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Comment Re:We NEED Processor Competition (Score 1) 331

One of the silliest things about the multi-chip cards is that each chip needed its own instance of texture data... So you could have a Voodoo 5 with 64MB of memory onboard, but you were limited to less than 32MB of texture memory. Then they announced the Voodoo 5 6000, which was going to have 4 chips and 128MBs of RAM, but each chip was still limited to 32MB. A very poor use of RAM chips.

Comment Re:Feminist ideology (Score 1) 715

I have to agree. It's seen as offensive to even suggest that there might be intrinsic differences in the brains of men and women. We're not even talking about differences in aptitudes, but rather differences in natural inclinations (i.e.: men may have more of a tendency to want to "build stuff"). We already know that men and women's brains have slight physiological differences, several studies have confirmed it. Anyone can also observe that male and female animals behave somewhat differently without being taught to do so. Yet we, as a society, want to deny the possibility that this could apply to humans too.

Engineering is portrayed as a sexist, male-dominated field that is hostile to women. Yet, don't you think the same could have been said of medicine and law just 50 years ago? Women somehow took their place in those fields, and now make the majority of med school graduates. How come the same thing never happened with engineering? Is it because engineering was so much more male-dominated, more arrogant and more hostile to women than medicine and law, or could it simply be that women are less interested in entering the field?

I was raised by a single mother who knew nothing of computers. I had no daddy or other relative to interest me in those things. I only had my passion for machines. I taught myself C++ programming using only my PC and the internet when I was 16. Nobody could have stopped me from pursuing this interest. Young girls, today, are free to pursue this interest as well. From what I can see, not many of them are doing so.

Final disclaimer: I'd like to point out that average differences between men and women doesn't mean women can't be interested in computers. There will always be individuals who differ from the norm. I'll be honored if any daughter of mine wants to know about my trade and skills. I just don't think that less women in engineering is society's fault.

Comment Re:Very few women drive bin lorries. (Score 1) 715

Because feminists don't think that would advance their cause. Female doctors, lawyers, CEOs and engineers, high-prestige positions, they care about. Jobs seen as "simple" or without prestige, they care less. I don't see anyone complaining about the fact that most psychology and nursing schools have 90%+ female students. Every once in a while you see someone mention that boys are doing worse than girls in school, and that 60% or so of university students are female, but nobody ever does anything about it.

Comment Re:Still readying the artical but... (Score 1) 472

This. If you look at the bodies of men and women, nearly every organ has slight gender-based differences. Men usually have more muscle, bigger lungs. Women have less/no facial hair, more round faces, etc. This is normal. Evolution made us that way because in nature, males and females fulfill different roles, and we are adapted for these purposes. Why is it that people assume men and women's brains are identical for both genders when every other organ is not? Because this is a touchy topic. Because we're trying to be politically correct and not offend anyone.

If anything, the brain is one of the most crucial organ to differentiate between both genders, as it directly controls our behavior. The fact is, as StikyPad said, studies have shown that there ARE differences in the brains of men and women, which makes absolutely perfect sense. It also makes perfect sense that men and women would have different preferences for certain tasks. This doesn't make either inferior. It doesn't mean women have to be locked in the kitchen and men kept away from babies. It means maybe *on average* men prefer engineering and women prefer medicine and psychology. Note that I said *on average*. Every human being is different on more than one level.

Now, lots of people will say that if women aren't more in engineering, it's because of the mean evil misogynistic nerd men who are already there, and pushing them out. I beg to differ. Medicine used to be 100% controlled by men. It was a men's field. Women were perceived as incapable of doing it. It was a misogynistic field par excellence. Yet women MADE THEIR PLACE in medicine and now women almost dominate it! There are more female medicine students than male! Women seem to like medicine, and they proved they were capable of doing it. Soon, male doctors might well be the minority... And that's fine. Nobody complains about it.

Back to engineering. I studied computer science at McGill, in Montreal, a very liberal Canadian city. This university prides itself on acceptance. Women were the minority, as they had always been in the field, but the ones who were there seemed generally happy. The guys would have liked nothing more than additional female students. They just weren't joining the program. Furthermore, the women who were in CS, at least all the ones I met, were always more on the mathematical side of things. They all seemed to generally dislike coding and avoid it as much as possible. Could it be that there's something engineering-y about coding that women usually tend to like less? Could it be that the mathematical side of computer science tends to appeal to women more?

I think it's a shame we can't openly talk about these possibilities without being labelled sexist. Shoving our heads in the sand and pretending women and men are exactly the same on every level isn't scientific. It doesn't match everyone's daily life experience... And it isn't what feminism should be about either.

Comment Re:It's not just the paren, it's the order (Score 1) 425

>> If you actively want function scoping then you and I are going to have very different ideas about what constitutes a good programming language. I'd say that you're probably in the minority on this one as well; C, C++, Java, Ruby, Python, none of them have function scope.

I think you misunderstood me. I don't think it's a good idea for blocks not to have their own scope. However, in C++, as in JavaScript, it's not a problem to declare variables at any point within a function (e.g: in the middle of the function body). I much prefer to declare variables when I need them rather than being forced to predeclare them at the top of the current block. Essentially, I with that, in Scheme, you could write a define anywhere in a function, and it would add a new variable to the current scope. I wouldn't be foolish enough to suggest removing the let forms, and the scoping would still be static.

