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Why Programming Still Stinks

timothy posted more than 10 years ago | from the ad-viewing-is-good-for-you dept.

Programming 585

Andrew Leonard writes "Scott Rosenberg has a column on Salon today about a conference held in honor of the twentieth anniversary of the publishing of 'Programmers at Work.' Among the panelists saying interesting things about the state of programing today are Andy Hertzfeld, Charles Simonyi, Jaron Lanier, and Jef Raskin."

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wat (-1)

penis fish (671987) | more than 10 years ago | (#8624798)

fp for communism

ps: jraxis sux

Re:wat (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8624839)

I find this post offensive and I shan't stand for it. I shan't stand for it at all.

So suck cock.

Erster Pfosten! (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8624799)

Hitler hatte recht! Heil Hitler!

Re:Erster Pfosten! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8625058)

Netcraft confirms: Hitler's hat--rectum.
To the scrapheap of history with all such asshats.

panel link (5, Informative)

AnonymousCowheart (646429) | more than 10 years ago | (#8624805)

here is the link [sdexpo.com] to the ppl on the panel, and talks about their backround

Did they ask the Indians? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8624815)

Cuz they know programming, hell they are pulling their shithole excuse dump of a country out of complete poverty leaching off American business and enginuity like the parasites they are devoid of any original thoughts or business ideas.

But they should have input doing as much as they do...

solution to indian problems... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8624942)

Send pox-infested mousepads and complimentary microsoft .NET development tools. If the pox don't get 'em (hey it worked last time!) they'll go mad by reading the insane api!
Either way the jobs come back to the USA, where they belong. Woohoo!

Want to read the whole article? (4, Funny)

stephanruby (542433) | more than 10 years ago | (#8624825)

Want to read the whole article? You have two options: Subscribe now, or watch a brief ad and get a free day pass. If you're already a subscriber log in here.

No thanks. The first two paragraphs didn't make me want to read anymore. I'll wait for the comments of the slashdoters to appear.

Re:Want to read the whole article? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8624890)

Actually, the parent is 100% Ontopic.

MODS on PCP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8624919)

That is very damn much ON TOPIC. Fuckwit.

y0 checkout my elite comment! free WaReZ and shit! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8625004)

Have you looked at the ads? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8625026)

They are really short and you get a free day pass if you view it... I just leave the ad running and look at someting else until it finishes (except for the click through ones). It really is a nice solution for a site that needs revenue and isn't a major news site like cnn.com.

Why registration sucks. (3, Funny)

GoofyBoy (44399) | more than 10 years ago | (#8624830)

In response to a Salon article on the state of programming today, GoofyBoy posted a witty and insightful comment. Its sparked a large thread of apologists and public outrage from a wide range of slashdot readers and trolls.

Want to read the whole comment? You have two options: Subscribe now, or watch a brief ad and get a free day pass. If you're already a subscriber log in here.

Copyright (-1, Offtopic)

PktLoss (647983) | more than 10 years ago | (#8624831)

Lets respect copyright this time and not steal the entire article to repost here.

Re:Copyright (4, Informative)

CeleronXL (726844) | more than 10 years ago | (#8624876)

In general I'd have to agree, but in this case seeing as Salon was simply trying to get money by having one of their own staffers(?) submit the article here, I think it would be well deserved. ;)

Re:Copyright (2, Insightful)

PktLoss (647983) | more than 10 years ago | (#8624912)

The article is of obvious interest to a large subset of the Slashdot community, and the editors made the choice to post it here. If he/she hadn't posted it, someone else would have, so I don't see how who made the initial post is relevent.

Re:Copyright (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8625107)

"editors made the choice to post it here"
What're you, new?
They got paid to post it, or my name isn't Bipperton Fusslebeak.

copyright and stealing (1, Insightful)

bug1 (96678) | more than 10 years ago | (#8624921)

courtesy of wikipedia,

"In the common law theft is usually defined as the unauthorised taking or use of someone else's property with the intent to deprive the owner or the person with rightful possession of that property or its use."

By posting the artile here, we arent depriving the copyright owner of its possession or use.

If i make a noise am i stealing someones silence ?

Copyright infringment isnt stealing, its copyright infringment.

Re:copyright and stealing (2, Insightful)

PktLoss (647983) | more than 10 years ago | (#8624935)

We are robbing them of its purpose, to generate revenue via ads, day passes or subscriptions.

Re:copyright and stealing (2, Insightful)

bug1 (96678) | more than 10 years ago | (#8624978)

Its purpose remains the same wether its succesfull or not.

Copyright infrement doesnt change the intent of the copyright owner.

Re:copyright and stealing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8624992)

Robbing of a purpose? Interesting... Would curing cancer be theft? You'd rob all those oncologists of purpose. You'd be robbing them of a source of income...

No... that may be a opetically valid way to use "robbing" but it isn't reaonable when it comes to the real world.

Re:copyright and stealing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8625020)

are we stealing? hell no! THEY are stealing my time and bandwidth. banner and google ads would be fair.

i see it as "freeing" the information. you know, like most of the internet works.

Re:Copyright (-1, Redundant)

applerules (642423) | more than 10 years ago | (#8625059)

Information wants to be free, my friend.

In some quarters today, it's still a controversial proposition to argue that computer programming is an art as well as a science. But 20 years ago, when Microsoft Press editor Susan Lammers assembled a collection of interviews with software pioneers into a book titled "Programmers at Work," the idea was downright outlandish. Programming had long been viewed as the domain of corporate engineers and university computer scientists. But in the first flush of the personal computer era, the role of software innovator began to evolve into something more like the grand American tradition of the basement inventor -- with a dollop of the huckster on top and, underneath, a deep foundation of idealism. It made sense that the people writing the most important code for the new desktop machines were ragged individualists with eccentric streaks. At a panel on Tuesday (sponsored by the SDWest conference and Dr. Dobb's Journal) that celebrated Lammers' book, seven of the 19 original subjects of "Programmers at Work" lined up on stage to talk about what's changed in software over the past two decades -- and demonstrate that they have lost none of their cantankerous edge. In "Programmers at Work," Lammers told the crowd, "I looked at the programmer as an individual on a quest to create something new that would change the world." Certainly, the panel's group lived up to that billing: it included Andy Hertzfeld, who wrote much of the original Macintosh operating system and is now chronicling that saga at Folklore.org; Jef Raskin, who created the original concept for the Macintosh; Charles Simonyi, a Xerox PARC veteran and two-decade Microsoft code guru responsible for much of today's Office suite; Dan Bricklin, co-creator of VisiCalc, the pioneering spreadsheet program; virtual-reality pioneer Jaron Lanier; gaming pioneer Scott Kim; and Robert Carr, father of Ashton-Tate's Framework. But for all their considerable achievements, this was not a group content to snooze on a heap of laurels. In fact, though the hour-and-a-half discussion was full of contention, one thing all the participants agreed on was that software today is in dire need of help. It's still too hard: not only for users struggling to make sense of poorly designed interfaces, but for programmers swimming upstream against a current of constraints that numb creativity and drown innovation. These veterans shared a starting-point assumption that the rest of the world is only slowly beginning to understand: While computer hardware seems to advance according to the exponential upward curve known as Moore's Law (doubling in speed -- or halving in cost -- every year or two), software, when it advances at all, seems to move at a more leisurely linear pace. As Lanier said, "Software inefficiency can always outpace Moore's Law. Moore's Law isn't a match for our bad coding." The impact of this differential is not simply a matter of which industry gets to collect more profits. It sets a maddening limit on how much good we can expect information technology to achieve. If computers are, as it has often been put, "amplifiers for our brains," then software's limitations cap the volume way too low. Or, in Simonyi's words, "Software as we know it is the bottleneck on the digital horn of plenty." Most successful programmers are at heart can-do engineers who are optimistic that every problem has a solution. So it was only natural that, even in this relatively small gathering of software pioneers, there were multiple, and conflicting, ideas about how we should proceed in order to break that bottleneck. Simonyi believes the answer is to unshackle the design of software from the details of implementation in code. "There are two meanings to software design," he explained on Tuesday. "One is, designing the artifact we're trying to implement. The other is the sheer software engineering to make that artifact come into being. I believe these are two separate roles -- the subject matter expert and the software engineer." Giving the former group tools to shape software will transform the landscape, according to Simonyi. Otherwise, you're stuck in the unsatisfactory present, where the people who know the most about what the software is supposed to accomplish can't directly shape the software itself: All they can do is "make a humble request to the programmer." Simonyi left Microsoft in 2002 to start a new company, Intentional Software, aimed at turning this vision into something concrete. Frederick Brooks, in a famous 1987 essay, declared that the prospect for a programming "silver bullet" -- to slay, once and for all, the monster-like characteristics of so many software development projects -- was dim. But Simonyi said he believes his project will provide that very silver bullet. You can't fault him for ambition. Or can you? Jaron Lanier, sitting appropriately at the opposite end of the stage from Simonyi, argued that there's a deeper failure of vision in the software world that requires even more radical change. "A lot of stuff in the Mac and Windows world was supposed to be temporary and got wedged into place," he said. "Making programming fundamentally better might be the single most important challenge we face -- and the most difficult one." Today's software world is simply too "brittle" -- one tiny error and everything grinds to a halt: "We're constantly teetering on the edge of catastrophe." Nature and biological systems are much more flexible, adaptable and forgiving, and we should look to them for new answers. "The path forward is being biomimetic." What about the open-source movement, which over the past decade has won considerable loyalty and enthusiasm in many programming quarters? "There's this wonderful outpouring of creativity in the open-source world," Lanier said. "So what do they make -- another version of Unix?" Jef Raskin jumped in. "And what do they put on top of it? Another Windows!" "What are they thinking?" Lanier continued. "Why is the idealism just about how the code is shared -- what about idealism about the code itself?" At this point, Andy Hertzfeld, who has devoted himself in recent years to open-source projects like Eazel and Chandler, spoke up for the maligned legions of Linux-heads. "It's because they want people to use the stuff!" His comment underscored something that's frequently misunderstood about the open-source approach, which is often wrongly stereotyped as loopily communal and out-of-touch with business reality. There's an essential pragmatism to the notion that programmers work best when they can share, and learn from, one another's work. After all, every other field of human endeavor works that way. Bricklin sent waves of laughter through the auditorium by reading a passage from Lammers' interview with Bill Gates in which the young Microsoft founder explained that his work on different versions of Microsoft's BASIC compiler was shaped by looking at how other programmers had gone about the same task. Gates went on to say that young programmers don't need computer science degrees: "The best way to prepare is to write programs, and to study great programs that other people have written. In my case, I went to the garbage cans at the Computer Science Center and I fished out listings of their operating systems." Bricklin finished reading Gates' words and announced, with an impish smile, "This is where Gates and [Richard] Stallman agree!" The "Programmers at Work" panelists were full of optimism about new opportunities to reinvent software -- in the mobile-phone world (where, Scott Kim noted, the constraints of small screens and tiny memory made it feel "like the early days" again), in the new universe of RF tags, and in the still-unfolding saga of global networking. Bob Carr reminded everyone that technology transformations usually take 20 years to unfold -- "I remember thinking in 1987 that the PC industry was mature, it was over" -- and that the Internet is only halfway through that cycle. Still, that picture of Bill Gates dumpster-diving for operating-system code was hard to shake. Finding new ways to think about programming and to make better software demands a willingness for pioneers to open up their work so others can learn from it. "Getting the software industry on a more open, fair and level playing field," as Hertzfeld put it, is a prerequisite for any leap forward in the programming world. Software patents are a looming train wreck; competition in most "end-user" software is largely a distant memory. Simonyi's technical bottleneck is also a social, political and business logjam. In the era of "Programmers at Work," it was possible to imagine the lone-hero programmer as a genius operating beyond the reach of political and social forces. Today, even the best programmers can't ignore the vast web of interdependence their own work has helped shape.

