data is currently certified at Journeyer level.

Name: Michael Ashton
Member since: 2000-04-09 02:32:08
Last Login: N/A

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Advogato was enthusiastically recommended to me by Brent Neal. He seemed quite excited about the certification system. It sounded like fun to me - rather like a US Chess Federation ranking for programmers. Since I've little hope of getting any significant ranking with US Chess, I thought I'd try my luck here. :)

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Dear Chexum: Thanks for certifying me as Journeyman. I don't think I know you, and I don't know how you would know me, but I do accept the title; I hope I've been active in the free software world long enough to merit it. Not to toot my own horn, but the upcoming release of BINARS will, I hope, dispel any doubts that I at least _try_ to give back a bit :).

I'll say this, though: writing a sequencer is not easy. I'm really rather glad of my extended unemployment; although it has, needless to say, put rather a strain on my bank-book, I don't know that BINARS would happen but for this happy circumstance. (Yes, I _hated_ my old job.)

I've always found it interesting that creative tools, such as sequencers, image processors and rendering programs, demand so much of a computer. Each has its own sort of load: programs which attempt to fool the eye have to deal with massive, often continuous streams of data and intense computations; programs which attempt to fool the ear (a more difficult task, in many ways) have a less massive, but more intricate stream to deal with.

The sequencer falls, I think, somewhat outside that continuum. Sequencers do not normally perform intense computations, and they do not deal with large data-streams: on the contrary, they generate a tiny trickle of data compared to, say, a video-editing package. Yet a sequencer can bring a highly sophisticated computing system to its knees.

Sequencers don't always demand the highest in speed; the software has everything to do with a sequencer's performance. I'll never forget hooking up an old Atari 520ST - it had a 68000 running at 8 MHz, if you'll recall - and finding that it was capable of tighter timing than my 68030 Mac running at twice the clock speed. This was due to superior software and less interference from the operating system (the Atari didn't have an OS so much as a library).

A real-time application doesn't care about horsepower; it cares only about getting things done on time. Automobiles don't require K7s to run their engines; a puny 'HC11 does nicely. Similarly, many hardware sequencers are designed around eight-bit microcontrollers, and they often outperform Pentium IIs running at many times their effective clock rates.

This is, of course, not a fair fight. The Pentium II has more on its plate: it has to update a larger screen, it has to cater to the desires of many more devices, and its operating system may very well be indifferent to the peculiar needs of a persnickety real-time application. This is why Windows-based sequencers require so much horsepower to run effectively (if one can call frequent crashes and loosey-goosey timing 'effective'). Nevertheless, it goes to show that often a can-opener is better than a stick of dynamite - if you need to open a can.

Ah well .. back to the land of reader-writer locks, just-in-time scheduling, and metronomes .. :)

Does anyone read these? I don't know. It feels rather like writing on a wall. There was, I recall, a feature of some old BBS packages which allowed people to post bally well anything; it served as a way for them to get their vandalistic tendencies out, and a way to blow off steam. Sometimes the posts were quite funny ...

Advogato is an interesting site - at least, it looks interesting. I've not quite got the point of it. It feels, so far, like a BBS. That's a good thing, I think. It never occurred to me until recently that BBSing never really went away, although when we all went off to college and discovered the 'Net, we rather saw the BBSes we used to dial into as a bit passe'. Nevertheless, there was a certain peculiar feeling associated with dialing up a local BBS, and an even stronger feeling that went with running one.

Running a web-site doesn't carry the same feeling with it. I think this is mainly because you don't really "log in" to a website. With BBSes, and Unix accounts, and MUDs, and IRC, you log in: you establish a presence; you step through a door; you are there, and nowhere else. A web-site doesn't work like that. It's like reading a newspaper, or talking through a bulletin-board. Nobody's "inside" a web-site, because there is no "inside" to a web-site; it's just a wall, a poster, a television screen.

Ironically, however, a web-site is truer to the term "bulletin-board service" than most BBSes ever were. A web-site really acts like a bulletin board; BBSes worked a bit differently. The more things change ..

I must confess that the one thing I found annoying about Advogato was the use of the "term" "Journeyer". If I am ever blessed enough by the Masters to rise above the rank of Apprentice, I will consider myself a Journeyman. Those of the female persuasion may feel free to call themselves Journeywomen, if they wish; but a "journeyer"? A made-up word, used to avoid offending the easily offended - those who are offended by the sequence of letters 'M', 'A', and 'N'.

Having said that, I also will confess that I think the word "journeyer" is a vastly better choice than the nauseating word "journeyperson". Kudos to those in charge for displaying a bit of taste.


data certified others as follows:

  • data certified BrentN as Apprentice
  • data certified miguel as Master
  • data certified blizzard as Master

Others have certified data as follows:

  • chexum certified data as Journeyer
  • BrentN certified data as Journeyer
  • nixnut certified data as Journeyer

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