in time, because of well, some human factor that results in a resistance to any change or improvement.

Because it might not be perfect, but the old ways, they WERE better.

Don't get me started on the people who think that they're hearing about more murders and killings today, so it must be more than it was back when they were young! Even if you produce statistics showing the opposite, or if you point out the numerous children who survive because of modern medicine, or anything else that shows it's not all bad.

Re:Technology (3, Insightful)

TWX (665546) | about 2 years ago | (#39950881)

I think that people may say that they miss the old days, but based on people's fickleness when it comes to how they communicate (letter, phone, e-mail, myspace, facebook, etc), how they want new TVs even though tubes are arguably superior in both contrast and refresh rate (not to mention multiresolution capable), and that they sell millions upon millions of cars annually, they don't actually believe that the old days were better.

The old days were simpler, not better. When one has less choices it's often easier to choose. When old technologies are cobbled on to, like all of the additions to the otherwise-ancient Otto-cycle internal combustion engine, those additions are what make some old things more complicated and arguably worse in at least the maintenance aspect. If we see actual technological revolution though, not only is the base technology replaced, but all of the other cobbled-on parts are too.

Re:Technology (2)

Stormwatch (703920) | about 2 years ago | (#39950911)

old televisions because they can't stand those black bars

I'd have to agree with the old timers, we are being scammed with those new sets. They sell by the hypotenuse, but the honest measurement would be the area (width x height). Wide? More like short. It's a way to sell smaller screens with more "inches". If I found a new 4:3 plasma screen, you bet I'd get it!

Re:Technology (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about 2 years ago | (#39951089)

I live in a place where 95% of the broadcast TV is wide. So the short TV is the only way to see all the signal. Cable, which has a lower percentage of wide, often pads the sides so that they broadcast the 4:3 content in wide screen.

But yes, I agree that pixel count would be a better measurement. I have a 21" 4:3 LCD screen with higher resolution than anything I can find new under 30". Pixels have gone backwards. But that's not related to the phenomenon in question.

Re:Technology (4, Insightful)

Stormwatch (703920) | about 2 years ago | (#39951401)

Yeah, pixels have gone backwards because, whereas computer monitors were once far better than TVs, now they're the same components. Imagine if they built computers using only Xbox360 parts!

Re:Technology (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39951243)

4:3 will not do you any good with the current programming being 16:9. But even the last 50 years worth of movies have been recorded in >= 16:9. I personally found broadcast/VHS movies unwatchable due to the "FS" cropping in the 4:3 era. Now it is just broadcast I find unwatchable with the >= 2.1 ratios being cropped to 1.78.

Re:Technology (5, Interesting)

TWX (665546) | about 2 years ago | (#39950613)

I used to work on an Alphanumeric paging system. We used 2400 baud because the time necessary to negotiate a higher-speed connection was far longer than the time to negotiate and then transmit ~240 characters at 2400 baud.

Fast forward to 2001 or so, and the general decline of paging. We were attempting to migrate from physical serial port expanders connected to physical modems, connected to a breakout cable from a T1 CSU/DSU, and we tried Equinox digital modem emulators- that integrated a single connection to a T1 CSU/DSU without all of the physical. The problem was the the Equinox gear wouldn't reliably negotiate that slow, and often would lock up the virtual serial port, rendering it useless until the card was reinitialized through a cold reboot. Equinox was more interested in giving us our money back than they were in fixing their hardware, but we did finally manage to convince them, after much effort, to put work into fixing it.

Re:Technology (5, Insightful)

qu33ksilver (2567983) | about 2 years ago | (#39950631)

Absolutely, never forget your roots. We would be fools to discard our past because that's what led us to where we are now.

Re:Technology (3, Insightful)

ThePeices (635180) | about 2 years ago | (#39950659)

"I've never understood why people think that just because something is newer makes it better"

Thats because 9 times out of ten, newer DOES equal better.

Re:Technology (4, Insightful)

houstonbofh (602064) | about 2 years ago | (#39950795)

KDE4, Gnome3, Windows8, Vista... Sometimes change is just change, not improvement.

Re:Technology (1)

Sussurros (2457406) | about 2 years ago | (#39950905)

LOL! - while I understand and agree with you entirely, I rather like KDE4. The thing is that I came to it after the worst excesses had been ironed out so it was just a learning curve (as opposed to a cursing lurve). When I've since tried KDE3 I haven't liked it all. I'm not sure if it's because for me KDE3 is "newer" than KDE4 or if perhaps I just don't like it.

I really liked Gnome 2 with Compiz, but it seems to me that Unity has been a good thing because it has opened up so many closed people (such as myself) to so many new paradigms as they flee from Unity to find something else. I even know someone who likes Unity - but not enough to use it.

For me, well I find KDE4 really is an improvement over KDE3.

Re:Technology (2)

TWX (665546) | about 2 years ago | (#39950931)

To take it away from computers, in 1998 a very strong Chrysler Corporation with a popular line of products merged with a German company to form DaimlerChrysler, and over the next decade the German side of the company almost completely ruined the American side's products. The Caliber replaced the Neon and was less successful. The Avenger replaced the Stratus and was less successful, as was the revised Sebring. The new Dakota replaced the old Dakota and was less successful. The Durango's redesign was an outright flop until it was quickly revised, and still wasn't as successful. The Sprinter replaced the B-series van and was less successful. Even the minivan replacement was less successful than its predecessor. Really the only truly successful successor was the LX chassis, replacing the LH chassis.