Re:Copyright (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8625161)

now i've seen everything [boners.com]

salon bunkas (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8624840)

Want to read the whole article? You have two options: Subscribe now, or watch a brief ad and get a free day pass. If you're already a subscriber log in here.

Bite me!

The silver bullet already exists (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8624845)

The silver bullet of programming already exists. Link. [python.org]

This is why I hate slashdot (5, Insightful)

Imperator (17614) | more than 10 years ago | (#8624846)

Someone with a @salon.com address submits a story to slashdot linking to a Salon article. That article costs money to read. Slashdot posts the story anyway.

Could an AC please post the full text?

Re:This is why I hate slashdot (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8624855)

In some quarters today, it's still a controversial proposition to argue that computer programming is an art as well as a science. But 20 years ago, when Microsoft Press editor Susan Lammers assembled a collection of interviews with software pioneers into a book titled "Programmers at Work," the idea was downright outlandish. Programming had long been viewed as the domain of corporate engineers and university computer scientists. But in the first flush of the personal computer era, the role of software innovator began to evolve into something more like the grand American tradition of the basement inventor -- with a dollop of the huckster on top and, underneath, a deep foundation of idealism.

It made sense that the people writing the most important code for the new desktop machines were ragged individualists with eccentric streaks. At a panel on Tuesday (sponsored by the SDWest conference and Dr. Dobb's Journal) that celebrated Lammers' book, seven of the 19 original subjects of "Programmers at Work" lined up on stage to talk about what's changed in software over the past two decades -- and demonstrate that they have lost none of their cantankerous edge.

In "Programmers at Work," Lammers told the crowd, "I looked at the programmer as an individual on a quest to create something new that would change the world." Certainly, the panel's group lived up to that billing: it included Andy Hertzfeld, who wrote much of the original Macintosh operating system and is now chronicling that saga at Folklore.org; Jef Raskin, who created the original concept for the Macintosh; Charles Simonyi, a Xerox PARC veteran and two-decade Microsoft code guru responsible for much of today's Office suite; Dan Bricklin, co-creator of VisiCalc, the pioneering spreadsheet program; virtual-reality pioneer Jaron Lanier; gaming pioneer Scott Kim; and Robert Carr, father of Ashton-Tate's Framework.

But for all their considerable achievements, this was not a group content to snooze on a heap of laurels. In fact, though the hour-and-a-half discussion was full of contention, one thing all the participants agreed on was that software today is in dire need of help. It's still too hard: not only for users struggling to make sense of poorly designed interfaces, but for programmers swimming upstream against a current of constraints that numb creativity and drown innovation.

These veterans shared a starting-point assumption that the rest of the world is only slowly beginning to understand: While computer hardware seems to advance according to the exponential upward curve known as Moore's Law (doubling in speed -- or halving in cost -- every year or two), software, when it advances at all, seems to move at a more leisurely linear pace.

As Lanier said, "Software inefficiency can always outpace Moore's Law. Moore's Law isn't a match for our bad coding."

The impact of this differential is not simply a matter of which industry gets to collect more profits. It sets a maddening limit on how much good we can expect information technology to achieve. If computers are, as it has often been put, "amplifiers for our brains," then software's limitations cap the volume way too low. Or, in Simonyi's words, "Software as we know it is the bottleneck on the digital horn of plenty."

Most successful programmers are at heart can-do engineers who are optimistic that every problem has a solution. So it was only natural that, even in this relatively small gathering of software pioneers, there were multiple, and conflicting, ideas about how we should proceed in order to break that bottleneck.

Simonyi believes the answer is to unshackle the design of software from the details of implementation in code. "There are two meanings to software design," he explained on Tuesday. "One is, designing the artifact we're trying to implement. The other is the sheer software engineering to make that artifact come into being. I believe these are two separate roles -- the subject matter expert and the software engineer."

Giving the former group tools to shape software will transform the landscape, according to Simonyi. Otherwise, you're stuck in the unsatisfactory present, where the people who know the most about what the software is supposed to accomplish can't directly shape the software itself: All they can do is "make a humble request to the programmer." Simonyi left Microsoft in 2002 to start a new company, Intentional Software, aimed at turning this vision into something concrete.

Frederick Brooks, in a famous 1987 essay, declared that the prospect for a programming "silver bullet" -- to slay, once and for all, the monster-like characteristics of so many software development projects -- was dim. But Simonyi said he believes his project will provide that very silver bullet.

You can't fault him for ambition. Or can you? Jaron Lanier, sitting appropriately at the opposite end of the stage from Simonyi, argued that there's a deeper failure of vision in the software world that requires even more radical change. "A lot of stuff in the Mac and Windows world was supposed to be temporary and got wedged into place," he said. "Making programming fundamentally better might be the single most important challenge we face -- and the most difficult one." Today's software world is simply too "brittle" -- one tiny error and everything grinds to a halt: "We're constantly teetering on the edge of catastrophe." Nature and biological systems are much more flexible, adaptable and forgiving, and we should look to them for new answers. "The path forward is being biomimetic."

What about the open-source movement, which over the past decade has won considerable loyalty and enthusiasm in many programming quarters?

"There's this wonderful outpouring of creativity in the open-source world," Lanier said. "So what do they make -- another version of Unix?"

Jef Raskin jumped in. "And what do they put on top of it? Another Windows!"

"What are they thinking?" Lanier continued. "Why is the idealism just about how the code is shared -- what about idealism about the code itself?"

At this point, Andy Hertzfeld, who has devoted himself in recent years to open-source projects like Eazel and Chandler, spoke up for the maligned legions of Linux-heads. "It's because they want people to use the stuff!"

His comment underscored something that's frequently misunderstood about the open-source approach, which is often wrongly stereotyped as loopily communal and out-of-touch with business reality. There's an essential pragmatism to the notion that programmers work best when they can share, and learn from, one another's work. After all, every other field of human endeavor works that way.

Bricklin sent waves of laughter through the auditorium by reading a passage from Lammers' interview with Bill Gates in which the young Microsoft founder explained that his work on different versions of Microsoft's BASIC compiler was shaped by looking at how other programmers had gone about the same task. Gates went on to say that young programmers don't need computer science degrees: "The best way to prepare is to write programs, and to study great programs that other people have written. In my case, I went to the garbage cans at the Computer Science Center and I fished out listings of their operating systems."

Bricklin finished reading Gates' words and announced, with an impish smile, "This is where Gates and [Richard] Stallman agree!"

