Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?
DEAL: For $25 - Add A Second Phone Number To Your Smartphone for life! Use promo code SLASHDOT25. Also, Slashdot's Facebook page has a chat bot now. Message it for stories and more. Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 Internet speed test! ×

Comment A Very Old Performance Problem, Mostly Forgotten (Score 3, Interesting) 266

In 1973 or 1974 I was the systems programming manager at the National Academy of Sciences after our IBM mainframe had been upgraded to the first version of the OS supporting virtual storage. And many programs, mostly Fortran programs, were running much slower than they used to. The problem was two-dimensional arrays and how they were initialized and searched. If you're looping through the wrong subscript in a big array, you cause a page fault every time you increment it. Flash storage makes that a much smaller problem than it is with disk drives, but I'm sure most programmers today have no idea that this problem exists or how to handle it.

Comment Propaganda (Score 1) 360

When I turned 16 in 1962 I spent some of the first money from my first job on a shortwave radio and discovered Radio Moscow. Most of what they broadcast was pure propaganda, but it did teach me that in some areas, other points of view were valid. The U.S. government did nothing to stop it in 1962, and now it wants to spend $160 million over two years. I could see spending money to make it harder to find ISIS sites, but Russian fake news is in a different category. Maybe it really does pose more of a danger than ISIS sites, but it's a very different kind of danger. The only thing clear is that propaganda can't be stopped. It's just a matter of degree.

Comment API Re-use (Score 1) 357

The first time I re-used an API was in 1968, to implement job accounting on an IBM 360/40 running IBM DOS. Their is a huge amount of prior art to re-using an API. To read accounting info added to Job cards, I had to intercept the job card and process it myself before then handing it off to the next step of processing.

Comment I cloned IBM's APIs in the late 1960s. (Score 1) 210

Back in the late 1960s and early 1970s, many of IBM's mainframe APIs were public and cloned regularly. One of the first reasons was to perform Job Accounting, i.e., charge for the run of batch programs based on some combination of userid, account number, CPU time and clock time used, etc. For instance, if a Job card was processed by an API in module jobctla.exe, we would rename that IBM module to jobctlx.exe, and write our own jobctla.exe. In our module, we would simply pass on the the API calls we didn't want to process in any way and for those we did want to process, we would do our own processing and then hand the call off to the renamed module. Rewriting APIs was an easy way to do pre-processing of commands.

Comment Re: Oracle (Score 1) 146

Back in the early 1970s, as an IBM mainframe systems programmer, I copied APIs to add functionality. E.g., the program that read JOB cards was JOBCTLA. If I wanted to extract accounting info from the job card, I would rename the IBM module to JOBCTXA and replace the original with my own version. It would do what I wanted, and then call the IBM version.

Comment Prior Art goes back to the 1960s (Score 1) 303

FWIW, in the late 1960s and early 1970s is was common to replicate some of IBM's APIs in its DOS and OS operating systems. That was a standard for modifying system behavior. A simple example that I remember was writing renaming IBMs main job control routine JOBCTRLA to something like JOBCTLA2 and writing your own JOBCTRLA which would usually call JOBCTLA2 after it was done with its additional processing but might not. This was how job accounting was first implemented, i.e., reading additional info off job cards to determine who was to be charged for the job.

Comment A Very Old Reason to Copy APIs (Score 1) 198

Most APIs are not unique. In most cases, the same API structure is used for many other purposes in other programs. But back in the late 1960s there was another reason to copy APIs, and that was to replace the module using it. In a simple example, assume a program called jobctla.dll that has a single API. I might have renamed jobctla.dll, with it's single API, to jobctlax.dll, and then replaced the original with my own jobctla.dll that did something new and eventually passed the same API parameters to the old jobctlax.dll. One common example of this was in early job accounting routines, where I would parse out additional account numbers, user ids and other info in a job card before it was passed on to the original job control processor.

