Saturday, December 31, 2016

Defining the Dao From the Perspective of Physics. ...

Click here and here for a different perspective of the Dao

Strategy is Physics
Click here for some more interesting books on physics.  

Happy 2017

Friday, December 30, 2016

Assessing the Positional Advantage .

updated at 10:28 hrs

In any competitive situation, it is important to deduce who is ahead of whom and by how many moves.

Some people preferred to ask the question of whether he/she is one move ahead of the opponent or one move behind the opponent.

One could use the factors of time, space, force, and topographical position to assess that specific strategic outlook.. 

Being Two Moves Ahead
How does one determines if he/she is one move ahead?  When he knows his next move and that he has the strategic foundation to make that move.  It does not matter if the opponent 

If that move forces the opponent to meet that threat, the offensive player becomes two moves ahead.

q: How does one knows when one is three moves ahead. 

More to come.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Returning to the Origin: Renewing the Winter Tradition of Reading the Classics and Other Matters

(An Oldie but Goodie)

As mentioned before, being mindfully aware is the key to succeeding in any endeavor. Sometimes it does not hurt to re-read the classics to remind us of the various fundamentals of life. 

Recommended Classics
In a previous post, we discussed the topic of taking one quiet weekend to re-read the classics (The Seven Military Classics of Ancient China, Dao De Jing, Zhuang Zi, etc.) during the winter season while standing.

One of the following weekends, some members of the group will be re-reading some of the following books:
  • Against the Gods (The Remarkable Story of Risk);
  • Sherlock Holmes Detective Stories;
  • The Protracted Game;
  •  The Thirty-six Stratagems Applied to Go;
  • The Tao of Physics; 
  • Strategies for the Human Realm;
  • The Tao of Deception;
  • 100 Unorthodox Strategies;
  • Dao De Jing;
  • Zhuang Zi;
  • The Romance of the Three Kingdoms; and
  • other unique strategic classics.
Here is an abridged list of the past "hot" books that we have read:
  • Anti-Fragile; 
  • Made to Stick;
  • The Physics of Wall Street;
  • The Signal and The Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail- but Some Don't 
  • Turing's Cathedral: The Origins of the Digital Universe
For those who are audio listeners, we recommended the following books:

Other Notes One true reading tradition that we always forget to mention is the reading of interesting physics books and  quasi-strategic innovation books.


The rest of us will also be working on our Tangible Vision and our Compass Script while drinking hot tea.

This specific tradition and the use of the standing table have also enabled us  to hone our strategic and tactical skills.

Other Traditions and Suggestions
Following are other interesting yearly traditions that some of our strategic associates have always abided by:
  • Renewing one's yearly subscription of Business Week, Psychology Today, The Wall Street Journal and The Economist;
  • Reviewing and updating one's tactical playbook;
  • Reviewing and updating one's contacts notebook;
  • Backing up the data bank. 
  • Upgrading one's own technological infrastructure;  and 
  • Updating one's own security practices.

Our friends at Cook Ding Kitchen and other strategic groups have always reminded us to abide the subsequent list of suggestions that would help the underdogs:
  • Donating some cash or books to your local libraries;  
  • Donating some cash and/or food to your local charities; and 
  • Offering strategic advice to your local non-profit charities.
Comment From the Compass Desk
Practicing the process of reading the configuration of a situation, reflecting on the pluses and the minuses and adjusting to the  situation, is the daily proclivity of a good strategic implementer.

In our case, we preferred the practice of assessing, positioning and influencing.  We will discuss about that specific practice in a future post. 

# # #

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Some Good Food For Thought: A Very Pragmatic Idea for December 25

source: heeb

Comments From The Compass Desk
On this holy day, many people will pursue the historical (but pragmatic) strategic approach of eating Chinese food .

Click here on some insight on the Jewish tradition of eating Chinese food on Christmas Day.  

A few of our associates favorite Americanized Chinese food is  the General Tso Chicken.
While it is an slightly over-rated dish, some people consider it as comfort food. Click here for a quick history lesson on this "fun" dish.

Celtics Notes
The late and great Red Auerbach the former coach of the Boston Celtics (a professional basketball team) , have always preferred to have Chinese food for dinner before the game or after the game (regardless whether his Boston Celtics team won or lost a game).   ... 

The presumption was that good Chinese food should never create the feeling of "heavy" with the eater.  Whether Coach Auerbach and his team have ever completed a Chinese "nine course" banquet, is a different story.   

