Beta

Slashdot: News for Nerds

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Slashback: Crusher, Satellites, Silence

timothy posted more than 12 years ago | from the greetings-from-superfund-tennessee dept.

Slashback 241

Slashback with more on Wesley Crusher; overclocking new Athlons the kindler, gentler way; building silent PCs for the more ambitious; software that stinks; and more -- just read on for the details.

That fetid odor continues to rise. cconnell writes "In September, Slashdot and Developer.com were kind enough to publish an article I wrote titled Most Software Stinks!. The article generated 748 comments on slashdot, making it one of the most active stories in recent months. Here is a follow up piece I wrote which responds to some of the comments."

Silence, fool! The Panther! writes "Here's an article I wrote that shows step by step how to achieve some measure of silence in my home office. It's different from most in that it approaches damping existing hardware rather than buying new. Some ideas were suggestions of Slashdot readers from a previous article. Lots of photos for the reading-impaired." Hemos may have been going for a rather normal-looking but quiet PC, but The Panther sure isn't.

Step 39: With your dremel strapped to the hamster, gently nudge the billiard ball ... Now that the famous pencil trick isn't an option for would-be AMD overclockers, more complicated means have been found to unlock and reclock. Carlos writes: "I saw that you have a scoopage on the unlocking of the Athlon XP by Tom's Hardware and there is a better and more reversible way by VR-Zone."

200 years is a long time even for a Congressman. Michael H. writes "Woohoo! Congress has given a $30 million shot in the arm to the Pluto-Kuiper Belt mission, previously feared canceled. CNN story here. There's still no guarantee that it won't be canceled later, but at least Congress is listening to the fact that it would take ~200 years for the next window if we missed this one."

Hey, that guy's too old to be a kernel maintainer -- we'll make him an actor. bahamat wrote yesterday: "I'm hanging out in Wil Wheaton's chat room (#rfb on undernet) and he's just announced that he's going to be making a cameo as Wesley Crusher in the new Star Trek X." Apparently, the news hit quite a few readers, too -- and for those who haven't, check out our interview with Wil. Maybe he'll get to be on The Tick, too.

cancel ×

241 comments

Wesley Crusher on the big screen? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2572133)

I think I like that one better when I saw it the first time when it was called Star Wars...

COOOOOOOL (1)

Niksie3 (222515) | more than 12 years ago | (#2572144)

Wesley Crusher is my favorite character!!!!!

But quite a few years have past... I hope the SF people can make Wil look young again ;)

ep (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2572147)

This early post for Ida!

Star Trek X (0)

goatman.cx (536700) | more than 12 years ago | (#2572154)

I hear Data is supposed to die in this upcoming Star Trek movie. Is there any truth to this?

Re:Star Trek X (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2572161)

That'll be part of the service pack, IIRC.

Star Trek X.1

Re:Star Trek X (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2572217)

I don't think it's possible for a chunk of metal and plastic to "die." I think that the best we can hope for would be castastrophic disassembly.

Re:Star Trek X (4, Funny)

Tim Macinta (1052) | more than 12 years ago | (#2572306)

I don't think it's possible for a chunk of metal and plastic to "die."

I take it that you haven't installed XP yet.

Re:Star Trek X (1)

DahGhostfacedFiddlah (470393) | more than 12 years ago | (#2572439)

Or read the previous article about UPS.

Heh (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2572497)

That's some funny shit, Tim.

Re:Star Trek X (1)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | more than 12 years ago | (#2572325)

There are rumors on the internet? WOW!

Anyway sarcasm aside, while rumor does have a lot of power, I would take anything you hear with a grain of salt.

Re:Star Trek X (1)

MichaelNewton (526000) | more than 12 years ago | (#2572392)

The story I heard is that Brent Spiner is so sick of playing the Data character that the only way he'd agree to being Data again was if they kill him. Data, I mean.

Depending on how successful Spiner is in his negotiations, maybe the the movie will open with Data's severed head on a table.

Re:Star Trek X (3, Funny)

quantum bit (225091) | more than 12 years ago | (#2572599)

Depending on how successful Spiner is in his negotiations, maybe the the movie will open with Data's severed head on a table.

They tried that. [startrek.com]

It didn't work. [startrek.com]

:-P

Re:Star Trek X (3, Funny)

shogun (657) | more than 12 years ago | (#2572440)

Star Trek X? Does that have David Duchonovy as the captain who interrogates every alien race they encounter on the suspicion they abducted his sister?

Re:Star Trek X (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2572469)

Well, since DATA=SPOCK, they'd naturally kill him, but he'll transfer his memory to Geordi.

Poor #RFB (1)

E1ven (50485) | more than 12 years ago | (#2572155)

His channel is going to get quite a slashdotting for this. I hope that the SNR doesn't drop /that/ much.

Good Luck, Wil!

