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

To: "[ontolog-forum] " <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "Azamat" <abdoul@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Wed, 2 Jul 2008 11:51:09 +0300
Message-id: <000e01c8dc20$c64a9560$010aa8c0@homepc>
----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Ron Wheeler" <rwheeler@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
To: <edbark@xxxxxxxx>; "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Wednesday, July 02, 2008 5:54 AM
Subject: Re: [ontolog-forum] How not to write specifications    (01)

>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
> here.
> Perhaps there is a Microsoft vs NASA forum that you could move this to
> and let us know where you take it.
> Ron
> 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
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