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Comment: Fine, but what about Pascal? (Score 1) 379

by Marginal Coward (#49756685) Attached to: 25 Years Today - Windows 3.0

I had a friend who had faithfully programmed for Windows 2 for a couple of years. Windows 2 was never popular, so his fine efforts didn't see much use. At that time, the lingua franca of Windows was MS Pascal. However, when Windows 3 came out, MS abandoned Pascal as the primary programming language for Windows and switched to C.

As we now know, Windows 3 turned out to be Microsoft's first big success after DOS. So, my friend found himself sitting on a pile of Windows code that he had written in Pascal over the years that was suddenly useless. Which was ironic, given the newfound success of Windows.

I don't know if that was the first time that loyal MS developers like my friend got Micro-shafted. But it wasn't the last. Even so, switching from Pascal to C turned out to be a very good idea. No pain, no gain, I guess.

Comment: If Java had never been invented (Score 2) 378

by Marginal Coward (#49750115) Attached to: How Java Changed Programming Forever

I was struck by the statement that Java "changed the art and business of programming." While that's certainly true as a general statement, it hasn't been true for me personally. I've lived my recent adult programming life with a combination of C, C++, Python, and Matlab. I haven't so far had a need for Java because one of those languages does anything I need to do better than Java.

I've studied Java (and C#) a little, and have generally been interested and see some value there. But I have never actually had an explicit need for Java, so I never stuck with it long enough to become proficient in it. In particular, mastering Java's libraries is a daunting task. So, if I can live my life without it, I wonder how much worse off the rest of the world would be if it had never been invented?

Comment: Re:Not as easy to read as Python though (Score 4, Insightful) 408

by Marginal Coward (#49743117) Attached to: The Reason For Java's Staying Power: It's Easy To Read

I agree: that seems to be the thing that Python does better than any other language, IMO. That also points out a fallacy of the premise in TFS: it doesn't really make sense to attribute the success or failure of a given language to any single factor. Instead, programmers evaluate each on a combination of factors, and each has strengths and weaknesses compared to others. Therefore, each language fits into different areas, and a language thrives and prospers according to how many such areas there are and how important those areas become.

IIRC, the original strength of Java was supposed to be "write once, run anywhere." I think it was the first language to feature that as the primary selling point, though others have followed. It's surprising that its primary initial selling point would now be eclipsed (tee-hee) by supposedly being "easy to read" - especially since that could be said about several other languages, depending on one's personal preferences in that regard.

Comment: Re:But...batteries? (Score 2) 85

Wouldn't constant bitcoin mining pretty much destroy battery life on any phone or tablet?

Dunno. But suppose it were designed to mine only when the device is plugged in. If my phone could mine enough Bitcoin overnight, when plugged in anyway, to cover micropayments for some paywalled articles for me to read the next day, it might seem worth it - even if I was paying more for the electricity than the mined Bitcoin was actually worth.

Comment: Re:Does not understand the market, obviously. (Score 3, Insightful) 335

Right. It's been rare in recent decades for even individual companies to sell for less than their asset value, for precisely the reason you mention: that nearly any functioning business is worth more than the sum of its assets. The canonical example is Coca-Cola (KO), which Yahoo Finance indicates is currently selling for a price-to-book ratio of 6.28. Should we expect something like the Coca-Cola company, which has had a strong business for over a hundred years consisting of a brand name known worldwide, a worldwide distribution system, and of course its famous "secret formuler" to sell for just the price of its property, plant, and equipment? Of course, Coke is an extreme example, but it illustrates a point that could be made less emphatically for nearly any successful business.

Although I don't disagree that the market is fully valued or even over-valued at the moment, this single q statistic isn't any reason to panic. As indicated in TFS, it's attributable in large part to near-zero interest rates. With nowhere else to go to earn money, investors flock to the stock market. That certainly has some potential for inducing a bubble, but I don't think we're there yet. These extremely low interest rates can't last forever, but since they're controlled by policymakers who are keenly aware of the implication of raising them, no interest-hike-induced stock market panic is likely to ensue. So, move along Citizens.

Comment: Re:New bands? (Score 1) 360

by Marginal Coward (#49695375) Attached to: What Happens To Our Musical Taste As We Age?

Coincidentally, just before I read this, I played "Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da" in a Baroque style using the harpsichord voice of my electronic piano. If it ain't Baroque, don't fix it.

Then again, I also played it in a ragtime style using the "honky tonk piano" voice. It ain't exactly the Mrs. Mills piano, but it's what I've got.

Comment: Re:New bands? (Score 2) 360

by Marginal Coward (#49694587) Attached to: What Happens To Our Musical Taste As We Age?

Actually, I'm not arguing that "The Wall" was their peak, simply that there was nowhere to go afterwards. I agree with you that "Dark Side of the Moon" was better or maybe more groundbreaking in some ways. Still, it's like asking which one of your children you love the most: you love them all, each for what are, even though they're all different.

My point on The Wall was simply that there wasn't anyway to expand the scale what had been done in Rock n' Roll. It kept a coherent theme album going for two whole records. I'm not sure anybody has done that before or since. I guess you could do that for three or four records, but AFAIK, nobody has tried.

The only thing to do, then, was to keep doing variations on the same, or to switch to a new genre. We've seen both. I'm not saying that everything that's been done in Rock n' Roll since The Wall lacks value, just that there was no way to take Rock n' Roll genuinely further. Thus, its decline.

Then again, you're hearing that from an old guy. What are these young kids thinkin' nowadays?

Comment: Re:New bands? (Score 1) 360

by Marginal Coward (#49693407) Attached to: What Happens To Our Musical Taste As We Age?

May I make that 1979? I've long held the theory that Rock n' Roll reached its logical conclusion in 1979 when Pink Floyd released "The Wall." There was nowhere to go after that.

This adequately explains, for example, the emergence of rap and hip-hop in recent years, which are distinguished from prior popular music by the explicit absence of singing. It also explains why the current generation embraces the music of their parents, a.k.a "Classic Rock", rather than rejecting it - as did every prior generation. (Remember when your parents' music used to sound "old fashioned" or "corny?")

That said, I've come to appreciate music from the 1920s - 1950s, which predates me by a generation or two. Oh, and of course, there's also Classic Classical. That goes back several generations further.

I wouldn't state all this as a scientific fact, though - it's more of a theory.

Comment: Re:Truism (Score 1) 244

by Marginal Coward (#49689705) Attached to: RTFM? How To Write a Manual Worth Reading

This is a good observation. Perhaps something like Wikipedia, which has been a big success of written "documentation", draws from a very large user base, so the small percentage of people who write still results in a lot of text. It also has a very low barrier to contributing (or at least used to...) For example, I've contributed a large number of small edits to Wikipedia over the years but have never actually written an article, except one I started about some short-lived, long-forgotten David Pogue TV show (good riddance.)

I think the wiki format is modestly successful even in smaller venues, such as an internal corporate wiki, due to this low barrier to entry. Of course, many wikis also are available as de facto documentation for open source projects, and those seem to be more successful in general than the traditional manual-written-by-the-author. We're also seeing free ebooks springing up as manuals (e.g. ), which often are written by folks who are unconnected with the applicable software project.

Comment: I knew it wasn't "Delores" (Score 4, Funny) 133

I had remembered that there was a small, Eastern European country that has a population of around 3 million and occupies about 13,000 square miles of territory. But I couldn't remember its name up until now - only that it rhymed with a part of the female anatomy.

Remember, UNIX spelled backwards is XINU. -- Mt.