>> Well, there are a bunch of Lisp and Scheme variants that target the JVM, such as ABCL. But yeah, until recently the speedy Lisps have been CMUCL and SBCL, which compile to native code rather than using a JIT in the VM. I think that's because it's pretty recent that VMs using JIT have started to be viewed as offering acceptable performance. (And on Slashdot, you'll still find a lot of people who dispute even that, and still believe in static native compilation as the only way to get fast code.)

I know that the JVM has been trying to add features to make it more suitable for dynamic languages, but I still don't believe it is. To get high performance, you need to be able to do code patching, on-stack replacement, run-time code generation and other low-level tricks that the JVM will never allow. I think that the best for LISP-like languages would be to use a JIT that compiles to machine code. What Chrome and Firefox does for JavaScript would be impossible with an ahead of time compiler.

Comment Re:It's not just the paren, it's the order (Score 1) 425

>> Most languages lack convenient ways to create local variable declarations without nesting the whole thing in a code block. In fact, JavaScript lacks a convenient way to create local variable declarations without using an anonymous function.

What I meant is that in JS you can declare a new variable at any point in a function by writing "var foo = ...". In Scheme, the only way to do that without a let block is to write a bunch of defines at the beginning of a function, and initialize them to some bogus value, so that you can redefine them later. It's a small detail, but it already gets in the way of imperative programming a little.

>> Well, it's true that Guile has horrible performance [utah.edu], even compared to other Scheme implementations'; but then, JavaScript had pretty horrible performance until Google and Mozilla started putting serious effort into speeding it up.

I'm working on dynamic language optimization for my Ph.D. thesis (of JavaScript, more specifically). I can tell you that alot of the same techniques could be applied to Scheme and other LISPs. One unfortunate issue is that the functional community has been rather disconnected from the imperative programming world, and they seem to be unaware of much of the optimization techniques developed in the world of SELF, etc.. That, or nobody in the LISP world bothered to really put the work into a proper optimizing JIT.

Comment Re:It's not just the paren, it's the order (Score 1) 425

I was writing some Scheme code recently for a personal project... I came to the same conclusion. I wrote alot of the code in a sequential form. That wasn't so bad. Function bodies have an implicit begin and end. It became annoying, however, because Scheme lacks convenient ways of creating local variable declarations without nesting the whole thing into a let form.

Another issue was the complete lack of a useful standard library. No hash maps, no sorting function. Even the most basic string functions were lacking. If I'm not mistaken, the Scheme spec doesn't even specify a way to get the numerical code for a character... And then the performance of the code I'd written (pretty straightforwardly) was abysmal.

Comment Re:Just wondering... (Score 2) 273

Just like there's alot of heat all around us on earth, which is kinetic energy. Not a physicist, nor an engineer, but I think we have no way to harvest energy unless there is a potential difference between two nearby locations. To get power from a nuclear reactor, for example, you need to use the heat to turn water to steam... However, this would't work if the entire environment around the reactor was already at 2000 degrees, and the water was already superheated steam. Same with a stirling engine, you need a temperature difference, so that you can harvest the energy transfer that occurs between the different potentials.

It should be said though that solar cells are akin to harvesting radiation in space. It's just that the radiation you harvest happens to be in or near the visible spectrum. I don't think the wattage of the invisible radiation in space is anywhere near as "bright" as that of visible, UV and infrared light, though.

Comment Re:Born to Fail (Score 1) 62

I think that the ideal compromise might be a combination of a VM (e.g.: Java, .NET or NaCl), some object sharing/serialization protocol (like CORBA or even just JSON), a distribution system (like an app store) and some low-level APIs.

Imagine if webpages were not made of HTML+CSS+JS+Images and a bunch of other files, but instead just code. You go to some URL, and each page is an app, that can run in its own window (or even spawn multiple windows). You wouldn't have to install anything, you just go to the URL, it gets downloaded and run. You could give some apps special privileges (e.g.: local file system access, webcam access) if you trust them enough.

The difference with the current web is that the apps wouldn't be constrained by HTML, HTTP, or any of those. Code wouldn't have to be written in some fixed language. It would just have to compile to the VM's low-level language. The VM could expose some low-level APIs for things like file-access, but, in my opinion, they should be kept simple (lowest common denominator) to ease portability. Right now, the JS APIs are way too complex because they're intertwined with the insane complexity of the HTML DOM, which seems unstandardizable.

What I describe sounds alot like Java applets I guess, but without being forced to be part of a browser, and with some low-level API to connect to the server, and perhaps faster loading times.

Comment Re:Altruistic, but unrealistic (Score 1) 62

Um, let's see...You're talking about the company that:

1. Refused to adopt POSIX standards.
2. Has its own calling conventions for C/C++ incompatible with the GNU ones.
3. Released Direct3D to try and kill OpenGL.
4. Actually had people on the OpenGL board trying to actively stall its development.
5. Tried to release J++ to compete with Java.
6. Maintained its own Java VM for years, slightly incompatible with Sun's.
7. Released C#, to compete with Java.
8. Opposed open document formats.
9. Released it's own API to compete with both CUDA and OpenCL.
10. Has had the least standard compliant web browser for years.

Those are only the cases I know about, but yeah... Sure... Judging from their track record, they'll adopt these web APIs right away... Microsoft loves interoperability...

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