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06/29/2004:

article . why software still stinks


This article, Why software still stinks, written by Scott Rosenberg points out a number of interesting things. Here are some insights from that article uttered by some of the pioneers of the software industry.

  • "I looked at the programmer as an individual on a quest to create something new that would change the world." (Susan Lammers)

  • "Software inefficiency can always outpace Moore's Law. Moore's Law isn't a match for our bad coding." (Jaron Lanier - pioneer of virtual reality)

  • "Software as we know it is the bottleneck on the digital horn of plenty." (Charles Simonyi, from Xerox PARC and Microsoft code guru behind Microsoft's Office suite)

  • "Most successful programmers are at heart can-do engineers who are optimistic that every problem has a solution."

  • "There are two meanings to software design. One is, designing the artifact we're trying to implement. The other is the sheer software engineering to make that artifact come into being. I believe these are two separate roles -- the subject matter expert and the software engineer." (Charles Simonyi)

  • "A lot of stuff in the Mac and Windows world was supposed to be temporary and got wedged into place," he said. "Making programming fundamentally better might be the single most important challenge we face -- and the most difficult one." Today's software world is simply too "brittle" -- one tiny error and everything grinds to a halt: "We're constantly teetering on the edge of catastrophe." Nature and biological systems are much more flexible, adaptable and forgiving, and we should look to them for new answers. "The path forward is being biomimetic."

And I wasn't able to stop myself from laughing when i read these two lines:

  • "There's this wonderful outpouring of creativity in the open-source world. So what do they make -- another version of Unix?" (Jaron Lanier)

  • "And what do they put on top of it? Another Windows!" (Jef Raskin)

And one more from young Bill Gates:

  • "The best way to prepare is to write programs, and to study great programs that other people have written. In my case, I went to the garbage cans at the Computer Science Center and I fished out listings of their operating systems." (Bill Gates)

That article pointed out a lot of good links too. To name a few: The Father of Macintosh, The computer is an amplifier for your brain and Are microchips too fast for mere mortals?


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