TweetFollow Us on Twitter

Apr 96 Dialog Box
Volume Number:12
Issue Number:4
Column Tag:Dialog Box

Dialog Box

By Matt Neuburg, letters@mactech.com

Pascal Forever

The following exchange is reprinted with permission from TidBITS #305 (27-Nov-95 - email info@tidbits.com for more information). In that issue, Adam Engst interviews Peter N Lewis, author of Anarchie, FTPd, and other well-known shareware tools. We thought our readers might be interested in this excerpt, where Peter speaks about languages:

Adam: You and Quinn are known for being major Pascal supporters in a development world that has largely gone over to C and C++. You even had anti-C t-shirts at the last few World-Wide Developer’s Conferences. Without getting too technical, why do you continue to stick with Pascal, and does that cause problems at times?

Peter: The normal C argument goes like this: “Everyone else is using C, so therefore it must be good.” Every Mac user should recognize that statement in a slightly different form, “Everyone else is using PCs, so therefore they must be good.”

Basically, I continue to use Pascal because I’m more productive in it. I consider using Pascal to be a strategic advantage, doubly so when compared to C++. I’ve been reading a C++ book recently (know thine enemy), and every time I turn the page I see new ways to make tiny errors that are catastrophic and impossible to debug. I’m amazed that anyone can produce a working C++ program.

However, programming in Pascal does cause occasional problems. The Apple interfaces tend to be quite broken. I wanted to try out QuickDraw GX, and it took a year of new versions before they finally got one that I could hack to work with Pascal. By then I’d given up on GX. In some ways this is actually a good thing for me: I have way too many projects and not enough time to do them all, so not being able to work with GX or OpenDoc is helpful for limiting my options.

Please Don’t Kill The Umpire, He Is Doing His Best

There has been, of late, mild criticism of the premises of the programmer’s challenge, and now (Don Winston in November’s Dialog Box) of the style.

I am only an amateur on the Mac, yet I find your magazine stimulating, thought-provoking and - hell, that’s enough praise for the moment. My views cannot in this case reflect those of the majority of your readers, but may correspond to those of a significant minority.

The demands have been: (1) to play down optimisation, arguing that hardware will catch up (the Microsoft approach), and now (2) the rejection of the use of “goto” in a winning answer; plus (3) that the programmer’s challenge become more practical or open itself up to more languages.

That MacTech published these comments could mean two things (and most probably more): (1) it is an open forum for constructive criticism, including criticism of itself; (2) that it is preparing the minds of readers for changes in certain items.

And it is this second possibility that worries me the most.

The PC rules demand “correctness, speed, size and elegance (in that order of importance)”. While the first is obvious, the others are essential to the spirit of your magazine. Speed and size implies that you are looking at real joes working in front of real machines - we can’t all just run out and buy PowerPC dream machines. Each time I have to launch W*rd 6 on our 660AV, I wince, scream and plead - I don’t want all software evolving into this.

Elegance is subjective; it is in part what Don Winston is protesting about. He complains that “old notions of ‘efficiency’ are passé”. No, the Programmer’s Challenge is a mindfest that makes one jump up and shout, “Yes, of course, it’s so obvious now!” It is one of those nuggets that I, as an amateur who would never consider entering the challenge, cherish. And to change these subtle criteria would diminish your magazine as a whole.

Increasing the number of language platforms for the challenge has already been argued as impractical by the column’s flame-keeper in order for him to respect deadlines. Fine. Although I would be interested in the possibility to occasionally study just the winning algorithms, perhaps in pseudo code, rather than their implementations in a specific language, the crux of the challenge lies in the participants feeling/knowing the limits of the language, and then finding the best solution.

That particular readers are not happy with specific subjects chosen for the challenge will always exist, but if you try to render it more “practical” for one group, another will protest that it is still further from their sphere of interest, and when one looks back over a year’s challenges it is a mighty varied lot: a little for everyone, and a lot for most.

Keep up the good work.

jonathan munn
format@dialup.francenet.fr

Bob Boonstra Replies...

Jonathan,

Rest assured that we have no intention of changing the primary focus of the Programmer’s Challenge from efficiency to anything else.

The letter from Don Winston makes the valid point that improvements in technology have allowed software professionals to give other factors (usability, portability, encapsulation, reliability, etc.) greater consideration, at the expense of efficiency. But, as you point out, one need only look at the performance of some popular office automation applications to see that vendors are still able to generate sluggish code, despite the improvements in hardware. In fact, I believe that the demands on software will always exceed what the technology can support. The Challenge is intended to address techniques for those time-critical functions. It doesn’t pretend to be a balanced approach to teaching every aspect of software development. I think efficiency is still relevant - less universally so, but still relevant.

