Advice to programmers! And writers too!!!!!!!

I saw a program save a file and then show this dialog:

That exclamation mark told me a whole history. It told me that the programmer had had a hard time getting the file saving function to work. In alpha and beta releases the program had crashed at various points during the process. The programmer had not slept wondering what was wrong. And he wanted recognition for his work.

So when he finally got it to work, he was surprised, hence the exclamation mark. And you, the user, should be grateful that the program has done what it has been designed to do. The correct functioning of the program is so rare that it is worthy of an exclamation mark.

Neither Word not AutoCAD tell you that the file has been saved (for example). These programs do what you ask obediently, and silently. It is not a surprise that they work properly.

If you ever use a program which puts exclamation marks in its messages, do backups of your data often.

And if you write programs which put exclamation marks in messages, please stop. Though I suppose you can be forgiven if you have to tell the user:

But non life threatening messages do not warrant an exclamation mark.

Multiple exclamation marks are also bad form in writing. I once saw this at the end of a self published book:

In this case I suppose the author is asking sympathy, the book is long and took a lot of research, and look: I've finished!!!!!

Actually the book, though it told an interesting story, badly needed an editor, so the exclamation marks could be for the reader: I've finished!!!!!


Advice to programmers.

When you have even a slightly difficult problem you should switch off the computer, get a piece of paper and a pen, go away from your desk and solve it "manually".

The temptation to code a vague idea you have in your head directly at the keyboard is difficult to resist. I was reminded of this as I sat waiting in a sport's center for my daughter to finish her kickboxing. There was music booming out of hall where the 40 something skeletons were maintaining their skeletoness, as well as a radio station talking at me from the ceiling. 

I was bored and thought I might as well try to solve a stupid little graphics programming problem that had been bothering me. So I found a free page in my diary, and in less than a minute it was done:

The point is that sitting in front of the computer is not always the best way to write computer programs. The computer screen, and the keyboard, distract you from the concept you need to implement.

Often the concept is independent of the computer language. What you need to do is write down in plain English (or Italian Or Russian or Chinese etc...) what you are trying to do.


All religions are death cults, but it is not the end of the world!

All religions are death cults, but it is not the end of the world! 

All religions basically say: "Do what I tell you to do, and you will have paradise and eternal life."

Which leads to some people to  think that life now, here, today, is worthless. And death (by murder,  suicide or old age) will take you, via religion, to a better place.

But! There is something you can do! Support the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science...

...and if you do it before the 31st December 2015 your contribution will be doubled by Louis Appignani.