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Interview with Monte Davidoff

michael posted more than 13 years ago | from the back-in-my-day-all-we-had-were-zeroes dept.

Microsoft 134

Motor writes: "The Register has an interview with Monte Davidoff, one of the men responsible (along with Gates and Allen) for the original Microsoft BASIC. So what does he think of Linux... CPRM... Python... RMS and GNU software? Great stuff."

cancel ×

134 comments

Re:thanks for the gorrilas (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#228936)

You might like to take a look at the Windows Scripting Host. It has been available for years, it's MS produced, it comes as standard with W2K (maybe others too). It is a free download from the MS website if it's not already there or on the CD. It's been a while since I used a win9x but I'm fairly sure it was also on the win98 CD.

Re:Edsger W. Dijkstra's famous BASIC quote (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#228937)

Let me get this straight. You write C++ code for 7 years without using any inheritance? I'm impressed. I suppose you use C without pointers too? Perl without regexp? HTML without tags? How about English without verbs? Do you use only the first gear on your automobile? Please, I want to know.

Re:Edsger W. Dijkstra's famous BASIC quote (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#228938)

You're my new hero.

Re:Is he a billionaire? (1)

cduffy (652) | more than 13 years ago | (#228939)

Uhh, it's perfectly possible to live independantly off $15k/yr. You may have to choose where ya live carefully (I wouldn't want to try it in the Bay Area), but I've lived comfortably off of $8k/yr before. Not that I'm not happier with my present (higher) pay -- but I had no complaints even then.

Re:Edsger W. Dijkstra's famous BASIC quote (1)

pod (1103) | more than 13 years ago | (#228941)

That's pretty close-minded. Most excellent programmers I know (yes, there are some better than me... sigh) cut their teeth programming basic. For someone curious about computers, in those days it was very easy to get into basic: it was bundled with dos, taught in (lower) schools, there were help files for it, and it's an easy language to pick up. The alternative was to buy a 'real' compiler for a 'real' language, either from Borland or Microsoft (TurboXXX and QuickXXX prespectively), unless one knew people who could get that stuff for you. And then a stack of books to be able to do anything useful. Now, I don't know how serious Dijkstra was when he made that statement, probably not very, I would hope. Otherwise it makes him seem arrogant, oh, look, lucky me, I never had to deal with basic, I started with a _man's_ programming language unlike those other losers!

It is interesting that he recognizes GNU (4)

Andy Tai (1884) | more than 13 years ago | (#228942)

For someone who was in the dark side at the very beginning, it is nice that he actually recognizes the contribution of GNU. The contrast between Bill Gates and Richard Stallman is worth noting, for this contrast is shaping what's to come in the software world.


----
"Most of you steal your software... What hobbyist can put years into programming, finding all bugs, documenting his product and distribute for free?"----An Open Letter to Hobbyists, Bill Gates, Micro-soft, 1976


"GNU... is the name for the complete Unix-compatible software system which I am writing so that I can give it away free... Once GNU is written, everyone will be able to obtain good system software free, just like air."----The GNU Manifesto, Richard Stallman, Free Software Foundation, 1985


Microsoft Windows vs. GNU/Linux, 2000

Re:Edsger W. Dijkstra's famous BASIC quote (2)

sheldon (2322) | more than 13 years ago | (#228943)

VB supports interface inheritance which is a feature of COM.

As one example virtually every MTS component you write implements Objectcontrol methods Activate, Deactivate and CanBePooled

We also usually write our external component interfaces using IDL and then implementing them in VB code.

It's pretty standard. I honestly use inheritance all the time in VB.

Exactly! (2)

sheldon (2322) | more than 13 years ago | (#228944)

I and most other geeks I know cut our teeth on BASIC back in 1982. Microsoft BASIC, Applesoft, Atari, Commodore, etc.

10 print "stuff"
20 gosub 50
30 goto 10
50 print "more stuff"
60 return

You could do some simple functions in MSBASIC, it supported a function definition which was really more of an inline macro.

Other than that, yeah it pretty much sucked for trying to do anything structured.

That all changed towards the mid 80's. There were a lot of more advanced BASIC compilers available for the Amiga, ST, PC, etc. that supported functions, subroutines, etc. without line numbers. :)

Re:I worked with Monte in a previous life. (2)

stevew (4845) | more than 13 years ago | (#228946)

Indeed - Monte is a cool guy. I know him through his Harvard room-mate that I worked with 15 years or so ago. It's funny that the guy didn't ask the most obvious question, ie.e is Monte steemed about not being a Billionaire too? Well - let's just say he's gotten over it ;-)

It's kinda neat to see a friend actually show up on Slashdot! ;-)

Re:Edsger W. Dijkstra's famous BASIC quote (1)

JAK (6169) | more than 13 years ago | (#228947)

So the next time you decide to put down VB, remember that you are deriding a compiled, object-oriented language. Java can't even claim to be that.
Well, as you pointed out, VB lacks inheritance which is generally considered one of the big 3 features it takes to qualify a language as OO. As far as being compiled, any language can be compiled, dipshit.

Re:Nice concept, what have you in mind re: executi (2)

FFFish (7567) | more than 13 years ago | (#228949)

You're incorrect, Daisy. The brain is enormously pre-wired. Who you are is, on the whole, by nature, not nurture. Shyness, for instance, can be predicted with startling accuracy *before* the baby is born, by monitoring its reaction to stimulus. Baby pre-speech gurgles and noises are wired-in, and the brain is already configured to learn language.

It's not a blank slate. There's quite a bit of structure built-in, and the entire thing is primed for learning and pattern recognition.



--

"Damnit..." (1)

Hanno (11981) | more than 13 years ago | (#228951)

"...I have to say something positive about the open source and FSF stuff or the mob will come after me and mutilate me..."

------------------

Re:Bill Gates Interview (harbinger, found) (1)

speck (29023) | more than 13 years ago | (#228954)

Yes, I especially enjoyed this bit near the top, where Gates is talking about using time-shared equipment back in junior high:

You would type the programs off-line on this yellow paper tape and then put it into the tape reader, dial up the computer, and very quickly feedin [sic] the paper tape and run your program. They charged you not only for the connect time, but also for storage units and CPU time. So, if you had a program that had a loop in it of some type you could spend a lot of money very quickly. And so we went through the money that the Mothers Club had given very rapidly. It was a little awkward for the teachers, because it was just students sitting there and zoom! -- the money was gone.
Rented software, anyone?

