My first interesting hack
In the previous article, someone suggested cheating on exams as an interesting application of telepathy.
Which reminded me of my first interesting hack.
I was in college, back when computer time was allocated by the hour, and I had no computer, and I was about to take my final exam on linear programming.
For those who are not familiar with the term, linear programming is not really about programming. It's about solving a specific ind of optimization problems.
And for those who don't know that, don't swaet it, it reduced, in real 1989 life, to applying a program called LINDO to find a local or global min or max for a function.
Now, we were a poor college, so there were like 10 computers. For 5000 students. And we, in that subject, were not allowed to use it.
And it didn't have linear programming software in it anyway. And it had no compilers or interpreters (except qbasic).
So, we did LINDO by hand. On paper (the Simplex method).
And it was boring. But we did it. It is pretty simple once you get the hang of it. But you have to make hundreds of calculations, so we were allowed calculators.
And I had this baby.
I had bought it with my second paycheck as a teacher assistant. It costed me about the same as a small bike.
Or a TV.
And it had 4KB of ram, an ascii keyboard, and 116 preloaded programs for common scientific calculation.
It was the best calculator I ever had :-)
And it was programmable in BASIC.
So, the night before the exam, as I did a sample drill, I decided to implement a solver.
But since we had to solve things on paper, I had to show intermediate steps.
So, instead of a program to solve the problem, I wrote a program that solved step-by-step as done by hand. Which was about 20x harder.
And it did fit and run in the 4KB of ram, and it displayed the intermediate results on the 2x32 char screen.
Sadly, there was no way to take a program out of it, so it was lost on the next battery change.
But hey, I think that was nice :-)