Great Photos of Margaret Hamilton: a Computer Programmer and Rocket Scientist

(Originally posted on Aug 9, 2015 as /archives/10518)

WIRED magazine recently published a story about Margaret Hamilton (2015-10-13).

I was born in the 60’s. Since then we had the space age. Then we had an information age. Now biology is where science is making the big leaps. It is sad that people are denying all-that-we-know about the foundation of that science.

Here are photos of Margaret Hamilton. “She eventually became the director and supervisor of software programming for Apollo and Skylab.” So there you go: great photos of a computer programmer, and rocket scientist. Cool.

Margaret Hamilton standing next to listings of the actual Apollo Guidance Computer (AGC) source code.
Margaret Hamilton standing next to listings of the actual Apollo Guidance Computer (AGC) source code.
Margaret_Hamilton_in_action
Hamilton during her time as lead Apollo flight software designer.

License: NASA-created images are in the public domain.

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Finite State Machines Advice and Finite State Analysis

(New posting on 2016-06-04; originally posted as /archives/4698)

By Dainis (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
If your business logic starts getting complicated, it might mean that you should use finite state analysis and design. This technique is very popular for the artificial intelligence systems used in video games, and there are a number of finite state machine frameworks out there for Java, but they are all pretty heavyweight.

How does one create a lightweight state machine, and what is finite state analysis anyway? The ACM published a paper called “The Art of the State” by John F. Cigas in 1992.

In the paper Professor Cigas describes how to do finite state analysis, and how to implement your state machines via a loop surrounding a switch statement… that’s it… its that simple.

Please read the paper. If it doesn’t make any sense, then ask me how this is used, and I will show you. Please go to this page to get the PDF: http://portal.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=134541 The technique basically orders complex if-this-or-that-or-this-or-that type logic into the simplest form possible, and its really easy to do.

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Too Much Stuff In A Car Story

(Originally posted on 2007-07-04  as /archives/38)

During my freshman year (1986) I lived in Hood Hall (under my old name: W. Paul Caligiuri). Some other guys that lived there would circle the place for hours in an old white convertible. I think it was a 1959 Cadillac deVille.  When it was time for a dorm picture, the driver drove the car over, and offered for us all to get in it, and on it, in the tradition of how-many-people-can-you-fit-in-a-phone-booth? Folks opened the doors afterwards, but they wouldn’t close.  For a few seconds people were trying to figure out what was wrong when I loudly said, “That thing is shaped like a ‘U’!”  Needless to say we never saw that car again.

Why this image? I like it. It’s a wrecked car. No, it’s not the one in the story. John Allan [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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Tornado Season “Advice”

(Originally posted on 2016-04-30)

Fort Smith Arkansas border street: On the OK side? This is tornado country! On the Arkansas side? Meh.

To be clear: the street was directly on the border. The north side? No shelters. The south side? Shelters.

Did Oklahoma offer tax breaks for building shelters? (Yes, but…) Do Arkansas people realize that they aren’t going into that hail just to get to an outdoor shelter? “We’ll just fire a few warning shots, shake our fists at the air, stay away from trailer parks, and lie in a ditch anyway.”

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Loud Parties, Playing the Bass

(Originally posted on 2016-05-29)

Author: Ethan Prater Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/eprater/4380249444/ CC License: Attribution 2.0 Generic
Author: Ethan Prater
Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/eprater/4380249444/
CC License: Attribution 2.0 Generic

The guy below me (at 30 Larnard St, Potsdam NY, in the early 90s), had a loud party, and played metal and classic rock records, real loud. Did he invite me? No.

Kids: if you are going to have a loud party, then you always invite the neighbors. In most cases they won’t come, but they will appreciate it, and they won’t call the police. Here endeth the lesson.

So I invited myself by plugging in my bass amp, and playing along with all of the songs. He eventually turned it down.

Did that end it? Not exactly: this started to become a regular thing, but at least he turned it down much quicker.

So one day his girlfriend stops me in the store, and says, “Hey, you’re the guy that lives above us. Every time that we have people visit, my boyfriend turns up the stereo, and then lowers the volume so that he can show everyone how you play the bass!”

All righty then…

 

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How Journey Gets That “Jaco Pastorius” Fretless Bass Sound

(Originally published on 2016-11-11.)

According to Bass Player Magazine‘s Facebook post:

“I found a way to emulate Jaco’s fretless sound on fretted instruments… I’d play with or without a pick, but definitely going for an enhanced attack with a thin sound playing through an Eventide Harmonizer with the pitch ratio set to 99 or 101—right below or above pitch by a cent…” – Ross Valory of Journey

Here’s exactly what he’s talking about:

Here’s a newer model of Eventide Harmonizer:

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