Margaret Hamilton Put Humans on the Moon and Invented the Concept of Software Itself

September 17, 2016

Her Code Got Humans on the Moon—And Invented Software Itself

She showed an incredible amount of foresight in anticipating the human element in computer use. It almost wouldn’t surprise me if she had invented the term luser. Note that the L is silent, of course, but if said properly, the tone of voice makes the L more than apparent despite its silence.

Flow Charts — Time to Geek Out

February 19, 2015

I couldn’t resist posting this comic. Guess I really am a geek.

Click here for larger image, courtesy of

Human Language Should Not Be Traced Like Computer Code

September 26, 2014

I found myself saying the title in an online conversation over on reddit. It was an admonition to myself regarding trouble I often have in communicating with humans both online and in meat space. I tend to be very literal minded. So, I read and listen to human language the same way I would read computer code. Even worse, I expect others to do the same with my speech and especially my writing, which I’ve had time to edit and make it say exactly what I want. (Though, yes, sometimes I’m less careful.)

Anyway, on that reddit post, I suggested that I should write “human language should not be traced like computer code” 500 times on the blackboard, or until I believe it. So, here goes. There’s more of this post below, so please scroll.

[EDIT] I’m updating this post because, as ECA pointed out below, this may not be clear to everyone. To trace computer code means to follow paths through the program and imagine how the computer will execute each line of code. It is a very literal and exact way of reading the program. Often, doing this before running the code can find bugs before they even happen. Programmers in good programming environments often hand their programs to each other to review. Or, they might work together over a single screen with the person not typing reviewing and tracing the code as the other person types it. This last is not a quiet or unnecessary exercise. I promise. Thanks ECA for helping me with exactly the type of communication with which I have trouble.

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How to be a computer expert

August 25, 2009

Courtesy of xkcd

Of course the problem with this is that although it is literally true, those who need such instructions can’t read flow charts.

Rubber ducks help best with computer science

August 3, 2009

For anyone who doesn’t write code, this will seem a bit strange. For those of us who do, it’s quite normal except for the name being given to it, rubber ducking. Often when some problem escapes a programmer for longer than it should, calling someone over for “a second pair of eyes” is the surest way to solve one’s own problem. The very act of explaining the problem to someone else and walking through showing the code is frequently the fastest way to find the problem, even though the problem may be found and corrected before the listener even fully understands the problem.

Rubber ducks help best with computer science

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