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Comment Re:MenuChoice and HAM (1992) (Score 1) 263 263

The problem with shell scripts for this kind of thing is that they're a Turing-complete language. This makes it very hard to present to the user what they actually do. .BAT files on DOS / Windows provided that functionality too, but unless you aggressively restrict yourself to a subset of the shell language it's very hard to check a .sh / .bat file and see exactly what command is going to be invoked.

Comment Re:MenuChoice and HAM (1992) (Score 1) 263 263

This requires the program to be explicitly written that way. Gcc and clang also do this, to detect whether they're invoked as C or C++ compilers, and clang will detect a target triple if it's the compiler invocation name prefix. This just goes in argv[0] though - you can't modify the other arguments from a shortcut. It would be really useful to be able to add things like --sysroot=/some/path and -msoft-float to a symlink so that you had a single cc that you could invoke as a cross compiler, but currently the only way to do this is with a tiny shell script that execs the compiler with the correct flags.

Comment Re:awkward! (Score 1) 180 180

Nonsense. It is true, however, that Windows and Linux use different (overlapping) subsets of the SATA (and SCSI) command sets and, in particular, use very different sequences of commands in common use. If you test heavily with Windows and not with Linux, then you may find that there are code paths in your firmware that Linux uses a lot but which are mostly untested.

Comment Re:Difficulty (Score 1) 263 263

The 'tray' that Raymond describes in his second article looks very much like the Shelf from OPENSTEP 4.1, which was released just after Windows 95. I wonder if some of the NeXT people were playing with early betas of Windows 95 and, as their company CEO later quipped, started their photocopiers...

Comment Re:Major change? No. (Score 1) 263 263

Win32s was released for Windows 3.1, but it just added some win32 APIs, not the UI. The UI was first introduced in the Chicago betas, which were eventually released as Windows 95. NT4 was released shortly afterwards and wasn't a bad OS, but hampered by the lack of plug-and-play support and perpetually having old versions of DirectX.

Comment Re:MenuChoice and HAM (1992) (Score 5, Informative) 263 263

There are a few differences. First, symlinks are a property of the filesystem. This means that the normal filesystem APIs just work with them and you need special APIs for things that care about whether it's a link or not. In contrast, shortcuts are just another kind of file and everything that wants to follow them needs to know what the target is. Second, shortcuts contain a lot more information than just a path: they include the path to the destination file, an icon, the set of command-line arguments to pass, and some other flags. For example, I used to have a load of different shortcuts to the WinQuake (and, later, GLQuake) executable that all had different -game flags, for launching different mods. Many of them also had different icons, if the mod came with its own icon. You can't do that with symlinks.

The closest thing to symlinks on *NIX systems is .desktop files.

Comment Re:Crooks are afraid of the dark, too (Score 4, Insightful) 290 290

I used to walk home through a park. Except on cloudless nights with no moon, you got enough reflected light to be able to see quite clearly across it. Then there some some hysteria about the potential for being attacked (triggered by a flasher, who only exposed himself to people in broad daylight) and they added a row of streetlights along the side of the path. If you stood about 10m from the path, you were completely invisible to someone walking along it, but they were clearly visible to you for their entire trip across the park (as were any potential witnesses on the path). If someone actually wanted to attack people crossing the park, the lights made it a lot easier. It would only take a few seconds to hit someone and drag them out of the visible area.

Comment Re:Really? (Score 1) 683 683

That's not been true for a very long time. Current MacBook Pro trackpads (i.e. the ones that TFA is about) use one finger tap for left click, two finger tap for right click, two finger drag for scroll, and four-finger drag for some system-wide gestures. The 'Mac mice only have one button' thing is a decade old (and even before that, Macs supported multi-button mice, they just required that UIs be designed to work well with one-button input devices).

Comment Re:The Microsoft key!!!! I've never used it...ever (Score 1) 683 683

Rather, I consider it pretty easy. :-) Just hold down the ALT key, type in the four-digit code for the character you want, then release the ALT key and your character will show up

Is this really what Windows users consider easy? On a Mac, it depends on the keyboard layout, but for me it's alt-2. A cent symbol is alt-4 (dollar is shift-4). Entering a character with an accent is alt-something for the accent and then the letter that it goes on top of. For example, i-umlaut is option-u then i.

If memorising unicode character numbers is your idea of good HCI, then I really hope I never use a program that you've designed.

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