Saturday, December 22, 2007

Food For Thought

"This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill - the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill - you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes. " - The Matrix

That quote often comes to mind when searching the web for some obscure, low level fact about how computers work. The world of computing is very broad and deep. You could be like my grandparents, just grateful that the machine turns on and that you can manage your photo albums. Or you could be one of those engineers who spends her existence working out the instruction pipeline on the processor we'll see in three years. Most days I live happily in a land filled with Java and Javascript, which for many of my non-work acquaintances puts me in a pretty deep rabbit hole.

I dusted off a text book from the college days: Computer Systems: A Programmers Perspective. Leafing through the pages of that book I was again reminded of how deep the rabbit-hole really is. I got caught up in chapter 11 for a while, "System-Level I/O". Over the Christmas holiday I'll work through some of those exercises just for good fun. It's nice to remember how I/O works at the system level. Every person who writes code should be grateful for the high level ease of something like System.out.println("Hello World!");.

Good Stuff. Really.

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