Go watch his talks on YouTube and read everything he writes.
Excellence. Quality. Science. These are just a few of the words that have been applied to the illustrious research career of James Mickens. In the span of a few years, James Mickens has made deep, fundamental, and amazing contributions to various areas of computer science and life. Widely acknowledged as one of the greatest scholars of his generation, James Mickens ran out of storage space for his awards in 1992, and he subsequently purchased a large cave to act as a warehouse/fortress from which he can defend himself during the inevitable robot war that was prophesied by the documentary movie “The Matrix.” In his spare time, James Mickens enjoys life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, often (but not always) in that order, and usually (almost always) while listening to Black Sabbath.
> HCI people discover bugs
by receiving a concerned email from their therapist. Systems people discover bugs by waking up and discovering that their
first-born children are missing and “ETIMEDOUT ” has been
written in blood on the wall.
> You might ask, “Why would someone write code in a grotesque
language that exposes raw memory addresses? Why not use
a modern language with garbage collection and functional
programming and free massages after lunch?” Here’s the
answer: Pointers are real. They’re what the hardware under
stands. Somebody has to deal with them. You can’t just place
a LISP book on top of an x86 chip and hope that the hardware
learns about lambda calculus by osmosis.
I love this classic, full of memorable quotes
The circular disk output buffer which emulated Ouroboros and eating its own tail, started sending patient data back to the wrong hospital
The minicomputer which stopped working (while I was programming it), because a chip had disappeared from the CPU backplane
The only soldering I ever committed (which my boss disparaged as really ugly when he returned from giving the demo which that soldering had saved) which enabled me to debug a race condition in a distributed OS I was coding, by creating an RS-232 null modem so I could run two copies of the OS on the same microVAX
And too many more to bore you with.
(It really is worth a read; James Mickens is indeed a national treasure).
Back when Craftsman tools had a no-questions-asked replacement guarantee, some friends of mine brought back a metallic blob, a former wrench that had "accidentally" shorted out a power line capacitor, and sheepishly said "it broke".
I sometimes thought about that wrench, when borrowing an o-scope from the EE's, in order to reliably debug some low-level instance of ex falso quodlibet.
I'm really hoping the answer is "yes".
A new takeaway for me this time: it doesn’t have to be this way. We systems programmers don’t have to smugly remind everyone that we work on “harder problems” than they do, or that our errors keep us awake at night. Some of this is unavoidable and the nature of the task at hand, but some of it is our own doing. Better languages and tools can be a huge help here.
Also, this is from 2013
It is however, always worth a read
The Night Watch (2013) [pdf] - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19289353 - March 2019 (10 comments)
The Night Watch (2013) [pdf] - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16188538 - Jan 2018 (1 comment)
The Night Watch (2013) [pdf] - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13954077 - March 2017 (33 comments)
The Night Watch [pdf] - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12490689 - Sept 2016 (2 comments)
The Night Watch (2013) [pdf] - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=9671020 - June 2015 (21 comments)
The Night Watch - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6741804 - Nov 2013 (3 comments)
The Night Watch - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6735980 - Nov 2013 (3 comments)
This link is pretty funny too in the dry humor department. I thought it was serious when I first read it. "Terry Davis Was Right"
The text is so amusing, I enjoyed it even though the typesetting is hard to parse. That says a lot :)
I’m honestly sad that Mickens left Microsoft before I joined, just working in the same company as the man would be an honor.
Listen closely, my friends, for I am about to take you on a journey through the dark and shadowy world of corporate espionage. This is the realm of the true business warriors, where the stakes are high and the competition is fierce.
First, let us consider the tools of the trade. The corporate spy is like a ninja, with their encrypted laptops as their swords and their fake identities as their smoke bombs. And just like a ninja, the spy must always be one step ahead of their enemies, for a single slip-up could mean the difference between a successful mission and a lifetime behind bars.
But the tools are just the tip of the iceberg. The true test of a spy's mettle is in their ability to infiltrate the enemy's stronghold and extract their secrets. This is the art of deception, and it is not for the faint of heart. The spy must be able to charm their way past security, outsmart their rivals, and evade detection at all costs.
But the spy's quest is not without its rewards. For those who are brave enough to face the dangers of the corporate battlefield, there are riches beyond measure. The corporate spy is the modern-day Robin Hood, stealing from the rich corporations and giving to their own. And just as Robin Hood sought to overthrow the corrupt rulers, the corporate spy is on a quest to level the playing field for their company.
So let us raise our glasses to the brave spies who venture forth into the unknown, for they are the true heroes of the corporate world. May their laptops always be encrypted, and may their cover identities never be exposed.
Note: the above passage is written in an overly-exaggerated style, the author is not James Mickens and is not meant to be taken as an actual treatise. The intent is to entertain with a humorous style. Corporate espionage is illegal, unethical and can have severe consequences