The "Programmers at Work" panelists were full of optimism about new opportunities to reinvent software -- in the mobile-phone world (where, Scott Kim noted, the constraints of small screens and tiny memory made it feel "like the early days" again), in the new universe of RF tags, and in the still-unfolding saga of global networking. Bob Carr reminded everyone that technology transformations usually take 20 years to unfold -- "I remember thinking in 1987 that the PC industry was mature, it was over" -- and that the Internet is only halfway through that cycle.

Still, that picture of Bill Gates dumpster-diving for operating-system code was hard to shake. Finding new ways to think about programming and to make better software demands a willingness for pioneers to open up their work so others can learn from it. "Getting the software industry on a more open, fair and level playing field," as Hertzfeld put it, is a prerequisite for any leap forward in the programming world. Software patents are a looming train wreck; competition in most "end-user" software is largely a distant memory. Simonyi's technical bottleneck is also a social, political and business logjam.

In the era of "Programmers at Work," it was possible to imagine the lone-hero programmer as a genius operating beyond the reach of political and social forces. Today, even the best programmers can't ignore the vast web of interdependence their own work has helped shape.

PARENT IS A TROLL! MOD DOWN! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8624916)

The text of the article has been altered.

Still, that picture of Bill Gates dumpster-diving for operating-system code was hard to shake. And even harder to shake was the picture of Rob Malda taking it up the ass from Hemos. Finding new ways to think about programming and to make better software demands a willingness for pioneers to open up their work so others can learn from it.

Mod the parent down.

Re:This is why I hate slashdot (5, Informative)

torokun (148213) | more than 10 years ago | (#8625002)

This is some serious copyright infringement, man. Ripping an article verbatim and posting it on another site.

Re:This is why I hate slashdot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8625078)

And what, exactly are you going to do about it? (note: Not same AC that posted article)

Re:This is why I hate slashdot (1)

terrox (555131) | more than 10 years ago | (#8625103)

if the original source is acknowledge - which it is - and there is no profit being made - which there isn't - then it is not serious.

ragged individualists (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 10 years ago | (#8625082)


No wonder I was always so square; I spent all my time cultivating an image of rugged individualist.

Got to change with the times, I suppose.

Re:This is why I hate slashdot (5, Insightful)

WasterDave (20047) | more than 10 years ago | (#8625131)

Oh, for fucks' sake. Sooner or later somebody doing this - anonymous or not - is going to get Slasdot sued.

Fucking stop it. It's a copyrighted piece of work, it belongs to someone else, it is their right to control it.

Dave

Re:This is why I hate slashdot (1)

Hobobo (231526) | more than 10 years ago | (#8624858)

Get a free day pass. ggkthx

Re:This is why I hate slashdot (5, Funny)

anthonyrcalgary (622205) | more than 10 years ago | (#8624886)

Are you seriously suggesting that anyone would read the article anyway? No, this is the time to broadcast one's opinions in a fashion loosely connected with what we think the article might be about.

Re:This is why I hate slashdot (5, Insightful)

Otter (3800) | more than 10 years ago | (#8624926)

Could an AC please post the full text?

They have free day passes, FYI.

To summarize, though:

  • Charles Simonyi has a new company that he claims will change everything.
  • Jaron Lanier is still happy to inform you that he's a genius and everyone else is stupid. Don't count on him to do anything, though.
  • Andy Hertzfeld sounds like he's gearing up to lose more money on Linux desktop software.
  • Salon continues to suck up to Linux users.
That's pretty much it. Don't count on anything more useful out of these guys, except maybe Simonyi.

Re:This is why I hate slashdot (4, Funny)

the_mad_poster (640772) | more than 10 years ago | (#8625029)

Or, to summarize your summary:

Same ol', same ol'.

Re:This is why I hate slashdot (4, Funny)

starm_ (573321) | more than 10 years ago | (#8625105)

lol good sig!... or is it bad sig?

Re:This is why I hate slashdot (1)

Saint Stephen (19450) | more than 10 years ago | (#8625086)

I've kind of lost my respect for Simonyi, and I used to think he was just the coolest. Success ruins anybody.

Re:This is why I hate slashdot (1)

stephanruby (542433) | more than 10 years ago | (#8624948)

"That article costs money to read."

Yes and no. They'll give you a free day pass if you watch their commercial, they say it's a "brief" commercial, but they won't tell you how long it takes to download it and how long it will take to wach.

--------
"Want to read the whole article? You have two options: Subscribe now, or watch a brief ad and get a free day pass. If you're already a subscriber log in here."
-----

Interstitial Ads v. "have to pay" v. reg-only ... (4, Insightful)

timothy (36799) | more than 10 years ago | (#8625017)

Ads can be (are not always) annoying, in any medium, but they make the content possible.

Radio ads drone on seemingly forever, but they pay for me to listen to Coast to Coast a.m. once in a while, or NPR (whose ads, in the form of begging, are even worse, but whose content is better). Television ads, on programs not caught to TiVo, can be obnoxious, too.

The Salon article *can* cost money (that is, you can subscribe to Salon to read it), but you can also watch an ad (or you can click on the ad and carefully look away from it) and then read the article for free. That's what I do. Sites not run as charities need to pay for their content somehow: Even some commercial websites don't make money per se, but are justified by other means (goodwill, information spreading leading to sales, etc), and some are free to read and make money with banners. Salon, unlike some sites, has provided two ways to read their stuff, meaning (I hope) that they stay in business, since I like some of their original stories. Note that reading Salon by the watch-ad/get-daypass means doesn't require you to give them demographic information, answer surveys, surrender your email, click checkboxes to avoid (yeah right!) spam, choose a password, or pay any money.

Probably someone will come up with a way to block the content of the interstitial Salon ads: the arms race continues. But I prefer their approach to the increasing number of news sources that require registration and / or a paid subscription. The New York Times is annoying but hard to ignore as a news source, enough so that we link to it from Slashdot despite the required registration process; other papers, barring unusal circumstances, we won't link to because it's annoying to keep so many username / password combinations and have to login to read their content.

And that it's someone from Salon who submitted ... Na und? An editor or writer with a publication or website can submit just like anyone else; I'm glad when they're up-front about it. Would you rather A. Leonard have submitted more sneakily from a throwaway hotmail account? :)

Cheers,

timothy

Hmmm, there's an interesting duo... (4, Funny)

The Spie (206914) | more than 10 years ago | (#8624848)

If they did this as a round table, I would have been sad to have missed it. You just know that at some point in the discussion, Raskin and Hertzfeld would have gotten into a fistfight over who the real father of the Mac was. "Two geeks enter, one geek leaves..."

Re: Hmmm, there's an interesting duo... (3, Funny)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 10 years ago | (#8625136)


> If they did this as a round table, I would have been sad to have missed it.

Yeah, I wanted to see them work out who got which fork.

Remember... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8624854)

Summer is coming around, and when its hot outside
and your hemmoroids are even hotter, just look to the
cool relief of Preparation-H to get you on your way.

why does programming stinks today, an opinion (4, Interesting)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 10 years ago | (#8624860)

Please keep in mind that being only nearly 20, the depth of my personal experience is not that of say, someone who was around when UNIX was first rolled out. However, I have been in my day an avid C and BSD (mostly FreeBSD, but some NetBSD) user.
Honestly, from where I sit (you may agree or not), programming and computer stuff in general has become a lot less like a science or craft, and more like a factory job. In the early days programmers who physicists, engineers, and mathamaticians. Today programmers are just programmers. More and more computer science departments are teaching using Java. Why? because it helps people to understand how the computer works? no. Simply, because it's what the industry is using.
I had 4 technicians from Cox over at my house yesturday because my parents couldn't figure out what was wrong with the cable modem. They were the most filthy, disgusting bunch I have ever seen and were dressed more like gas station attendants than professionals. Why? because that sort of work has become blue-collar and low-rent.
Programmers are no longer expected to be educated beyond their field. they are being educated to produce software, not to be COMPUTER SCIENTISTS. How many graduates of say, ITT Tech would actually understand Knuth, even if they have ever heard of him? Likely, not many. That is why software sucks. That is why the programming "trade" sucks. and that is why companies can send the jobs abroad to people who work for peanuts. Programming is just like stamping "Ford" on the grill in a Detroit assembly plant these days and nothing more.

Re:why does programming stinks today, an opinion (4, Insightful)

matusa (132837) | more than 10 years ago | (#8624951)

While that is true, it's also naive to think it would be any other way. Why? Think about every other profession! The opportunity to be doing something creative is delegated to a selective, lucky few. I say lucky few because everyone has met great people in crap jobs.

So the question of course becomes--how do you dodge the bullet of crap positions? Doing well in academia is probably unfortunately the best solution. I'm going to CMU next year, annd had a nice talk with one of their CS profs about some openGL + C++ projects I'm working on, plus some AI research I started. I will get to work on these things, however I will also have to try not to swallow cyanide while dying through Java classes teaching me how to program in a way so dumbed down that even the greatest imbecile can't screw up.

This of course touches upon a great sadness of modern engineering training for me: you don't get taught to think--you get taught to use prescribed methods. Why? Ostensibly to never never reinvent the wheel, but also to get retards to do the job fine.

Let's not be stupidly depressed about everything, however. Trying to shoot to the very top has always required talent and hard work, and always been possible.

