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Normal Humans Effectively Excluded From Developing Software

descubes Software complexity also follows Moore's law (608 comments)

Software complexity follows Moore's law, an exponential law. So with a fixed set of tools, you are bound to reach a point where you can't code effectively. That's why we need either new sets of tools on a regular basis (e.g. C -> C++ -> Java -> ...) or tools that evolve over time (e.g. Lisp).

See http://xlr.sourceforge.net/Con... for another take at tools that evolve over time.

about a month ago
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How the Internet Is Taking Away America's Religion

descubes Internet confirms my faith (1037 comments)

I will go against the crowd here, and say that Internet helps me with my faith. It gives me free access to the life and writings of saints. It gives me access to the original words of people like the pope, and lets me contrast them with the reporting often given in the media. It gives me a connexion to a community of Christian people. And it lets me realise that most of the counter arguments to religion are nothing new, and have been debunked by great minds centuries ago. I recently came across a site dedicated to Fatima that had me entirely revisit the (very low) standards I had for my own faith and life.

Information on the net about religion is a little like information on sex and love. Good luck trying to understand what true love is by going to porn sites! Same thing trying to understand what the true love of God is The first post I see here equates knowledge to the antichrist. It's funny, because it's typical of the derisive "information" you can find on the net, which combines some familiarity with basic concepts and utter ignorance of what's really behind them. Yes, the original sin derived from knowledge of good and evil. No, this does not mean at all that the catholic church condemns knowledge! A good lie has to be believable, and you know who the master of all lies is

I'm really sorry to hear that the original poster became an atheist by reading about religion on the Internet. He was already away from faith, since he said that he would have identified himself as religious without attending service (aka not really religious). If you don't attend service, chances are you did not personally meet God yet. For most christians, faith means a personal encounter of some sort. Trying to use internet arguments against my faith is a bit like trying to use porn as a proof that my wife's love is not real

about 4 months ago
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Does Relying On an IDE Make You a Bad Programmer?

descubes Yes, unless it's Emacs (627 comments)

Emacs is complicated enough that it makes you a better programmer just to use it.

about 6 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: Why Are We Still Writing Text-Based Code?

descubes Intentional Programming and Concept Programming (876 comments)

Charles Simonyi, one of the creators of Microsoft Word, went on a crusade to enable "intentional programming", which is to programming what the WYSIWYG word processor was to LaTeX. You can see what he does here. This is a VERY hard problem to solve. Simonyi is a good programmer, has tons of money, yet this is not a battle that he has clearly won yet.

I once received a phone call at work from a Forbes journalist, saying that Simonyi had described my own pet project, XL (http://xlr.sf.net), and the associated "Concept Programming" ideas as one of the only competitors to Intentional Programming. That was interesting, because it shows that Simonyi had "groked" what I wanted to do, despite the total lack of polish of this little project. (As an aside, if you are curious, you can see XL in action in Taodyne's software to create interactive 3D documents)

But what Simonyi saw (I believe) is that the general questioning was similar. How do we transform ideas into code. For Simonyi, this can be done with graphical tools. For XL, this can be done with simple transformations on text (more precisely, on a Lisp-like parse tree generated from the text). For example, with XL, you can implement the "if-then-else" concept using the "->" (transforms into) operator as follows:

if true then X else Y -> X
if false then X else Y -> Y

With this approach, it is possible to use nice notations for arbitrary concepts. In Taodyne's products, for example, a slide is described by something like:

slide "Hello world",
        * "This is a bullet point"
        * "This is another one"

This pseudo-markup language is then rewritten recursively until we reach "primitive" operations, e.g. 3D graphics rendering or basic computations.

XL is based on text because a) it's easier to do than Simonyi's approach, and b) I think it is generally easier to read and write "globally". If you have a "picture" in a document, of course showing the picture tells you more than just its name. But knowing that there is a picture in a document is easy with something like image "Woman.jpg" or (in HTML) a img tag.

