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Programming Things I Wish I Knew Earlier

Khelder Re:LISP/Scheme (590 comments)

Everyone who programs for a living should learn LISP or Scheme or similar. Unless that's all they know, then they should learn C or Java or something else with a big imperative component.

Knowing different programming paradigms makes you a better programmer in whatever language you use, because different probems map better (sometimes much, much better) to different approaches.

about 4 years ago

Programming Things I Wish I Knew Earlier

Khelder Re:Some tips from a C guy. (590 comments)

K&R is a great book. If you want to learn C, you need look no further.

However, I wouldn't say that if someone doesn't know what pass by value vs. reference is that the solution is to learn C. The solution is to learn more about programming language theory. Then you can apply it to all languages you learn.

about 4 years ago

Programming Things I Wish I Knew Earlier

Khelder Re:Some tips from a C guy. (590 comments)

If you have infinite time or are really interested in how these things work, I think it's unnecessary. Sure, some programmers do really need to know exactly how malloc and free work, or how string functions are implemented. But the vast majority do not. What you need to know about details like that depend massively on the type of programming you do.

about 4 years ago

Programming Things I Wish I Knew Earlier

Khelder Re:Comment your code (590 comments)

I agree except "five years"? More like 6 months, in my experience (sometimes even less). IMNSHO, any code you wrote and haven't looked at for 6 months or more was effectively written By Someone Else. Unless you're on a really short term with your current employer, writing good code with good comments isn't just good professional behavior and being considerate to the next guy, it's for you, too, so when you boss asks you next year to add feature X to that code you wrote you won't waste time flailing around trying to understand (again) code that *you wrote*.

about 4 years ago

Is a US High-Speed Railway Economically Feasible?

Khelder Re:Comparing Trains in the US and Europe (1139 comments)

It's true that *a lot* of cargo moves by rail in the US, and that's a Good Thing because it's so much cheaper for cargo than any other option. And I agree we should not ruin it.

However, I'm not sure that means we can't have better passenger rail, esp. in the more dense parts of the country. And I'm not as sure as you that Americans Just Like Flying Better. I'd be much more inclined to take the train if it weren't: A) more expensive than flying, B) have very few scheduling choices, and C) take for freaking ever not because the trains just go slower than planes but because you have to wait 12h between trains in one station and 6h in another for another train.

And did I mention they cost the same or, often, *more* than flying?

If it were cheaper and there were more options schedule-wise, I think a lot more people would take the train.

more than 3 years ago

Microsoft Silverlight 4 vs. Adobe Flash 10.1

Khelder Python contest (379 comments)

Reminds me of the Monty Python contest where the winner's choices of prize include A Poke in the Eye and A Boot in the Teeth.

more than 3 years ago

WordPress Creator GPL Says WP Template Must Be GPL'd

Khelder Re:It comes form scope creep (571 comments)

Where to draw the line with "linkage" and the GPL has seemed like a problem to me for a long time. There are two clear points along the linkage scale everyone seems to agree with. Suppose you have GPL'ed software G:

1. Connecting to G via TCP/IP sockets with software client C does not force C to be GPL'ed. For example, GPL'ed web servers have no impact on the license of web browser.

2. If software S links with G, in the conventional static or dynamic way (i.e., incorporating a .a or .lib file into an executable when the executable is built, or loading a .so or .dll along with the executable at the time it is run), does mean that S must be GPL'ed, too.

This distinction is pretty clear in itself, but it's pretty artificial. You can make TCP/IP connections look like function calls, and vice versa, with appropriate libraries. And now we're seeing the real problem with this approach, now that separate code "modules" are being "linked" in new and different ways.

By the argument in this article, are Java applications and applets run on a GPL'ed JVM required to be GPL'ed?

I support the principles of the GPL and I'm really glad authors can and do use the GPL for stuff they make. I'm not sure, though, if there's a principled way to say when "linking" makes something a derived work.

more than 4 years ago

Are Googlers Too Smart For Their Own Good?

Khelder Everything is vague... (307 comments)

Everything is vague to a degree you do not realize till you have tried to make it precise. - Bertrand Russell

more than 4 years ago

In a structure of N stories, I'd prefer my office be ...

Khelder Re:Not ground level, but not not too high (467 comments)

Reminds me of one of the buildings at CMU (Wean), which was on a steep hill and thus had ground floor entrances on floors 1, 4, and 5.

more than 4 years ago

iPad Is a "Huge Step Backward"

Khelder Computer ?= phone (1634 comments)

I agree. Maybe this is just a sign of my age, but in my mind "computer" and "phone" occupy two different zones. My phone is much more of an appliance, like my microwave oven, that I really want to Just Work. If it has some extra features, cool, but they can't prevent the core function from Just Working.