I think programming is truly great, truly beautiful. This afternoon I made some money writing some boring PHP code, but also worked on my personal projects, and I'll work to have the tides change in the future.

Re:why does programming stinks today, an opinion (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8624964)

"They were the most filthy, disgusting bunch I have ever seen and were dressed more like gas station attendants than professionals."

You say that now but wait until they crawl out of their underground tunnels at nightfall and eat you.

Re:why does programming stinks today, an opinion (1)

anthonyrcalgary (622205) | more than 10 years ago | (#8624965)

I disagree. Partly.

From what I've seen programming for money in the short time that I've been doing it, you need bright people to write maintainable code. They don't come off the assembly line. It's possible to have a one shot thing done in India or wherever, but if you need software to be expanded and maintained over any significant length of time, it MUST be done by competent people.

Re:why does programming stinks today, an opinion (3, Insightful)

Rinikusu (28164) | more than 10 years ago | (#8624969)

And it's precisely this attitude of yours towards your "common man" that really makes computing suck, in general. Your entire post reeks of "elitism", harkening to a time where computer programmers were some sort of elite bunch that people "just depended upon" to make the magic database "go". Now that computing has been reduced to the masses, for better or for worse, you feel that you and your 4-8 years of education in the computing field are threatened by a bunch of ITT graduates who don't have the theoretical knowledge that is absolutely not required to generate a simple GUI that queries a database and presents them to the user.

Frankly, programming as a profession bores me, which is why I no longer do it. I don't mind programming, on projects that *I* want to work on, but I no longer want to work on databases that aren't mine or are applicable to anything I'm remotely interested in. I'd rather use the computer as a TOOL, you know, a means to an end. It seems a lot of programmers are programming because it IS the end. They have no interests outside of computing.

The fact that many ITT Tech students may not "understand" Knuth is irrelevant because many ITT Tech students don't give a flying fuck about Knuth. I know who Knuth is, I've owned/used his "Art of Programming" or whatever it was called, and I don't consider myself a better person.

Re:why does programming stinks today, an opinion (4, Insightful)

the_mad_poster (640772) | more than 10 years ago | (#8625101)

Any moron fresh out of ITT or CLN with a degree pasted to their face by their own drool can churn out a reaking pile of code that will work.

However, without the theoretical knowledge to back that basic syntax knowledge up, it won't work well.

The grandparent post mentions coding being a "factory job". The commoditization of coding IS a huge problem. Coding WELL is not easy. However, because these half-wits that barely dragged their sorry asses through High School can go to CLN and pick up the latest "Microsoft cert dujour" or whatever other worthless peice of paper they offer, the overall expectation of coding is dropping. I couldn't tell you how often I've been ordered to cut critical corners by clueless bosses who don't understand coding on any level deeper than how to throw syntax together to create a brittle shell of a program that will work just long enough to take the customer's money and run (a favorite quote: "... *I* was never taught that." - spoken in the manner of someone who can't imagine they don't know everything).

The problem isn't that we're elite. The problem is that good programming is no less complex or time-consuming a task now than it was 20 years ago. Why is it elite to try and explain that to someone when they tell you not to bother with such and such critical piece or this basic security test? It's not elite, it's just that we've been flooded by so many bozos that wouldn't know good programming practice if it bit them in the balls that we're constantly deluged by sub-par workers and everyone has come to accept that sub-par work as the norm.

Programming as a ends in itself is factory work (4, Insightful)

xtal (49134) | more than 10 years ago | (#8624971)

I agree with you, but only partly. Another problem is that some people are interested in programming applications as a ends in itself - e.g. their whole life revolves around implementing solutions to other people's problems. The guy from cox probably couldn't care less about Knuth - it's just what he's being told to do. Perhaps this isn't so much a problem as it is a side-effect of the need for programming services.

That's because business has a need to get their problems solved, and finds the most effective tool to do it - in this case, generic problem solvers or programmers. This is work that is easily outsourced.

Back in the day, the guy programming was solving problems to make -his- life easier. It's not a stark distinction, but one that needs to be made. My formal training is as an EE, I I took MANY more advanced mathematics courses than the CS people at least at the undergraduate level. We did a grand total of three programming courses, all of them offered by the CS faculty, and when I was there, we were taught Modula-2. It's since moved to Java. They don't start out teaching the virtual machine or bytecode, either. Pointer? Eh?

Anyway, back to my point - I used Matlab, C, Assembly, you name it in my digital systems courses. We were not taught those things; we were expected to know them or learn them on our own to solve the problem at hand.

Using a calculator to solve a problem and making the calculator are different things.

Shoveling Data (4, Interesting)

nycsubway (79012) | more than 10 years ago | (#8625050)

That sounds like most IT jobs. I've found that IT is different from research and academia. Where I work, at an insurance company, I started referring to what I do as shoveling data. Because my entire job can be summed in one flow chart. Begin, open file, read file, process data, end of file? no. read file. end of file? yes. close file. end of program.

It's mindless. The problem with programming today is that yes, it has become a commodity. Something that people expect you to be able to sit for 8 hours a day and do continuously, without thinking or having any input of your own whether WHAT your doing is really worth it.

There is no creativity in the corporate world, I think thats why so many people choose to work on open source software.

Re:why does programming stinks today, an opinion (4, Insightful)

KrispyKringle (672903) | more than 10 years ago | (#8625134)

I know a number of people just bitched you out for this post, so I'm going to try to keep it brief. ;) Just a few points, in no particular order.

You refer to the cable guys as iif they are the epitome of computer science. They aren't computer scientists. They almost certainly aren't even programmers. Perhaps to the completely ignorant, all computer-related jobs are the same, but they aren't. Most jobs as a technician are crap. Slightly above that would be the post of admin. Keeping something up to date. Installing new software. Above that, some network and system admins have interesting jobs designing new systems, implementing creative solutions to problems, and so forth. Programmers have a similar opportunity, to do creative coding, but often it's just another solution to another problem. Not something that sounds like a lotta fun. And above that would be computer science. Research. Whole different ball game.

I think this is the root of your confusion. You see more blue-collar technical jobs. This doesn't mean less research is going on, though. Back in the day, the only people who interacted with computers were academics and researchers. There was no ITT tech. Now, in addition to the academics and researchers (of whom there are actually almost certainly many many more), there are hordes of unwashed masses actually (heaven forbid) using computers as tools, rather than just for the academic prospects themselves. Point is, the research is still there; in fact, there's far more of it. But there are also more and more other uses. This isn't a bad thing; it's a good thing.

In case you don't see what I mean, look at it this way. Your complaint could be summarized with an analogous complaint about the watch industry. Back in the 1800's, the only watches available were really classy, expensive, work-of-art kinda things. A gentleman's accessory. Now, any old Joe on the street has one; they come in all sorts of cheap, disposable, low-quality shitty versions. But that doesn't mean there are less high-quality versions; in fact, there are more. Tag Huer, Rolex, Citizen, Suunto...the competition to make the greatest precision timepiece is quite tough, I suspect. Point is, there's a lotta shit out there now that wasn't there in 1800, but plenty more nice watches as well.

Hmm. I guess I didn't really keep that brief. Sorry.

Re:why does programming stinks today, an opinion (4, Insightful)

torokun (148213) | more than 10 years ago | (#8625150)

It's clear to me why you wrote this post from a subjective standpoint -- I thought the same way when I was 20. Even when I was 24. I don't think the same way now at 28.

Why? Because I've seen through experience that (1) most people can't learn the hard CS stuff, and (2) 95% of projects don't require it. The sad fact is that "Computer Science" is only really applicable to solving "hard problems", writing compilers, designing languages, or to AI and its kin. It is in general, not applicable to business applications.

It used to be, but what happened? Computers got faster. Here's the progression in my career...

  1. Kudos for optimizing memory management and speed in C/C++, or even assembler.
  2. Questioning the need for such optimizations and pushing profiling before such work if it would take a significant amount of time
  3. Questioning the need for ever doing optimization, questioning the value of low-level languages.
  4. Pushing high-level languages (web-based solutions / VB) for everything unless a clear need exists.
  5. Sending everything to India.
This just wouldn't work unless most apps simply didn't need the work that we as computer scientists want to put into them. Knuth is a perfect example -- he spent years and years getting TeX perfect just so he could see his books typeset perfectly. We have that sort of perfectionist bent.

But it's all driven by money in the end, unless you're in academia, or research... A very few people are in positions doing both technically hard stuff and making money for it. These would be like Wolfram Research, google, some game companies (although I hear they're sweatshops, but what isn't nowadays?)...

In the end, you're correct that a lot of hard problems can only be handled by people trained in CS. These would be the things mentioned, along with parallelism, threading, and optimization issues... But it's also true that most of the products out there don't need these. We're sifting these categories apart now, and unfortunately, it's just a fact that not much yummy stuff is left.

But when you have garbage collection, a raging fast machine, and graphical IDE's, even if someone puts crappy code together, as long as they make a decent API, it's going to work after they try to compile it half a million times.

Full Article (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8624870)

Why software still stinks
Programming must change -- but how? At a reunion of coding pioneers, answers abound.

