Little Story


1. Introduction

I am Robert Crowley

Known as OldCoder and BoldCoder Too
Also through a typo BloodCoder Who
Seeks to have Fun
Under the Midnight Sun
And takes a different View

Anglicized is the Name
I sought no Fame
In Google you'd not find Me
But now it's time for people to See
An attempt to Frame

My Crime and my Glory


2. The Modern World.

I am apparently old. I don't know how this happened. I walked through Robert Heinlein's "Door Into Summer" and did it in the wrong direction. I am looking for the door like the cat in the book. Like the cat, I have not found it yet.

In my world, there are many entertainment options.

Children have Lego and wooden blocks. For all ages, there are also board games and chess sets. Board games include Life, Monopoly, Risk, Stratego, and others. If enough people play, you can put two or more Risk worlds together and have a mega-battle. There are also card games though they're not as common as you'd think. Among college students, bridge is surprisingly popular.

TV is the center of the entertainment world, of course. It offers unlimited options and they're all free. There are three network channels and sometimes local stations too. There is talk that "Pay TV" will come someday. But who needs Pay TV? The term sounds vaguely Un-American, TV is supposed to be free and it always will be.

If people want to see a movie and it is not being broadcast on TV, they go to the movie theater. These are the two ways to see movies, the only two ways: broadcast and theater. This is the way it always has been and always will be.

Personal electronics are widespread. Adults often have good audio systems. There are also portable radios. Portable calculators are said to be coming. Tape records are readily available. Radio Shack has little kits that children can buy to build electronic gadgets. There is even a Battery of the Month Club.

It is a modern world.

In the world I am from, the world of today, PCs are far in the future. Computers are interesting devices on Star Trek. If you say the right things to computers, they will self-destruct!


3. Magic ponies are fine but rent is better.

I'm a polymath. I've studied and worked hard since 1976. I'm good at some things. Here is what an employer said about me in 2012:

OldCoder spent time researching the project and devising a strategy to make right what had gone wrong. He was meticulous in his communication and the channels provided worked well for the task. His knowledge of the field was second to none and every ounce was required to make a success of this venture. He was a pleasure to work with and his calm, methodical approach served to provide focus in a time of stress and tight deadlines. I would have no hesitation in recommending OldCoder for any coding project big or small. Having seen what he was able to do with this, I have no doubt he is capable of anything in this area. I can't thank him enough and am indebted to him.

I've done all types of projects.

P.J. Lyon, still going strong at close to 80 years old, says that voting software I maintained in the 1980s had 50% of the U.S. market. I did the initial design for one of Adobe's protocol stacks around 1990. There have been compilers, assemblers, debuggers, lints, source-code generators, and other toys of programmer joys.

Photoshop plugin, anti-terrorism database, PC-BIOS code, netlist sorter, custom servers, multimedia transcoders, and antivirus tool. At things like these I'm no fool.

My favorite hardware project was quite a sight. The DTIC (Defense Technical Information Center) needed to convert old microfilm to microfiche. They gave the job to Morgan Data Conversion firm that subcontracted it and I ended up with the task. We built a giant camera. An Air Force Colonel designed the hardware and I wrote the software that controlled it. It was about 450 pages of 8085 assembly code. Over the next decade, the U.S. government exercised that machine half to death. No bugs ever showed up in the code.

Linux, I'll say with a grin, is no sin
I've worked in that since it was born
I'm not at all torn between Linux and Windows
Windows is Sindows

I maintain my own Linux distro and it's no fork
The distro is mine
And fine
For my purposes

Other Operating Systems. I've worked with more than a few
But I'm blue
'Cause most of them are dead
Live on just in my head

I've used UNIX since the 1970s, starting with V7, moving on to the original BSD UNIX, and proceeding to SunOS, Solaris, AIX, IRIX, Minix, various descendants of BSD, and numerous Linux distros. I've also used most of the Microsoft OSes, starting with early versions of DOS and proceeding to MS Windows 3.11, Win98, WinNT, and XP. Other OSes included Data General DG-AOS and DG-RDOS, AEGIS Domain, DEC VMS, PC-BIOS, CP/M, and a small operating system I wrote myself.

Coders seem to focus on just one or two programming languages these days. I don't understand that. There is no reason to do so. Coding is about processing information. Languages are tools. A means to the end and not the end itself. Each has its place and people should make no face when asked to learn them.