Re:Bill Gates Interview Pretty Good Too (2)

mav[LAG] (31387) | more than 13 years ago | (#228955)

It is. My favourite quote from billg:

In fact, they thought there wasn't enough work to go around, so they kicked me off. I said, "Look, if you want me to come back you have to let me be in charge. But this is a dangerous thing, because if you put me in charge this time, I'm going to want to be in charge forever after."

I don't think that desire has diminished one smidgen with time...

The first pirated copy of M$ software? (1)

Van Halen (31671) | more than 13 years ago | (#228956)

Fascinating read. From the article:

We went around the country in this big van, big blue van, they had, with these machines starting up user groups and demonstrating things. Actually, before we even shipped BASIC, somebody stole the demo copy out of the van and started copying it around and sending it to different computer clubs.

I wonder if that was the first ever incident of software piracy? ;-)

Re:Bill Gates Interview Pretty Good Too (1)

spudnic (32107) | more than 13 years ago | (#228957)

I found it interesting that in the list Intel processors preceding the 8088 was the 404. A coincidence, or a prediction of where it will all end up?

Re:Is he a billionaire? (3)

spudnic (32107) | more than 13 years ago | (#228958)

I really don't think that's the point. It appears that he was just a part time employee working on a project during two summers.

We aren't told that he decided to take the high road with his career and not try to become filthy rich.

He did his job and went on with his life.

Re:Edsger W. Dijkstra's famous BASIC quote (1)

jmauro (32523) | more than 13 years ago | (#228959)

The same thang can be said about perl.

Re:thanks for the gorrilas (2)

jfunk (33224) | more than 13 years ago | (#228960)

That wasn't nearly as fun as changing a single variable to make Nuclear Gorilla!

In my mind, having a language, even BASIC, plus example source code in the OS distribution was a very good thing and I was sad to see it disappear. It wasn't long before I was exclusively Linux.

You can't even script in Windows without third-party tools. That's pretty pathetic.

Re:All Programming Languages Suck! (3)

James Lanfear (34124) | more than 13 years ago | (#228961)

The algorithmic approach to software construction is the primary reason why software sucks.

Which is unfortunate, since algorithms are one of the fundamental concepts in computing. I'd love to hear how you intend to replace the whole of computer science with an algorithm-free alternative.

And it's all because of the algorithm.

And physics. If we could get rid of physics it would be a lot easier to keep planes in the air. Actually, the common element seems to be time -- physics supplies it and algorithms consume it. I suggest we stop using time immediately.

Well consider this: The reliability of software is inversely proportional to its complexity while the reliability of the human brain improves as it gets more complex.

When was the last time you found a worm with Alzheimer's, or schizophrenia, Tourette Syndrome? I have yet to a bug so depressed as to leap beneath a shoe to to be squished. (You could -- and I might -- argue that those don't count a defects, since, e.g., schizophrenia could very well be the correct state for some people's brains, given their genetics composition, but I could just as easily say that Windows should crash given the crappy code that goes into it.)

The most obvious difference between software and the brain is that the former uses sequential algorithms whereas the latter is based on parallel streams of signals.

Which are provably equivalent to sequential and parallel algorithms, barring a gross violation of the laws of physics. In fact, if you accept ANNs as reasonable abstractions of real neural networks, I have a book on the topic right here.

A signal-based system is more reliable because it makes it possible to have strict control over the timing of events. By contrast, one can never be sure when an algorithm will be done, and this creates all sorts of timing problems.

I'm sure this would come as a surprise to hard realtime systems and neurons alike.

It is no secret that hardware is inherently parallel and driven by signals.

Try directly implementing an algorithm in your choice of fundamental fields. Note the reasons why this doesn't work.

I just remembered who you are, and grew very tired, so I'm going to watch TV. Have fun changing the world.

Re:William betrayed and murdered Bill. (2)

Zurk (37028) | more than 13 years ago | (#228962)

clued in ones usually :
[1] get bored easily.
[2] dont care about the business aspect.
[3] dont like to support the same product for n years after they write it.
[4] detest marketing deadlines and budgets.
[5] prefer working in small groups or alone
[6] move on to more interesting things. raking in money doing nothing is really boring. trust me on this one.

Re:Bring back GWBasic! (1)

HydroCarbon10 (40784) | more than 13 years ago | (#228963)

I've still got the original floppy, and the manual. I learned programming from the function dictionary in the manual. That manual will forever be placed in an esteemed position in my library (a 90 degree turn of my head is all it takes to view it right now), for it got me interesting in programming. I lost my social life during middle school to that book. Ah, the memories....

Re:Is he a billionaire? (2)

jazman_777 (44742) | more than 13 years ago | (#228965)

Guess what sparky, money isn't everything. :) I would rather make my salary of ~$15,000/year and be very happy with what I do. Then make insaine ammounts of money and not be happy. I am pretty sure he likes what he does.

Why do we always assume that rich people are unhappy? Is it a way of expressing our envy, and since we aren't that rich, well, at least _I_ am happy, because he surely can't be! But then, you did mention you had the chance, and turned it down.

Maybe rich people are happy making money, just in the pure pursuit of it. Having it doesn't do it, because these guys just keep making more, it seems. Maybe I'm not rich because making money doesn't make me happy, so I don't pursue it with gusto. And I can't imagine lots of money making me happy. I've seen lots of miserable poor folk, too. I can tell you one thing: I sure do like being comfortable a whole lot more than being poor, which I've been.
--

Re:Interview (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 13 years ago | (#228966)

If you want to get ogg vorbis supported I suggest you get it included by default in the xmms source release, or at least make the ./configure script stop if you dont have the ogg vorbis libs on your system. Also getting it included in Red Hat and other distributions would be a good idea.