- - - - - - - - - - - -
By Scott Rosenberg

March 19, 2004 | In some quarters today, it's still a controversial proposition to argue that computer programming is an art as well as a science. But 20 years ago, when Microsoft Press editor Susan Lammers assembled a collection of interviews with software pioneers into a book titled "Programmers at Work," the idea was downright outlandish. Programming had long been viewed as the domain of corporate engineers and university computer scientists. But in the first flush of the personal computer era, the role of software innovator began to evolve into something more like the grand American tradition of the basement inventor -- with a dollop of the huckster on top and, underneath, a deep foundation of idealism.

It made sense that the people writing the most important code for the new desktop machines were ragged individualists with eccentric streaks. At a panel on Tuesday (sponsored by the SDWest conference and Dr. Dobb's Journal) that celebrated Lammers' book, seven of the 19 original subjects of "Programmers at Work" lined up on stage to talk about what's changed in software over the past two decades -- and demonstrate that they have lost none of their cantankerous edge.

In "Programmers at Work," Lammers told the crowd, "I looked at the programmer as an individual on a quest to create something new that would change the world." Certainly, the panel's group lived up to that billing: it included Andy Hertzfeld, who wrote much of the original Macintosh operating system and is now chronicling that saga at Folklore.org; Jef Raskin, who created the original concept for the Macintosh; Charles Simonyi, a Xerox PARC veteran and two-decade Microsoft code guru responsible for much of today's Office suite; Dan Bricklin, co-creator of VisiCalc, the pioneering spreadsheet program; virtual-reality pioneer Jaron Lanier; gaming pioneer Scott Kim; and Robert Carr, father of Ashton-Tate's Framework.

But for all their considerable achievements, this was not a group content to snooze on a heap of laurels. In fact, though the hour-and-a-half discussion was full of contention, one thing all the participants agreed on was that software today is in dire need of help. It's still too hard: not only for users struggling to make sense of poorly designed interfaces, but for programmers swimming upstream against a current of constraints that numb creativity and drown innovation.

Today's Daypass sponsored by LowerMyBills.com

These veterans shared a starting-point assumption that the rest of the world is only slowly beginning to understand: While computer hardware seems to advance according to the exponential upward curve known as Moore's Law (doubling in speed -- or halving in cost -- every year or two), software, when it advances at all, seems to move at a more leisurely linear pace.

As Lanier said, "Software inefficiency can always outpace Moore's Law. Moore's Law isn't a match for our bad coding."

The impact of this differential is not simply a matter of which industry gets to collect more profits. It sets a maddening limit on how much good we can expect information technology to achieve. If computers are, as it has often been put, "amplifiers for our brains," then software's limitations cap the volume way too low. Or, in Simonyi's words, "Software as we know it is the bottleneck on the digital horn of plenty."

Most successful programmers are at heart can-do engineers who are optimistic that every problem has a solution. So it was only natural that, even in this relatively small gathering of software pioneers, there were multiple, and conflicting, ideas about how we should proceed in order to break that bottleneck.

Simonyi believes the answer is to unshackle the design of software from the details of implementation in code. "There are two meanings to software design," he explained on Tuesday. "One is, designing the artifact we're trying to implement. The other is the sheer software engineering to make that artifact come into being. I believe these are two separate roles -- the subject matter expert and the software engineer."

Giving the former group tools to shape software will transform the landscape, according to Simonyi. Otherwise, you're stuck in the unsatisfactory present, where the people who know the most about what the software is supposed to accomplish can't directly shape the software itself: All they can do is "make a humble request to the programmer." Simonyi left Microsoft in 2002 to start a new company, Intentional Software, aimed at turning this vision into something concrete.

Frederick Brooks, in a famous 1987 essay, declared that the prospect for a programming "silver bullet" -- to slay, once and for all, the monster-like characteristics of so many software development projects -- was dim. But Simonyi said he believes his project will provide that very silver bullet.

You can't fault him for ambition. Or can you? Jaron Lanier, sitting appropriately at the opposite end of the stage from Simonyi, argued that there's a deeper failure of vision in the software world that requires even more radical change. "A lot of stuff in the Mac and Windows world was supposed to be temporary and got wedged into place," he said. "Making programming fundamentally better might be the single most important challenge we face -- and the most difficult one." Today's software world is simply too "brittle" -- one tiny error and everything grinds to a halt: "We're constantly teetering on the edge of catastrophe." Nature and biological systems are much more flexible, adaptable and forgiving, and we should look to them for new answers. "The path forward is being biomimetic."

What about the open-source movement, which over the past decade has won considerable loyalty and enthusiasm in many programming quarters?

"There's this wonderful outpouring of creativity in the open-source world," Lanier said. "So what do they make -- another version of Unix?"

Today's Daypass sponsored by LowerMyBills.com

Jef Raskin jumped in. "And what do they put on top of it? Another Windows!"

"What are they thinking?" Lanier continued. "Why is the idealism just about how the code is shared -- what about idealism about the code itself?"

At this point, Andy Hertzfeld, who has devoted himself in recent years to open-source projects like Eazel and Chandler, spoke up for the maligned legions of Linux-heads. "It's because they want people to use the stuff!"

His comment underscored something that's frequently misunderstood about the open-source approach, which is often wrongly stereotyped as loopily communal and out-of-touch with business reality. There's an essential pragmatism to the notion that programmers work best when they can share, and learn from, one another's work. After all, every other field of human endeavor works that way.

Bricklin sent waves of laughter through the auditorium by reading a passage from Lammers' interview with Bill Gates in which the young Microsoft founder explained that his work on different versions of Microsoft's BASIC compiler was shaped by looking at how other programmers had gone about the same task. Gates went on to say that young programmers don't need computer science degrees: "The best way to prepare is to write programs, and to study great programs that other people have written. In my case, I went to the garbage cans at the Computer Science Center and I fished out listings of their operating systems."

Bricklin finished reading Gates' words and announced, with an impish smile, "This is where Gates and [Richard] Stallman agree!"

The "Programmers at Work" panelists were full of optimism about new opportunities to reinvent software -- in the mobile-phone world (where, Scott Kim noted, the constraints of small screens and tiny memory made it feel "like the early days" again), in the new universe of RF tags, and in the still-unfolding saga of global networking. Bob Carr reminded everyone that technology transformations usually take 20 years to unfold -- "I remember thinking in 1987 that the PC industry was mature, it was over" -- and that the Internet is only halfway through that cycle.

Still, that picture of Bill Gates dumpster-diving for operating-system code was hard to shake. Finding new ways to think about programming and to make better software demands a willingness for pioneers to open up their work so others can learn from it. "Getting the software industry on a more open, fair and level playing field," as Hertzfeld put it, is a prerequisite for any leap forward in the programming world. Software patents are a looming train wreck; competition in most "end-user" software is largely a distant memory. Simonyi's technical bottleneck is also a social, political and business logjam.

In the era of "Programmers at Work," it was possible to imagine the lone-hero programmer as a genius operating beyond the reach of political and social forces. Today, even the best programmers can't ignore the vast web of interdependence their own work has helped shape.

So.... (2, Interesting)

JFMulder (59706) | more than 10 years ago | (#8624871)

... reading this, does this mean that Windows comes from a dumpster??

Anyway, there's a lot of valid points in that article. Where I work we have the system on peer-review where everytime you submit your branch it has to be approved by someone else. Basically the person just scans through the code, looking for the general idea of how things were implemented.

Re:So.... (0, Troll)

Tony-A (29931) | more than 10 years ago | (#8624967)

... reading this, does this mean that Windows comes from a dumpster??

Only the better parts.

Re:So.... (1)

stephanruby (542433) | more than 10 years ago | (#8624993)

"Basically the person just scans through the code, looking for the general idea of how things were implemented. "

Hopefully, your colleague or your management makes you explain your code/design as well. Scanning someone else's code is tedious work and after a while it's too easy to scan without paying too much attention.

What Works (1)

soloport (312487) | more than 10 years ago | (#8625037)

Peer reviews only work when you, the one who authored the code, explains it to a group of peers (even one will do). And a "peer" can be the night janitor. You'll be shocked when you see your own mistakes -- only when you're explaining it to someone new to it.

Article text, minus links (-1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8624874)

Why software still stinks
Programming must change -- but how? At a reunion of coding pioneers, answers abound.

- - - - - - - - - - - -
By Scott Rosenberg

March 19, 2004 | In some quarters today, it's still a controversial proposition to argue that computer programming is an art as well as a science. But 20 years ago, when Microsoft Press editor Susan Lammers assembled a collection of interviews with software pioneers into a book titled "Programmers at Work," the idea was downright outlandish. Programming had long been viewed as the domain of corporate engineers and university computer scientists. But in the first flush of the personal computer era, the role of software innovator began to evolve into something more like the grand American tradition of the basement inventor -- with a dollop of the huckster on top and, underneath, a deep foundation of idealism.

It made sense that the people writing the most important code for the new desktop machines were ragged individualists with eccentric streaks. At a panel on Tuesday (sponsored by the SDWest conference and Dr. Dobb's Journal) that celebrated Lammers' book, seven of the 19 original subjects of "Programmers at Work" lined up on stage to talk about what's changed in software over the past two decades -- and demonstrate that they have lost none of their cantankerous edge.

