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Comment Re:Under-appreciated (Score 1) 704

How do you consider these portable? Because they were compatible with both Windows 3.0 as well as Windows 3.1?

Regarding portability, I was thinking about the original 8-bit BASIC, which Microsoft went out of their way to port of a very large number of platforms. It was not 100% compatible from platform to platform, e.g. there were additional graphics or I/O keywords. But Microsoft is the reason the vast majority of microcomputers at the time came with a form of BASIC. Don't get me wrong, there were also many original implementations of BASIC (Sinclair, Oric, Texas Instruments, HP to name a few).

Comment Under-appreciated (Score 5, Interesting) 704

Microsoft BASIC and later Visual Basic: Unjustly despised, but introduced many to programming (and the very first ones were marvels of micro-programming too). Also interestingly portable at a time where portability was on nobody's radar.

Spectre GCR, a Mac emulator on Atari ST. A precursor of virtualization in my opinion, and a very smartly done one at that.

VMware for making virtualization available to the masses and enabling the cloud.

AmigaDOS for being the first OS with built-in hardware-accelerated graphics and sound.

The RPL system in the HP28 and HP48 series of calculator. Reverse Polish Lisp and symbolic processing on a 4-bit calculator with 4K of RAM? Seriously?

The Minitel system in France, including nationwide phone directory and dubious innovations such as Minitel Rose (porn in text mode at 1200bps, basically).

Postscript and the whole desktop publishing revolution.

NeXTStep (or whatever the CorRect CapItalizATION is), so far ahead of its time that it took years for it to reach its full potential in the form of iOS.

GeOS (already mentioned by someone else)

Mathematica. Just wow. But also forgotten precursors such as TK! Solver.

Lisp, Fortran, Algol, Pascal, Ada, Eiffel, Smalltalk and a whole bunch of under-utilized languages.

Much lower on the name recognition scale, Alpha Waves, arguably one of the earliest real 3D games, which also influenced the creation of Alone in the Dark.


Submission + - Live coding: A 3D DNA strand (

descubes writes: "Old timers may remember Logo, an interactive and graphical development environment that made it possible to explore ideas very quickly and made it fun to discover programming. A recently posted live coding tutorial shows the same basic idea applied to interactive 3D. In the video, an animated strand of DNA is constructed step by step simply by typing a simple script and looking at the result in real-time."

Submission + - Create 3D animated slideshows in minutes (

descubes writes: "With animated backgrounds, 3D objects, YouTube videos and true stereoscopic 3D, all controlled by a dynamic scripting language, Tao Presentations is not your average presentation software. The latest release includes new easy to use themes to make it easy to create amazing animated slideshows in minutes."

Submission + - Meet "Ophelia," Dell's Plan To Reinvent Itself (

redletterdave writes: "Dell is reportedly working on a project codenamed "Ophelia," a USB-sized self-contained computer that provides access to virtually every major operating system there is — from the Mac OS, to Windows, to Google's Chrome OS, to cloud-based solutions from Citrix and Dell — all via the cloud. Powered by Android, Ophelia works just like a USB port: Just plug it into any flat panel monitor or TV, and boom, you have a computer. Ophelia connects to the Internet via Wi-Fi, and can connect to keyboards and other peripherals over Bluetooth. Not only is the computer portable and power-efficient, but to make it truly accessible, Dell plans to sell the device for just $50."

Comment Re:Theocracies (Score 1) 862

The spread of the theory of relativity is not an example of biological evolution.[...] if you decide to redefine the evolutionary history of the human species as [...]

That's the core of our disagreement. You are redefining the history of the human species as being purely biological. That's patently wrong. Knowledge, civilization, communication between individuals shape the evolution of humanity more than biology, to the point where some refer to this well known effect as "the end of evolution". It's like computers: the nature of my laptop is defined more by the fact that it runs MacOSX than by the fact that it has a Core i7 inside. To wit: not so long ago, my Mac laptop had a PowerPC in it, it still was a Mac. And surely you would not debate that man and woman are biologically different.

To be clear : in my mind, "Adam" was probably born non-human. Then he groked something, updated his software, became human and spread this virus around him, starting with "Eve". And that process repeated itself multiple times, for multiple things that we associate to being human: bipedalism, use of fire, speech, self-awareness, burying the dead, religion, art, etc. In that sense, there may have been multiple Adams. But I'm pretty sure very few of these key evolutionary steps were biological or genetic in nature. And I'm pretty sure that in all cases, Adam was alone for a while, then they were two.

