It’s strange how things can mean different things to different people depending on who is doing the talking and who is doing the listening.
For example, as I wrote many yonks ago in my What the English Say versus What the English Mean column:
Take the seemingly innocuous phrase, “Not bad,” for example. If someone said this to me in England, I’d take it to mean “That’s quite good” or “Well done.”. If I served a meal to some English guests, and one of them said “Not bad,” I would understand this to mean “I love it and I’ll be asking you for the recipe later.”
This is where you have to be so careful. If I were to go to an American friend’s house for supper and I carelessly said, “Not bad,” meaning “That’s very good,”, they would probably take it to mean “That’s rather poor,” which could easily put the damper on the evening. (As an aside, if an Englishman feels moved to amplify this statement along the lines of: “Not bad… not bad at all,” then this is the equivalent of him jumping up and down in giddy excitement and high fiving you.)
The reason I mention this here is that a friend just sent me a What Programmers Say Versus What Programmers Mean translation guide that really hits the nail on the head.
A couple of these are really rather apposite, such as the two Perl Script items, for example. I’m afraid I can’t attribute this to any particular source. All my friend knows is that he found it somewhere on Facebook, which doesn’t give us much to go on, but I doff my cap to whoever created this in the first place.
This reminds me of a couple of other things. The first is my EULA’s That Are Lost in Translation column. The other is the British sitcom The IT Crowd, which is currently available on Netflix. This revolves around the three staff members of a fictional company’s IT (Information Technology) department who dwell in a dingy, cluttered basement.
There are two technicians called Moss and Roy. Moss’s deep knowledge of technical topics is reflected in his extended, over-detailed suggestions coupled with his inability to deal with practical problems. By comparison, when people call for help, Roy’s typical way of handling practical problems is to ask, “Have you tried turning it off and on again?” and “Is it definitely plugged in?” Surprisingly, this seems to solve 90% of the issues people are having with their systems.
The third member of the trio is Jen, who is technically inept. She appears in the first episode looking for a job and having an interview with the owner of the company. It turns out she wrote “Good with computers” on her resume thinking this would help her get an office position, but — as a result — she ends up being appointed the manager of the IT department. The funny thing is that at the end of the first episode when she finds herself alone in the office and the phone rings, you hear her say, “Have you tried turning it off and on again?”
Actually, all this reminds me of the scurrilous ways in which I’ve been treated by members of the programming and IT communities over the years (not that I’m bitter, you understand). How about you? Do you have any programmer and/or IT tales you’d care to scare?
There’s this old Chestnut from the DOS days (but still applicable today I think):
On the positive side, in the late 80s, I was concerned that our PCB design tool, still in development on DEC MicroVAX computers, was crashing too often. As I discussed the problem with one of the developers, I said, “It sure would be nice if we could save the design right before it crashes.” He casually said, “OK” and then went on to implement it. WOW! It was an incredible advancement that saved potentially hours of work. Yes, we continued to identify and fix crashes, but being able to save the data was a game-changer. Since then I have mentioned this to other developers who have also implemented this feature. I am grateful for their talent.
But why oh why didn’t they think of this for themselves?
Once you finish creating your time machine, I will go back and ask them.
You are living in a dream world — as if there’s any chance I’m going to let you use my time machine 🙂
Meet me in the Metaverse, 10am EST on Jan 14, 2021.
I already did, but I had to wipe your memory because of a potential paradox (sorry about that — I had to replace your original memories with some story I made up about your being a PCB expert who used to work for Mentor)
Thank you. 😎
You’re welcome — it’s just one more service I offer (a bit like “Men in Black” but with Hawaiian Shirts)
I don’t normally enjoy tech enthusiast blogging, but I am really enjoying your articles, which I stumbled upon at eeweb. You’ve cooked up a very fine balance of upbeat and smart, technical and offbeat (Cockney rhyming slang anyone?). It’s a nice and engaging mix.
Anyway, I’m here because you said you would continue the 4-bit project on the clivemaxfield.com website.
However I do not see this project anywhere. Can you provide an update on this project, or a link? In particular I am interested in updates on the emulator. Thanks.
Hi there — I’m afraid this project did move to the back burner a bit, although there is a guy in the Netherlands who is building a gate-level version of the CPU in an FPGA. Regarding the emulator, we’ve torn it down and rebuilt it several times as we’ve fine-tuned the assembly language — let me “ping” Joe in the UK because he’s the hero behind the emulator — in the meantime, do you want to email me on firstname.lastname@example.org because that will be an easier way for us to communicate.