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Why Apple Should Open-Source Swift -- But Won't

MassacrE What a useless article (183 comments)

Languages don't get open sourced - language implementations do. So a real informative article would talk about why apple would or wouldn't propose Swift to a standards body as a new language.

My understanding (from Apple employee comments, including by Chris Lattner who created Swift) is that the language is evolving in the open now. Version 1.0 is going to be supported by iOS 8 tools, but that doesn't mean there may be several updates even over the next year to fundamental language concepts. Languages evolve from use; the best way to make Swift better is to have people both inside and outside of Apple start using it and providing feedback.

They actually designed the swift implementation to make more rapid evolution of the language possible; there are no components at the OS level or shared by applications. Instead, you bundle your application and dependent libraries with the swift runtime corresponding to the compiler version used to compile every swift thing in that bundle. In exchange for more space used by duplicating libraries, they can actually let you ship and support older swift code that might not even compile with the newest tools due to language changes.

In that environment of rapid innovation, attempting to standardize the language or to promote alternate implementations would be insane. However, these are both things which I've seen hints are desired once the language calms down. If Swift is proposed as a new language to a standards body, it is incredibly likely that Apple would also give components of their Swift implementation to the LLVM project.

about a month ago
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PHK: HTTP 2.0 Should Be Scrapped

MassacrE Re:Good point, except... (220 comments)

It is a technical discussion. Unless you are prepared to provide feedback on how to make a more private/anonymous protocol which can serve as a drop-in replacement for HTTP 1.1, "normal users" will just serve as background noise.

PHK's biggest issue IMHO is that HTTP/2 will break his software (Varnish), by requiring things his internal architecture can't really deal with (TLS).

about 5 months ago
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L.A. School District's 30,000 iPads May Come With Free Lock-In

MassacrE Re:sad (232 comments)

This is because most funding that comes from outside of the local community (from state and federal-level taxes) comes with significant strings attached on what the funds can be used for. This is for example pretty much the only reason most schools even have internet access today - because some program somewhere is funding it.

Realize primary school textbooks actually cost new the same level as college-level textbooks, and the security requirements which are being placed on schools. Moving to an iPad per student not only saves them money (since replacements are built into the cost to schools), but it allows them to eliminate lockers because students no longer have 60 lbs of books issued to them for their classes.

On the flip side, books never really die - they just get too worn for a school to use. But typically these are repaired and given to a school which has less money. And then, scarily, again they are given to schools which have less money (apparently a lot of my old text books which were all third+ hand were being sent to Mississippi - and a significant number of my books in high school were already the same age or older as I was).

The book publishers are not interested in having book licenses be transferrable - instead, a Math book is discounted down to $10 for a student on condition that the book is not transferrable to any other student, and is "theirs for life". New versions are actually pushed out to the book itself digitally, so tricks like you have in college of having the "14th edition" come out with the same text but new problems go away.

This not only starts to create a much more predictable revenue for the book publishers, but will have a trickle-down effect where the poorer schools will have to get in line, since they no longer have a source of repairable books for their classrooms.

about a year ago
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Comparing the C++ Standard and Boost

MassacrE Re:I don't like boost (333 comments)

b) a darn STANDARD _Binary_ API so I don't have to worry about which _compiler_ AND _platform_ was used,

I'm not quite sure what you mean here. Do you mean generate compiler/platform independent code (some IR like bytecode/LLIR)? Or do you mean ntoh/hton and the like?

h) Provide PROPER 16-bit, 24-bit, and 32-bit characters
i) Fix the darn grammar so that compilers accept UNICODE source
j) Fix the darn grammar so that compilers RECOGNIZE identifiers WITH Unicode characters

Should both be fixed with C++11. Except 24-bit characters, which I've never heard of before.

k) Add a proper exponent operator
l) Add a proper wedge operator, along with inner and outer product operators

Seem rather special-cased here.

m) Add proper multiple return types

You can do this by returning a std::pair, a std::tuple, or a structure you build. However, I don't believe there is an easy syntactic way to split a pair/tuple into multiple local variables.

n) Fix all the times the spec says "undefined" or "implementation dependent". The point of a spec is to SPECIFY what the operations do, NOT to be ambiguous because in some idiotic universe 'char' is not exactly 8-bits.

Never going to happen. Most of those "undefined/implementation dependent" items are features, and compilers take advantage of them to optimize code. It does make some quirky edge cases, but makes a lot of code optimization techniques in use today possible.