"Being light is right" is the basic principle of consumption.  ...   The state of lightness enables one to be agile and mobile.  Conclusively, this state causes one to feel balanced. 

In our case,  some of us have always followed the Compass Principle of being balanced. 

Chinese Food + Netflix = A Good Day

Be  safe. 

Sunday, December 18, 2016

How to Be An Expert in The World of Pseudo Experts

(updated at 16:16 hrs)

In the information economy, there are experts and pseudo experts.  

The fundamentals in selling this specific service do not change too often.  ...   The strategic attributes of price, quality, and good customer service do count   

In our "loud" economy,  noise prevails than signal.   Brand experience is about creating a subtle level of deception while .  Selling short term gratification to the naive. 

To be The Expert in a Noisy Setting 

He or she does not  waste much time on "twittering" or "facebooking"  

He  or she does not waste much inspiring people (Preachers who sell smoke, bells, whistles, snake oil and paper noodles, are great at this activity.)     They do not spent time telling people to join their community. Some of them belonged to this group.

They are focused on solving tangible problems while staying ahead of the curve.

Those who don't, usually do not know how things work and why it works.  But they are able to sell instant answers to the mindless audience.  Pursuing that option and succeeding is subjective because the quantity of quality competition. 

Paraphrasing what the late Bill Walsh said in an early 2000's commercial, "the best coach (strategist) is one who stays focused on the game while being mindful of its settings. ... He can see all 22 players in motion."

In other words, seeing how objects and events are synchronized for that grand strategic moment.

The Essence of the Expert 
The "real" experts are the ones who recognize the on-coming question while their counter-parts are focused on understanding the current answer.  

Depending on the configuration of the situation, they can perform that action without a technological mean!

q: Do you know what are the specifics for that methodology? 

So, how does one stays focused on the game while being mindful of its settings? 

Can You Truly Become The Expert?
It depends greatly on the following attributes:
  • one's will to learn as much as possible;
  • one's will to to persist and to succeed;
  • one's network of subject-based experts;
  • one's ability to prioritize and 
  • one ability to connect the dots 
  • one's ability to capitalize on the connection efficiently before the cycle of opportunity is over.
Having the skillset to assess, position and influence is important.  

Remember, the depthness of one's expertise will triumph over  experience.

More to come.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Automated Sushi

It is a matter of time that most buffet type of eateries and fast food restaurants will be automated.

In California and at other parts of the world, Kula is the lord of the automated sushi.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

More Strategic Food For Thought

In most instances, it totally amazes us that most people cannot think one step ahead.  ... They decided on what they presumed is correct, without ever considering  the tangibility of the information. 

They think that everything is as clear as a 11 on 11 football game or a chess game where the  participants and speculators see all of the chess pieces that are involved. .  

There might be some minor level of inductive reasoning behind their thinking.  Against smart and deceptive competitors,  these people grind.  They never know when or why they were deceived. 

The Question of the Day
How do you know when you are two steps ahead?

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Sawyer's Lever of Power Book has Been Delayed

This book was supposed to be published sometimes in this month.  Somehow it has been delayed until Nov 2017

So, what is the Lever of Power?

Some claimed that it is some category of deception.  

The lever of power can be described as an unorthodox strategy that enables the strategist to gain strategic leverage in a complex situation. 

Sunzi's Definition of Unorthodox 
  • What enables the masses of the Three Armies invariably to withstand the enemy without being defeated are the unorthodox and the orthodox.
  • In general, in battle one engages with the orthodox and gains the victory through the unorthodox
  • In warfare, the strategic configuration of power do not exceed the unorthodox and orthodox, but the changes of the unorthodox and orthodox can never be completely exhausted.
  • The unorthodox and orthodox mutually produce each other, just like an endless cycle. Who can exhaust them?
By observing the configuration of the Big Tangible Picture that is operating within one's strategic terrain, the perceptive smart strategist can conclude the orthodox. 

Recognizing the tangible connectivity that exists within the grand configuration of the strategic terrain enables him to identify the potential "unorthodox" condition.

Side note
One should rarely ever use a spear in a "lever and fulcrum" situation.

More to come.  ... 