Daimler wanted to own the designs and didn't value what was there previously, and it almost destroyed Chrysler. It killed off one brand (Plymouth) and reduced the number of models dramatically, and they're only now starting to sunset the Daimler-designed cars, as it's extremely expensive to develop a new car. Had they evolved the design for the Neon, the Clouds, the vans, and the like, they probably would have done better in both the short term and the long term.

Unfortunately no one remembered the A-body to F/J/M body fiasco, and how aging Valiants and Darts were outliving their Aspen and Volare cousins, when the two chassis were for the same market.

Re:Technology (2)

AK Marc (707885) | about 2 years ago | (#39951101)

I've owned a Le Baron convertible, there wasn't much worse than that (I didn't buy it, it was inherited, after I sold it for $500, I got a bill in the mail for its impound, it was traded and abandoned a few times before it was abandoned somewhere it was finally in someone's way. A fax of a bill of sale later, and the bill was dropped. Nobody who ended up with the car ever even bothered to register it, classic Chrysler.

Re:Technology (1)

mirix (1649853) | about 2 years ago | (#39951227)

Chrysler was shit long, long before they hooked up with Daimler.

What is wrong with the sprinter? That's one of the few good designs - Cause it's just a merc with dodge badging on it, in the US.

Re:Technology (1)

Joce640k (829181) | about 2 years ago | (#39951339)

KDE4, Gnome3, Windows8, Vista... Sometimes change is just change, not improvement.

So... pick the good ones and ignore the bad. eg. Windows 7 is a massive improvement over XP.

Re:Technology (2)

Darinbob (1142669) | about 2 years ago | (#39951387)

I would put it more at around 5 times out of 10. Sometimes the new thing has some portion that is clearly better but which is balanced out by another portion that is worse. Ie, most movie sequels which may have good production values and better effects but which have worse plots and lack of originality. Or new laptop that smaller and lighter but which has fewer ports and the user can not replace any broken components without shipping back to manufacturer.

Re:Technology (3, Insightful)

tlhIngan (30335) | about 2 years ago | (#39950787)

I've never understood why people think that just because something is newer makes it better. We may mostly be on high speed internet connections running through cable, or xDSL, wireless, or other technologies, but that doesn't mean the forerunner to those technologies are without purpose anymore. Modems are still used in ATMs because landlines are incredibly cheap to install and not a lot of data needs to be exchanged.

SOmetimes you have to. I mean, I have a bunch of stuff I love to use, like my Palm T|X. Problem is, accessories are REALLY hard to find. I had to replace the LCD, and it cost a few bucks. I'm thinking of picking up a few spares to keep it alive, but then you have to wonder if just switching completely is better.

It's just like PATA hard drives. I have lots of stuff that use it, but just try finding PATA hard drives. They're *expensive* - like $100/500GB expensive. ($100 can buy 2TB on sale, if SATA).

The old gear may work, but keeping it working can cost a lot more than migrating to newer technology.Even just to keep functionality the same.

Re:Technology (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39950855)

You can get a SATA to PATA Adapter Card for $10 including shipping.

Re:Technology (1)

smithcu (2634841) | about 2 years ago | (#39950955)

I have been looking for an affordable way to keep my SGl Fuel SCSI drives running. Now, SCSI drives are expensive! And converter cards rare and expensive, too!

Hang in there (1)

KlaymenDK (713149) | about 2 years ago | (#39951377)

Hey there. I just want to say, stick to your Tungsten as long as you want. There is pain in switching (I hesitate to write "updating").
Personally, I switched (from a couple of T3's) to Android as the "best" alternative to PalmOS. It's not crap --it is the "best", after all-- but it is nevertheless not nearly as good as PalmOS. Oh handwriting, how I do miss thee! (Yes, I realise that Access put out a "Graffiti" app, but it does not compare to the full-screen support and custom strokes of TealScript.) My ailing work laptop is in dire need of a reload, but I'm loath to do it -- I can't ever reinstall Palm Desktop.
My brother used *up* a small handful of Psion Series5's with several parts replacements, but in the end went for an iPhone and is reasonably content with that.

Re:Technology (5, Interesting)

NotBorg (829820) | about 2 years ago | (#39950943)

I'll take stainless steel and cast iron over teflon any day for my cooking needs. I mow my lawn without gas or electricity. I think that puppets in '80s movies feel more real than the most advanced computer animated crap of today. I'll be damned if I purchase music that isn't on a CD. DVDs are just fine for movies (I migrated from tape for good reason but blue ray simply isn't worth the hoopla). I still don't give a flying fuck about 3D... in fact I prefer movies that are not be in 3D. I look for yard sales in senior communities because I know that that those 50-year-old cooking utensils are still going to out last that stuff at Walmart.

Yada yada get off my lawn, but I'll be damned if I'll run anything less than the most recent kernel and gcc.

Re:Technology (3, Interesting)

the_humeister (922869) | about 2 years ago | (#39951327)

I only buy my music on wax cylinders. I hand-crank the engine in my car to get it started. And these new-fangled "computers"? Give me an abacus and a logarithm table, and I'm all set.

