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Comment: Re:At the same time (Score 1) 303

The discussion has switched from operating system to language. WRT operating system, DOS was never used on any of the 6502 machines. Apple developed its own. I believe Commodore did as well. Radio Shack could have used DOS since it was an 8088 processor, but mostly, maybe always, used the CP/M system instead.

I did not know that the BASIC language was licensed by Apple and Commodore from Microsoft. It must have been easier to port from 8080 assembly to 6502 assembly than to develop from Kemeny and Kurz' minicomputer original.

I cut my teeth on Applesoft BASIC, but I used only the integer subset; the floating point was too demanding, although now I don't recall why. Whether it ran too slowly, was too resource intensive, or-- probably-- was too hard to program and debug. I did some home accounting/budgeting, but did it all in pennies rather than dollars, and avoided division operations.

Since the Apple ][+ was the native computer of the original VisiCalc, its 6502 base code and its proprietary DOS were responsible for moving the PC from hobby toy to business computer. For an accounting firm to be able to do some of its spreadsheets in house is what triggered business' interest in PCs. This was a couple of years before the IBM PC even existed.

You are right on the timeline of IMBM-DOS, and I was misremembering. IBM PCs first arrived around 1982 as I recall, with IBM originally planning a single one time production run of 250,000 that would, they thought, completely flood the hobbyist market. Then Visicalc came along, then Lotus 1-2-3 for the IBM, and then IBM foolishly lost control of the market they had created by getting caught up in internal power struggles, while all the IBM clones came along. I believe the Compaq came out in 1984, along with a bunch of lesser machines. They went with MS-DOS as IBM would not sell its DOS to hardware competitors. However I was working with MS-DOS v3.1 as the newest and best in 1987 on a Novell network, and in my recollection v3.0 had come out only a year before that. But again, I might be misremembering. 'Twas a long time ago, in CPU years.

Comment: Re:At the same time (Score 2) 303

This is one of the few Gates myths with some truth behind it. He published GW-BASIC ("GW" for "gee whizz") some time in the 1980s. It was a major breakthrough: an interpreted language that could be used to develop and run custom applications on the small-office-home-office computers of the day, but which had several features of compiled languages. It was brilliant. It is still brilliant, its just that these days Javascript, PHP, Perl, and the like do what used to be done in BASIC, and much more.

The world would be a lot different if Gates had continued to focus on software development, instead of turning away from that to become last century's greatest marketeer and hypester.

Comment: Re:At the same time (Score 1) 303

I'd need to see some citations about that.

I have good memories of those days. I had an Apple ][+ in 1980. It ran the firmware "OS" that Woz had written in 6502 Assembler (hard copy of that was part of the documentation and helped me learn enough Assembler that I thought I was hot stuff) and it ran Applesoft BASIC as an interpreted language. I believe Wozniak and Jobs developed Applesoft BASIC themselves. I know it was not from Microsoft. It was 6502, and Microsoft was all 8080.

The Commodore, like the Apple ][, was a 6502 machine. Neither of these had anything to do with Microsoft, which was only working with the 8080 instruction set.

Radioshack's TRS-80, affectionately known as the "Trash-Eighty" for its frustrating keyboard failures, might have been able to use some variant of IBM DOS, but it was usually set up with CP/M.

Microsoft's DOS was not much of a player until around 1990. It was the no-cost alternative to IBM-DOS (marginally better but harder to find) and DR-DOS (much better but also not so easy to find).

Comment: Re:At the same time (Score 1) 303

You have that backwards.

The OS/2 development effort funded Microsoft Windows development through contracts prior to Win3.0. If IBM corporate headquarters had pulled its head out of its ass and stopped the infighting between the PC division and the big iron divisions, Microsoft would still be a pipsqueak minor player. But Gates took advantage of IBM's management infighting, wriggled free of earlier contract clauses like a toddler escaping from the constraining hug of its nanny, tweaked what was basically an in-house interface model for the OS/2 prototype into a "cooperative multitasker" running on top of 16 bit DOS (no true pre-emptive multitasking possible), and birthed the Win3.0 monstrosity. The rest of the story, up to WinNT, was Gates' expertise as a marketeer and hypester extraodinaire.

It did not help at all that IBM was relying on Intel to make the 80286 chip truly capable of multitasking. That again was a fault of IBM management, who were not listening to its own engineers since they were management, in talks with Intel management, and thus they knew better.

Gates was right on when he described the 80286 as "brain dead", but that came later.

Comment: Re:This again? (Score 1) 475

by Will.Woodhull (#49598925) Attached to: New Test Supports NASA's Controversial EM Drive

Your logic is sound for an eight year old. More mature logic has to deal with the fact that the drive does appear to work.

Try looking up Casimir-Polder force on wikipedia, for another example of quantum level physics producing classical level forces. Oh, I just did that for you.

While in a classical sense these phenomena appear to involve breakage in conservation of momentum, that apparent loss of momentum might well be explained through some aspect of quantum foam behavior. Can energy waves be transferred through quantum foam? Why would that not act like any other medium?

I'm guessing that as we learn more about manipulating quantum events like this drive and Casimir plates, we will get a better understanding of dark energy. But what do I know. I'm much more into woo-woo metaphysics than classical physics or quantum mechanics.