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

General Historical Trivia Regarding to Baguazhang

Source: Egreenway

What is Baguazhang

"The power of the eight diagram palms knows no bounds-, the palms seem to strike even before the hands move.  When the hand threads upward, it's like a hundred birds paying tribute to the phoenix; when it threads forward, it's like a tiger swooping downhill.  Walking round and round, he is like a stray wild goose that has drifted from the flock; but when the palms are thrust forward, they can move a mountain.  Now dodging, now ducking, his body slithers in and out; using the opponent's force he delivers a counts, blow, with as little effort as, pushing a boat down the stream."  - Dong Hai Chuan


Records of Selected Dialogues between Dong Haichuan and his Disciples.

by Guang Xia

translated and edited by Joseph Crandall
Brief History of Baguazhang
At the time when Dong Haichuan was in Su Wang’s palace teaching fighting. 
 Su Wang asked:  "What is  the name of the art that you practice?"
 Dong replied:  "It is the Bagua School."
 Su Wang also asked:  "Who was your teacher?"
 Dong replied:  "I was taught by a Daoist in Anwei."  (Note:  Dong never gave his teacher’s name.)
 At a garrison in the northern county of Guanwai, Song Dehou (aka Weiyi) came to call, he said, "I received instruction from the Daoist Bi Yuexia."
 Dong replied:  "He is my teacher’s elder brother."

Why Some People Wanted to Learn Baguazhang?

One day, a group of students asked Master Dong when he was going to teach the leaping arts.
Dong replied;  "You all desire to study this. Do you want to use it to become thieves?"

The Significance of  Being Consciously Aware of One's Terrain Through the Practice of Baguazhang

Another time, a group of students were sparring outside his home. They planned to ask Master Dong to evaluate them.  They went into the house to ask him, but Master Dong was not inside the house anymore.  Upon going out again they saw Master Dong walking in the front courtyard.  The students asked: "Master, when did you walk out?" 

Dong replied:  "You people claim to practice martial arts, but ears and eyes that cannot see and hear both sides are lacking. I was  in the house and I walked out. Still, you did not sense me.  Suppose you have an enemy who wishes you evil, would you still have your lives? Therefore you were not practicing martial arts. To be practicing martial arts, you must be immediately aware of the entire surroundings, and in addition being on guard."

One time Master Dong was inside his house and wished to look out his window at people. He tore off a piece of the window paper,  put it in his mouth, chewed it up and spat it back out the window, it truly struck Quan Kaiting (who was at that time thinking to secretly trying to kill Master Dong)  in the eye. The next day Quan Kaiting went to his house, knelt down, and asked Dong to be his teacher. 

 Dong replied:  "You ask me to be your Teacher? I will not!" 

The Traditional Chinese Medicine Pointer

Also one day, a group of students observed that Master Dong ate sparingly. They asked why? 
 Dong replied:  "Eat to appease your hunger.  Eating too much creates problems."

The Essence of Baguazhang

One day, a group of pupils of Master Dong asked him about Baguazhang.  Master Dong said: "Grandmaster said:  ‘My way uses turning palms to make the root, it uses the fist tools to make the function, study and practice.  Skill is created to its utmost. You will have no enemy under heaven. By itself it is good for the body.’"

The Advanced Level of Baguazhang

Yang Junfeng asked:  "Grandfather, the way to raise the qi for the leaping body skills is so difficult that your disciples' disciples not dare make presumptuous demands.  It must be most difficult to use qi to strike men." 
 Dong replied:  "Concerning causing qi to strike men, where does qi come from? You must use strength to make the root."

Master Dong one time was chatting and laughing. It was evening and  the Master was happy and cheerful. He said:  "This evening you all will get a secret.  Put out the lamps. You try to find me. Whoever can touch me, tomorrow will get a private lesson."

Why Some People Really Wanted to Learn Baguazhang

Anecdotes about Mr. Ruan Zhigu (A Minor Aspect of BGZ History)

The Myth
There was a student of Master Dong named Ruan Zhen’gu.  His skill was pure and deep. He would climb up and down the palace walls and roofs easily, walking like he was level ground.

Master Dong warned him: "Your leaping into the air and walking on walls is very good. But sure enough, you will offend people and make trouble for yourself. Come down or I will have to cut off your head."

Half a year passed, Ruan Zhen’gu now had to use double crutches. His legs could only move 3 to 4 inches when walking.  Dong asked him how he is?"  He replied:  "Teacher, my legs are injured."

Dong shook his head:  "That’s to bad! It is also good.  So as to avoid stirring up trouble."

