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StefanL, 26.05.11 10:41
Resourceful as ever mrs. motz pointed us to an interesting presentation a certain Mr. John Day recently held at the "future of networking" conference in Budapest.
John D. Day (born 1947) might not be as well known as Vinton Cerf, Bob Kahn, Larry Roberts or even Jon Postel - really the most important of them all - but like all of them he is a computer scientist, an Internet pioneer and a historian. He has been active in the development of the communication protocols of Internet and its predecessor ARPANET since the 1970ies and has also also been involved in the design of the Open Systems Interconnection Model (aka OSI Reference Modl.
Day is the author of the 2008 book Patterns in Network Architecture: A Return to Fundamentals and the RFC documents RFC 520, RFC 728, RFC 731, and RFC 732.
A critique of the Internet architecture at a historically and technically fundamental level
You will find a pdf of this presentation of Mr. Day's on Future InterNet Design (FIND) at Forum Athena here. That one is for all practical purposes the same as the one he used in Budapest.
Mr. Day is a very classical sort of technology pioneer. Having been there and having co-designed the t-shirt, he knows exactly where the quarrels were and which decisions (in his opinion) went wrong and which problems of today's Internet are connected with which of those decisions. So nowadays he travels the internetworking congress circuit and pokes his fingers into all the wounds, hoping this will result in a real wakeup call.
Everybody knows, we here at tinytalk plc. are buffs for computing and networking history. If you belong to those who know us a bit better, dear reader, you might also know that we are glad about demystification. And though having moved our HQ to Jamaica we also adore any hint at points where we can see that important computing and networking systems still contain technology invented in Europe and not in California or Massachusetts and who the guys were who developed and provided it.
Listen to a short sample of Mr.Day's Budapest talk here. It is an mp3-audio, also provided by Mrs. motz at motz.antville.org.
Moore's law has made us sloppy.
But enough of the preliminaries. Now we'd like to look at just some of Mr. Days concise aphorisms on why software (especially networking code) is still as inmature as it is: "Moore's Law has allowed us to ignore important questions, it has made us sloppy".
After thorough examination and analysis of this stunning proposition the tinytalk tech stuff gave the following variant as a more correct alternative: "The phenomenon that Gordon Moore observed (called a law by Carver Mead) in conjunction with the current mode of production and distribution has forced us* to decide for solutions that were mostly not bad but had no answers for a lot of important questions".
The meaning of these two variants is relevantely different. Whereas the first one implies that sloppy idiots took the wrong bends in the past and did not listen to better informed people (like Mr. Day maybe), the second one points to a set of circumstances that forced non-ideal decisions that got things ahead while paying price, 'cause, as we used to say, there is no such thing as a free lunch. The same goes for the sometimes mysterious success of programming languages and the strange relapse of software practice into the primitive when microprocessors came along. It is just that sloppiness was forced but not the point.
*Society in general and the software academia and industry in particular
An echo elsewhere
The proposition of "Moore's law driving the computer industry" like fossile fuel driving the economy at large and by its "cheapness" (eq. easy availability) preventing "better solutions" finds a nice echo in Steven Wozniak's hope that software will get better, once the run of Moore's law hits the "atomic barrier". As the Wired Archive tells us:
Here's a question from an e-mail to Mr. Wozniak:
And here's WOZ's answer:
A preliminary observation
Well, somehow the run of Moore's Law (actually an observation that soon became a self fulfilling prophecy) will not end in 2012, as far as we can tell now, but we we will probably see the day in this very lifetime and not only in our next one. However that be Dennard scaling has ended in 2006 and with it a lot of what was driving the development commonly called Moore's law. Ever more logic gates, multicore and automatic optimization is what's driving progress now.
People get ready there's a train a-coming,
StefanL, 01.05.11 20:43
When Steve Jobs found out about Windows, he went ballistic.
"Get Gates down here immediately", he fumed to Mike Boich, Mac's original evangelist who was in charge of our relationships with third party developers. "He needs to explain this, and it better be good. I want him in this room by tomorrow afternoon, or else!"