As the experience with HTML or Postscript demonstrated, text or graphical does not matter much anyway. It's possible to have a text-based representation of the code that most people manipulate graphically and never need to be aware of. You can generate your HTML with Word, never need to know anything about it. It's likely the same thing is slowly happening with code as well: IDEs tend to give you more and more meta-data which is "behind" the text and helps you navigate it or code faster.

about 6 months ago
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FSF's Richard Stallman Calls LLVM a 'Terrible Setback'

descubes The freedom to use LLVM as a library (1098 comments)

One important practical freedom is that LLVM works as a library. With GCC, leveraging the GCC backend, even for an open source project such as XL (http://xlr.sf.net), was a pain. With LLVM, it was dead easy. And then, building a commercial product on top of said open-source project (http://www.taodyne.com) was legally possible, whereas with GCC it would have been challenging to say the least.

about 7 months ago
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GNU Make 4.0 Released

descubes And tab vs. space bug still not fixed. (179 comments)

See page 184 of the Unix Haters Handbook, http://web.mit.edu/~simsong/www/ugh.pdf. That has to be the most obstinate bug in the world.

Helpful comments in the source code:

                if (wtype == w_eol)
                    {
                        if (*p2 != '\0') /* There's no need to be ivory-tower about this: check for
                                  one of the most common bugs found in makefiles... */
                            fatal (fstart, _("missing separator%s"),
                                          (cmd_prefix == '\t' && !strneq (line, " ", 8))
                                          ? "" : _(" (did you mean TAB instead of 8 spaces?)"));
                        continue;
                    }

So they detect it, and they'd rather insult the user. But "no ivory tower", no no, we will just not parse a space when the ATT code only parsed tabs. It's a "makefile bug", not a "make bug". Sure.

And for the fun, I just tried to build make. On MacOSX, supposedly some kind of Unix that I head a few folks actually use to build stuff. Could be a prime citizen. OK, no configure out of the box with the git repository. OK. No makefile, obviously. No install script. Bogus information in the INSTALL that tells me to run nonexistent configure. Well, running the magic incantation, aclocal ; autoheader; automake ; autoconf. Still does not work, missing files like config/compile. Running automake --add-missing. Whatever. Still an error where it's looking for po/Makefile.in.in. Huh?

So to build make, I need not just make, but four other utilities and makefile input inputs? WTF?

Make alone was bad enough. But it was not good enough for portability, so autoconf was added. But it did not work so automake was added. But it did not work, so... And now at version 4.0, we have a system here you need half a dozen commands just to build the damn thing, and it still does not build out of the box. Seriously?

This whole archaic build system is doomed. Go cmake.

about 10 months ago
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Social Networks Force Barilla Chairman To Apologize For His Anti-gay Remarks

descubes Re:FFS (456 comments)

If you don't like it don't buy it. Enough with the stupid fucking boycotts that are nothing but attempts at silencing free speech.

You're not making any sense. A boycott is nothing but a large group of people saying "we don't like it, so we're not buying it."

But the boycott is not about a large group of people not liking the pasta, it's about a minority not liking what the CEO said, and a large group of people being manipulated into attacking him. If it was a boycott of pasta that were made with whale oil by young kids in poor countries, it would actually be a boycott of the product. But as long as the boycott is in reaction to what the CEO said, then it's a totally different matter. It's actually a blatant attempt at silencing an opinion, not an attempt at criticizing a product. And it makes the boycott totally illegitimate. If you pretend not understanding that, you are simply playing dumb.

Unfortunately, gay activists are often violent like this. They all too often launch vicious hate campaigns against anybody who simply voices vaguely anti-gay opinions. Come on, is it a victory that a guy was bashed for saying he does not want to put gay peoples in ads for... pasta?!? What is the connexion between homosexuality and pasta, seriously? Why should I have homosexuals in ads for pasta and not, say, people with blue hair or ugly people, other minorities that are all too often victimized. Why can't Barilla simply promote pasta, instead of being forced to promote homosexuality at the same time?

Let me be very clear. My own company does not intend to run ads with pasta in them. I hope that this won't cause me to be called a pastaphobic by all pasta lovers. I pray this won't cause a massive stir on twitter, a rally to arms of all the pasta lovers I insulted for not intending to prominently promote their lifestyle in my ads instead of promoting my products. And yes, I'm being sarcastic, because this is exactly what happened to the Barilla CEO.

As of me, I'm so tired of this gay activism that I will say "Go Barilla" on this one, and buy more.

about a year ago
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Iran Plans To Launch an 'Islamic Google Earth'

descubes Re:That's how they will do it (181 comments)

About "surrender monkeys", US citizen should remember their history.

