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Creation Date: 2002-07-17
If you found this watch on your mousepad and not only was it functioning, but it told the correct time, you would wonder where the owner was without his/her watch, right? You wouldn't assume that the computer mouse suddenly collected dust in such a way to create a watch, right? This is another version of the watchmaker argument for the existence of God. Since life is such a perfect example of a machine, we can say that it is naive to assume that it was created from random occurance. In fact, science has this rule that if something is rediculously improbable, we can assume that it didn't happen. Aethiests are making the rediculously improbable claim that our computer mouse has gathered dust to make this watch (and made it tell time correctly to within a minute). It makes me wonder who they're trying to fool. But it's an interesting question since its very unanswered existence means that science lacks a lot of knowledge. That's good news for us scientists, because we want to find it out.

I didn't create the object in the picture, but I did take the webcam photo of it. I did it for a different purpose than is explained above but it got me off on a tangent. That happens and I don't mind when it does. The real reason why I took a picture of that watch is because it is a perfect example of a solid machine. With five very secure moving parts, it is nearly infallible. It can be submerged to 100 meters. With a bit more shielding, it could be submerged to far greater depths. But who ever dives down farther than 100 meters? I don't even go swimming, much less with a watch on. But it hasn't broken down on me since I bought it in September. That's longer than any computer has lasted unscarred for me. I had to reformat my hard drive on this brand new computer last December. The previous major work-halting problem was a video card problem in May. But think about this, my previous watch lasted me eight years. The battery lasted four years. It was the same brand and model type, but an older version. This one is very slick and rugged. But the last one was so amazing at it's job that I couldn't imagine not having it. When I first bought it, I spend two months wages on it. It was terrible thinking of all the video games that I wouldn't be able to play due to that watch that I needed for school and "hanging-out" after school (to get me home on time for dinner). It was sixth grade and at the end of the sixth grade, I lent the watch to some kid. He didn't give it back until the end of summer. Craziness happened over that summer. I've gotten a dozen different watch bands (since every one breaks after a short amount of time) and I've used it everywhere. In fact, in eight grade, people nicknamed my watch "the Ginsu watch" because everytime I went for the basketball with it on, I'd scratch people up. That's how good it was. ^_^ But you would think that bashing it, losing it, and wearing it night and day would destroy it, but I tell you it's a marvel of modern engineering. If it didn't die in such an honorable way, I would have given it to the Smithsonian as the world's greatest product: a perfect chronometer.

What's the lesson? I hope you get what I'm talking about. This is very important to those who want to do "something". Having skills is important. Being smart is important. Making enough money to buy food and pay rent is important. But the most important part of all is to ensure that what you make is absolutely infallible. That means that a user is not allowed to do anything wrong ever. Many people sidestep that because their boss demands "user-friendlyness". Bull-shit. If a person types a letter in a number field they can get an error, a polite message, or nothing. To be infallible, you should give them nothing. Make them learn that their insolence will not be tolerated at the ground level. You will input what you need to input or I will Kiiiiiiilll YOU! =) What if you don't control what they do? For example, you are making a program that turns a text file with a list of numbers into another list of numbers by simple arithmatic. Let's say that this user clicks an mp3 file full of garbage instead of a data file. You first test the header. The header is wrong, so you tell the user that and end the parsing of the file. What if they have the correct file, but accidentally deleted half of it. If the file was created by a good program, it'll have a correct file size or something of that nature in the header. You simply check the file size against the correct file size and you'll know. If they don't have a file size, then you have to check for an illegal end at every point. There are easy ways to do this. I won't go into them since it's such a boring topic, but you get the idea. If you try to add 44 to "", your program will explode into little bits. You do not want that to happen. Check for "" whenever you have something crazy happening. For example, you make a PNG file that is 10,000 pixels high and 40 pixels wide. Now, try to display that picture squashed to 200 high. Width = 200*40/10000 = 0.8. Rounding up, you get 1. Rounding down, you get 0. Guess what a Microsoft programmer decided to do? Yup, he/she rounded down. Then he/she sent it to a fast graphic displayer that tries to grab info from a naughty place in memory when you put something in that is zero wide or zero high. Brilliance abound it seems. The funny part is that this is a true story. Try this yourself and you'll find the same error I do whenever I accidentally preview the pictures of my expanded directory contents. So my lesson to you, no matter what you do, no matter if your product works 100%, don't let the dumb jocks move a single divide by zero by you!

Why am I so upset? Because my computer reboots itself midstep ten times each morning. Because my computer crashes 1 time per hour on average, no matter what I'm doing. Because certain poorly built software programs crash continually and/or reproducibly. Because 256 MB of RAM is not enough when every single program leaks 5 megabytes. Because if computer programmers were as smart as plane designers, we could throw computers at buildings and they would kill hundreds or even thousands of people. Because if plane designers were as smart as computer programmers, buying a plane ticket from Seattle to Tokyo would cost $29.95 and come with a complimentary pine box. Because if Linux would have come along in the days of Win 3.1, we wouldn't notice a difference today. Because If Microsoft was founded by jocks, the computers would beat us up every time we typed "dir". Okay, now I'm getting silly. Cyas on the flip side.

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