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Tab Dump 11/17/2009

0 Robert Levine

A common feature on blogs is a “tab dump.” It’s a play on the old programming term “core dump”; a printout of the contents of a computer’s memory intended to help figure out why a program blew up.

Eons ago (in computer years), computers had memories consisting of little magnetized ferrite doughnuts, or “cores,” which were threaded on wires to form what become known as magnetic core memory. As a teenager, I got to program one of the very first mini-computers, the PDP-8, which contained a grand total of 4,096 12-bit words of core memory (0.07% of what comes in an entry-leve iPhone, by the way), pretty much filling the translucent blue box on the top:

PDP-8

PDP-8

A “core dump” was a printout of the contents of core memory: basically nothing more than a pages-long string of numbers (either octal (0-7) or hexadecimal (0-F), grouped in threes or fours depending on the machine), printed on green-and-white striped computer paper by a very noisy dresser-size box known as a “line printer,” from which the programmer was expected to determine what went wrong. Think “user-friendly,” and then imagine what the opposite is like in the seventh circle of Hell.

A tab dump, by comparison, is positively cuddly; it’s a list of links (or web browser “tabs”) with minimal commentary intended to suggest what the reader might find if he/she clicks on the links. It’s a nice way of providing interesting places for a blog reader to go without a lot of work on the blog writer’s part.

So here’s the Polyphonic blog’s very first tab dump:


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