My computer, OTOH, I really like being a general device and would never buy one that I couldn't install arbitrary stuff onto.

So I'm not crazy about the iPhone Apple Store tie-in, but I can live with it.

As for the iPad, I think I want my tablet device/ebook reader to be a computer, too.

more than 4 years ago

Is Programming a Lucrative Profession?

Khelder Re:grad vs masters vs phd the myth. (844 comments)

It may be different if you're developing at the level of VHDL, so the following may not apply.

But I'm glad you don't have anything to do with hiring at my software company. Knowing more programming languages, especially from different paradigms, makes you a better programmer in all of them.

more than 4 years ago

Wii Hardware Upgrade Won't Happen Soon

Khelder Different consoles, different games (325 comments)

The best console for you depends on what games you like.

I have young kids, so I'm really happy to have a Wii instead of another console. It's also a great platform to have if you've got family or friends who are casual gamers.

I have a PC and play my serious games on that. This configuration works great for me.

YMMV. Void where prohibited. If nausea, vomiting, or death occurs, discontinue use.

more than 4 years ago

Nexus One Name Irks Philip K. Dick's Estate

Khelder Re:Good luck (506 comments)

I agree. I think his heirs really have an inflated sense of his presence. I've seen Blade Runner multiple times and am a big sci fi fan, and my first thought when I saw a headline saying Nexus One might infringe on something of Dick's was "Huh?" Even when the connection to Blade Runner was made, I still had no idea. Virtually nobody remembers the name "nexus" in connection to Dick's work.

more than 4 years ago

Which Math For Programmers?

Khelder It depends (466 comments)

Agreed. It completely depends on what kind of software you want to write or what kind of computing research you want to do. I love continuous math, so I took a fair bit of it, but I've hardly ever used it because of the application domains of most of my software development thus far. I never really liked discrete math or statistics, which is too bad, since they're both a lot more applicable for what I do.

And for Software Engineering as a discipline, math is not a high priority. It's more about prioritizing, process, requirements, documentation, dealing with other humans, and other stuff I'm probably forgetting just now. It's a far cry from a lot of scientific or engineering-oriented programming, which is often done by by small teams with more training in the application area than in computer science or software engineering.

I'd say do the math you like and pursue software development that uses that math.

more than 4 years ago

The Neuroscience of Screwing Up

Khelder Re:The problem... (maybe?) (190 comments)

So would you also advocate giving up on, say, weather prediction? Until we can come up with a model of the weather based on experimentally-tested theories such as how individual molecules of air move and interact?

It would be really helpful to me professionally if we had models of people that were more like our models of bridges, car engines, airplanes, integrated circuits, etc. But modelling humans explicitly as systems of millions of individual units (e.g., cells, neurons) is going to be a long time coming. Current models of human perception, congition, and so on, are far from perfect, but they're sitll a lot better than nothing.

more than 4 years ago

GNU Emacs Switches From CVS To Bazaar

Khelder Re:what's new?; bazaar versus git (198 comments)

"The advantage of mg is that it loads immediately"

Loads, loads... Hmmm. What's that? ... Oh, yeah, you mean what you do once every few years when you have to reboot for a kernel or hardware upgrade and then you log in and have to wait 10s or so until emacs fills your screen again? Is that this "load" time you're talking about?

Anybody who cares how long emacs takes to load isn't using it the Right Way(TM)*.

[*] Meaning, of course, how I use it.

more than 4 years ago

What Does Everyone Use For Task/Project Tracking?

Khelder Re:Trac = Bugzilla and Wiki (428 comments)

I like trac a lot for small projects, but for tracking lots of bugs I find its search interface really frustrating after being used to the flexibility of Bugzilla (esp. for searches). A project I was on used Bugzilla for bugs, and trac for everything else (with its tickets as internal to-do items), and that worked really well.

more than 4 years ago

Windows 7 Under Fire For Patent Infringement

Khelder Legal System Flaw (241 comments)

I never noticed this flaw in US legal system before: one of these litigants has to win. If only *both* could lose...

more than 4 years ago

Geek Travel To London From the US — Tips?

Khelder The Tower of London (1095 comments)

I don't know if it's geeky, exactly, but I suspect fondness for castles is correlated with geekiness. In any case, I strongly recommend the Tower of London. It might have been just the tour guide we happened to get, but the best tour I ever had of anything anywhere was at the Tower of London.

The Crown Jewels are there, too, and you can look get a surprisingly close look at them. They weren't the highlight, though, at least for me. (Mainly, they were surreal to me; they were so big, I just couldn't believe enough that they were real to be impressed by them.)

more than 4 years ago


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