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Nov
9
comment What's a nice explanation for pointers?
++ This is exactly how I was going to explain it. I started out in Fortran (for better or worse!). In Fortran, way back then, we used parallel arrays instead of arrays of structs (no such thing as new). If one array contained an index of "another row" in the arrays, we called it a "pointer", and this was exciting. We made linked lists, trees, you name it.
Nov
5
comment How important is the ability to touch-type?
@Nemi: I was a h&p programmer on keypunches. It was even harder on the old teletypes because the keys were so stiff. On the other hand, I've seen h&p journalists going like mad with just their index fingers. Go figure. But I'm glad I "learned" to type.
Nov
3
comment What's the most absurd myth about programming issues?
@MarkJ: Well, OK, if you insist. I'm just trying to knock folks out of their rut where they believe rather than thinking. Another think I like to say is it doesn't matter where a program "spends its time", but why.
Nov
2
comment What is abstraction?
@Jason: "If a change in one place makes you have to make multiple changes elsewhere, then your abstractions are bad." I'm with you there. I seem to be surrounded by bad ones.
Nov
2
comment What is abstraction?
OK, you get a gold star for professorism :)
Oct
27
comment What is a Ph.D. good for in the software industry?
@mlvljr: Minsky was my thesis advisor.
Oct
26
comment What is a Ph.D. good for in the software industry?
@mlvljr: I might point out that Isaac Asimov and Marvin Minsky both have Russian heritage.
Oct
4
comment Why is Lisp useful?
++ Makes sense, especially the last sentence.
Oct
3
comment I am in a rather difficult work situation. Should I stay or should I go?
Excellent question. Widely applicable.
Oct
3
comment I am in a rather difficult work situation. Should I stay or should I go?
++ Very wise, especially the part about staying in the job while you look for another.
Oct
2
comment I am in a rather difficult work situation. Should I stay or should I go?
@Bob: I'm sure you're right. I haven't worked at any (well, maybe one - a lottery business). Some were just trying to start up something that sounded good so they could sell it in a few years and go buy a yacht.
Sep
27
comment Is Java “dead in the water” as a consequence of Oracle buying Sun and subsequently suing Google
@Dean J: Well, my examples are DAO, Fortran, and C/C++. We built a product, using a 3rd-party grid control, based on DAO, and the programmers move on. Whattayaknow - MS tries to rip it out from under us. Fortran (not that I like it): try to stick with one compiler - you can't, you gotta keep buying new ones, 'cause the old ones don't work with customers' new machines. Same for C and C++. But what if I don't WANNA do .net? What if I LIKE VC? Too ****ing bad, soldier.
Sep
27
comment Is Java “dead in the water” as a consequence of Oracle buying Sun and subsequently suing Google
@Dean J: That's good. I'm thinking of how IBM used to trap people with EBCDIC and special-format punch cards, while DEC had simple ASCII-stream IO, very simple, that didn't trap anybody. Then DEC got big, and they started trying to lock people in with fancy terminals with special codes. Then I think of Microsoft, and the series of compilers, databases, etc. they try to trap people into. If Sun & Oracle are resisting the temptation to corner a revenue stream, great. I'm sure they've got marketing staff asking "Why are we doing this?"
Sep
23
comment How do you dive into large code bases?
+1 Yeah, that's what I do too, but I don't know of any way to make the job easy. In my experience, it can take weeks before I feel safe making any changes, and months before I'm "at home" in the code. It certainly helps if you can ask questions of the developers.
Sep
17
comment When should I care about performance?
++ FALSE DICHOTOMY! Will they never learn? When you find and fix a performance problem, the code is not only quicker, it's better. I only regret that I have but one upvote to give!
May
30
comment How to become a “faster” programmer?
++ If I could expand on the chair - you need to sit upright, have good lumbar support, have your keyboard / mouse down low, and your monitor up high so you are looking straight at it. The chair should support your forearms and not your elbows. Ideally it should give good ventilation to carry away perspiration.
Feb
4
comment Why hasn't a faster, “better” language than C come out?
@Pestilence: I've heard that, but I haven't seen it. I've seen plenty of C and Fortran, including lately. I haven't seen any case where the ASM that Fortran generates could not be equaled by C in the hands of a competent programmer. Maybe it exists, but I haven't seen it.
Jan
26
comment Why hasn't a faster, “better” language than C come out?
I think the idea that Fortran is faster than C is somewhat myth, depending on what's being coded and who's doing it. The reason heavyweight numeric libraries are in Fortran is not because Fortran is faster, but because the routines were originally coded in Fortran and few people have the nerve or need to re-write it. The small number of math-gurus who write and vet these algorithms are happy in Fortran and see no need to change, especially since they imagine Fortran is faster.
Sep
12
comment How to become a “faster” programmer?
... and the idea that performance works against maintainability is also another common idea that many people believe, but isn't necessarily so. This field has a lot of those beliefs.
Sep
12
comment How to become a “faster” programmer?
... I know it's counterintuitive, but that's my experience. The link I gave above is a pretty good small example of how by tuning a "pretty good" program you can make it both faster and smaller, and learn from the experience.