It is gratifying to hear that you find most of the subjects chosen for the Challenge to be interesting. We strive to find a variety of problems that are interesting to readers, interesting to participants, sometimes useful, solvable in the limited time available, and scoreable in even less time. Suggestions from readers are always welcome.

Thank you for your comments, and remember that anyone - including a self-described amateur - is invited to enter the Programmer’s Challenge.

Bob Boonstra
bob_boonstra@mactech.com

Hooray for the Umpire, the Players, and Everyone

I just want to commend Bob on such an interesting challenge. [But which one is he talking about? Probably January’s “Sliding Tiles”, we figure. - man] This is one of the few that I didn’t even know how to solve, let alone how to solve it efficiently. Hats off to anyone who breaks the brute-force barrier and applies some finesse to this one.

The test code was excellent and invaluable.

While I’m at it I’d also like to congratulate Eric Lengyel for such a clean solution to the Enclosing Bounds problem. I started working on it myself, but all of the various conditions (odd boundaries, different pixel sizes) made a simple-sounding problem too complex for the time I had. Eric, however, cut through the complexity and delivered some excellent code.

Xan Gregg

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Skype 7.5.0.738 - Voice-over-internet ph...
Skype allows you to talk to friends, family and co-workers across the Internet without the inconvenience of long distance telephone charges. Using peer-to-peer data transmission technology, Skype... Read more
PushPal 3.0 - Mirror Android notificatio...
PushPal is a client for Pushbullet, which automatically shows you all of your phone's notifications right on your computer. This means you can see who's calling or read text messages even if your... Read more
Logic Pro X 10.1.1 - Music creation and...
Apple Logic Pro X is the most advanced version of Logic ever. Sophisticated new tools for professional songwriting, editing, and mixing are built around a modern interface that's designed to get... Read more
VLC Media Player 2.2.0 - Popular multime...
VLC Media Player is a highly portable multimedia player for various audio and video formats (MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, DivX, MP3, OGG, ...) as well as DVDs, VCDs, and various streaming protocols. It... Read more
Sound Studio 4.7.8 - Robust audio record...
Sound Studio lets you easily record and professionally edit audio on your Mac. Easily rip vinyls and digitize cassette tapes, or record lectures and voice memos. Prepare for live shows with live... Read more
LibreOffice 4.4.1.2 - Free, open-source...
LibreOffice is an office suite (word processor, spreadsheet, presentations, drawing tool) compatible with other major office suites. The Document Foundation is coordinating development and... Read more
VueScan 9.5.03 - Scanner software with a...
VueScan is a scanning program that works with most high-quality flatbed and film scanners to produce scans that have excellent color fidelity and color balance. VueScan is easy to use, and has... Read more
Freeway Pro 7.0.3 - Drag-and-drop Web de...
Freeway Pro lets you build websites with speed and precision... without writing a line of code! With its user-oriented drag-and-drop interface, Freeway Pro helps you piece together the website of... Read more
Cloud 3.3.0 - File sharing from your men...
Cloud is simple file sharing for the Mac. Drag a file from your Mac to the CloudApp icon in the menubar and we take care of the rest. A link to the file will automatically be copied to your clipboard... Read more
Cyberduck 4.6.5 - FTP and SFTP browser....
Cyberduck is a robust FTP/FTP-TLS/SFTP browser for the Mac whose lack of visual clutter and cleverly intuitive features make it easy to use. Support for external editors and system technologies such... Read more

