MP's rant on specification work ; As to why all dictionaries suck ; A challenge for you

Tuesday, 03 February, Year 7 d.Tr. | Author: Mircea Popescu

nubbins` !s buying from:nubbins`
assbot 318 results for 'buying from:nubbins`' :
nubbins` Oh, no, I did. Right on.

adlai Using !s to extend your memory of others' words, sure. Extend your memory of others' actions, sure. ... But of your own actions!?
nubbins` It's all a fog.i

* adlai finds himself wishing for !s in irl conversations now.
adlai It's gotten me grepping a lot more though, which is good.
mircea_popescu The same process ruined me for books. I'm like "fucking paper, no grep!"
* asciilifeform cheats by maintaining a grep-able copy of most books

adlai My book-buying process (when I'm in an actual bookstore and can flip through the book) is made or broken by the quality of the index.
mircea_popescu Still. Even people with good indices, what are they going to put in there ? Can't make it half the book.

adlai Right, it's more that I'll find some really interesting book, get all excited about reading it, and then change my mind when i see a three page index.
asciilifeform Learn Russian. Bookz immediately become something you get for free, instantly, and in grepable plain ascii.ii Adlai: obligatory naggum >>>>
assbot Re: "Well, I want to switch over to replace EMACS LISP with Guile." - Naggum cll archive ... ( )

mircea_popescu Guile!?
nubbins` From street fighter.
asciilifeform ^ Post was not actually about guile. (Naggum fought a long usenet war against 'scheme' fanatics. 'Guile' is a scheme interpreter.)

mircea_popescu Anyway. Complex specs are in no sense better. The only thing a very complicated spec shows is that the designer did not understand the overwhelming importance of not specifying. That's the main task of spec work : avoiding doing anything as much as humanly possible.

asciilifeform That's how you end up with 'the spec is the implementation' crapolade.
mircea_popescu Nope!

asciilifeform Not that a spec arrived at via the usual idiot committees is any better.
mircea_popescu That's how you end up with small programs that do clear things and without a userbase that "has come to expect".

asciilifeform But the only proper spec is a) actual spec b) fits in head c) because was created by actual person (or at wrost, two or three).
mircea_popescu I defy youiii to find a spec anywhere in use in the shitstack todayiv that manages to not include things it really has no business specifying. And the problem is even more visible in dictionaries (as definitions are simply the specifications of words). Never is it the case a dictionary manages to not include extraneous nonsense in the soup. Take the Cambridge Online definition of "dictionary" : "a book containing the words of a language alphabetically arranged, with their meanings etc". Leaving aside that etc is not allowed in this context ; a BOOK ? Why the fuck is it a book. It's not a book, it's a list. And it doesn't have to be alphabetically sorted. Dictionary = "exhaustive list of all the symbols in a conventional symbolic space, with adnotations." There's not even any need to specify it actually contains definitions.v The quality of the definitions distinguishes a good implementation from a bad one and that's all.

nubbins` Why does it have to be exhaustive?
mircea_popescu The only thing that makes you go "this isn't a fucking dictionary" is if you look for a word that should be in but isn't.

nubbins` By that measure, I've got 3,000-page beasts that are not dictionaries. And a page from a word-a-day calendar with the word "grok" defined, that occasionaly *is* a dictionary.
mircea_popescu Quite. Note that they usually explain their limitations. "A dictionary of 1900s London argot" won't contain nixonisms. However, the absence of "chtulhu" from there will be regarded as prima facie evidence that the word in question was in fact not 1900s London argot.

  1. He doesn't even drink! []
  2. Do you know why "the sanctions" aren't working on Putin ? This is why, espèce d'imbéciles! []
  3. Yes, you too! []
  4. Think "webdev software" []
  5. There's also no way to specify it, because there's no way to define definitions for very good mathematical reasons. That notwithstanding, obviously there are heuristic approaches to providing good quality definitions. []
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2 Responses

  1. I'm pretty sure there's only similictionaries these days.

  2. Mircea Popescu`s avatar
    Mircea Popescu 
    Wednesday, 4 February 2015

    Semi-mictionaries moar like it.

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