One Stack Deep

He can push, but when it comes time to pop, he goes off in all directions


A passage in The Soul of a New Machine by Tracy Kidder describes the language engineers use when they talk to each other (and about each other):

Give me a core dump meant “Tell me your thoughts,” for in the past, when computers used “core memories,” engineers sometimes “dumped” the contents of malfunctioning machines’ storage compartments of memory, a sort of in-box inside a computer; it holds the information in the order in which the information is deposited and whe it gets overfull, it is said to “overflow.” Hence the occasional complaint, “I’ve got a stack overflow.” “His mind is only one stack deep,” says an engineer, describing the failings of a colleague, but the syntax is wrong and he rephrases, saying “See. He can push, but when it comes time to pop, he goes off in all directions” ― which means that the poor fellow can receive and understand information but he can’t retrieve it in an orderly fashion.

This is my journey to improve the memory of my past and near-present and to find better ways to store and retrieve the future. This journey is intensely personal with an emphasis on understanding myself more than understanding humanity. At fourtysomething, I have an understanding of what works and what doesn’t, not to mention dark spots that need illuminating. It’s worth emphasizing that my journey is individual to me and may not apply to or work for you. Tips and pointers are appreciated, with the proviso that “hacking” does not resonate as much as “changing” and “improving”.

Written by Administrator

June 29, 2011 at 5:32 am

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