Get The Whole Story – Lone Wolf Complete...
Get The Whole Story – Lone Wolf Complete is Now Available and On Sale Posted by Jessica Fisher on February 27th, 2015 [ permalink ] Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad | Read more »
Who Wore it Best? The Counting Dead vs....
Like it or not, the “clicker” genre, popularized by cute distractions like Candy Box and Cookie Clicker, seems like it’s here to stay. So Who Wore it Best? takes a look at two recent examples: The Counting Dead and AdVenture Capitalist. | Read more »
Card Crawl, the Mini Deck Building Game,...
Card Crawl, the Mini Deck Building Game, is Coming Soon Posted by Jessica Fisher on February 27th, 2015 [ permalink ] Tinytouchtales and Mexer have announced their new game, | Read more »
Witness an all new puzzle mechanic in Bl...
Well, BlastBall MAX is not one of those games and is bucking trends such as timers, elements of randomness, and tacked-on mechanics in favor of pure puzzle gameplay. When you first boot up the game you’ll see a grid made up of squares that are each... | Read more »
This Princess Has a Dragon and She isn’t...
This Princess Has a Dragon and She isn’t Afraid to Useit. | Read more »
Mecha Showdown Review
Mecha Showdown Review By Lee Hamlet on February 27th, 2015 Our Rating: :: IN A SPINUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Mecha Showdown replaces traditional buttons with a slot machine mechanic in this robot fighting game,... | Read more »
Reliance Games and Dreamworks Unveil Rea...
Reliance Games and Dreamworks Unveil Real Steel Champions Posted by Ellis Spice on February 27th, 2015 [ permalink ] Reliance Games and Dreamworks have announced that a third game in | Read more »
Sum Idea Review
Sum Idea Review By Jennifer Allen on February 27th, 2015 Our Rating: :: TAXING NUMBERSUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Sum Idea is a fairly charming but taxing puzzle game.   | Read more »
A New Badland Update Brings Daydream Lev...
A New Badland Update Brings Daydream Levels to Co-Op Posted by Ellis Spice on February 27th, 2015 [ permalink ] Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad | Read more »
Slashing Demons Review
Slashing Demons Review By Lee Hamlet on February 27th, 2015 Our Rating: :: IT'S A LONG WAY TO THE TOPUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Slashing Demons lacks the depth or scope to take it beyond the point of being just... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Apple Launches Free Web-Based Pages and Other...
Apple’s new Web-only access to iWork productivity apps is a free level of iCloud service available to anyone, including people who don’t own or use Apple devices. The service includes access to Apple... Read more
Survey Reveals Solid State Disk (SSD) Technol...
In a recent SSD technology use survey, Kroll Ontrack, a firm specializing in data recovery, found that while nearly 90 percent of respondents leverage the performance and reliability benefits of SSD... Read more
Save up to $600 with Apple refurbished Mac Pr...
The Apple Store is offering Apple Certified Refurbished Mac Pros for up to $600 off the cost of new models. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each Mac Pro, and shipping is free. The... Read more
Updated Mac Price Trackers
We’ve updated our Mac Price Trackers with the latest information on prices, bundles, and availability on systems from Apple’s authorized internet/catalog resellers: - 15″ MacBook Pros - 13″ MacBook... Read more
Apple CEO Tim Cook to Deliver 2015 George Was...
Apple CEO Tim Cook will deliver the George Washington University’s Commencement address to GWU grads on May 17, at which time he will also be awarded an honorary doctorate of public service from the... Read more
Apple restocks refurbished Mac minis for up t...
The Apple Store has restocked Apple Certified Refurbished 2014 Mac minis, with models available starting at $419. Apple’s one-year warranty is included with each mini, and shipping is free: - 1.4GHz... Read more
Save up to $50 on iPad Air 2s, NY tax only, f...
 B&H Photo has iPad Air 2s on sale for $50 off MSRP including free shipping plus NY sales tax only: - 16GB iPad Air 2 WiFi: $469.99 $30 off - 64GB iPad Air 2 WiFi: $549 $50 off - 128GB iPad Air 2... Read more
16GB iPad Air 2 on sale for $447, save $52
Walmart has the 16GB iPad Air 2 WiFi on sale for $446.99 on their online store for a limited time. Choose free shipping or free local store pickup (if available). Sale price for online orders only,... Read more
iMacs on sale for up to $205 off MSRP
B&H Photo has 21″ and 27″ iMacs on sale for up to $205 off MSRP including free shipping plus NY sales tax only: - 21″ 1.4GHz iMac: $1029 $70 off - 21″ 2.7GHz iMac: $1199 $100 off - 21″ 2.9GHz... Read more
Apple Takes 89 Percent Share of Global Smartp...
According to the latest research from Strategy Analytics, global smartphone operating profit reached US$21 billion in Q4 2014. The Android operating system captured a record-low 11 percent global... Read more

Jobs Board

Sr. Technical Services Consultant, *Apple*...
**Job Summary** Apple Professional Services (APS) has an opening for a senior technical position that contributes to Apple 's efforts for strategic and transactional Read more
Event Director, *Apple* Retail Marketing -...
…This senior level position is responsible for leading and imagining the Apple Retail Team's global engagement strategy and team. Delivering an overarching brand Read more
*Apple* Pay - Site Reliability Engineer - Ap...
**Job Summary** Imagine what you could do here. At Apple , great ideas have a way of becoming great products, services, and customer experiences very quickly. Bring Read more
*Apple* Solutions Consultant - Retail Sales...
**Job Summary** The ASC is an Apple employee who serves as an Apple brand ambassador and influencer in a Reseller's store. The ASC's role is to grow Apple Read more
*Apple* Solutions Consultant - Retail Sales...
**Job Summary** As an Apple Solutions Consultant (ASC) you are the link between our customers and our products. Your role is to drive the Apple business in a retail Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.