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

Dropbox 193.4.5594 - Cloud backup and sy...
Dropbox is a file hosting service that provides cloud storage, file synchronization, personal cloud, and client software. It is a modern workspace that allows you to get to all of your files, manage... Read more
Google Chrome 122.0.6261.57 - Modern and...
Google Chrome is a Web browser by Google, created to be a modern platform for Web pages and applications. It utilizes very fast loading of Web pages and has a V8 engine, which is a custom built... Read more
Skype 8.113.0.210 - Voice-over-internet...
Skype is a telecommunications app that provides HD video calls, instant messaging, calling to any phone number or landline, and Skype for Business for productive cooperation on the projects. This... Read more
Tor Browser 13.0.10 - Anonymize Web brow...
Using Tor Browser you can protect yourself against tracking, surveillance, and censorship. Tor was originally designed, implemented, and deployed as a third-generation onion-routing project of the U.... Read more
Deeper 3.0.4 - Enable hidden features in...
Deeper is a personalization utility for macOS which allows you to enable and disable the hidden functions of the Finder, Dock, QuickTime, Safari, iTunes, login window, Spotlight, and many of Apple's... Read more
OnyX 4.5.5 - Maintenance and optimizatio...
OnyX is a multifunction utility that you can use to verify the startup disk and the structure of its system files, to run miscellaneous maintenance and cleaning tasks, to configure parameters in the... Read more
Hopper Disassembler 5.14.1 - Binary disa...
Hopper Disassembler is a binary disassembler, decompiler, and debugger for 32- and 64-bit executables. It will let you disassemble any binary you want, and provide you all the information about its... Read more
WhatsApp 24.3.78 - Desktop client for Wh...
WhatsApp is the desktop client for WhatsApp Messenger, a cross-platform mobile messaging app which allows you to exchange messages without having to pay for SMS. WhatsApp Messenger is available for... Read more
War Thunder 2.33.0.135 - Multiplayer war...
In War Thunder, aircraft, attack helicopters, ground forces and naval ships collaborate in realistic competitive battles. You can choose from over 1,500 vehicles and an extensive variety of combat... Read more
Iridient Developer 4.2 - Powerful image-...
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

