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Obsolete Technical Skills

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the morse-code-will-never-die-oh-wait dept.

It's funny.  Laugh. 603

Ponca City, We Love You writes "Robert Scoble had an interesting post on his blog a few days ago on obsolete technical skills — 'things we used to know that no longer are very useful to us.' Scoble's initial list included dialing a rotary phone, using carbon paper to make copies, and changing the gas mixture on your car's carburetor. The list has now been expanded into a wiki with a much larger list of these obsolete skills that includes resolving IRQ conflicts on a mother board, assembly language programming, and stacking a quarter on an arcade game to indicate you have next. We're invited to contribute more."

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Assembly isn't obsolete! (5, Insightful)

nurhussein (864532) | more than 6 years ago | (#22485946)

Systems programmers worth their salt can at least read assembler output. It's a valuable skill when debugging kernel errors.

Re:Assembly isn't obsolete! (5, Informative)

Zondar (32904) | more than 6 years ago | (#22485972)

I guess they're forgetting about things like optimized device drivers, true performance-oriented embedded systems architectures, microcode segments, and anything to do with hardware development.

Re:Assembly isn't obsolete! (3, Insightful)

DMUTPeregrine (612791) | more than 6 years ago | (#22486062)

From TFA:

Still used when the utmost performance or very low-level control (e.g. in bootloaders) is desired. Still may be used particularly for small, frequently used sub-routines. On simple processors (not Intel/AMD), it is still viable.
They didn't forget, it's just a niche skill. Assembly is obsolete for most purposes. You don't see it in application programming. You rarely see it in systems programming. You never see it in web programming. Even games don't use it anymore.

Re:Assembly isn't obsolete! (3, Insightful)

Zondar (32904) | more than 6 years ago | (#22486166)

When you can write a bootloader that fits in the unused sectors on a floppy disc [docsware.com] using Java or C++, come talk to me and I'll be impressed. Until then...

Re:Assembly isn't obsolete! (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22486326)

The machines I use every day don't even have floppy drives. The article points out that this is a niche skill, not one that's widely useful. For what it's worth, I write a lot of assembly language code but it's all for Atmel AVRs.

Re:Assembly isn't obsolete! (4, Funny)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 6 years ago | (#22486224)

You never see it in web programming.

Well not reputable web programming anyway.

Re:Assembly isn't obsolete! (5, Funny)

bentcd (690786) | more than 6 years ago | (#22486330)

Well not reputable web programming anyway.
"Reputable Web Programming and One Hundred Other Mythical Beasts": a fantastic compendium of modern urban legends :-)

It's not obsolete, here's why: (4, Insightful)

Nicolas MONNET (4727) | more than 6 years ago | (#22486260)

There are probably many times more people capable of programming in assembly language today than in the 70s. Kernel developpers, compiler developers (obviously!), CPU designers, embedded systems developpers and so on.
On the other hand, there are many times less people capable of making horse buggies than in the XIXth century; that's obsolete.

I have some news for this douchebag (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22486022)

Assembly programming is still a very much needed skill for embedded systems developers that need to run highly-optimized code with very limited memory and processor resources. Your cellphone doesn't have a Core 2 Duo in it, retard.

Re:Assembly isn't obsolete! (5, Insightful)

Oscaro (153645) | more than 6 years ago | (#22486052)

Every programmer should know something about assembly. It gives you a better insight on what the compiler does for you, on how a function is invoked, on how an array is accessed, and so on.

Re:Assembly isn't obsolete! (3, Interesting)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 6 years ago | (#22486080)

Every programmer should know something about assembly.

Two hundred million VB, PHP and Ruby programmers want to disagree with you. But you are right. Assembly is as much a part of the system as transistors and stack pointers. My first system had a 6502 with a BASIC interpreter in ROM. The back page of the instruction book had the 6502 instruction set printed on it (lucky it wasn't a Z80). That was much more interesting for a 13 year old than basic.

Re:Assembly isn't obsolete! (3, Insightful)

Oscaro (153645) | more than 6 years ago | (#22486094)

Also, compilers are written by people, and compilers' output is assembly code.

