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

DiskCatalogMaker 7.2.7 - Catalog your di...
DiskCatalogMaker is a simple disk management tool which catalogs disks. Simple, light-weight, and fast Finder-like intuitive look and feel Super-fast search algorithm Can compress catalog data for... Read more
Iridient Developer 3.2.1 - Powerful imag...
Iridient Developer (was RAW Developer) is a powerful image-conversion application designed specifically for OS X. Iridient Developer gives advanced photographers total control over every aspect of... Read more
BusyContacts 1.2.7 - Fast, efficient con...
BusyContacts is a contact manager for OS X that makes creating, finding, and managing contacts faster and more efficient. It brings to contact management the same power, flexibility, and sharing... Read more
MegaSeg 6.0.5 - Professional DJ and radi...
MegaSeg is a complete solution for pro audio/video DJ mixing, radio automation, and music scheduling with rock-solid performance and an easy-to-use design. Mix with visual waveforms and Magic... Read more
BusyContacts 1.2.7 - Fast, efficient con...
BusyContacts is a contact manager for OS X that makes creating, finding, and managing contacts faster and more efficient. It brings to contact management the same power, flexibility, and sharing... Read more
MegaSeg 6.0.5 - Professional DJ and radi...
MegaSeg is a complete solution for pro audio/video DJ mixing, radio automation, and music scheduling with rock-solid performance and an easy-to-use design. Mix with visual waveforms and Magic... Read more
Iridient Developer 3.2.1 - Powerful imag...
Iridient Developer (was RAW Developer) is a powerful image-conversion application designed specifically for OS X. Iridient Developer gives advanced photographers total control over every aspect of... Read more
iFFmpeg 6.6.1 - Convert multimedia files...
iFFmpeg is a comprehensive media tool to convert movie, audio and media files between formats. The FFmpeg command line instructions can be very hard to master/understand, so iFFmpeg does all the hard... Read more
Tor Browser Bundle 7.0.11 - Anonymize We...
The Tor Browser Bundle is an easy-to-use portable package of Tor, Vidalia, Torbutton, and a Firefox fork preconfigured to work together out of the box. It contains a modified copy of Firefox that... Read more
iShowU Instant 1.2.4 - Full-featured scr...
iShowU Instant gives you real-time screen recording like you've never seen before! It is the fastest, most feature-filled real-time screen capture tool from shinywhitebox yet. All of the features you... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Reigns: Her Majesty guide - how to use e...
Ruling a kingdom isn't easy--doubly so for a queen whose every decision is questioned by the other factions seeking a slice of power. Reigns: Her Majesty builds on the original game's swipey tactics, adding items that you can use to move the story... | Read more »
The best new games we played this week -...
Friday has crept up on us once again, so it's time to honor the best new games we've played over the past few days. This past week was a pretty exciting one, with the debut of lots of beautiful new indies and some familiar faces returning to the... | Read more »
Portal Knights guide- beginner tips and...
Portal Knights is finally making the jump to iOS and Android, and it's already climbing the ranks to become the next big MMO experience on mobile. This sprawling sandbox game will let you pursue any adventure you wish, whether you want to sling... | Read more »
Reigns: Her Majesty guide - how to swipe...
Reigns: Her Majesty is storming the App Store this week, bringing more tinder-esque kingdom building to eager players everywhere. If you've played the original Reigns, you'll know that leading a kingdom is never easy. It's a careful balancing act... | Read more »
Getting Over It (Games)
Getting Over It 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: A game I madeFor a certain kind of person To hurt them. • Climb up an enormous mountain with nothing but a hammer and a pot.•... | Read more »
Reigns: Her Majesty (Games)
Reigns: Her Majesty 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: | Read more »
Pocket Legends Adventures guide - how to...
