Forum comments in chronological order

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Mar 2012

The bitbuf

Sun 4-Mar-2012 09:10
Please start a Kickstarter! I would love to buy one of these from you! :D

A case against syntax highlighting

Sun 4-Mar-2012 20:10
I like to think that there are two types of technology: that which extends human abilities and that which replaces them. Extending human abilities is (usually) a good thing. Replacing them, however, is like getting someone else to do things for you because you don't know how to do them rather than learning them yourself. It is basically giving up potential intelligence.

My favorite example is when web browsers try to remember your passwords for you. You are perfectly capable of remembering your own passwords. Then what happens when you switch computers or something happens to your computer? You don't know your password.

The only possible exception to that that I can think of is if you had a very long password and you were trying to be EXTREMELY time efficient. But that seems to be stretching it.

And I definitely think humans are capable of reading and understanding code that does not have syntax coloring. The syntax coloring only replaces the intelligence of dissecting the code that you could have.

That said, I use syntax coloring. I use it mainly because I am to lazy to do the extra effort of detaching myself from it. I don't think lazy is a good thing, but people are lazy nonetheless, and I wouldn't blame anyone who uses syntax coloring. Aside from that, syntax coloring is pretty (to me, anyway) despite being inefficient, and it makes coding the slightest bit more fun.

The Chipophone

Mon 5-Mar-2012 09:48
this is so cool!
you really need to play the intro tune to ninja turtles on nes, that song was bad ass. Also the last ninja on c64, level 1 on ln1, and the intro on ln2

The TTY demystified

Mon 5-Mar-2012 18:15
Great article! I'm currently running a real Teletype ASR-33 on a serial port with Ubuntu. I have to use stty to set the proper parameters for an uppercase-only terminal, change tabs to spaces, etc. Is there a way to determine what port I'm logging into (ttyS0? S1? S2, S3 or S4?) Right now, I have to run stty on all ports and get an access denied error for any port I'm not connected to. I'd like to find out what port I'm on and only run the stty on that port. Thanks for your time!


Tue 6-Mar-2012 13:09
Linus - greetings from Cardiff, UK. I saw the video for this a while back, but decided to re-visit it today. You, Sir, are a bona fide genius!

The bitbuf

Wed 7-Mar-2012 14:32
Wow, this is pretty much the best thing you've ever done, and that is saying more than anyone could possibly imagine!
Having been through the fiddly/frustrating process of trying to do improvisations using LSDj and various Chip trackers, my mind is on fire at the idea of having the chance to use something like this!

As much as I'm sure you enjoy just making cool things for the sake of it, PLEASE take the opportunity to share the beauty of this creation with the world! As several people have already stated: Kickstarter. I would PAY to have the *opportunity* to buy one of these, let alone actually make a purchase!
Thu 8-Mar-2012 05:56
i would love to see this as a purchasable kit or opensource device.

i really love the glitchy effects

but releasing this on the world would just shock the hobbyist audio movement, personally, i'm not good enough to do any live shows, but to have this as something to play around with. but i can see this hitting it big not only in live shows, but as a hobbyist\ musicians new instrument <at fractions of the cost of what other software\hardware costs

About me

Sat 10-Mar-2012 01:02
Have you considered creating VST Instruments? I'd love a software version of the Chipophone to play around with :) I'm always searching for great virtual synths that emulate real, classic hardware like C64's SID or Roland Juno (

I recently found a great VSTi emulating the Juno, TAL (Togu Audio Line) U-No, check that out if you're also into them.

Also, I love this one freeware VSTi called The Pokegy (it's hard to find these days, found one copy through Google - someone had uploaded it into an filehosting-site). It emulates the Moog Prodigy. A great alternative to the software version of Minimoog, if one is on a budget.

The bitbuf

Toby Walker
Sat 10-Mar-2012 08:12
I've already made a comment on this, but as an anonymous user.
I just registered specifically to show my support to the idea of making this something purchasable!
Sat 10-Mar-2012 11:32
would love to love one


Tue 13-Mar-2012 03:01
Huh. No ALPHA key? *bangs* I WANT CONTROL! *bangs*


Tue 13-Mar-2012 13:40

tesla1980 wrote:

Please help me ! Can anyone tell me how to change the c - code to make that the whole program loops itself ? Where i must change the code. I`m absolutely a c-code noop - i have no idea ! PLZ HELP ME !