Colin

hey check this (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2572158)


|jkldf;jizofw|. .|asd|. .|dsa|. . .|wavcx|. . .|cvb|. . |ioe|
|zcxvwcmpfecq|. .|das|. .|sad|. . |vccpoiur|. .|pzc|. .|00o|
|vcC|. . . . . . |sda|. .|ads|. .|fjdi. .|fd|. |tgh|. |oOo|
|ewrivgor|. . . .|das|. .|dsa|. |jio|. . . . . |302|.|pod|
|czm,ivqo|. . . .|dsa|. .|sda|. |czz|. . . . . |329||cvm|
|qww|. . . . . . |sad|. .|dsa|. |qwe|. . . . . |fct||f03|
|wwq|. . . . . . |sad|. .|das|. |vcz|. . . . . |cvm|.|ooq|
|wwq|. . . . . . |asd|. .|sda|. |34vi. .|vm|. |cmp|. |ico|
|qww|. . . . . . .|dsafkjsad|. . .|mcvzpewq|. |oiw|. .|301|
|qww|. . . . . . . |dkljkdf|. . . .|392090|. . |;zz|. . |mzx|

|mac|. . |mmn|. . . |oofo0o|. . . |asc|. .|cja|
.|cvs| .|poe|. . . |mvfcpe3r|. . .|vco|. .|vio|
. |vc3||oi3|. . . |ioa|. .|dfi|. .|cio|. .|903|
. .|ioiewe|. . . .|io3|. .|ioo|. .|vmn|. .|ioo|
. . |coid|. . . . |moi|. .|ioe|. .|mvo|. .|oi3|
. . |mvoe|. . . . |cvb|. .|jio|. .|poq|. .|mv1|
. . |qabz|. . . . |plm|. .|ijn|. .|mo3|. .|edc|
. . |crbf|. . . . |m45|. .|i9p|. .|mvo|. .|qou|
. . |djio|. . . . .|wejiroji|. . . |vvoqieorj|
. . |iowr|. . . . . |mvioae|. . . . |vmiower|

bitch!

Oh my (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2572256)

Your post is so... random.

Is that you keesh? You naughty boy.

Re:Oh my (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2572348)

nope..just a longtime lurker that crapfloods when the opportunity arises.

I have seen this face of god.. (-1)

All sporks are fags (528902) | more than 12 years ago | (#2572695)

..and it is ASCII spam.

Wil Wheaton on The Tick - with sweater? (2)

WillSeattle (239206) | more than 12 years ago | (#2572164)

Seriously, it would be cool if he was on The Tick, but even better if he was Sweater Boy or something.

I mean, think about the banter between Wesley Crusher and the Blue Icon of Justice!

-

Re:Wil Wheaton on The Tick - with sweater? (1)

NecroPuppy (222648) | more than 12 years ago | (#2572187)

I think he would do better as the Lost Prince of Atlantis, water wings and all... :)

Re:Wil Wheaton on The Tick - with sweater? (1)

WillSeattle (239206) | more than 12 years ago | (#2572390)

I think he would do better as the Lost Prince of Atlantis, water wings and all... :) --

Yeah, that would actually be the best Wesley Crusher role.

Although I'm sure some of us would love to see Wil do Sewer Urchin ...

-

Dennis Lee Schwandt Will Now Be Known As "D.J." (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2572183)

Friends, Romans, and geeks -- Dennis Lee Schwandt Will Now Be Known As "D.J."! Please remember this when addressing him!

- Kewl Mojo-man

Making the SOHO quiet? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2572184)

Remove the fans from the machines. Duh.

What in God's name... (2, Informative)

BillyGoatThree (324006) | more than 12 years ago | (#2572202)

...did you do to that webpage? The one about the quiet PC. All the text is there but all the images are scrunched up, overlapping, in the upper left hand corner. I'm interested but not so much that I'm going to download and fix this braindead web design.

Re:What in God's name... (1)

ncc74656 (45571) | more than 12 years ago | (#2572394)

All the text is there but all the images are scrunched up, overlapping, in the upper left hand corner. I'm interested but not so much that I'm going to download and fix this braindead web design.
I'm not the creator of that page, but let me guess...you're using Nutscrape 4.x as your web browser, right? A quick check of the HTML indicates that CSS positioning was used; Nutscrape is brain-dead and doesn't know how to implement CSS positioning (or most other things related to CSS, for that matter). Internet Explorer works properly; Mozilla and Opera should work too (and maybe some other browsers, but those are the ones I know of offhand that implement CSS more-or-less correctly).

Re:What in God's name... (2)

Rick the Red (307103) | more than 12 years ago | (#2572461)

BillyGoatThree:
braindead web design.

ncc74656:

A quick check of the HTML indicates that CSS positioning was used; Nutscrape...doesn't know how to implement CSS positioning. Internet Explorer works properly; Mozilla and Opera should work too

So, you're in agreement: It was a braindead web design. "Use my browser or don't view my webpage" is braindead web design. Period. [anybrowser.org]

Re:What in God's name... (2, Insightful)

KnightStalker (1929) | more than 12 years ago | (#2572503)

"Use my browser or don't view my webpage" is braindead web design. Period.

Hey, I wrote this browser where the [IMG] tag makes images blink unless you use the NOBLINK attribute, and the [TABLE] tag turns the rest of the text yellow. I'm the only person using it, but you now have to write web pages to conform to my choice of browser! Ha ha! Bet you didn't see that one coming! Also, I drive a train, and I demand that the highway department install tracks on all the roads I might drive on.

