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Comment Compiling PL/C cost "money" (Score 1) 230

In 1975 at "The" Ohio State University on an Amdahl 470 coding PL/C , a horrible "teaching" language version of PL/I that auto corrected syntax errors. That meant that the errors you got on compilation were not the errors you coded, but the ones the compiler added for you. Lots of fun.

Anyway, when you started a class you were given an account with a certain amount of "money". Money was required as each compilation "cost" a certain amount of cash to compile and run. The more resources you used (not just CPU time or memory but also things like disk space ) the more you had to pay. If your account ran dry, you couldn't run any more jobs. You had to go beg your TA for more money so you could finish your programs. This of course affected your grade.

I will never forget sitting in the hallway of the computer center watching the monitors for when my job ran, literally praying that the damn thing would run this time and running to the A-Z mailbox for my output to see if I got what I was looking for.

Submission + - C++ & the STL 12 years later. What do you think now?

profBill writes: A recent "This day on Slashdot" asked a question about C++ and the STL and what people thought about it all way back in 2002. Well, its 2014 and C++11 is well out there with C++14 on its way.

I teach a second programming course in C++ with a heavy emphasis on the STL (containers and generic algorithms). I just wondered what people think about the situation today. Personally I think C++11 has cleaned up a lot of problems, making it easier to use, but given all those who work with C++ for a living, I wondered what they thought today as compared to then. Are people using C++11, does it matter at all?

Love to share the responses with my students! They are always curious about what practitioners are doing these days.

Comment Re:1 year now and it's been great (Score 1) 312

Good question. Actually I had the sitting desk already so it was kind of natural to keep it .For example, when I'm meeting with people it is convenient to sit and talk.

However, I have to say that when discussing code, it is really nice to be standing as it is easier to gather around the screen with others and look at things. I'm a prof, so this is great for teaching a couple of people at once.

Also, I had some extra money at the end of a semester and bought a muvman stool. It is really great . The center post sits in a stiff ball-and-socket joint at the bottom and allows you to move around while you kind of sit/lean. Only thing is the price.

Comment 1 year now and it's been great (Score 1) 312

I got a standing desk about a year ago and it has been great. I have a pretty small office and manage to fit in a standing desk and a small, "sitting" desk. Coding/writing when standing is actually pretty good, but you do get tired at which point you sit down for awhile. I have a simple setup with a laptop so if I sit I can still work. While standing you just naturally move around, shifting your weight etc. so you get some constant movement in. Some tips:
  • get a good, solid standup desk, one you could lean on. There's a lot of cheap crap out there. Mine is a 4'x3' wood top, lots of space. Something like this but not this
  • get one that's adjustable. There are all kinds of weird things out there (motorized for example), but mine has a simple crank to set the height. It isn't clear for awhile what the height should be and you should be able to adjust it.
  • get a standing mat. I just picked one up a Sears like this but you can get one anywhere. This made standing a lot easier. In the beginning, my feet hurt much more than anything else

By the way, I'm 57 and have had operations on both knees. Not a problem.

Comment Re:In my day... (Score 1) 632

Graduated HS in 75, ditto on never seeing one in school. However, one of my buddies older brother was an electronics hobbyist and he built an IMSAI that we got to play with. The keyboard was scary, a board with delicate little stubs for each key. Storage was cassette tape, which was slow as hell. However, the brother had an account at UC (Cincinnati) and an acoustic coupler modem (150 baud). We played the original Adventure over that crappy hardware and I don't think I ever had so much fun. I can still remember the time, in total frustration, I attacked a dragon and responded "yes" to the question "with your bare hands?". I got the response "Congratulations! You have just vanquished a dragon with your bare hands! (Unbelievable, isn't it?)". I was basically hooked at that point.

First real programming experience was my junior year of college, running PL/C on cards on an Amdahl at Ohio State. Now *that* was quite an experience. Each program cost money to run, and you got a certain amount at the beginning of the quarter to do you work. Had to beg the TA if you ran out. Waiting at 2am for your job to come through. PL/C would "fix" your compiler errors, generating errors for code you never wrote!

