Welcome to Bookmarker!

This is a personal project by @dellsystem. I built this to help me retain information from the books I'm reading.

Source code on GitHub (MIT license).

9

Quietly, I say, "You know, that's what the Nazis did."

They all look at me in disgust. It's the look boys give a girl who has interrupted a burping contest. One says, "This is something my wife would say."

When he says "wife," there is no love, warmth, or goodness in it. In this engineer's mouth, "wife" means wet diapers and dirty dishes. It means someone angry with you for losing track of time and missing dinner. Someone sentimental. In his mind (for the moment), "wife" signifies all programming-party-pooping, illogical things in the universe.

Still, I persist. "It started as just an idea for the Nazis, too, you know."

The engineer makes a reply that sounds like a retch. "This is how I know you're not a real techie," he says.

ooof

—p.9 Outside of time : reflections on the programming life (3) by Ellen Ullman 1 year, 1 month ago

Quietly, I say, "You know, that's what the Nazis did."

They all look at me in disgust. It's the look boys give a girl who has interrupted a burping contest. One says, "This is something my wife would say."

When he says "wife," there is no love, warmth, or goodness in it. In this engineer's mouth, "wife" means wet diapers and dirty dishes. It means someone angry with you for losing track of time and missing dinner. Someone sentimental. In his mind (for the moment), "wife" signifies all programming-party-pooping, illogical things in the universe.

Still, I persist. "It started as just an idea for the Nazis, too, you know."

The engineer makes a reply that sounds like a retch. "This is how I know you're not a real techie," he says.

ooof

—p.9 Outside of time : reflections on the programming life (3) by Ellen Ullman 1 year, 1 month ago
16

To build such a crash-resistant system, the designer must be able to imagine - and disallow - the dumbest action. He or she cannot simply rely on the user's intelligence: who knows who will be on the other side of the program? Besides, teh user's intellligence is not quantifiable; it's not programmable; it cannot protect hte system. The real task is to forget about the intelligent person on the other side and think of every single stupid thing anyone might possibly do.

In the designer's mind, gradually, over months and years, there is created a vision of the user as imbecile. The imbecile vision is mandatory. No good, crash-resistant system can be built except if it's done for an idiot. The prettier the user interface, and the fewer odd replies the system allows you to make, the dumber you once appeared in the mind of the designer.

The designer's contempt for your intelligence is mostly hidden deep in the code. But, now and then, the disdain surfaces. Here's a small example: You're trying to do something simple, like back up files on your Mac. The program proceeds for a while, then encounters an error. Your disk is defective, says a message, and below the message is a single button. You absolutely must click this button. If you don't click it, the program hangs there indefinitely. [...] You must say, "OK."

relevant to PEBKAC

—p.16 Outside of time : reflections on the programming life (3) by Ellen Ullman 1 year, 1 month ago

To build such a crash-resistant system, the designer must be able to imagine - and disallow - the dumbest action. He or she cannot simply rely on the user's intelligence: who knows who will be on the other side of the program? Besides, teh user's intellligence is not quantifiable; it's not programmable; it cannot protect hte system. The real task is to forget about the intelligent person on the other side and think of every single stupid thing anyone might possibly do.

In the designer's mind, gradually, over months and years, there is created a vision of the user as imbecile. The imbecile vision is mandatory. No good, crash-resistant system can be built except if it's done for an idiot. The prettier the user interface, and the fewer odd replies the system allows you to make, the dumber you once appeared in the mind of the designer.

The designer's contempt for your intelligence is mostly hidden deep in the code. But, now and then, the disdain surfaces. Here's a small example: You're trying to do something simple, like back up files on your Mac. The program proceeds for a while, then encounters an error. Your disk is defective, says a message, and below the message is a single button. You absolutely must click this button. If you don't click it, the program hangs there indefinitely. [...] You must say, "OK."

relevant to PEBKAC

—p.16 Outside of time : reflections on the programming life (3) by Ellen Ullman 1 year, 1 month ago
28

Ironically, those of us who most believe in physical, operational eloquence are the very ones most cut off from the body. To build the working thing that is a program, we perform "labor" that is sedentary to the point of near immobility, and we must give ourselves up almost entirely to language. Believers in the functional, nonverbal worth of things, we live in a world where waving one's arms accomplishes nothing, and where we must write, write, write in odd programming languages and email. Software engineering is an oxymoron. We are engineers but we don't build anything in the physical sense of the word. We think. We type. It's all grammar.

