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The Nightstar Zoo • View topic - Things that make you go... $#!%!@%!!!

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 08, 2006 3:07 pm 
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Nightstar Graveyard Daemon
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 13, 2006 12:35 pm 
No offense, Chalain, but if I'm reading this correctly, it's the (non-standard) error logging and database libraries that your company is using which you should be bitching about, not the language itself. While I won't claim that Java is the soul of elegance (I reserve that title for Scheme :) , which just goes to show that you can take even elegance to excess), a lot of the problems people have with it are in how it being (mis)used by others - just like with any language.

Admittedly, Java tends to encourage this sort of thing - indeed, the standard libraries are in some ways worse in this regard than the ones you seem to be using, with the logging API in particular being spectacularly overdesigned - and the one-size-fits-all hype surrounding the language doesn't help any. But there are reasons why the language works the way it does, even if those reasons are really applicable to the situation you're in.

Perhaps the real problem is that Java is too heavyweight for what you're doing - using a nuke to swat flies. Java scales up quite well, but scales down rather less so; it's optimized for massive, distributed systems, being written by dozens of coders working independently (which is ironic when consider it was originally meant for embedded software). In this regard, it really is in many ways more like Ada than like C++ or Smalltalk (both of which are over-engineered in their own ways). Of course, if this is from a really large project - and it sounds like it is - then I hate to say it, but a certain increase in complexity is the price of scale, regardless of the language.


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 13, 2006 5:54 pm 


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 14, 2006 12:18 pm 


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 15, 2006 12:44 am 
Well, having posted an unintentional WTF in the forum, I'd like to mention that today's Daily WTF has a prime example of security code - job security, that is.


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 27, 2006 11:27 am 


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 03, 2006 1:29 pm 
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 05, 2006 2:52 am 
(DISCLAIMER: I am not a professional programmer. 99% of the code I have written has been solely for class assignments or to amuse myself. Therefore my qualifications for pointing out idiocy in code are suspect. Nevertheless, I present the following.)

I'm sure you are all aware of MediaWiki, even if you're not aware of it. It's the software that runs Wikipedia, and what seems like every other wiki site on the planet. Part of the core distribution (but not activated by default, thankfully) is a plugin for displaying math equations in wiki pages. This plugin contains some fairly bad design decisions.

I mean, I can understand using (La)TeX for rendering the equations. Sure, it's bloated and monolithic, but its mathematical typesetting is without rival. (And even if it does have a rival, most of the textbooks and papers I've read have had at least their equations formatted by TeX, so as far as programs I've heard of go, it's unrivaled. No, Microsoft Equation Editor doesn't count.) It also has the notable advantage of being free. And most webservers have the megabytes to spare to host a LaTeX installation, even if the sysadmins aren't happy about it.

I can understand using ImageMagick to convert TeX's DVI output into something viewable in a web browser, as it's quite good at format conversion and most Linux distributions have it by default. But then, DVI is pretty much the only format that ImageMagick doesn't understand, so instead it gets converted to PostScript (using the standard LaTeX dvips tool) and then to PNG (using ImageMagick, which hooks into Ghostscript to do the conversion). Wait, Ghostscript? Of course your distribution will have Ghostscript, it's necessary for printing. Never mind that it may not be on a stripped-down webserver install that will have no need for printing anything, or that non-Linux OSes won't necessarily include it...who hosts websites on FreeBSD, anyway?

(Keep in mind, MediaWiki's only external dependencies in the base install are PHP and MySQL.)

No, the thing about the math plugin I can't understand is...why the fuck was it written in Objective Caml?

The bit about FreeBSD was sarcasm. I'm not that inexperienced.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 06, 2006 7:16 pm 


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 06, 2006 10:58 pm 
Maybe I didn't quite make it clear. This TeX interface thing is part of the base distribution of MediaWiki, which is entirely PHP except for the TeX bit in OCaml. I'm not saying it's never appropriate to use OCaml, just not willy-nilly in the middle of a program in a different language. (Especially one intended for webservers, which may be on shared hosting services that don't have every random scripting language installed.)

I suppose it's possible, though, that the TeX plugin was written independently of the rest of the MediaWiki codebase, and then brought into the core when the Wikipedia folks decided they wanted math formatting there. If this is the case, well, feel free to chuck me at the nearest monster and watch me explode, dood. ;)


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_________________
===============================================
"A sufficiently-advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."
Arthur C. Clarke
"Sufficiently advanced magic is indistinguishable from technology."
Jack L. Chalker
"Magic is just another way of saying 'I don't know how it works.'"
Larry Niven
"Any technology, no matter how primitive, is magic to those who don't understand it."
Florence Ambrose


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_________________
===============================================
"A sufficiently-advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."
Arthur C. Clarke
"Sufficiently advanced magic is indistinguishable from technology."
Jack L. Chalker
"Magic is just another way of saying 'I don't know how it works.'"
Larry Niven
"Any technology, no matter how primitive, is magic to those who don't understand it."
Florence Ambrose


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