How about "use one of the browsers which work correctly and are freely available for every OS or don't view my webpage (or half a billion other ones)". "Correctly" being defined as "conforming to standards defined many years ago."

Re:What in God's name... (2)

Rick the Red (307103) | more than 12 years ago | (#2572553)

How about "use one of the browsers which work correctly and are freely available for every OS or don't view my webpage (or half a billion other ones)". "Correctly" being defined as "conforming to standards defined many years ago."

Well, since the subject was Netscape's failure to properly render CSS positioning, and since CSS wasn't in the HTML standards of "many years ago," you basically support my position. By the way, did you follow the link I gave [anybrowser.org] ?

Re:What in God's name... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2572556)

3 years is a long enough time to expect a browser to be compliant. This goes both ways.

Re:What in God's name... (2)

KnightStalker (1929) | more than 12 years ago | (#2572680)

Yes, I'm well aware of the Any Browser campaign. I had their banner on my own web site when I had one up. BTW, it doesn't render correctly in Mozilla. (although it's perfectly readable, of course.)

HTML 4 was released by the W3C in December 1997 and updated in April 1998. That's three and a half years ago. CSS level 1 was released in December 1996 and CSS2 was released in May 1998. I think three years counts as "many" in the context of a browser that's 6 or 7 years old.

Re:What in God's name... (1)

sllort (442574) | more than 12 years ago | (#2572557)

How about "use one of the browsers which work correctly and are freely available for every OS

Which web browser is that? Specifically, I want to know the one that runs under MINIX.

Thanks.

Re:What in God's name... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2572586)

I want to know the one that runs under MINIX

Lynx.

Re:What in God's name... (1)

KnightStalker (1929) | more than 12 years ago | (#2572649)

Lynx, apparently, on this minix port. Okay, so it won't position CSS. :-)

http://minixsh.tripod.co.jp/MinixSH.html

Re:What in God's name... (1, Troll)

Jerf (17166) | more than 12 years ago | (#2572592)

Netscape 4 doesn't qualify as a browser. Or if you insist that it does, it's a braindead browser.

I've jettisoned designing for Netscape 4. Considering that my pages work in every other goddamn browser ever created, I consider it an adequate tradeoff.

Flush N4 down the toilet. (And yes, I run a Pentium 133. I tend to just use lynx.)

Re:What in God's name... (1)

kilgore_47 (262118) | more than 12 years ago | (#2572676)

NS4 has a larger userbase (still) than any other version of Netscape. So if you aren't going to design for NS4, don't bother designing for netscape at all. (I sure don't!)

Silence is Golden... (4, Funny)

hansk (107187) | more than 12 years ago | (#2572206)

This article takes me back to a previous job and one of my co-workers. He was fanatic about removing all 'noise' from his office. His PC being the most evil of all noise makers.

He went to the trouble of locating a 6V power source in the PC and then rewiring the fans from their 12V source to the lower power.

The PC was also wrapped in various forms of egg crate foam to reduce vibration and further dampen noise.

When he started complaining about the flourescent lighting in the building we had to warn him that no re-wiring was allowed!

Kids, don't try this at home! (1)

elvum (9344) | more than 12 years ago | (#2572314)

(aka "stating the bleeding obvious")

He went to the trouble of locating a 6V power source in the PC and then rewiring the fans from their 12V source to the lower power.

Obviously that's going to reduce the fans' cooling performance, with (potentially) baaaaaad effects on your system component lifetimes, even if the magic smoke doesn't escape immediately... :-)

Re:Silence is Golden... (-1)

Trollificus (253741) | more than 12 years ago | (#2572462)

When he starts to complain about the noise from people's breathing, be afraid. Be very afraid.
Jeez, what a nut.

If he was THAT obsessed with noise, he could have saved himself a lot of time by wearing earplugs.

Re:Silence is Golden... (1)

kilgore_47 (262118) | more than 12 years ago | (#2572685)

Wouldn't it have been eaiser/cheaper/better to buy a quieter fan? Buying a speciality power supply for the sole purpose of slowing down your fans seems sort of silly.

Wil Wheaton (3, Funny)

sllort (442574) | more than 12 years ago | (#2572212)

Wil Wheaton should be on The Tick.. as Wesley Crusher. Then the Tick can finally kill Wesley, and when Wil goes to Star Trek conventions, all the people with "Die Wesley" buttons will be behind the times.

Wesley's dead, dude.

Stephen King, author, dead at 55 (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2572213)


I just heard some sad news on talk radio - Horror/Sci Fi writer Stephen King was found dead in his Maine home this morning. There weren't any more details. I'm sure everyone in the Slashdot community will miss him - even if you didn't enjoy his work, there's no denying his contributions to popular culture. Truly an American icon.

Q: why wasn't this news mentioned in slashback (-1)

Anonymous Pancake (458864) | more than 12 years ago | (#2572279)

A: Because slashdot fucking sucks

A: because its not true, ass master (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2572419)

Or because its a troll that's been repeated over and over so many fucking times, mostly because ignorant bitches like yourself never learn to see if its true before posting. Dumbass.

Q: Why is AnonPancake such a moron? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2572477)

A: Well, there is no answer to that.