#include <stdio.h>

int main() {
printf("This text will be looped");

The bitbuf

Thu 15-Mar-2012 05:01
If you need help making this in volume, I am certain it would not be too hard to recruit some help among the community. I think it is easy to find the right persons to give a few hours here and there to migrate your design to SMD and start a 1000 units in a china fab... Kickstarter all the way...unless you are completely set on using a 8 bit AVR, I would also consider the 16 bit MSP430 for a smaller footprint and low cost in 1000 units, also if there is enough overhead on the cycle% it may be possible to elimiate the DAC to a r2r ladder or a combination of PWM/r2r (saw once a rare implementation like that).
That should make an affordable BOM...

The hardware chiptune project

Thu 15-Mar-2012 20:04
Absolutely awesome!

A case against syntax highlighting

Sat 17-Mar-2012 18:53
Is Thinger a class with a static Convert function? Or is it a property member of the class that this code lives in? With Visual Studio you will know because if it's a class it'll be Aqua colored and if it's a property that returns a class object, it'll just be black (by the default color scheme).

I second this argument. Probably the author of the post got his facts wrong. Incidentally, the author has took some pains to point out the real reason behind syntax highlighting, but conveniently labelled them as exceptions. The real reason behind syntax highlighting is to make the structure of the code clear, so that one can understand it better. If the author is using it for eye-candy, it makes one suspicious if they have written any real code at all.
Sat 17-Mar-2012 18:54
Code isn't "text". And this blog post has differently sized bold headings, and different colored underlined links. Seems even plain text is helped with a form of syntax highlighting.
Sat 17-Mar-2012 19:55
Thanks to the guy who linked to this at HN, I feel dumber for having read it.
Sat 17-Mar-2012 22:34
You present your argument against syntax highlighting using 3 key vectors of attack.

1) An analogy to prose text and typography. Arguing what applies to typography, should apply to code as well.
2) An analogy to learning music instruments. Arguing that since you have to to able to read notes anyway, the colors are only temporary. And if they ever change, you're having trouble reading the code.
3) Arguing that syntax highlighting does not help, not even to avoid syntax errors, since that's what compilers are here for.

1a) Typography is not a rule like "never do B". It is a contextual form of graphical composition, in which the context determines the set of rules you are going to operate on. For instance, long runs of text with few (if any) structural elements that would attract attention is typically written to be scanned front to back. Mostly that's prose (books, novels etc.). Other forms of writing use different rules, and these may include elements to attract attention to increase typographic legibility (for instance writing for the web
1b) It is only of limited merit to compare prose writing with source-code and derive meaning from that comparison. The way we read prose and the way we read sourcecode is vastly different. Typographic rules derived from reading prose do not automatically apply to sourcecode.

2) The analogy to learning music instruments and notes is flawed. You're in essence comparing programming to knowing the alphabet. It just does have no relevance whatsoever.

3a) Based on previous flawed conclusion that it doesn't help, you seek to find some merit by comparing it to error checking by a compiler. The descend into that branch of reasoning is flawed because you have not established validity of your first conclusion, and therefore it is arguing that it doesn't help because it doesn't help, i.e. circular reasoning.
3b) Assuming that any merit can be found in error checking for syntax highlighting is mostly flawed (not entirely however).

A: You rarely sit down and read sourcecode front to back. Usually you jump around and glance at many things without reading them again, and again and again. In fact, you recognize visual patterns crossing many lines. Syntax highlighting makes those patterns more distinguishable.
B: Changing syntax highlight might be a bit annoying, but it's usually not a problem (that might be very personal)
C: You yourself admit that there is good reason to syntax highlight multiline comments, stating that it helps to avoid trying to parse text that has no bearing. Likewise, some languages support multiline strings, which accidentially would be trick you into parsing them as sourcecode.
D: Single line comments are easier to spot when highlighted as well, preventing you to read them unless you really want to.
E: keywords and other symbols that you cannot redefine in your program (of which there may be many, depending on the language) are helped to be recognized and avoided if they get painted "offensively".
F: most languages have native types. It is usually relevant to be able to glance at sourcecode and recognize weather it operates mostly with native types, or uses its own types.
G: It is generally useful to instantly see where the system code starts and whatever else is supplied by the programmer.

