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Silent Error

Thoughts on Futurist Programming

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This post is actually the result of an email I got from XCHG asking my views on the futurist programming movement. I thought it would drum up some interesting conversation, the likes of which I haven''t seen in some time. I''ll assume you are familiar with the movement, if you aren''t, click here. Be sure to read the subpages as well. So without further delay, my thoughts on futurist programming (it''s a little long): My views of futurist programming in short (or long): It is an excellent idea. However, like so many software designs, it''s actual implementation would be impractical. It would require that many people change the ways in which they think, something not easily accomplished. It would also require the death of the academic''s ego, which would also be difficult since academics are damn know it all''s. In order for it to take hold and really fly would require a renaissance in computer programming, something I would agree is desperately needed, but there really aren''t enough people to spearhead the movement at this time. What would be required to awaken the beast and make it stir within the masses of programmers would be some program so advanced in it''s area that it leaves all it''s competitors 20 years behind, but even then it wouldn''t be a real reaction, it would be a capitalist response to a market threat. Kinda like what happened when the first Mac (or Lisa for that matter) came out. Apple was instantly 10 years ahead of the game in the design of their UI which sent Microsoft scrambling to respond with it''s own lackluster offering. What Apple did then was pure, what Microsoft did was merely respond to a threat. Admittedly, after that fist time, Apples motives were no longer pure and they did not embrace the future as well as they should or could have. Even today they are lacking. I would love nothing more than to see computer science evolve to something better, I just doubt it will. So long as there are lazy programmers, dogmatic academics, and people whose only draw to the field is financial appeal, there will never be a renaissance in the software industry, just clones and updates of things long dead and unoriginal. "Modern hardware has gotten fast enough to no longer justify the use of assembly optimization..." It is in this fallacious thinking that I see on the boards at gamedev all the time that really irks me and it makes me realize that so long as those people exist, software will always be slow, bloated, and wasteful. Those are my views, I could be wrong. Just take my ramblings with a grain of salt since I really don''t know what the hell I''m talking about sometimes. I''m not certain if this is one of those times or not, let me know what you think. ;-) Jacob Carnahan aka SilentError If only debugging were as easy as killing cockroaches... *sigh*

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Not only was reading that web page comparable to trying to stay awake in church but I found that trying to comprehend what that guy was saying 10 times as difficult.

"To look on the lot of computer "scientists" as at one and the same time useless and dangerous". This guy sounds like the Bin Laden of the entire field of computer science. Tonight before I will be able to sleep I think I might have to search my entire house over for any of his assasin agents hiding behind a curtain.

Not saying that he isnt right though, as I sure as !@#$ couldn''t make heads or tails of any of it.

~Vendayan

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Arild: Thanks for spurning interesting conversation for me.

That article presents just the kind of modern programmer mind set I so loathe! "Hey, here''s the deal man. Hardware''s bigger and faster. Storage and memory both are ample. Lets just cram every feature under the sun into our software, spot check it a few times and ship it out the door. The end user won''t care about it''s huge size or ridiculous requirements! Afterall, we''re a multinational corporate entity, what are they gonna do about it?" What about making small, fast, efficient, and elegant software that runs great on even the most modest of systems? Is this now just a memory of the past?

It seems to me that the only reason my hardware becomes obsolete is because the software companies tell me it has. My current system (K6 233 32RAM)is considered obsolete but it still does a wonderful job. I have two 486 computers that are horrifically obsolete by today''s standards but they''re fully capable of doing what is required of most casual computer users so why should they be obsolete?

I believe the thinking that hardware advances will make up for lack of tight, elegant code is damaging to software engineering as well as consumers. Then again, I learned how to program on a computer with only 64K of RAM so maybe my thinking just hasn''t caught up with the times. (I don''t think that to be true, I''m only 18)

Vendayan: Please tell me that you are joking! That would seem to imply that the average attention span (or perhaps intelligence) has dropped well below what one could call acceptable standards. Well, either that, or it denotes a lack of literary class on your behalf. In either event, I am frightened.