Dude, you once offered to mail me a rope so I could hang myself. I humbly submit that you should perform this service on yourself to save us from your continued idiocy.

Regarding the Stephen King "news", one of two things is true:

1.) You actually thought the post was true, which makes you a moron because this particular Troll has been posted on Slashdot dozens of times (and lord knows, you've been Trolling and crap-flooding Slashdot long enough to have seen it)

2.) You knew it was a Troll and your post was a pathetic attempt at a counter-Troll

Either way, you've reinforced everyone's opinion of you as a total and absolute moron.

BTW, how come you never responded to my reply [slashdot.org] to you? Are you chicken shit as well as stupid?

Canada #2

Re:Q: Why is AnonPancake such a moron? (-1)

Anonymous Pancake (458864) | more than 12 years ago | (#2572616)

I would like to thank your continuing effort to respond to my posts. However since you are a mindless AC I won't bother to put any more effort into this response.

Commented code (5, Insightful)

I_am_Rambi (536614) | more than 12 years ago | (#2572214)

...well-designed software still needs clarifying comments.

Any programmer knows that commenting your code is very helpful. I have written small programs for myself without comments. Now when I go back to them, it is very hairy to know what I was thinking and what it is supposed to do at that time. Comments are also like road signs. They help you understand what the program is are doing, and it is executed. Just ask any hardcore programmer, they will agree. Thanks for the insight.

Re:Commented code (5, Informative)

Rick the Red (307103) | more than 12 years ago | (#2572333)

No kidding. I once heard some guru pontificate that your source should have three lines of comments for each line of code. I thought that was stupid, until I found myself maintaining other people's code. Then I saw some example code from a database vendor that had three comments for each line of code (mind you, they were explaining how to use a particular feature) and it was as clear as day. It was like someone took the blindfold off. I've tried to totally comment all my code since then, and I've found that I actually write better code. Now, when I have a bug, I look for what the comment says I intended the code to do, then I double-check that the code actually does that; usually the bugs find (and fix) themselves this way. Try it, you'll like it!

Re:Commented code (2)

kin_korn_karn (466864) | more than 12 years ago | (#2572516)

hear, hear... only those who don't program professionally eschew comments. Anyone's who's had to fix a program under pressure knows that you need all the help you can get..

Re:Commented code (1)

WeaselGod (145056) | more than 12 years ago | (#2572570)

or I could finish it by the deadline...

Re:Commented code (3)

Winged Cat (101773) | more than 12 years ago | (#2572371)

And the best form of comment is one that is the code itself, IMO. Well-chosen variable and function names, for example, or debug messages that clearly state what the F is going on when they're invoked.

Re:Commented code (1)

czardonic (526710) | more than 12 years ago | (#2572436)

Word!

Many times I have looked at other peoples source, read the comments and STILL had to puzzle over awkward syntax and unintuitive variable/funtion names. A few comments are fine, but not a substitute for lucid code.

Plus, I find that comments can make code harder to read if they break up the continuity of the code structure.

Re:Commented code (2)

TheLink (130905) | more than 12 years ago | (#2572652)

Nonono. The point is the comments are to tell you what the code was supposed to do.

So if the (clearly written) code disagrees with the comments then there is a problem. You now have to figure out whether the code or the comments are correct or both are wrong.

Whereas without the comments, the clearly written code can be doing the wrong thing and you won't know.

Wil Wheaton is a bit of a sexist oaf. (-1, Troll)

Anton Anatopopov (529711) | more than 12 years ago | (#2572218)

Wil Wheaton does not seem like a very nice guy if the interview I read [adequacy.org] at the site I hate is anything to go by. [inadequacy.org]

I wasn't sure if they faked it, or if Wil is really like that. Either way, the so-called 'adequacy' site sucks, so I won't be going back there in a hurry.

Warning! Adequacy link! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2572238)

Warning. There is Adequacy in the parent link. Mods, you know what to do.

P.S. if you don't know Adequacy is kind of like Goatsex, but worse.

Re:Wil Wheaton is a bit of a sexist oaf. (4, Informative)

elvum (9344) | more than 12 years ago | (#2572281)

Allow me to point you to Wil's previous comment on the interview [slashdot.org] .

Summary: he was joking.

Re:Wil Wheaton is a bit of a sexist oaf. (-1, Troll)

Anton Anatopopov (529711) | more than 12 years ago | (#2572366)

I agree with you about adequacy [inadequacy.org] , but are you really trying to tell me that Wil Wheaton, Hollywood Actor, spends his time reading websites like slashdot ? Come on, are you sure you haven't been trolled ? After all, anybody could easily pretend to be Wil Wheaton. In fact, here goes. I am Wil Wheaton. Posting to slashdot.

Come on. Get real.

Uh Oh...incoming come-uppance... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2572370)

Take cover man!!!!

Re:Wil Wheaton is a bit of a sexist oaf. (2)

matty (3385) | more than 12 years ago | (#2572537)

I think that most of us know that he does indeed post [slashdot.org] on Slashdot. In fact, he said as much in his interview with Slashdot.

A little research goes a long way, Anton.

Re:Wil Wheaton is a bit of a sexist oaf. (1)

Mahonrimoriancumer (302464) | more than 12 years ago | (#2572509)

Did it ever occur to you that he was using sarcasm to illustrate his points??

