[Oberon] Re: How I know you're all just playing

John Drake jmdrake_98 at yahoo.com
Mon Aug 9 20:57:50 CEST 2004

Hello Chris,

I started not to respond to this, because 
as Soren says it looks like flaimbait.  Still 
it's interesting in a linguistic sort of way.
It shows how the way people use definitions
can cause misunderstanding.  For instance, consider
your definition of "bloat":

--- easlab at absamail.co.za wrote:

> > I personally used to do a lot of image
> manipulation work with earlier
> > versions of Oberon, before the days of PhotoShop.
> > 
> This is difficult to imagine because:
> *  Wirth's main fight was against bloat;
> *  which is consistent with the development of
> oberon: compact 
>   and suitable for minimum hardware usage.
> *  Images are THE example of 'needing big RAM and
> CPU' !

I think you've really missed the boat of what Prof
Wirth was trying to accomplish.  He wrote the paper
"A plea for lean software".  He never wrote a paper
"A plea for lean data".  Images are data, not

Remember the Oberon catch-phrase (borrowed from 
Albert Einstein) "As simply as possible, but 
no simpler".  If you need to manipulate images 
than an operating system that doesn't allow you 
to do this is "too simple".

Besides, had Wirth wanted to use the least amount
of RAM possible then he wouldn't have gone with
a bitmapped interface.  Back in 1985 when Project
Oberon began text based computer screens (like 
MS-DOS) rulled the planet.  Bitmapped OS's like
the MacIntosh (1984) were "cutting edge".  Sure
Project Oberon only supported two colors at it's
inception, but so did the Mac!  And you could
manipulate images with the original Oberon
operating system, they just had to be two color
images (just like on the Mac).  As Oberon was
ported to platforms with better hardware, it 
was altered to allow for more colors.  This
happened with the full engagement and blessing
of N. Wirth.

What Wirth did do was to get the most 
functionality of a bitmapped operating system
with the smallest possible RAM footprint by
using "tiled" instead of "overlapping" windows.

That brings us to your definition of "work" versus

> *  n-o can 'handle' images, and apparently visual
> stuff is interesting
>     to experiment with and for student's projects.  
>  Which is perhaps 
>    my definition of 'playing' vs. WORK. i.e. WORK is
> stuff which you'd 
>   prefer not to do.  And because you didn't choose
> to do it, you want 
>   it to be completed soon. i.e. you want
> productivety.
> * n-o would/should never pretend to 'approach'
> PhotoShop
>      [which I've never (intended to) use] ?

That last sentence is most telling.  Since you've
never needed to use imaging handling capability
you've come to the unrealistic conclusion that
nobody else has either.  When a web designer uses
Photoshop to make custom buttons for a website
is he "working" or "playing"?  For the last site
I worked on I would have much rather used simple
buttons straight from HTML.  But the customer
wanted slicker "custom" buttons.  I used GIMP
(an open source package with PhotoShop
capability).  If that's not "doing what you 
didn't choose to do" then I don't know what is.
I've also used the vector graphics package
"Leonardo" to produce or charts and other
graphics for work.  I don't find these things
particularly "interesting" (mostly lines,
circles and boxes) but I do enjoy the fact that
I can (sometimes) use Oberon for something I
actually get paid to do.  Sometimes I use Oberon
V4's ODBC capability for some database
administration tasks.  That's no more or less
interesting than org charts in Leonardo.  Again
nice to be able to use Oberon for something I'm
getting paid to do.

Besides, how is a "student project" not work?
Much of Oberon (text based or graphics) is the
result of "student projects".
> > > So I want to search the relevant partition for
> file(s) containing
> > > the strings :  "Store" & "width". This 'uncool'
> facility is  needed very
> > > often for WORK.
> > Is it a needed facility or a workflow issue?
> > 
> I don't understand your words.
> > I think there's a perceived need, which has been
> met through the
> > modules of others, but often the 'grep' people are
> searching for is a
> > mental Unixism we bring as baggage to a new
> system.  I probably
> > wouldn't have started with a text search in Oberon
> (though I also may
> > have been unsuccessful).  Personally, I don't
> think there's anything
> > uncool about text searching, but Oberon in general
> is not heavily
> > file-oriented (more document-oriented?), so this
> lacking feature never
> > suprised me.
> > 
> If a 'document' is a sequence if chars, readable by
> humans, and you've
> collected thousands of them, how will n-o manage
> without an 
> approach which is "file-oriented" ?
> > I would suggest using the modules suggested
> earlier.  It sounds like
> > it would be worth your time investment.
> I manage. It's just that when I ask myself why
> doesn't any body else
> need the facility of 'finding a set of files which
> have a set of strings',
> the obvious answer is that they aren't doing 'real
> work'.

Why?  Because nobody else has complained about the
"problem" or offered you a "fix"?  Most of the time
when I use the Find.Panel I can think of a keyword
that narrows the search down pretty good.  Often
I'm looking to see where a particular procedure
in a particular module is located.  For my uses
I haven't really needed "and" searching.

> [  Imagine if this facility was removed for google
> !! ]

Google's a completely different animal.  It's a
collection of somebody ELSE's files, not your own.
I don't think that type of search is in Windows
Find utility.  If it's in the Unix Grep command
I don't know how to use it.  Typically I have some
idea of what folder I'm looking in.  Yes, N.O.
doesn't have "folders" but you can group your files
by prefixes and accomplish the same thing, at
least as far as limiting searches is concerned.
That brings me to the final definition.  The word
"playing" seems to be being used in a negative
conotation.  But in the urban U.S. a "player" is
a positive thing.  A "player" is a mover and a
shaker.  Someone who makes things happen.  In
computer terms a player could be a "hacker" or
a "systems programmer".  I could probably "play"
and build in the functionality that you're wanting
(it would definitely not be work since I don't
need it and you probably won't pay for it), but
then why should I keep all the fun for myself?
;) If you want to take lead on adding this 
functionality I'll be happy to help you any way
I can.


John M. Drake

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