Category Archives: Technology

Things humans make that weren’t there before.

Making Code Commenting Enjoyable

I have threatened on a couple of occasions to write code comments in character. This would be fun to write and to read. Some examples:

as Jame “Buffalo Bill” Gumb from The Silence of the Lambs:

“It implements the SQL query or else it gets the hose again. Yes, it will, Precious, won’t it? It will get the hose!”

as Neo from The Matrix:

“Whoa. Déjà vu. ” (inner loop comment)

as Ash from Army of Darkness:

“Ok you Primitive Screwheads, listen up! You see this? This… is my shell script!”

The Relationship Between Design and Documentation: A Heuristic

Personal experience seems to indicate that the best Designs do not need Documentation to be usable, but the worst Designs need pages and pages of Documentation. The heuristic is that the quality of a Design is inversely proportional to the length of the user Documentation.

The problem, of course, is that there’s no guarantee that a poorly-designed product has enough compensatory Documentation. Likewise, someone may have just written lots of Documentation for something that didn’t really need it.

Taken on its own, it’s not perfect, but if you are looking at adopting a product, process, or other technology, you may want to choose the one that, all else being equal, has the slimmest manual.

What Will be the Last Physical Technology Created?

Excluding software, what do you predict will be our culture’s last technological creation? This has to be something that, once made, means “game over” for our culture. It’ll break the world, but we’ll want it anyway.

When I asked this once before, a friend of mine replied, “A really good sex robot.” It should be obvious why that might make half the planet reprioritize their lives and stop showing up to work on time.

My personal view is that it’d be a replicator. While I think a culture could recover from that, it’d be tricky. You can bet that most everyone on the planet would want a replicator, and it’d literally spread virally, since your neighbor could replicate a replicator for you. People could make food, replacement parts, even larger replicators that could build bigger things like cars and houses. The replicator could make whatever you needed to stay clothed, fed, and sheltered. All you’d need is material to feed it, and we have plenty of garbage even today. In such a scenario, the most important job would quickly become that of replicator programmer (yes, I’m biased in thinking that) but finding them would be hard, since everyone’s basic needs would be met, reducing the motivation to work.

What do you think?