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What To Expect With Windows 9

ndykman If it fixes some of the UI problems... (528 comments)

I don't mind the start screen too much, but a proper start menu is a good start, and bringing Metro apps to the desktop is a start. The library for metro application actually has a long of good ideas in it, so expanding it beyond touch applications is a good idea.

The toughest part is that Windows 8/8.1 came with some really noticeable kernel and userland performance improvements. The switching between metro and the desktop is pretty smooth on all the hardware I've used. If they get back the power user desktop functionality, it's a good start back.

2 days ago

Willow Garage Founder Scott Hassan Aims To Build a Startup Village

ndykman In Short? No. (62 comments)

While there are many things about startups that are attractive, in the end, it's just a job, not a lifestyle. It's best to work to live, not live to work. These efforts to create all inclusive environments for programmers will just lead to burnout when the bubble pops. And yes, it is a bubble. We don't need yet another mobile social enabled whatsit pieced together quickly.

If this was an environment to create new formal verification tools or other revolutionary software tooling, then I'd be interested. Right now, it seems we are going a bit backwards. It's harder to create a nice UI on the web than it was on the desktop more than ten years ago. In the last few years, this is the first time that my job is becoming harder. For the longest time, editors got better, debuggers got better, frameworks got better and there were more tools for the job than before. Now, there's no real commercial breakthroughs in static analysis, security, formal verification, domain specific languages. It's all just mobile apps with no depth. Sure, this has driven some new useful stuff (say, Hadoop), but when big data is just for marketing and ads, what's the point?

about two weeks ago

Web Trolls Winning As Incivility Increases

ndykman Re:Problem already solved (457 comments)

"There is no free speech without anonymity"

Can't disagree more. All anonymity does is protect people from consequences or having to stand by their opinions. In certain cases, this is useful (a protected source for a news story), but in most cases, if you can't say something without the cloak of anonymity, you shouldn't say it. In a lot of cases, it's cowardly.

The First Amendment just established the right of free speech, not that you shouldn't suffer the consequences of that speech. And if you are worried about being monetized, create your own forum.

about a month ago

seL4 Verified Microkernel Now Open Source

ndykman A good step forward... (82 comments)

I feel an explaination may help. This project is based on a formal specification (in Isabelle/HOL) about what should be true about the microkernel. This specification rules out things like buffer overflows, null pointer dereferences and other properties by recasting these ideas in terms of higher order logic and uses automatic theorem proving tools to verify the proofs and that implementations match the specification.

There's even a binary verified version for ARM, so you don't even have to trust that your compiler works (but, there is progress in verified compilers, so hopefully an x86_64 version is on the way). The value in this is in using the tool chain and creating new, formally specified abstractions and implementing them in an verified manner to implement more secure, robust programs on top of this kernel. Of course, the microkernel makes assumptions about the hardware, boot loader, but formal verification is used more often in hardware, and you have to trust something at some point.

This opens a whole set of possibilities to the community as a whole. As a random example, you could formalize the Arduino language (or a kernel for that language) and create a verified version of that system that runs on this microkernel. This would be a big effort, but you could do it.

Overall, this is a positive step in lower the costs of verified co-designed systems and I hope it attracts more interest in software formal verification.

about a month and a half ago

Ode To Sound Blaster: Are Discrete Audio Cards Still Worth the Investment?

ndykman For the price, there's better options... (502 comments)

There are plenty of external boxes that allow for more options for recording and output at that price range. There's are good 2x2 boxes out there for less even.

If you are working in audio, you are using different kit. If you are an audiophile, you are probably just using the digital output into an amp anyway.

about 2 months ago

HP Unveils 'The Machine,' a New Computer Architecture

ndykman Good news... (257 comments)

While HP Labs may not be what it was, it is good to see that HP finally has a CEO that will give them the funding they need to go for the big ideas. We need more research and development funding period. The government needs to increase funding for the NSF and other organizations. And, yes, big companies need to start making long term investments. Microsoft Research is growing. It seems HP Labs is growing again.

Let's hope other big players step up too. I'm tired of money being thrown at yet another mobile application and having that being held up as a paragon of innovation. People are being critical of HP investing in this while Facebook throws 19B of assets at a messaging application? What's wrong with this picture?

about 3 months ago

Xanadu Software Released After 54 Years In the Making

ndykman Fascinating Story... (90 comments)

The more I read about Ted Nelson and the story behind it, there's much to learn. Firstly, what an extreme example of becoming too enmeshed with ideas (worse, ideas about ideas). His drive to index everything seems to be driven from his extreme case of ADD. But not every thread of thought needs to be catalogued and indexed, something that is harder to remember in the days of social media.

But mercilessly tracing connections between ideas can truly be a madman's folly. The crux of scholarship is not obsessively tracking down references and sources, but steadfastly ignoring side roads and making your point. It's not jumping from source to source endlessly in the search of absolute truth.

While these ideas sounds awesome to the ADD side in myself, in the end it is a distraction. Attention is a necessity, because it allows us to selectively ignore things versus having to slavishly follow the random whims in our heads.

