The Last Sysadmin

Nothing coherent today, just three excerpts from an article, an interview and a book that are separated years apart, yet I find them somehow connected in my mind. From “Electrical Engineering — A Diminishing Role?“:

“Projecting the current trends, future computers will consist of a single chip. No one will have the foggiest idea what is on that chip. Somewhere in the basement of Intel or its successor will be a huge computer file with the listing of that chip. The last electrical engineer will sit beside the file, handcuffed to the disk drive like a scene out of “Ben Hur.” That engineer will be extremely well paid, and his or her every demand will be immediately satisfied. That engineer will be the last keeper of the secret of the universe: E = IR.”

Ever since I first read it, I always thought it was talking about The Last System Administrator.

The next piece comes from an interview that Raspberry Pi creator, Eben Upton gave to the IEEE Techwise Conversations podcast:

“I think we’ve had a reduction from, say, if you think about 1995, which was when I went to college, you could typically rely on an undergraduate having done a substantial amount of real programming, often quite a deep level of technical work on one or more platforms. Many of us could program in one or more assembly languages. And yeah, within 10 years of that point, we were getting to a point where your average applicant was maybe somebody who’d done, as you say, a little bit of Web design, maybe a little bit of Web programming—you know, we saw quite a bit of people who‘d maybe done some PHP but not that kind of deep technical understanding of how machines work.”

And the last piece comes from the “Flash Boys“:

“Russians had a reputation for being the best programmers on Wall Street [… because in Russia … ] they had been forced to learn to program computers without the luxury of endless computer time.”

Stuff to think about now that your data center has been reduced to a tab in your browser.

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