In "Programmers at Work," Lammers told the crowd, "I looked at the programmer as an individual on a quest to create something new that would change the world." Certainly, the panel's group lived up to that billing: it included Andy Hertzfeld, who wrote much of the original Macintosh operating system and is now chronicling that saga at Folklore.org; Jef Raskin, who created the original concept for the Macintosh; Charles Simonyi, a Xerox PARC veteran and two-decade Microsoft code guru responsible for much of today's Office suite; Dan Bricklin, co-creator of VisiCalc, the pioneering spreadsheet program; virtual-reality pioneer Jaron Lanier; gaming pioneer Scott Kim; and Robert Carr, father of Ashton-Tate's Framework.

But for all their considerable achievements, this was not a group content to snooze on a heap of laurels. In fact, though the hour-and-a-half discussion was full of contention, one thing all the participants agreed on was that software today is in dire need of help. It's still too hard: not only for users struggling to make sense of poorly designed interfaces, but for programmers swimming upstream against a current of constraints that numb creativity and drown innovation.

These veterans shared a starting-point assumption that the rest of the world is only slowly beginning to understand: While computer hardware seems to advance according to the exponential upward curve known as Moore's Law (doubling in speed -- or halving in cost -- every year or two), software, when it advances at all, seems to move at a more leisurely linear pace.

As Lanier said, "Software inefficiency can always outpace Moore's Law. Moore's Law isn't a match for our bad coding."

The impact of this differential is not simply a matter of which industry gets to collect more profits. It sets a maddening limit on how much good we can expect information technology to achieve. If computers are, as it has often been put, "amplifiers for our brains," then software's limitations cap the volume way too low. Or, in Simonyi's words, "Software as we know it is the bottleneck on the digital horn of plenty."

Most successful programmers are at heart can-do engineers who are optimistic that every problem has a solution. So it was only natural that, even in this relatively small gathering of software pioneers, there were multiple, and conflicting, ideas about how we should proceed in order to break that bottleneck.

Simonyi believes the answer is to unshackle the design of software from the details of implementation in code. "There are two meanings to software design," he explained on Tuesday. "One is, designing the artifact we're trying to implement. The other is the sheer software engineering to make that artifact come into being. I believe these are two separate roles -- the subject matter expert and the software engineer."

Giving the former group tools to shape software will transform the landscape, according to Simonyi. Otherwise, you're stuck in the unsatisfactory present, where the people who know the most about what the software is supposed to accomplish can't directly shape the software itself: All they can do is "make a humble request to the programmer." Simonyi left Microsoft in 2002 to start a new company, Intentional Software, aimed at turning this vision into something concrete.

Frederick Brooks, in a famous 1987 essay, declared that the prospect for a programming "silver bullet" -- to slay, once and for all, the monster-like characteristics of so many software development projects -- was dim. But Simonyi said he believes his project will provide that very silver bullet.

You can't fault him for ambition. Or can you? Jaron Lanier, sitting appropriately at the opposite end of the stage from Simonyi, argued that there's a deeper failure of vision in the software world that requires even more radical change. "A lot of stuff in the Mac and Windows world was supposed to be temporary and got wedged into place," he said. "Making programming fundamentally better might be the single most important challenge we face -- and the most difficult one." Today's software world is simply too "brittle" -- one tiny error and everything grinds to a halt: "We're constantly teetering on the edge of catastrophe." Nature and biological systems are much more flexible, adaptable and forgiving, and we should look to them for new answers. "The path forward is being biomimetic."

What about the open-source movement, which over the past decade has won considerable loyalty and enthusiasm in many programming quarters?

"There's this wonderful outpouring of creativity in the open-source world," Lanier said. "So what do they make -- another version of Unix?"

Jef Raskin jumped in. "And what do they put on top of it? Another Windows!"

"What are they thinking?" Lanier continued. "Why is the idealism just about how the code is shared -- what about idealism about the code itself?"

At this point, Andy Hertzfeld, who has devoted himself in recent years to open-source projects like Eazel and Chandler, spoke up for the maligned legions of Linux-heads. "It's because they want people to use the stuff!"

His comment underscored something that's frequently misunderstood about the open-source approach, which is often wrongly stereotyped as loopily communal and out-of-touch with business reality. There's an essential pragmatism to the notion that programmers work best when they can share, and learn from, one another's work. After all, every other field of human endeavor works that way.

Bricklin sent waves of laughter through the auditorium by reading a passage from Lammers' interview with Bill Gates in which the young Microsoft founder explained that his work on different versions of Microsoft's BASIC compiler was shaped by looking at how other programmers had gone about the same task. Gates went on to say that young programmers don't need computer science degrees: "The best way to prepare is to write programs, and to study great programs that other people have written. In my case, I went to the garbage cans at the Computer Science Center and I fished out listings of their operating systems."

Bricklin finished reading Gates' words and announced, with an impish smile, "This is where Gates and [Richard] Stallman agree!"

The "Programmers at Work" panelists were full of optimism about new opportunities to reinvent software -- in the mobile-phone world (where, Scott Kim noted, the constraints of small screens and tiny memory made it feel "like the early days" again), in the new universe of RF tags, and in the still-unfolding saga of global networking. Bob Carr reminded everyone that technology transformations usually take 20 years to unfold -- "I remember thinking in 1987 that the PC industry was mature, it was over" -- and that the Internet is only halfway through that cycle.

Still, that picture of Bill Gates dumpster-diving for operating-system code was hard to shake. Finding new ways to think about programming and to make better software demands a willingness for pioneers to open up their work so others can learn from it. "Getting the software industry on a more open, fair and level playing field," as Hertzfeld put it, is a prerequisite for any leap forward in the programming world. Software patents are a looming train wreck; competition in most "end-user" software is largely a distant memory. Simonyi's technical bottleneck is also a social, political and business logjam.

In the era of "Programmers at Work," it was possible to imagine the lone-hero programmer as a genius operating beyond the reach of political and social forces. Today, even the best programmers can't ignore the vast web of interdependence their own work has helped shape.

Re:Article text, minus links (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8624937)

"Still, that picture of Bill Gates dumpster-diving for operating-system code was hard to shake."

Process becomes product???

\ /
L

Full Article (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8624877)

ALERT
The CX Registry has shut off the goatse.cx domain suddenly and without warning.
They have cowardly cited a section of their AUP with allows them to remove
sites at their discretion.
Please e-mail info@nic.cx with your opinion of this matter.

The original page

Programming Skills (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8624889)

It's such a simple concept. The more of anything we have, the more the mediocre stands out. With millions of writers, we get self help books, assorted garbage, and several really excellent works.

Programming has an artisitic side, the creativity, vision, and insanity required to apply oneself to a project is much like the authoring of a book. Many have the skills, know the principles, but even then, few have the internal extra to create.

I may know language and syntax, but I'm nowhere near the league of Shakespear, Tolkien, Asimov, or Clancey. Fortunately for me, they are nowhere near my league when it comes to putting code together.

We have millions of coders - 60 percent will have average skills, 20 percent will be below average (or plain suck), and 20 percent will be above average, including that rare 2 percent of the absolutely insane, don't let them out on weekends, make sure they get fed, check they haven't peed themselves brand of genius.

Re:Programming Skills (2, Insightful)

ArbitraryConstant (763964) | more than 10 years ago | (#8625023)

My employer has a pretty sweet racket. They keep a few employees that are still in university so they can snap up bright young people without having to sift through hundreds of idiots.

In other news, this is the inaugural post from my new account, created so no one at my office knows I'm talking about them.

my threads keep dying, y0! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8624891)

I'm writting a Perl program in windoze. Using Perl cause that at least makes the job bearable (fuck Java and the assholes who invented it). But since this is 'doze, i gotta use mofukin threads instead of fork! What a fuckin sham. Anyway, I'm asking alll u Perl elite muthafuckaz out there how can a brotha tell if his damn modules are thread-safe or not? And don't tell me to read the muthafukin manual, cause it only sez that if the module doesn't say "y0 i do threads" then it's not safe. WTF? That tells me jack shit is what. It doesn't tell me how to really find out WTF is going on behind the scenes. Someone's gotta know the dealie, y0!

Re:my threads keep dying, y0! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8624909)

> my threads keep dying, y0!

Just follow their lead...

Re:my threads keep dying, y0! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8624987)

wassup wassup! some damn bitchy bitch tryin to get hostile with me? betta watch y0 step fewl, or i'll pop a muthafukin regex in yo ass!

MOD PARENT UP Y0! +65535 ZERODAY ELITE SHIT! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8625084)

don't give me that -1 bull shit

Article (Watched the commercial) (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8624905)

These veterans shared a starting-point assumption that the rest of the world is only slowly beginning to understand: While computer hardware seems to advance according to the exponential upward curve known as Moore's Law [slashdot.org] (doubling in speed -- or halving in cost -- every year or two), software, when it advances at all, seems to move at a more leisurely linear pace.

As Lanier said, "Software inefficiency can always outpace Moore's Law. Moore's Law isn't a match for our bad coding."

The impact of this differential is not simply a matter of which industry gets to collect more profits. It sets a maddening limit on how much good we can expect information technology to achieve. If computers are, as it has often been put, [microsoft.com] "amplifiers for our brains," then software's limitations cap the volume way too low. Or, in Simonyi's words, "Software as we know it is the bottleneck on the digital horn of plenty."

