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Comment Re:What happened to Pascal, anyway? (Score 1) 118

But it don't support pointer arithmetic. Every slash dot reader knows that you need pointer arithmentic (char *x; x++) in order to be efficient.

Seriously, the early Pascals were rather fascists about type safety. So the whole world jumped to that miserable excuse of a language called C which let them do what they thought they wanted to do.

(I grew up on the original Wirth Pascal on a Cyber with 60 bit words. That is what all that packed character stuff was about.)

Comment Re:Are you trolling or just boring? (Score 1) 258

Um, Rule 43589:-

If animal-like thing appears in front then
    If nothing is behind and road is safe then
        maximum brake
    Else if other car is far behind
        maximum brake but monitor closing distance of car and release brakes if too close
    Else if other car is close behind
        moderate brake and monitor other car's reaction

The above is a simplification, but that type of reasoning is not very hard. Recognizing fluffy is an animal and not just a pot hole, now that is tricky.

And how many people when seeing fluffy carefully monitor the car behind them when applying brakes?!


Comment Re:A human-driven taxi is better right now. (Score 1) 258

Things do not need to have human level intelligence to be able to work in the real world. And being able to read road signs is very doable today. The original post seemed to think that use a GPS is AI which it clearly is not, but being able to drive down most roads is not a particularly difficult task, even if it is much more difficult than playing chess, say.

Consider a wasp, with a nervous system smaller than a pin head, and all the complex behaviors it exhibits in the natural world. Driving a car is simpler than that.

Have a look at

for some ideas on this.

Comment Re:Wow64 has the 32 bit... (Score 1) 125

Um, yes, that is what source compatibility is all about. Some source would have needed to be change for programs that hard coded the System32 folder name, among other things. I have never seen a non-trivial 32 bit program that could be run 64 bit without changes.

OTOH, what about a 32 bit program that is expected to remain 32 bit. It might also have hard coded System32. And that is where weird and dangerous hacks refer some, but not other, file references to WoW64!!! One thing that is for sure is that 32 bit programs should have remained compatible with running in 32 bit mode.

It was a surreal design decision that says a lot about the company that made it. I don't think that Gates ever made a dumb decision like that, but then he started as an engineer so knew what code actually was.

Comment Re:That's why Windows 10 should have ONLY been 64- (Score 1) 125

Not as long as people insist on using archaic programming languages such as C.

Programs are distributed 32 bit, and often rely on 3rd party add ons that are 32 bit. And never the two shall be combined into a single process, even if the actual memory requirements are small. That is why Office is normally run in 32 bit mode -- the add ins.

A better idea would have been to allow 32 bit windows to run with more than 4 gig of ram, and 4 gig per process rather than 2. That would have pushed off the 64bit day quite a bit.

This is not a problem with .Net (or Java) of course. They Jit compile, optimized to the specific machine. No 64bit issues, no opaque type issues. And Java can even reference 32 gig of memory with 32bit pointers (by enforcing alignment) which almost halves the amount of memory a 64bit application needs.

The problem is not Microsoft. The problem is C. But given C, to kill 32bit would have been to kill Windows. (And even Linux allows 32 bit programs on 64bit O/S.)

As to WoW64, that was entirely gratuatous, as per my other post above. And given COM it should also have been possible to run 64bit programs in 32bit processors, albeit restricted to 4 gig. (There had to be something potentially good about COM.) But that is not how it is.

Comment Re:Wow64 has the 32 bit... (Score 3, Interesting) 125

Windows did something far weirder than focus on the ABI.

The WoW64 folder holds the 32 bit DLLs while the System32 folder holds the 64bit DLLs. There is then black magic that usually redirects 32 bit applications to the different Wow64 folder.

The idea was not binary compatibility but source compatibility. Someone in the hierarchy must have dictated that C programs must be able to be recompiled in 64bit with zero code changes. Only an MBA with zero programming background could think that this largely impossible mandate justifies permanently twisting the system with weird rules.

Don't get me started on Program Files (X64) ...

Comment Re:Yet another government boondoggle (Score 1, Interesting) 69

No, I would suggest that most slash dotters would think they are both a colossal waste of money that should have been spent on real science. How many probes could we have sent to Mars? The Webb tellescope. Europa. The list goes on.

The put people in orbit game was over with Mir and Skylab. Putting more and more people in orbit is just a waste. There is also no point in sending people to Mars, robots rule in space. And it is not going to happen any time soon, so at least no money is being wasted on it.

Comment It is good that projects fail (Score 1) 118

Whenever a large IT project succeeds, some piece of bureaucratic process can and thus will become more complex.

Consider the Australian tax office (or IRS). It costs the same proportion of GDP as it did 60 years ago, before any automation at all. But the tax legislation is several orders of magnitude more complex now. You could simply not support the current mess without a computer, it would have to be kept simple. It is the successful projects that enable the mess to be produced. Fortunately, many tax office projects fail. Imagine how bad things would be if they all succeeded!

Comment Natural Selection (Score 2) 118

When small projects fail, the contractors move on. By the time large projects fail senior managers need to be promoted.

Over time, people that work on smaller projects are the competent ones, whereas the people that work on large projects have fantastic skills in working in a bureaucracy, but none in actually developing software.

Comment Better to have strangled it at birth (Score 1) 75

The space shuttle had a clear goal, namely to launch stuff into low orbit cheaply. There are various ways to measure the cost per Kg launched, but even if one ignores the huge research cost, the shuttle fails big time. The Russians can launch stuff using relatively simple rockets for a fraction of the cost. And a Saturn V can launch bigger payloads into *low orbit*, I would think.

Worse, having built the wretched thing an excuse had to be found to use it, and that lead to the ISS. A huge white elephant.

Imagine the real science that could have been done if those funds had been spent correctly. Certainly the Web telescope would have been launched years ago. Many more probes to Mars, including digging some holes. Europa. ...

Comment Re:Mixture of approaches works best (Score 1) 75

Comments like that will make you unemployable. Today software is all about continuous integration, automated testing and 100% code coverage. If you test every line of code in your system what could possibly go wrong? No longer the drudgery of major and minor releases, today every nightly build is a releasable product. Even Microsoft has taken this on, Windows 10 will be the "last" version. Customers upgrade continuously secure in the knowledge that bugs are a thing of the past....

"All the people are so happy now, their heads are caving in. I'm glad they are a snowman with protective rubber skin" -- They Might Be Giants