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3D Cinema Doesn't Work and Never Will

groomed Re:Another problem with 3D (436 comments)

As a side note, many scenes in those stereoscopic toys (disk with ~dozen photos) that I've seen had very deep focus ... IMHO it makes the whole scene, paradoxically, very flat. Yes, there is "depth" of course - but feels non-gradual, like several backgrounds in old SNES platformers.

Yes. This is so true.

about 4 years ago

Humans Will Need Two Earths By 2030

groomed Another low point (738 comments)

What is the purpose of this post? What does it even mean? What is the purpose of posting a link to a nebulous summary of a highly suggestive report on an extremely politically charged subject on a site that bills itself "News for Nerds"?

more than 4 years ago

Sequoia Voting Systems Source Code Released

groomed Re:Hyperbole much (406 comments)

But yes, it's true: I don't know MS-SQL, and nobody else at EDA does either. So we were faced with a choice: find a few people who did know it, pay 'em a bunch of donated money to write a formal report behind closed doors, or do a public review and exam even if that means exposing any mistakes we make, knowing they'll be caught pretty damn quick.

False dichotomy, based on the unproven assumption that there was anything nefarious going on that required urgent exposition.

You have found Jesus Christ in a potato chip.

more than 5 years ago

Formerly Classified Global Warming Spy Photos Released

groomed Re:The glaciers are retreating! (791 comments)

With all due respect to an eminent and brilliant physicist, Freeman Dyson is not a climatologist.

But Dyson's argument in fact questions the methods and claims of the science of climatology. If his argument is valid, then it does not matter that he is not a climatologist - it makes Dyson's criticisms more urgent, not less.

more than 5 years ago

W3C Publishes First Public Working Draft of HTML 5

groomed The standards are just not very good (310 comments)

Every discussion around HTML and related W3C standards always seems to end up in a blamefest. Microsoft is to blame for their poor standards compliance, lazy web developers are to blame for sloppy code, Al Gore is to blame for inventing the Internet.

All of that is true. But I have come to believe that perhaps the blame lies primarily with the standards themselves. They are just not very good.

I know this is not a popular opinion. Let me qualify it and try to explain briefly what I mean. There is of course a lot of theoretical and historical background to consider, but frankly it is a waste of time to drag all that into a Slashdot comment.

The first problem is with HTML. HTML abstracts at the wrong level. It should be a presentation language, not a structural markup language. There is no need for HTML as a structural markup language and frankly I am baffled by the religious zeal with which some people defend this notion. As a structural markup language, HTML is very poor. Structural markup is most useful for well-defined, domain-specific applications. That is not what HTML is used for and this causes numerous problems: ill-defined rendering behavior, poor querying and indexing abilities, poor feature set, relatively slow performance, not to mention poor reusability.

The second problem is with CSS. Although at its core a good idea, it is poorly implemented, with a pointlessly weird, C-inspired syntax. It is too feeble to express presentational structure and lacks a method to express generalized context-dependent relationships. The selector language is so baroque that it is poorly understood by authors and implementors alike. Most importantly, CSS simply does not solve many common layout and styling problems, except at the most trivial level. Efforts to address this have mostly just made CSS more complicated rather than more powerful.

The third problem is with Javascript. The language itself is not bad, but it exists in an environment that is so primitive and crude, that often the easiest way to accomplish anything is still to just stuff precalculated strings into a node's innerHTML. The web is littered with the corpses of Javascript libraries to provide simple services like data binding, templating, input validation and widget sets. None of which build on eachother, because there are no tools to enable this kind of workflow, and most of which fail on either correctness, performance or standards-compliance.

Why are there so many problems with these standards? Is it normal for standards to be so problematic? It is certainly true that numerous standards failed. But on the other hand, many other standards succeeded. PostScript and PDF are very successful standards that have been implemented dozens of times with minimal interoperability issues. The same goes for countless file format standards, such as GIF, PNG, JPG and ZIP, or standards such as ASCII or Unicode.

Of course the comparison between HTML (and all related tech) and, say, GIF, is not valid. In the case of HTML there are many reasons, some socio-economic, which have brought us to the point where we are today. But despite that, I believe it is possible to identify 2 key issues with the W3C family of tech:

  1. The wrong abstraction level. The W3C people have been chasing a nebulous vision of a "semantic web" which is accessible for everyone on any kind of device. This has resulted in intentionally vague, abstract specifications. But people who have not done a lot of work building GUIs for production systems do not really understand how to abstract layout and presentation. This was a key failing in the original Java GUI toolkit called AWT (Abstract Window Toolkit).
  2. The wrong people. The HTML/CSS/Javascript/XSL standards have been developed by people who are primarily interested in information technology and theory. They have little understanding of and less experience with graphic design and application front-end development. They really do not understand what distinguishes good from bad in this area, which is why they fail. This is something that Adobe understood very well, which is part of the reason why Flash became such a success.

The irony here is that a lot of web designers and developers, despairing over the poor tools they have been given, have chosen to rally behind the W3C consortium and its allies (the same people who gave them those shoddy tools!), in the hope that once everybody follows the standards, they can finally get on with their job instead of fighting their tools. Some of them are so deluded at this point that they believe that fighting their tools is actually their job. /p> Which is a pity. Because the technology just isn't worth it.

about 7 years ago


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