September 1st, 1939: Germany invades Poland
September 3rd, 1939: France and UK declare war on Germany to honor their alliance with Poland, counting on their US ally to follow suit.
September 5th, 1939: The US proclaims their neutrality in the conflict, leaving the road wide open to Germany.

If the US had done for France and UK what France and UK did for Poland, chances are WWII would have stopped in 1939.

about a year ago
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EA Repeats As 'Worst Company In America'

descubes Ridiculous and sad (346 comments)

The fact that a video game company was voted worst company in America is ridiculous and would be laughable if it was not so frightening. Come on! Is there nothing more serious on the planet than botching a game release? Aren't companies that fight like crazy to deprive cancer patients from inexpensive treatments a little worse? Or companies who lie to be free to play with your health in the name of profit? Or companies using child labor to lower the price of smartphones? Or simply profitable companies planning massive layoffs? Or media associations with an agenda built on layers of lies?

Apparently, for the majority of Slashdot readers, getting a perspective chip would be a good idea.

about a year ago
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For Jane's, Gustav Weißkopf's 1901 Liftoff Displaces Wright Bros.

descubes Re:What? (267 comments)

The page you are referring to is only trying to validate the testimony of various people from that time regarding one specific photo. The photo was lost, but we have lithographs that reportedly were based on it, like this one. So the investigation is only about checking whether witnesses who claim they saw the photo at the 1906 exhibition were credible. It's not inventing the reports, it's checking them. As for the reports, Jane's writes:

Syndicated reports of Whitehead's exploits contemporaneously appeared around the globe, from Australia to Austria. One, mentioned here not entirely at random, appeared on page 3 of the Portsmouth Evening News of 21 August 1901. At the time, this was the local newspaper of Southsea resident, Fred Jane. As a man keenly interested in technology (and author of four published science fiction novels) it is difficult to imagine Jane not reading the report with utmost interest. However, it would be stretching credibility beyond its limits to suggest that this was the Genesis of the annual now achieving its hundredth volume.

In short, there are numerous articles indicating that Whitehead achieved sustained controlled flight in 1901, and demonstrated a 360 degrees turn in 1902 with a different plane. Whitehead's planes were taking off the ground under their own power, something that the Wright brothers didn't have in 1903.
So why didn't we hear more from Whitehead? It's not a conspiracy theory. To quote Jane's again:

when selecting a partner to commercialise his invention, Whitehead exhibited catastrophic misjudgement....three times over. After two false starts, his third investor proved to be the serial convicted criminal (and, subsequently, lunatic asylum patient) Herman Linde who, early in 1902, attempted to appropriate the venture and had Whitehead locked out of the factory containing his production line of between four and six aeroplanes. To recover solvency, Whitehead turned all attentions to his other great skill: the manufacture of light and powerful engines, which became much in demand by a growing number of aspiring aviators. It is as such that he has been remembered.

about a year and a half ago
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Computer History Museum Wants to Preserve Minitel History

descubes It will be hard to capture the spirit (58 comments)

Minitel was all about a network of services, from phone directory to Minitel Rose (ASCII pr0n). Without recreating the network, the exhibit will show dead hardware, not its original soul

about a year and a half ago
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Why Hasn't 3D Taken Off For the Web?

descubes Need a better 3D document description than WebGL (320 comments)

Taodyne delivers Tao, a 3D dynamic document description language which is quite a departure from HTML + WebGL for building 3D contents.

Based on our experience, here are some of the key attributes you need for good 3D to take off on the web:

* Device independence, like PDF or HTML. 3D does not just mean 3D models, but also depth, stereoscopy. You don't want to have to care about the many 3D technologies out there, active, passive, auto-stereoscopic, holographic, whatever. Tao contents adapts transparently, and will look exactly the same on a 2D or 3D display, including 3D without glasses from Alioscopy, Tridelity or Dimenco/Philips. Of course, it degrades gracefully on a 2D screen just like PDF degrades gracefully on a black-and-white printer.

* Integration of text, 2D graphics, images, movies and 3D objects in the same 3D scene. We are very far from that in HTML + WebGL, where there is practically zero integration between 2D and 3D contents. In Tao, 2D graphics and text obey the same rotations, translation or scaling as 3D objects.

