[time-nuts] Brooks Shera

Bob Camp lists at rtty.us
Mon Mar 25 13:07:56 EDT 2013


One key point in an earlier reference:

"...Brooks made 300 pre-programmed (PIC) chips for people.."

I'm sure I didn't get that exactly verbatim, but 300 is the number
mentioned. We could debate endlessly weather the number is accurate or not,
for the moment assume it's correct.

The cost of the chips (programmed or otherwise) is and was trivial. Your
menu decisions at lunch (small fires / large coke) cost you more than these
chips. Cost was not an impediment to people getting parts.

Availability of the chips was not a major issue in the early years. There
was no mystery about who you asked. Brooks had the chips. He was easy to
find on the internet. No major hunting was involved.

The article is dated 1998. For the sake of this, say that Brooks was still
active for 10 to 12 years after the article. That gets you to something like
25 to 30 chips a year. I'm sure it was not linear, but there's no way of
knowing how non-linear it was.   

Based on my own junk box, I'd guess that if 30 chips went out, something
less than 15 got powered up. I'm probably being overly optimistic at 50%. 

We now are at the ~15 year point after the article came out. I think it's a
bit crazy to *expect* someone to be actively supporting a "< 15 a year" sort
of charity 15 years later. If that's what someone wants to do as a hobby -
fine. If his / her decision is to move on - that's also fine. 


-----Original Message-----
From: time-nuts-bounces at febo.com [mailto:time-nuts-bounces at febo.com] On
Behalf Of David Kirkby
Sent: Monday, March 25, 2013 10:53 AM
To: Discussion of precise time and frequency measurement
Subject: Re: [time-nuts] Brooks Shera

On 25 March 2013 13:36, Jim Lux <jimlux at earthlink.net> wrote:
> On 3/24/13 8:22 PM, Chris Albertson wrote:

>> This is a perfect example of why people need to publish the source.
>> Make it GPL or whatever.
> That's a decision that the author gets to make.  I've been on both the
> supplier and consumer side of that aspect. Sometimes I've published
> sometimes I haven't. There's a lot of factors involved, and the consumers
> need to respect the author: only the author knows all of them.

I've often wondered in there is a half-way house, for small projects
like this, where one makes money from them, but where one would be
happy to release the source code on ones death, or where one is
sufficiently incapacitated to do anything with it.

I could send the source to whoever wants it, but it would be useless
without a decryption key. One gives the key to a wife, sibling or
someone else so it could only be made available when that party agrees
to make it available.

To get around the possibility of an ex-wife deciding to get nasty, it
could be done that there are two keys and both are necessary.

A system like that would protect the author, but ensure that in the
event of their death, the code is public. That license could be GPL,
freeware of whatever else the author choses. I suspect Brooks Shera
would have agreed to do something like that.

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