The Real Truth
Ruan Zhigu was a student of Mr. Dong Haiquan. His skill was pure and deep. He had a high degree of mobility. He could travel across the palace rooftops as if he were walking on level ground. Master Dong warned him, “Your skills for leaping into the air and walking of walls are very good. But if you misuse them, I will cut off your head.” Ruan heard this and became afraid. He thought to himself: “That would be inconvenient!”

One time, Ruan left Beijing and returned to Baoding to see his family. He was gone for about six months. When he returned to Beijing, he was using crutches and walking with great difficulty. His feet didn’t clear the ground by more than two or three inches as he dragged himself up the road. Master Dong saw his condition and asked what had happened. Ruan replied that his legs were bad. Master Dong felt sorry for him, but he also felt good, so to avoid causing trouble he left again.

After this, Ruan Zhigu was not involved with external affairs for many years. After Master Dong died, Ruan threw away his crutches. He resumed walking without restraints. He never again feigned injury.

The multiple meanings of certain Chinese phrases are always interesting.   . . .  Knowing how to critically read into a certain phrase is always a challenge.  .. .

The Origin of Eight-Diagram Palm by Liu Yida 

Baguazhang not only serves as a good means of self-defense but also helps improve one's health and prolong one's life.  In practicing it, one's mind must be highly concentrated in order to adjust one's breath and coordinate the body movements so that, according to traditional Chinese medicine, one's vital energy will circulate smoothly through the jingluo (a network of main and collateral passages in the human body).  The joints, muscles and internal organs should also be relaxed during practice so as to facilitate blood circulation and promote metabolism.  This has been proved to be helpful in treating many chronic diseases.

At present, baguazhang is a very popular health-building exercise all over China, with thousands upon thousands of people practicing it.  Quite a number of foreigners are also interested in this traditional Chinese martial art whose usefulness as a means of self-defense and efficacy in improving health and treating diseases are being studied by special research societies in Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai and other cities.  The people in the United States, Japan and Southeast Asian countries have also set up associations to promote this form of wushu.

The Current Status on Our "Opening Plays Script" Book Project

(updated on 12.02.16)

While being busy working on this book and other projects, we have included a chapter on how to utilize the Opening Plays Script to other competitive terrains.

Whether one is running a 15 play script or a 25 play script, the smart strategist must develop plays to perform the following functions:
  •  Identifying the primary intent of the defense;
  •  Gaining positive yardage; and 
  •  Staging and Shaping the opposing team to become reactive;
We will also cover the differences between  using a 15 plays script and a 25 plays script 

More to come.  ...

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving 2016

Regardless the configuration of our settings,  it is important to stay centered and be thankful for the many simple things of life.   ...  Have a superb holiday. 

Sincerely Yours
Compass360 Consulting Group

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Post-Election Thoughts: Staying Focused on One's Target Objectives

Regardless of the election results,  physics does not care about the outcome. Change in any political-economic-social-technology-legal-environmental settings is inevitable.

Staying focused on completing your target objectives while avoiding contentment is more important than anything else.

One more note, ensure that your target objective is technically smart.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Victory Wears a Red Shirt for This Moment

Source: Stuarts London

"Victory has hundreds of fathers. But defeat is an orphan. "  - JFK

Victory Wears a Red Shirt

In our information-rich and attention poor society, the message is the medium, especially in a political election.  The underdog could only win if he or she utilizes a simple, clean and concise message that connects to the majority of the targeted group.. 

Quick Case Study

" ... The aides promptly canceled scheduled interviews with two New Hampshire stations and a taping for “Meet the Press.” Trump’s inclination was to do a TV blitz, but most of the advisers wanted him to go dark, and for several days he did. Every day he wasn’t on television, they believed, he was winning — especially while Clinton had become the story.
If Trump was doing interviews, they argued, he would be asked about every damaging story in the papers. Isn’t it true, an anchor would ask, that you avoided hundreds of millions of dollars in income taxes by using a dubious loophole? Isn’t it true that you claimed credit for major charitable donations that you didn’t make? And Trump would inevitably toss out the talking points and aggressively defend himself, drawing attention from the FBI probe that had cast a pall over Clinton’s campaign. 
Instead, an energized Trump, buoyed by the tightening polls, stuck to the prepared speeches, surrendering the TV weapon that had powered his rise to the nomination and beyond. “Stay on point, Donald,” his advisers would insist, and this time Trump complied, except for one swipe at NBC’s Katy Tur during a rally, which drew negative attention.

