New Blog

I've mentioned before that I've been thinking of starting a new blog which focuses on what I do for a living, namely computer science. Well, today it happened. The blog is called Computational Thoughts and the inaugural post is Learning Monads in 1996.


Our understanding of the universe

I have a lot to say about our current understanding of the universe. But I won't. I'll just show the following comic which sums it up pretty well:


The Vista Problem

So I've been running Vista for a little while on my new laptop. Not that much I should add though as I almost immediately installed Ubuntu as well. But every once in a while when I want to use iTunes or play one of those games that only run on Windows I tell grub I want to start Vista.

I'm not very impressed with Vista. What's the difference compared to XP? A bit of eye candy and an annoying dialogue that pops up every now and then to ask if I really do want to install a program (or something similar) when I'm trying to install a program (or doing something similar).

I hear Vista isn't selling so well and I'm not surprised. Why would anyone want it when the only thing it does is get in the way? We were promised lots of cool things like a new file system to rule them all. But feature after feature were cut until only DRM was left and I don't know of any computer used who had that on his wish list for new OS features.

John Dvorak's hypothesis about the failure to produce something new in Vista is that Microsoft has gotten sidetracked with all kinds of other projects. He thinks that Microsoft is looking too much at Google and losing sight of it's core business. I doubt that. Microsoft is a big company and it can do several things at once.

My hypothesis is the following: Microsoft is finally paying the price for backwards compatibility. The reason Microsoft can't deliver the new features they promised for Vista is that they're simply too difficult if they have to maintain backwards compatibility at the same time. Their codebase is deteriorating because of all the hacks and special cases they have had to insert just to make sure old programs work. And Microsoft has shown that it can be done, at least to some degree. But the deterioration is bound to catch up with them some time and I think this time has come. I think the only way for Microsoft to stay alive in the OS department is to cut backwards compatibility. Only then will they be able to add some new interesting features. On the other hand, cutting backwards compatibility will mean that it will be just as easy for people to switch to any other OS as to Microsoft's new one and that doesn't sound so good for Microsoft either.

Hmmm. If I'm right Microsoft has painted themselves into a corner. Not that I mind though.


Word day

As I have mentioned earlier I like to learn new peculiar words. And usually these new words show up one at a time which makes it easier to learn them. But today I've come across a whole fountain of exciting words and I'm not quite sure how to deal with it.

It all started out nicely when I was reading a research paper which had some exceptionally well written prose. The research content was good alright but it was equally readable for the language. So, in the middle of the paper I come across the word "chutzpah". Never heard of before but clearly derived from Hebrew. Clearly a useful word.

As a matter of fact I've taken two lessons in Hebrew. I have a friend who is pretty much fluent in Hebrew and he was going to give a course in it. Since he had very little teaching experience he wanted to practice lecturing and for that he needed some students. I happily volunteered. But I can't say I remember much of it now though.

The next word that showed up today was "trifecta". Exotic alright and semi-useful. But two words in a day is one too much if you don't want to spend too much energy on learning them.

But then the real killer came. A link to the site wordsmith.org. A complete treasure trove of cool exotic words. But it might be a bit more than I am ready to handle. We'll see what I do with it. Btw, I got the link from the freakonomics blog which have provided exotic words before.