Re: There is a reason for Software Smugness
@ the spectacularly refined chap
My statement is indeed a bit broad (and to generalize is to be an idiot). I was talking about when there is a bottleneck. If there is no bottleneck, there is no need to throw resources at it, hardware or software. The examples I gave are cases with severe bottlenecks.
In your example of the one-off job you are actually also thinking in terms of algorithmics: which one is simpler to implement (and therefore easier to get right). That is why for one-off jobs or experiments I like to use scripting languages (MatLab most of all for my work). Only when heavy lifting is needed (and we have established firmly what we want to compute) do I go for C(++).
You are of course right that there is always a balance to be had between implementation time and total CPU time used. In the very old days CPU time was costly, software development and maintenance time was comparatively low, because code was comparatively compact. Now CPU time is cheap as chips, but code development and maintenance is not, what with the dramatically increased complexity and interconnectedness.