Pocket Legends Adventures is a fun action adventure RPG that takes control when you want it to, but also opens itself for player input, too, if you're looking to tkae a more active role in combat. Regardless of play style, the game can be quite... | Read more »
Portal Knights (Games)
Portal Knights 1.2.4 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.2.4 (iTunes) Description: Craft your adventure. Forge your hero. Become the ultimate Portal Knight! | Read more »
Ashworld (Games)
Ashworld 1.3 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $3.99, Version: 1.3 (iTunes) Description: | Read more »
The best deals on the App Store this wee...
Another week means another roundup of quality bargain games. This week's list features a few games we haven't featured before in our weekly roundups. If you're on the prowl for new games, now's an optimal time to try something completely new for... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Beats by Dr. Dre – BeatsX Earphones on sale f...
Best Buy has BeatsX Earphones on sale for $109, $40 off, on their online store. Sale price for online orders only. Choose free store pickup, if available, or choose free shipping. Read more
10″ 64GB WiFi Apple iPad Pros on sale for $59...
MacMall has 10.5″ 64GB Apple iPad Pros on sale for $599 including free shipping. That’s $50 off MSRP and among the lowest prices available for these iPads from any Apple reseller. Read more
15″ 2.2GHz MacBook Pros on sale for $200-$300...
B&H Photo has the 15″ 2.2GHz MacBook Pro available for $200 off MSRP including free shipping plus NY & NJ sales tax only: – 15″ 2.2GHz MacBook Pro (MJLQ2LL/A): $1799 $200 off MSRP Apple has... Read more
Holiday sale: 15″ MacBook Pros for $200-$420...
MacMall has 15″ MacBook Pros on sale for $220-$300 off MSRP, each including free shipping: – 15″ 2.8GHz MacBook Pro Space Gray (MPTR2LL/A): $2179, $220 off MSRP – 15″ 2.8GHz MacBook Pro Silver (... Read more
Holiday sale: 13″ MacBook Airs for up to $150...
B&H Photo has 13″ MacBook Airs on sale for $100 off MSRP as part of their Holiday sale. Shipping is free, and B&H charges sales tax for NY & NJ residents only: – 13″ 1.8GHz/128GB MacBook... Read more
The best Holiday sale prices on 13″ MacBook P...
B&H Photo has 13″ MacBook Pros on sale this weekend, with models available for $100-$150 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges sales tax for NY & NJ residents only: – 13-inch 2.3GHz... Read more
Holiday sale: 27″ Apple iMacs for $150-$200 o...
MacMall has 27″ iMacs on sale for $150-$200 off MSRP as part of their Holiday sale, each including free shipping: – 27″ 3.8GHz iMac (MNED2LL/A): $2099 $200 off MSRP – 27″ 3.5GHz iMac (MNEA2LL/A): $... Read more
Save on clearance 2016 15″ MacBook Pros, up t...
B&H Photo has clearance 2016 15″ MacBook Pros available for up to $700 off original MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY & NJ sales tax only: – 15″ 2.7GHz Touch Bar MacBook Pro... Read more
Apple offers Certified Refurbished 9.7″ iPads...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 9.7″ WiFi iPads available for $50-$70 off the cost of new models. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each iPad, and shipping is free: – 9″ 32GB WiFi iPad: $... Read more
Save $200-$240 on a 12″ Apple MacBook with Ce...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 2017 12″ Retina MacBooks available for $200-$240 off the cost of new models. Apple will include a standard one-year warranty with each MacBook, and shipping is free.... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions - Apple,...
Job Description:SalesSpecialist - Retail Customer Service and SalesTransform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions - Apple,...
Job Description: Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions - Apple,...
Job Description:SalesSpecialist - Retail Customer Service and SalesTransform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
*Apple* Information Security - Security Data...
# Apple Information Security - Security Data Analyst Job Number: 113119545 Austin, Texas, United States Posted: 10-Nov-2017 Weekly Hours: 40.00 **Job Summary** This Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions - Apple,...
Job Description: Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.