Re:Technology (2)

toygeek (473120) | about 2 years ago | (#39951367)

Indeed, my best pan is a 9" cast iron skillet that is about 150 years old, and that's no exaggeration. Its not as non stick as teflon is, but its pretty damned good. Came over on a wagon train.

I have a client who runs a sign making business. Their CNC machine is run off an old PC or XT with a few hundred 5.25" floppies for fonts etc. Works fine, they still use it every day.

Newer != better.

Re:Technology (1)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | about 2 years ago | (#39950977)

There's also the concern of the post-ROHS lead-free solder in newer gear -- the old stuff doesn't grow tin whiskers, and can be expected to last much longer than the stuff that does, given equal treatment. That old Vax might still be pumping transactions out for a very long time; replace it with something new, and the same might not be said.

Re:Technology (4, Insightful)

Joce640k (829181) | about 2 years ago | (#39951359)

That old Vax might still be pumping transactions out for a very long time; replace it with something new, and the same might not be said.

By the time the new thing breaks you'll be able to run a VAX emulator on something that costs $100 (and it will run faster on a tiny fraction of the power and fit on a shelf...)

Re:Technology (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | about 2 years ago | (#39951091)

Exactly, I put a couple of old ISA slotted PCs that once upon a time were my gaming PCs back into service out of my shed for a customer by slapping DOS 3 on them, why? Because he had an $85,000 CNC lathe by this company that had been out of business for ages and the only controller for it was this old ISA board that ran on DOS 3. And I have to say the software was actually pretty good, it was easy to use either prebuilt designs or mix and match to come up with new columns, and of course since this machine was already paid for and still ran great it was certainly a hell of a lot cheaper to buy my old gaming PCs (Sniff, my little Compaq DOOM player, they don't build 'em like that any more!) and last I heard they were still cranking out custom columns 5 days a week at his lumber business.

So I'd have to say I'm a big believer in "If it ain't broke" myself, heck my "nettop" at the shop is a 2004 1.8GHz Sempron that a customer traded in. Its VERY quiet, puts out almost no heat, and for what it needs to do, which is download drivers and look up parts? There really isn't any point in anything faster or fancier, hell with VLC it even makes a good DVD player so why replace it?

Re:Technology (2)

Darinbob (1142669) | about 2 years ago | (#39951343)

Some of this may be everyone trained since birth to be a consumer. Constant advertisements of "new and improved". Encouragement to throw away old things.

Another reason possibly is that kids are a huge market now. Kids like toys, and they like new toys, things they haven't played with before. A 5 year old toy is useless as it has lost its novelty. It takes a long time for kids to outgrow this attitude, and sometimes they don't.

Although in some of the cases listed it would be cheaper and more efficient and use less energy to get a replacement. Ie, a machine to emulate PDP seems a waste when you can emulate a PDP in software for free on commodity equipment so that it's not much software at all to adapt it to control GPIO pins. But then you're into the realm of having to pay someone to write a little bit of code and you end up with something you don't understand any better than the old program.

As much as tech costs... (4, Insightful)

TWX (665546) | about 2 years ago | (#39950575)

...I don't want it replaced before it's no longer doing its job effectively. The Navy system, for example, was finally replaced when the actual PDP11 hardware was no longer viable, and given the expense of the control software to develop, it probably was more cost effective to simply emulate a PDP11 to keep the existing code viable.

Reinventing the wheel only because a technology has been around for a long time is not cost effective, and replacing technology because viable machines are simply old is also not cost effective. This same logic makes me dislike programs like Cash for Clunkers, as the cost to develop and build a car, plus deliver, is high enough that taking cars off the road that are still viable, almost without regard to fuel economy, is not cost effective. Use it until repairing it is financially impractical, especially considering the expense of buying another new one.

Ya... The thing is... (4, Interesting)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | about 2 years ago | (#39950879)

It often turns out it is NOT doing the job as effectively as you might think. I've seen people jump though some amazing hoops dealing with old technology because "It gets the job done." Ok maybe so but that isn't the question you should ask. The question is if new technology would get the job done better to the extent it is worth the price.

A simple example is with desktop PCs. Various things can take a really long time on old PCs, like formatting a document for print, or even booting or opening a program. Time is wasted waiting for that. At some point it becomes worth it to get something newer and faster. The time spent transitioning to the new system and the money spent on it are worth it in the time savings during use.

I've really seen this in the world of audio creation/editing. On 1996, when I started playing with it, it was all offline, you'd choose something and it would render laboriously out to disk, then you'd listen to the result (there were pro systems that could do it realtime, not desktops though). I could spend 10 minutes waiting to hear the result of an EQ, and then have to undo it and try again. Now it is all realtime, non-destructive. I make changes and they happen as I make them.

Also there's the simple maintenance factor of old systems. It can end up costing a ton to try to keep them running, or you have a ticking time bomb situation where you are relying on something that really can't be fixed if it breaks (or even both). An enormous amount of resources both monetary and time can be poured in keeping old systems running on the grounds of "it just works".

Now I'm not saying toss everything old all the time, but some real cost/value analysis needs to be done, not this inertia of "What we have works and it'd be expensive to replace it." I really came to appreciate that with the Y2K stuff. Place I was working at had an ancient billing system, no way to upgrade it. So they had a new one written. Talk about an amazing difference. It now run as a Java app on any computer, rather than needing to use these old dedicated terminals, it was fast, it could do all kinds of things they'd wanted, it eliminated things that had to be done by hand before and so on. So worth it, even without the Y2K thing. However the old system had survived "Because it works, and replacing it would be expensive."

