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A computer can execute millions of instructions in a second. The human brain, in comparison, is painfully slow. The memories of a single year, for instance, took me a full thirty seconds to recall. Which is a long time if you think about it. Imagine a second-hand sweep going tick by tick halfway around the face of a clock. Or the digital readout of light-emitting diodes, with their blink, blinkâ€”thirty blinksâ€”as they count off time.
The immigration agent at the San Francisco airport
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Ellen Ullman is an American computer programmer and author. She has written novels as well as articles for various publications, including Harper's Magazine, Wired, The New York Times, and Salon. Her essays and novels analyze the human side of the world of computer programming. Ullman earned a bachelor’s degree in English at Cornell University in the early 1970s. She then turned to business programming in the following years. She eventually began writing about her experiences as a programmer in 1995 when she wrote an essay titled "Out of Time: Reflections on the Programming Life." She lives in San Francisco.