* Being able to mix pre-rendered / filmed 3D movies with real-time 3D contents. In Tao, you can have 3D movie appear on the screen of 3D model of a TV, with text on top of it, all rendered in real-time. And that scene will show correctly even on an Alioscopy screen in glasses-free 3D...

* The ability to directly read 3D assets and not just 2D assets. This is almost there for WebGL with Three.js, but still very far from the ease of use of the video tag. By contrast, in Tao, displaying a model that moves with my mouse is nothing more than:

import ObjectLoader
light 0
light_position 1000, 1000, 1000
rotatey 0.1 * mouse_x
object "MyModel.3ds"

Right now, Chrome Experiments are proud to announce "Not your morther's Javascript". We should not collectively take pride in having a web that's for experts only. We want to make things easier to create.

While the Taodyne 3D dynamic document description language is not available in browsers yet, we clearly see what we did as something that could be part of HTML6. We built it with that in mind. It's text based, and you can reference an URL in images, movies, etc. Actually, we would like nothing better than open-source the whole thing and integrate it with the WebKit, we just don't have the resources to do that at the moment. But if a good soul at Google or Apple is reading this, we can talk.

about a year and a half ago
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Pope To Resign Citing Advanced Age

descubes Re:Pull Your Head Out of Your Ass (542 comments)

I choose to believe that a good God would not have allowed WWII to go on...and would have given Hitler the flu or something similar

Wow, is that really your ideal god? Some entity punishing people who don't do what he wants? "Do no evil or you'll get the flu"? How do you envision free-will and true love in your North Korean universe? Would you rather have a god who is "Word" and shares his will as knowledge, or a god who is "Sword" and shares his will with brute force?

This issue of free will is addressed as early as Genesis in the Bible. The story of Adam and Eve explains that we are truly free to reject God (something that according to the scripture is not true for all of God's creatures), but also that this freedom has consequences. This was true for Hitler and those who followed us. This was also true for the positive consequences of all WWII soldiers who offered their lives (and too often lost them) for others that they didn't even know.

about a year and a half ago
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The History of Visual Development Environments

descubes There's nothing "Visual" about it (181 comments)

I've always been quite puzzled about the use of "Visual" or "Graphical" for this kind of "mostly text with some rectangles thrown-in for good measure" IDEs. Besides being bit-mapped, there's nothing really graphical about them.

Want something visual? Try this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=apy5csu0DkE. Or this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=paJG7Fy5Few. Or this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m4a0jcrDgK0. Or the amazing stuff on this page: http://www.iquilezles.org/live/index.htm. Now, that's visual ;-)

about a year and a half ago
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The History of Visual Development Environments

descubes Re:More about Macros... (181 comments)

The problem is that we say "Lisp has macro" when we should really say "Lisp has meta-programming". And that, C or C++ don't have.

about a year and a half ago

Submissions

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Visualize one billion data points in real-time 3D

descubes descubes writes  |  about a year ago

descubes (35093) writes "The Observatoire de la Cote d'Azur uses Tao Presentations to display simulation results that contain over one billion data points. Because they were now able to circle around the data very quickly, researchers could now look at it from a large number of angles. And guess what? Seeing is understanding. Very quickly, new structures emerged from the data, such as a star-shaped pattern in asteroid collisions. Bringing interactivity into data visualization helps research progress faster."
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Try real-time GPU-based stereoscopic raytracing at home

descubes descubes writes  |  about a year and a half ago

descubes writes "GPUs are powerful enough to do real-time ray-tracing nowadays, at least for simple scenes. Getting a 3D TV is really easy these days. So why not combine the two? In this demo, Taodyne demonstrates a simple real-time ray-traced scene, how you can interact with it, and how you can use it to render real 3D on stereoscopic displays. With sufficient GPU power, this technique even works on glasses-free 3D displays. And of course, you can use a number of other GPU tricks, like shaders from ShaderToy to add a little life to your slide elements. This is all based on freely downloadable software and widely available hardware, so you can try this at home now."
Link to Original Source
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Live coding: A 3D DNA strand

descubes descubes writes  |  about a year and a half ago

descubes writes "Old timers may remember Logo, an interactive and graphical development environment that made it possible to explore ideas very quickly and made it fun to discover programming. A recently posted live coding tutorial shows the same basic idea applied to interactive 3D. In the video, an animated strand of DNA is constructed step by step simply by typing a simple script and looking at the result in real-time."
Link to Original Source
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Create 3D animated slideshows in minutes