"And, to my surprise, I was invited to a meeting in that conference room the next afternoon, where Bill Gates had somehow manifested, alone, surrounded by ten Apple employees. I think Steve wanted me there because I had evidence of Neil asking about the internals, but that never came up, so I was just a fascinated observer as Steve started yelling at Bill, asking him why he violated their agreement."
"You're ripping us off!", Steve shouted, raising his voice even higher. "I trusted you, and now you're stealing from us!"
But Bill Gates just stood there coolly, looking Steve directly in the eye, before starting to speak in his squeaky voice.
"Well, Steve, I think there's more than one way of looking at it. I think it's more like we both had this rich neighbor named Xerox and I broke into his house to steal the TV set and found out that you had already stolen it." ...
Andy Hertzfeld also remembers Mike Boich's recollection of the incident which he judges as likely to be more faithful than his:
"... He (Jobs) was trying to get them (MSFT) to forget about the OS business, since the applications business would be much bigger total dollars. He said, "It's not that I don't trust you, but my team doesn't trust you. It's kind of like if your brother was beating up on my brother, people wouldn't say it was just your brother against my brother, they would say the Gates are fighting with the Jobs." Bill responded that "No Steve, I think it's more like we both had this rich neighbor named Xerox, and you went in to steal the TV, and found that somebody else had stolen it. So you say, "hey, that's not fair. I wanted to steal the TV".
All enhancements added by TinyTalk plc.
Now, one should never forget that Steve grew up with a single mother and Bill in a very-well-to-do WASP household but, after all these years, what will motivate Mr. Jobs now that Mr. Gates is a pensionnaire and philantropos? Selling ever shinier stuff to ever richer kids can't be that sharp. AAPL's profits have risen well above MSFT's. Are the suits really still the guys you want to impress? Come on Steve, you have earned to relax just a bit. There are enough young guys'n'gals to carry the torch, :-)
PS: The differences between LISA/MacOS and DOS/Windows - despite everything that respective fans suspect - are mainly based in the ISAs (instruction set architectures) implementation and memory management of the original 16- and 32bit architectures of Intel and Motorola respectively. And then the overall cost of those architectures and in turn with Mr. Gates' business oriented preference of Intel and IBM.
There was also a corresponding large difference in SW philosophy of which MSFT's was more modern and less performant than AAPL's (bytecode, virtual machines, portability, high level languages vs. pragmatic handcrafted "small is beautiful" Motorola ISA assembly code and manually optimized Apple Pascal Code). That difference like with Multiplan/Excel vs. Lotus 1-2-3 first gave the advantage to AAPL and the hand-crafters and then, after some years to MSFT. Nothing of this is necessary anymore, one might add.
The very same reasons also caused the ancestors of both, the beautiful Xerox Alto, Dolphin and Dorado with their advanced Smalltalk, Cedar, Gypsy and Star interfaces (even had a now becoming mobile 3-line menu icon in 1981) to plummet to the bottom of the waters called market rules like a cannon ball.plink, 7 comments, praise or blame!
StefanL, 12.10.09 23:39
Cherry: Yes, it is. Very high. And there was this flavor, other people probably talked about this, but it was group dynamics all going on up there. We were all up in the sixth floor. Although I think I worked mostly in my office and visited the sixth floor with questions, [inaudible] the sixth floor. But there was this attitude, there were all these little tools built, and it was the idea of pipes that just kinda, of stringing things together, that was all neat and wonderful. And there was this attitude that he who touched it last owned it. So if you needed PR (?) to do something PR didn’t do, and you went and added it, you now owned PR. And so if some other part of it broke, you owned it.
DogbertA, 06.09.09 13:58
From oral history with Don Valentine, VC supreme:
DV: There is no question. It's very difficult. And over the years we've been visited by hundreds of people from every country in the world, almost all of the states in the country. They all want to figure out and clone what causes Silicon Valley to exist and thrive. Many or most of the visitors are interested in the underlying employment creation.
plink, nix, praise or blame!
StefanL, 19.08.09 23:11
In a continuation of our policy on hinting to pre 2.0 computing professionals, today we have got Susan L. Graham. Mrs. Graham has received the 2009 IEEE John Von Neumann Medal. Past recipients of the Von Neumann medal include computing legends Donald Knuth, Doug Engelbart, and C. Gordon Bell.
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