It's possible (although unlikely) that all raised arguments are valid for you (I can't entirely see how that would be the case however). I'm more inclined to think that it's just easier for *you* to read non highlighted code. Maybe you're a very textual person.
I can say with absolute certainty that I'm not a very textual person. I find non highlighted code extremely tedious to read. I've spent at some parts in my life extensive periods of time in such situations, and they where very painful. Aparts from the benefits that I do derive from syntax highlighting, I do other things to my text environment however that others find abominable (like putting it transparently over a pleasing background).

Speak for yourself, syntax highlighting is good for me, maybe not for you, but good for me.
Sun 18-Mar-2012 03:26
Be a typography geek all you want, but trying to quickly navigate code is nothing like reading a block of text, so you can't use numbers and studies based on reading English (or any other language) to make judgments about reading code. Syntax highlighting coupled with the indentation used for code it makes it really easy to skim over code and recognize what's going on instead of it looking like a big wall of text. Yes, skimming is important and it's a normal thing to do when you're just looking for a single section where you expect the bug is going to be.

If you don't like syntax highlighting, then don't use it, but don't try to rationalize it with a bunch of information that doesn't apply, and arguments that include saying that skimming code is bad, when in many situations it is the proper way to work. You shouldn't have to read and "understand" and entire class to just modify it or fix a bug in it, sure it's preferred but it's a little bit overkill and honestly, a waste of developer hours.


Mon 19-Mar-2012 14:59
Running in Firefox 10.0.2 gives a very unproportional playing field.

The bitbuf

Wed 21-Mar-2012 00:22
Would love to buy a kit, this looks exactly what i would need!!


Wed 21-Mar-2012 23:40

#include <stdio.h>

int main() {
printf("This text will be looped");

Uuh, that's a really bad idea..

Beagleboard VGA output

Thu 22-Mar-2012 16:54
hello ,i want to change the timings,but i don't know how to save it

echo "your new timings" > /sys/devices/platform/omapdss/display0/timings

Metroid, part 1

Sat 24-Mar-2012 00:18
Wtf! Du är ett geni och jag hoppas du får den cred du förtjänar!

The remote control project

Sat 24-Mar-2012 10:19
how to download the remote computer controller project please help to download

A case against syntax highlighting

Mon 26-Mar-2012 07:47
I don't blame you for hating the colors that you've shown here. They're a hideous rainbow of confusion.

Maybe you wouldn't be arguing against syntax highlighting if you'd just try a simpler color scheme. An advanced editor like Visual Studio will actually help you understand what you're looking at...for instance take this random piece of code:

x = Thinger.Convert(y);

Is Thinger a class with a static Convert function? Or is it a property member of the class that this code lives in? With Visual Studio you will know because if it's a class it'll be Aqua colored and if it's a property that returns a class object, it'll just be black (by the default color scheme).

Well, with a name like Linus on a guy from Sweden, I wouldn't be surprised if you are a *nix guy who hasn't used Visual Studio much though.

I use VS at work all the time, but you're actually missing the point here with this particular case.

This confusion can and should be solved by a combination of good naming conventions (I must admit I seriously question the choice of conventions MS used for C#.) and ensuring that you qualify everything except local variables (with "this" for instance members and a class name for static members). Frankly, I don't know why languages allow you to access members without qualifying them. It only leads to problems (like shadowing).

So the case you're describing does not demonstrate the useful of syntax highlighting. Rather, it demonstrates that syntax highlighting is a work around for dealing with a bad practice/language feature. What you've shown is that syntax highlighting makes it easier for us to deal with bad code and thereby encourages it, which is part of the point here.

About me

Wed 28-Mar-2012 07:56
you can create more Chipophone for the sale? i can get one :c

We learn the nibbles

Thu 29-Mar-2012 10:39
Lovely, this goes on the wall of my daughters bedroom :)

She is only 6 weeks, but hey! Start early they say.