Seven questions with Jim Dempsey, Intel Black Belt Software Developer

Tell us a little about yourself: where do you live & what do you do for a living?
Jim: I live in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, USA and I am an independent software consultant specializing in parallel programming, optimization and storage (basically the process related code under the GUI wrappers).

What was your first experience in the computer industry?
Jim: I began to program in college in 1968 (majored in Physics) using Digital Equipment Corporation PDP8-L with 4K words of core memory (ferrite beads) and 10cps KSR Teletype (had 10cps paper tape reader attached). First language was FOCAL, then FORTRAN, then assembler. I was a teaching assistant for the CS department and taught a class in programming at a local high school which had a remote teletype attached to the college's computer.
After graduation I worked as a software engineer with Digital Equipment Corp in support of operating systems for ~2.5 years on various operating systems (TSS/8, COS-300, EDU-(series), COS-310, RT-11, RSX-11). Then, worked for an OEM of DEC called EDUCOMP to produce my first operating system ETOS. I started my first company (Network-Systems Design, Inc.) in 1978 as an OEM of Digital Equipment Corporation. Subsequent to NSD I attempted to enter the PC tools area. I authored a PC version of the TECO editor and a rather unusual C++ post-compiler optimizer (processed .ASM file) but could not find sufficient numbers of interested parties for those software tools. Then in 1992 I formed the company TAPEDISK with one of my customers. This was a mass storage technology company which emulated a disk drive on a tape drive (internally like a WORM drive).


What technologies do you work on? Which of these are you most impressed by?
I am currently working on my "dream" area of interest I had in 1968. That is in the feasibility of making a space elevator. I read literature of Dr. Bradley Edwards, and attended conferences. Then conceived and patented what will (hopefully) become a 2nd generation space elevator which consists of a system dynamic tethers (as opposed to the static design of the 1st generation space elevator as traditionally conceived).
To prove the design I acquired a space tether simulation system GTOSS produced by Dr. David Lang. (written in F77). I rolled up my sleeves and optimized the code and converted to using F90 format, added dynamic memory and module data structures then went about the task to incorporate OpenMP. The end product exhibited a 40x performance improvement on my server.


What excites you about being on communities, participating in discussion forums?
The excitement comes from corresponding with top-notched engineers who participate in the forums. I also derive satisfaction from helping other programmers work through their problems.


What excites you enough to wake up every morning?
That is a hard question. When you get my age, it is tough to get excited. There are some interesting changes in the hardware area relating to multi-core designs. The many core CPU as well as many core GPGPU are making good advances now. A little more work needs to be done on transaction memory systems as well as experimentation into new areas of specialized core-to-core coherent memory systems. And then there are the newer programming tools used for programming these many core systems.


What upcoming projects are you working on?
In addition to my space elevator research, I am polishing up a threading tool I made for use with my simulation work. The threading tool will support both C++ and Fortran with or without OpenMP. It's a task based scheduler that can be Affinity and NUMA aware (if you need to use that feature). The target audience will be the many-core systems (4 or more). And I am in the process of selecting Alpha test sites. Qualified parties can email me at jim_dempsey@ameritech.net. A programmer can never have too many tools.


What improvements/ changes would you like to see [on our site]?
One of the improvements would be to place [the site] onto a more responsive server. Access from my location can sometimes take 30 seconds or more to go from a thread index to a thread and another 30 seconds to get back.
A second change might be to consider adding to the forums a section at the bottom next to ‘Water Cooler / Catch All' titled Cork Board or Bulletin Board where members can post what would be considered business cards and other items that would be considered inappropriate in a general technology forum such as want add-like postings.

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