Re:Ya... The thing is... (3, Insightful)

Bert64 (520050) | about 2 years ago | (#39951061)

Generic uses like simple document creation aren't actually any quicker than they were years ago... Sure the hardware is quicker, but the software is considerably heavier resulting in a user experience that while prettier, is around the same speed as it always has been.

For most uses, the old software was actually perfectly adequate, and old lightweight software running on modern hardware would be the ideal scenario.

Re:Ya... The thing is... (3, Informative)

hairyfeet (841228) | about 2 years ago | (#39951167)

Another thing people forget to look at with older systems is heat and the increased costs in AC for running an old power hog. I had a company that was "getting by" on those piggy Prescott P4 and big old CRTs so I told the boss "Just buy two machines and see if you see a difference and then we can see about changing out the office" and I swapped out those two piggies for a couple of 19 inch LCDs with an E350 mini unit mounted behind it.

Well it wasn't two weeks later he was coming in to work out a plan to replace every unit just because he saw how much cooler it was in those two rooms than in the other offices and how much quieter it was. Even after bumping up those that said they needed more power to quads he told me a few months later he saw both his need for cooling and his electric bill both go down just by getting rid of the piggies.

So sometimes it can really help to get rid of older tech if that older tech is power sucking, I know that getting rid of those Pentium Ds and CRT hand me downs the boys were playing on for more modern multicores with flat panels certainly dropped our cooling bills. You just don't realize how power hogging that gear is until you replace it.

Re:Ya... The thing is... (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | about 2 years ago | (#39951311)

Which is the problem of having IT as a cost center and viewed as no business value and an uneccesary expense by the CPAs who moved into managment.

Its an investment that can save money.

My PDP-11/23 based controller (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39951017)

It runs my garden railway. 'O' Gauge (7mm/ft) and has 420m of track. Yeah I have a big garden but the mainline is double tracked.
I retrieved the 11/23 from a skip in the early 1990's. I have three more complete systems I got off eBay. The weakest parts are the PSU's. I've got quite good at fixing them over the years.
Some people ask why I don't move to a PC Based system. Well, the Q-Bus was easy to interface to and all I/O is done via four 48bit Digital Input/output cards. Want to change a value then just poke the memory address. But the O/S Is RSX-11/M-Plus so I wrote a device driver.
There again, I used to work for DEC so I had the skills to do it.

Re:As much as tech costs... (2)

labnet (457441) | about 2 years ago | (#39951131)

...I don't want it replaced before it's no longer doing its job effectively

Except you PDP11 system might burn through $10k of electricity per annum when an modern PC might use $200/annum
Similarly, a euro diesel uses half the fuel of a typical amercan clunker for the same power and torque....

Re:As much as tech costs... (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | about 2 years ago | (#39951281)

Replace PDP with IE 6 and your opinion changes drastically if you design sites where the client feels its easy to view the same site on his IPAd as his w2k workstation. Why fix it?

I am beginning to hate XP too and feel it is downright dangerous to use it on the web. Especially if you use Java and flash 9 with 40+ exploits. No firefox wont save you on such a circumstance. Different scenario than your PDPs but clueless users dont see it that way. All they know is that state of the art website looks like crap without rounded corners and they keep getting infected. Therefore YOU suck

B-52s (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39950577)

That's nothing. We're still flying B-52's with wire-wrapped computers. None of this modern solder.

Re:B-52s (1)

TWX (665546) | about 2 years ago | (#39950747)

I I'm sure there's solder in the computer of the B-52. There might be no integrated-circuit memory, but components still need to be connected somehow.

My guess as to why the AP-101 is still in use is that with it being expensive to certify new equipment in flight, when the device performs as needed, replacing it is not practical or strictly necessary. On the other hand, if the Air Force determined that it really, really did need a new computer in the B-52, it would happen, despite obstacles to the process.

Re:B-52s (4, Informative)

slimjim8094 (941042) | about 2 years ago | (#39950783)

There might be no integrated-circuit memory, but components still need to be connected somehow.

Yeah, the GP mentioned it - wire wrapping [wikipedia.org]. It's pretty cool stuff - done properly, it actually creates an even better connection than solder.

Re:B-52s (2)

mirix (1649853) | about 2 years ago | (#39951253)

I was under the impression that the only thing left original on the B-52s is the sheetmetal.

I imagine they've probably upgraded the avionics a few times by now.

Stuff skipped... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39950583)

I suspect the author(s) of this piece don't knit much. And most likely wouldn't know a programmable knitting machine if it bit them in the collective whatever! That said, they use punch cards to create the designed begin knitted. Again in the world of fabrics, Jacquard looms have not vanished and they still use punch cards; as do certain kinds of Chinese drawlooms. Just saying...

Re:Stuff skipped... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39950707)

The best lace in England is still made on punchcard looms.

Re:Stuff skipped... (1)

catmistake (814204) | about 2 years ago | (#39950853)

Jacquard looms have not vanished and they still use punch cards

Nice. Since you brought it up, I'm sure you're aware just how damn important those things are (skip to 6min in) [youtube.com], not only to James Burke, but modern computing. And I bet we could just barely squeeze into the Grand Canyon all the tiered support guys, techies, MSCE's, sysadmins, DBA's, CTO's, CIO's, grey breards, webdevs, coders, CE's and honest to God computer scientists that have never heard of it. I kind of like old hw. I'm posting this from one right now!