Now it's clear! (5)

dimator (71399) | more than 13 years ago | (#228970)

"It had to run in 4k. In fact the 8k version had algorithms that were more efficient but that took up more space. By the time the 4k BASIC was done, the 8k version was out."

So, they began doubling memory requirements starting with their second ever software release, and they've continued until this very day!!


--

William betrayed and murdered Bill. (1)

pete-classic (75983) | more than 13 years ago | (#228971)

That whole interview was kind of weird.

Reminded me of Obi-Wan talking about Anikin with that far-away look in his eye.

"He wasn't always a hulking metal monster, you know?"

Anyway, why is it the clued in one who dissapears from the scene?

-Peter

Re:Bill Gates Interview Pretty Good Too (2)

fanatic (86657) | more than 13 years ago | (#228972)

That was supposed to be a 4004.

--

Re:William betrayed and murdered Bill. (1)

cot (87677) | more than 13 years ago | (#228973)

"Anyway, why is it the clued in one who dissapears from the scene? "

Dunno. Ask Woz.

Re:Is he a billionaire? (off topic) (2)

sustik (90111) | more than 13 years ago | (#228974)

> Why do we always assume that rich people are
> unhappy?

On the contrary. I think that money can make people happy. However it seems it cannot make them satisfied.

(I have heard this too: money cannot buy love but
it can rent a lot of sex.)

Matyas

Re: Happiness (1)

stu72 (96650) | more than 13 years ago | (#228975)

shamelessly stolen:

Happiness is not getting what you want, Happiness is wanting what you get.

Re: Happiness (1)

stu72 (96650) | more than 13 years ago | (#228976)

Actually, scratch that, it was more like:

The secret to happiness is not getting what you want, it's wanting what you get.

much better.

Re:Edsger W. Dijkstra's famous BASIC quote (1)

naoursla (99850) | more than 13 years ago | (#228978)

The quote refers to Basic, not VisualBasic. Basic consisted of a bunch of numbered instructions. There were no functions or parameters - not to mention classes. Just numbered labels and goto statements. The closest it had to a function was gosub - which pushed the current line onto a stack and let you return from it. My memory is a bit fuzzy, but I am pretty sure that you didn't even have local variables. Everything was global. It did not lend itself to structured programming and it took a change in thinking to switch to a language like C.

Re:Edsger W. Dijkstra's famous BASIC quote (1)

L. J. Beauregard (111334) | more than 13 years ago | (#228979)

He's trashed Basic, APL, Cobol, Pascal...granted, at least the first three had it coming big time. Shoot, is there even one programming language that meets with Mr. Dijkstra's approval?
--
Ooh, moderator points! Five more idjits go to Minus One Hell!
Delenda est Windoze

Re:Is he a billionaire? (1)

salimma (115327) | more than 13 years ago | (#228980)

In an ideal world there would be no billionaires :) This coming from someone coming from one of those countries with devalued currencies where most upper-middle class people are billionaires...

thanks for the gorrilas (1)

DrSkwid (118965) | more than 13 years ago | (#228981)

Hey dood, I really enjoyed those big monkeys throwing bananas at each other.

Thanks.
.oO0Oo.

Re:Is he a billionaire? (2)

RevAaron (125240) | more than 13 years ago | (#228982)

Exactly. It's possible. Maybe not in the valley or some other all-around-incredibly-expensive place. I make about $11k/year (including school loans as simulated income- just humor me) and I pay for school + a new computer a year + all food + all rent (over priced place too). That's including school. Take that out of the equation, and I live pretty comfortably on $7k/year. If I was making $10/yr (no school included), i could also be paying for health insurance (if my pt job didn't offer it) and a fat retirement fund.

Innovation! (2)

Jagasian (129329) | more than 13 years ago | (#228983)

Ahhh, yes, Microsoft's innovative version of Moore's Law.

Re:Edsger W. Dijkstra's famous BASIC quote (2)

joto (134244) | more than 13 years ago | (#228984)

I know of lot's of good programmers that started with Basic. If you can't learn to program after having learned Basic, you weren't cut out to be a good programmer anyway.

A much more likely explanation for the phenomenon would probably be that stupid people are attracted towards Basic, while clever people soon realizes they need to learn something else, and doesn't remain in the Basic camp for very long.

Anyway, the Basic Djikstra talked about has almost nothing in common with e.g. Visual Basic that would, well, probably not make Djikstra happy, but at least not make him physically ill (oh wait, that was another language).

Edsger Djikstra is a person that deserves respect. It is just too bad that this stupid quote is what people remember of him!

Re:Interview (1)

chez69 (135760) | more than 13 years ago | (#228985)

Ogg vorbis comes with redhat 7.1

Re:Edsger W. Dijkstra's famous BASIC quote (1)

styrotech (136124) | more than 13 years ago | (#228986)

Until AmigaBasic came along wheeeee.... (even if it was written by MS and very buggy - a forerunner of VB no doubt)

Bill Gates Endorses "Open Source" - sorta (2)

The Breeze (140484) | more than 13 years ago | (#228987)

The funniest thing is the very well-written Bill Gates interview that is linked to at the end -
Have lots of people read the code so that you don't end up with one person who is kind of hiding the fact that they can't solve a problem. Design speed in from the beginning. A lot of things that have helped us, even as the project teams have become larger, and the company has become a lot larger than it was. It is not some methodology where there is a lot of funny documentation. Source code itself is where you should put all your thoughts, not in any other thing. So, our source codes, all though there are a few exceptions, tend to be very well commented in a very structured way.
- Bill Gates, Interview with David Allison of the Smithsonian.

Re:All Programming Languages Suck! (1)

BitwizeGHC (145393) | more than 13 years ago | (#228988)

I'm sorry, but your argument is pretty flimsy. If I had mod status I'd slap you with a "Flamebait" as this is the kind of silliness that characterizes Scott Nudds and other famous trolls. Software is a concrete representation of a mathematical formalism. I'm a Scheme hacker, and part of this language's beauty is the fact that it takes this concept to extremes, being closely associated with the lambda calculus (where EVERYTHING is a function call). Now, based on your conclusions here, this means that programs written in functional languages like Scheme, Haskell, etc. must be the most unreliable... they abstract the entire problem domain into a series of algorithms that invoke each other (and often themselves)! And talk about timing problems... many LISP/Scheme development environments support interpreted code intermingled with compiled code!

