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Hacking the Nokia N800

This handheld costs a tenth as much as an equally powerful desktop 10 years ago

3 min read

A lot can happen in a decade. You can hold the Nokia N800 in your hand, yet it’s a near-exact match for a high-end desktop PC from 10 years ago. It has a 320-megahertz processor, 128 megabytes of RAM, and a few gigabytes of available mass ­storage. Although its screen displays only 800 by 480 pixels instead of 800 by 600, it’s a touch screen, and the machine comes with IEEE 802.11g wireless-networking ­capability, which wasn’t available in 1998 at any price. It’s not the only pocket computer with such specs by any means, but it sure makes a good test bed for thinking about life 10 years hence, when PCs may well be printed on shirtsleeves.

If the N800 were a PDA, it would have a calendar/­contact/toâ''do manager built in. It doesn’t. If it were a smart phone, it would connect to cellular networks. It doesn’t. Instead, you can ­wirelessly connect to Web-based versions of these tools. Or you can hack together your own programs.

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Why Functional Programming Should Be the Future of Software Development

It’s hard to learn, but your code will produce fewer nasty surprises

11 min read
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A plate of spaghetti made from code
Shira Inbar
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You’d expectthe longest and most costly phase in the lifecycle of a software product to be the initial development of the system, when all those great features are first imagined and then created. In fact, the hardest part comes later, during the maintenance phase. That’s when programmers pay the price for the shortcuts they took during development.

So why did they take shortcuts? Maybe they didn’t realize that they were cutting any corners. Only when their code was deployed and exercised by a lot of users did its hidden flaws come to light. And maybe the developers were rushed. Time-to-market pressures would almost guarantee that their software will contain more bugs than it would otherwise.

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