Fossils

You know these types: lots of them have beards, are over 40,
ended up in some consulting job, hate Windows, the works.
Give them an inch and they'll take a mile.
They really really really need to tell you how they've hacked
away at a Univax, PDP_something_, mini or what you may have.
They tell their story with such enthusiasm that you can bet
your life they've told it a zillion times before. Broken records,
that's what they are. Okay, so you've punched holes in cards to
program your 256 bytes RAM tube computer. So you think the world
should've stopped spinning before the Intel 8086 processor.
So you really enjoyed the Radio Shack Tandy TRS80 dialect of BASIC
so much more than (the thought!) Visual Basic by _[insert your
own 'funny' spelling of Microsoft]_. Big deal. Who cares? You
can't be serious if you're telling me a compact cassette interface
was more fun than a CD-RW. Amazingly, these types one day
mystically stopped learning new things altogether.
Why should you waste away your hours trying to beat your own
Solitaire hiscore when you can learn something new? Ah, I see..
you don't really _want_ to learn something new. You really _want_
to be a cynical old pain in the rear with your STUPID stories
about 'the old days when you had to wait to do your arithmetics
on the friggin' timeshared mainframe'. Grow up.


Microsoft-bashing

Hey, look, it's just a company. Either you buy their products
or you don't. If you buy a car of brand X and it stinks,
you never buy another car from the same company.
But for some strange reason, people keep buying (or pirating)
Microsoft products or programs that run on a Microsoft
operating system and complain, nag nag nagging about
how bad Microsoft serves the public. But while you are playing
(Microsoft) Solitaire, they are trying to bring their products
up to date with tomorrow's technology. If you're a programmer,
you can access the entire MSDN documentation for free on the internet.
I have a few books by MS Press, and all of them are very readable.
I used DOS at one time and now I'm using Windows. And it looks
and feels great. Sure, it crashes now and then, but so does Linux,
and not when you're only playing Solitaire, so what are you
so upset about? So you're all amped about Linux.
Hey, _I'm_ not stopping you. Have a great life.
And stop inventing stupid Bill Gates jokes or 'funny'
spellings of Microsoft. It's so last season. Really.


Latest version fanatics

We all have one among our friends; the die-hard latest version fanatic.
These _latest version_ types have the fastest machine available
together with the latest marvels of tomorrow's technology.
Of course their software needs to be updated constantly.
The typical latest version fanatic doesn't really enjoy his software;
in a battle to keep everything up to date, he spends all his time
installing, de-installing and rebooting. Sure he's got next year's
Office beta before anyone else... but does he even write
a single letter to his mother?
Madonna said it best: "Creation comes when you learn to say no"



Compiler wars

Where I work we sometimes get visitors.
If they are 'programmers', the first question usually asked is:
What compiler are you using? Of course it's never what
_they're_ using. Oh no. They will always tell me Director
is better than ToolBook, Delphi better than C++Builder,
Java better than C++ anyway, etcetera etcetera and on and on,
nag nag nag. And when they are using VB, of course that's so much
more RAD than C++Builder, so much easier to use. Have they used
C++Builder on a real project? Have they seen it at all?
This kinda talk is so (for lack of a better word) childish.
When I used an Atari ST computer, someone gave me a copy
of TDI Modula-2. I had never seen that language before,
but the example programs created with it made me feel like
"hey, >I could be doing that!". So I learned the basics
of the Modula-2 syntax and also bought me an official copy
of TDI Modula-2, because I so needed that reference manual.
I spent many hours toying around with Modula-2 and even
made some actually useful little utilities with it.
So was Modula-2 a better language for the Atari ST
than C or GFA BASIC? Other people were using C
on the Atari ST, and (sigh..) told me C was of course
better/faster/funkier than Modula-2. The point being:
if you've spent _any_ amount of time learning a computer language
(or any program for that matter) and you can make it do the
things you want it to do for you, then that's possibly the best
language for you. Of course you can keep an eye open
to see if another product matches your needs better,
but if you are up-to-speed with C++, than C++Builder
is a better compiler than Delphi and vice versa. For you.
And if you love the MS Visual C++ IDE, bought yourself
a nice legal version of that compiler and some tutorials
and reference manuals, then why on earth should I
feel the need to convert you to the compiler I happen to be using?
The more time you spend learning the peculiarities of a computer
program, the more you become an expert. Which in my book is worth
much more than starting all over again with a different program
that perhaps does things better in some department. And please
don't have an opinion prior to investigation. You don't know shit
unless you've really used language A and language B (or compiler A
and compiler B) and weighed the pros and cons and benchtested
both to hell and back. Give it a rest, pal.

© 11/11/1998 Julius Thyssen & Hens Zimmerman