In reality, you will discover the opposite: software that employs a functional approach is usually not only extremely reliable, but can reach levels of complexity that staggers most proponents of the Pascal school of thought.

I suspect that you pulled this timing argument out of the same orifice from which Alex Chiu derived his famously stupid "all humans are magnets" nonsense. Algorithms are not concerned with the timing of events, only with the results of the operation. Software can wait around forever for the results, but fails when the results are not what were expected. That is the source of a lot of software reliability and compatibility issues. Timing is an issue when it comes to execution speed, but for most algorithms the time of execution is knowable, and there are algorithmic analysis procedures that software developers go through to improve the speed of their programs; i.e., if algorithm A produces the exact same results as algorithm B but with a tenfold speed increase, we can improve our speed by using algorithm A. (Again, algorithms are concerned with results, NOT timings!)

As for space probes and air traffic control systems, that's what real-time systems are for. The code that runs these real-time applications is usually extremely reliable and coded to run in given time constraints.

What you are describing exists to a small extent in systems like Smalltalk, but overall what you are proposing would introduce the same kinds of problems that led to the development of the all-purpose, stored-program computing machine in the first place, so we're back where we started.

Re:Halloween Documents (2)

BitwizeGHC (145393) | more than 13 years ago | (#228990)

He's a zealot, and sometimes I think we need guys like him in order to change our perspectives every now and then. Slashdot is full of free software softies. And when a Mozilla story runs, half of 'em talk about how they boot IE in VMware 'cause it's the only decent browser anymore...

Bill Gates Interview Pretty Good Too (5)

xp (146294) | more than 13 years ago | (#228991)

The Bill Gates interview linked at the bottom of the article is actually pretty good. I recommend it highly.

Become a better stock trader with PeakTrader [peakprogramming.com]

Re:GNU/BASIC (1)

Traxton1 (154182) | more than 13 years ago | (#228993)

If anyone needs the old skool gwBasic for DOS, I have it :) Brings back so many memories. I can remember my first calculator program now...

Re:All Programming Languages Suck! (1)

rmst (157328) | more than 13 years ago | (#228994)

Teehee.

We need plug-compatible components and message-based communication between objects

When you get right down to it, at least as I see it, computers process instruction after instruction. Now, here's what dict.org's 'Free On-Line Dictionary of Computing' calls an algorithm, in part:

algorithm
A detailed sequence of actions to perform to accomplish some task. Named after an Iranian mathematician, Al-Khawarizmi.

So, even if we use these objects that communicate via message passing, it's just a facade over the real algorithmic execution that's occuring. But then, this isn't meant to be serious. Entertaining though. Exactly how, do you propose we would write software without languages? And message passing, how is that different from function calls? Oh yeah, it's not! Don't worry, you get a cookie...

Re:Edsger W. Dijkstra's famous BASIC quote (1)

Pinball Wizard (161942) | more than 13 years ago | (#228995)

well, you got me there. Yes everything is inherited from IUnknown.

However, lil ol' me(who, incidentally writes many COM components in C++) doesn't program giant component models(as of yet), having only done little 100,000 line web projects. I personally have never needed to use inheritance, and unfortunatly, although you've shown me a good example of what, don't say why.

Re:Edsger W. Dijkstra's famous BASIC quote (2)

Pinball Wizard (161942) | more than 13 years ago | (#228996)

yeah, well I just got done looking at a book - Interactive UML Developent with VB 6.0(sorry, no link) The forward was written by Grady Booch, who actually praised VB as a language.

Yes, in 1982 BASIC was pretty crippled, however its current incarnation only lacks inheritance to be a full OO language(this can be worked around from what I understand, however in my 7 years as a programmer I still haven't seen a truly valid reason to use inheritance). Inheritance will be a feature of the next version of VB.

So the next time you decide to put down VB, remember that you are deriding a compiled, object-oriented language. Java can't even claim to be that.

Halloween Documents (5)

krappie (172561) | more than 13 years ago | (#228997)

He mentions how Microsoft is spending a lot of money trying to fight opensource ideas. This is funny, because I just read the Halloween documents for the first time yesterday, and I would like to point out a peice of it from section one [opensource.org] . I think it is a perfect indication of what Microsoft is doing, from the words of Microsoft themselves.
Open Source Process

Commercial software development processes are hallmarked by organization around economic goals. However, since money is often not the (primary) motivation behind Open Source Software, understanding the nature of the threat posed requires a deep understanding of the process and motivation of Open Source development teams.

In other words, to understand how to compete against OSS, we must target a process rather than a company.

{ This is a very important insight, one I wish Microsoft had missed. The real battle isn't NT vs. Linux, or Microsoft vs. Red Hat/Caldera/S.u.S.E. -- it's closed-source development versus open-source. The cathedral versus the bazaar.

This applies in reverse as well, which is why bashing Microsoft qua Microsoft misses the point -- they're a symptom, not the disease itself. I wish more Linux hackers understood this.

On a practical level, this insight means we can expect Microsoft's propaganda machine to be directed against the process and culture of open source, rather than specific competitors. Brace for it... }

Re:Is he a billionaire? (1)

SnapperHead (178050) | more than 13 years ago | (#228998)

Umm, not even close. I have been living on my own for 6 years now. My GF makes another $20,000/year. So, the 2 incomes make it liveable. I don't have to worry about retiredment time, its been done takening care of since I was born ...
until (succeed) try { again(); }

Re:Is he a billionaire? (1)

SnapperHead (178050) | more than 13 years ago | (#228999)

"I'm a programmer, not an English teacher"


until (succeed) try { again(); }

Re:Is he a billionaire? (1)

SnapperHead (178050) | more than 13 years ago | (#229000)

VB programmer ?! Where did you come up with that one ?! I would recommend takening a look at the URL in my .sig
until (succeed) try { again(); }

Re:Is he a billionaire? (2)

SnapperHead (178050) | more than 13 years ago | (#229002)

Guess what sparky, money isn't everything. :) I would rather make my salary of ~$15,000/year and be very happy with what I do. Then make insaine ammounts of money and not be happy. I am pretty sure he likes what he does.


until (succeed) try { again(); }

Re:Is he a billionaire? (2)

SnapperHead (178050) | more than 13 years ago | (#229003)

Also, another thing to look at is that money changes people and the orginal ideas seem to get lost. I have witness this many times in the past.