His strategists kept some of their internal polls from him -- such as one showing him trailing by low double digits in New York -- because they knew he would want to campaign there rather than in swing states he might actually win. After a year and a half, they finally had the candidate on track and on message.
At this moment, no one knows if this victory becomes a bellwether for the GOP. Positive momentum starts from the ground up.


Comments From The Compass Desk

In some situations, victory has hundreds of origins while a defeat could create thousands of "disconnective" orphans for a sole cyber moment and beyond. 

For this event, the message played a major role for the GOP. The process of managing the logistics for broadcasting this category of message is usually long, complex and challenging.  But the supporters and the public are only concerned about a short message that is clean and concise.   

Less is more.  ... 

Victory wears a red shirt on this day.  Nothing stays forever. 

Monday, November 7, 2016

Miscellanous Thoughts: Assessing the 2016 Presidental Elections

Some people are currently using Nate Silver's 538 as a guide to this year's U.S. election's. 

SurveyMonkey seems to be a popular tool for surveying the masses. 

GALLUP ,  Pew Research and Politico  have also offered their own perspective.

NY TimesReal Clear Politics and Wikipedia have done a superb job in aggregating the polls.

The old school strategists preferred the Iowa Electronic Markets as their guide.

It does not matter who is your choice,  just vote. ... 

Thursday, November 3, 2016

The Sign of the Times: The VIX Index

Source: David Wilson of Bloomberg
(Updated at 19:19 hrs)

The VIX might maintain its rise until the day after the election day. 

Some of the masses have speculated the following point, " ...  If Clinton wins, the VIX might decline.  If Trump wins, the Vix might continue to rise.  ... "

That innuendo is purely crap.  We expected some level of stability, days after the Tuesday election.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Strategic Food for Thought

Whenever something needs to be done now and if you know what to do,  you are a tactician.

Whenever something needs to be done in the future and you know what to do,  you are a strategist.

So are you a strategist or a tactician?


Sunday, October 30, 2016

/ * Remember Dennis Richie .. */

To the Tune of Let it Be

When I find my project in lots of trouble
Kernighan and Ritchie come to me
Simple loops and functions
Code in C

And in my hour of darkness
the flow chart appears in front of me
if the project matters
Code in C

Code in C, Code in C, Code in C, oh Code in C
if the project matters
Code in C

And when the agile scrum has meltdown
Leaving chaos in its wake
There's a simple answer
Code in C

And though the team is panic'd
there is still a chance that they will see
there will be an answer
Code in C

Code in C, Code in C, Code in C, oh Code in C
if the project matters
Code in C

Java's wordy, Python's nerdy
take a look and you will see
in the core compiler
They use C


They use C, They use C, They use C, oh they use C
in the core compiler
They use C...... Yeahhhhhhhh!

Code in C, Code in C, Code in C, yeah Code in C
if the project matters
Code in C.... Yeahhhhhhhh!


Based on: Computer songs and poems: Write in C
Updated Jan 6, 2015

Image from TheGeekstuff

A few years ago, Dennis Ritchie one of the creators of C passed away on this month.  

For what it is worth, without Dennis Ritchie, the web would have never be invented. Who knows where Steve Jobs would be?  

Some of us who were C programmers, have always felt much of the current technical state of the information economy was due to his work from developing the C programming language and Unix operating system.

“Pretty much everything on the web uses those two things: C and UNIX,” Pike tells Wired. “The browsers are written in C. The UNIX kernel — that pretty much the entire Internet runs on — is written in C. Web servers are written in C, and if they’re not, they’re written in Java or C++, which are C derivatives, or Python or Ruby, which are implemented in C. And all of the network hardware running these programs I can  almost guarantee were written in C.    ---

In our bookshelf, there sits many books on various strategies and tactics, Kernighan and Ritchie's C Programming book  and the solution book  still sit on the first middle shelf. 

The Intent of Dennis Ritchie 
Ritchie said he was hoping to make the work of he and his fellow computer scientists easier. “It was an attempt to improve our environment,” Ritchie said. “Fortunately, we improved things in way that turned out to be useful to others.”

Click on this link for more on his perspective.

