[TUHS] really Pottering vs UNIX

Clem Cole clemc at ccc.com
Fri Sep 15 23:26:04 AEST 2017


On Fri, Sep 15, 2017 at 1:42 AM, Steve Johnson <scj at yaccman.com> wrote:
> I guess I'm not so totally against guilds per se.
> ​Dan I hear you, but I think I agree with Steve here..​

>  Since I believe that programming (at least is a profession) is a service
> industry, I think that doesn't come naturally to a lot of otherwise bright
> people (including, I might add, me).
> ​Amen.. I think this is the key point, I was trying to make.  What I
called 'good taste' was being show examples.   Reading others code.
Thinking about a problem.    Think about simple, ugly CS problems and why
they are hard or ugly.  Your moral equiv of cleaning a few latrines.


>  Back when I was writing FORTRAN, I was working for a guy with very high
> standards who read my code and got me to comment or, more usually, rewrite
> all the obscure things I did.  He made the point that a good program never
> dies, and many people will read it and modify it and try to understand it,
> and it's almost a professional duty to make sure that you make this as easy
> as possible for them.
>  Amen
​ !!!   ​
I worked as an assembly programmer supporting TSS and York/APL when I first
broke in.
​  I had exactly the same experience.  Were as one of my friends did not.

I'll not name the person here because he's a good friend and many of you
know him.   But a one-time officemate of mine at start up and MIT grad​
were working on a system. And I was b*tching at him about something he had
written.   It was marvelous code, quite ingenious.   His comment was "Well
I only comment stuff I did not understand."

I look at him agast.   I said... "'Fred' you are on the smartest guys I
have ever known.  There is not much you don't understand.   Comment it for
us mortals please."

This was a lesson I was taught very early in my career (there are usually
spelling and grammar errors because of my dyslexia, but my comments are
usually parsable and understandable 40 years later - even by me).

> Maybe a guild is a bit too stuffy,
> ​Right - the image seems heavy weight, which is not what I intend.

> but being mentored by someone with their head screwed on straight, and
> consequently making a point to seek out excellent examples of the
> programming art and learn from them had a profound effect on my skill as a
> programmer and my career.
> ​Exactly!!!​

> I don't think I would have found this in a book or long midnight hours
> hacking away...
> ​And to those people that took the time to guide and teach me, I am
forever indebted. My hope is that I am able to pay them by helping the next
generation a small amount, and trying to keep their ideas and spirits alive
in those new programmers.  I hope the new programmers do continue to write
new things and extend the art, but as I said recognise, they do their work
the shoulders of some wonderful and great people starting with tools and
ideas that hopeful they understand they learned from those masters.

Only time will tell. ​

> Steve
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