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Comment Re: People actually *like* Python whitespace? (Score 1, Informative) 339

Indentation is how you communicate block structure to a human reader. You're going to indent your code anyway, and eliminating the extra delimiters prevents the structure humans see from getting out of sync with the structure the language implementation sees. There's a perennial C logic bug where you take an if statement with a one-line body and add a second line without adding braces to denote a block; that never happens in Python.

That said, I'm happy with either syntax.

Comment Re:Ada had this in 1995 (Score 2) 262

C++ grew somewhat organically out of C. C is (IMHO) an excellent language, but its goals often differ from C++'s goals.

I won't argue with your conclusion; it's true. But a lot of what was achieved in the research and design of the '80s and '90s was achieved by burning down the software stack and starting over. (Take Smalltalk for example.) People are rediscovering those things in a context where the existing stack matters and tackling the hard work of reconciling those developments with what we already have in a coherent way.

Comment Re:Instrumenting c++ to behave like Rust (Score 2) 262

Half century? Are you counting from Algol?

That said, the cruftiness of C++ is one of the things that keeps me from bothering to properly learn it, however much I respect its newer developments. Another is that its place on the scale of abstraction isn't often a place that I need to go personally: C or Python usually makes more sense for me.

Where on that scale would you say Rust lies? Is its target use software that lies on the boundry between systems software and applications, e.g., web servers?

Comment Re: more reason for https as default for all sites (Score 1) 111

The GP's point is that if you contract with the makers of the phones, you can insert your own root certificate and make yourself a CA without anyone else signing your root cert. You'd expect third-party browsers on Android to reject the MITM though, and I doubt whether you could suborn Apple into helping you on iOS; it's possible in principle, but it looks pretty unlikely to me.

Comment Re: Sheeit, journalist (Score 1) 149

I thought the article unfairly patronized Knuth too, but it makes an interesting point -- that if the kind of history Knuth wants to see is to continue, it will have to be done in Computer Science departments. It also provides examples of other disciplines, like mathematics, that have made space for historians internally.

I'd love to see this happen, but I don't know if it's politically viable within the academy.

Comment Re: Slackware (Score 1) 303

I don't know why they still use sendmail. I wrote a sendmail configuration file once in my life: never again.

Also, you should check out the new package system if you haven't already. (It was called pkgng while in development; now it's just pkg, but pkgng is probably more googleable.) Ports still work fine, but there's been a lot of movement toward making binary packages the "cultural default" now that the tooling is better.

Comment Re:Obj-C (Score 2) 316

I wrote a toy Lisp interpreter in Objective-C, on Linux without any of the NS* libraries. It was great for that, because it gave polymorphism while at the same time letting you mess with object internals. My root class had a method that would overwrite the object's isa pointer, changing it into an object of another class, for use by the garbage collector; try that in most languages.

The basic layer is C, which is a small and relatively clean language, with a small and relatively clean Smalltalkish object model layered on top of it, with tools that let you bridge the gap when you need to do so. That's awesome. But Apple wants people to use it as an application language, and so they keep layering features and tying syntax to their runtime libraries to make up for the fact that it's a systems language at heart. Modern, Apple-influenced Objective-C is much less beautiful than the old language, though it may be more convenient for application development.

Comment Re:The FSF/GNU folks overreached with GPL v3 ... (Score 2) 99

I don't follow the compilers very closely, so my recollection may be fuzzy, but I think this is what the grandparent was getting at:

In the past some people have proposed giving GCC a clear, serializable intermediate code so that one could use GCC front ends and back ends independently of the rest of GCC. The leadership viewed this as an end run around the GPL, because whatever produced or consumed this intermediate code would not need to link to the invoked portions of GCC. Tight coupling between the front ends and back ends was therefore treated as something to be encouraged for licensing reasons.

LLVM's design by contrast centers around its bytecode. Since it has a BSD-like license the question of whether you link to the compiler's code or fork/exec it is unimportant.

Since the emergence of LLVM, it's my understanding that the GCC leadership have softened their views -- the alternative to invoking GCC in a separate process is now to use LLVM, rather than to link to GCC and release one's source code; thus purely technical concerns can determine the design of GCC also.

Comment Work the way down to no license (Score 5, Insightful) 301

It would make the most sense to require fewer qualifications as the technology becomes more proven; it could start requiring a driver's license with an endorsement and, as the cars become more capable and the kinks are worked out, go down to no license. But gradual deregulation tends to run counter to a bureaucracy's instincts and when the political process steps in it tends to do so suddenly, so I don't know if the idea would work in practice.

Comment Re:And any idiot with a soldering iron can bypass (Score 1) 765

Until I see someone cite an actual statistic of how many people are disarmed and shot with their own weapons, I'm going to continue to see these sorts of claims as hyperbole, and rightfully so.

I agree that this is a silly concern for the average citizen; for policemen it's a real concern -- in that they often have to grapple with resisting people while their sidearms are in plain sight -- and it's telling that police departments are totally uninterested in smart guns.

Comment Re:Marriage is about property and other rights. (Score 1) 564

In the old days, people would get married by the state (coiurt house or whatever) and then have another marriage in the church.

It was condensed later on.

This has never been the tradition in the English-speaking world. Some European countries have moved to this model since the nineteenth century.

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