Comment Wallingford's Perspective Might Not Be Right (Score 1) 735

Around 1983, in a meeting with Dr. Ted Hoff, the architect of the first microprocessor at Intel, the 4004, he gave me a perspective on ideas that has stayed with me. He said. "Everyone has ideas. It's only the people who can make something of them that count." From 1989-1999 I ran a software company and my employees used to come to me with great ideas for what the company should do next. Most of these were software developers. I told them that I couldn't commit the resources the idea needed, but I would give them all the leeway I could to make something of the idea themselves. And they hardly ever did. Programmers have software ideas. Non-programmers have software ideas. Some of each group will succeed in implementing them, but very few.

Submission + - Best IT-infrastructure for a small company 2

DiniZuli writes: I've been imployed by a small NGO to remake their entire IT-infrastructure from scratch. It's a small company counting 20 employees. I would like to ask the /.-crowd and gather some experience and knowledge from you — what worked out best for you and why? I came up with a small list:
Are there any must have books on building the IT infrastructure?
New desktops: should it be laptops (with dockingstations), regular desktop machines or thin clients? A special brand? Ubuntu, Windows or?
Servers: We need a server for authentication and usermanagement. We also need an internal mediaserver (we have thousands of big image and videofiles, and the archive grows bigger every year). Finally we would like to have our webserver in house. Which hardware is good? Which setup, software and OS'es have worked the best for you?
Network: We are redoing everything: routers, schwitches, wireless, authentication — even the wiring. Which setup do you think is the best for a small company?
Which backup solutions do you use?
Since we are remaking everything, this list is not exhaustive, so feel free to comment on anything important not on the list.

Submission + - apple being culturally insensitive ?

lampernisse writes: every iTunes user regularly gets to accept new 'terms and conditions' — usually with each new version. now, i live in belgium, where we have a two thirds majority of dutch speakers (to which i belong) and a one third minority of french speakers, but in belgium iTunes presents the new conditions only in french — with a (non working) link to an hypothetical dutch version. many mail exchanges with apple over several months could not correct this situation. i would like to know if apple is behaving in such a culturally insensitive way in other countries, and — for instance — what would US customers think of being forced to accept binding legal terms in a minority or foreign language they don't understand ? and are such terms and conditions even legally binding if offered only in an unknown language ?

Submission + - Is Google Polluting the Internet?

Pickens writes: "In 1998, Larry Page and Sergey Brin made a promise: "We believe the issue of advertising causes enough mixed incentives that it is crucial to have a competitive search engine that is transparent and in the academic realm." Now Micah White writes in the Guardian that the vast library that is the internet is flooded with so many advertisements that this commercial barrage is having a cultural impact where users can no longer tell the difference between content and advertising and the omnipresence of internet advertising constrains the horizon of our thought. And at the center of it all with ad space on 85% of all internet sites is Google, the world's largest online advertising company. In the gleeful words of Google CEO Eric Schmidt, "We are an advertising company." The danger of allowing an advertising company to control the index of human knowledge is too obvious to ignore, writes White. "The universal index is the shared heritage of humanity. It ought to be owned by us all. No corporation or nation has the right to privatize the index, commercialize the index, censor what they do not like or auction search ranking to the highest bidder." Google currently makes nearly all its money from practices its founders once rightly abhorred. "Now it is up to us to realise the dream of a non-commercial paradigm for organising the internet. Only then will humanity find the wisdom it needs to deal with the many crises that threaten our shared future." We have public libraries. We need a public search engine."

Submission + - Google Wave creator joins Facebook (delimiter.com.au)

daria42 writes: Looks like the Sydney-based creator of Google Wave wasn't too happy with Google after the search giant canned his project in July. Lars Rasmussen, who also created Google Maps, has quit Google and is now rumoured to have joined Facebook. Wonder what he'll be doing there?

Slashdot Top Deals

We warn the reader in advance that the proof presented here depends on a clever but highly unmotivated trick. -- Howard Anton, "Elementary Linear Algebra"