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Comment Re:Sane choice (Score 1) 355

Pointers in anything other than the very lowest-level-touching-the-metal code are an abomination. They cause far more confusion and grief than they ever help. Yes, there are situations in which the best way to address a problem is to pass a pointer around. However, in this day and age of multi-gigabyte ram sticks, I'd rather bloat up a program's ram usage with maybe unnecessary copies of large objects than dick around with pointers.

You should talk to my students who just discovered how their 3x3 tic-tac-toe program had some "issues" when they tried 10x10. Understanding the difference between stack allocation and heap allocation, understanding the overhead of creating objects, understanding how to use structure sharing, understanding destructive mutation: all crucial for non-trivial programs. Multi-gigabyte ram sticks buy you nothing on real-world problems.

Nothing wrong with teaching pointers in Java or your other favorite modern language. They're just called reference types. But teaching malloc/free or retain/release, now that's crazy. ;-)

Comment Round trip with layover (Score 1) 839

IANAA (I Am Not An Astronaut) but another paper in that Journal of Cosmology issue suggests that astronauts go out and stay for a while before coming back:

Mars Base First: A Program-level Optimization for Human Mars Exploration, Douglas W. Gage, Journal of Cosmology, 2010, Vol 12, 3904-3911.

First Person Shooters (Games)

Gamer Plays Doom For the First Time 362

sfraggle writes "Kotaku has an interesting review of Doom (the original!) by Stephen Totilo, a gamer and FPS player who, until a few days ago, had gone through the game's 17-year history without playing it. He describes some of his first impressions, the surprises that he encountered, and how the game compares to modern FPSes. Quoting: 'Virtual shotgun armed, I was finally going to play Doom for real. A second later, I understood the allure the video game weapon has had. In Doom the shotgun feels mighty, at least partially I believe because they make first-timers like me wait for it. The creators make us sweat until we have it in hand. But once we have the shotgun, its big shots and its slow, fetishized reload are the floored-accelerator-pedal stuff of macho fantasy. The shotgun is, in all senses, instant puberty, which is to say, delicately, that to obtain it is to have the assumed added potency that a boy believes a man possesses vis a vis a world on which he'd like to have some impact. The shotgun is the punch in the face the once-scrawny boy on the beach gives the bully when he returns a muscled linebacker.'"

Whom computers would destroy, they must first drive mad.