Clocking Down (0)

ant_morgan (260306) | more than 12 years ago | (#2572219)

I mostly use my FreeBSD box for programming. I don't even use X that much. I am curious as too how far I would have to clock down a newer processor so as to not need a fan at all. Not many ideas for the PSU other than moving it though.

The Tick (2, Funny)

ocie (6659) | more than 12 years ago | (#2572234)

Will Wheaton as "The Ensign-uator".

While most characters have only a few great lines that have double meanings, everything he says will be a stream of double and tripple ententres (sp?).

Wesley Crusher is a gracious net.celebrity (2)

perdida (251676) | more than 12 years ago | (#2572266)

In his interview [adequacy.org] he proved to be sensitive in demeanor, kind, and humorous. Wil Wheaton is a gracious net celebrity who has internalized his own Trek character more elegantly than have most former Trek stars.


His humor is postmodern - his funny is based on the fact that Deliverance and Trek star Wil Wheaton is making the jokes. That doesn't make it bad humor - just self-referential.

Re:Wesley Crusher is a gracious net.celebrity (1)

WillSeattle (239206) | more than 12 years ago | (#2572409)

Wil Wheaton is a gracious net celebrity ...

Well, yeah, but we just had to rib him with our sweater jokes.

It's the confusion between the role and the actor. Most people were more upset with the directors and writers who created the role, not Wil himself.

A reverse example of this effect would be Diane Keaton. In real life, she's not exceptionally smart and witty - that is the role she plays.

Hollywood frequently demands certain stereotypes. Wesley Crusher was one of those, and Wil Wheaton suffers our jibes because of the stereotype he played, not who he is as a person.

-

Last chance for a Pluto mission for 200 years? (3, Informative)

Tsar (536185) | more than 12 years ago | (#2572287)

When this story [slashdot.org] was first posted, an alert Slashdotter pointed out [slashdot.org] that the 200-year figure was not generally agreed upon, because using Venus as the gravity slingshot (actually, it's more of a trebuchet [trebuchet.com] , isn't it?) would allow launching a mission in any year. Plus, there's no real compelling evidence that the atmosphere will freeze out during the Plutonian winter.

Don't get me wrong—I do want to see a mission to Pluto in my lifetime, but I just want to get the facts straight. Anyone with supporting data either way?

Kindlers unite! (1)

recursiv (324497) | more than 12 years ago | (#2572304)

overclocking new Athlons the kindler, gentler way Being an active figure in the kindling community, I'm always looking for the true kindler way to do things. I've been concerned lately that a lot of kindling I'm seeing these days just doesn't cut it compared to the kindling we used to have back in the good old "golden days of kindling". It's good to see that someone is still concerned about doing things the kindler way.

An idea for /. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2572311)

Since a sizeable portion of articles are just links to the BBC and Salon, why not just have slashboxes for them instead of posting front page stories on their articles? I'm not talking about this particular story but it seems that in a given week, half of the BBCs total number of science and tech articles (and what a crappy source for such articles!) appear on the front page.

Can you say lame?

Why the Contruction Analogy sucks: (5, Insightful)

Srin Tuar (147269) | more than 12 years ago | (#2572351)


Because "software engineering" (I hate that name, its programming gadammit) is not primarily implementation. Building a bridge requires very litte groundbreaking design: you take a typically take a known bridge concept, and specialize it for the terrain. The tough part is getting it implemented on time and in budget, with tons of logistic hurdles, and avoiding material disaster.

Programming on the other hand is a continuous design process. Implementation is a non-problem, its an ongoing architecture process. (Imagine trying to design a 20 mile long building with 7-10 architects, each with their own unique style)
On top of that, its all non-visual. An architect can look at rendered pictures of what he is designing to get an intuitive feel for its correctness, whereas a programmer must form his image without the benefit of evolved human spacial perception.

Requirements analysis for a bridge is so simple a child can grok it: "something i can walk over the river on". For your typical programming job requirements are much more nebulous: the customer doesnt really know what they want half the time (but theyll know it when they see it).

The whole analogy between Contruction Engineering and The Art of Programming is flawed, otherwise a completed contruction project would be a 40 foot high stack of blueprints that are suppossed to solve a problem that nobody fully understands.

Software Engineering is not Programming (3, Insightful)

fm6 (162816) | more than 12 years ago | (#2572435)

I hate that name, its programming gadammit
Deal with it. "Programming" means designing code. Nowadays a really serious project consists of a lot of pieces that have to work together. Even if the pieces are all coded by the same person, making them work together in a predictable way is a complicated art completely different from that of creating code.

The construction analogy is not perfect (no analogy is) and you can argue that it's seriously flawed. But I see one point of similarity that's hard to avoid: reducing all of software creation to "programming" is as simplistic as reducing all construction to masonry, carpentry, and welding.

I can speak only from experience (4, Insightful)

Srin Tuar (147269) | more than 12 years ago | (#2572566)

So when I say I dont believe that, I am being honest. All the following rant is based upon what I have experienced "in the trenches", so to speak. Mayhaps there is an more idealized place in the world where i am wrong (but I doubt it).