Re:Assembly isn't obsolete! (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 6 years ago | (#22486178)

compilers' output is assembly code

I had a compiler on CP/M which generated assembly and sent the output to an assembler. I don't think GCC works that way. It probably generates machine code directly. Maybe it has a symbolic "assembly" layer inside.

DEC C on alpha/OpenVMS had an option to output assembly. I don't think it generated it otherwise.

Re:Assembly isn't obsolete! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22486234)

Assembly language is more or less human-readable machine code (depending on how clever your assembler is). If a compiler generates machine code (i.e. it's not interpreted, but a real compiler), it's effectively generating assembly language.

Re:Assembly isn't obsolete! (5, Informative)

Oscaro (153645) | more than 6 years ago | (#22486242)

I don't think GCC works that way.
Actually, it does. You can use "gcc -S" to write the assembly output on a file. I find it very instructive, and you can see the effects of the various optimization options...

Re:Assembly isn't obsolete! (2, Informative)

nogginthenog (582552) | more than 6 years ago | (#22486276)

I had a compiler on CP/M which generated assembly and sent the output to an assembler. I don't think GCC works that way. It probably generates machine code directly. Maybe it has a symbolic "assembly" layer inside.

Actually most compilers work this way.

Re:Assembly isn't obsolete! (1)

deathy_epl+ccs (896747) | more than 6 years ago | (#22486278)

compilers' output is assembly code

I had a compiler on CP/M which generated assembly and sent the output to an assembler. I don't think GCC works that way. It probably generates machine code directly. Maybe it has a symbolic "assembly" layer inside.

To be fair, you're picking nits... most folks mean both assembly and machine code when they say either. Yes, there is a difference... us old school demo coders used to write our code in a monitor, and I'm sure we weren't the only masochist coders around. However, it's a pretty fine point and one that's probably not worth being terribly picky about these days.

Re:Assembly isn't obsolete! (2, Informative)

PhilHibbs (4537) | more than 6 years ago | (#22486286)

I had a compiler on CP/M which generated assembly and sent the output to an assembler. I don't think GCC works that way. It probably generates machine code directly.
There is a very close to 1:1 mapping between assembly language and machine code. The only thing assembly gives you that machine code doesn't is readability and labels.

Re:Assembly isn't obsolete! (1)

smitty_one_each (243267) | more than 6 years ago | (#22486218)

The development environment is a form government.
Just offload all of that heavy "thinking" stuff onto the development environment.
You'll be much happier for it; really, you will.

Cracking protected information. (5, Insightful)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 6 years ago | (#22486060)

Without assembly knowledge we'd have uncrackable IP "protection" schemes.

Re:Cracking protected information. (1)

smitty_one_each (243267) | more than 6 years ago | (#22486236)

Oh, so when there is a major format change in a piece of hardware, like DVD players, I won't be left out in the cold if I can find a way to make other equipment work?
This kind of thing hardly sounds good for the economy.

Re:Cracking protected information. (4, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 6 years ago | (#22486244)

The problem goes way beyond IP protection. Do you think that pseudo "AES encryption" device we heard of yesterday that only used some XORing for "protection" would have been debunked if there wasn't people who still know their assembler?

Re:Assembly isn't obsolete! (4, Insightful)

SharpFang (651121) | more than 6 years ago | (#22486078)

Actually, assembly is very relevant for embedded devices - except i386 assembly that is :)

Sure 'smartphones' etc start getting programmable in high-level languages but OTOH simple microcontrollers enter more and more of daily appliances. You don't write firmware in assembly for a DVD player anymore, but you write it for a toaster or a bicycle lamp, devices that 5 years ago didn't have any firmware or programming capability. The frontier is and likely always will be assembly, and even though the frontier keeps moving and likely in 5 years the bicycle lamps will be programmable in Java, maybe ballpens will be programmable in assembly.

Re:Assembly isn't obsolete! (3, Informative)

Technician (215283) | more than 6 years ago | (#22486264)

I would say understanding and using the manual octal grouped switches on the front of a PDP11/35 is high on the list. Using the halt/run switch is a lost art.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Pdp-11-40.jpg [wikipedia.org]
Running a shmoo curve on magnetic core memory is an obsolete skill.
http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/iel5/20/22897/01066073.pdf?arnumber=1066073 [ieee.org]

Re:Assembly isn't obsolete! (1)

stretch0611 (603238) | more than 6 years ago | (#22486284)

I do not think it will ever go truly obsolete. I have learned assembly programming on three different Microprocessor architectures and I do not think it will ever be truly obsolete.

