LJ Archive


No Agape for Latin

Agape is not Latin. It is Greek. What does this say about the rest of his article? [See Jon “maddog” Hall's Beachhead in the June 2007 issue of Linux Journal.]


Jon “maddog” Hall's heart was in the right place, but his research was defective. Agape is Greek, not Latin. I submit this small criticism in the highest sense of the word.


A note for Jon “maddog” Hall: I was always taught (and Wikipedia confirms) that agape is of Greek origin, not Latin. Otherwise, it was an interesting stroll down memory lane. What gives?

—John E. Young

Maddog, I enjoyed your article, but I almost didn't make it past the second paragraph; agape is a transliteration from Greek not Latin—a compiler error I presume.

I can assure you assembly language is still kicking—the last assembly language (IBM 360 type, now z/Arch type) program I wrote was yesterday.

—Richard Pace

One can only hope that Jon “maddog” Hall learned his programming languages better than he learned his Latin. In his June 2007 column, he says that he named his boat Agape from the Latin word meaning “the highest form of love”. The word agape is not Latin, as Hall suggests, but Greek, and being one of several Classical Greek words for different types of love, it generally is understood to mean something like “brotherly love” or charity. Maybe maddog needs to debug his Latin.

—Max E. Klinger

The origin of the word agape is Greek, but Latin assimilated it. As Jon's teacher taught Latin, not Greek, she was correct in teaching agape as a Latin word. One other note: agape is often translated as charity, but philia is the Greek for brotherly love.—Ed.

More FORTRAN before Interface

A heartfelt thanks to Jon “maddog” Hall for both his article on languages in the June 2007 issue and his dedication of that issue to John Backus. While my career diverges wildly on details from Jon's, there was enough commonality to draw a hearty “Amen, Brother Jon” at the end of his column. I also started with FORTRAN II (on CDC Big Iron) in the late 1960s as an astronomy student, and was drawn into a computer systems class that was mostly a class on CDC's assembly language and CDC computer architecture. Knowing how all those 0s and 1s work together to get all that hardware to do what you want is definitely an essential knowledge to anyone writing serious code. I've not written anything at the machine level in decades, but, as Jon said, what I learned in programming “kindergarten” is in the back of my mind any time I write any code, be it in FORTAN (still my primary language), Java, PostScript, Python or whatever language I need to use.

Jim Secan

Never Fight a Land War in Asia

First off, love the magazine. I look forward to each issue even with a large portion of it being over my head.

I often spend time telling people of the merits of Linux and that we are winning—much like Doc Searls' “Picking New Fights” article in the June 2007 issue. But I never fail to run into the standard, “what about obscure hardware or newer hardware that doesn't run on Linux? With Windows, it just works.”

I then have to explain that, no, it doesn't “just work”. The manufacturers simply write drivers under Windows, and if they would get pressure to write for Linux, it would “just work” there as well. Our answer is that the manufacturers are the ones that should spend time testing for compatibility. That would, in turn, also free up Linux programmers to write other useful stuff.

Nick Petreley, in /var/opinion [June 2007], fell victim to one of the classic blunders. The first of which is never get involved in a land war in Asia. The second, which is only slightly less known, is never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line, and the third (even slightlier less known) is always blame the manufacturer for incompatibility.

We blame ATI for crummy Linux drivers, and not Linux itself, right? ATI, the manufacturer, we say, should be responsible for basic support and contribution to the Linux community to support its hardware, correct? So why doesn't jEdit create an Ubuntu package and submit it?

I realize it wasn't a specific complaint against Ubuntu, but the same assumption is there—that it's Ubuntu's responsibility to go out and do the legwork. Better yet, how about Nick making an Ubuntu package and submitting it?

You guys are great. I just wanted to share with you my initial impression. I know that one day everything will hopefully just gel together. If you have a program you like, ask to make it available for your favorite distro, etc.

Kermit Jones

I love the references to Princess Bride, thanks. If I had time to create packages for Ubuntu, I would.—Ed.

To Doc from Doc

I just read your June 2007 column and felt compelled to write about a few issues. [See Doc Searls' “Picking New Fights”.]

I am a Chiropractor, running a small office in Sandy, Utah. Perhaps I have overlooked the buzz of Linux enthusiasts coding for healthcare projects. Any ideas on this?

Another area I find lacking...is small business. I am a regular in several channels on irc.freenode.net as bonez39, in #utah and #debian. I have many friends there, who are talented coders, well versed in Linux and a host of tools and languages. Where it becomes disheartening for me, running a small business, is when I seek out other small business owners, in such channels.

It seems that I find only programmer/coder types, and further, it seems that people running small businesses are too busy running the business to mingle in such groups. Do you know of any groups devoted to small-business owners, who also hope to run things efficiently and effectively with Linux?

Amen to the fight against the telcos. I recently switched over at my office from Qwest, where 1.5 was the maximum rate for broadband, up to 4+Mb with Comcast. This is at the base business rate, so I can keep my overhead down.

What can I, as one business owner, do to motivate patients, friends and family to further the open mobile and freedom movement with telcos?

You've got a new devoted reader here! Thanks for a great piece this month.

Dr. Scott S. Jones

I Never Metaprogramming I Didn't Like

I was really pleased to see the article on metaprogramming in the June 2007 issue. [See Ariel Ortiz's “An Introduction to Metaprogramming”.] After more than a decade of writing Fortran programs that write PostScript programs, and shell scripts that write Fortran, and awk scripts that make the PostScript frames that a shell script turns into a GIF animation, I finally came across the word metaprogramming a couple of years ago. Certainly a major motivation for this kind of work is to make the machine produce the boilerplate for some programming language. I liked the article, but I was surprised to see bash ignored, except for an oblique mention that “Some languages have a facility called eval.”

Finally, after all the interesting articles, there's Nick Petreley's opinion column. Is it just me, or has LJ become a lot more interesting since he took the helm? Thanks to you all, in any case.

Andrew T. Young

Who Owns OpenGL?

In the editor's comment to the “Miniature OpenGL Development System” letter in the June 2007 issue, you claim that “Microsoft owns the patent to OpenGL”.

That is not true, and it's a bad example of spreading FUD that I wouldn't have expected from you.

Microsoft bought some patents from Silicon Graphics in 2002 that may be applicable to parts of OpenGL. (And very little has ever surfaced again, but then again, with patents you never know.)

Ulrich Hertlein

I sit partially corrected. Microsoft has staked claims on important portions of OpenGL, not the entire thing.—Ed.

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