Tuesday, December 8

Bert and BOB

Years ago - really YEARS ago - my parents got me some personalized pencils from a catalog. Or something. Not quite sure.

Yes, they were personalized, and they should have said "ROBERT" on them. But noooooo...

They were to have been in the classic stamped fake-gold leaf style, but part of the text had gone missing. ON 100 PENCILS. For many years after that, I was known as "BERT".

That whole time in my life popped into my consciousness today as we discussed RS232 serial communications in class. I cut my baby teeth on serial communications thirty-some-odd years ago, so I was mostly bored with the material, even was able to share my knowledge to some extent as portions were truly new material to my classmates.

So one of the many things we covered was how to troubleshoot serial communications - a common way is with some form of loopback connector, but to really do some serious troubleshooting, you need a Break-Out-Box.

Acronyms are something I've already written about here. So I won't bother you with those details again. But when an acronym hits a bit closer to home, it partly takes me by surprise, but also tends to make me a bit uncomfortable, as it did today.

Because you see, dear reader, the acronym for a Break-Out-Box is BOB.

ALL DAY LONG I heard BOB this and BOB that, never knowing if it was serial comm they were talking about or asking a question of me. So I started tuning it out. But then I remembered something else about serial comm I truly hadn't thought about in years. Decades maybe.

There's a device used to test the actual data going through a cable, and whether there are any errors due to the speed of the data. Called a Bit-Error-Rate-Tester, it's used in synchronous communications, the sort of stuff we were talking about today.

So you see, not only were we talking about me, BOB, but also pencils.

The acronym for a Bit-Error-Rate-Tester is BERT.

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