strangest systems I've sent email from

Swift Griggs swiftgriggs at
Fri Apr 29 09:05:49 CDT 2016

On Thu, 28 Apr 2016, Liam Proven wrote:
> I just have dabbled in a lot more systems and platforms than most. I 
> never specialised.

I went doe-eyed crazy for all things Unix in 1992. However, I also have a 
far too off-balance curiosity:motivation index. I get interested in a LOT 
of stuff (just about anything technical), but I haven't been super at 
regulating those fits, either. However, Unix and coding has managed to 
keep my interest for all this time..

> But whereas you can find fans of all sorts of languages who look up to 
> Lisp, Lispers don't look up to anyone. It seems to be the peak.

Interesting videos. I've got them up now. I'm trying to educate myself on 
LISP a little, now, as penance. :-)

> I cannot verify this myself but the excitement of the Java folk getting 
> into Clojure now seems to bear it out to some degree.

I won't comment on Java. I can only get into trouble there. I will say 
that I knew a guy who was quite brilliant and was a TCL, Haskell, and C++ 
god (especially in TCL, he was a damn terror with that language and worked 
embarrassing circles around me when he touched TCL). This guy wrote a 
great deal of the TCL in service in air-traffic-control systems here in 
the US.  He told me Java had some merits. So, I'm holding to that in place 
of my own experiences with Java. :-)

> I was an undergrad biologist. :-) I've never studied CS.

Cool. At least you got laid. 10:1 ratio helps a lot in that field. :-P

> But that's another thing we've screwed up in recent decades: education.

Heh, and everyone's probably had enough of my "you guys just don't 
understand what higher education is like for students now." whinging (see 
I know some British English, har har). So, I'll just cut it out.

> > I'm a bit sad those never caught on in the states. They are neat machines.
> NIH syndrome?

Perhaps. It could have also been some kind of trade restrictions or 
home-team pride, I'm not sure. Europeans bought C64's from Commodore, why 
shouldn't I have been able to get me a a BBC Micro ? It wasn't right, 

> Ah but that is the exact thing. Yes, it does seem to deliver on that. 
> But there is a very very high price to pay for it, and that's almost 
> never mentioned, never discussed.

Heh, that price translates to a lot of PITA as a C programmer. Trust me, 
there is p-a-i-n.  Scripters just write their code and walk away when it 
runs. I have to go back and scrutinize everywhere I did a malloc(), 
calloc(), free(), bcopy(), memset(), *printf(), or *any* pointer 
operations. It's a big hassle and if I screw it up, then things either 
dramatically explode in some wilderness of heap memory, or I create a 
terrific opportunity for an exploit. So, I totally understand the 
complaints about C. I live them. The only thing is, I haven't found a 
better alternative. The bloat in most other languages is just beyond the 
pale, the compilers often suck, and the debugging and profiling toolkits 
are often weak compared to the easily accessible stuff in C. I've looked 
at D, Rust, Go, etc... There is always some kind of downer (for my 
purposes), but I'm open the to possibility that something can overtake C's 
popularity and improve the state-of-the art at the same time.

> You're clearly a far more advanced programmer than I am, then. I never 
> mastered OO at all.

Heh, I wouldn't say I've mastered it. If you ask me about things like 
partial specialization of a C++ template class, I'll glaze over like the 
next guy. I try to stick with meat-and-potatoes OO that does what OO was 
meant to do, simulate reality. The whole "Object bicycle has method 
pedal() and method steer()" example is a good one. If you have some 
problem where you feel confident that you can easily maintain code where 
"the solution space matches problem space." then everything is kosher for 
an OO effort. I can read code that's setup like Bicycle::honk_horn(), but 
I get livid when dealing with someone who goes insane with nested classes 
for maximum abstraction then names all their classes and method props with 
1-3 letter strings. Ie.. Bk::Ped::Foo::Bar::x().Y().z()

> Some describe it as a stealth takeover of *Apple* by NeXT. A lot of the 
> Apple tech & methods (and people) were tossed out, replaced by NeXT 
> stuff.

Well considering Apple was on the verge of bankruptcy at that time, it was 
probably a good thing. Hehe, NeXT already had their fall from grace, so 
maybe they learned a few things.

> Never got over the line noise aspect.

While I know exactly what folks mean, I will attempt a weak defense. Perl 
has extremely strong string manipulation features, including strong (and 
easy) support for PCRE's. Those regex's are the main reason folks recoil 
(because of how often they appear inline in Perl code). Also, if you ask 
me, most folks beginning to code in a scripting language will produce some 
nasty code. Since Perl attracted a large number of beginners, you'd often 
run into line noise style code. However, just to play the devils advocate, 
Perl can often pack a tremendous amount of logic and functionality in 
those regex strings. It's often stuff that'd take dozens of lines of C for 
me to reproduce.

> Both good points, but the thing is, all that stuff shouldn't be 
> necessary. Safer languages can be fast, predictable, suitable for 
> low-level systems work as well as app work.

I should probably check out Go and put a little more effort into it. It 
seems to make such promises.

> C is popular because C is popular.

Heh, it's not it's great personality, but like I say, I seem to have the 
right pathology to use it.  :-)

> True, but again, *you shouldn't have to*. It means programmer effort, 
> brain power, is being wasted on thinking about being safe instead of 
> spent on writing better programs.

One side effect of this is that it makes a lot of C programmers pedants. 
So, in my experience, C code often will compile and run where scripts will 
die wanting some library or extension you don't have. However, I do wish 
that compilers would include more features like the ones you mention. 
There are some that do, but the features and their various implementations 
in C are inconsistent.

> My impression is that the postcard-length summary is:

Nice timeline. I learned some things, there.

> OTOH a good enough rich WWW client doesn't need to be either Windows or 
> Unix.

That's very true.

> > I still carry a Symbian phone since I find both Android and iOS so
> > invasive and annoying. It's a strange shake up on the world I grew up in.
> Oh, nice! Which one?

I ordered it from Russia and switched it to English. It's a Phillips 
Xenium. It's stupid-simple and made for the elderly. The text is oversized 
and it hardly has any features (just phonebook, sms, plays MP3s, BT 
audio). The main reason I use it is that the battery lasts 3-4 weeks for 
me (crazy long). That and it has a flashlight switch on the side, hehe.

My value system doesn't jive with smart phones. They aren't paying to 
track me, rape my phonebook and browser history, or allow folks to use BT 
to do the same as I walk by. 

> I loved BeOS but never saw the Be Book. :-(

It's basically documentation for the major Kits (class collections, like 
"the game kit" or "the printing kit"). It's extremely solid.


More information about the cctalk mailing list