Quidquid latine dictum sit, altum videtur

February 4, 2002

Some rare ZedneWeb news: I have updated my list of external sites for the first time in, oh, years. In fact, “update” might not be as good a description as “completely rewrote”. The new organization is sparse and purposefully incomplete, because that way I don’t have to agonize over which sites I’ve left out. Anyway: Want to know which sites I read? Well, here’s some of them.

Also updated is the projects page (and it’s about time, too). #

Foundation and C

Joel Spolsky looks at some common operations at the byte level. How does the way strings are represented in C affect the efficiency of operations like string concatenation? Quite a bit, as it happens, and understanding how these low-level aspects work is essential when trying to figure out your software project’s performance characteristics.

A lost of people feel that automatic garbage collection is less efficient than explicitly allocating and de-allocating memory. But wait, it turns out that explicit memory allocation functions, such as malloc, can be just as inefficient—plus they’re a pain for the programmer to keep track of. #

Why I haven’t shelled out for “broadband”

In the last few months, various DSL operators and our cable company have begun offering high-speed Internet access. So far, I’ve stuck with my sluggish dial-up modem. Why? Mostly because I’m not convinced the price is worth it. First, both offerings are asymmetrical: you get much higher throughput for downloads than for uploads. That’s okay if your model of Internet use is like television, receiving content rather than distributing, but I want to operate servers (or at least have that option available). Most high-speed services are not set up for that—or even explicitly forbid it.

Then of course, one hears horror stories about bad customer support which are bad enough to convince me to check out the service records thoroughly before choosing a service. (indirectly via Doc Searls)

Fortunately, I’ve made it a point to keep my e-mail and web addresses independent of my Internet service provider, so I can switch with few complications. For most people, changing their ISP would require reprinting business cards and informing friends and colleagues. It’s quite a pain, and it illustrates one reason to keep connectivity separate from services. #

Five-minute hate

A review of Election 2000 books suggests that Al Gore probably “won” the election, in the sense that more people tried to vote for him, but lost the subsequent court battles because he tried to keep a sense of decorum, as opposed to the Bush team which focused exclusively on winning. I was pretty angry at the time, although my comments are fairly restrained (1, 2, 3, 4), but it’s difficult to still be angry over the election after all this time. There are so many other things to be angry about.

Michael Moore, for example, notes the many, many connections between the Bush administration and Enron. I often disagree with Mr Moore’s message or tactics, but he’s right on the money here. The fact is, even if the government did nothing to stop Enron from collapsing, politicians on both sides did plenty to help it on its way up. What really alarms me is the thought that Enron’s tactics aren’t that unusual, just not usually practiced at such a large scale. (via Blogdex)

Fortunately, people are still asking the important questions. Like, what about the countries excluded from Mr Bush’s “axis of evil”? And, how might Arthur Andersen, Enron’s accounting firm, attempt to avoid blame? (Remember when we made fun of Andersen Consulting for renaming itself “Accenture”? Bet they’re pretty glad they changed their name now.) (via David Weinberger) #