Computer Proverbs

James A. Landau JJJRLandau at AOL.COM
Wed Jan 31 14:01:24 UTC 2001

"Blessed are the pessimists, for they have made backups.
                                                        Exasperated 1:16"

I have only seen the above once, but I seem to recall that it was
professionally printed and may have been for sale, therefore not a one-shot.

The following are from outside the computer field, but I have encountered
them frequently when discussing computer programming:

"Never reinvent the wheel"

"Close only counts in horseshoes"
(I prefer the variant "Close only counts with horseshoes and hand grenades")

Eric S. Raymond (author of _The New Hacker's Dicitonary_) in Byte magazine,
January 1992, page 406 had the following:
1.  Don't ever commit to a standard until you see at least three different
conforming products from different vendors.
2.  Don't ever believe a standards announcment made solo by the market leader
in any product category, especially if it happens to be IBM.
3.  the value of a standard is inversely proportional to the weight of its
documentation...Be suspicious of any standard that your best techie can't
grasp in a week.

3. is a variation on an old saying in aircraft manufacturing: "no airplane is
ready to fly until the weight of the plans equals the weight of the plane."
2. is not universal but was specific to circa 1992.  IBM used to be able to
release products and everyone else would adopt them as a standard (e.g. the
original PC architecture, the 102-key keyboard, the floppy disk, etc.) but by
1992 many vendors were deliberately ignoring IBM.  Currently Microsoft has
the power to unilaterally create standards, but this too may change.

Finally, a cliche in a long-ago staff meeting that seems apt to this mailing
list:  "Everyone wants to say his dog was in the fight."

                          - Jim Landau

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