God I'm old. Oh yeah, get off my lawn

Comment Sending my children to college (Score 1) 651

I committed when I had my children that my responsibility would be to put them through college. I am a college professor and I see student after student go through college and come out the other end with an enormous, really crippling, debt. It was different in my day. I paid for more than half of my college, but I could make that kind of money when I was a kid working (very hard) during the summers. I know people work their asses off to pay for college, and some do it despite the difficulty, but it is a Herculean effort. I felt that when I had them it was my responsibility to get them through college and so I have.

Anyway, that meant that this year was around $35K (two in this year). I have a small, crappy house and really old cars, but I'm close to being finished (as are they) and I am looking forward to getting some of that money (for travel, for a decent car, to enjoy life a little).

Comment Re:What year is it for Voyager 1 & 2? (Score 5, Informative) 260

The relativity calculator at gives a relativity factor of 1.0000000016077795 for a speed of 17km/sec. If you multiply that all out for the approximate 33 years of travel (back of the envelope style, 33*525600*60), you get about a 1.67 second difference.

Of course, with the aliens towing in the spaceship, that might be off a bit :-)



Amazon Reviewers Take on the Classics 272

Not everyone is a fan of great literature. In particular, reviewers on Amazon can be quite critical of some of the best loved classics. Jeanette DeMain takes a look at some of the most hated famous books according to some short tempered reviewers. One of my favorites is the review of Charlotte's Web which reads in part, "Absolutely pointless book to read. I felt no feelings towards any of the characters. I really didn't care that Wilbur won first prize. And how in the world does a pig and a spider become friends? It's beyond me. The back of a cereal box has more excitement than this book. I was forced to read it at least five times and have found it grueling. Even as a child I found the plot very far-fetched. It is because of this horrid book that I eat sausage every morning and tell my dad to kill every spider I see ..."

SolarPHP 1.0 Released 125

HvitRavn writes "SolarPHP 1.0 stable was released by Paul M. Jones today. SolarPHP is an application framework and library, and is a serious contender alongside Zend Framework, Symphony, and similar frameworks. SolarPHP has in the recent years been the cause of heated debate in the PHP community due to provocative benchmark results posted on Paul M. Jones' blog."

Comment Because its premise is flawed (Score 1) 490

TiVo, in my humble opinion, is based on a fairly flimsy premise: that television is so important to watch that you are willing to spend time and money to make sure you get to watch all of some part of it. Really? Seriously, what is on television that you couldn't miss? Frankly, very little. I'm not trying to be a hater, I watch TV all the time. I just don't care if I miss something. Because whatever I miss I can find later, and if I can't I didn't miss much. It's mind candy, mostly, and we could all do with losing a little "weight".

Comment Ashes used to make something (Score 1) 793

After donating what useful items might be left, I want my ashes to be mixed with something like concrete, to make something: a garden wall that hosts beautiful flowers, a bench for people to sit on and relax, a walkway that people use to stroll on. Having a useless headstone in some remote cemetery, or a stupid urn that collects dust somewhere is wasteful, worse hubristic.

Becoming something useful, whether someone else knows that I'm "in there" doesn't really matter. At least what's left is still part of the world.


Visual Studio 2010 Forces Tab Indenting 390

An anonymous reader writes "For years, Microsoft has allowed Visual Studio users to define arbitrary tab widths, often to the dismay of those viewing the resultant code in other editors. With VS 2010, it appears that they have taken the next step of forcing tab width to be the same as the indent size in code. Two-space tabs anyone?"

Submission + - Best computer for med school

profBill writes: My son is applying for med school and his venerable Thinkpad T43 is getting a little flaky. He needs a new machine for his upcoming studies. The question is, what is the best, one computer to get someone for professional school where programming is not a big issue? His understanding is that what he needs is a machine that will allow him to watch lectures online (I guess med students can't get to all their classes regularly), write papers, do spreadsheets, read slides, do email. Pretty basic stuff. My inclination is to get the new Asus 1201n . Very portable, good battery life and enough power to do the basics. However, they are underpowered compared to a Macbook or the like. Assuming you aren't trying to do lots of games (and med students mostly aren't), what would you suggest? Real laptop, beefy netbook, even a desktop?

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