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Comment Interesting (Score 5, Interesting) 200

I spoke to a computer science professor about 2–3 years ago who said he had noticed a curious thing over the last few years. The students in his classes didn't seem interested--or even willing to--in solving programming problems. They just expected to be able to come in, download this framework and that framework, find a solution to a tricky problem on Stackoverflow (or wherever), and maybe write some really rudimentary code to just glue the bits together. Many of the "old " assignments--implement three different sorting algorithms and compare their properties just seemed totally archaic to his students--why would you ever want to actually write a sorting algorithm? After all, somebody out there has already done it better, and that's nothing you would ever need to do as real programmer.

The professor was somewhat alarmed by this, but not totally in disaster mode, because it was probably true that MOST of his students would never need to write a sorting algorithm. Most of his students would never need to implement an algorithm that draws a circle, etc. But still--this was computer science--not community college.

The writer here seems to fall squarely into this class of learner. Honestly, the first thing this article made me think of was that awful Barbie learns programming book where Barbie gets some other people to write the code for a program she designed, thereby becoming a real computer programmer. Maybe the book wasn't that far off the mark after all...

Comment Re:I should also point out... (Score 1) 284

Sorting config.sys was not alphabetical, and also was one of the things that become obsolete with win95. You sorted it by memory consumption so you never had programs using more than 640kbytes of memory at any time. The simplest algorithms just sorted it so they started the largest first so they were also over first, but there were more complicated programs for automatically sorting and packaging config.sys.

My post was talking about OS/2, which had an entirely different config.sys. I doubt there has ever been a DOS config.sys with 60 lines! Also, it's been a long time, but IIRC, with later versions of DOS, the first line in config.sys was usually himem.sys. Loading himem.sys enabled extended memory, and was followed by DOS=HIGH (or DOS=HIGH,UMB, etc.). You could also then load device drivers with DEVICEHIGH instead of DEVICE lines.

I don't particularly remember needing to sort DOS's config.sys, other than--at times--figuring out what you wanted to load (mscdex, etc) and what you didn't.

Since it was part of the DOS operating system, it was rendered obsolete by win95 which hads it own drivers so you could just remove everything except what was needed to launch windows from config.sys.

IIRC, Win95 did have a config.sys, though you didn't really need to mess with it often. in the win95 days, people did still boot to DOS fairly regularly for some older DOS programs that wouldn't work in windows, so you generally did want to have a functional DOS boot environment.

Comment Re:Ah memories (Score 2) 284

Hah, that sounds very much like my own experience.

For one Christmas the family got a brand new 486 dx33mhz with 16mb ram--the best computer any of my friends had, AND it included a CDROM. The first game on CD I had was a collection of Wing Commander 2 with expansions and speech packs. The 1x CDROM was too slow to effectively play the game, so I would xcopy the directories to the hard disk when I wanted to play. The only problem was I didn't have enough space to have wing commander (30mb!!) and anything else installed, so I deleted Win3.1 every single time I wanted to play wing commander, and then reinstalled windows when I was done.

Over the next few years I got a Cyrix, got into overclocking, got into OS/2 Warp (downloaded 20 floppy disk images from an IBM BBS at one point to do a software update!), was briefly into Linux and then got into FreeBSD some time in the FreeBSD 4.x revision cycle. Now I mostly use a Mac laptop, but I still run FreeBSD on my work server and an OpenBSD firewall.

Comment Re:I should also point out... (Score 2) 284

OS/2 was great. I was always amazed at how it could run windows programs faster than Windows!

The other thing I always remember is that if you sorted the config.sys file (which, IIRC, was something like 60+ lines long) so the drivers loaded in alphabetical order, you could literally shave minutes off of your boot time.

One of my earliest Internet experiences, post-BBSes, was on Delphi using some OS/2 software called ODN--Offline Delphi Newsreader.

Good memories!

Comment Re:Always some problem with iphones (Score 1) 68

I used to repair macs, so I know what they are like inside, at least for the generations up to the switch to amd64.

So that would be pre-2006? You're not exactly talking recent history, then...

Thermally, they were often badly engineered - there were exceptions like the G5 tower, but the exceptions were often idiosyncratic in other annoying ways (eg. the G5 tower could only take 2 disks in a huge tower, had something that wasn't quite a DVI port, and used oddball 15A power cable). We used to adapt standard PC components to fix the macs, so that they wouldn't be back in the shop again in a year or so. Sometimes I felt that engineering issues got ignored in favour of aesthetics.

Seems to me you're conflating several issues. Apples hve long been optimized for acoustics over temperature. That is, they figured most people wanted quieter systems more than cooler systems. I think they're probably right. The second issue is that Apple used to use a lot more proprietary tech than they do now. You're talking about computers that are over 10 years old, however.

Comment Re:Fucking hogwash! PC-BSD is easy to install. (Score 1) 136

Such a libertarian OS. And look at how popular it is today!

I assume you mean "libertarian" simply as a general pejorative? Interesting, since FreeBSD has long had a very formalized governing structure, elections, etc. I'm not honestly not sure what you would describe as libertarian about FreeBSD other than the fact that they -- like Linux -- are open source. FreeBSD is doing quite well today. It's certainly not as widely used as Linux, but from what I can tell it's growing and more than self-sustaining.

Comment Re:How I Found Linux (Score 2) 136

That's really interesting. When I was in highschool our school had a Netware network. We had a computer lab for physics and computer science that had no Internet access, but the teacher let me bring in my own computer (some kind of very early 486) that I installed RedHat Linux--I think 4--on and ran a NAT and http server for about 40-50 computers. That was really cool (and I really wonder if any school around would let a student have that kind of access to a school network now).

A friend of mine at school was from Taiwan and introduced me to FreeBSD that same year. Apparently--at least in the 90s--FreeBSD was big in Taiwan and used heavily in the BBS scene there.

I switched my own computers to FreeBSD not long after, and haven't really looked back. My experience at the time was that FreeBSD was MUCH easier to deal with. The system file layouts were far more consistent, man pages were excellent, and the FreeBSD handbook remains very helpful to this day. I've never understood the criticism that FreeBSD was "harder" than Linux, as that has not been my experience at all--at least since 1997 or so.

BSD fans will tell you that this is a feature, and then five minutes later bitch about something they don't have because BSD is less popular

I've read many of the FreeBSD dev lists for about 15 years now, and I can't say I have ever seen this. Strawman?

Comment Re:Iterative Design (Score 1) 179

More power to them for doing this. As I haven't had time to read the article, are they publishing their design as open source?

Or apparently the summary itself (RTFS? RTFB -- blurb?): "It cost about US$10,000 to develop, and has been released as an open source model for anyone to use."

To be fair, I myself haven't RTFA, but I did do a really good partial skim of the summary.

It is impossible to travel faster than light, and certainly not desirable, as one's hat keeps blowing off. -- Woody Allen