Thoughts and Rants
The GNU Project
Random Thoughts and Rants
Slashdot discussion - November 29, 2002 There was a discussion on Slashdot recently about concept programming. This prompted a severe update of the web site. This is still work in progress. Please write to me about changes you'd like to see on the site.
Becoming a One Idea Man - November 27, 2002 I realized that I've recently started doing something that I avoided before: repeating myself, over and over. This is not an effect of aging. Rather, it is the realization that, to get an idea through, you need to repeat it. So I've started repeating the concept programming ideas, and then repeating them again, and again, and again, to various people.
It is a very strange feeling in a sense, because I was used to changing interests all the time. As soon as I had found a solution, I would move on, trying to open new territory to discovery, blazing a new trail. So I would talk to people about new-and-oh-so-interesting problems, not the solutions that I had found so far.
But guess what? People are not very interested in problems. They want solutions. So now I need to backtrack on all the new territory and trail that I've covered during a few years, and to make people discover it. And that means repeating the basics, the way to my nice little newfound land. So repeat after me: "Concept programming is a very simple idea: program code should represent application concepts..."
Mobbed by the Scientific Elite - November 5, 2002 There is an interesting thread going on right now on the sci.physics research newsgroup. It is interesting because it is an example of people outside of an expert group getting mobbed for no real reason, just a vague rumor... So the big guy talks (John Baez in that case, also known for the entertaining crackpot index), and everybody follows like lemmings, with remarkably little good taste at times. So far, anything that looks like non-vacuous pseudo-informed chit-chat about the bad state of science journals has to be found somewhere else. This is overall really sad.
The Cassiopaea discussion
Update:Maybe this isn't sad after all. As seen there:
A most marvelous event has recently transpired in the ivory towers of science: It has been admitted - in a rare moment of self-reflective honesty - that most physicists not only do not really read each other's papers - they can't.
Shameless plug: Relativity for Dummies...
Capitalism killing the goose with the golden eggs - October 14, 2002 - There is an interesting register at The Register. Quote:
Put simply, Wall Street celebrates efficient distribution: it doesn't reward innovation. [...] Financiers are now under greater pressure than ever to get return on investments, faster than ever, because now they get their asses kicked in real time. That, in a nutshell, is why the world seems poorer and more reductive than ever. Dumb money makes for a dumb culture, and tech is no exception. [...]
you really have a new generation of finance capitalists that can't, or won't understand the fact that technology innovation requires a long pregnancy. [...] So in turn the young genii celebrate what they know brings rapid returns: commoditized distribution models, such as Dell.
(This is a polite way of saying that finance capital has raped every tech idea it's encountered recently, then hyped it into oblivion - only we're just too damn nice to say so).
MacOS - Death of The Last Modern Operating System - October 6, 2002 - Many of you probably heard that, starting next year, Apple will no longer ship systems that boot MacOS 9. When this happens, MacOS 9 will be demoted from "Operating System" to "Compatibility Application". This marks the end of the last truly modern operating system...
Let me explain. Apple has been touting MacOS X as a "truly modern" operating system, because it has protected memory, preemptive multi-tasking, and a few other niceties. But that's buying a definition of "modern operating system" that Microsoft invented when they launched Windows NT. "Modern", in the generally accepted definition, would rather mean "designed recently." And by that definition, MacOS 9 was the most modern of the remaining operating systems, now that BeOS, AmigaOS and a few others are no longer.
MacOS was designed from scratch in the early eighties. By contrast, all Windows variants can all be traced back to mid-seventies CP/M, and that's why you still call your hard disk "C:". Similarly, Linux, BSD and MacOS X itself all inherit Unix design decisions made in the late sixties, such as identifying the type of a file using part of its name (naming a text file "This is not a .jpg" is a problem for Unix and Windows, but not for more modern designs such as MacOS or BeOS.)
But there is more to modernity than age. Under the hood, MacOS was very modern for a variety of reasons, not only the fancy GUI. The most influencial design decision, as far as operating systems are concerned, was introducing the concept of "toolbox". Credit the Xerox Star for inventing the GUI if you want, Apple still made it, and many other services, accessible to applications, through the "MacOS Toolbox", as it was first called. They designed their OS as a wide collection of interconnected services, not as a minimum core of disconnected "system calls", as was considered good OS design back then.
As a matter of fact, except for the rather weak process scheduling and memory management, MacOS pretty much defined what makes a "modern" OS today: networking, "plug and play", printing support, graphics drivers architecture, meaningful (aka "long") file names, color matching, sound and music processing, video and multi-media, CD-ROMs, wireless networking, desktop expansion bus (from SCSI to ADB to USB to Firewire)... all of these might not be part of any "modern" operating system today if it weren't for Apple.
Apple decided to kill MacOS 9. From a business perspective, this was probably a wise decision. But I sure will miss my long-time OS of choice. RIP MacOS, you served us well.
Programming as an Art Form - September 17, 2002 - I've always thought of programming as an art form. Obviously, it's a very special art form, because there is a lot of money involved. So it's a bit as if music could generate tons of money, not only for a few major labels, but for every single little company that hires musicians. There would be orchestras everywhere, generally of mediocre quality, and music lovers or talented artists would be dwarfed in numbers by those who simply saw an opportunity to make a decent living.
The Free Software community is this big orchestra that music lovers decided to do for themselves, for the love of the art, rather than for the money. Is it really a surprise if it makes some of the most beautiful music there is today?
Slashdot and Religion - September 12, 2002 - There was recently an interview of Larry Wall on Slashdot, where Larry exposed his view on being a Christian. I can't say that I've been totally impressed by Larry's exposition of faith as a couple of qubits, frankly. But then, there was this comment. And it just made my day. Below is the whole quote:
The point of Christianity is to accept Jesus as your personal saviour and Lord. This is the most important part -- Jesus will save you, and in doing so He's going to change the way you live your life. If you don't change, you don't believe -- it's that simple. Many people understand the saviour part -- but most forget the part that you have to accept His control over your life.
The point the original poster was trying to make is that your salvation is not dependant on performing good works -- it's dependant on accepting Jesus, and allowing Him to change your life.
Christianity is about a life change -- not a fire insurance policy.
Thank you joshki, whoever you are.
Copyright Christophe de Dinechin
First published Feb 17, 2000
Version 1.11 (updated 2002/12/02 17:07:04)