To be completly honest, my family owns the largest wood working shop on the east coast. I had the option to take over the business, I declined. My reasons where that my family is very Cut Throat, very gready, and will do anything to screaw over another family member. This is not a joke, its very serious. Sure, I could have made boat loads of money, but I would have suffered every single day.

I have had many people in the past disagree and say, "Man I would have just done it!". You can't even begin to understand it unless your put in that postion. So, all in all, money isn't everything. Yet, its nice to have.


until (succeed) try { again(); }

Great (5)

mickwd (196449) | more than 13 years ago | (#229005)

Monte on Python

Re:Bring back GWBasic! (1)

Delirium Tremens (214596) | more than 13 years ago | (#229007)

The 1983/1984 version is there [fortunecity.com] .

Edsger W. Dijkstra's famous BASIC quote (5)

Delirium Tremens (214596) | more than 13 years ago | (#229008)

"It is practically impossible to teach good programming style to students that have had prior exposure to BASIC: as potential programmers they are mentally mutilated beyond hope of regeneration."

-- Edsger W. Dijkstra, 1982, Selected Writings on Computing: A Personal Perspective [amazon.com]

... A quote that didn't age one bit ;-)

Re:Bill Gates Interview Pretty Good Too (1)

_ph1ux_ (216706) | more than 13 years ago | (#229009)

this is interesting from the gates interview:

And it was really his insight that because of semi-conductor improvements, things would just keep getting better. I said to him, "Oh, exponential phenomena is pretty rare, pretty dramatic. Are you serious about this? Because this means, in effect, we can think of computing as free." ( he is talking about paul allen)

but the interesting thing is that he makes it sound as though he and paul realized MOORES LAW first. Egomaniac.

Refreshing (2)

wrinkledshirt (228541) | more than 13 years ago | (#229011)

Remarkable guy. He didn't try to sell us anything. Considering he was involved in a project that still exists in a rapidly enhanced form (BASIC), it was neat to see him treat his accomplishment there as historical, and get with the times in terms of modern day alternatives to learning languages (regardless of whether he's right or wrong in his choice of Python...).

Re:Interview (and technology / society comentary) (5)

hillct (230132) | more than 13 years ago | (#229012)

Agreed. Interesting interview but I would be interested to hear more about Davidoff's take on CPRM. CPRM is frightening as a technology, but I'm not suprised at it's introduction.

Davidoff touches on this only periferally, but CPRM is another example of a society responding to technology, rather than adapting to it or making efficient use of it.

Please bear with me as I rant for a moment:

It's vary interesting to watch as society (as seen threough legislation that defines that society) scrambles to catch up with technology, where a half century ago, we drempt of what it would be like in the 21st century where we'd have flying cars and other astonishing technologies. I whonder if anyone - as part of the dream - envisioned tire manufacturers joining the enviromental lobby to put together legislation to prevent the introductions of cars that didn't roll along on tires.

The MPAA isn't the only industry association to be staunchly protecting a business model that doesn't apply in a new milenium. Look at how long it has taken for gasoline-electric cars to be introduced. Even today, there are only a few out there. The technology exists, and it works but hasn't been widely adopted. What oil company would be in favor of such a technology?

According to Davidoff:
CPRM, is just the most notorious, or the most emblematic of a number of schemes that make the open personal computer into an limited and tightly-controlled playback device. Controlled, effectively, by the entertainment industry

...

"I don't think people are aware of it, in spite of what you and others are writing about. It hasn't made it into the public consciousness," he says. "I didn't hear about the DMCA until after it had been passed."
This is yet another eample of the same phenomenon. Most disturbind, is that he's completely correct, the public is simply unaware of many of these issues.

In the 1950s we were dreaming of new technologies, without concern for how sociaty would react. Now, we have - then unimaginable - new technologies (although no flying cars yet) but society is fighting introduction of those technologies. New areas of law are created efery day as new problems are created, adressed, then others created. We need progressive lawmakers with insight into these technologies to make far more informed decisions. This, however is the catch-22. There will not be lawmakers who can make informed decisions with regard to a technology, unless that technology is widely available, such thet they are familiar with it, and yet, if archaic law is what is preventing the technology from proliferating through society, we will have created for ourselves a techno-evolutionary cul-de-sac from which itwill become increasingly difficult to extricate ourselves.

--CTH

--

Re:Is he a billionaire? (2)

einhverfr (238914) | more than 13 years ago | (#229013)

Support Open Source, remain a lowly software contractor. Demand payment for your product, become the world's richest man.

We shall see how sustainable the software licensing model is-- apparently Microsoft must have some doubts about this because of their move towards a service oriented model.

I think that this interview was interesting... I always admire mathematics coders because of the absolute beauty of mathematical computation (I use math functions whenever I can to solve seemingly non-mathematical tasks because I have cfound these solutions to be more efficent and extensible).

I think his comments also about the impact of the GCC are also interesting. I had know it was influential but I was not familar with its impact on the embeded impact.

Re:Is he a billionaire? (4)

einhverfr (238914) | more than 13 years ago | (#229015)

After 20+ years, who cares how sustainable it is? Gates & company now have enough dough to get into any business they want.

Sure. However, if you want to get into the industry now or in a couple of years, this is an issue. How can you build a stable company in an ever changing industry on non-sustainable business practices?

Where does Microsoft make most of their money? OEM sales and upgrade cycles (both the same, mostly-- people upgrade their machines by buying a new one all too often). As hardware becomes more powerful, the upgrade cycle becomes longer. Can they sustain their profits?

Obviously not-- hence the service oriented model they keep saying they are moving towards.

Get over it. THere will never be another Bill Gates in the software industry. You cannot be like him, nor can anyone else. THe opertunity is over for that kind of success.