/ * * * * */

Dennis Ritchie: The Shoulders Steve Jobs Stood On

  • By Cade Metz

Dennis Ritchie (standing) and Ken Thompson at a PDP-11 in 1972.
 (Photo: Courtesy of Bell Labs)
The tributes to Dennis Ritchie won’t match the river of praise that spilled out over the web after the death of Steve Jobs. But they should.

And then some.

“When Steve Jobs died last week, there was a huge outcry, and that was very moving and justified. But Dennis had a bigger effect, and the public doesn’t even know who he is,” says Rob Pike, the programming legend and current Googler who spent 20 years working across the hall from Ritchie at the famed Bell Labs.

On Wednesday evening, with a post to Google+, Pike announced that Ritchie had died at his home in New Jersey over the weekend after a long illness, and though the response from hardcore techies was immense, the collective eulogy from the web at large doesn’t quite do justice to Ritchie’s sweeping influence on the modern world. Dennis Ritchie is the father of the C programming language, and with fellow Bell Labs researcher Ken Thompson, he used C to build UNIX, the operating system that so much of the world is built on — including the Apple empire overseen by Steve Jobs.

“Pretty much everything on the web uses those two things: C and UNIX,” Pike tells Wired. “The browsers are written in C. The UNIX kernel — that pretty much the entire Internet runs on — is written in C. Web servers are written in C, and if they’re not, they’re written in Java or C++, which are C derivatives, or Python or Ruby, which are implemented in C. And all of the network hardware running these programs I can  almost guarantee were written in C.

“It’s really hard to overstate how much of the modern information economy is built on the work Dennis did.”

Even Windows was once written in C, he adds, and UNIX underpins both Mac OS X, Apple’s desktop operating system, and iOS, which runs the iPhone and the iPad. “Jobs was the king of the visible, and Ritchie is the king of what is largely invisible,” says Martin Rinard, professor of electrical engineering and computer science at MIT and a member of the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory.

“Jobs’ genius is that he builds these products that people really like to use because he has taste and can build things that people really find compelling. Ritchie built things that technologists were able to use to build core infrastructure that people don’t necessarily see much anymore, but they use everyday.”

From B to C
Dennis Ritchie built C because he and Ken Thompson needed a better way to build UNIX. The original UNIX kernel was written in assembly language, but they soon decided they needed a “higher level” language, something that would give them more control over all the data that spanned the OS. Around 1970, they tried building a second version with Fortran, but this didn’t quite cut it, and Ritchie proposed a new language based on a Thompson creation known as B.

Depending on which legend you believe, B was named either for Thompson’s wife Bonnie or BCPL, a language developed at Cambridge in the mid-60s. Whatever the case, B begat C.

B was an interpreted language — meaning it was executed by an intermediate piece of software running atop a CPU — but C was a compiled language. It was translated into machine code, and then directly executed on the CPU. But in those days, C was considered a high-level language. It would give Ritchie and Thompson the flexibility they needed, but at the same time, it would be fast.

That first version of the language wasn’t all that different from C as we know it today — though it was a tad simpler. It offered full data structures and “types” for defining variables, and this is what Richie and Thompson used to build their new UNIX kernel. “They built C to write a program,” says Pike, who would join Bell Labs 10 years later. “And the program they wanted to write was the UNIX kernel.”

Ritchie’s running joke was that C had “the power of assembly language and the convenience of … assembly language.” In other words, he acknowledged that C was a less-than-gorgeous creation that still ran very close to the hardware. Today, it’s considered a low-level language, not high. But Ritchie’s joke didn’t quite do justice to the new language. In offering true data structures, it operated at a level that was just high enough.

“When you’re writing a large program — and that’s what UNIX was — you have to manage the interactions between all sorts of different components: all the users, the file system, the disks, the program execution, and in order to manage that effectively, you need to have a good representation of the information you’re working with. That’s what we call data structures,” Pike says.

“To write a kernel without a data structure and have it be as consist and graceful as UNIX would have been a much, much harder challenge. They needed a way to group all that data together, and they didn’t have that with Fortran.”

At the time, it was an unusual way to write an operating system, and this is what allowed Ritchie and Thompson to eventually imagine porting the OS to other platforms, which they did in the late 70s. “That opened the floodgates for UNIX running everywhere,” Pike says. “It was all made possible by C.”

