Via David at Popehat comes this piece by a researcher at Microsoft. It truly resonated with me. I've lived that kind of life since I started in this business. Systems programming on an IBM S/360 model 25 in 1973 for starters. I've worked at the hardware level and the few layers above it. Working in pointer-less, garbage-collected languages can be fun, but the challenge of debugging something that trashes your entire system and renders your debugger useless is a tremendous thrill. At least, that's what it is when you finish. Working on it can be ulcer-producing.
I missed working in that kind of environment so much that I've stepped back into it with my BASPLC project. What Mickens describes is what I missed about systems programming.