When is C++ going to automatic garbage collection WITH the ability to tell the garbage system how many milliseconds you are allowed to use (inclusive from ZERO.)

Do you know a system that does this max time? Because it sounds ridiculously difficult, and would lead to cases where a program would have to fail because it has no memory yet is not allowed to do a full garbage sweep/reclaim.

The problem with that C++ is not that you can't write simple code, but is that the languages makes it easy to write verbose bloated code.

I actually don't believe this is the problem with C++ - you can write verbose, bloated code in most languages. The problem I see is that C++ was made to be as strict a superset of C as possible, and inherited an audience who want full control of things like object size, and memory allocation/deallocation behavior. Because of this, generialized code requires way more knobs to be tweaked than you expect, and templates have evolved to be a hacked-together functional programming language to determine optimal operation. In order to generate an optimal, generic library you have to make the code itself incredibly difficult to maintain.

about a year and a half ago
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Apple's Lightning-to-HDMI Dongle Secretly Packed With ARM, Airplay

MassacrE Re:Of course it has a CPU in it. (392 comments)

Although I don't have the means or desire to test it, it is far more likely that they decided most of what people would want to output via HDMI was H.264-encoded video. So they made an interface where H.264 was streamed over the lightning connector, and converted by this adapter to HDMI. Probably both sides use HDCP or similar protections.

The limitations Panic encountered are because the video support in the iPad mini can only h.264 encode the screen (for 'mirroring') at lower-than-1080p resolutions.

about a year and a half ago
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First Bionic Eye Gets FDA Blessing

MassacrE Thats Awesome! (42 comments)

But, does it look like a women's hair clip painted gold?

about a year and a half ago
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Fragmentation Comes To iOS

MassacrE Re:I don't get it... (244 comments)

The issue is that people program at a pixel ratio as if it is some measurement of minimal perceived size. If they had just quadrupled the pixels, most websites for instance would expect to scale to fill the larger size, but without any notion of whether the page was being rendered large enough to see.

Not to mention all the people who hard-coded mobile sites based on the horizontal width of the device. Which, btw, still hasn't changed even with the new dimensions.

more than 2 years ago
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Apple Says "No" To Releasing New Dock Connector Specs

MassacrE Its their own damn fault (393 comments)

Accessory manufacturers (particularly case manufacturers) burnt all their bridges with Apple long ago. Since around when the iphone 3gs came out, nobody has gotten any advance notice of new hardware because of all the leaks.

Even now, many of the apple rumors come from case manufacturers who are attempting to bribe employees at the manufacturer for information.

Right now Apple has only even hinted that there may be an iphone 5, and if they are going to deprecate a decade of accessories with a new connector they want to do it on their own terms. There is no way Applw have confirmed or denied the dock connector except perhaps in controlled leaks to the media. Nobody making alarm clock docks is gonna know a damn thing until the rest of us do on the 12th.

more than 2 years ago
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MplayerX Leaving Mac App Store

MassacrE Re:Sounds like a GPL violation. (225 comments)

How is this any more a flagrant act of GPL violation than a linux install CD (which does not ship source due to space)? The help menu takes you to the project's github repo.

more than 2 years ago
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Pixar Demos Newly Open-Sourced OpenSubdiv Graphics Tech

MassacrE Re:Opensource and MPL? (140 comments)

Why wouldn't it be usable as-is? The license is GPL v3-compatible

more than 2 years ago
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HTML5 Splits Into Two Standards

MassacrE For those confused. (395 comments)

WHATWG split off from the W3C work because they couldn't organize additions and clarifications to the HTML 4 spec under the W3C. It is mostly a group of browser-makers (everyone except Microsoft).

The W3C then asked if they could standardize the WHATWG's work as HTML5

What happened a year ago (and is just being put on slashdot today?) was that the WHATWG announced that they weren't going to stop producing additional work. The version under the W3C would eventually be released as version 5.0, but WHATWG would effectively be the HEAD/master version of work on extending HTML.

Which HTML5 is an easy question to answer - there will only be one HTML5. People will put pressure on the browser manufacturers to support the W3C's standardization of HTML as version 5.0. But browser manufacturers will also continue to cram new crap and functionality in ahead of W3C standardization, and attempt to define interoperability of that under the flag "HTML" in WHATWG, a "specification" that grows as the members gain consensus on how new functionality should work (or in some cases, how to advertise the functionality is not offered).