Vaxes (0)

BasilBrush (643681) | about 2 years ago | (#39950589)

VAXes, not VAXen.

Re:Vaxes (2, Informative)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | about 2 years ago | (#39950611)

VAXes, not VAXen.

Actually, "Vaxen" is acceptable and I have actually heard it used - yes, I'm that old. Furthermore, from (1) Vaxen [reference.com] and mentioned on (2) VAX [wikipedia.org]:

(1) The plural canonically used among hackers for the DEC VAX computers. "Our installation has four PDP-10s and twenty vaxen."
(2) ... systems include the "BVAX", a high-end ECL-based VAX, and two other ECL-based VAXen: "Argonaut" and "Raven".

Re:Vaxes (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | about 2 years ago | (#39950661)

I also go back that far, and I believe it's an anachronism. We called them VAXes back then, not VANen. They *xen meme smells more 1990s than 1970s. But even if there were some were calling them VAXen back then it's still wrong. It's just bad English.

Re:Vaxes (3)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | about 2 years ago | (#39950727)

They *xen meme smells more 1990s than 1970s. But even if there were some were calling them VAXen back then it's still wrong. It's just bad English.

It's called a colloquialism - get over it - and we used it at my university in the early to mid 1980s and I also heard it when I worked at NASA in the late 1980s and early 1990s.. As the reference.com site mentioned, it was used among hackers. Perhaps you're just not hacker enough :-)

Re:Vaxes (5, Informative)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | about 2 years ago | (#39950849)

I also go back that far, and I believe it's an anachronism. We called them VAXes back then, not VANen. They *xen meme smells more 1990s than 1970s

Here are about 25 usenet posts from 1981 [google.com] that use the term VAXen.

But even if there were some were calling them VAXen back then it's still wrong. It's just bad English.

My high-school english teacher, who was awarded state english teacher of the year on more than one occasion, taught his classes that "Language creates environment and environment creates language" - in other words, correct usage is defined by nothing more than whatever enough people say is the correct usage. And we had a cluster of microvaxen at my high-school too.

Re:Vaxes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39951251)

Sadly, I cannot find the old emails anymore, but the Morris worm from 1988 generated a lot of email chatter. Amongst the first, if not the first, emails sent discussing the downing of several high priority machines was a mention that the affected machines appeared to be VAXen and possibly other systems. I was not in academia nor industry at the time so I don't know if this term was common parlance, but there is evidence that it was used at least by 1988 if not earlier.

Re:Vaxes (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | about 2 years ago | (#39951403)

VAXen was used in the 80's for sure. It always was a sort of joke though. So the more uptight people with white shirts and ties and Fortran probably said VAXes whereas hippies with beards and C compilers probably said VAXen.

Re:Vaxes (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39950641)

VAXen would be female.

Have you ever used a VAX?

They were so sexy back in their day that they just *HAD* to be female.

Re:Vaxes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39950693)

Not the PDP-9 I learned C on.

Re:Vaxes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39950773)

Indeed, and nothing sucks like a VAX.

(sorry, someone had to say it)

Hardly obsolete. (5, Informative)

Lord Kano (13027) | about 2 years ago | (#39950609)

I can speak from first hand knowledge that many Fortune 500 companies are using technology that most people think of as obsolete. If you paid $50k for a software package that was written for VAX OpenVMS and the publisher went out of business 15 years ago, what would you do? You'd do the same thing these guys do. Work on getting a replacement, and keep that replacement in the wings until you can no longer run the existing (perfectly working) package.

In 2009, I worked on porting a fairly lengthy program from VAX to Alpha in OpenVMS Fortran. Why? Because it took 20 years to get the program just right and it works perfectly for the suited task. Why throw away a perfectly functional program just because the VAX is dying?

Today, companies are producing good and providing services that touch all of our lives using 30+ year old technology.


Re:Hardly obsolete. (4, Interesting)

nospam007 (722110) | about 2 years ago | (#39950769)

"In 2009, I worked on porting a fairly lengthy program from VAX to Alpha in OpenVMS Fortran. Why? Because it took 20 years to get the program just right and it works perfectly for the suited task. Why throw away a perfectly functional program just because the VAX is dying?"

I'm a railway dispatcher in my daytime job and all the new installations in Europe (ESTW) from Siemens, Alcatel etc still use OpenVMS to run the systems. It uses tons of modems talking to the equipment in the field, another item that's hard to come by nowadays.
It was developed in the 70ies and runs now on Intel machines only because they can't get any more MicroVAXes or Alphas
But lots of installations still have those and they run flawlessly.

Re:Hardly obsolete. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39951103)

> In 2009, I worked on porting a fairly lengthy program from VAX to Alpha in OpenVMS Fortran.

Wasn't Alpha already replaced by Itanium at this point?

Re:Hardly obsolete. (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | about 2 years ago | (#39951391)

If your labor is greater than the 50k cost I would say it was a rip off and a bad investment. Alpha is dead and Itanium is dying with HP being fickle with intel and Oracle killing it the risk is huge!

A wiser investment would be to write it for Linux or Windows new if your plucking down cash. They wont be going anywhere for a long time. Who the knows whays gping to happen to vms.