I think that proprietary software will always be around but will probably be relegated to niche roles (don't expect an open-source version of OrCAD any time soon).

Also note the emphasis in the interview on RMS's academic background. It doesn't suprise me that an obviously intelligent programmer here is supporting free software.

Also note that the essnece of making a fortune is not "licensing fees" it is "other people's work." This is true regardless of what one sells. So yes, I think that it is possible to make a lot of money in the OSS market, and that oportunity is slowly beginning to surface, but it will be a little whil before anyone does so.

The Future of Computing (2)

azizu (240440) | more than 13 years ago | (#229016)

I thought this Comment from Bill Gates regarding the future of computing to the DA's question was VERY ACCURATE and ahead of his time. I was impressed!!!

The Future of Computing

DA: You mentioned your vision of where the PC will be on every desk and in every home. You clearly have had a vision about the kinds of products that would come out and yet you said a minute ago, "This is just the beginning." What do you see as lying ahead in terms of further unfolding of the vision that you have held onto so continuously over the last 20 years?

BG: Well, the PC will continue to evolve. In fact, you'll think of it simply as a flat screen that will range from a wallet size device to a notebook, to a desktop, to a wall. And besides the size of the screen, the only other characteristic will be whether it is wired to an optic fiber or operating over a wireless connection. And those computers will be everywhere. You can find other people who have things that are in common. You can post messages. You can watch shows. The flexibility that this will provide is really quite incredible. And already there is the mania in discussing this so called "Information Highway" which is the idea of connecting up these devices not only in business, but in home, and making sure that video feeds work very well across these new networks. So we've only come a small way. We haven't changed the way that markets are organized. We haven't changed the way people educate themselves, or socialize, or express their political opinions, in nearly the way that we will over the next ten years. And so the software is going to have to lead the way and provide the kind of ease of use, security, and richness that those applications demand.

Re:Interview (2)

iomud (241310) | more than 13 years ago | (#229017)

This is a compelling argument and one which can partly be addressed by supporting open source gpl technologies like ogg vorbis [vorbis.com] , which effect both Windows and non windows users. It's interesting to me that now sonic foundry [sonicfoundry.com] is supporting vorbis in their music creation suite acid 3.0. Probably because it dosen't cost them anything to do but it will aid in the proliferation of ogg vorbis as a viable replacement to proprietary patented file formats (mp3). CPRM scares me deeply at the hardware level, I can only do what's in my power to not advise the purchase of anything that comes close to CPRM in hard disks etc.

Write and tell them you don't like CPRM (1)

kriemar (247929) | more than 13 years ago | (#229018)

WRITE INTEL:

http://developer.intel.com/software/security/con ta ct.htm

Re:Halloween Documents (2)

daniel_isaacs (249732) | more than 13 years ago | (#229019)

..it's closed-source development versus open-source. The cathedral versus the bazaar.

It is that point which RMS seems to get, and hammer (and hammer, and hammer..) into our thick skulls every time he opens his mouth/text editor.

Re:Is he a billionaire? (2)

mikethegeek (257172) | more than 13 years ago | (#229020)

"Guess what sparky, money isn't everything. :) I would rather make my salary of ~$15,000/year and be very happy with what I do. Then make insaine ammounts of money and not be happy. I am pretty sure he likes what he does."

Know what you mean... I'm working as a R&D tester for a company that is a BIG Linux supporter, in an area (Raleigh, NC) where there are TONS of high paying IT jobs. I make less than I could, but I get to work with 4 different Linuxes (and both SCO Unixes), and it's really satisfying.

By the end of summer, I hope to achieve my RHCE and take a purely Liunux position as a network engineer/BOFH for someone.

Nice concept, what have you in mind re: execution? (3)

localroger (258128) | more than 13 years ago | (#229023)

The problem with "signal-based systems" like the brain is their inherent chaos -- which I mean in the strict mathematical sense, as in Mandelbrot et al. While this can make them very useful it also makes them fundamentally unpredictable, a characteristic which bean counters don't like.

One reason AI research isn't going anywhere is that we are failing to face up to an important truth about how brains develop. Since they program themselves, starting with really very little seed information, most of their observable properties are emergent. The same would be true of any artificial system that really mimics the brain. The reason we don't have good AI isn't that the hardware isn't good enough -- I think it is, at this point -- it's that nobody wants such a system. Imagine educating your self-driving car for six years only to find out it's become a chance-taking rebellious delinquent!

You mention "message-based communication between objects" as if those objects will somehow know how to talk to one another. Clue time: They don't know how to talk to one another until they learn. And they learn through experience. Sometimes their learning is imperfect, and it can be very difficult to recognize the holes in that learning. We don't even know how to reliably program our own children, much less an air traffic control system that will differ significantly from all known types of brain, animal and human.

The newly formed brain is every bit as blank as the newly powered-up dynamic RAM chip -- anybody with an ounce of objectivity can look at the 7 Gb genome vs. the 10 ex 14 connectivity of the cerebral cortex and figure that out. Do you really want to go into the cyber day-care business, teaching your machine to speak english and habla the espanol and so forth the same way human babies learn it? Of course not. Since that's what it takes to do it the way you mention, it won't be done that way.

At least, not by most people (sly grin).

Re:All Programming Languages Suck! (1)

MOBE2001 (263700) | more than 13 years ago | (#229024)

The non-GPL version of what you're talking about is called many names: COM, OLE, Javabeans, VB, Corba...

No. They all suck, especially COM and OLE. They suck because they are all based on the algorithm. One of the problems with algorithmic components is that, even is they are tested and proven to work reliably in one environment, there is no guarantee that they'll work the same way in another environement. Why? because that is the bane of algorithmic systems: event timing varies from one system to another. By contrast all hardware chips retain their temporal signatures wherever they are used.

Re:All Programming Languages Suck! (1)

MOBE2001 (263700) | more than 13 years ago | (#229025)

So, even if we use these objects that communicate via message passing, it's just a facade over the real algorithmic execution that's occuring.

Parallelism can easily be simulated in software. I do it all the time. For example, his is how neural networks work. The trick is to hide the sequential nature of the processor by using two lists one for input signals and one for output. Once you get to that level, you're got a signal-based system. Ideally, the only algorithm that should exist in a processor-based system is the single function that runs the message-passing operating system and processes the primitive objects. In the future when we have fullly reconfigurable memory, we'll get rid of the function altogether.