The Bible, assuming it's actually the point of view of God, tells us that one specific event was more essential than the rest in defining us as human. It was the end of innocence, the precise moment when someone first realized that he was responsible for his own actions. That makes sense, even if you are a scientist. So, even with all our scientific knowledge, I don't see Genesis as a strong argument against religion. On the contrary, I find the choice of what defines us as human really subtle and interesting. I find the storytelling really great for a text that old (compare it to other creation myths, you might see my point, I posted another comment here on this topic). And I find the philosophy disturbingly advanced for its time.

By the way, there is another similarly advanced insight in the Bible: "I am that I am". The insight is this. If you trace where something comes from, you can trace it to some other event, and then again and again. From there, there are a few logical options, e.g. :

1. a cyclic causal chain of events (i.e. A caused B that caused C that caused A), something that creates so many logical problems and occurs so infrequently in nature that we typically eliminate it as a possibility.

2. a chain of events with an unexplained end-point (e.g. the Big Bang in cosmology: we don't have an answer at this point to "what caused the Big Bang", though some theorists are pushing this limit, e.g. bubble multiverses, but we'll be back in the same situation).

3. a chain of events with an self-explaining end-point, e.g. "I am that I am", "I exist without a cause".

So when I read that "I am that I am" is the name of God, and when I think that this was written eons ago, I'm just puzzled. Either the guy who wrote that was über-smart, or he was über-lucky, or He was in the know.

Comment Re:Theocracies (Score 1) 862

And, again, the whole point zooms past you. There were never two human beings on the planet. Never. Not once. Ever.

You keep repeating this like a creed. For you, it is an act of faith, and you seem convinced that just repeating that like a broken record will make it more true. But since that "fact" is the core of the discussion, that's precisely what you need to prove.

I claim that this "fact"of yours is patently false, because it is so easily falsified with myriads of counter examples. There was a time where a single person on Earth knew relativity, and then he taught others and relativity became part of humanity.There was a time where a single person on Earth knew how to do fire, and then he taught others and fire became part of humanity. There was a time when a single person on Earth knew how to send an e-mail, and then he taught others and e-mail became part of humanity. There was a first blue rose. And so on.

On the other hand, I cannot think of a single part of our human heritage that appeared all over the place at once. Whether it's physical like skin color or cultural like cave painting, we always observe a starting point followed by contamination.

So what is there really behind your statement that there were never two human beings on the planet? The fact that proto-humans lived in tribes? The fact that the hypothetical first human had to mate with non-humans, and was therefore not so different from them? Or the fact that you don't know how to define "human" precisely enough to be able to pinpoint that first human?

The Catholic church claims that there were only two people at one point,

It's not the Catholic church, it's the Bible, so it's all Muslims, all Jews, all Christians including non-Catholic.

though they claim that these could have been drawn from a group of proto-humans.

I, not the church, claimed in this thread that based on modern science, we know the first human was drawn from a group of proto-humans, and then taught the second human to be human (because what makes us human is largely social and not genetic). And I find it reasonable to believe that the second "human" in this transmission chain was the mate of the first one. I am not sure that this hypothesis is true, but it's definitely the most plausible scientific hypothesis that I can derive from the theory of evolution and observation of knowledge transmission. It's not derived from the Bible, however, it does match the account in the Bible relatively well.

If you want to claim that there were always multiple humans, you need to blur the definition of human. With a blurred definition, you blur the boundary in space and time. With a crisp definition, the first human becomes unique. The Bible chose a crisp definition, the knowledge of good and evil.

the Catholic church requires that this bit of Genesis be interpreted LITERALLY. And this point is LITERALLY false.

Again, you seem to think that by repeating and SHOUTING your creed, you will make it more credible.

But no, the Catholic church does not require literal interpretation of Genesis, on the contrary.

And no, the existence of a first human is not false, if we define humanity based on any kind of knowledge or sapience, as I tried to demonstrate time and time again. It is highly likely to be true because all our experience with science, knowledge, genetics or epidemics is that there is always a "patient zero". At that point, I am tempted myself to say that is't my own point that zooms past you, and I'm very sorry that I can't get it across. If there are "patient zero" or "inventor zero" for everything we know, then logically there has to be a "human zero". Claiming that we "know" otherwise in all caps is not going to address this argument.

Comment Re:Theocracies (Score 1) 862

But it is completely silly to belive that there existed at one point ONLY one couple of humans, who invented fire and passed it on to their children.