CEOs have stated CIOs do not understand business and see shit only as costs with no value. Like cars and equipment its a better ROI to EOL.

Old Tech Never Dies... (4, Insightful)

Mashhaster (1396287) | about 2 years ago | (#39950625)

It just fades away into obscure applications that most people never know anything about. I can't tell you how many times I've heard people say tape is dead, or the desktop is dead, and yet people still use NDMP to back up data from company desktops over fibre channel to LTO tape drives as recently as right now, and still will tomorrow and the day after that.

IBM 402 now in museum. (3, Informative)

Animats (122034) | about 2 years ago | (#39950667)

Actually, the IBM 402 mentioned was acquired by the Computer Museum, and is on exhibit there.

Internet Exploriasaurus 6 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39950691)

Every once and a while someone shows up in our shop with a 'puter still running it on XP with ancient virus and malware troubles, talk about scary fossils!

Re:Internet Exploriasaurus 6 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39950793)

Every once and a while someone shows up in our shop with a 'puter still running it on XP with ancient virus and malware troubles, talk about scary fossils!

Funny, I've got 3 boxes running XP and I don't have any trouble finding up-to-date virus and anti-malware software. And I visit some pretty disreputable sites, too. No, get your mind out of the gutter, not those, but warez/crack sites. Besides some study [pcmag.com] just showed that religious sites have more malware than porn sites (which figures, I always thought that if I was running a porn site, I wouldn't want to piss customers off, at least not with malware).

Re:Internet Exploriasaurus 6 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39951083)

And I visit some pretty disreputable sites, too. No, get your mind out of the gutter, not those,

Bleh! *cringes for a moment* Ok, not those sites. Whew. Go on.

but warez/crack sites.

AAAAAAAAAaaaaaaaaaaaaaaAAAAAAAaaaaaaaaaaaa I was right! *breaks out in hives*

Flat Files FTW! (5, Insightful)

wrook (134116) | about 2 years ago | (#39950739)

Developers who think that *everything* needs to be in a database scare the crap out of me. Sometimes flat files are a really good idea. Sometimes putting something in a human readable form that can be viewed and edited with a normal text editor is a really good idea. There are many, many things where I don't need to search vast amounts of data, where I don't need atomic commits, where I don't need rollback, etc, etc. For those things I use a flat file.

Admitedly, I know the difference between regular, context free and context sensitive grammars and I know how to write a parser. Unfortunately, this isn't always common knowledge in a software team :-P

Re:Flat Files FTW! (4, Informative)

Tablizer (95088) | about 2 years ago | (#39950813)

It's true that flat files may be "good enough" for a particular use, but it's not very flexible for unanticipated future uses.

Basically if you base your app on a flat file, you are gambling that you won't need many of the features databases provide out of the box. Knowing how requirements changes, it's often the wrong bet.

Software design is a lot like picking investments: you have to estimate future changes and the magnitude of their impact. Experience in both software design and the domain (industry) help in this regard.

Re:Flat Files FTW! (1)

Lehk228 (705449) | about 2 years ago | (#39950885)

your application shoudln't be too dependant on what format it's data is stored in anyways, unless it's only function is toprocess data in format X,Y,and Z

Re:Flat Files FTW! (5, Insightful)

wvmarle (1070040) | about 2 years ago | (#39951045)

I would write a data reader/writer module for the program.

This would handle the data storage, and if later requirements change it's a relatively small part of the program that changes. The rest of the program doesn't have to care how it's stored externally: it just cares about having function calls available to do a read, write, maybe search. This makes it also relatively easy to expand.

And when in future there is a need for say more sophisticated search options, you can rewrite that one module so it starts to interact with a MySQL or Postgres database or so. Even the data format conversion becomes a breeze that way as all you do is read from the old system and write to the new system.

Further in the future maybe your external db goes out of business, and again it's a relatively easy change to a new db.

Re:Flat Files FTW! (1)

JimboFBX (1097277) | about 2 years ago | (#39951317)

If the data you are cramming into a file doesn't naturally fit into a tabular format that you would want to selectively recall at random times, then I would question why you would ever "realize" you need a database.

Re:Flat Files FTW! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39950847)

A database as a replacement for flat files I can live with, but replacing them with xml-files is what's getting me spitting mad. Pure lunacy.

Re:Flat Files FTW! (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39950963)

If XML isn't fixing your problems, you must not be using enough of it...

Re:Flat Files FTW! (1)

dbIII (701233) | about 2 years ago | (#39951003)

Developers who think that *everything* needs to be in a database scare the crap out of me.

That's actually why there was some old plotting software from 1995 on a SparcStation20 with SunOS 5 in my office. The newer software had a full rewrite to integrate a database into a very simple plotting and queueing system and the rewrite never finished implementing all of the features of the old system (thus text output on diagrams looked like crap). The old software is still running unchanged on a newer and vastly faster Solaris10 host, but of course the evil piece of crap licencing software that decided if the useful software could run or not needed a pile of hacks before it would function. The dishonest would have only needed one very easy hack instead of the pile of stuffing around required to run it under the terms of the licence.

Re:Flat Files FTW! (1)

wvmarle (1070040) | about 2 years ago | (#39951009)

Well when it comes to US taxes I'd wager it falls in the "vast amounts of data". However I can imagine it takes really long to change the storage methods, if only because you have to be really sure it Just Works and the old system does just that.