All Programming Languages Suck! (2)

MOBE2001 (263700) | more than 13 years ago | (#229026)

It's not just BASIC. All programming languages are based on 200 year-old ideas pioneered by Lady Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage. They all have one thing in common: the algorithm.

The algorithmic approach to software construction is the primary reason why software sucks. Software sucks because it is unreliable and takes too long to develop. The invention (again by Lady Ada) of the subroutine, although a great contribution when it was introduced to digital computers in the last century, did not prevent the current software crisis. Planes loaded with people are crashing, airports are shut down and Mars probes costing hundreds of millions of dollars are being lost. And it's all because of the algorithm.

Why the algorithm you ask? Well consider this: The reliability of software is inversely proportional to its complexity while the reliability of the human brain improves as it gets more complex. There is an important lesson to be learned from this. The most obvious difference between software and the brain is that the former uses sequential algorithms whereas the latter is based on parallel streams of signals.

A signal-based system is more reliable because it makes it possible to have strict control over the timing of events. By contrast, one can never be sure when an algorithm will be done, and this creates all sorts of timing problems. It is instructive to note that hardware is orders of magnitude more reliable than software. It is no secret that hardware is inherently parallel and driven by signals. I an convinced that a similar approach to software construction can improve reliability by several orders of magnitude.

So there you have it. I call for the elimination of the algorithm as the basis of software construction. I call for a worldwide effort by geeks everywhere to contribute ideas for the establishment of signal-based software construction methods (GPLed, of course). We need plug-compatible components and message-based communication between objects. We need reliable, downloadble components that can snap together at the click of a mouse. No more function calls! No more languages!

It is about time that software is changed from the cottage industry that it is today and moved into the 21st century. Let's face it, Lady Ada and Charles Babbage were true geniuses and we owe them a great deal, but they did not have to write code for interplanetary probes and air traffic control systems.

Re:Is he a billionaire? (1)

Dancin_Santa (265275) | more than 13 years ago | (#229027)

I'm sure your parents wouldn't be too happy.

"You're 45 years old. Your father and I can't support you your whole life, you know!"

"But mom... I'm so happy making $15,000 a year doing what I do. Can't you be happy for me?"

Something tells me I wouldn't be bringing presents to your abode.

Dancin Santa

Re:Is he a billionaire? (1)

Dancin_Santa (265275) | more than 13 years ago | (#229028)

Actually, I wasn't sure what he was talking about in regards to gcc and embedded systems either. It would have been nice if he had fleshed out what he thought the impacts of gcc were. *shrug*

Dancin Santa

Re:Is he a billionaire? (1)

Dancin_Santa (265275) | more than 13 years ago | (#229029)

Gotcha! Thanks, +1 Informative, I'd mod. Can anyone spare a mod for Ayende?

Re:Edsger W. Dijkstra's famous BASIC quote (1)

Dancin_Santa (265275) | more than 13 years ago | (#229030)

in my 7 years as a programmer I still haven't seen a truly valid reason to use inheritance

You like those controls and ActiveX and OLE objects that you can stick to your VB apps? Those REQUIRE inheritance. While it may not be visible to you, someone's using inheritance (and polymorphism and the rest of OO stuff) to bring these controls to you.

Dancin Santa

Re:All Programming Languages Suck! (1)

Dancin_Santa (265275) | more than 13 years ago | (#229031)

The non-GPL version of what you're talking about is called many names: COM, OLE, Javabeans, VB, Corba...

Bring on an Open Source development environment as productive as VB!

Dancin Santa

Is he a billionaire? (5)

Dancin_Santa (265275) | more than 13 years ago | (#229035)

Support Open Source, remain a lowly software contractor. Demand payment for your product, become the world's richest man.

Decisions, decisions.

Dancin Santa

We WILL disable it (1)

MulluskO (305219) | more than 13 years ago | (#229036)

We broke the DVD encryption, we crack software that has cd checking. If this becomes a standard, we will cross the right wires and set thing right again.

We're too determined to let something like this exist without a challenge.

Re:Is he a billionaire? (1)

MulluskO (305219) | more than 13 years ago | (#229037)

And you are how old? 75? 80?

I N F L A T I O N

Re:Is he a billionaire? (1)

MulluskO (305219) | more than 13 years ago | (#229038)

I agree, Bill will never has to worry about being short of... Bills.

Re:The first pirated copy of M$ software? (1)

MulluskO (305219) | more than 13 years ago | (#229039)

Upon dicovering the missing software Bill turns to Paul and says, "That's it! We've lost the respect of the power-users forever!"

Monte Davidoff... (1)

Ayende Rahien (309542) | more than 13 years ago | (#229043)

The one who left before they became famous...

Re:Is he a billionaire? (1)

Ayende Rahien (309542) | more than 13 years ago | (#229044)

That when people has to write to embedded system, they don't have to write their own compilers, they take GCC, modify it, and use it.
Big help in saving money.

Re:Bring back GWBasic! (1)

nyteroot (311287) | more than 13 years ago | (#229045)

hahaha.. this may be offtopic but i love your .sig but to hell with light earth gravity, drop it somewhere where it'll really make a crunch, say saturn or something.. hehe

His Take On Python (1)

statusbar (314703) | more than 13 years ago | (#229046)

Interesting that he likes Python.

Now, what I WANT is a Python that fits in 16K bytes. If basic was possible in 4K, why not?

Funny thing is that I was JUST thinking about how tight the old basic interpreters were (apple II, II+). I'd like to use something like python in very tiny embedded controllers.

--jeff

Re:wtf (1)

tuxlove (316502) | more than 13 years ago | (#229047)

+5? what the hell are you talking about previous life? christ this post is lame!

I.e. a previous job. Troll.

I worked with Monte in a previous life. (5)

tuxlove (316502) | more than 13 years ago | (#229048)

I worked with Monte in a previous life. We were never on a project together, but had lots of water cooler interaction and that sort of thing. Played him at checkers once and won, which is surprising because I suck.

