Competitions are for horses, not artists.
My impression was and is that many programming languages and tools represent
solutions looking for problems, and I was determined that my work should not
fall into that category. Thus, I follow the literature on programming
languages and the debates about programming languages primarily looking for
ideas for solutions to problems my colleagues and I have encountered in real
applications. Other programming languages constitute a mountain of ideas and
inspiration—but it has to be mined carefully to avoid featurism and
Bjarne Stroustrup, The Design and Evolution of C++
A friend of mine once said that there are problems and there are difficulties.
A problem is something you savor. You say, "Well that's an interesting problem.
Let me think about that problem a while." You enjoy thinking about it, because
when you find the solution to the problem, it's enlightening.
And then there are difficulties. Computers are famous for difficulties. A difficulty is just a blockage from progress. You have to try a lot of things. When you finally find what works, it doesn't tell you a thing. It won't be the same tomorrow. Getting the computer to work is so often dealing with difficulties.
Ward Cunningham, interviewed by Bill Venners
Master plans have two additional unhealthy characteristics. To begin with, the
existence of a master plan alienates the users… After all, the very
existence of a master plan means, by defnition, that the members of the
community can have little impact on the future shape of their community,
because most of the important decisions have already been made. In a sense,
under a master plan people are living with a frozen future, able to affect only
relatively trivial details. When people lose the sense of responsibility for
the environment they live in, and realize that they are merely cogs in someone
else's machine, how can they feel any sense of identifcation with the
community, or any sense of purpose there?
Christopher Alexander, The Oregon Experiment
If the map and the terrain disagree, trust the terrain.
Swiss Army Aphorism
The road to hell has often been paved with good intentions. Therefore,
evil is best recognized not by its motives but by its methods.
Raymond's Law of Consequences
Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent
John F. Kennedy
Most people think spies are afraid of guns, or KGB guards, or barbed wire, but
in point of fact the most dangerous thing they face is paper. Papers carry
secrets. Papers can carry death warrants. Papers like this one, this folio with
its blurry eighteen year old faked missile photographs and estimates of
time/survivor curves and pervasive psychosis ratios, can give you nightmares,
dragging you awake screaming in the middle of the night.
Charles Stross, A Colder War
It takes two to speak truth—one to speak, and another to hear.
Henry David Thoreau
If you strike a child take care that you strike it in anger, even at
the risk of maiming it for life. A blow in cold blood neither can nor
should be forgiven.
George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman
Anyone who knows history, particularly the history of Europe, will, I think,
recognize that the domination of education or of government by any one
particular religious faith is never a happy arrangement for the people.
There are two ways of constructing a software design. One way is to make
it so simple that there are obviously no deficiencies and the other is to
make it so complicated that there are no obvious deficiencies.
The President is merely the most important among a large number of
public servants. He should be supported or opposed exactly to the
degree which is warranted by his good conduct or bad conduct, his
efficiency or inefficiency in rendering loyal, able, and disinterested
service to the nation as a whole. Therefore it is absolutely necessary
that there should be full liberty to tell the truth about his acts,
and this means that it is exactly as necessary to blame him when he
does wrong as to praise him when he does right. Any other attitude in
an American citizen is both base and servile. To announce that there
must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the
President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is
morally treasonable to the American public. Nothing but the truth
should be spoken about him or any one else. But it is even more
important to tell the truth, pleasant or unpleasant, about him than
about any one else.
Theodore Roosevelt, Lincoln and Free Speech
If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere
insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to
seperate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line
dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And
who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago
Good government never depends upon laws, but upon the personal qualities of
those who govern. The machinery of government is always subordinate to the
will of those who administer that machinery. The most important element of
government, therefore, is the method of choosing leaders.
Frank Herbert, Children of Dune
The first step toward the management of disease was replacement of demon
theories and humours theories by the germ theory. That very step, the
beginning of hope, in itself dashed all hopes of magical solutions. It
told workers that progress would be made stepwise, at great effort, and
that a persistent, unremitting care would have to be paid to a
discipline of cleanliness. So it is with software engineering today.
Frederick P. Brooks Jr., No Silver Bullet: Essence and Accidents of Software Engineering
The sciences do not try to explain, they hardly even try to interpret,
they mainly make models. By a model is meant a mathematical construct which,
with the addition of certain verbal interpretations, describes observed
phenomena. The justifaction of such a mathematical construct is solely
and precisely that it is expected to work.
John Von Neumann
It's an experience like no other experience I can describe,
the best thing that can happen to a scientist, realizing that something
that has happened in his or her mind exactly corresponds to something that
happens in nature. One is surprised that a construct of one's own mind
can actually be realised in the honest-to-goodness world out there. A great
shock, and a great, great joy.
Why is programming Fun?
The programmer, like the poet, works only slightly removed from pure thought-stuff. He builds his castles in the air, from air, creating by exertion of the imagination. Yet the program construct, unlike the poet's words, is real in the sense that in moves and works, producing visible outputs seperate from the construct itself. It prints results, draws pictures, produces sounds, moves arms. The magic of myth and legend has come true in our time. One types the correct incantation on the keyboard, and a display screen comes to life, showing things that never were nor could be.
Frederic P. Brooks, The Mythical Man-Month
As he designs his first work, frill after frill, embellishment
after embillishment occour to him. These get stored away to be used "next
time." Sooner or later the first system is finished, with firm confidence
and a demonstrated mastery of that class of systems, is ready to build
a second system. This second is the most dangerous system a man ever designs.
Frederic P. Brooks, The Mythical Man-Month
That is the key to history. Terrific energy is expended—civilizations
are built up—excellent institutions devised; but each time something goes
wrong. Some fatal flaw always brings the selfish and cruel people to the
top, and then it all slides back into misery and ruin. In fact, the machine
conks. It seems to start up alright and run a few yards, and then it breaks
C.S.Lewis, Mere Christanity
Those who do not do politics will be done in by politics.
Perfection [in design] is achieved not when there is nothing more to
add, but rather when there is nothing more to take away.
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Never let your sense of morals prevent you from doing what is right.
Isaac Asimov, Foundation
This planet has—or rather had—a problem, which was this:
most of the people living on it were unhappy for pretty much of the time.
Many solutions were suggested for this problem, but most of these were
largely concerned with the movements of small green pieces of paper, which
is odd because on the whole it wasn't the small green pieces of paper that
Douglas Adams, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
The idea that laws decide what is right or wrong is mistaken
in general. Laws are, at their best, an attempt to achieve justice; to
say that laws define justice or ethical conduct is turning things upside