My past and present languages and formats include:

Perl, Python, PHP. Standard but
you C, I also Lisp
FORTRAN rocks and TeX rolls
It's fun to assemble

JavaScript, Forth, Pascal, Bash
Bash is a smash
People should not trash
Bash is a smash

Tcl/Tk: people today disrespect it a bit
but with me it's a hit
Java is not JavaScript
Lua how'ja Dua

Octave and Matlab not the same
Close enough there's no shame
SQL What the Hell
Several versions

In the 1990s, I was billed at a rate comparable to that of an attorney with some experience. My experience is higher now.

In the 2000s, I did an interesting project for Norhrop Grumman. The result was 1,100 pages of reusable code in multiple languages and high-quality documentation. The code included both entirely new components and modified Open Source frameworks. The core component was a network server written in Perl that collected binary data from upstream devices, stored the data using SQL, and relayed it to downstream clients via HTTP as XML. Clients included web browsers and a Java GUI. There was also a Perl hardware simulator written by me in lieu of upstream hardware. My primary contact stated that he was “extremely impressed by the quantity and quality of your work”.

So I'm not a novice. Or a "mid-level manager", one of the relics of history. I'm above average for a number of purposes under the right circumstances. But I've also been largely unemployed since 2003.

Recruiters and conventional applications were a dead-end for me. Part of it was that the hiring process had evolved in odd ways over the decades. Here's how things work in modern times. This is based partly on my own experience as a recruiter. I did some recruiting for the man who gave me my wheelchair.

  • "Applicant must have done J2EE for 10 years. Or SQL for 10 years but only Oracle and not MySQL. Or there must be 10 years experience in Ruby and nothing else. This job is not for somebody who has a wide range of skills and has demonstrated flexibility. It is for somebody who has done only one thing for a decade."
  • "Applicant must have a job presently as we see no reason to hire people who are unemployed."
  • "Applicant must be age 23 and no older as the project manager is age 25 and is uncomfortable about the prospect of managing somebody older than he is."
  • "Applicant must have left Twitter recently as Facebook wishes to hire recent Twitter people as the company needs to learn the other company's secrets."

As a related note, I knew acronym people (CEO, CFO, etc. types) who lost their jobs during the dot-com era. I watched how they fared in the years that followed. None of them obtained new jobs solely through Craigslist, recruiters, conventional applications, etc. It was always through contacts.

I spent about a decade assisting a startup of sorts occasionally. I still do once in a while. This is the one run by the first lady physicist to graduate from Stanford University. She has a pretty good technology. It can potentially detect IEDs under the ground, cracks in bridge decks, deposits of natural resources, and even the location of King Solomon's Tomb. The physicist is involved in all of that, But no major deals were ever signed and so there was no rent money for me.

I had a startup of my own in 2010. Some of the startupers in IRC know about it. I'll write more about that venture another time.

In 2012 I returned to IRC after a while away. I'd hoped to build contacts among the startupers there. I did, but most of the ventures weren't promising. Discussion seemed to be largely about concepts that I'll refer to as webdev and communities:

  • webdev is producing websites that do useful things. There is a front end side to webdev: designing attractive webpages and using tools or writing code to create them. There is also a back end involved: writing code that accomplishes actual tasks related to the webpages.
  • webdev can be a challenging and interesting set of tasks. I'm evaluating it as a possible path. The passage quoted above about my "meticulous" approach is related to a webdev project so I could probably maneuver in this world. But I'm not sure it's the right choice. The webdev market is flooded with developers. Lower-quality developers work for $15.00 per hour and below. Standard rates are apparently $25.00 and up. I met one Indian developer who worked for $2.00 per hour. All of these rates seem a bit low. At times, in the past, I was billed at over $250 per hour in 2012 dollars. I should be able to do better than $2.00 to $25.00 per hour.
  • Some startupers run non-profit ventures. Others are focused on monetization. Communities refers to a dream that's common in the monetization crowd. The dream goes like this: "I will make a website. 1,000 people will sign up. Facebook or Google will see the army of 1,000 people and write a check for $1B. They could not snap their fingers and do the same thing themselves if they wanted to. After all, there are no barriers to entry. The road to $1B is simple. I will promise Coders a small piece of the $1B. The Coders will work for free until it arrives. At the end, magic ponies will fly the $1B down from the server clouds as they whinny of Web 3.0 and new paradigms."
  • Communities are an O.K. dream and I'll play if I'm allowed to. It was my attempt to deconstruct two startups and become involved that led to CodesStuff's OldCoder song. But I need to pay the rent. Rent involves funds in the present tense. Pieces of paper that exist on the material plane and not in the server clouds.