Apple, Microsoft, and Beyond
At the same time, C forged its own way in the world, moving from Bell Labs to the world’s universities and to Microsoft, the breakout software company of the 1980s. “The development of the C programming language was a huge step forward and was the right middle ground … C struck exactly the right balance, to let you write at a high level and be much more productive, but when you needed to, you could control exactly what happened,” says Bill Dally, chief scientist of NVIDIA and Bell Professor of Engineering at Stanford. “[It] set the tone for the way that programming was done for several decades.”

As Pike points out, the data structures that Richie built into C eventually gave rise to the object-oriented paradigm used by modern languages such as C++ and Java.

The revolution began in 1973, when Ritchie published his research paper on the language, and five years later, he and colleague Brian Kernighan released the definitive C book: The C Programming Language. Kernighan had written the early tutorials for the language, and at some point, he “twisted Dennis’ arm” into writing a book with him.

Pike read the book while still an undergraduate at the University of Toronto, picking it up one afternoon while heading home for a sick day. “That reference manual is a model of clarity and readability compared to latter manuals. It is justifiably a classic,” he says. “I read it while sick in bed, and it made me forget that I was sick.”

Like many university students, Pike had already started using the language. It had spread across college campuses because Bell Labs started giving away the UNIX source code. Among so many other things, the operating system gave rise to the modern open source movement. Pike isn’t overstating it when says the influence of Ritchie’s work can’t be overstated, and though Ritchie received the Turing Award in 1983 and the National Medal of Technology in 1998, he still hasn’t gotten his due.

As Kernighan and Pike describe him, Ritchie was an unusually private person. “I worked across the hall from him for more than 20 years, and yet I feel like a don’t knew him all that well,” Pike says. But this doesn’t quite explain his low profile. Steve Jobs was a private person, but his insistence on privacy only fueled the cult of personality that surrounded him.

Ritchie lived in a very different time and worked in a very different environment than someone like Jobs. It only makes sense that he wouldn’t get his due. But those who matter understand the mark he left. “There’s that line from Newton about standing on the shoulders of giants,” says Kernighan. “We’re all standing on Dennis’ shoulders.”

Additional reporting by Jon Stokes.

New York Times view of Dennis Ritchie's life
October 13, 2011

Dennis Ritchie, Trailblazer in Digital Era, Dies at 70

Dennis M. Ritchie, who helped shape the modern digital era by creating software tools that power things as diverse as search engines like Google and smartphones, was found dead on Wednesday at his home in Berkeley Heights, N.J. He was 70.

Mr. Ritchie, who lived alone, was in frail health in recent years after treatment for prostate cancer and heart disease, said his brother Bill.

In the late 1960s and early ’70s, working at Bell Labs, Mr. Ritchie made a pair of lasting contributions to computer science. He was the principal designer of the C programming language and co-developer of the Unix operating system, working closely with Ken Thompson, his longtime Bell Labs collaborator.

The C programming language, a shorthand of words, numbers and punctuation, is still widely used today, and successors like C++ and Java build on the ideas, rules and grammar that Mr. Ritchie designed. The Unix operating system has similarly had a rich and enduring impact. Its free, open-source variant, Linux, powers many of the world’s data centers, like those at Google and Amazon, and its technology serves as the foundation of operating systems, like Apple’s iOS, in consumer computing devices.

“The tools that Dennis built — and their direct descendants — run pretty much everything today,” said Brian Kernighan, a computer scientist at Princeton University who worked with Mr. Ritchie at Bell Labs.

Those tools were more than inventive bundles of computer code. The C language and Unix reflected a point of view, a different philosophy of computing than what had come before. In the late ’60s and early ’70s, minicomputers were moving into companies and universities — smaller and at a fraction of the price of hulking mainframes.

Minicomputers represented a step in the democratization of computing, and Unix and C were designed to open up computing to more people and collaborative working styles. Mr. Ritchie, Mr. Thompson and their Bell Labs colleagues were making not merely software but, as Mr. Ritchie once put it, “a system around which fellowship can form.”

C was designed for systems programmers who wanted to get the fastest performance from operating systems, compilers and other programs. “C is not a big language — it’s clean, simple, elegant,” Mr. Kernighan said. “It lets you get close to the machine, without getting tied up in the machine.”

Such higher-level languages had earlier been intended mainly to let people without a lot of programming skill write programs that could run on mainframes. Fortran was for scientists and engineers, while Cobol was for business managers.

