02
Jun

Mini & Micro

[Ed: For those who are tired of endless repostings of the Sex Life of an
Electron, which I first read when I was 16, heres a different one. ]

Micro was a real-time operator and a dedicated multi-user. His broadband
protocol made it easy for him to interface with numerous input/output
devices, even if it meant time-sharing.

One evening he arrived home just as the Sun was crashing, and had parked
his Motorola 68000 in the main drive (he had missed the 5100 bus that
morning), when he noticed an elegant piece of liveware admiring the daisy
wheels in his garden. He though to himself, She looks user-friendly.
Ill see if shed like an update tonight.

He browsed over to her casually, admiring the power of her twin 32 bit
floating point processors, and inquired, How are you, Honeywell?
Yes, I am well, she responded, batting her optical fibers engagingly and
smoothing her console over her curvilinear functions.

Micro settled for a straight line approximation. Im stand-alone
tonight, he said. How about computing a vector to my base address? Ill
output a byte to eat and maybe we could get offset later on.

Mini ran a priority process for 2.6 milliseconds, then transmitted 8K,
Ive been recently dumped myself and a new page is just what I need to
refresh my disk packs. Ill park my machine cycle in your background and
meet you inside. She walked off, leaving Micro admiring her solenoids and
thinking, Wow, what a global variable! I wonder if shed like my
firmware?

They sat down at the process table to a top of form feed of fiche and
chips and a bottle of Baudot. Mini was in conversational mode and expanded
on ambiguous arguments while Micro gave occasional acknowledgements
although, in reality, he was analyzing the shortest and least critical path
to her entry point. He finally settled on the old line, Would you like to
see my benchmark subroutine? but Mini was again one clock tick ahead.

Suddenly, she was up and stripping off her parity bits to reveal the
full functionality of her operating system. Lets get BASIC, you RAM she
said. Micro was loaded by this stage, but his hardware policing module had
a processor of its own and was in danger of overflowing its output buffer,
a hang-up that Micro had consulted his analyst about. Core, was all he
could say, as she prepared to log him off.

Micro soon recovered, however, when she went down on the DEC and opened
her device files to reveal her data set ready. He accessed his fully
packed root device and was about to start pushing into her CPU stack, when
she attempted an escape sequence.

No, no! she cried. Youre not shielded!

Reset, baby, he replied. Ive been debugged.

But I havent got my current loop enabled, and I cant support child
processes, she protested.

Dont run away, he said. Ill generate an interrupt.

No! she squealed. Thats too error prone and I cant abort because
of my design philosophy.

But Micro was locked in by this stage and could not be turned off. Mini
stopped his thrashing by introducing a voltage spike into his main supply,
whereupon he fell over with a head crash and went to sleep.

Computers! she thought as she compiled herself. All they ever think
of is hex!

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