I admit I never write assembly code anymore and I only did write it in a classroom. However, learning assembly taught me a lot about a computer's architecture that I probably would not have learned otherwise.

When you know how a computer works on a basic level, you better understand what goes wrong when you are debugging problems. A very simple example of this is if you add two positive integers together and wind up with a negative result, you understand that you are overflowing the result. I may not directly use my assembler skills, but knowing them helps me indirectly and makes me a more efficient developer than someone that does not understand the computer like I do.

Re:Assembly isn't obsolete! (2, Interesting)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 6 years ago | (#22486362)

I'm glad to see that the first post already challenged the uselessness of asm.

But it goes beyond kernel debugging. Any Antivirus researcher worth his weight (or at least a fraction thereof) knows x86 assembler to the core. When the automatic analysis fails, you still toss the malware into a disassembler and you have to find out why the analyser failed. What system did they use this time to foil your analysis attempts?

Although you do notice that also on the "other side" (i.e. at the people writing those critters), asm progging becomes a dying art, you still have encryptors and manipulation schemes that try to obfuscate malware so you can't just simply 'read' them. For obvious reasons, you only get the executable into your hands, but rarely if ever the source.

So yes, asm knowledge is still very valuable. asm programming might be a 'dying skill', since it is rarely necessary (except in very specialized areas) to be able to write asm code, but knowing how to read it will be very useful and necessary for years to come.

Shorthand is not redundant yet (1)

chriseyre2000 (603088) | more than 6 years ago | (#22485952)

My other half still uses shorthand at work.

Re:Shorthand is not redundant yet (4, Funny)

Zugok (17194) | more than 6 years ago | (#22486018)

I actually WANT to learn short hand. Then people don't bother asking me for lecture notes.

Re:Shorthand is not redundant yet (4, Funny)

Wowsers (1151731) | more than 6 years ago | (#22486088)

[quote]My other half still uses shorthand at work.[/quote]

Kinky!

All skills are of value (5, Interesting)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 6 years ago | (#22485968)

My Dad started out working on valve amplifiers in the 1950's. Now that he has retired I want to start a business with him fixing valve amplifiers.

Re:All skills are of value (1)

MikeUW (999162) | more than 6 years ago | (#22486134)

Maybe I've misinterpreted, but that sounds a little backwards - isn't your dad supposed to retire based on you applying some skills of your own?

Re:All skills are of value (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 6 years ago | (#22486198)

His job was pretty crappy by the time he retired. But he is always looking for things to tinker with. I am mainly thinking of it as a way for him to stay mentally active. I would hate to see him gardening all day or something.

Re:All skills are of value (1)

maestroX (1061960) | more than 6 years ago | (#22486214)

All experience is valuable, skills are for your resume.

Re:All skills are of value (2, Informative)

skarekrough43 (862746) | more than 6 years ago | (#22486282)

As long as there are guitar players in the world you'll have work.

Re:All skills are of value (1)

msormune (808119) | more than 6 years ago | (#22486396)

Good for you. I think valve amplifiers are far from obsolete, I have built two myself last year. Saying tubes are obsolete is like saying oil painting is obsolete, because you can use "better" materials for painting.

Assembly coding isn't obsolete... (2, Informative)

HappyOscar (65200) | more than 6 years ago | (#22485984)

If you have to write bootloaders and a very small number of other programs or routines. For most purposes, yes, it's rather counterproductive.

Too many jokes and false entries (4, Insightful)

philbert2.71828 (781399) | more than 6 years ago | (#22485990)

Fortran isn't obsolete. It's still popular in particle physics. Also, "buying an HD-DVD" is on the list. Not that that was ever a "skill." This list is just begging to be filled with joke entries like that.

Re:Too many jokes and false entries (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22486020)

Yah, I also noticed that.. for every joke entry you find just append (in Space)...

Re:Too many jokes and false entries (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22486220)

Fortran is definitely not obsolete. In another life I worked for Bloomberg - the foundation of the whole Bloomberg system is written in fortran - contrary to what they'de like new hires to believe. Yeah, use C++ but we'll prevent you from using the majority of its most useful features. Weird development shop.