C, like Unix, was designed mainly to let the growing ranks of professional programmers work more productively. And it steadily gained popularity. With Mr. Kernighan, Mr. Ritchie wrote a classic text, “The C  Programming Language,” also known as “K. & R.” after the authors’ initials, whose two editions, in 1978 and 1988, have sold millions of copies and been translated into 25 languages.

Dennis MacAlistair Ritchie was born on Sept. 9, 1941, in Bronxville, N.Y. His father, Alistair, was an engineer at Bell Labs, and his mother, Jean McGee Ritchie, was a homemaker. When he was a child, the family moved to Summit, N.J., where Mr. Ritchie grew up and attended high school. He then went to Harvard, where he majored in applied mathematics.

While a graduate student at Harvard, Mr. Ritchie worked at the computer center at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and became more interested in computing than math. He was recruited by the Sandia National Laboratories, which conducted weapons research and testing. “But it was nearly 1968,” Mr. Ritchie recalled in an interview in 2001, “and somehow making A-bombs for the government didn’t seem in tune with the times.”

Mr. Ritchie joined Bell Labs in 1967, and soon began his fruitful collaboration with Mr. Thompson on both Unix and the C programming language. The pair represented the two different strands of the nascent discipline of computer science. Mr. Ritchie came to computing from math, while Mr. Thompson came from electrical engineering.

“We were very complementary,” said Mr. Thompson, who is now an engineer at Google. “Sometimes personalities clash, and sometimes they meld. It was just good with Dennis.”

Besides his brother Bill, of Alexandria, Va., Mr. Ritchie is survived by another brother, John, of Newton, Mass., and a sister, Lynn Ritchie of Hexham, England.

Mr. Ritchie traveled widely and read voraciously, but friends and family members say his main passion was his work. He remained at Bell Labs, working on various research projects, until he retired in 2007.

Colleagues who worked with Mr. Ritchie were struck by his code — meticulous, clean and concise. His writing, according to Mr. Kernighan, was similar. “There was a remarkable precision to his writing,” Mr. Kernighan said, “no extra words, elegant and spare, much like his code.”

The Legacy of Dennis Ritchie
From our view, the foundation of the information economy originated from the mind and the effect of Dennis Ritchie and his many colleagues from Bell labs. His contribution of C programming and the Unix operating system is the cornerstone of the current Internet.

Most modern day mobile phones and embedded devices usually contained some lines of C programming code.  

Regardless of your location, whenever the web is accessed and whenever  an embedded device is used,  you should know that Dennis Ritchie have played a macro role in making it operable.

The Importance of Learning a System Language
Whether you are a strategist or not,  C programming emphasizes the practice of viewing and transforming data in its rawest form to an well-developed object that is complete, concise, fast, efficient and tangible.   

Because of the amount of detail management, writing a C program is like building a car from the level of "nuts and bolts".  It does take awhile. However, the operating speed is usually quite fast.

The Compass Theorem 
The time that it takes to design and build "a car" with this exotic tool is inversely proportionally to the speed of the manufactured car.

To be a C programmer, one needs to be patient and disciplined.  There is no immediate gratification from writing in this programming language.   But this practice will teach anyone the skill of looking at data from a "ground up" viewpoint while being mindful of the numerous objects that existed within the system.

If you are a nerd, click here  and here for the reasons why you should learn C.  . . . 
Fwiw, it is still a popular language.   IEEE recently performed a survey that confirmed that C is still relevant.

If the intricacies of C programming language is too challenging for you, try Perl. This language is easy to learn and is quite efficient in terms of system performance.  While its cpan library is multi-facet and quite large, Perl is similar to the C programming language, that it is available for all operating systems.

/* Sidenote */
Click on this link if you are interested in viewing an online version of Dennis Richie's classic book on C Programming Language. ... Regardless of its antiquity, this book still sells quite well after so many years. This book is a super text for those who are interested in the fundamentals of functional programming.

/* Comments From The Compass Desk */
Knowing how things work and why it works are some of the keys to being a good strategist regardless of the type of terrain.

Having the skill of seeing objects, methods and events from a geometric perspective (the top down view,. the ground up view, etc.)  is the holy grail of the strategy business.   It takes many years of sound and solid experience to build this unique skill set. Processing it into a macro framework is the real challenge.

At some point, we will discuss about those very fundamentals and how it could be used in the game of staying ahead of the competitive curve.

On the 30th of Oct, lets celebrate Dennis Richie Day.

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