[rescue] tired of current GUIs / a rant about the daily garbage we put up with

Mouse mouse at Rodents-Montreal.ORG
Wed Oct 23 13:50:57 CDT 2019

> we now have multi-Ghz multi-core, multi-GB RAM systems with GUIs that compan$

A co-ranter! ^_^

The state of GUIs _has_ advanced.  For example, the user agent you used
to compose this, the one that generated a single line of over three
hundred characters for that paragraph: it can recompute the display of
the entire line, often the entire screen, each time anything happens,
and still run "fast enough".

Mind you, not everything is like that.  There's a quote I saw somewhere
that I can't find right now, but it was something like "WordStar on a
4.077 MHz 8088 could keep up with my typing.  WinWord on Windows on a
400MHz Pentium II can't.".

Part of this, of course, is that Windows Word does far more than
WordStar did, especially when it comes to the display.  But I think a
lot more of it is that coders, as a class, have gotten sloppy.  I doubt
any individual coder has gotten much sloppier, but the class has gotten
_much_ larger, and far too many of the new ones are either unable or
unwilling to pay proper attention to details like using an O(n log n)
algorithm instead of an O(n^3) one.

> Things people actually accomplished real work on:

And "accomplish"; my screen-and-keyboard machine at home is a
SPARCstation 20.  Similarly, at workplace A, another SS20.  Workplace
B, a third SS20.  Workplace C would be a fourth if I had a workplace C.

> You would really have to struggle to cut down a Linux GUI system to 512MB RA$

Depends on what GUI you use.  If you just use what comes out of the box
with one of the big distros like Debian or Red Hat, sure.  But if you
put a little effort into it, you can do much better.

My GUI on a 448M SS20 is rattling around with a lot of room to spare.
It's possible it would be worse under Linux (I'm using variant NetBSD),
but I am inclined to doubt it would be much worse; an X server and a
bunch of terminal emulators doesn't really eat that much.  (Lightweight
terminal emulators.  Not xterms but on roughly the same order.)

> What's the minimum you need, for actual hacking?

Depends on what kind of hacking you're doing.

I have a teensy (a small 8-bit CPU on a PCB about the size of an 74150)
which I could work effectively with using an SS20 plus something -
pretty much anything - with USB, the latter only because the damn thing
was designed with a USB port as its reprogramming interface.

But if you're hacking on, to pick something else from the thread,
Minecraft mods, you need something significantly beefier.

The real lose, to my mind, is all the things that have been "improved"
to the point that they can't do things that were routine 10, 20, 30
years ago.  To pick the most recent example from my experience, modern
monitors have been "improved" to the point where it's a struggle to get
a SS20 to display on a modern 1920x1080 display, when it works fine
with a 20-year-old one.  And with an old 4:3 CRT, it just displays a
squashed picture.  A modern display typically just puts up a box
saying, basically, "can't handle this", without even trying to display
any semblance of the video signal.  When I _do_ get an image, it's
better than 50% that it's squashed, or half off the screen, or some
such, with no way to adjust anything to fix it.  I once spent an entire
afternoon trying to get my SS20 to display on a particular 1920x1080
display.  I eventually switched to a different display, upon finding
one that _did_ work.

Another example is GUIs.  I recently started carrying a "smart"phone
for work.  It appears to be impossible to do something even as
rudimentary as getting it out of reverse video, never mind doing
anything actually useful like looking at what's actually going to get
sent when composing an email.  But oh boy, do the slick video effects
ever look slick.  Apparently slick effects are more important than
rudimentary functionality these days.

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