That said a lot of my small business info I store in spreadsheets. A perfect in-between: human readable, and with the AutoFilter function easily searchable by column. And with a couple hundred records a year no need for anything more fancy.

Re:Flat Files FTW! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39951015)

One big factor is that API support for databases is way nicer than flatfile support in most environments.

And, so many people run MySQL in "non-ACID" mode, its not like they really care about transaction rollbacks or whatever. It's just an easy place to save stuff.

We stand on the shoulders of giants (2)

fragMasterFlash (989911) | about 2 years ago | (#39950757)

The real trick is trying to distinguish yourself as enough of a "giant" so that future generations may acknowledge the footing with which you provide them.

MicroVAXen (4, Interesting)

n6kuy (172098) | about 2 years ago | (#39950761)

Heh. Yeah, we still use several of those here in Los Alamos as part of the control system for our linear proton accelerator. They work and are pretty reliable, though I suspect we'll be up the creek if one of 'em goes bad.

IE6 (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39950777)

I thought this was going to be about IE6

Re:IE6 (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39950815)

I thought this was going to be about IE6

No silly, the article is about technology.

If Its Not Broke.. (1)

SuperCharlie (1068072) | about 2 years ago | (#39950797)

I had a client who was (still is) an auctioneer. Not a real techy type, didnt need to be. They had a DOS based software that served them well. For over 7000 regular customers and years of auctions. No, not online, just something to keep track of items, bids, and clients. Its all they needed. It fit perfectly into their business, all the not techy people used it..past win 3.1, past win95, 98, even up to XP when their hardware started to fail and then they couldnt find the hardware to support the software any more. They ended up paying for new PC's, new software and new networking not because it didnt do what they needed..or even wanted, but because they simply couldnt run it any more. They were sad to see it go. Newer is not always better. Often (like MS Office) its just about making sure you keep paying.

Re:If Its Not Broke.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39950969)

Could that be the one I wrote? 1984-ish, Compiled dBase - Clipper, I think. Parramatta Road, Sydney, Australia? I know it was running until last year, when he retired and the auction house building turned into a groovy, if overpriced historical motorcycle place.
Maybe not - it was never replaced at all, unlike the one you speak of.
He had trouble getting gear to run it on, but hey, a virtual DOS machine is straightforward, surely?

Sparkler Filters web site (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39950807)

In 1998 I would have barfed at the flash and the poorly implemented navigation buttons on the left. I still do. The sad thing is that 1998s over-designed web site is still a thing of beauty compared to 2012s attempts to be simple. In the 21st century, even the simplest image or hyperlink has to be hacked up by a few hundred lines of JavaScript doing who knows what. The worst example is the FaceBook like button on 3rd party sites. I had to block access to a FaceBook server because a script associated with the button has an infinite loop problem on IE8. Yeah, IE8 is sucky outdated tech too; but let that sink in. A button is causing an infinite loop. I still have a hard time believing it. It pegged the CPU too, which is XPs fault. No Javascript on a stinking web page should be allowed to result in 100% CPU usage. Plainly MS and FB share some blame there but... a... button... looping... I still can't get over that.

Re:Sparkler Filters web site (2)

mikael_j (106439) | about 2 years ago | (#39951073)

Thing is, those horrible websites from 1998 are still horrible. They didn't even try to follow anything resembling a standard, design for websites was often handled by developers or businesspeople with no design abilities. Content management systems for the web were practically non-existent. Overall I'd take a new web 2.0 website over one of those abortions any day.

Or have you forgotten the broken Java applets and JavaScript that would make any browser freeze for 30+ seconds before letting you load the page (and still do on modern hardware)? When compared to that a modern website that loads 500+ kB of jquery, jquery-UI and other 3rd party crap from some CDN is wonderful (still horrible compared to a well-designed site but at least it doesn't carry with it a mandatory 30 second browser freeze and a one in five chance of nuking your browser session).

Some office equipment and software never die (3, Informative)

Grayhand (2610049) | about 2 years ago | (#39950825)

I still see offices especially things like vets and some stores even that are using old DOS based record keeping systems. They weren't sure how to transfer all the information so they keep using systems that are several decades old. I haven't worked around it in years but up into the late 90s motion picture effects companies still used old DOS based machines to run motion control systems. The hardware and software they used at the time couldn't be adapted to Windows.

Re:Some office equipment and software never die (2)

billcopc (196330) | about 2 years ago | (#39951105)

The fundamental problem is that, for a lot of these systems, newer does not mean better.

That DOS record keeping system, is it good enough ? Would a costly rewrite and/or data migration result in useful improvements to justify the expense ?

For many businesses, it only becomes a problem when the old hardware breaks down, and the new hardware can't run the obsolete software. In practice, people would sooner run their archaic system via DosBox than have it redeveloped.

Living Fossil? (1)

Guppy (12314) | about 2 years ago | (#39950851)

Living Fossils: Old Tech That Just Won't Die

Is there anyone else who read this headline and thought it that it referred to some old dude [userfriendly.org]?