A 2012 project at Elance went well. It's the webdev project I mentioned above. But Elance seems to be geared primarily towards jobs for $15.00 per hour Indians. I don't expect to find much more work there.

The years since 2003 have been kind of tiring.


4. Robert Dances.

I am sometimes wheelchaired and there is nobody to bring painkillers. My hand is slightly deformed. Some of the fingers bend backwards. I seem to have been physically ill since 2009. If people from #startups have lunch with me they will notice some of it. Oh, well.

This probably isn't an issue as I no longer plan to meet startupers in real life. I'd hoped for a mini-meetup on my birthday but online will probably work better.

Ziyad in #startups kept me going in April. I couldn't get to water. No water to drink. But Ziyad kept me company in IRC. I won't forget. He wants to be in a webdev firm. I hope to help him make this happen.

In May I thought I'd lose my hand. But it is better now, though the deformity has worsened a bit. Unusual things have appeared elsewhere recently and I don't know what they are.

I walk fine presently. If I may attempt a minor joke, I attribute this to steps I have taken. I have stopped eating.

If I eat, I get sick. Sometimes my breathing changes and I can't sit up. My arms don't work. I can't type to my friends in IRC. This is not acceptable. If I don't eat, I get sick in other ways. So I compromise. As of September 7 I'd eaten on 7 out of 30 days. My clothes fit better these days than they used to.

I'm autistic or a parallel condition. Not Aspergers. It may be something closer to the Rain Man though it may not be autism per se. I speak very well if conditions are right. I've been mistaken for an attorney, a police detective, and a government official. Literally mistaken for these things. But at times I can't be understood at all.

I'm a polymath. One who has difficulty speaking with or interacting with people unless he is careful. The past half-century has been interesting.

I called my brother Thomas, VP of Humana Corporation, and wished him Happy Birthday. He asked me how I was and I said, not well. He became angry because he thought I was asking for money. I have never asked him for a penny. Or for anything but respect. Thomas shouted at me, "Services! There are services!"

But there are no "services". I've talked to the most important disability advocate in my area three times. He has confirmed a simple fact: There are no "services" for the long-term unemployed until they "spend down" to the homeless level. I do not wish to be homeless. That is the priority at present.

I should have danced more.


5. A Pleasant Time,

My brother Kenneth is apparently the inventor of the Amazon Kindle. I wasn't sure of this until it showed up in court papers. Kenneth is a genius though one level below me. He hunts me and wishes to jail me. Our brother Thomas is VP of Humana Corporation. Our father James was VP of Transamerica. The company with the tall pointy building in San Francisco. James and Thomas hunt me as well.

This is related to a book that discusses families and abuse. James is uncomfortable about the book. There is more in a document that I am sending to newspapers and organizations of different types. The document is about 40 pages long and is being sent in hardcopy. It is my hope and prayer that it may attract attention.

As an interesting point, and one that is surreal at times, somebody from the modern world, the world of the 1970s, comes to visit me sometimes in IRC. He was a witness at the time. It is amazing that he is here. His name is important for more than one reason: Twisted Time.

The moves by my relatives started shortly after my birthday on June 6, 2012. The following week was interesting, I ended up in the Emergency Room on Thursday, June 14. The hospital wants $14,000 now. I gather the doctors will want another $6,000. There is no way to pay them. James, Thomas, and Kenneth are pleased by this.

I needed to be in Court the next day, June 15. I was not able to stand up.

I had helped the nice people in #startups for a couple of months. Just a few of them but I'd spent hours in some cases. I asked for tweets or links. Not one person helped at that level but Loome. Instead, I was chased from the channel. One of the people I'd helped, two hours in his case, came to me and said, "I leave you now to your death".

My brother Kenneth, or a friend of his, came to me as well and urged me to kill myself. He explained exactly how to do it. Kenneth is annoyed because of my birthday. That part of the story will be told another time.

The situation continues. The situation is tiring physically and emotionally. There are also legal bills and other expenses. I'm not a usual person however. I can and will employ interesting countermeasures. My primary concern is related to people I am starting to care about. I wish for them to think well of me. But the countermeasures are not polite. Can people think well of somebody who is not polite?

On a related note, Sythe who is sometimes in #startups tells me to travel to Leo Laporte and request a tweet from him. But I must update posted documents first. That is crucial. And I have no way to undertake such a pilgrimage. I don't drive. More importantly, if I'm trapped away from home and not able to walk things may be difficult.

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