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salim madjd
Curiosity is the oxygen of my world
Curiosity is the oxygen of my world

salim's posts

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Village Capital 2014-2015 HealthIT Cohort
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Yahoo!'s new logo is out. What do you think of it? 

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Poll: How long before Google starts copying the new style of Apple's TV ads? 

less than one month

less than three months

less than six months 

Copy? We never copy nor we do evil. 

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PHP??? I would have thought javascript would have made more sense.It seems like Google is just reacting to requests from 4 years ago. The App Engine has mades some decisions that seem to be contradictory. At one end, they drastically increased their prices and sent a signal the GAE was an enterprise-focused platform. Now, they're releasing PHP so people can host blogs on it. Really? You want to compete with $5-6/month wordpress hosting solutions. 
Who is running the show there? 

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A lesson in shortcuts.

Long ago, as the design of the Unix file system was being worked out, the entries . and .. appeared, to make navigation easier. I'm not sure but I believe .. went in during the Version 2 rewrite, when the file system became hierarchical (it had a very different structure early on).  When one typed ls, however, these files appeared, so either Ken or Dennis added a simple test to the program. It was in assembler then, but the code in question was equivalent to something like this:
   if (name[0] == '.') continue;
This statement was a little shorter than what it should have been, which is
   if (strcmp(name, ".") == 0 || strcmp(name, "..") == 0) continue;
but hey, it was easy.

Two things resulted.

First, a bad precedent was set. A lot of other lazy programmers introduced bugs by making the same simplification. Actual files beginning with periods are often skipped when they should be counted.

Second, and much worse, the idea of a "hidden" or "dot" file was created. As a consequence, more lazy programmers started dropping files into everyone's home directory. I don't have all that much stuff installed on the machine I'm using to type this, but my home directory has about a hundred dot files and I don't even know what most of them are or whether they're still needed. Every file name evaluation that goes through my home directory is slowed down by this accumulated sludge.

I'm pretty sure the concept of a hidden file was an unintended consequence. It was certainly a mistake.

How many bugs and wasted CPU cycles and instances of human frustration (not to mention bad design) have resulted from that one small shortcut about  40 years ago?

Keep that in mind next time you want to cut a corner in your code.

(For those who object that dot files serve a purpose, I don't dispute that but counter that it's the files that serve the purpose, not the convention for their names. They could just as easily be in $HOME/cfg or $HOME/lib, which is what we did in Plan 9, which had no dot files. Lessons can be learned.)

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testing the new history api at google/io

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One of the most amazing displays of fireworks and light show. Well done SF!
Golden Gate Bridge @75
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The Unannual Annular - eclipse timelapse.

Capture near Pyramid Lake, NV. All rights reserved.
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