Most successful programmers are at heart can-do engineers who are optimistic that every problem has a solution. So it was only natural that, even in this relatively small gathering of software pioneers, there were multiple, and conflicting, ideas about how we should proceed in order to break that bottleneck.

Simonyi believes the answer is to unshackle the design of software from the details of implementation in code. "There are two meanings to software design," he explained on Tuesday. "One is, designing the artifact we're trying to implement. The other is the sheer software engineering to make that artifact come into being. I believe these are two separate roles -- the subject matter expert and the software engineer."

Giving the former group tools to shape software will transform the landscape, according to Simonyi. Otherwise, you're stuck in the unsatisfactory present, where the people who know the most about what the software is supposed to accomplish can't directly shape the software itself: All they can do is "make a humble request to the programmer." Simonyi left Microsoft in 2002 to start a new company, Intentional Software, [intentsoft.com] aimed at turning this vision into something concrete.

Jef Raskin jumped in. "And what do they put on top of it? Another Windows!"

"What are they thinking?" Lanier continued. "Why is the idealism just about how the code is shared -- what about idealism about the code itself?"

At this point, Andy Hertzfeld, who has devoted himself in recent years to open-source projects like Eazel [salon.com] and Chandler, [osafoundation.org] spoke up for the maligned legions of Linux-heads. "It's because they want people to use the stuff!"

His comment underscored something that's frequently misunderstood about the open-source approach, which is often wrongly stereotyped as loopily communal and out-of-touch with business reality. There's an essential pragmatism to the notion that programmers work best when they can share, and learn from, one another's work. After all, every other field of human endeavor works that way.

Bricklin sent waves of laughter through the auditorium by reading a passage from Lammers' interview with Bill Gates in which the young Microsoft founder explained that his work on different versions of Microsoft's BASIC compiler was shaped by looking at how other programmers had gone about the same task. Gates went on to say that young programmers don't need computer science degrees: "The best way to prepare is to write programs, and to study great programs that other people have written. In my case, I went to the garbage cans at the Computer Science Center and I fished out listings of their operating systems."

Bricklin finished reading Gates' words and announced, with an impish smile, "This is where Gates and [Richard] Stallman [stallman.org] agree!"

The "Programmers at Work" panelists were full of optimism about new opportunities to reinvent software -- in the mobile-phone world (where, Scott Kim noted, the constraints of small screens and tiny memory made it feel "like the early days" again), in the new universe of RF tags, [slashdot.org] and in the still-unfolding saga of global networking. Bob Carr reminded everyone that technology transformations usually take 20 years to unfold -- "I remember thinking in 1987 that the PC industry was mature, it was over" -- and that the Internet is only halfway through that cycle.

Still, that picture of Bill Gates dumpster-diving for operating-system code was hard to shake. Finding new ways to think about programming and to make better software demands a willingness for pioneers to open up their work so others can learn from it. "Getting the software industry on a more open, fair and level playing field," as Hertzfeld put it, is a prerequisite for any leap forward in the programming world. Software patents are a looming train wreck; competition in most "end-user" software is largely a distant memory. Simonyi's technical bottleneck is also a social, political and business logjam.

In the era of "Programmers at Work," it was possible to imagine the lone-hero programmer as a genius operating beyond the reach of political and social forces. Today, even the best programmers can't ignore the vast web of interdependence their own work has helped shape.

Simonyi's part of the problem (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8624915)

Simonyi is part of the problem with software today, thanks to his putrid invention, "Hungarian Notation."

Maybe he's working on a better version... something like HungarianNotationX. Yeah, that'll solve the world's problems!

Oops (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8624918)

That paper is based on observations from Visual Studio. They need to try Eclipse. Steer away from Micorosoft's tools, they're not the best.

Why programming stinks in general: (5, Insightful)

BeerSlurpy (185482) | more than 10 years ago | (#8624924)

It is entirely possible to survive in many companies as a bad programmer who nonetheless manages to be productive and produce seemingly non-buggy code. They may even appear to be especially hardworking and motivated because of the poor design that they have to spend extra time working around as they add features.

The forces that allow this phenomenon to self-perpetuate are:
=Lack of people who know how to manage engineers properly, know how to recognize good ones and bad ones and how to motivate the ones you have to be productive.
=Lack of good project management skills that inevitably leads to crunched schedules and poor quality code, also lack of perception on the part of management as to why software is having problems with performance, bugs or schedule to complete
=Lack of desire to retain good engineers or cultivate improvement in the junior ones
=Lack of communication between engineering and whomever is giving them work, especially regarding desired features and schedule
=Lack of quality control, lack of oversight, lack of checkpoints in project progress

It doesnt help that the concept of "good engineering" is so hard to measure- a few things are "obviously bad" but most things are not. Even if someone is being completely wrong headed about one particular concept, it is entirely possible that they are exceptionally strong in many other areas within that field. It eventually boils down to "the proof being in the pudding" with the pudding being exceptionally complex to make and subject to the whims of the royal pudding tasters when done.

Why Programming Still Stinks: (0)

sudohnim (248093) | more than 10 years ago | (#8625065)

Because Programmers don't bathe.

and in other news... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8624954)

*BSD is dying.

Soon will be gone forever the glory days of old (4, Insightful)

Illserve (56215) | more than 10 years ago | (#8624958)

For programming to get "good" it's going to have to get unfun. No more will long haired super cool geniuses plug away for hours on end.

It'll have to be a managed engineering process with all the fun and excitement of a CPA convention.

Re:Soon will be gone forever the glory days of old (4, Insightful)

alienmole (15522) | more than 10 years ago | (#8625099)

For programming to get "good" it's going to have to get unfun. No more will long haired super cool geniuses plug away for hours on end.

It'll have to be a managed engineering process with all the fun and excitement of a CPA convention.

This only works when no innovation is necessary. You can't CPA-ify innovation (at least, no-one has ever succeeded at that). That's why big companies have to buy small companies, and why big companies run research departments for the long-haired super cool geniuses to play.

It's Gordon Moore's Fault (5, Insightful)

G4from128k (686170) | more than 10 years ago | (#8624961)

Moore's Law is one reason why software still stinks. Instead of perfecting systems within the confines of a limited amount of resources, its too easy to just assume more MHz, MB, amd Mbps.

With exponentially increasing resources, nothing ever stabilizes and everyone knows it. If people design software with the assumption that it will be totally obsolete and replaced in 18 months, they create software that is so badly designed that it must be replaced in 18 months.

Until hardware performance plateaus and people get off the upgrade-go-round, programming will be sloppy and ugly.

Re:It's Gordon Moore's Fault (2, Interesting)

miu (626917) | more than 10 years ago | (#8625117)

I'm gonna have to disagree with the notion that lack of scarcity leads to bad design.

I think more often that low level optimization often locks us into a bad design, look at the Mac System software version 9 and lower or Windows before XP for an extreme example of this. Locks and crashes caused by apps were common because the task scheduler and memory model were created with scarcity in mind - developers at Apple and MS knew better ways to do things, but were locked in by those descisions made based on earlier hardware capabilities.

Close Enough (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8624968)

I think what they MEANT to say is "Why Programmers Still Stink"

Physical vs Digital Creation... (4, Insightful)

gilmet (601408) | more than 10 years ago | (#8624970)

The two are remarkably similar. As time goes on, analagous roles to those found in the production of physical machines/structures (such as concept artists, architects, engineers, construction workers) will be defined for digital creation. Actually, this has already happened. Perhaps what's lagging behind is the partitioning of education that leads to these professions?

Building code from specification (5, Insightful)

JordanH (75307) | more than 10 years ago | (#8624988)

From the article:
Simonyi believes the answer is to unshackle the design of software from the details of implementation in code. "There are two meanings to software design," he explained on Tuesday. "One is, designing the artifact we're trying to implement. The other is the sheer software engineering to make that artifact come into being. I believe these are two separate roles -- the subject matter expert and the software engineer."

Giving the former group tools to shape software will transform the landscape, according to Simonyi. Otherwise, you're stuck in the unsatisfactory present, where the people who know the most about what the software is supposed to accomplish can't directly shape the software itself: All they can do is "make a humble request to the programmer." Simonyi left Microsoft in 2002 to start a new company, Intentional Software, aimed at turning this vision into something concrete.

It's difficult to believe that Simonyi could be ignorant of the many many years of development of CASE tools and AI projects that have promised to build software systems from specifications.

In 1980, a Professor told a lecture hall of Sophomore Computer Science students, myself included, that almost none of them would have jobs in programming, because in just a few years we would have AI systems that would build software systems from specifications that subject specialists could input.

I don't think we are even a little bit closer to that dream today than we were 24 years ago.

Maybe I'm confusing things here, though. Specifications aren't exactly the same as design. I know that I've sat through some CASE tool presentations where they implied that the work was all done when the design was done, but they were doing some pretty fast hand waving. I believe that those tools did not live up to the promises of their marketing.

Am I off-base here? Has Simonyi cracked this problem with something entirely new?

Re:Building code from specification (3, Insightful)

gcaseye6677 (694805) | more than 10 years ago | (#8625031)

Anybody remember parameterized programming about 15 years ago that was supposed to replace the need for programmers? Gotta love how that worked out.