I've never met a "Software Engineer" who was an "Integrator" who did anything usefull without writing code. Those ones who did not know how to were absolutely useless. Those that did know how but did not implement were continuously running into the impermeable wall of "Reality Check" when they had to be informed that their snooty design couldnt work.


Any decent implementor on the other hand, had to be a designer/integrator almost by definition, becasuse there were never any rigourous enough requirements to be a tunnel visioned "implementor". Getting requirements that fine grained is apparently equivalent to writing the code.


If you are a high-level code "Architect" who thinks that implementing involves solving the same old simple subproblems, then you havent been reusing code very well. Check your abstraction level and start over.


You will find the truth: Software design *is* software implementation. There are no "Software Engineers", there are only Programmers.

Software and engineering (1)

Jaeger (2722) | more than 12 years ago | (#2572476)

It could be worse. There are a lot of classic engineers who think that software isn't engineering unless you solve some sort of real-world problem. So AutoCad is a product of Software Engineering, but Linux or Mozilla aren't.

Re:Why the Contruction Analogy sucks: (2, Interesting)

Ismilar (222791) | more than 12 years ago | (#2572483)

Hmm... you obviously don't know much about Civil Engineering...

Oh well, as a software engineering student (yes, Software Engineering, not Computer Science. When I graduate I will have an Engineering degree), I know lots of Civil, Mech, Comp, etc engineers. Software Engineering is very similar to those other engineering disciplines, software is just easier. You still have to design and build something using lots of math and different techniques. But with software engineering you don't (usually) have to worry about climate, weather, the safety of the people who will use your product, the safety of the people who will build your product, unintended uses of your product, etc, etc, etc (as well as all the things software people have to account for, like traffic, use of the product long after its intended lifetime, and hurricanes. I hate having to make software withstand hurricanes).

Re:Why the Contruction Analogy sucks: (1)

WeaselGod (145056) | more than 12 years ago | (#2572558)

You say that it takes very little ground breaking design for a bridge, you just drop it in place, however that is hardly the case. You want an example, try the Tacoma Narrows bridge. Lets just take the standard suspension bridge model in drop in it place. What do you mean there are harmonics that will cause it to collapse, oops, oh well. Sure you can take the basic concept and use it as a template (just run the MFC bridge making wizard...) but you should still do a heck of a lot custom design to make sure its suited for the conditions that it will be used in.

Re:Why the Contruction Analogy sucks: (2)

sigwinch (115375) | more than 12 years ago | (#2572615)

Building a bridge requires very litte groundbreaking design: you take a typically take a known bridge concept, and specialize it for the terrain.
Small structures may often be handbook designs, but large bridges and buildings are frequently designed from scratch. There is no one true way to design a skyscraper, any more than there is one true way to design an ERP system.
An architect can look at rendered pictures of what he is designing to get an intuitive feel for its correctness,...
[Brief pause for architects to pick themselves up off the floor from laughing so hard.]

Building designs have more conflicting and poorly-specified human-interface requirements than nearly all software packages. Every aspect of the design -- foot traffic paths, shared workspaces, lighting, ventilation, storage, bathing facilities, and many others -- has a critical impact on both the usability and cost of the building.

Requirements analysis for a bridge is so simple a child can grok it: "something i can walk over the river on".
You vastly underestimate the complexity of bridge design. You must know whether the bridge is downstream from a forest, which determines how many trees will crash into it. You must know how much brush gets carried down the river, and how much brush gets caught on the bridge, which determines the lateral loads the bridge will carry in storm waters. You must know what vehicles need to cross the bridge and how often. If the bridge is near the ocean, it must be built of better materials to resist salt corrosion. Likewise if it is in an area where salt is commonly applied to the roads in the winter. If the bridge must carry both pedestrian and vehicular traffic it must have strong barriers to separate the two. If it must carry pipelines and cables, there must be possible to mount them to the bridge. If the waters will rise drastically during a storm, the bridge must not be washed away. The foundations must be deep enough that frost never reaches the bases. The more the temperature swings during the year, the longer its expansion joints must be. It must be able to carry enough traffic, not just today but for at least 50 years into the future. It must be aesthetically, politically, and financially acceptable to numerous conflicting groups of people.
The whole analogy between Contruction Engineering and The Art of Programming is flawed...
Both software and structures can be thrown together with little engineering work, but that doesn't make them good.
...otherwise a completed contruction project would be a 40 foot high stack of blueprints that are suppossed to solve a problem that nobody fully understands.
They are. Take a look at the engineering documentation for a skyscraper, car factory, or refinery sometime.

Of course it sucks.... (3, Insightful)

fm6 (162816) | more than 12 years ago | (#2572376)

The analogy between engineering programs and engineering buildings is a reasonable one, and I've seen it used before. But there's an implication everybody seems to have overlooked.

If making a complex program is anything like putting up a large building, then we shouldn't be suprised if most programs are seriously flawed. We've only been doing software engineering for a few decades (somewhere between 1 and 12, depending on how you define the concept). Builders and architects have been honing their skill set for for several thousand years. And they still screw [uoguelph.ca] up [ketchum.org] occasionaly [icivilengineer.com] . You can argue that such failures are tragic, but are necessary for engineering to advance [amazon.com] .

