Hello world!

OK, here’s my first post on FreethoughtBlogs.

I’m a retired computer programmer who continues to serve on the ISO standards committee for the C++ programming language.  One of the reasons that I retired from my day job after June of ’22, aside from being 76 years old, is that, for the last several years, I’d been writing nothing but Java, which I found rather frustrating.

I’m also quite the geek when it comes to riding on passenger trains.  I’m not at all nostalgic about them; I just think that trains are a good way to travel today.

I’ll probably write mostly about C++ and riding on Amtrak; but I reserve the right to become obsessed when someone is wrong on the Internet.

For my commenting policy, I’ll start out using PZ’s Pharyngula as a model.  We’ll see how that goes.  If a comment points out some error I made in a post, I’ll acknowledge the error in a comment of my own and fix it like Mano does.

I’ll begin with a very short rant from my wires-and-pliers days, just to have something out there besides this “Howdy” post.  Around the first of February, I’ll describe a trip that I’ll be taking to Issaquah, Washington, to attend a meeting of the ISO C++ committee.

Please feel free to suggest other topics that I might know something about, including digital electronics from the SSI and MSI TTL era (I haven’t done it in a while), and listener-supported FM broadcasting.  I’ve also worked for a couple of commercial radio stations, and I once had a 1st Phone (which is no longer a thing), but I was always weak in the practical aspects of RF, being mostly an audio guy.


  1. billseymour says

    OK, I think I understand most of what I have to do now.  (Although this old dog still likes learning new tricks, he’s finding it increasingly difficult.)

    jenorafeuer @1:  long long, short and long are data types in C and C++; it’s also the train whistle that warns of the train approaching a grade crossing.

  2. jenorafeuer says

    Ahh, fair enough. I’m an old ham radio operator, so I went with Morse code as my first assumption. I’m a programmer as well, but my uncle is the serious train aficionado in the family. (At Expo ’86 in Vancouver, where the theme was ‘Man in Motion’, he was one of the couple dozen or so people who got the list of the entire parade route of some of the old steam engines being brought in for the fair and followed them around to every major crossing on the route.) I’m a more casual train person, though at least in the Toronto-Ottawa-Montreal area Via Rail is pretty good for getting around.

  3. amts says


    I’m very interested in whatever you may have to say about passenger trains. I’ve never been on one but a train trip is one item on my bucket list I fully intend to check off

  4. billseymour says


    I’m an old ham radio operator, so I went with Morse code as my first assumption [about the blog title].

    di-di-di-dit di-dit

    Yeah, I see the problem.  I promise I’m not Q, not the goofball, not the Star Trek character, and I hope not just
    dah-dah-di-dah di-dah-dit dah-dah.

  5. Peter B says

    1971 – thinking … thinking … oh yes, I was married with two small children. I was working for CDC in Sunnyvale, CA. CDC 6000 series mainframe 2^17 60-bit words max. Had those words been 64 bits wide it would have had one whole megabyte of core memory. Some machines had half that memory. The Mainframe had no I/O instructions but most machines had 10 autonomous peripheral processors aka pp’s that could do I/O. The pp’s had 4096 12-bit memory locations. Core memory limited their speed to 1 MHz Access to the main CPU’s memory took 5 clocks per word plus a little overhead. And still, our disk I/O was better than IBM’s. I left when CDC moved the Scope operating system to Minnesota. The words, “Hell no, we won’t go”, applied to more than anti-war beatniks. Later I wrote a little java and now have forgotten 90% of it.

  6. cafebabe says

    Warm welcome a new FTB blog. I am. like you, a now-retired IT geek.
    During the 80s and 90s I wasted too much of my time travelling to programming language standards committees. I was Australia’s official representative on ISO SC-22 for some of that time, and spent endless hours working for WG-11 (Language independent arithmetic) and WG-13 (Modula-2). Wasted years, but on the positive side Niklaus Wirth finally forgave me.

  7. billseymour says

    Peter B @8:

    I was working for CDC in Sunnyvale, CA.

    My first personal computer was a CDC-110 which I got for half price because I was a CDC employee, an instructor at Control Data Institute in St. Louis.  I eventually sold it for about what I paid for it. 😎

    cafebabe @9:

    During the 80s and 90s I wasted too much of my time travelling to programming language standards committees.

    You beat me to it.  My first such meeting was WG-14 (C) in ’96.  I started attending WG-21 (C++) meetings in ’00 and continued to participate in both the C and C++ committes until ’02.  (I dropped out because I had to take care of an elderly mother and so couldn’t travel.)  I resumed participation in ’05 in Mont Tremblant, QC, where I was also a lurker at the SC-22 meeting which was held between the C and C++ meetings.

    I quit active participation on WG-14 after the London meeting in ’19, but I still get all their e-mails.  (I’m disinterested but not uninterested.)

    I was Australia’s official representative on ISO SC-22 …

    The chair of the US TAG to WG-14 (which, at the time, was called X3J11…what I was actually a member of), was Rex Jaeschke, also from Oz.  I’m guessing that he would have attended SC-22 meetings and so you might have met him.

    … Niklaus Wirth finally forgave me.


    A bit over a week from now, I start my journey to Issaquah, WA, a suburb of Seattle, for my first face-to-face meeting of WG-21 since COVID hit, which I’m very much looking forward to.  Paying my dues to INCITS (the current name for X3) gives me license to hang around with folks who are smarter than I.

  8. says

    Hey, and welcome to the network from your crafting obsessed but generally well behaved* neighbour.
    Well, mostly. Sometimes. One of these days for sure.

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