Count Basie, April in Paris. This is a neat album,
but the publishers have padded the original LP with material
that is “previously unissued”. In this case all of the padding
is different recordings of the same material that makes up the
original. I’d much rather hear stuff that really was new. They
could combine two LPs into one CD for example.
A lost comic:
Doonesbury. This is unashamedly a “topical” strip, which means that it
features politics and scary stuff like that. The politicians
are mocked, which is all they deserve, and there are also
stories about things like starting up a .com company, and then
crashing and burning. On the web, every strip is now in
colour. One somewhat unusual feature of the strip is that every
so often (maybe while the author has a holiday), the strips
repeat some much earlier sequence for a short while (maybe just
a week). For example, the genesis of myVulture.com sequence,
which happened last year, happened again this
More annoying science writing. This
piece is by Simson Garfinkel, whose stuff I usually enjoy reading.
He’s writing all about Java, and decrying it as a bad language. He
first attacks it by claiming that it is a language that
ugly, hard to read and that requires an inordinate amount of typing
because of a variety of pedagogical restrictions imposed by Java’s
creators. Of course, beauty is in the eye of the beholder,
but note the additional swipe at it by associating it with (obviously
useless) pedagogy. (See this
technical report on how Java is in fact ill-suited for
teaching.) Nor is it clear exactly what he means. I don’t think Java
programs are particularly verbose compared to its most obvious rival,
C++. But his writing makes it impossible to really assess his
criticism because he's being so vague.
Next he talks about Java’s “first Big Lie” (that it can run as fast as
C or C++). He says it’s clear that
a well-written program in
Java could never run as fast as a well-written program in C or
C++. Of course, this ignores the important issue of which of
Java or C/C++ helps programmers to produce their well-written programs
faster, but let’s just assess his reasons for his claim. He says it’s
because Java bytecode is interpreted, not compiled.
This totally ignores two important developments since Java first
appeared, and confuses a language’s implementation with its
specification. Most JVMs these days use a technique called
“Just-in-time” compilation that, shock, horror, produces compiled code
when the bytecode is to be run. So, even if you stick with the JVM,
you can achieve compiled-code speeds. Secondly, people are not
required to compile Java to bytecode. In fact, they can compile
directly to machine instructions. There's such a compiler available for free as
part of the GCC project.
Garfinkel reckons that Java’s second Big Lie is that it isn’t really
as portable as it claims, and that portability isn’t really that
all the world’s a PC running Windows. (Check
out the 10th C
Programmer’s commandment.) Java is a lot more portable than C.
Finally, let me say that I am not a Java zealot. I dislike it for a
variety of reasons, am not particularly impressed by
object-orientation, and think that the C++ language (not just
the implementation) is better in some ways (the presence of
template, for example).