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Remembering Dennis Ritchie (RIP)

I discovered just today (01/26/2012) that Dennis Ritchie, one of the more prominent figures in computing, died. How was this possible, the news of the passing of such an important personality in the computer science community went silent for almost 4 months? The media barely covered his death, they something that stunned the world, just the same day: Steve Job’s death. The world is guilty of not showing their respects, just as it did with Steve Jobs. I wanted to write something to acknowledge Dennis Ritchie. Just as Steve change my life for being a believer, a visionary and a leader, Ritchie change it to create the science that supports almost everything I do (and even what Steve did). That’s a tall order to fill up, the word everything is BIG, so let’s check out some of his accomplishments:

  1. Creator of the C programming language. That along earns it quite an array of accolades and influence. Here are some ripple effects of this creation:
    • Without C, there is no C++
    • Without C, there is no Objective C
    • Without C, there no Unit OS, or Windows OS. No Linux, no Symbian, OSX, or iOS. Without these, there would be no Nokias, no Blackberries, no Androids, no iPhones or iPads.
    • Thanks to C, the words ‘programmer’ and ‘software developer’ became ubiquitous in society
  2. Because of C, software engineering and programming was made accessible to the masses, and became a ‘popular’ career path in university programs.
  3. Created the generic operating systems theory that supports the fundamental concepts of all modern operating systems.
  4. Implemented the UNIX OS. Again the ripple effects of this accomplishment are too much to list here.
  5. Author of “The C Programming Language,” also known as “K. & R.”, standing for Kernighan and Ritchie.
  6. Awarded the Turing Award in 1983 for his enormous contributions in the fields of computing and operating systems. The Turing Award is the highest distinction given to a human being for their contribution to the field of Computer Science.

His accomplishments were the foundation to the technology revolution we experienced in the last decades. The gigantic footprint Dennis Ritchie left in the world are in my modest opinion, far-reaching, transformational and revolutionary than anyone that left this world in 2011. He was certainly not the most charismatic and public person in the world, so the media didn’t like him as much as Steve.

This is image is trending today… for some reason 4 months after Ritchie died.

Here is another article making another side by side contribution.

I have nothing but great respect for both of these men. Without their dents in the universe, my life would have been a much different one. If you think Dennis Ritchie deserves your respect, share this with your friends, and let the world know that 2011 was the year when we lost two very important figures, and not just one.

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Bill Gates nice-funny-angry email

Here is a nice-funny-angry email Bill Gates sent back in 03' to the VP of the Windows Division at the time Jim Allchin about Bill's own frustrating experiences with Microsoft.com and the Windows XP experience.

Who let the dogs out!?

--------- BILL GATES EMAIL ---------

From: Bill Gates  Sent: Wednesday, January 15, 2003 10:05 AM  To: Jim Allchin  Cc: Chris Jones (WINDOWS); Bharat Shah (NT); Joe Peterson; Will Poole; Brian Valentine; Anoop Gupta (RESEARCH)  Subject: Windows Usability Systematic degradation flame

I am quite disappointed at how Windows Usability has been going backwards and the program management groups don’t drive usability issues.

Let me give you my experience from yesterday.

I decided to download (Moviemaker) and buy the Digital Plus pack … so I went to Microsoft.com. They have a download place so I went there.

The first 5 times I used the site it timed out while trying to bring up the download page. Then after an 8 second delay I got it to come up.

This site is so slow it is unusable.

It wasn’t in the top 5 so I expanded the other 45.

These 45 names are totally confusing. These names make stuff like: C:Documents and SettingsbillgMy DocumentsMy Pictures seem clear.

They are not filtered by the system … and so many of the things are strange.

I tried scoping to Media stuff. Still no moviemaker. I typed in movie. Nothing. I typed in movie maker. Nothing.

So I gave up and sent mail to Amir saying – where is this Moviemaker download? Does it exist?

So they told me that using the download page to download something was not something they anticipated.

They told me to go to the main page search button and type movie maker (not moviemaker!).

I tried that. The site was pathetically slow but after 6 seconds of waiting up it came.

I thought for sure now I would see a button to just go do the download.

In fact it is more like a puzzle that you get to solve. It told me to go to Windows Update and do a bunch of incantations.

This struck me as completely odd. Why should I have to go somewhere else and do a scan to download moviemaker?

So I went to Windows update. Windows Update decides I need to download a bunch of controls. (Not) just once but multiple times where I get to see weird dialog boxes.

Doesn’t Windows update know some key to talk to Windows?

Then I did the scan. This took quite some time and I was told it was critical for me to download 17megs of stuff.

This is after I was told we were doing delta patches to things but instead just to get 6 things that are labeled in the SCARIEST possible way I had to download 17meg.

So I did the download. That part was fast. Then it wanted to do an install. This took 6 minutes and the machine was so slow I couldn’t use it for anything else during this time.

What the heck is going on during those 6 minutes? That is crazy. This is after the download was finished.

Then it told me to reboot my machine. Why should I do that? I reboot every night — why should I reboot at that time?

So I did the reboot because it INSISTED on it. Of course that meant completely getting rid of all my Outlook state.

So I got back up and running and went to Windows Update again. I forgot why I was in Windows Update at all since all I wanted was to get Moviemaker.

So I went back to Microsoft.com and looked at the instructions. I have to click on a folder called WindowsXP. Why should I do that? Windows Update knows I am on Windows XP.

What does it mean to have to click on that folder? So I get a bunch of confusing stuff but sure enough one of them is Moviemaker.

So I do the download. The download is fast but the Install takes many minutes. Amazing how slow this thing is.

At some point I get told I need to go get Windows Media Series 9 to download.

So I decide I will go do that. This time I get dialogs saying things like "Open" or "Save". No guidance in the instructions which to do. I have no clue which to do.

The download is fast and the install takes 7 minutes for this thing.

So now I think I am going to have Moviemaker. I go to my add/remove programs place to make sure it is there.

It is not there.

What is there? The following garbage is there. Microsoft Autoupdate Exclusive test package, Microsoft Autoupdate Reboot test package, Microsoft Autoupdate testpackage1. Microsoft AUtoupdate testpackage2, Microsoft Autoupdate Test package3.

Someone decided to trash the one part of Windows that was usable? The file system is no longer usable. The registry is not usable. This program listing was one sane place but now it is all crapped up.

But that is just the start of the crap. Later I have listed things like Windows XP Hotfix see Q329048 for more information. What is Q329048? Why are these series of patches listed here? Some of the patches just things like Q810655 instead of saying see Q329048 for more information.

What an absolute mess.

Moviemaker is just not there at all.

So I give up on Moviemaker and decide to download the Digital Plus Package.

I get told I need to go enter a bunch of information about myself.

I enter it all in and because it decides I have mistyped something I have to try again. Of course it has cleared out most of what I typed.

I try (typing) the right stuff in 5 times and it just keeps clearing things out for me to type them in again.

So after more than an hour of craziness and making my programs list garbage and being scared and seeing that Microsoft.com is a terrible website I haven’t run Moviemaker and I haven’t got the plus package.

The lack of attention to usability represented by these experiences blows my mind. I thought we had reached a low with Windows Network places or the messages I get when I try to use 802.11. (don’t you just love that root certificate message?)

When I really get to use the stuff I am sure I will have more feedback

--------- END OF EMAIL ---------

Ouch! Thunder is coming down from Mount Olympus!

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