Doctor Fortran in “Too Much of a Good Thing?”

A lot of Fortran programmers take the “belt and suspenders” approach to coding, with explicit declarations of every attribute they want for a symbol. In general, this is good practice, especially when combined with IMPLICIT NONE to force you to say what you mean. But some programmers take this a bit too far and it gets them into trouble. Let’s look at some cases…

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What happens in Vegas…

110 degrees in the shade, 9 Fortran geeks and dozens of comments and complaints about Fortran: it must be another J3 meeting in Las Vegas!   J3 is the US Fortran Standards Technical Committee, a subcommittee of the International Committee for Information Technology Standards (INCITS).  J3 works closely with the International Fortran Standards Committee (ISO/IEC/JTC1/SC22/WG5) and is responsible for developing the content of Fortran standards.

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Dick Hustvedt, the consummate software engineer

I’ve written a couple of “farewell” posts before, but this one is personal. I learned today that Dick Hustvedt died last week, and my heart is heavy. As I knew him, Dick was one of the principal architects and developers of the VAX/VMS operating system and a major force behind the development of the VAXcluster.

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Doctor, it hurts when I do this!

It is often said that you can write bad code in any language, and I certainly can’t argue with that. I do find, though, that the worst-looking code comes from programmers who are more familiar with another programming language. One can often tell that a C programmer wrote Fortran code, or that a Fortran programmer wrote C code (my C code probably looks like the latter.)

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You Are In a Maze of Twisty Little Passages, All Alike

(Deleted from Intel site, recovered thanks to archive.org!)

MAGIC WORD XYZZY

For computer geeks of a certain age, such as yours truly, it was an opportunity to relive the glorious past when Dennis Jerz announced that an early 1977 version of Will Crowther’s Adventure game source code had been discovered. Adventure was one of the first puzzle-exploration games and it not only captured the imagination of computer users worldwide when it became more widespread in 1978, but it inspired many future games such as the popular Zork and even many of today’s graphics-heavy computer games. Not bad for a text-only game written in Fortran. Right, Fortran.

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Domestic or Imported?

One day while I was wandering the aisles of my local grocery store, a woman beckoned me over to a table and asked if I would like to “try some imported chocolate?” Neatly arrayed on the table were packages of LindtToblerone, and… Ghiradelli? I asked the woman if California had seceded from the Union, as Ghiradelli, despite its Italian name, hails from San Francisco. I suppose that from the vantage point of New Hampshire, California might as well be another country, much as depicted in that famous Saul Steinberg 1976 cover for The New Yorker, “View of the World from 9th Avenue“.

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The long and winding road

The other day, I posted something in comp.lang.fortran in response to a post asking for a new feature in the Intel Fortran compiler. I suggested that the best thing to do was to submit an issue to Intel Premier Support asking for the feature since the more customers who ask for a feature, the easier job the Fortran project manager has in justifying it. This prompted a startled reply from someone who thought that I was the Intel Fortran project manager. “Heck no,” I replied, “I’m not even the most senior engineer on the project!” Well, really, I’m not on the compiler project itself anymore, but I still sit and work with those who are. Yes, I started my Fortran career at DEC in 1978, but there are others on the team who have been at it longer.

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