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"... all the good computer designs are bootlegged; the formally planned
products, if they are built at all, are dogs!"
-- David E. Lundstrom, "A Few Good Men From Univac",
MIT Press, 1987
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... an anecdote from IBM's Yorktown Heights Research Center. When a
programmer used his new computer terminal, all was fine when he was sitting
down, but he couldn't log in to the system when he was standing up. That
behavior was 100 percent repeatable: he could always log in when sitting and
never when standing.
Most of us just sit back and marvel at such a story; how could that terminal
know whether the poor guy was sitting or standing? Good debuggers, though,
know that there has to be a reason. Electrical theories are the easiest to
hypothesize: was there a loose with under the carpet, or problems with static
electricity? But electrical problems are rarely consistently reproducible.
An alert IBMer finally noticed that the problem was in the terminal's keyboard:
the tops of two keys were switched. When the programmer was seated he was a
touch typist and the problem went unnoticed, but when he stood he was led
astray by hunting and pecking.
-- from the Programming Pearls column,
by Jon Bentley in CACM February 1985
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... Another writer again agreed with all my generalities, but said that as an
inveterate skeptic I have closed my mind to the truth. Most notably I have
ignored the evidence for an Earth that is six thousand years old. Well, I
haven't ignored it; I considered the purported evidence and *then* rejected
it. There is a difference, and this is a difference, we might say, between
prejudice and postjudice. Prejudice is making a judgment before you have
looked at the facts. Postjudice is making a judgment afterwards. Prejudice
is terrible, in the sense that you commit injustices and you make serious
mistakes. Postjudice is not terrible. You can't be perfect of course; you
may make mistakes also. But it is permissible to make a judgment after you
have examined the evidence. In some circles it is even encouraged.
-- Carl Sagan, "The Burden of Skepticism"
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... Any resemblance between the above views and those of my employer,
my terminal, or the view out my window are purely coincidental. Any
resemblance between the above and my own views is non-deterministic. The
question of the existence of views in the absence of anyone to hold them
is left as an exercise for the reader. The question of the existence of
the reader is left as an exercise for the second god coefficient. (A
discussion of non-orthogonal, non-integral polytheism is beyond the scope
of this article.)
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"... bleakness... desolation... plastic forks..."
-- Zippy the Pinhead
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... But if we laugh with derision, we will never understand. Human
intellectual capacity has not altered for thousands of years so far as we
can tell. If intelligent people invested intense energy in issues that now
seem foolish to us, then the failure lies in our understanding of their
world, not in their distorted perceptions. Even the standard example of
ancient nonsense -- the debate about angels on pinheads -- makes sense once
you realize that theologians were not discussing whether five or eighteen
would fit, but whether a pin could house a finite or an infinite number.
-- S. J. Gould, "Wide Hats and Narrow Minds"
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... C++ offers even more flexible control over the visibility of member
objects and member functions. Specifically, members may be placed in the
public, private, or protected parts of a class. Members declared in the
public parts are visible to all clients; members declared in the private
parts are fully encapsulated; and members declared in the protected parts
are visible only to the class itself and its subclasses. C++ also supports
the notion of *friends*: cooperative classes that are permitted to see each
other's private parts.
-- Grady Booch, "Object Oriented Design with Applications"
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... computer hardware progress is so fast. No other technology since
civilization began has seen six orders of magnitude in performance-price
gain in 30 years.
-- Fred Brooks
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... difference of opinion is advantagious in religion. The several sects
perform the office of a common censor morum over each other. Is uniformity
attainable? Millions of innocent men, women, and children, since the
introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, imprisoned;
yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity.
-- Thomas Jefferson, "Notes on Virginia"
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