Seriously, this story seems like something straight out of a Umberto Eco novel. And it's sad, because it is really way too late for this to matter.

about 3 months ago

Apple Announces New Programming Language Called Swift

ndykman Re:Who designed this, and what drugs were they on? (636 comments)

Agree completely. What wasn't clear from my comment is that I don't think Apple really thought out some of these decisions to the level needed and ended up with weirdness that doesn't need to be there.

about 3 months ago

Apple Announces New Programming Language Called Swift

ndykman Re:Who designed this, and what drugs were they on? (636 comments)

Proving again that language design is just plain hard. It's fine to make decisions and compromises if they are really well thought out ones.

about 3 months ago

Don't Be a Server Hugger! (Video)

ndykman If you are doing it already, sure... (409 comments)

I've seen two reactions to cloud-based systems with people I've worked with.

The first always is talking about all the negatives including downtime, how awful vendors are to work with and how much better they are and that nobody really understand the business like they do.

The second just notes that some of the stuff from the cloud helps them update existing infrastructure to be more useful and flexible and that they are happy to work to making the existing datacenters work better and use off-premise vendors when it makes sense. If you call that a private or hybrid cloud, that's fine by them.

Oddly, the first group also seems to be those that dismiss it outright are the ones that seem to think that it needs to take a month to get a new server. And insist they must have absolute control over every one of those servers and every service and that giving anybody the ability to do so (even for development or testing) is insanity.

The first group also seems to be taking down a server for maintenance every weekend or so for a few hours, can't seem to add an account in anything in less than four days, don't even know half the services they actually run with the other half being half-baked home-grown monsters. And mail and the network just go down and they are still running a six year web proxy and ban Pandora or Spotify because security.

The second group I don't notice because stuff just works, and when I talk about self-service VMs, they point me to the project they are testing right now, but are waiting on management to approve. And they are okay with me streaming some tunes, because they've got that traffic prioritized correctly and they are okay with me installing stuff because they are proactive in detecting threats and don't blindly trust a machine just because it is in the building.

TL; DR. I agree. The sysadmins that don't care about where the machines are (only about what they do) don't need to worry. Those that do, do need to worry.

about 4 months ago

Programming Language Diversity On the Rise

ndykman Re:Looks at CodePlex... (177 comments)

To be fair, one can use the prototype-based model in Python (prototype,py is one implementation) and Ruby. And scoping is another big issue, as was mentioned. Heck, you could probably come up with a version of it in C# (via the ExpandoObject).

about 4 months ago

Programming Language Diversity On the Rise

ndykman Looks at CodePlex... (177 comments)

Wow, C# is everywhere. Look at all of that code. That must mean C# is super popular. Or, that certain populations prefer certain tools and repositories.

On the other hand, the growth in JavaScript does seem to confirm my (totally biased) opinion that there are tons of "reinventing the wheel" JavaScript projects out there and it's just getting worse and worse.

about 4 months ago

Erik Meijer: The Curse of the Excluded Middle

ndykman Re:link not working (237 comments)

Well, that's just annoying. My apologies. If you take off the trailing slash, it works fine. The name of the paper is Uniqueness and Reference Immutability for Safe Parallelism.

about 5 months ago

Erik Meijer: The Curse of the Excluded Middle

ndykman Misleading Summary... (237 comments)

The article just notes that the hybrid approach doesn't magically address the problems in concurrent and parallel programming that other have claimed that they do. No where in the article does the author say that these approaches aren't useful. And I agree, you do need that purity to get those advantages for concurrent programming.

But, purity comes at a cost. Monads add a order of magnitude of complexity compared to imperative models of I/O. The author notes that other approaches to the problem of side effects are complex that "one shouldn't need a PhD in computer science to code", but I think he fails to notice that monadic I/O is also incredibly complicated to the average programmer as well. It does end becoming a domain specific language very quickly, and that can be a big hammer for a very small problem.

But, the fundamental argument is sound. If you really want those gains that pure functional languages can bring to concurrency, you have to embrace that model completely.

However, I don't buy the argument that other approaches won't have merit. I found this paper ( to show that type extensions really may have some promise in augmenting imperative OO languages for concurrency.

about 5 months ago

Ask Slashdot: Books for a Comp Sci Graduate Student?

ndykman Okay, I'll bite... (247 comments)

Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs, 2nd Edition. This used to be an undergraduate text for a course at MIT. But, it is now optional even at MIT. This is shocking to me. We used the text in my sophomore year at the University of Utah. If you hear old timers (okay me) complaining about programmers these days, this is part of it.

Computer Architecture, A Quantitative Approach (5th edition). I need to update my copy, but this text really allows one to reason about scale and performance.

An Introduction to the Analysis of Algorithms, 2nd Edition. Again, I need to update my copy, but this provides the key mathematical foundations for algorithmic analysis and their performance.