There were rumors about his past with good ol' Bill, but I never bothered to ask. It's funny, now that I haven't seen him for several years, to see his past highlighted in the article. The stories I heard about his past seemed unlikely for someone like him (i.e. a reasonably normal guy without obvious riches).

Don't get me wrong. Monte is a cool guy. Nice, friendly, smart and all of that. But to imagine him as one of the first 10 or less at MS is weird to say the least. Obviously he never got the riches out of it that the rest of them did. He always drove around in an ancient Honda Civic with faded and peeling paint. He had a relatively isolated position (in charge of development tools) in our relatively obscure company. Don't know much about his personal life, but I think he took Karate lessons. You could always count on him to ask the pointed, annoying question of the speaker at company meetings. It was inevitable, and they would always look for him in the crowd to get the questions out of the way.

Not the mover and shaker one would associate with the other founders of MS. I wonder if he's sorry he didn't stick around long enough to become a billionaire. If you're reading this Monte, "Hey."

Re:Bring back GWBasic! (1)

npongratz (319266) | more than 13 years ago | (#229049)

Sure, it may have taken 200 lines of code to make a window, but rememeber the kind of satisfaction you got out of it?

Um...Ok...I learned programming on GWBASIC and BASICA (IBM) back in 1990 and ended up doing quite a bit of programming with it. I never remember any kind of satisfaction from making a window. It was a DOS interpreter. Unless you're talking about peeks and pokes, GWBASIC never provided methods for doing that!

Re:William betrayed and murdered Bill. (1)

LaminatorX (410794) | more than 13 years ago | (#229052)

There's a particularly sad part of the interview where he talks about how being able to explore and discover on your own is such a wonderful way to learn. How many organs do you have to hock to see the WinSource?

Don't mock this great pioneer. (1)

Flying Headless Goku (411378) | more than 13 years ago | (#229056)

Wasn't he the guy who wrote the Altair game they based Circus Atari on?

Man, could he optimize. That code flew.

I wonder if he's reimplemented it in his new favorite language?
--

Think about it... really hard... (1)

Flying Headless Goku (411378) | more than 13 years ago | (#229057)

I was wondering about the existence of Monte's Python Circus that Flies.
--

Re:Is he a billionaire? (1)

Tech187 (416303) | more than 13 years ago | (#229058)

You should be going to school, not working at an operator-level job. If you love the tech, don't settle for a lowly position. Get an engineering degree, so you can get deeper into it. You won't regret it later, nor do you have to do it 'for the money.'

Re:Is he a billionaire? (1)

Tech187 (416303) | more than 13 years ago | (#229059)

There are many, many good proprietary compilers for embedded work. Most of them are darn good tools. It's a myth that everybody uses GCC in the embedded market.

There are even a number of other 'free' C compilers for embedded chips out there. The world does not revolve around GCC.

Re:GNU/BASIC (1)

Tech187 (416303) | more than 13 years ago | (#229060)

There's already bwBASIC [ic.ac.uk] which is GPL'd. It's written in C and builds on all the free Unices.

Re:thanks for the gorrilas (1)

Tech187 (416303) | more than 13 years ago | (#229061)

Visual C and Visual Basic aren't third party tools. They aren't thrown in with the OS, of course. But they're not that expensive

If you really want expensive tools, you want Solaris (the free download doesn't include ANSI C) or any of the other proprietary Unixes. Price the C compiler for Digital Unix (the Dec Alpha OS that Compaq has now renamed some god-awful thing) sometime. Or the C compiler for HP-UX. (HP-UX itself has a $995 per seat license cost, without any development tools).

There's a reason GCC is popular on those platforms, and it has a lot to do with price.

Re:Bill Gates Interview (harbinger, found) (2)

Tech187 (416303) | more than 13 years ago | (#229062)

We did that paper-tape-storage programming back when I was in High School. In about 1975. I don't remember there being any expensive time limits, but each job run did report how much CPU time it had consumed, and you COULD run your account out of time. The big expense in our terminal room (we had two teletypes, a CRT display and a 'fast' 300 baud Texas Instruments thermal paper terminal) was the termial paper for the fast terminal. I can remember the instructor saying 'ten cents a foot! don't waste paper!' So we mostly settled for the 110 baud teletypes and fought over the CRT display (also 300 baud).

Re:Is he a billionaire? (1)

chemical55 (446280) | more than 13 years ago | (#229063)

Yea, come to think of it I can be a billionaire too...in Italy that is. Or perhaps Turkey.

Bring back GWBasic! (1)

reposter (450888) | more than 13 years ago | (#229065)

GWBASIC IS AND WILL ALWAYS BE THE ONLY GOOD PROGRAMMING LANGAGE EVER!!!

Sure, it may have taken 200 lines of code to make a window, but rememeber the kind of satisfaction you got out of it?

Back in my day, we had to fill up 5000 lines a day, just to make minimum wage. When the non-basic programs came out, our company had to be downsized. I had my best friend. Shortly after, I had to hire someone new just to fire myself.

Bring back GWBasic!

P.S. Would anyone who actually has a copy of it email it to me? I can't seem to find it anywhere, and I'm not going to learn a new language, especially an inferior one like C#.

Intresting side point (3)

WhtDaUWant (451060) | more than 13 years ago | (#229066)

There is a link in the article that is even scarier - http://www.theregister.co.uk/content/2/15718.html - everyone should see this and take note. It discuss "the end of the PC" although a little pessimistic and morbid it has alot of relevnt points especially from who it is coming from. Something needs to be done please if anyone has any ideas of how this could be prevented please something needs to be done so this Does not happen

Interview (5)

WhtDaUWant (451060) | more than 13 years ago | (#229067)

I though that this was an excellent interview. It brough to light some scary stuffas far as PC's go. One of the questions i had on it was how will CPRM effect people who dont run windows? Is really going to end up being ignoredable by programs? After all the entertainment industry has gone to trouble to get it in the door. The next step if it was ignored by programs would be enforcing it in hardware instead of software. Digital fingerprints are all ready being implemented by Napster, it isnt that hard to take advantage of that at all. Really scary stuff.
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