Cut off from real working things, we construct a substitute object: the program. We treat it as if it could be specified like machinery and assembled out of standard parts. We say we "engineered" it; when we put the pieces of code together, we call it "a build." And, cut off from the real body, we construct a substitute body: ourselves online. We treat it as if it were our actual self, our real life. Over time, it does indeed become our life.

—p.28 Come in, CQ (18) by Ellen Ullman 1 year, 1 month ago

Ironically, those of us who most believe in physical, operational eloquence are the very ones most cut off from the body. To build the working thing that is a program, we perform "labor" that is sedentary to the point of near immobility, and we must give ourselves up almost entirely to language. Believers in the functional, nonverbal worth of things, we live in a world where waving one's arms accomplishes nothing, and where we must write, write, write in odd programming languages and email. Software engineering is an oxymoron. We are engineers but we don't build anything in the physical sense of the word. We think. We type. It's all grammar.

Cut off from real working things, we construct a substitute object: the program. We treat it as if it could be specified like machinery and assembled out of standard parts. We say we "engineered" it; when we put the pieces of code together, we call it "a build." And, cut off from the real body, we construct a substitute body: ourselves online. We treat it as if it were our actual self, our real life. Over time, it does indeed become our life.

—p.28 Come in, CQ (18) by Ellen Ullman 1 year, 1 month ago
35

A storm was coming in off the Pacific. The air was almost palpable, about to burst with rain. The wind had whipped up the ocean, and breakers were glowing far out from the beach. The world was conspiring around us. All things physical insisted we pay attention. The steady rush of the ocean. The damp sand, the tide pushing in to make us scuttle up from the advancing edge. The birds pecking for dinners on the uncovered sand. The smel of salt, of air that had traveled across the water all the way from Japan. The feel of continent's end, a gritty beach at the western edge of the city.

—p.35 Come in, CQ (18) by Ellen Ullman 1 year, 1 month ago

A storm was coming in off the Pacific. The air was almost palpable, about to burst with rain. The wind had whipped up the ocean, and breakers were glowing far out from the beach. The world was conspiring around us. All things physical insisted we pay attention. The steady rush of the ocean. The damp sand, the tide pushing in to make us scuttle up from the advancing edge. The birds pecking for dinners on the uncovered sand. The smel of salt, of air that had traveled across the water all the way from Japan. The feel of continent's end, a gritty beach at the western edge of the city.

—p.35 Come in, CQ (18) by Ellen Ullman 1 year, 1 month ago
44

I feared for the health of my ENTER key. I looked for manuals: found none. Searcched for help disks: hiding somewhere in the mass of CDs Microsoft had relentlessly sent me. Two hours of pawing through stacks of disks. Horns of rush-hour traffic. Light fading from the sky. Disks tumbling to the floor.

—p.44 The dumbing down of programming : some thoughts on programming, knowing, and the nature of "easy" (39) by Ellen Ullman 1 year, 1 month ago

I feared for the health of my ENTER key. I looked for manuals: found none. Searcched for help disks: hiding somewhere in the mass of CDs Microsoft had relentlessly sent me. Two hours of pawing through stacks of disks. Horns of rush-hour traffic. Light fading from the sky. Disks tumbling to the floor.

—p.44 The dumbing down of programming : some thoughts on programming, knowing, and the nature of "easy" (39) by Ellen Ullman 1 year, 1 month ago
47

[...] The mere impulse toward Linux had led me into an act of desktop archaeology. And down under all those piles of stuff, the secret was written: we build our computers the way we build our cities - over time, without a plan, on top of ruins.

pretty

—p.47 The dumbing down of programming : some thoughts on programming, knowing, and the nature of "easy" (39) by Ellen Ullman 1 year, 1 month ago

[...] The mere impulse toward Linux had led me into an act of desktop archaeology. And down under all those piles of stuff, the secret was written: we build our computers the way we build our cities - over time, without a plan, on top of ruins.

pretty

—p.47 The dumbing down of programming : some thoughts on programming, knowing, and the nature of "easy" (39) by Ellen Ullman 1 year, 1 month ago
54

An immense calm settled over the room. We were reminded that software engineering was not about right and wrong but only better and worse, solutions that solved some problems while ignoring or exacerbating others. That the machine the world wants to see as possessing some supreme power and intelligence was indeed intelligent, but only as we humans are: full of hedge and error, brilliance and backtrack and compromise.

Linus Torvalds talk about Linux design tradeoffs

—p.54 The dumbing down of programming : some thoughts on programming, knowing, and the nature of "easy" (39) by Ellen Ullman 1 year, 1 month ago

An immense calm settled over the room. We were reminded that software engineering was not about right and wrong but only better and worse, solutions that solved some problems while ignoring or exacerbating others. That the machine the world wants to see as possessing some supreme power and intelligence was indeed intelligent, but only as we humans are: full of hedge and error, brilliance and backtrack and compromise.

