The best thing about computers: they do exactly what you tell them. The worst thing about computers — they do exactly what you tell them!    –me



2 responses to

  1. That is if you’re programming in binary! Otherwise, you’re building on top of other people’s work and there is no guarantee!

    • Funny story, when I was going through MCSE training circa 1998, one my instructors emphatically preached “Always check the physical!”, referring the lowest reality of the OSI model.

      Several years later, while troubleshooting an Outlook client that wouldn’t allow attachments, I recalled that mantra after working my way through the usual software related culprits. Admittedly, I was somewhat mystified at not resolving the issue in the usual way. My brain didn’t quite understand why but my legs carried me to the network closet where I found myself replacing the patch cable (connecting the RJ45 port from his cube to our LAN switches). I’ll never forget the day that replacing a patch cable fixed an issue with attachments in Outlook. Considering the many layers of abstraction it’s a miracle that computers work as well as they do!

      And even the 1’s and 0’s won’t guarantee correct execution if a bad power supply is present. I was once told, though it may be an IT myth, that you can identify a bad power supply by checking for interference on the AM radio frequency with a portable radio. I like to stay above the level of the virtual machine in garbage collected, dynamically typed languages to focus on my business domain problems and not those of the machine, but the kid in me just wants to take the darn thing apart and see how it works. The problem is most of the things I took apart as a kid never made it back together, but became parts in some experimental Frankenbot thingy. Somewhat related actually are two neats things I found lately: LittleBits and Nand2Tetris.

      Thanks for your insights, Greg, I agree! Those who sell certainty, won’t be selling me 😉

      Perhaps changing the ‘you’ to ‘we’ would offer a more comprehensive human role to the quote…

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