You are completely misinterpreting what I wrote. Just because I said that one single individual passed fire to the entire human race does not imply that there was a single individual at that time, only that a single individual was historically "the first one" to pass fire along up to today. Just like a single individual was historically the inventor of e-mail, despite the fact that tens of people were probably capable of inventing e-mail at the time. There just was one who happened to be first. Not ten or one thousand.

[The problem] is the fact that the Catholic church claims that there were two people who were the first humans. The whole "sin" angle is largely irrelevant to the claim, though it is central to the reason behind making such a claim.

Genesis explains what makes us human, and that is being conscious of our actions. Being conscious also makes us responsible. With consciousness (humanity) comes responsability (sin). If you let a chimp drive a car, and the car hits and kills someone, is the car responsible? Is the chimp responsible? No, you are. In my opinion, this is the reason why Genesis links the first man and the first sin.

In short, it's logically backwards compared to your reasoning. It is not "there was a single hominid and we all descend from that single hominid, and by a mere and truly bizarre coincidence, that single hominid also was a sinner, and bam, we inherited that." That, indeed, doesn't make sense. Instead, the idea is: "the first person in history to be given the capability to reach the knowledge of good and evil was by definition the first true human. And that individual was in all likelihood just like us, just as unable to resist temptation and to stick to pure good as we all are, so as he passed knowledge of good and evil along (the famous fruit), he passed both humanity and sin along."

Was this a single person? I think so. The population in 1905 was much higher than in prehistoric times, yet there was a single Einstein, and he's at the root of all subsequent relativity knowledge (even if folks like Poincarre could have shared practically the same knowledge, they just didn't.) I don't see any logical reason to believe it was any different for the knowledge of good and evil.

Comment Re:Theocracies (Score 1) 862

There was never a time when you could point at a parent and say "that's not a dolphin" while pointing at a child and say "that is a dolphin."

No, that is not my argument. What I'm saying is that if you plot the times when each of the ancestors of dolphins living today entered the sea, you get a huge number of events, but one of these events was the very first one. And in all likelihood, it is unique.

Similarly, if you had a time machine and could plot all cases where a human ever lit a fire on earth and where that information was not lost in the following generations, there would be one of these events that would be the first one.

Let me give a more recent example. You can pinpoint the first time someone sent an e-mail. In that specific case, the knowledge was never lost after that, and when/where it happened has not yet be forgotten. So even if the number of emails today is amazing, even if email technology was reinvented multiple times since then, even if just like for dolphins vs. non-dolphins, it's hard to draw a line between e-mail-capable computers and computers that couldn't do e-mail, there still was a first e-mail, and there still was a single computer sending that first e-mail.

Yet another example : for each child, learning how to speak takes a long time, but each dad remembers a "first word". And that first word turns a non-speaking child into a speaking child.

So I do not believe that the passage you quote condemns the scenario, on the contrary. It says we have all reasons to believe that there was a first sin. It says something more important, which is humanity and sin coincided.

Comment Re:Dawkin's is a piss poor social scientist (Score 1) 862

I got death threats from Christians for being an atheist.

There's a contradiction in the terms. To me, that sentence sounds like "Linux kernel hackers refused to share Linux source code with me because I had a Mac at home." Of course, it's possible that one particular guy who happens to be a Linux kernel hacker took a stupid stance one day, but that stance is nonetheless in direct contradiction with fundamental Linux values, namely that everybody can access the source code.

Similarly, "thou shalt not kill" means you can't be a Christian and make a death threat. You can call yourself a Christian and make a death threat. You can call yourself a Linux kernel hacker and refuse to share source code changes. In both cases, you are going nowhere.

Comment Re:Theocracies (Score 1) 862

Why do you see a contradiction? If I say "when the ancestors of dolphins returned to sea, there must have been one animal, among all ancestors of all dolphins today, that was the first one to return to the water," do you find this logically shocking? What if I say: "of all our ancestors, one of them lit the very first fire, and we then passed the knowledge from generation to generation"? Maybe fire was invented at multiple locations, maybe it was invented then lost, then invented again. But that doesn't mean there wasn't a single event that we can call "first fire" that we can use to illustrate what fire is.

Sin assumes a certain dose of humanity, enough mental agility to have both an understanding that you are doing something wrong and a will to do it anyway. That's what the text you quoted calls being a "true man". Just like for fire, it's only logical to think that, among all our ancestors, there was one who committed the very first sin. And just like the first fire can be used to reason about fire for all humanity (as in "we believe that from the very first fire, fire has been used to provide heat, cook food and as a defense against wildlife"), the very first sin has a very strong explanatory power (as in "we believe that from the very first sin, sin has caused us to lie, deceive, put the blame on others, attempt to hide what we did...")

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