descubes descubes writes  |  about a year and a half ago

descubes writes "With animated backgrounds, 3D objects, YouTube videos and true stereoscopic 3D, all controlled by a dynamic scripting language, Tao Presentations is not your average presentation software. The latest release includes new easy to use themes to make it easy to create amazing animated slideshows in minutes."
Link to Original Source
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French entrepreneurs use pigeons against "Startup Killer" finance law

descubes descubes writes  |  about 2 years ago

descubes writes "There’s been a recent flurry of activity on twitter around the #geonpi hashtag. What is going on?

The short version is that French entrepreneurs are all up in arms against the French budget law for 2013. On the surface, one aspect of the law is intended to align the taxation of capital on the taxation of other revenues. But the reasons that entrepreneurs react is that, in practice, the new taxation may well make the creation of startups in France completely untenable."

Link to Original Source
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Converting RSS feeds to a dynamic 3D scene in 120 lines of code

descubes descubes writes  |  about 2 years ago

descubes writes "Tao Presentations is a 3D presentation tool based on a 3D dynamic document description language. This makes it very easy for developers to create their own 3D shows, illustrate talks in an innovative way, even build small interactive 3D applications. An example included in the latest release grabs RSS feeds from a variety of sources (including Slashdot) and turns them into a 3D scene, all in real-time and in about 120 lines of code. It fetches the pictures directly from the web site and maps them on 3D shapes. And this is only a starting point. Tao Presentations can display 3D objects, drive the majority of 3D displays (including glasses-free 3D displays from Alioscopy, Philips or Tridelity), use GLSL shaders for advanced effects, and much more.

Tao Presentations is free (as in beer), and the document description language is based on the free (as in speech) XL programming language. If you get bored of Powerpoint and are looking for a more stimulating alternative, Tao Presentations may be what you were looking for."

Link to Original Source
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Google News, Slashdot and Twitter in 3D

descubes descubes writes  |  about 2 years ago

descubes (35093) writes "Looking for a cooler way to create twitter walls or read Slashdot? The latest demo of Taodyne's Tao Presentations renders RSS feeds from Google News, Twitter or Slashdot as a 3D scene in real-time. All it takes is about 120 lines of simple code to break down the data using regular expressions, and then create a dynamic scene containing texts, pictures, animations..."
Link to Original Source
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Do you prefer your app blinking or upside down? (video)

descubes descubes writes  |  about 2 years ago

descubes writes "It looked like a simple bug: an OpenGL application that blinks in full screen. But the rest of the day was an infuriating tale of Kill All Humans installers and Beware of The Leopard DRM restrictions. And at the end of the day, an unanswered question remains. What kind of driver bug could possibly cause an OpenGL application to blink in full screen, unless the display is rotated?"
Link to Original Source
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Control avatars and 3D worlds with Kinect

descubes descubes writes  |  more than 3 years ago

descubes (35093) writes "The Kinect is more than just for games. SimplySim, a French startup making it easy to build 3D simulations and applications, has just posted a video showing how you can interact with photorealistic simulations just by moving the body. Is the Minority Report user interface finally becoming a reality?"
Link to Original Source
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Stereoscopy: What works, what doesn't

descubes descubes writes  |  more than 3 years ago

descubes (35093) writes "We have been looking for a relatively cheap way to present the output of a 3D application using stereoscopy. Our objective was to see how an OpenGL application could generate stereoscopic output using commercially-available low-cost hardware. Our expectation was that a budget 3D laptop and a budget 3D projector would make for a budget 3D presentation solution. We tried machines with ATI and Nvidia chipsets, internal and external displays, Windows, Linux and MacOSX. The solution that ended up working the best was a total surprise..."
Link to Original Source
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The early days of 3D games

descubes descubes writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Christophe de Dinechin writes "What was Infogrames like when they occupied a single floor of a single building? Was Frederick Raynal already such a bright guy long before becoming insanely famous for "Alone in the Dark" (answer: yes)? How do you draw 3D using mostly additions? As the author of one of the earliest 3D videogames, I wrote a personal account of these crazy days, back when real men coded on real CPUs which had no clue about real numbers (aka floating point)."
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