A stupid question, I'm sure, but. . . (3, Interesting)

Lostman (172654) | more than 12 years ago | (#2572383)

Now that the famous pencil trick isn't an option for would-be AMD overclockers

What exactly is this famous pencil trick?

(don't bother modding up for a stupid question, just bear with my ignorance and maybe someone can clue me in?)

Re:A stupid question, I'm sure, but. . . (5, Informative)

Indy1 (99447) | more than 12 years ago | (#2572406)

you use a fine pencil, like a .5mm mechanical, to short the L1 bridges on top of the processor. This allows you to change the multiplies on the cpu in the bios of your motherboard if it supports it (my kt7a-raid does). The newer athlon XP's have some changes that make this impossible to do with a simple pencil.

Re:A stupid question, I'm sure, but. . . (1)

nerdguy0 (101358) | more than 12 years ago | (#2572449)

It involves using the conductive properties of graphite to short a couple of very small connections on the top of some AMD processors to unlock their clock multiplier, etc.

Re:A stupid question, I'm sure, but. . . (1)

scorcherer (325559) | more than 12 years ago | (#2572604)

The old Athlon required so little current over that short that a graphite streak was enough. The new Athlon needs something with a higher conductivity, as the current is higher.

The Pencil Trick (5, Funny)

Tom7 (102298) | more than 12 years ago | (#2572589)


If you draw a pentagon on the surface of the chip with a pencil, then your processor becomes invincible, and runs at 666 GHz. This is also known as the "pentagram of protection" trick.

software stinking (5, Informative)

egomaniac (105476) | more than 12 years ago | (#2572397)

Mr. Connell makes the excellent point that some engineering problems -- anything from difficult bridge designs to going to the moon -- are every bit as complicated as the software we produce.

I agree.

However, it's important to consider one thing -- how many bridges are built every year? How many have as many challenges as the Clark Bridge? Not many, certainly. How much software is written in a year?

If I had, say, three years and millions of dollars to design every piece of software I write, with lots of subordinates double-checking everything I do, well then my code would be perfect as well. The fact is, however, that we write an awful lot more software every year than we build engineering feats, and that has a lot to do with the quality issue. If every program were written over a period of years by a dedicated team of engineers backed by serious budgets, there wouldn't be nearly as much crappy software. However, there's a lot more software hacked together by one guy working out of his garage -- and I daresay if we built bridges that way, a lot of them would fall down.

"So," says the critic, "we just need to design software as seriously as we design bridges."

Not really, I respond. For one thing, our need for software is *really high* right now. We need tons of it -- web browsers, and word processors, and operating systems, and filesystems, and ... well, everything. None of the early stuff is quite good enough yet. Don't fool yourself into thinking Linux is the end of the road in operating systems, for example. Software is immature. We're forging ahead on every front at once, before the basic pieces are in place, and this will necessarily strain the industry. Once the infrastructure settles down, once we don't need as many projects going on, natural consolidation will lead to more people on each team and better quality.

When civil engineering was immature, a lot of bridges fell down, too, before everything was worked out. I doubt too many people stood around saying "You idiots! Every wagon we design works! Why not bridges?!?" At that time, building bridges was so difficult that it was amazing it ever worked. If it fell down, you just built it stronger and hoped for the best. We've come a long way since then.

I think we're at a similar point in software engineering. Sure, some of our stuff really sucks, but it's such a new field that it's really amazing that we get anything done at all. I frankly think it's unreasonable to expect the field to have matured overnight.

Maybe I'm just not as picky as some people, maybe the cynicism of old age is setting in. But I really don't feel that there's any need for a "Grab the torches and pitchforks! We improve software quality *now*!" movement. Things are getting better, and they will continue to as the market matures. Maybe we should just let it.

Re:software stinking (4, Insightful)

DaveAtFraud (460127) | more than 12 years ago | (#2572517)

If every program were written over a period of years by a dedicated team of engineers backed by serious budgets, there wouldn't be nearly as much crappy software.


There is this company in Redmond, WA who seem to disprove this assertion on a regular basis.

Re:software stinking (2)

egomaniac (105476) | more than 12 years ago | (#2572576)

Ahh, but you missed the "dedicated" and "engineers" part ;-).

I wasn't speaking of stuff thrown together by "rabid marketing departments".

Re:software stinking (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2572629)

Hey! Don't go saying bad things about Redmond Linux [google.com] !

Re:software stinking (2, Funny)

schon (31600) | more than 12 years ago | (#2572546)

When civil engineering was immature ... I doubt too many people stood around saying "You idiots!"

Of course not, that wouldn't be civil :o)

Am I the only one (0, Redundant)

vicviper (140480) | more than 12 years ago | (#2572418)

who cannot stand the Wesley Crusher character?

Re:Am I the only one (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2572530)

No, you are not.

Not really true (-1)

Wil Wheaton (532837) | more than 12 years ago | (#2572464)

Initially I had agreed to appear in Star Trek X. I have since had another disagreement with the behind-the-scenes staff and have backed out from this. In other words, I will NOT be in this movie. Sorry to disappoint anyone, I just won't put myself in another situation like I was before when I quit TNG.

