Moving Mouse Tree

I have a pet snake called Scsi (don’t ask!). He eats warm mice, nothing else. I keep the mice in the freezer until needed, then defrost them slowly and finally warm them in a cup of hot water.

A few years ago Scsi was not easy to feed: I had to spend time waving small warm mice in front of him before he would bite. He is much easier to feed now for at least 3 different reasons:

  1. He eats larger mice.
  2. I can tell when he is hungry.
  3. He can recognise his feeding by me.

I have phrased #3 quite carefully, but I’ll explain in more detail: Scsi doesn’t know what I am! When I move in a particular way he knows that I supply food, and he also knows that he can safely climb up my arm; he might think I’m a moving mouse tree!

As Scsi gets older, he will gain increasing experience of being a snake. He might learn new things, but he will never understand who or what I am, and he will always be a snake. Humans are just too different for snakes to comprehend, unless they smell like warm mice.

Unfortunately, many programmers are like Scsi. They live as masters in their own tiny vivariums, and they don’t recognise the greater things outside. They continue to program in the same way, and may gain many years experience without ever becoming more advanced. I have seen programmers with 2 years experience who were much better than other programmers with 10 years.

This effect is common with Perl programmers. Perl has a larger range of expression than most other programming languages, so you are much more likely to find these primitive programmers in a Perl world: they might have 5 years experience of CGI scripting with Perl, and they might even be extremely good at CGI scripting with Perl, but they are not advanced Perl programmers.

This problem is not confined to higher-level languages: I have observed similar situations with lower-level languages like C, C++, and Java.

But let’s not limit this analogy to programmers. Many people (although still a minority) don’t believe in God! They look out of their vivarium and believe they understand the universe despite the constant reminders that they don’t.

My dad’s bigger than your dad!

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a Java anti-fan. As such, one of my duties is to attempt to correct the misleading Java propaganda. But I have to make sure I don’t go too far and create misleading propaganda of my own.

Someone recently asked: Can Java technology beat Perl on its home turf with pattern matching in large files?

Given the supplied answer, a more accurate question would have been: “Can a poorly written Java program beat a really badly written Perl program?”

I could easily retort with another stupid example showing Perl code kicking Java’s ass, but that wouldn’t help. We need a more objective way of measuring how crap Java is :-)

The Language Level system by Capers Jone is a nice way to rate a language, but other empirical comparisons are needed.

Bypassers will be prosecuted

Bob went to the doctors a few weeks ago. While waiting in the clinic, he started to read through some of the magazines on the little table. Between two of the magazines he found a green ring-bound document decorated with the clinic’s logo. After skimming through a couple of pages, he realised that it was actually part of a confidential file about some of the other patients. He immediately went and told the receptionist and returned the file. Bob told a few of us about his experience, but never revealed any of the information he read, and the incident was almost forgotten…

Yesterday Bob was visited by a police officer who imformed him that he has been accused of some sort of criminal trespass because he read part of the confidential file.

Something isn’t right!

Playing Catch-up

I haven’t been blogging for quite a while, as you can see. I’m going to start to post historic entries…sometime before Christmas.

Size doesn’t matter

I’ve just got a new battery in my Mickey Mouse watch.

The first place I tried couldn’t do it. They looked at the watch and told me it would cost

I don’t like instant coffee

Just like VHS and Windoze, Java is popular despite being inferior; but all three are useful and used because of their popularity.

Many great people use Java to develop great stuff: Lucene is absolutely amazing, and Freenet looks brilliant. Projects like Jakarta and GNU, and people like Stephen Ostermiller, are making my Java experience much more bearable.

I prefer forcing steam through finely-ground coffee beans.

Do you dream in colour?

I wish I could make my blog look good. Unfortunately, I don’t really have any artistic ability or colour coordination.