In reality, this is how HTML has _always_ operated.

more than 2 years ago
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The 'Everyone Gets the Source Code, Donations Get You Binaries' Software Model

MassacrE Friends of Eclipse (341 comments)

The recent Eclipse launch had several benefits for Eclipse users; the big one is that the donors got access to binaries 48 hours earlier, while anyone else supposedly could build the same release it is a huge project and that would be a labor-intensive process.

I would recommend something like this over denying users binaries, as your project probably does not need any barriers to user adoption.

more than 2 years ago
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Bill Gates Says Tablets Aren't Much Help In Education

MassacrE Missing the point (575 comments)

While tablets are definitely a cool gadget and sound like a draw to the school, in reality the switchover is to save money by killing paper books. They have worked the numbers out such that it appears cheaper for a school which buys new paper books to instead buy tablets per student (at edu pricing) and per-student licensing for the book content.

I don't know if these numbers take into account schools reselling those new books after a few years to schools with more budgetary constraints, and I suspect those poorer schools are going to be hurt hard by having their supply of second-hand books dry up. But this is not just about every kid getting a gadget.

more than 2 years ago
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Apple Blocks iOS Apps Using Dropbox SDK

MassacrE Summary for those who didn't read the article (356 comments)

Apple's iOS App Store rules state that all in-app purchases must use the In-app purchase mechanism. In addition, you cannot link to an external purchase mechanism. Finally, Apple charges their standard 30% fee for purchases for in-app purchasing.

The issue in the Dropbox SDK is that it fires up a web view for authentication, and the page it went to was not properly sandboxed. By creating an account, then clicking a link to go to the desktop version, you got to a page that let you pay to upgrade to a pro version. At this point, it broke the rule above. Since this was functionality within the SDK, all the applications being submitted to the store using this version of the SDK are breaking this rule and getting rejected.

My guess is Dropbox released a new SDK version that sends the user to a different web page for authentication, this one being properly sandboxed. I do not know what Dropbox would be talking to Apple about; unless Dropbox API support is added to the OS, you would need the Dropbox client installed in order to be able to even support in-app purchasing of a pro account.

more than 2 years ago
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An Early Look At Mac OS X 10.8

MassacrE Re:What I Want To Know... (658 comments)

I believe (like FreeBSD) they are fine with GPL v2. It seems like projects switching to GPL v3 is motivating Apple and a few other of the BSD'ers to create new open source projects for all the functionality they were getting from these projects. I love that it finally motivated someone to invest heavily in coming out with a gcc alternative (clang + llvm).

I have noticed a pattern that apple's replacements only implement the newest defined functionality or protocol, however. For an example, there is work going on to replace libstdc++, but the replacement is only meant to target compilers that support C++11. So I wouldn't be surprised to find out that say, a Lion Mac has trouble connecting to a Windows 2000 server using their samba replacement.

I've been wondering for a now if there is a project somewhere to come out with a BSD-licensed replacement for bash.

more than 2 years ago
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An Early Look At Mac OS X 10.8

MassacrE Re:What I Want To Know... (658 comments)

OS X no longer ships Samba as of 10.7 (due to the switch upstream to GPLv3). So yes, if by broken you mean 'was replaced with an entirely new project', it will remain so.

more than 2 years ago
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EFF Presses Apple To Indemnify Developers

MassacrE Re:mocoNews article explains Apple's dilemma well (93 comments)

but Apple already granted them legitimacy by signing an agreement with Lodsys.

I believe all of the large companies had rights to the patent as part of the Intellectual Ventures portfolio, and part of the deal of the sale of the patent to Lodsys included that companies who had license to the portfolio retained the right to use the patent.

more than 3 years ago
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Why Thunderbolt Is Dead In the Water

MassacrE Re:The one year lock does not help (568 comments)

I believe apple has a head-start on the technology, not an exclusive. Intel's stock parts do not include thunderbolt, stock video cards do not support thunderbolt and I believe most PCs have HDMI or at best Displayport, not Mini-DP.

Until PC vendors want thunderbolt enough to get it integrated into third party video cards, or until Intel ships Ivy Bridge which is supposed to include Thunderbolt for its integrated video, Apple will be the only vendor producing computers with Thunderbolt.

Even then, it looks like Sony is interested enough in the technology to try to create a proprietary version of Thunderbolt which uses additional connects on a USB port, and most likely does not support the DisplayPort video channel.

more than 3 years ago

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