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Hardware Guy

Touring a computer server room yesterday I was impressed, not at the racks of fancy hardware — blade servers and fibre channel switches and search appliances and other mysterious devices — but rather at how obsolete all of the expensive apparatus will be within a very few years, and how vulnerable it is to damage. Hence the need for access-control locked doors, exotic fire-extinguishing systems, and hurricanes of cold air blowing down the aisles.

I was going to tell the woman who runs the computer lab that I'm not a "hardware guy". But then I realized that actually, I am. The "hardware" that I dig, however, is half a dozen levels below brand-name boxes and trademarked chips. Instead, I'm into P-N junctions and electrons, fields and energy levels. Likewise I'm a "software guy" — but not one who's expert at the latest version of Microsoft Word or Unix or Perl. Think regular expressions, heapsort, resolution and unification, backpropagation, fast fourier transforms, memoization, and the minimax theorem. Ideas, like electrons, that will keep working forever.

(cf. LoomingDisaster (2001-08-06), MindChildren (2003-04-17), ...) - ^z - 2011-10-21