-- Moomin Troll

Stretching a bit to make the list (1)

sakdoctor (1087155) | more than 6 years ago | (#22485992)

I suppose it depends on your definition of skill, but I think only 4 of the 11 qualify, since although the technology might be obsolete, the "skill" would still be intuitively obvious.

It's a crap list. (2, Informative)

d3m0nCr4t (869332) | more than 6 years ago | (#22485996)

This is a list that states what the author doesn't do any more, but it's quite arrogant to assume he speaks for everyone.

Great! (2, Insightful)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 6 years ago | (#22485998)

I've been waiting for this all the time... The knowledge of assembly language should have been obsoleted a long time ago, since, naturally, all the compiler programmers today just...wait...there's something fishy here...

Navigating by compass is obsolete? (5, Insightful)

dave1791 (315728) | more than 6 years ago | (#22486006)

Navigating by compass is obsolete? That's like saying that keeping candles in your house in case of extended blackouts is obsolete.

Some things on that list are either silly or shortsighted.

Re:Navigating by compass is obsolete? (5, Funny)

jez9999 (618189) | more than 6 years ago | (#22486032)

Of course it's obsolete.

Another thing that's obsolete is like maths, because we always have calculators now.

Re:Navigating by compass is obsolete? (1)

WilliamSChips (793741) | more than 6 years ago | (#22486180)

Tell me, have you used a log table in the past ten years?

Re:Navigating by compass is obsolete? (4, Funny)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 6 years ago | (#22486382)

Yes. Every day.

You know, there is this one leg of my table that's a little short, so the log table comes in handy.

Re:Navigating by compass is obsolete? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22486408)

My solar-powered calculator doesn't work by candle-light, you insensitive clod!

Re:Navigating by compass is obsolete? (1)

Calinous (985536) | more than 6 years ago | (#22486352)

Even in this age, ships navigate using the girocompass (not a magnetic compass, but still). Yes, navigational satellites are used for pinpointing the position, but the actual helm navigation follows the indications of the girocompass.

Re:Navigating by compass is obsolete? (1)

icebrain (944107) | more than 6 years ago | (#22486388)

Pretty much every airplane is required to have a magnetic compass of sorts. It still gets used quite a bit on small airplanes; larger ones like airliners and business jets only use it as a backup.

Assembly language is obsolete? (3, Informative)

Malevolent Tester (1201209) | more than 6 years ago | (#22486012)

I'm neither a console programmer nor a demoscener, but isn't assembly very much alive and kicking in these two fields?

Re:Assembly language is obsolete? (3, Insightful)

sqldr (838964) | more than 6 years ago | (#22486066)

Correct. They also missed out one of the main reasons for the demise of assembler though - the rise and rise of x86 compatible CPUs with their shit-awful instruction set and 4 registers. Assembler on 68k, powerpc, risc, cell, hell, anything but intel is still very doable.

Re:Assembly language is obsolete? (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 6 years ago | (#22486106)

Assembler on 68k, powerpc, risc, cell, hell, anything but intel is still very doable.

I taught myself 6502 when I was a teenager. It had a nice, logical instruction set. Much later I had a look at the alpha assembly output from a DEC C compiler. Very nice code. Easy to relate to C source.

Re:Assembly language is obsolete? (1)

Calinous (985536) | more than 6 years ago | (#22486364)

You haven't seen the Obfuscated C Contest source code. I don't think you can relate that to any kind of assembler

Re:Assembly language is obsolete? (1)

nagora (177841) | more than 6 years ago | (#22486114)

They also missed out one of the main reasons for the demise of assembler though - the rise and rise of x86 compatible CPUs with their shit-awful instruction set and 4 registers.

Oh, yes; so true. Actually, until AMD came along the x86 set only had 1 general purpose register where you could put data and know that it wouldn't be smashed as a side-effect of some instruction. Utter garbage of a processor family. Still is, really, if you're one of those nut-cases that think they might want TWO stacks on the go at the same time! Crazy, I know.