From someone who owns a totally silent PC... (2, Interesting)

megaduck (250895) | more than 12 years ago | (#2572487)

It's well worth it. I think the current interest in quiet PCs is encouraging. Computers are plenty fast for most of us, so the next big push is going to be making them easier to live with. FireWire/USB, screwless cases, and "quiet" PCs are going to be increasingly popular in the future. I think that Apple's quiet and handy little Cube was a hint of things to come. Too bad they overcharged...

Interestingly enough, the automobile industry followed a lot of the same trends. Horsepower and size were initially everything. There were always the economy models, but the real push was for bigger and faster cars. Now that even a Honda Civic has enough horsepower to get the job done, people are buying for different reasons. Style, comfort, and ease of use are BIG selling points for cars now, while horsepower is just another "nice feature" and the power enthusiast is relegated to a niche market.

You can already see the trend at work. The Athlon is a kick-ass processor, but needing a monster heatsink and fans doesn't make them easy to live with. Ditto for the P4. The Crusoe is making inroads right now just for its' low heat output and the fact that it's "good enough". The main selling point for Seagate's Barracuda ATA IV is its' silence, despite the swarm of larger or faster drives (I bought one). Bulky/noisy/hot overclocker machines will always be there, but I'd look for mainstream PCs to get a LOT more friendly in the next couple years.

Why Crusher is an idiot. (-1, Troll)

rice_burners_suck (243660) | more than 12 years ago | (#2572489)

I always thought Westley Crusher was an idiot. I didn't like him in TNG, and I especially didn't like that his mother always tried to protect him. I mean geez, the kid's old enough to take care of himself, but he won't because his mother tries to shield him too much from the world.

Especially in that episode where he fell into the glass planter on some planet where there is no crime because whenever someone commits ANY crime, no matter how small, they are put to death. Well, they should have put him to death, I don't care what his stupid mother has to say. If you are in a place where they put people to death for committing crimes, and you don't want to be put to death, then DON'T COMMIT A CRIME! Is it that hard to understand? And furthermore, if you're a mother like that and you don't want your kid to get put to death, then tell your kid not to commit any crimes or don't let him go there if you want to be a micromanaging mother like that. Anyway, I just thought I'd tell you why Crusher is an idiot.

Re:Why Crusher is an idiot. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2572536)

Three words: Get a life.

They should have done this last time. (1, Troll)

rice_burners_suck (243660) | more than 12 years ago | (#2572499)

200 years is a long time even for a Congressman.

Yeah, 200 years is a long time. I wonder why Congress didn't take advantage of this when our country was just beginning about 200 years ago. If they had, imagine how much smarter we'd be today.

Worked as Civil and Software engineer (2, Informative)

sapped (208174) | more than 12 years ago | (#2572512)

I worked as a Civil engineer for 7 years before switching over to IT fulltime 5 years ago. I am afraid that all these analogies are wrong. A *LOT* of engineering projects run over budget and *MOST* of them run over time. The only real difference is that most clients don't come to you halfway through building the bridge and tell you to use a suspension system instead of plain old columns. (If they do, the engineer politely tells them to go away as they should have come up with those ideas during the design phase)Therein lies the biggest problem facing software engineering. The client always, repeat always wants to add or change features as you go along. This is OK if it comes during the design phase and not the build phase which is unfortunately when most clients first really realise what they want.

okay... (2)

Naikrovek (667) | more than 12 years ago | (#2572542)

WTF is Star Trek X?

Never heard of it. But I do admit, in Australia we're not exactly "in the loop" as far as new shit in America is concerned.

A link or some other descriptive item would be nice.

Thanks.

First-hand sources (1)

Platinum Dragon (34829) | more than 12 years ago | (#2572544)

bahamat wrote yesterday...

So did someone else [wilwheaton.net] - scroll down...

*sniff*
2001-11-14 04:03:53 Wil Wheaton will be in Star Trek X (articles,movies) (rejected)

Dang. It was worth a shot.

Posted by wil @ 11/13/2001 08:17 PM PST


So, who's the editor that saw a submission from CleverNickName in the queue regarding his cameo in STX and rejected it?

Be sure to read the item linked above; LeVar Burton went to bat for Wil, and came through. Now, that's a friend.

Re:First-hand sources (1)

bahamat (187909) | more than 12 years ago | (#2572664)

So did someone else [wilwheaton.net] - scroll down...

*sniff*
2001-11-14 04:03:53 Wil Wheaton will be in Star Trek X (articles,movies) (rejected)


Sorry Wil, I beat you to it! The second you said it, I submitted it.

Ok, so I've never gotten first post on an article, but beating Wil Wheaton to his own story is just dang funny.

"That fetid odor continues to rise" (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2572686)


fetid: having an offensive odor
fetid odor: an odor having an offensive odor

Software Engineering vs Bridge Building (2, Informative)

rmckeethen (130580) | more than 12 years ago | (#2572716)


I don't know much about the actual building of bridges but the Bridge Builder game [bridgebuilder-game.com] gave me a much deeper appreciation of the physics behind bridges. Plus, it was a fun way to fritter away a few hours on a rainy afternoon. Check it out.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...