Still waiting for interesting view points...



If only debugging were as easy as killing cockroaches... *sigh*

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Some quick clarifications. I can see the start of some rather lame responses on the horizon so I hope to nip it in the bud before it happens.

First off, I am NOT saying that the 486 should not be dead. I'm just wondering what's with forced obsolescence and the software industry. It seems every time I just buy a new computer that I think will remain useful with minimal investment, it becomes obsolete within months. Not that I really have a need to run all the latest greatest software, but it is a little disturbing to me. I can't justify spending thousands on something that'll be out dated in a year as some people can.

Second, all my complaining of software bloat stems from my desire to create code that is elegant, efficient, and above all, stable. I'll spend hours analyzing 50 lines of code if I think that there's even a remote chance of something being wrong with it, even if I eventually conclude that there isn't. Some people say I'm anal.

I resume my waiting...

If only debugging were as easy as killing cockroaches... *sigh*

Edited by - Silent Error on February 7, 2002 9:29:57 AM

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You cant seriously think that manifesto is well written? If there actually is a valid point in there somewhere, they manage to bury it pretty well under the tons of banal rhetoric.
In their own terms, the manifesto is "bloated". You could strip out 90% of the text without losing any of the meaning.
And implying that people are less intelligent just because they dont like this kind of mindless rambling isnt a way of "spurning interesting conversation" either.

Once there was a time when all people believed in God and the church ruled. This time is called the Dark Ages.

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Well written or not, it is not that difficult to understand. That is my point. It is not a laborious mental task to decipher so I honestly cannot comprehend why anyone would have difficulty understanding or staying alert in the process of reading the bloody thing.

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For those having a hard time with the manifesto, here is the important part:

quote:

The present state of the art in programming discourages experimentation and formal analysis.



I disagree with the experimentation part, but formal analysis is something that could DEFINATELY be developed.


People might not remember what you said, or what you did, but they will always remember how you made them feel.

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Silent Error,
I think there are many things to be discussed on the subject, but specifically you have a point,
current software (should I point out "commercial software") makes hardware obsolete.
Just look at M$ Windows evolution, it took them too much time and versions to release their final product "XP", which will need a minimum of a PIII with 128 Mb of RAM just for the OS??? Of curse XP has tons of nice feautres, both,
culdn''t MS make a stable/reliable/with standard features, since Windows 3.0?
How many of us use new features from Office 2000 that we didn''t know or use from Office 98?
Does Corel or Adobe have improved their basic image processing routines, and tunning the not so basic ones? because they add like 100Mb on each release so...

Despite this facts, do not forget that not all the programming industry is like that, or that the assembler is not needed even on high level applications. AMD and Intel try to help on this suppling programmers with optimized routines and libraries (assembler of course) wich makes the best use of their processors features for a lot processing tasks. There are also the low level drivers programmers, firmware programmers, console game programmers, handheld programmers all those take a lot of care on ROM and RAM space, as well as speed and effectiveness of code.

Now, back to the futuristic thing, I think Open Source projects (on whatever platform) it is the futuristic programming approach of these days, Is their code elegant? I do not know, but I know that they make releases very often, bug correction happens soon, you can download play with it, modifing, etc, you can help to improv it, and so on.

So, my two cents.

/\
/__\ C.Z. Hagen

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"Why does computer science reject self modifying programs?"

If they don''t know that, then how am I supposed to take them seriously?

The path through a static program is difficult enough to prove correct. Now take that program and make it so that it can alter itself... you increase the complexity of the program by an order of magnitude.

I agree with issues of bloatware (measuring it in terms of the price of hard disk space is a very vacuous argument) but I don''t agree with what looks like an "Algorithms bad! Assembly good!" protest.

[ MSVC Fixes | STL | SDL | Game AI | Sockets | C++ Faq Lite | Boost ]

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