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Comment x86 isn't the performance bottleneck it once was (Score 2) 54

x86 is no longer a microarchitecture. It's just an ISA. It's a total abstraction, and in mid-range to high-end processors, its translation overhead (logic and latency) is minimal. Only in the lowest-end devices (Atom) is it any kind of burden, and ARM dominates in that space.

Yes, CISC is computersciencely evil, not orthogonal, crufty, and whatever else you want to call it. But these days, x86 is just an intermediate language between the compiler and the REAL execution engine.

Comment Inflexible religious beliefs (Score 1) 613

It's one thing to have a general sense that there might be a higher being that has influenced traditions through history. Some may think that's a silly idea, but it's general enough that you don't lose your sense of reality if someone disproves some factual aspects of your beliefs that you rely on heavily. Even within Christianity, I think that a lot of what we're taught to believe was made up long after Jesus' death. There are a lot of Christian concepts that I just don't think are all that critical, like original sin and the virgin birth. I can even imagine believing in Jesus having divinity without the need for his sinlessness or a resurrection. Sound crazy? It's hard to separate the core of Christianity from all the cruft that came later. The core of the religion is one of forgiveness. People do bad things. If you recognize that you did wrong, admit it, and resolve to change your ways (repent), then you will be forgiven. None of that changes if you dismiss any of these traditions I mentioned. I also admire the Christian Jesus (who may be an amalgam of real historical people) as a great philosopher and counter-cultural rebel.

Comment I love LISP, but it's too much of a pain (Score 1) 427

I love the IDEA of LISP. I also slightly prefer Scheme, which to me is a bit more of a pure functional language. But in practice, I find it too much of a pain to use. I'm not accustomed to rethinking things recursively, and I totally get lost in all of the parentheses.

What many people don't realize about Common Lisp is that it's not really a functional language. It's functional-like. But there are side-effects and lots and lots of procedural constructs that seem out of place in a functional language. Consider the loop macro. It can loop over damn here anything efficiently, but it's not functional style. It's a domain-specific procedural language that you stick between parentheses within some Lisp code. Lisp has some features that make it supremely powerful. The code syntax and the data structure syntax are the SAME; that unification multiplies the power of the language in ways that are hard to describe. The macro facility is not equalled in any other language, because the macros are arbitrary Lisp code that is run at compile time that generates arbitrary Lisp code that then gets compiled. Lisp has also been around long enough that it's collected a huge number of libraries for just about anything, and the compilers are smart enough to produce some extremely efficient machine code.

So I really really want to use Lisp. It's just too much of a headache to deal with actually writing the code.

I've learned more languages than I can remember. C, Fortran, various BASICs, Ruby, Bash, C++, Java, JavaScript, HTML, CSS, SQL, Pascal, Ada, and so on. You know what my favorite language is? Verilog. What I enjoy most of all is designing chips. So I totally grok the theoretical value of languages like Lisp and Haskell, but I have the most fun designing circuits. That probably has a major influence on why I don't enjoy programming Lisp.

Comment Re:A free search engine (Score 1) 152

In many countries, it is illegal for a company to unfairly exploit its dominance in one market to gain advantage in another market.

But Google aren't doing that.

The argument of these complaining companies boils down to "our business is so crappy and generic that we have no customer loyalty at all, and as such our customers simply click on whatever result comes first when they search". Therefore they argue "we should be first because otherwise it's not faaaaaaaair".

If the only justification for your existence is that hapless customers end up at your website due to an accident of ranking, why should anyone care about your business? Facebook, for most of its history, wasn't crawlable at all - the entire site was behind the login screen. Literally the only search term they showed up for was Facebook. Guess what - it didn't hurt them at all, because their customers wanted to go there.

Comment Re:From TFA: bit-exact or not? (Score 1) 172

There used to be a web page called "Your Eyes Suck at Blue". You might find it on the Wayback machine.

You can tell the luminance of each individual channel more precisely than you can perceive differences in mixed color. This is due to the difference between rod and cone cells. Your perception of the color gamut is, sorry, imprecise. I'm sure that you really can't discriminate 256 bits of blue in the presence of other, varying, colors.

Comment Re:From TFA: bit-exact or not? (Score 5, Insightful) 172

Rather than abuse every commenter who has not joined your specialty on Slashdot, please take the source and write about what you find.

Given that CPU and memory get less expensive over time, it is no surprise that algorithms work practically today that would not have when various standards groups started meeting. Ultimately, someone like you can state what the trade-offs are in clear English, and indeed whether they work at all, which is more productive than trading naah-naahs.

Comment Re:Looked slick, but so unstable (Score 5, Insightful) 284

Yeah, but that instability was not entirely Win95's fault.

Back then computers had almost no resources. NT had a "proper", academically correct OS design with a microkernel architecture (until NT4). It paid for it dearly: resource consumption was nearly double that of Chicago. Additionally, app and hardware compatibility was crap. Many, many apps, devices and especially games would not run on Windows NT. Microsoft spent the next 6-7 years trying to make NT acceptable to the consumer market and only achieved it starting with Windows XP.

So Win95 was hobbled by the need for DOS and Win3.1 compatibility, but that is why it was such a huge commercial success.

Making things worse, tools for writing reliable software were crap back then. Most software was written in C or C++ except often without any kind of STL. Static analysis was piss poor to non-existent. If you wanted garbage collection, Visual Basic was all you had (actually it used reference counting). Unit testing existed as a concept but was barely known: it was extremely common for programs to have no unit tests at all, and testing frameworks like JUnit also didn't exist. Drivers were routinely written by hardware engineers who only had a basic grasp of software engineering, so they were frequently very buggy. Hardware itself was often quite unreliable. Computers didn't have the same kinds of reliability technologies they have today.

Most importantly nobody had the internet, so apps couldn't report crash dumps back to the developers, so most developers never heard about their app crashes and had no way to fix them except by doing exhaustive, human based testing. Basically that's what distinguished stable software from unstable software: how much money you paid to professional software testers.

Everyone who used computers back then remembers the "save every few minutes" advice being drilled into people's heads. And it was needed, but that wasn't entirely Microsoft's fault. It was just that computing sucked back then, even more than it does today :)

Comment I remember ..... (Score 5, Insightful) 284

.... the Briefcase!

I just can't remember what it was for.

Win95 was such a huge upgrade. We forget now, but it packed an astonishing amount of stuff into just 4mb of RAM (8mb recommended). If someone produced it today in some kind of hackathon it'd be praised as a wonder of tightly written code. They even optimised it by making sure the dots in the clock didn't blink, as the animation would have increased the memory usage of the OS!

It's surprising how little Windows has changed over the years, in some ways. Not because MS didn't want to change it but because the Win95 UI design was basically very effective and people still like it, even today.

The moon is a planet just like the Earth, only it is even deader.

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