TWW

Re:Assembly language is obsolete? (1)

Wingsy (761354) | more than 6 years ago | (#22486160)

I agree with ya, mostly, but having 2 stacks is perfect if you're writing a Forth compiler. I went through a period in the early 80's where just about everything I did (embedded systems) was in Forth using compilers I wrote. Loved that 6809 chip, and the 68000 family made writing software just plain ole fun. In assembly & Forth of course.

Re:Assembly language is obsolete? (1)

kestasjk (933987) | more than 6 years ago | (#22486322)

Assembler on "risc"? One of the reasons for not using risc is to make assembly programming easier, because you don't have to do every little thing yourself.

The meme is: x86 is slow because the instruction set is old and caters to the needs of assembly programmers.

Re:Assembly language is obsolete? (1)

learningtree (1117339) | more than 6 years ago | (#22486410)

Absolutely correct.. In fact, I work for a company where I have to analyze the architecture of DSP processors and optimize the assembly code to achieve the best performance for applications. I wonder if there is any other way to do it other than assembly code.

I'll add one (5, Funny)

edittard (805475) | more than 6 years ago | (#22486026)

Here's mine: writing decent stories for slashdot.

Re:I'll add one (4, Funny)

edwardpickman (965122) | more than 6 years ago | (#22486194)

Decent stories are more like Bigfoot. Lots of people claim to have seen them but there's no physical evidence.

Re:I'll add one (1)

eclectro (227083) | more than 6 years ago | (#22486204)

I think that getting "first post" on slashdot is an obsolete skill. I mean, we've all done it already, right?

Using a rotary phone is a "technical skill"?? (4, Interesting)

Viol8 (599362) | more than 6 years ago | (#22486056)

Next he'll be saying we've lost the technical skill of picking up the phone handset because of speaker phones and mobile phones.

Anyway , here in the UK new and refurbished rotary phones are a niche fashion item. You can pick them up in a number of places for a reasonable amount.

Re:Using a rotary phone is a "technical skill"?? (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 6 years ago | (#22486128)

Anyway , here in the UK new and refurbished rotary phones are a niche fashion item.

I am sure my six year old son would find it hilarious, and need help using one for the first time.

Re:Using a rotary phone is a "technical skill"?? (1)

stiggle (649614) | more than 6 years ago | (#22486294)

New and refurbished?
What about those of us who still have an original (admittedly with a modular plug on the end) but it thankfully still works, although I tend to only use it for incoming calls and don't dial out on it much.

Churn butter? (5, Insightful)

WK2 (1072560) | more than 6 years ago | (#22486064)

Churn butter is on the list. I guess it just comes that way out of the cow now. Science is amazing.

Re:Churn butter? (5, Funny)

Farmer Tim (530755) | more than 6 years ago | (#22486404)

I guess it just comes that way out of the cow now.

The surprising part is how butter comes out in those brick shapes. Surprising for the cow, that is...

But what is going to be obsolete ? (1)

CreatorOfSmallTruths (579560) | more than 6 years ago | (#22486082)

As a middle manager with programming and design experience and CS degree in my 30s I'd much rather know what *is going to become obsolete* in the next 10 years, and have that list updated each .. say.. month.

Why? because then I'll be able to make educated guesses about where I'm going next. Hell, for a western culture manager the answer may be "you are going to be out of work next" because managerial skills are going to be very inexpensive (I don't know , but that may be the case).

So - predicting the future is not that hard for the most part - for example, C - will it survive or not? I'd say that seeing linux popularity and the things people do with C today its going to stick around for at least the time it takes to build a new open source OS - something like 4 years at least. C++ - some people like it, others hate it, if Java will continue getting better, who knows?. PCs - will probably get easier to use, less technical to operate and more friendly. Managers - who needs them anyway :-) ?

Re:But what is going to be obsolete ? (3, Informative)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 6 years ago | (#22486120)

So - predicting the future is not that hard for the most part - for example, C - will it survive or not? I'd say that seeing linux popularity and the things people do with C today its going to stick around for at least the time it takes to build a new open source OS - something like 4 years at least. C++ - some people like it, others hate it, if Java will continue getting better, who knows?

Everything which is written in Java uses C.

Everything which is written in C uses Assembler.

Everything which is written in Assembler uses machine code.

And so on.