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Gorgeous Tactical Puzzle Game ‘Howl’ is...
Following its release on PC and Nintendo Switch this past November, and it’s arrival on Xbox and PlayStation back in January, publisher Astragon Entertainment and developer Mi’pu’mi Games are now bringing their super stylish tactical puzzler Howl to... | Read more »
Best iPhone Game Updates: ‘Shoot the Moo...
Hello everyone, and welcome to the week! It’s time once again for our look back at the noteworthy updates of the last seven days. It feels like a bit of a dry spell this week, at least in terms of really interesting updates. I mean, I found some... | Read more »
Celebrate Phobies spooky second annivers...
Get ready to have that classic song stuck in your head, as Phobies celebrates its second anniversary with the release of its latest update; Birthday Bash, Monster Mash. Starting March 5th and lasting for four weeks, it will be a month of... | Read more »
‘Dissidia Final Fantasy Opera Omnia’ Sto...
Square Enix finally shut down Dissidia Final Fantasy Opera Omnia (Free) on iOS and Android last week following the end of service announcement back in November last year. Following the game shutting down, Square Enix | Read more »
‘Monster Hunter Now’ Is Celebrating the...
Niantic and Capcom have begun celebrating the 20th anniversary of Capcom’s best franchise from today inside Monster Hunter Now (Free) on iOS and Android for a limited time. | Read more »
New ‘Warframe Mobile’ Update Adds 60fps...
Warframe Mobile (Free) launched worldwide on iOS just under two weeks ago. I’ve been playing it for review across multiple iOS devices, but have also been picking it up on Steam Deck and Switch to compare. Right from launch, I was impressed with... | Read more »
Passionate About Fidget Toys – The Touch...
In this week’s episode of The TouchArcade Show we kick things off with some passionate discussion about… fidget toys? For some reason? We quickly change gears to talk about the card-based rogulike Balatro, which we’ve both been playing and enjoying... | Read more »
TouchArcade Game of the Week: ‘Flying Ta...
For me Hexage is one of those developers that harkens back to the early days of the App Store and really the beginnings of iPhone gaming. I have spent many collective hours playing the likes of Totemo, Radiant, Radiant Defense, EVAC, Reaper… the... | Read more »
SwitchArcade Round-Up: ‘Ufouria 2: The S...
Hello gentle readers, and welcome to the SwitchArcade Round-Up for March 1st, 2024. In today’s article, we’re looking at the remaining releases of the week. There are a few really good ones today, but the bin bunch certainly isn’t going home hungry... | Read more »
Steam Deck Weekly: Reviews of PowerWash...
Welcome to the first Steam Deck Weekly of March and this week’s edition is bigger than usual. I was a bit unwell last week and had to push some reviews to this week. Alongside that, there have been many notable announcements, releases, and new Steam... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Deal Alert! B&H is now selling 13-inch M2...
B&H Photo has 13″ MacBook Airs with M2 CPUs and 256GB of storage in stock and on sale for $100 off Apple’s new MSRP, now only $899. Free 1-2 day delivery is available to most US addresses. Their... Read more
At $999, Apple’s 13-inch M2 MacBook Air is th...
With today’s introduction of the new 13-inch M3 MacBook Air for $1099, Apple dropped prices on the previous-generation 13-inch M2 MacBook Air to $999. At the same time, Apple discontinued the 13-inch... Read more
Apple discontinues 15-inch M2 MacBook Airs, d...
With today’s introduction of new M3-powered 15″ MacBook Airs, Apple has dropped prices on clearance, Certified Refurbished, 15″ M2 MacBook Airs to a new low of $1019. These are the cheapest 15″... Read more
Price Drop! 13-inch M2 MacBook Airs at Apple...
Apple has dropped prices on Certified Refurbished 13″ M2 MacBook Airs to a new low of $849. These are the cheapest M2-powered MacBooks for sale at Apple. Apple’s one-year warranty is included,... Read more
Apple finally discontinues the 13-inch M1 Mac...
With the introduction of M3-powered 13″ MacBook Airs today, Apple has dropped prices on clearance 13″ M1 MacBook Airs, Certified Refurbished, to $759 for 8-Core CPU/7-Core GPU/256GB models and $929... Read more
Updated Apple iPad Price Trackers
Our Apple award-winning iPad Price Trackers are the best place to find the latest information on iPad sales and deals. We track prices from 20+ Apple retailers, including Apple, Amazon, Best Buy,... Read more
Updated Apple MacBook Price Trackers
Our Apple award-winning MacBook Price Trackers are continually updated with the latest information on prices, bundles, and availability for 16″, 14″, and (recently-discontinued) 13″ MacBook Pros... Read more
Mac Studios with Apple M2 Max and M2 Ultra CP...
B&H Photo has the standard-configuration Mac Studio model with Apple’s M2 Ultra CPU in stock today and on sale for $300 off MSRP, now $3699 (24-Core CPU and 64GB RAM/1TB SSD). B&H Photo has... Read more
Extended: Switch to Verizon and get the Apple...
Verizon has the iPhone 15 on sale for $0 per month when you add a new line if service. Discount is applied to your account monthly over a 36 month term and is valid for the 128GB model. For the first... Read more
Select 16-inch M3 Pro and M3 Max MacBook Pros...
B&H Photo has select 16-inch M3 Pro and M3 Max MacBook Pros on sale for $250 off MSRP. Their prices are the lowest currently available for these configurations. Free 1-2 day shipping is available... Read more

Jobs Board

Teller Part Time *Apple* Valley MN *Apple*...
…is not eligible for Visa sponsorship **Posting Location:** + 15574 Pilot Knod Road Apple Valley, MN 55124 @RWF22 **Posting End Date:** Job posting may come down Read more
*Apple* End User Support Specialist - North...
…that they are performed. + Responsible for support of all College owned Apple computers, mobile ios devices, and peripherals, and for diagnosing and resolving Read more
Omnichannel Associate - *Apple* Blossom Mal...
Omnichannel Associate - Apple Blossom Mall Location:Winchester, VA, United States (https://jobs.jcp.com/jobs/location/191170/winchester-va-united-states) - Apple Read more
Teller Part Time *Apple* Valley MN *Apple*...
…is not eligible for Visa sponsorship **Posting Location:** + 15574 Pilot Knod Road Apple Valley, MN 55124 @RWF22 **Posting End Date:** Job posting may come down Read more
Nurse Anesthetist - *Apple* Hill Surgery Ce...
Nurse Anesthetist - Apple Hill Surgery Center WellSpan Medical Group, York, PA | Advanced Practice Providers | Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists | FTE: 1 | Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.