Z-Car

The Programmer’s Corner

Many, many years ago I ran a BBS called The Programmer’s Corner.  It provided a place for software developers to hang out and share information, all pre-Internet.  It was a great experience, and I met some great folks while building the platform.   Recently I found my archive, and I have resurrected parts of the site on the domain that I first setup to provide access to the Internet from the BBS.  You can find parts of the original site at The Programmer’s Corner.  I have added over 25K files that were once available, many of them containing source code that is still useful today!  Many of these files have not been available anywhere else.

It has been interesting going back into time and seeing what was state of the art twenty years ago.  I am still restoring files, and hoping that I will soon have more info available.  Check back often!  A full listing of all the files available can be found here.


Taiwan Honors US and ROC Veterans – Part 2 of 2

13311630371

This article was written by my father, retired Lt. Colonel Howard O. Smith, who served in Taiwan during the mid-60’s, and who traveled back to Taiwan this past August to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Chinese’s bombardment. The People’s Liberation Army of Mao Zedong fired more than 450,000 shells on Kinmen Island and several other smaller islets in a 44-day artillery bombardment beginning on August 23, 1958.

After many thanks to our hosts, we boarded the ROC AF C-130 and flew to Kinmen. You can imagine our surprise when we were met at the ramp by a very large group of greeters and media personnel. We were all given leis and ushered into their briefing room for refreshments and a very warm welcome. Then we were taken to a memorial for a US National Guard Lt Col killed in an artillery bombardment in 1954 which overlooked the mainland only 1200 meters away. Unfortunately the weather was still not the best and we could only just make out the mainland. We were taken to a factory that forges knives from old artillery shells left over from the communist bombardments. We watched as the owner forged a piece of shell into a knife. Many in our group bought items in the shop, including Wade. He purchased a steak knife set that was then engraved with his name and the 8/23 date. A fitting memento!The next day saw us ushered into an underground hall that had been set up for a speech by the President of Taiwan. Most of the speech was in Chinese but President Ma switched to English a number of times to thank us for coming and to thank the US for the assistance our country has provided to maintain the freedom of the ROC over the years. After 50 years of sometimes contentious times he felt recent changes have “…created the conditions of reconciliation…” between Taiwan and Mainland China. He noted, however, that he has “…maintained the security relationship with the US…” and will purchase weapons systems from the US for military preparedness.

After the speech we all went to a cemetery for Taiwanese military personnel killed during the bombardments in 1958, where we participated in a ceremony commemorating these men and their service. After the service the President took the time to come over to our group and shake hands with a number of us, including my wife and myself. Quickly, however, the mass of media personnel surrounded the group and we were blocked from seeing or talking with him at that time. The eleven members of our group who had been there in 1958 were invited to lunch with the President. The rest of us continued with a tour of the island.

Shortly we were taken back to our C-130 and flew back to Taipei, bidding farewell to our MND escorts who did an excellent job of hosting us. We will certainly have fond memories of the experience of those few days.


Taiwan Honors US and ROC Veterans – Part 1 of 2

black cat u-2

This article was written by my father, retired Lt. Colonel Howard O. Smith, who served in Taiwan during the mid-60’s, and who traveled back to Taiwan this past August to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Chinese’s bombardment. The People’s Liberation Army of Mao Zedong fired more than 450,000 shells on Kinmen Island and several other smaller islets in a 44-day artillery bombardment beginning on August 23, 1958.

On August 24th, 2008 the Republic of China (ROC) Ministry of National Defense (MND) conducted a memorial service for ROC military personnel killed during the Communist Chinese artillery bombardment of Quemoy (now Kinmen) and Matsu Islands in the Taiwan Straits in August 1958. In addition to the Taiwanese veterans who were invited to the service, there was also a group of American retired and former military personnel who had been present in or near Taiwan during the fighting or who had participated in the US support given to the ROC from 1958 until the mid 1970s. In our group of almost 30 there were 11 men who were there in 1958, with the remainder having served in Taiwan during the rest of the time period. My wife and I were in Taiwan from March 1963 until March 1965 and our eldest son, Wade, was born at the US Navy hospital just outside Taipei. We three were very excited to be among the group returning for this 50th anniversary gathering.

Our trip to Kinmen was part of a longer tour to Taiwan. We spent the first few days visiting various tourist sites, and then were escorted to Kinmen by MND personnel. I will cover the primary purpose of the trip for us, the return to Kinmen.

On August 21st three representatives of the MND (a Colonel, Major, and First Lieutenant) escorted us while we traveled south from Taipei on the new high speed “bullet train” to Kaohsiung, a city on Taiwan’s southwest coast. At that point the presence of a typhoon just south of Taiwan caused our trip to Kinmen to be delayed by one day, so we were taken to a number of tourist sites in the area. On the 22nd the MND advised that we would be leaving for Kinmen the next day.

