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Comment Useful lifetime could be coming into play here (Score 1) 764

MacBooks tend to last a lot longer than Windows machines. I'm not talking about build quality here (although that also helps) but about useful lifetime. Any MacBook or MacBook pro built in the last four years can still run the most recent OS, and is therefore good enough to run any software your university course may want you to use. This definitely isn't true for Windows laptops, and especially not for low-end Windows laptops: you'll have a hard time running Win7 on a two year old budget Dell or Acer. So a lot of these students could be using the hand-me-downs of their older siblings, parents, whatever.

Comment Re:Floating point representation (Score 1) 158

Python's new way of representing floating point numbers is only a partial solution. The bigger problem is accumulation of errors. To see this: add 10 copies of the number "1.1". Now subtract 11. The result will be tiny, but non-zero (-1.8e-15, on my machine). This is a much more serious problem than the 10.99999999999999998 representation problem.

Comment Memories of long ago... (Score 1) 322

I gave an impromptu talk at an EuroFOO conference 5 years ago about exactly this problem:

My feeling is that the basic problem is that, in open source, at most 5% of the people involved are non-programmers (read: non-geeks). And for most projects the number is probably exactly 0% of the people involved. for shareware projects it's close to 50% (half of the developer:-). For commercial projects it's somewhere in the range of 20% (small vendors) to 99% (Microsoft, big software houses).

The input of the non-geeks, while usually dismissed by us geeks as fluff, can be really, really important. Because their interested in such technical trivialities as documentation, ease of use, learning curves, market acceptance (and, yes, financial bottom line too). Those trivialities are important even to hardcore geeks when the software in question is just a tool you need to get the job done (as opposed to the labour of love you've been spending years of your life on).

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