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Re: [ontolog-forum] How not to write specifications

To: edbark@xxxxxxxx, "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Ron Wheeler <rwheeler@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Tue, 01 Jul 2008 22:54:58 -0400
Message-id: <486AEE02.60606@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
I am not an expert on ontology and I personally find this discussion 
very interesting and all that but I find it hard to believe that belongs 
Perhaps there is a Microsoft vs NASA forum that you could move this to 
and let us know where you take it.    (01)

Ron    (02)

Ed Barkmeyer wrote:
> John,
> you wrote:
>> EB> (1) a general lack of design principles in MS Windows in
>>  > the 1990-95 period...
>> Not true.  Microsoft hired the chief designer of Digital's VMS,
>> which was an outstanding operating system.  The foundation for
>> NT was OS/2, which was jointly designed by IBM and MSFT.  ...
> Which was not MS Windows in the 1990-95 period.
> Windows NT was a separate product, and I said that, and I pointed to the 
> VMS background.
>> EB> (2) a poor hardware base...
>> EB> (3) upward compatibility requirements...
>> Neither of those is true.  Both NT and OS/2 were designed to run
>> on any 32-bit hardware, 
> Except that Intel didn't actually build a 32-bit hardware architecture 
> until 1994, which is what I said.  The problem with the previous 80x86 
> designs was that the memory was never a single address space as seen by 
> the instruction set, every I/O device control was thru a primary 
> register, and all the DMA schemes were different.  The 1980 breakthrough 
> in microcomputers (like the MC68000 used by Apple and the Z8000) was 
> 32-bit addressing in the processor and "memory-mapped", i.e. 
> bus-addressable, devices.  And most of them involved shared bus control, 
> which Intel had pioneered but IBM didn't use in the PC design.
> And NT was not a part of the Windows 95 or Windows 97 or Windows 98 or 
> Windows 2000 products.
>> and the migration strategy outlined above
>> would have allowed the old 3.1 GUI and a full 32-bit GUI to coexist
>> on different applications running simultaneously.
> Of course.  But that "GUI" included application intervention in keyboard 
> interfaces, mouse movement, screen displays, sound management, etc. 
> Microsoft actually made a significant investment in constructing a 
> virtual environment to run such applications in Windows 95.  Part of the 
> upward compatibility problem was to make the real operating system 
> elements support that virtual environment.  It gave rise to a lot of 
> cascading interface conversions, which became a bad habit at Microsoft.
> And each system has introduced new upward compatibility issues, 
> particularly in the graphics and sound areas, because the previous 
> system functionality set was underdesigned with respect to the next 
> generation hardware.  The general model being presented to the 
> application has been different from the underlying support models since 
> Windows 95, and each time it is augmented, the next generation of 
> hardware modifies the support model and forces another transform. 
> Almost all of this is about supporting the fancy graphics and sound 
> capabilities needed by games and videos, which is where (4) comes in.
>> EB> (4) all things to all men.  The Windows target market was
>>  > businesses, control systems, gamers and hobbyists, and grandmothers.
>> Apple's OS X meets those requirements far better with a separable
>> GUI on top of a Unix clone.  A server doesn't need a high-speed GUI,
>> but a game machine needs a super-speed GUI.  If they're separate,
>> you can support both with the same kernel.  For example, a game
>> GUI could run in a virtual memory that is locked into unpaged RAM.
> How and what Apple does in this diverse market I don't really know.  But 
> unlike Microsoft, they didn't have 18 other companies making new and 
> wonderful display hardware and graphics accelerators and enhanced sound 
> systems that Dell and Sony and IBM and HP and ... elected to plug into 
> their hardware platforms.  Each of the hardware vendors was targeting a 
> particular market and seeking "best in class" in that market, but they 
> all depended on Windows to support them.   Microsoft was only somewhat 
> able to control the interface situation, and unlike Apple, they were not 
> trying to create and control customer appetites (in that area).
> The point I was making is that trying to support all of it, along with 
> upward compatibility with earlier underdesigns, and bad ideas like 
> "integrating" the browser into the operating system, had a much bigger 
> impact than the degree of "modularity" in the software design.
>> EB> (5) external pressure.  Vista is a hack on Windows XP whose
>>  > primary objective was to lock down security before certain powerful...
>> Any OS designer with any smarts would know that those security features
>> would be broken by a professional hacker in about 15 minutes. 
> I was recently given to understand that in mid-2008 Mac OS X is known by 
> security freaks to have about the same level of vulnerability as Vista. 
>   The advantage it has is that fewer criminals have chosen to attack it, 
> because targeting 20% of the marketplace produces lower RoI than 
> targeting 80% of it.
> But you don't need to be a highly skilled professional hacker to 
> penetrate most of these systems.  There are lots of stupid and careless 
> people who have access and are just waiting to be used.
>> Sony
>> made the foolish decision to placate the RIAA, and Steve Jobs ate
>> their lunch.  When an industry such as RIAA has an obsolete business
>> model, getting in bed with them is suicide.
> Yes, Apple and Microsoft can ignore certain industry complaints, and 
> even big political campaigns from some industry organizations.  But I 
> don't think it was the RIAA that created the security issues that 
> spawned Vista.  Think who is liable for everything but the first $50 on 
> credit card frauds, and who is deeply concerned about penetration of 
> databases of private information that was acquired by law.  And imagine 
> the pressure they can bring to bear.
>> EB> And OBTW, the saga of Windows is a nearly one-for-one repeat of
>>  > the sequence of mistakes IBM made in designing operating systems
>>  > for the 360/370 series between 1964 and 1976.
>> I was at IBM in those years, and I plan to write some memoirs about
>> those events.  The only thing in common was that pointy-haired
>> bosses made technical decisions for political reasons.  The kinds
>> of mistakes were very different.  
> Well, John, you and I seem to have different approaches to abstraction. 
>   So it stands to reason we wouldn't see the same commonalities:
> - bad systems design practices
> - underdesigned hardware
> - upward compatibility requirements
> - all things to all men
> But then, you don't believe that those were characteristic of the 
> Windows legacy either.
> In fairness, the IBM 360 effort was among the first of its kind, and 
> some of the underdesign was a consequence of unknown territory.  But 
> unfortunately, some of it was deliberate, and some of it was also 
> failing to learn from prior experience, or to use the people who had it. 
>   And once the mistakes were in place in the customer and developer 
> shops, upward compatibility became an albatross.  MVS was every bit as 
> ugly and ungainly as Vista, and for many of the same reasons.
> Quod scripsi, scripsi.
> -Ed
>       (03)

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