The pervasive view of software performance is that compilers are better than humans at optimizing code, but the few humans who optimize important bits of code to the maximum extent disagree Similarly, computer programs today are increasingly diverging into a state where there is a tiny amount of extremely performance critical code, and a large amount of code where performance is so good on our hardware today that even horribly unoptimized code has no noticeable effect on performance.
Thus, optimizing compilers are useless on the first type of code (humans are better), and useless on the second (performance doesn’t matter). So what good are they at all?

The mysterious affair of the price discrepancy

Have been putting off watching Series 13 of Poirot because (1) I have less free time these days, and (2) I don’t want it to end ūüė¶

I looked at ways to watch it legally on the three major platforms, with some curious1 results:


  • Google has one version available and it isn’t clear whether it’s SD or HD (though looking at the thumbnails, I’m guessing the former).
  • Amazon has both SD and HD options
  • iTunes has both SD and HD options

Individual Episode Pricing

  • Google has each episode priced at $6.99
  • Amazon has the SD version priced at $6.99 and the HD version at $7.99
  • iTunes has the SD version priced at $4.99 and the HD version at $5.99

Whole Series Pricing

  • Google has the series (in SD ?) priced at $24.99
  • Amazon has the same price for SD, and $29.99 for HD
  • iTunes has the same prices as Amazon, minus 4 cents
  • Amazon also has the DVD version for the series, at $17.96, and the Blu-Ray version at $34.54

Which format to watch ?

  • If you want to watch a single episode (why ?!), iTunes is the cheapest 2 (both SD and HD)
  • If you want to watch the whole series online, ditto (though not by much)
  • If you don’t mind watching it with a physical disk, Amazon is the cheapest.
  • If you want to play it on the maximum number of platforms, go with Amazon3.

Edit: I ended up going with Amazon since one of the platforms happens to be a Sony PlayStation.

  1. Curious, because I had naively expected iTunes to be the most expensive
  2. By quite a bit, almost 30 percent less than Google or Amazon! 
  3. Unless you’re Apple-only, in which case iTunes, obviously. 

The excellent absurdity of Indiana Jones

Watched the “refrigerator scene” on YouTube and saw this comment in the stream that just about sums it up:

Wait so, in the first three movies, we’ve seen:

  1. A magical box that made Nazis explode and melt faces off
  2. A river raft carrying three people fall from a plane thousands of feet in the air onto a mountain, and not break everyone’s bones and spines in the process.
  3. A cult leader that has the ability to hypnotize and pull a heart out of a person’s chest
  4. Stones that, when placed in a certain hole, restore all vegetation and clarity to an Indian village
  5. A cup that, if you drink water out of it, you age into dust
  6. An 800+ year-old knight guarding said cups

    And you’re okay with all of that, but once Indy goes into a lead-lined fridge and survives a nuclear blast, you guys call it “unrealistic.” Just shut up and embrace the absurdity, like you did before. I personally thought this scene was awesome. The movie, I’ll admit, not as good as the others, but definitely didn’t deserve the flack.

The old-time Unix culture has largely reinvented itself in the open-source movement. Doing so saved us from extinction, but it also means that the problems of open source are now ours as well.

Eric S. Raymond

My ideal for the future is to develop a file system remote interface (a la Plan 9) and then have it implemented across the Internet as the standard rather than HTML. That would be ultimate cool.

– Ken Thompson

Although the early years in the twenty-first century seem to be favoring the Lisp-school philosophy, I predict the balance of the century will belong to the Fortran-school programmers who are able to successfully apply mathematics to practical problems. It is tempting to declare that most programming problems ‚Äúdon’t need math‚ÄĚ, but this is only true in the same sense that manufacturing, or supply-chain management, or baseball, ‚Äúdoesn’t need math‚ÄĚ: advanced mathematics seems completely unnecessary to existing practitioners, but only until someone figures out that a particular mathematical concept is the right way to think about the problem at hand. After that, it is vital.

Apropos of the recent article on how “Googling for stuff makes you feel smarter”, here is Umberto Eco on something similar:

A student makes hundreds of pages of photocopies and takes them home, and the manual labor he exercises in doing so gives him the impression that he possesses the work. Owning the photocopies exempts the student from actually reading them. This sort of vertigo of accumulation, a neocapitalism of information, happens to many.

(sound familiar?)

So far, Open Source suffers from the same problem that Microsoftish software does: it does not reach closure and stability. Novelty is what motivates people in that camp, too, not actual innovation. Real innovative people leave good enough alone, while novelty-seekers don’t.

There is no escape, can’t you feel the cold hand of cycle-elimination,¬†and blusterification stroking the back of your neck, ready to snag you¬†by a lock of your hair and shove you head first into the XML sausage¬†grinder, to come out the other side as an XML document that will be¬†fondled and groped lavisciously yet clumsily by DOM Visitors,¬†Iterators and other foul demon offspring from the ring of hell¬†reserved for lame OO language implementors who are so embalmed in the¬†throwaway bourgeois epistemologic theories of continental¬†philosophy¬†that they insist methods belong to objects, and that everything can be¬†broken into class hierarchies if we just apply a strong enough dose of¬†machismo-driven dialectical analysis and your inability to abide by¬†their categorical imperative means they must build protective and¬†private measures into their degenerate pidgins and creoles.