Wednesday, October 31, 2012

On being proactive

When Hurricane Sandy arrived yesterday, the sugary-drink mayor of New York could not keep the NYU hospital from being evacuated because of a lack of power.

Goldman Sachs, the world's leading crony capitalist institution, did keep its lights on throughout the night, along with a few other firms.


From The Inquisitr:
This image [above] did the rounds on Twitter last night, where it triggered a cynical and occasionally angry reaction; at least one Twitter user compared the illuminated Goldman Sachs building to the plight of the New York University Langone Medical Center, which was forced to evacuate 200 patients due to a power outage caused by Sandy.

Goldman quickly moved into damage limitation mode, with spokesman David Wells telling Daily Intel on Tuesday that many other buildings in the same neighborhood had stayed lit:
“We weren’t the only building with light, but we do have a generator. We’re not drawing power from the grid.”
 And as we read on Daily Political,
In recent years, continuity of business plans have emerged for large firms, and now, they are being put into action ahead of what meteorologists have dubbed ‘Frankenstorm’. One such action is from The Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (NYSE: GS), which has dispersed offices across the globe so that in the event of an emergency, the business can maintain close to normal operations. Telecommuting and alternate work sites work for a variety of functions, though front office jobs continue to require secure lines of communication and proper infrastructure. For this, global offices come in handy.
 

Monday, October 15, 2012

Happy Birthday, Fortran!

Freedom has meaning beyond the political or economic interpretation.  In programming, it sometimes refers to release from the drudgery of architecture-specific code. 

A Wired article reminds us that on October 15, 1956 a small team of software engineers at IBM led by John Backus published the first Fortran manual.  As the manual states,

Higher-level languages like Fortran revolutionized computing, making it possible to do in hours or days what took weeks or months to accomplish using only the native language of the hardware.

My first programming job was writing Fortran programs for data reduction of transonic wind tunnel tests.  The target computer was an IBM 1800, sometimes referred to as a mini-computer.  Before the 1800 and before Fortran two sharp programmers in the wind tunnel facility coded on a Burroughs Datatron using that machine's language.  Once the switch to Fortran and the 1800 were made, productivity rose astronomically.