Re:But what is going to be obsolete ? (1)

CreatorOfSmallTruths (579560) | more than 6 years ago | (#22486320)

So you actually say that assembler is needed and not obsolete like tfsdp says ? If you do - that's a valid opinion as well, if you think the list is correct - why not add C in the mix (and I'm not saying it should, just raising the question)

Re:But what is going to be obsolete ? (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 6 years ago | (#22486342)

I think I am saying that the whole stack is still there, like the genes we share with crocodiles.

Re:But what is going to be obsolete ? (1)

tyresyas (826753) | more than 6 years ago | (#22486216)

So - predicting the future is not that hard for the most part - for example, C - will it survive or not? I'd say that seeing linux popularity and the things people do with C today its going to stick around for at least the time it takes to build a new open source OS - something like 4 years at least.

Seriously? You think C is going disappear? You can talk about all the other programming languages you like, but what do you think most interpreters/compilers are written in? And I'm dying to know what this new open source OS will be written in if not C.

Re:But what is going to be obsolete ? (1)

CreatorOfSmallTruths (579560) | more than 6 years ago | (#22486344)

.. I didn't say anyone is going to do it, I didn't even say it's going to be done by a language other than C if it's done. What I said was that *if* anyone will choose to create an open source OS *without using C* and it will be as successful as linux *then* we need to think about C.

As for interpreters and compilers are concerned , lots of them are not using C per say, they bootstrap from their own language, so find another strawman to hang your claims on.

p.s. I really like C and wouldn't like to see it vanish.

Carb settings? (1)

aproposofwhat (1019098) | more than 6 years ago | (#22486092)

My 1993 VW Vento still has a carb - I never have to tweak it though, because it's a VW ;o)

Now if it was a Dagenham dustbin...

Re:Carb settings? (1)

linzeal (197905) | more than 6 years ago | (#22486200)

You don't drive very often from sea level to 8000 feet like we do here in Oregon and Washington or you would be used to it. Last one I changed was on a 68 VW bus though.

Obsolete skills (5, Insightful)

ta bu shi da yu (687699) | more than 6 years ago | (#22486100)

I'm looking forward to the day when blogging becomes obsolete.

Re:Obsolete skills (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22486122)

I'm looking forward to the day when blogging becomes obsolete.
It already is. Anything a blogger has to say has been said before on another blog that nobody cares to read.

Re:Obsolete skills (1)

ta bu shi da yu (687699) | more than 6 years ago | (#22486332)

I guess. But if one blogger writes in a forest, will anyone bother to make a comment?

Re:Obsolete skills (1)

Mythrix (779875) | more than 6 years ago | (#22486250)

I'm looking forward to the day when blogging becomes obsolete.

That will be when these lasers [slashdot.org] are finished.

Another one (5, Funny)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 6 years ago | (#22486102)

Voting for a democratically elected official?

Yeah yeah, Troll.

So, I'm obsolete, huh? (5, Insightful)

Wingsy (761354) | more than 6 years ago | (#22486112)

I design embedded systems for a living, and this obsolete assembly language skill is what distinguishes my designs from those other companies. True, it takes me a little longer to get the code done, but it runs faster, has more features, and fits into a much smaller memory space than what I could do with C, or anything else. (Not to mention the fact that all the bugs in my code are all mine and none were introduced by a compiler.) I feel like it's to my advantage that assembly has faded from most designer's skill set. I won't deny that this skill is on the endangered species list, but to group it with the skill needed to dial a rotary phone made me speak up. It may be rare but it certainly isn't useless.

Creative Destruction at Work (4, Interesting)

OakLEE (91103) | more than 6 years ago | (#22486144)

I have been reading Alan Greenspan's autobiography and he consistently mentions the concept of "creative destruction," which perfectly describes the duality of the capitalist society we live in (even all of you supposed socialists in Europe). It describes both the benefit and burden of the market economy. The benefit of having (generally) free markets allocate resources in society is the innovation they brings (i.e., progress), but a cost of that progress is the obsolescence of things which are now, for lack of a better phrase, useless because of it.

I've noticed that we on Slashdot seem to struggle with this concept daily, be it the loss of jobs to outsourcing, development and adoption of new technology, reform of IP laws, the slow death of the MPAA/RIAA, and even the subject of this article (which is the perfect example). It is probably a little off-topic, but I think this common thread should in these subjects should be pointed out, because all of our discussions seem to hinge on this critical question: Is the creation worth the destruction?