Punch cards still in daily use (2)

grumpy_old_grandpa (2634187) | about 2 years ago | (#39950915)

The Gardena T 1030 [gardena.com] automated watering system uses a modern form of a punch card to program its schedule. It is rather clever in that the hard plastic "card" has small plastic sliders which cover the appropriate holes for the desired settings (e.g. watering at 6am, every second day, for 5 minutes). When put into the small machine, it's read optically (AFAIK).

http://www.gardena.com/int/water-management/water-controls/water-timer-t-1030-card/ [gardena.com]


Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39950971)

You'd be surprised how much hardware and software have back doors built into them, much of it legally.

GOOGLE: Cisco routers back doors

and you'll find hours of reading material alone just for one company.

WIKILEAKS: published information on dozens of companies making spyware for hardware and software and selling it to governments.

When is the last time you checked the firmware on your PCI devices and network card?

Your router?

Dumped and checksummed/debugged your BIOS lately?

Why aren't the anti-malware companies like Symantec and others climbing over each other in an effort to invent the technology and utilize it via the cloud to create GIANT databases of legit firmware for hardware in the fight against the most serious of root kits? Are they in bed with big bro?

How many so called remote exploits were patched this week in Windows? This month? This year? Since its release? Start from the beginning of the Windows version release and count all of the remote exploits up to present day and compare that to OpenBSD for example.


U.S. govâ(TM)t wiretapping laws and your network
â" https://www.networkworld.com/news/2007/012307-us-govt-wiretapping-laws-and.html [networkworld.com]

âoeActivists have long grumbled about the privacy implications of the legal âoebackdoorsâ that networking companies like Cisco build into their equipmentâ"functions that let law enforcement quietly track the Internet activities of criminal suspects. Now an IBM researcher has revealed a more serious problem with those backdoors: They donâ(TM)t have particularly strong locks, and consumers are at risk.â
â" http://www.forbes.com/2010/02/03/hackers-networking-equipment-technology-security-cisco.html [forbes.com]

About the IRS (4, Interesting)

BenEnglishAtHome (449670) | about 2 years ago | (#39950979)

The section in the article about the Individual Master File was close to correct. It's not that it couldn't be accessed but once a week, though. There was the Integrated Data Retrieval System that could access it any time. Unfortunately, it was only updated once a week. The updates to the IMF were input via IDRS, so that sometimes led to some weirdness with the two being out of sync. There was an entire list of "cycles" that you needed to memorize as you processed work so that you'd know "If I do this, now, how long will it be before it actually shows up on the system I need it to be on?"

Then there was the BMF (Business Master File) for businesses.

Then things get weird. There's a Master File called the Non-Master File (NMF) for return information sufficiently rare that it's just not linked to everything else. Congress can come up with new statutes that require new forms far faster than they can be programmed into databases that properly link every relationship between every line. The really small-volume, low-priority stuff goes in the NMF. A bit over a decade ago it wasn't accessible except by sending off a paper request for a printed transcript. Now snapshots are viewable via IDRS but those pesky cycles are a far more complex problem.

OK, now, shall we get into the EPMF (Employee Plans Master File) or any of the other "master" files? (I once asked why any file deserved to be called "master" if there were other "masters". The programmers in attendance at the meeting were not amused.)

Enough. IT at the IRS was fun and crazy-making, challenging and boring, something I loved that ultimately was decimated by politics and broke my heart. I'm glad I saw it back in the best of days but I'm awfully glad I'm retired from that place now.

Magazine about technology survivors (3, Interesting)

fotoguzzi (230256) | about 2 years ago | (#39951055)

Years ago there was a quarterly magazine called Inventions and Technology that one received when they purchased a General Motors auto. Each issue devoted a page to some ancient piece of machinery/equipment that was still in use decades after it should have been thrown away.

The gist of the article was always the same: it still works just fine and we would never make something as nice today. I wish I could find that magazine somewhere.

The sad thing is... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39951079)

How many CRTs are still in use? In cold climates they are not so bad ( despite using more electricity ). In a hot climate though, not only do you pay extra for the electricity to heat the place you pay for extra electricity to air condition the place.

Use a ten year old computer as a wireless router for your home. You can't stick it in the corner of a closet. Those things need ventilation. Very likely where ever you keep it, you will hear it.

There is a reason old tech is old tech.

Tech never becomes useless (1)

geogob (569250) | about 2 years ago | (#39951225)

This is the key point... Technology hardly ever becomes useless. It will always do what it was designed to do (taking it still works as intended).

It will eventually become outdated, replaced with more effective technologies (cost or function wise) or fail to fulfill newer need.

But this, we should never forget. Technology will always do what it was designed do to.

I've got some... (3, Interesting)

Gordonjcp (186804) | about 2 years ago | (#39951231)

At work, we use an old Toshiba T1100 laptop to program 20-odd-year-old radio equipment. Nothing newer will run the DOS-based software, and the programming cable requires a proper +12/-12V swing from the RS232 port. I've often thought that it can't be too hard to reverse-engineer the format of the data in the little 256-byte EEPROMs that store the channel information.

On the MicroVAX, there is one large petrochem site I visit quite often that has several MicroVAX 3100s tucked away in a rack controlling various processes. They are *pristine*, looks like they've been racked up, the cabinet door closed, and left for what, 20 years? Closer to 30? They still have the little plastic protective film on the badge on the front...

Old tech in the US .gov (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39951241)

The FBI still uses CP/M machines with 8" floppies for a certain piece of custom software. Apparently, they have tried to upgrade these systems several times but in each instance ran into contract disputes or cost overruns, etc.

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