[bct] Re: programming

  • From: "jeffs mail" <j1armstrong@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <blindcooltech@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 18 Jan 2006 18:27:29 -0600


I completely forgot about assembly language. There's a subject I'd sooner avoid from here on out. Assembly and I didn't get along. It seems so cryptic and feels like pulling teeth to get anything productive written. Packing, adding, memory locations and so on, it's all too much, bring on the hot chocolate. Actually, I cheated on my "diet" and grabbed a peppermint mocha at Starbuck's in the Barns 'n' Noble today. I'll claim my daughter forced me to go in there. I did resist getting any dessert though, is that worth any points? This past December, one of my friends challenged me to write a VB macro in Excel to allow his barcode reader to be used with Excel to inventory his business. I got that done after several revisions but now I want to expand that to create a cheap way to do barcode identification for anyone who already has Excel on their computer and uses speech. That will be easy. I bought the same barcode reader which only costs 135 dollars. At work, I use the ID-Mate-2 which is very cool and a great product which I could not possibly replace with my little macros, but I need something around the house and the ID-Mate is about 1700 dollars each, and too bulky to bring back and forth too and from work each day. I actually keep it's case strapped to my cart for quick identification of my vending products such as soda flavors. Without that machine, they are all little metal cylinders to me. Anyway, the ID-Mate, while being a fine product, is simply too darned expensive to buy for home use for me. I should try to find a very small older computer to put in the kitchen and run this setup. Once I finish the macro, anyone is welcome to it. Believe me, it's not very fancy. Basically, the routine I use to input the barcode is the same as a routine to input from the keyboard. Some USB barcode scanners appear as keyboards to the computer and Windows. The scanner enters a carriage return after each code it scans, so it's like someone typing in a number and pressing the ENTER key. Very straight forward. Then I simply decide whether this is an existing item in the database or a new item and perform the proper routine based on this fact. Currently, I then ask for the kinds of info one needs for inventory purposes but a quick edit would have it asking for cooking instructions or whatever makes sense. One could very easily then create a routine which would scan items and add them to a grocery list or any other task like that. I'm told that CDs have their own barcodes as well. So, I guess, one could scan them into a database as well. I still use the term "database" even though Excel, long ago, went to calling them lists. It just doesn't sound right to me. Well, I'm going on and on. Can you tell I get into this stuff a bit too much? Later...

Jeff Armstrong
----- Original Message ----- From: "Mary Emerson" <maryemerson@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
To: <blindcooltech@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Tuesday, January 17, 2006 11:48 PM
Subject: [bct] Re: programming


You have an interesting background. I hope you can pursue your interests in accessibility. My programming experience was either in writing IBM product modules, such as commands, dump routines, or parts of language library routines, or (this was my favorite) ten years in main frame system support, setting up huge disk storage for product developers so they could test the products they were writing. I did a small bit of work helping to maintain my team's web site with very basic HTML, and wrote some system support code in REXX (a structured language like PL/I that runs under theVM operating system). In fact, some of the fun stuff involved automating our system support procedures to speed up our jobs so we could get more work done more quickly, and teaching the rest of my team how to use the code. I had fun getting so involved in nested loops that it was a major challenge debugging them! I wonder if anyone has played with some of that stuff and broken it since I left. I told them not to play with it too much or they'd have a fun time digging their way out! I documented, but most of us just don't read comments in code; it's easier just to read the code, especially if it's in assembly or REXX language and you just sail through it. We just never had time to read comments. By the way, I remember cutting my teeth on thousands of lines of product code that had no comments; it was in assembly language and had been passed around so much that nobody knew why it worked the way it did. I managed to add some new code to it though. I feel sorry for the poor soul who had to eventually translate that into a higher level language for a later release of the product! They probably had nightmares for months.

I consider that stage of my life finished and am glad to be away from it; these days I am glad somebody else is taking over, writing code when necessary, and I suppose a lot of my procedures have been modified, which is fine with me.
Thanks for sharing your background; it is really interesting finding out what programmers are doing these days. I suppose others on this list are completely snowed by now. Sorry folks, it's just too tempting to get into this kind of stuff sometimes. I guess it's time for hot chocolate again!


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