The only thing redudant is this list (0, Redundant)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 6 years ago | (#22486146)

assembly language, IRQ conflicts? fuck all these things are VERY important and used by people everyday.

they still teach asm at uni.

Funny, I wrote in assembly language only last year (2, Informative)

slashbart (316113) | more than 6 years ago | (#22486150)

Writing a interrupt driving task switcher for uCos-II, completely impossible in even C.

Bart.

P.S. developing on Rabbit microcontrollers sucks for large applications. Dynamic-C is a toy, and the Softools compiler is buggy as hell.

carbon paper (1)

rpillala (583965) | more than 6 years ago | (#22486156)

Sometimes when my students suffer an arm/wrist injury and can't write, I give carbon paper to someone else in the class with good handwriting to make an instant copy of the notes. This also works well for students with visual impairments (it's not the only thing I do in those cases) or absentees when I know someone is going to be absent for an extended period.

I wouldn't call writing on carbons a technical skill. Not to mention that we use NCR paper, not actual carbons.

the interent (1)

theheadlessrabbit (1022587) | more than 6 years ago | (#22486176)

the internet has made direct human interaction obsolete.

why would i want to waste a whole day hanging out with anyone, when I can just wait for you to add the highlights to facebook, where i can skim over your day in 30 seconds or less.

Unlike relationships, internet porn does not come with a mother-in-law.

And in the real world, no one comes by to mod up every every insightful comment you might come across, the internet does this! So critical thinking is another skill to add to that list.

Edlin (1)

00_NOP (559413) | more than 6 years ago | (#22486186)

Just added this to the wiki. Has anybody used it recently? I was very surprised to find that it is still there, in fact.

Catch-all (1)

Baldrson (78598) | more than 6 years ago | (#22486208)

Any skill that an engineer who can't pay the mortgage has is obviously an obsolete technical skill. It couldn't be that the economy is run by a bunch of imbeciles.

Re:Catch-all (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 6 years ago | (#22486246)

Any skill that an engineer who can't pay the mortgage has is obviously an obsolete technical skill. It couldn't be that the economy is run by a bunch of imbeciles.

Actually I think less common skills are better at paying the mortgage than common skills. I would hate to be a generic java or VB programmer. Too easy to ship offshore.

I can think of a few (5, Insightful)

ThreeGigs (239452) | more than 6 years ago | (#22486228)

Using PEEK and POKE to 'unerase' that Apple II basic program someone erased when they accidentally typed 'NEW'.
The skill to determine a modem's connect speed from hearing the negotiation sounds.
'Notching' an old single-sided floppy to be able to make it a double-sided disc.
Cleaning and/or aligning the heads on your cassette player.
Terminating or crimping coax.
Knowing you need to type "DIR /S /AH /ON" without having to DIR /? first.
Was 'winding your watch' in the list?

I'd love to see some speculation on what skills you'd expect to be obsoleted by 2029.

Re:I can think of a few (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 6 years ago | (#22486292)

Was 'winding your watch' in the list?

It is, but it is the kind of thing which will persist for a long time. Why aren't mechanical watches obsolete? My wife has a wind up watch. It is a beautifully made antique boys watch.

I'd love to see some speculation on what skills you'd expect to be obsoleted by 2029.

I can't honestly think of anything. Most old skills are still used in the third world. Most modern skills will still be used in 20 years time.

Back in the day... (1)

smitty_one_each (243267) | more than 6 years ago | (#22486258)

I could boot an AN/UYK-7 without using a reference.
These days, I just play highland bagpipe.

- Putting a needle on a vinyl record? (1, Informative)

davepermen (998198) | more than 6 years ago | (#22486266)

Hm.. I'm a DJ. This is sort of daily business for me. Granted, nowadays we have a lot of other options, but its still alive and kicking. Vinyl just feels great, as you have the music sort of "in your hands". (and yes, I'm using Vinyl Tracks, CD Tracks over CD Players, Mp3 over Vinyl with Traktor Scratch, Mp3 over CD with Traktor Scratch, Traktor over Midi using a Faderfox DJ2, etc.. and all combinations of it...). Actually, I'd love to have vinyl control for much more work than just for DJ'ing. Imagine a Turntable between the video editing PC. Using the turntable, you could very rapid move trough the whole video, search a certain place, scratch trough to watch animations, find specific frames, etc. Would be quite usable (and sort of gets used in VJing.. but I'd love to use it for generic video cutting).