Comment: Re:Not a theory! (Score 2) 129

by Will.Woodhull (#49569457) Attached to: Holographic Principle Could Apply To Our Universe

So how come if I say "The Theory of creationism" on Slashdot I'll get crucified?

You'll not get crucified as such-- any more, that is only a Christian church punishment. Slashdot has never crucified anyone and physics and bandwidth limitations being what they are, Slashdot will never be able to crucify anyone. Your post will likely be ridiculed, modded down, and mostly ignored. You'll need to go elsewhere for the cross and nails.

The thing is, the "theory of creationism" is an inherently bad theory since it does not lead to hypotheses that can be tested with the scientific method. OTOH, The theory of evolution has produced innumerable hypotheses, some of which were proven wrong while others were shown to be correct, and each of these tests has been fed back into the theory to improve its accuracy of its predictions.

This does not negate the CS Lewis quote from your sig line:

"You cannot find out which view is the right one by science in the ordinary sense." - C.S. Lewis on Intelligent Design

Lewis is stating that science is limited to questions of how things work, and cannot be used to address other questions, such as why they work, what purpose does the universe serve, where is the ultimate meaning. For persons who go through life with their eyes open, these are the wonderfully important questions, but they are not amenable to the scientific method.

Comment: Re:News for nerds (Score 1) 114

by Will.Woodhull (#49558061) Attached to: 7.8 Earthquake Rocks Nepal, Hundreds Dead

The location of an ice sheet is a constant downward pressure on the bedrock that supports it.

As it melts, that mass goes out to sea. If it is a large ice sheet, the underlying tectonic plate rebounds as the pressure is relieved. Stresses at the boundaries of all plates change.

However, you are right, I was just poking fun at the "everything is because of climate change" mentality. Heck, it will be at least another 30 months before enough of Greenland's and Antarctica's ice has melted away to trigger anything bigger than a Richter 3 event. Except of course in Oklahoma, where those high pressure, deep enemas of dirty brine are giving Mother Earth the belly grumbles.

Comment: Re:News for nerds (Score 0) 114

by Will.Woodhull (#49550821) Attached to: 7.8 Earthquake Rocks Nepal, Hundreds Dead

I, for one, am waiting for the inevitable discussion that links the Nepal quake to global warming.

At any time now, someone is going to suggest that the quake may have been triggered by tectonic changes as the bedrock under Antarctica and Greenland begins to rebound as the weight of those ice caps is reduced.

Oh. I guess that suggestion was just made. Silly me.

Cue the responses saying why the massive phase change of H2O from solid to liquid could not possibly have any effect on the tectonics underneath. I mean, one is climatology and the other is geology. Entirely separate sciences, so the physics of one cannot possibly affect the other. Right?

Comment: Re:Ehhh What ? (Score 1) 157

Well, except for those times where mathematicians have let their imaginations run wild and developed weird mathematical models which were later found to describe some corner of the universe...

The relationship between mathematics and reality is a complex one, and there is no way to rationally understand the imaginary part. And that statement is true on many more levels than you might at first think.

May the farce be with you.

Comment: Re:Ehhh What ? (Score -1) 157

A law that is violated in my garden every Spring as the seeds germinate, take root, send up leaves, and decrease atmospheric carbon dioxide.

There is something fundamentally wrong about the fundamental "laws" of thermodynamics. Put succinctly, they fail to take into account that these "laws" do not apply to the observer, who is not necessarily decaying into his constituent parts during the process of observation.

Comment: Re:Eh? (Score 1) 64

by Will.Woodhull (#49507605) Attached to: If Earth Never Had Life, Continents Would Be Smaller

Well it is far better not to dunk your cookies but to let them crumble between the hammers and anvils of your teeth. That's what most of the adults do, anyway.

Some species of trees, like Douglas fir, are called "primary soil builders" because their roots break up exposed bedrock. John Denver sang a ditty about the flower that shattered the stone. Yes, Virginia, some life forms actively increase erosion.

Comment: Re:Dark Energy (Score 1) 199

Oh, I agree. Sometimes corrections work out well enough for the engineers to make fancy new things. Physics doesn't have to be right. It only has to be right enough.

As to neutrinos and antimatter and all that subatomic mess. Once it was simple: Bohr atoms and neutrons, protons, electrons, and photons. Then the physicists had to start adding corrective wavicles, like neutrinos, then quarks, then multiple different types of quarks, etc, etc. Now we've got this huge particle accelerator to find even smaller, more powerful, and shorter-lived whatevers to glue everything together. Modern physics is the physics of the absurd.

What is bound to happen is that somebody playing with esoteric maths of fractals or set theory or topology or something else out of left field is going to discover something really simple, like a way to look at things where every quark, every star, every galaxy, and every other part of the physical universe is simply the way the entire universe expresses itself in that particular context. And while the physicists of that day are arguing over how that can be reconciled with classical physics and string theory, some engineer somewhere will look at it and say "ah-hah!" and build a network of star gates. And that engineer will unwittingly midwife an entirely new physics.

But getting back to your point, it is very much important to recognize that something is probably wrong even though it works well enough for the purposes at hand. Otherwise you are accepting some basic premises on blind faith, and that kind of religious belief is indeed blinding one to other possibilities.

If I have not seen as far as others, it is because giants were standing on my shoulders. -- Hal Abelson