Framework Design Guidelines: Conventions, Idioms, and Patterns for Reusable .NET Libraries (2nd Edition). This is much more practical of a book, but it gives key insights into framework design. Yes, it's about .Net, but it's really about large scale object oriented design applied in the real world and therefore useful to all.

Modern Operating Systems (4th Edition), Tannebaum. A great insight into OS internals, including key concepts that are useful in all sorts of programming.

Essentials of Programming Languages (3rd Edition). A deep dive into interpretation of programs. Provides a great start into programming language semantics.

Compiling with Continuations, Andrew Appel. Of course, the Dragon book is useful. But this book really gives some unique insights into program analysis. Combine this with Engineering a Compiler and you have insights into how code really is transformed into executable artifacts.
In fact, this reminds me, I need to go make sure I still have my copy. It's pricey to replace.

I'll make a final plug for Semantics Engineering in PLT Redex. There are lots of advanced books on programming language semantics, but this is only book I've found in which the rubber hits the road. It is rigorous in its coverage of major language models, but its an actual tool as well.

about 5 months ago

Can the ObamaCare Enrollment Numbers Be Believed?

ndykman Re:Plan not grandfathered and minimum standard. (723 comments)

Yep, on your dime. Welcome to modern society, where you don't get to pick and choose what you pay for based if you like it or not. If you are worried about dimes, I'll trade you out of control military spending for a stronger social net and increased funding for basic research and education to create the next generation of businesses and technologies.

about 5 months ago

Can the ObamaCare Enrollment Numbers Be Believed?

ndykman Re:Plan not grandfathered and minimum standard. (723 comments)

I understand it very well. You might not agree that basic health is right of every human being, and you may disagree that I believe that living in a first world country forces people into poverty because of illness is shameful. Rights are not just things the government does not interfere in, they are that which government ensures or should ensure because we are human. Sometimes by non-interference, sometimes by right of law and regulation. I believe that indeed, health is just such a right.

Who pays for it? We all do. Like we all do now. You really think you don't pay for all the free care that hospitals and doctors have to give out because it is not only required by the laws of the land, but by the ethics of the profession? That your employer and you don't pay for that in premiums? Here's the reality, you are paying for it.

Why do I have the right to make a police officer come to my house if my property was stolen or if I was attacked at 2:00AM in the morning? Who pays for that? Or the fireman that comes to a fire? How I can't expect somebody to work on a road that anybody can drive on? I don't use it as much as that other guy. Government exists for a reason. It's awful hard to shrink for a reason.

Oh, and the point is that it shouldn't force anybody to lose their home. Yes, people may be paying a bit more in taxes. But, the people are really losing their homes are those that are forced out of work because of illness and discrimination. And many insurance companies work with employers to make sure that people lose their jobs, then lose their coverage. It happened every day. ObamaCare was a step to stop it. Because it's wrong. Not a grey area of capitalism or modern society, but a simple moral failing that is finally, finally being addressed.

If you are worried about the taxes, I'd just ask why we need to have military spending that overshadows every country in the world. Do we really need to pour billions into the F-35 program while we cut food stamps? Here's the thing. We all pay taxes for things we don't like. I come to accept that my taxes help create ridiculous weapons of mass destruction. But, if I ask you to accept that everybody can go to a doctor and get treatment for a illness, I'm clearly unreasonable and perhaps not in my right mind. I don't buy it.

about 5 months ago

Can the ObamaCare Enrollment Numbers Be Believed?

ndykman Re:Plan not grandfathered and minimum standard. (723 comments)

This. People would be surprised truly how useless many of these cheaper plans were. If you got a chronic illness or injury that had long lasting effects, you'd get some things paid for if you mounted a massive effort to get the insurance company to pay for what they are legally required to, but will try not to do by burying you and your providers in paperwork, delaying payments and pushing deadlines.

Then, when you come up to renew, you would be given a cost you can't afford. So, you lose your plan. You can't get another one.

Yes, insurance companies are jacking up prices, but this is panic driven. What the public will so learn is that most health care insurers can't actually pool risk, and only make money by denying care and pushing people out of the system.

Obamacare is a clear signal: If the health care insurance can't sustain its business by keeping all of the US healthy, it will be legislated out of existence. It's not a matter of if but when and how hard it will be. The rest of world has shown us that. The US will catch up to the idea that every human has the right to health without concern for cost or it will fail.

about 5 months ago

Scientists/Actress Say They Were 'Tricked' Into Geocentric Universe Movie

ndykman Re:Geocentrism does not necessarily imply (642 comments)

So, this modern theory just disregards that there is no center of the universe. Well, that's an improvement.

about 5 months ago



HP and Oracle Lawsuit Ruling: Oracle must Support Itanium

ndykman ndykman writes  |  more than 2 years ago

ndykman (659315) writes "The case of HP versus Oracle over Oracle's refusal to support the Itanium in its products is over, and the court has ruled that Oracle must support the Itanium, despite Oracle's claims that the Itanium is a dead architecture that was nearing the end of its life.

While this was about the HP support contract with Oracle, it will be interesting to see if this will have a positive impact on HP's top end server business."

Link to Original Source


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