Thank your local deity for Plug-n-Pray (1)

kitgerrits (1034262) | more than 6 years ago | (#22486280)


I, for one, welkcome automatic resource allocation.
No longer disabling your printer port in order to get that second soundcard working.

asm is NOT obsolete! (5, Interesting)

Alioth (221270) | more than 6 years ago | (#22486304)

Assembly language is FAR from obsolete. Embedded hardware outships PCs by probably 100 to 1, and much of that is programmed using assembly language (especially if you want to get the most out of the tiny hardware). I have modern microcontrollers in my parts box with 64 *bytes* of RAM and 1kbyte of flash (Atmel ATtiny13) - while you can write a C program for this device, you can get much more out of it with asm, and it doesn't really take any longer to write (AVR asm is one of the nicer 8 bit ISAs). Portability is rarely an issue for devices like this, since even the C code won't be portable to other microcontroller architectures.

Every serious programmer should have some experience of assembly language so they can grok what's really going on. Nothing tells you why buffer overruns are so bad than watching a program written in asm run over its own stack obliterating the return address. It doesn't need to be a fancy 32 bit or 64 bit desktop chip, an 8 bit ISA or one of the classics such as the Motorola 68K is enough to understand the principles of what happens at the chip level. If you want to see what happens when programmers simply don't grok the hardware, just check out The Daily WTF. ...oh, and I have a rotary phone, too. It was first installed in my grandparents home in 1969 when the house was built. It's just the plain GPO phone of the time, but it's a little reminder of them each time I phone someone.

By the way, get off my lawn!

Whew! (-1, Offtopic)

s74ng3r (963541) | more than 6 years ago | (#22486334)

At least this one [goatse.cx] isn't obsolete.

Transferable skills..? (1, Interesting)

teh kurisu (701097) | more than 6 years ago | (#22486358)

If you're using any device that communicates over a serial port (Telit GT864-PY [telit.com] for example), you're going to use parts of the Hayes Command Set. Not necessarily all of it, but it's certainly not obsolete.

And as for 'Changing the battery of a Sega Dreamcast VMU'... isn't that just a case of unscrewing the cover, removing the battery, and popping in a replacement? The Dreamcast VMU might itself be obsolete, but I just went through that exact procedure yesterday while changing the battery in my car's central locking remote.

I'm not taking the list too seriously though, seeing as 'sex' is on it...

Turbo Button (1)

Mishra100 (841814) | more than 6 years ago | (#22486360)

The almost ubiquitous turbo button on your computer is completely obsolete. I can't remember the last time I had to worry about the yellow light because my computer was slow.

Tag (1)

Sobieski (1032500) | more than 6 years ago | (#22486368)

It is my opinion that this article may now be tagged "troll", or "flamebait". I can't keep up with the intertwining meanings of these words.

Punch Cards (0, Troll)

tekrat (242117) | more than 6 years ago | (#22486370)

Now that's an obsolete skill!
I'll bet half the readers of Slashdot have never even seen a punch card in real life.

Now get off my lawn!

assembly language programming (1)

phrostie (121428) | more than 6 years ago | (#22486384)

it was because assembly language programming was considered obsolete that my dad could make a living at it.
there was still lots of code out there and someone had to maintain it.

BASIC indeed (1)

Danzigism (881294) | more than 6 years ago | (#22486394)

I beg to differ on the rabbit ears thing. Well, maybe and maybe not. I still use rabbit ears to receive the new DTV signal and at first I did have to do some minor adjusting ;-) but you've never seen a grown man more excited to get about 4 new channels that he's never had before, and for free.

but I wanted to add BASIC programming to the list of obsolete tech skills. for a long time it was the only way to even operate your computer. If I could only get $100,000 for being a BASIC programmer nowadays, that'd be freakin awesome. screw these object oriented languages! just kidding, they're just too hard for me..

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