Linus Torvalds talk about Linux design tradeoffs

—p.54 The dumbing down of programming : some thoughts on programming, knowing, and the nature of "easy" (39) by Ellen Ullman 1 year, 1 month ago
55

Above us, projected onto a screen no one is looking at, is the Netscape browser source code. I stare at it: it's blurry from the projector's unfocused red-blue-green guns, unreadable as it scrolls frantically down. There is something foreboding in this blur and hurry. The mood feels forced. Despite the band and the lights and Andreessen's triumphant pass through the room, I cannot convince myself that technologists truly do drive computing, that it is not all marketing; cannot convince myself that, if we only get the source code into the hands of people who understand it, we will redeem our human souls.

—p.55 The dumbing down of programming : some thoughts on programming, knowing, and the nature of "easy" (39) by Ellen Ullman 1 year, 1 month ago

Above us, projected onto a screen no one is looking at, is the Netscape browser source code. I stare at it: it's blurry from the projector's unfocused red-blue-green guns, unreadable as it scrolls frantically down. There is something foreboding in this blur and hurry. The mood feels forced. Despite the band and the lights and Andreessen's triumphant pass through the room, I cannot convince myself that technologists truly do drive computing, that it is not all marketing; cannot convince myself that, if we only get the source code into the hands of people who understand it, we will redeem our human souls.

—p.55 The dumbing down of programming : some thoughts on programming, knowing, and the nature of "easy" (39) by Ellen Ullman 1 year, 1 month ago
63

Then Fuller says, "I read an article about how the Federal Reserve would crash everything if our work went bad. It was the first time in my life I understood everything the Federal Reserve did." He laughs uneasily. "I discovered we were kind of important."

Thirty years at the Federal Reserve, I think, and this is the first time he knows what it really does. A nice, competent programmer used to thinking about his work in terms of source code and assembler looks over the top of his cubicle. I hear the fear in hs voice. Y2K is forcing him to learn what his code does in the world.

—p.63 What we were afraid of as we feared Y2K (56) by Ellen Ullman 1 year, 1 month ago

Then Fuller says, "I read an article about how the Federal Reserve would crash everything if our work went bad. It was the first time in my life I understood everything the Federal Reserve did." He laughs uneasily. "I discovered we were kind of important."

Thirty years at the Federal Reserve, I think, and this is the first time he knows what it really does. A nice, competent programmer used to thinking about his work in terms of source code and assembler looks over the top of his cubicle. I hear the fear in hs voice. Y2K is forcing him to learn what his code does in the world.

—p.63 What we were afraid of as we feared Y2K (56) by Ellen Ullman 1 year, 1 month ago
66

[...] All this will occur, he says, because the world's systems "were put together over thirty, forty years without any adult supervision whatsoever."

The crowd applauds. It is just what they want to hear. They are like spurned lovers. All those boys we coddled with big salaries, in their tee shirts and cool eyewear, whom we fetishized for their brilliance - we left them alone to play with their machines and screens and keyboards and they havebetrayed us.

[...] I sit in my seat and fume. Programmers do not decide which new systems should be built and which should be abandoned. Programmers do not allocate company resources to one project or another. Programmers are the resources. Managers make those decisions. Corporate officers make those decisions. Venture capitalists decide which new technologies shall be funded and which shall not. It is precisely the adult supervision Yardeni should be mad at.

on Yardeni talking about Y2K

—p.66 What we were afraid of as we feared Y2K (56) by Ellen Ullman 1 year, 1 month ago

[...] All this will occur, he says, because the world's systems "were put together over thirty, forty years without any adult supervision whatsoever."

The crowd applauds. It is just what they want to hear. They are like spurned lovers. All those boys we coddled with big salaries, in their tee shirts and cool eyewear, whom we fetishized for their brilliance - we left them alone to play with their machines and screens and keyboards and they havebetrayed us.

[...] I sit in my seat and fume. Programmers do not decide which new systems should be built and which should be abandoned. Programmers do not allocate company resources to one project or another. Programmers are the resources. Managers make those decisions. Corporate officers make those decisions. Venture capitalists decide which new technologies shall be funded and which shall not. It is precisely the adult supervision Yardeni should be mad at.

on Yardeni talking about Y2K

—p.66 What we were afraid of as we feared Y2K (56) by Ellen Ullman 1 year, 1 month ago