On the morning of the 23rd we were taken to Tainan Air Base and given a tour of the ROC Air Force Academy. At their museum I noted a PT-17 on display. This was a WWII biplane trainer that was used by both the US and ROC Air Forces during and just after WWII. This type of aircraft was sold as surplus in Taiwan and I was lucky enough in 1963 to have flown a number of hours in this model of aircraft. After the tour of the museum we were taken to the headquarters of the unit at Tainan AB. This unit flies the locally produced fighter know as the Ching Kuo. After a briefing by unit personnel we were allowed to participate in flying their simulators for this aircraft. With assistance from a training tech I got into the “air” and initially performed straight and level procedures, then moved on to banked turns before returning to the airfield. I never got to that phase in my 1960s training and did no better this time. I crashed!! Wade was using the other simulator and performed a very nice flight before greasing in his landing. Of course, he does have his private license!


Taiwan to Honor US and ROC Veterans – 50th Anniversary of the Chinese’s bombardment

roc honor medal

August will be a busy month for the American population, with gas and food prices going up, the Olympics in China, and the Democratic Convention in Denver. Except for some military veterans, very few will remember that 50 years ago the United States and China were very close to military conflict in the Taiwan Straits over two relatively minor islands (Quemoy, now called Kinmen), and Matsu just a short distance from the mainland of China. In August 1958 these islands were still controlled by the Republic of China (ROC), who had been driven from the mainland in 1949 when the Communist Chinese declared the Peoples Republic of China (PRC). Beginning on August 23rd 1958 the PRC attempted to invade and capture the islands after an intense artillery bombardment. The United States strongly supported the ROC on Taiwan, and President Eisenhower reacted to the attacks by sending our Seventh Fleet into the Taiwan Straits to try and control the situation. U. S. troops from Okinawa were alerted in case they were needed to help the ROC.  Military supplies were provided to the ROC, including early versions of the Sidewinder air-to-air missile, which the ROC air force effectively used to destroy many Communist aircraft.After the military situation eased and the shelling diminished and then ceased the US provided military support to the ROC, both personnel and equipment, until the mid 1970s. At that time an agreement was made between the US and the PRC that stipulated the United States would not station military personnel in Taiwan. Thus ended our direct military involvement with the ROC.

Now, many years later, the government of the ROC is commemorating the 50th anniversary of the shelling by inviting military veterans of both the United States and the ROC to Kinmento share their experiences during the battles and the period until the 1970s. Over 30 Americans who were stationed in Taiwan at some point between 1958 and the mid 1970s will be honored by meeting with high level ROC military commanders on the island and then attending a luncheon on August 23rd.  Eleven American veterans who were present during 1958 will be seated with President Ma Ying-jeou, the newly elected President of the ROC.  Oral histories of their experiences while in the area in August 1958 will be taken from the 11 US veterans.  The rest of the US veteran group represents the time period from 1959 through the mid 1970s.

Since the end of World War II many military personnel from the United States have spent a portion of their lives providing assistance to friendly countries around the world.  In many cases they have grown to appreciate other cultures, possibly learn some new languages, and realize what it is to be able to return to the United States and enjoy the many blessings we have here, even when there are bad times.

So, while you are enjoying your summer, keep in mind those men and women veterans from your community who are willing to volunteer to go to other areas of the world, some dangerous, some not.  We should remember them because the citizens of those countries who we assisted have not forgotten and celebrate our having been there.

This article was written by my father, retired Lt. Colonel Howard O. Smith, who served in Taiwan during the mid-60’s, and will be traveling back to Taiwan this August to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Chinese’s bombardment.  The People’s Liberation Army of Mao Zedong fired more than 450,000 shells on Kinmen Island and several other smaller islets in a 44-day artillery bombardment beginning on August 23, 1958.



Where I have been – cars that I have owned over the years

lotus in a field

These are some of the cars I have owned in the past, starting with the first car I ever owned.

1976 Datsun 710
1970 Datsun 240Z
1987 Toyota MR2
1988 Toyota Celica All-Trac
1972 Datsun 240Z
1991 Eagle Talon
1992 Mazda Miata
1991 Toyota MR2 Turbo
1994 Mazda RX-7
1968 Datsun Roadster
1970 Datsun 240Z
1976 Datsun 260Z
1998 BMW M3
1997 Mazda Miata
1993 Mazda RX-7 CYM
2003 Mazda Miata
1987 Toyota SDK8
2005 Lotus Elise
2006 Infiniti G35x
1997 Ford F150
2011 Infiniti M37x
1994 Mazda Miata

I have also owned a couple Tundra’s, T100, and Troopers mixed in there as well.  What was my favorite car?  I love my current Lotus Elise, however my 1993 RX-7 CYM was probably my all time favorite.  The Talon was most reliable, it went over 150K miles, very few of them were what you would call “easy” miles.  My 2006 Infiniti cleared 170K miles before finally giving up one of its cylinders.