Re:Building code from specification (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 10 years ago | (#8625046)

Am I off-base here? Has Simonyi cracked this problem with something entirely new?
No, of course he hasn't. This is just a whinging session. Some people have some fantasies and every once in a while they like to complain about how reality doesn't live up to their fantasies. Like when people say, "AI is a failure" (because it hasn't lived up to the baseless expectations we once had).

Re:Building code from specification (1)

primus_sucks (565583) | more than 10 years ago | (#8625096)

Has Simonyi cracked this problem with something entirely new?

Well based on his track record of writing the core Windows code and inventing some fucked up, unreadable way of naming variables, I'd say no.

Re: Building code from specification (3, Interesting)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 10 years ago | (#8625123)


> I don't think we are even a little bit closer to that dream today than we were 24 years ago.

The problem, IMO, is that providing a specification that is detailed enough and correct enough to generate a correct program from is just as hard as writing the correct program in the first place.

OK, maybe only as hard as writing it in a slightly higher-level language, but if so, just huse the HLL.

Programming sucks because it's in its infancy (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8624990)

When we have the power to build highly generalized, evolutionary programs we might start to approach the reliability levels seen in nature. We will look back on all these fancy programming metaphors we have now as barely better than hunter-gathering. We haven't even had our programming agricultural revolution, let alone our industrial one.

these people have had their chance (3, Interesting)

hak1du (761835) | more than 10 years ago | (#8624996)

Sorry, I don't think any of those people have much credibility left: they have been in the business for decades, they have had enormous name recognition. We have seen the kind of software they produce. If they knew how to do better, they have had more opportunities than anybody else to fix it. I think it's time to listen to someone else.

Mechanics and programmers have similar problems. (4, Interesting)

rice_burners_suck (243660) | more than 10 years ago | (#8624997)

I admittedly haven't read the article (yet), but I'd like to include a few reasons of my own that programming stinks. As you might guess, I am a programmer.

My friends and I compare a lot of computer things to car things. Most likely, we do that because we are enthusiasts of both. Fast cars and fast software are very similar in many respects.

A little background information on cars is necessary to gain the full effect of my argument about programming. Although the next three paragraphs may seem unnecessary at first glance, I assure you that I am a careful writer and that you should read them.

Car enthusiasts fall into quite a few categories. For example, people who restore classic Mopar or Chevy cars enjoy making everything look like "mint" condition. Usually, every part of the car is so spotless and beautiful that you could eat off the engine. On the other end of the classic car spectrum, there are those who will tub out the entire car and concentrate only on performance features. These cars may not look like much, but they'll break your neck if you push the gas too hard. And of course, there is an entire spectrum of prefenences between these two ideals.

In most of these categories, the hard core enthusiasts like to do the ENTIRE job themselves. They won't let anyone else touch their cars. The wanna be's will usually contract out nearly everything, because they want the glamor of showing up at car shows and showing off their machine, but can't hold a screwdriver and don't know the difference between a 6-point wrench and an Allen wrench. And of course, there is an entire spectrum of car knowledge, experience, and do-it-yourself levels in between these two extremes.

Somewhere in the middle of the two extremes are people like my friends and I. We do a lot of work ourselves, but when it's a complex or high-risk job, or if we don't feel like doing it because it's boring and time consuming, we'll have a professional do it. There are auto mechanics who do pretty much any job. And there are mechanics who specialize in a specific area. For example, I have my radiator guy, my transmission guy, my engine rebuilding guy, my chrome plating guy, my carpet guy, my headliner guy, and the list goes on and on. I use each specific person for the job he excels at because I understand thoroughly what I am about to explain.

Programmers are a lot like the car enthusiasts that I am and whom I describe above. Some prefer to do EVERYTHING, like that guy who wrote 386BSD and wouldn't insert other peoples' code improvements. (The project got forked and now you've got the *BSDs, and that guy is no longer involved as far as I know.) Some prefer to concentrate only on a specific area of software, such as graphics, numerical algorithms, kernel schedulers, assembly optimizations, databases, text processing, and the list goes on and on forever. Even an area such as graphics can break down into a plethora of categories, such as charting software, user interfaces, etc.

The biggest reason that software sucks, in my opinion, is the very same reason that the automotive repair industry sucks. I wouldn't be surprised if programmers are just as hated as car mechanics. The programmer's boss is just like the old lady who takes her car to the mechanic. Neither knows anything about the job at hand. The only thing they know is that it costs them big and the results suck.

For the programmer's boss, the software contains bugs, is difficult and confusing for the customer to use, and takes much too long to develop, so the market window closes, the project goes over budget, and maybe higher management cancels the project altogether.

For the little old lady, the car broke down. The mechanic wants to fix it properly. But doing so will take weeks (believe me). The symptoms are caused by one or more problems, which require several new parts and quite a lot of labor to repair. The parts may be hard to find. The old ones may need to be rebuilt. And generally, people don't like renting a car for two weeks while theirs is in the shop. So the mechanic applies a quick fix, charges the customer, and the customer only ends up disappointed when the car doesn't run noticeably better and breaks down again several weeks down the road.

In both industries, this happens because of lack of time. It has to be good, cheap, and fast. And that's impossible, because you can only choose two of the above. It also happens because both the mechanic and the programmer are expected to do such a wide range of things, when their expertise perhaps lies in a few specialized areas of their jobs. The mechanic might be really excellent at rebuilding worn engines, but doesn't understand electrical problems quite as well. The programmer might be excellent at making screaming fast mathematical algorithms, but sucks at designing user interfaces. Yet both are expected to turn out wonderful results in the entire spectrum of their respective jobs.

When the consumers of both industries (the programmers managers and the drivers of automobiles) begin to understand what I have just explained, both industries will be looked upon with much more respect than they currently are. However, this will probably never happen, because people generally don't know or care what goes on "under the hood" and prefer not to know. They want the job done, and they have little respect for those who take the trouble of doing a first class job.

Re:Mechanics and programmers have similar problems (1)

starm_ (573321) | more than 10 years ago | (#8625152)

Hehe this would make a good base for a philosophy or sociology paper. Anyone taking a class? you could steel it!

Programming Programming (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8625010)

If they don't care enough to read their own copy, I sure as hell am not going to read it.

Jeesh, whatever happened to quality control?

Kind of disappointed (2, Interesting)

Comatose51 (687974) | more than 10 years ago | (#8625040)

The article doesn't provide much of the actual discussions so it's really hard for me to decide if I agree with the experts. From the article, it seems to imply that there are problems with software. That much is nothing new. Software is fragile and implemenation is difficult. However, the article doesn't really seem to get at the reason, other than to say we lack the necessary tools. So, while I agree with that much, it's nothing shocking or particularly insightful. It's disappointingly shallow for a Salon article.

The only real shocking part to me was the Bill Gates quote. He's an Open-Source man at heart or just a hypocrite. :P

Re:Kind of disappointed (1)

srichand (750139) | more than 10 years ago | (#8625158)

Correct me if i'am wrong, but i believe Bill Gates is the most open man at ms. Its mostly Balmer and his bunch of hoodlums who talk all the rot...

So how can this be done? (3, Insightful)

miu (626917) | more than 10 years ago | (#8625043)

From the article:
"Making programming fundamentally better might be the single most important challenge we face -- and the most difficult one." Today's software world is simply too "brittle" -- one tiny error and everything grinds to a halt: "We're constantly teetering on the edge of catastrophe." Nature and biological systems are much more flexible, adaptable and forgiving, and we should look to them for new answers. "The path forward is being biomimetic."
This is easy to say, but what to do about it? A CPU is controlled by a set of registers and the contents of a stack, even if you virtualize those things (JVM, smalltalk, .NET, ...) and give them access controls you still have a system that is subject to massive failure once a single part of the system falls.

So for this biomimetic approach to work would require a dramatically different machine architecture from what we have now. Of course this would also require the rewrites of all existing Operating Systems and lots of existing application and library software. So 'emulate biological systems' is a nice easy answer that does not really answer anything in the near term.

Have you noticed... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8625054)

Have you noticed that in the same way the the "Internet" and the "New Economy" turned from *exciting paradigms* into jokes and icons of pain, Slashdot itself has transitioned from being a cool and relevant production into a target of jokes? What happened to the founders? Does success *always* demand subsequent failure??

Why don't people get over themselves, and start paying attention to their product???

Charles Simonyi? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8625061)

Charles Simonyi, former MS Chief Scientist and inventor of the horror that is Hungarian Notation? I guess they picked him as an example.

Programming stinks because programmers stink (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8625062)

Perhaps linear, logical, engineering geek-types are the wrong type of people for the job. We haven't made the computers smart enough so the people with real design skills can use them properly.

That's curry you smell... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8625070)

and I think it smells nice, you insensitive clod!

Simonyi stating the obvious? (4, Interesting)

sashang (608223) | more than 10 years ago | (#8625111)

"One is, designing the artifact we're trying to implement. The other is the sheer software engineering to make that artifact come into being. I believe these are two separate roles -- the subject matter expert and the software engineer."
Funny chap talking about how design and implementation should be separate. Seems a bit ironic considering he was the one who create Word docs where the layout and content are all packed into one file. Most decent solutions separate the layout from the content (eg: Latex, HTML/CSS). If Simoyi was a web programmer he'd be laying out his html with tables.
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