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Comment Re:Exciting (Score 1) 85

Unfortunately, 3D printer materials are generally not very strong, and have very poor dimensional stability at warmer temperatures. A 3D printed version of most vacuum parts would not last long, I suspect. That said, some things can be printed as fully functional parts, and even if it isn't good for a long term part, quick prototyping with a 3D printer is amazing. And making that available to more people, and cheaper, is great.

I think 3D print materials are something like $0.30/gram (and a little less for the support material which gets thrown out); add to that printer time and it could be a while before distributing parts via 3D printer can compete with, say, injection molding if you are distributing significant quantities of the same part.

I suppose printed parts will get better with time. There are companies out there that make very good parts with SLS quickly (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Selective_laser_sintering); you can even SLS titanium.

Comment Re:spread via RTF?! (Score 1) 85

The RTF format doesn't support macros or any sort of scripting. Some RTF parsers are still vulnerable to buffer overflow attacks due to bugs in that particular software, so even with no embedded scripting in the RTF format arbitrary code can be executed as the parsing process.

As far as the need, I think macros in office products are justified. It's probably less useful in a document, but there are some very useful purposes for a macro in a spreadsheet. The key is, those macros need to be controlled to work in a limited sandbox (in the same way that javascript executing in a browser does). The problem comes when people fail to maintain the sandbox, either by poor choices or through bugs.

Comment Re:Going against the grain... (Score 1) 569

I can definitely second learning assembly. In my sophmore year of college, I borrowed an AVR (8-bit RISC processor) development board from one of the labs in my school, and learned to program it in assembly. Prior to this, I didn't have a real understanding of what the compiler did, or how my code was actually executed. Learning assembly was really a computing revelation for me.

Admittedly, I am an EE and generally work at a lower hardware level than I think the poster is imagining, but I think it is worth while none the less. My suggestion is take a simple 8-bit processor (AVRs are great! Check out avrfreaks.net) and get a $50 dev board (or even simulator), and learn on that. If you try to do assembly on an x86, I think you will be overwhelmed.

Of course, even doing embedded systems, I don't write anything in assembly (I use C or C++, some C# and perl for PC side things). And you certainly won't either. But understanding it makes you see the code you are writing differently. Plus, its often useful when debugging to be able to view and understand the disassembly (OK, this doesn't apply so much for something like C# or java).

Many of the current commercial languages belong in toyland. They are designed for programmers who really don't have any idea about managing resources efficiently.

A few years ago, I didn't think I would ever say this, but I love C# for all of the PC utility applications I tend to write. You are right, many languages like this are not particularly run-time efficient, but they are fast, easy, and powerful for development.

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