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“Power drills have batteries or cords and motors that wear down and they’re more expensive and complex and can break more easily and it’s just smarter to bring hand crank tools to the worksite.”

- Nobody

Power drills are simple tools, they are the 'vi' equivalent of the 'ed' manual drill.

The physical equivalent of an IDE would be a laser-guided auto-centering/levelling drill with automatic drill bit changer/sharpener, depth guide, dust evacuation and material sensor with automatic lookup for which hole size and depth to use for the given task. It would weigh 15 kg, need an external power pack and be unusable in tight corners. For some tasks it would be a great time saver, for others it would just be in the way. Some workers would love it, others would fight it. Some would be more productive using it, others would be far more productive if only that damn megadrill did not insist on using that oversized drill bit while they knew the construction would be much stronger by using a slightly smaller bit, necessitating them to override the megadrill tool selector for each and every hole they drilled.

I think you mean cnc machine. And those are amazingly productive.

CNC mills are super useful. But not all the time. I regularly (not all the time, or even a majority, but regularly) choose a manual mill over my cnc because for simple jobs that only require a part or two, it's faster than setting up the 3d model, deciding on cutting strategies, setting up the tools, etc.

My choice in editors follows the same logic. If I just need to jot down some notes, or knock together a simple bash script or something, it doesn't really matter what I use. Whatever has syntax highlighting and is available on that system is great. Something more complex, where I don't want to spend brain cycles on repetitive tasks or management that the tools can handle for me, I'd rather use something that will handle that for me.

No, a CNC machine is a distinct entity which enables the user to create objects which can not be created using only a power drill. The lower-tech predecessor of a CNC machine is a milling machine [1], not a hand-held drill.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milling_(machining)

There isn’t anything a CNC can make that someone with a file and a lot of times on their hands cant.

Heck you can do that with a drill too mostly using jigs.

I had to create a few times quite complex shapes from a block of aluminum and what I did I just 3D print a bunch of jigs and drilled out 98-99% of the material away in the same way a CNC would and finished it with dremmel.

> There isn’t anything a CNC can make that someone with a file and a lot of times on their hands cant.

True, but the comparison here was against a power drill, not a person with a file and lots of time on his hands. While it may be theoretically possible to achieve the accuracy of a CNC mill using a power drill it would not be the tool of choice. Achieving the repeatability of a CNC mill using hand tools is hard, the more complex the piece the harder it becomes.

To get back to basics without getting lost in a forest of tools these comparisons are based around the 'To IDE, or not to IDE' question. The CNC mill was pulled in through a side door but doesn't really feature in the comparison which was between a simple power drill and the hypothetical 'smart drill' I dubbed 'megadrill' which tries to be as 'helpful' as possible. Some people would like such a contraption, others would shun it.

I don't feel I pulled in the CNC through a side door, I was responding to your comment of:

`laser-guided auto-centering/leveling drill with automatic drill bit changer/sharpener, depth guide, dust evacuation and material sensor with automatic lookup for which hole size and depth to use for the given task.`

Which at that point you probably, as I said, just want a CNC machine.

Given I have and use a handheld drill, a drill press, a manual mill, a CNC mill, a manual lathe, and a CNC lathe, as well as Vim, Emacs, VS Code, and Intellij, I think I'm decently well informed on this topic.

If you setup a CNC mill, you can use it as a manual mill, some people just don't like those ergonomics. I mainly keep my manual mill as a better drill press, and use the CNC for most stuff.

I generally just use intellij for everything in the same way.

I think both your and parent's analogy are somewhat off.

IDE is like a big machine that can make a variety of parts to the exact spec very fast with minimal waste. This machine can help even inexperienced operator become productive in short time.

vi/ed is like manual power tools that can accomplish the same task but it takes a lot longer, wastes a lot more material and only experienced operators can be somewhat productive but nowhere near what they could achieve with the big machine.

When users become experts with these tools, they can produce all sorts of custom parts that big machine is not configured for but like they always say - use the right tool for the job: if you are making 5 custom parts then use the hand tools, when you are making hundreds of the same part, use the big machine.

The Hole-Hawg drill is the IDE equivalent. Recently discussed on HN: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=28015229

No, a Hole-Hawg [1] - made famous in these circles by Neal Stephenson's essay 'In the beginning was the command line' [1] - is just a powerful drill without any bells and whistles, a "lump of metal with a handle sticking out of it". It would be more sort of an 'ed on steroids', trading off ease of use for raw power.

[1] https://www.milwaukeetool.com/Products/Power-Tools/Drilling/...

[2] https://web.archive.org/web/20180218045352/http://www.crypto...

I think you've hit upon an important distinction, because while construction workers won't be bringing hand tools "to the worksite," there are in fact many people who do use hand tools for fine woodworking in their woodshops.

People work with wood for different reasons and people write software for different reasons. All of these tools and approaches can be valid.

Some may be interested in rapid and low cost large scale construction - big teams working fast. Others may be interested in creating a thing of beauty either independently or in small groups of likeminded craftsmen. It shouldn't be surprising that we have many different tools and practices.

I agree and love this distinction.

When I’m paid to produce, I use tools that help me produce.

When I’m enjoying my passion, I actually do use an entirely different set of tools!

Exactly. When I’m tinkering around in Scheme crafting cutesy little interpreters a simple text editor is great, and having an IDE would feel like having someone standing over my shoulder whispering to me every rule of a game I already know by heart.

On the other hand, when I’m working on a new area in a several thousand file project with dozens of contributors, or any number of its side-projects that I may have never seen before in my life, it’s more like having talented counsel at my shoulder informing me of all the various contracts I’d be expected to observe for any possible plan of action I might consider taking.

Conversely, for model building, I have much better results using #80 drill bits in a hand held twist drill than trying to chuck them into a power drill and hope that it will not break the bit or rip the delicate work asunder.

Similarly, an IDE can be overkill when you're writing a self-contained one-off task, or dealing with an opinionated IDE that doesn't fit with the project you're importing.

Wouldn't another analogy be knowing how to navigate a boat with a sextant and a chronometer versus modern radio and GPS maritime navigational aides? The latter's more efficient, but those with deep knowledge of navigation understand how to use the former if necessary.

As someone replied to GP, you should definitely know how to complete tasks with only basic tools and without advanced tools. But it doesn't mean you should only use basic tools or no tools at all. I mean I do know how to calculate without calculator but it doesn't mean I dont use calculator. I use it all the time. Of course deep knowledge almost always means that you have a strong hold on the basics.

Yep. I was taught how to navigate with a compass and sextant and such.

And then we did it once.

And then we used GPS and Total Stations ever since.

This is probably a good time to mention Tim Ewald's talk, Programming With Hand Tools:


For those who want and abstract, the best I could find was this:


Portable electric power tools are such a game changer when working on cars. I could never go back to the days of doing it by hand, it would be ten times worse for construction.

I would never use power tools on my motorcycle or car. On threading, nuts/bolts/screws should always be torqued gently into spec. On unthreading, I prefer to feel if there's significant resistance, warranting a cleaning/deoxidization of the part.

Predrilling a screw hole in some hard wood? Yeah I don't need to feel anything except the power of lithium cells dumping electricity into torque.

People still use shovels even though excavators exist.

Those are not comparable. If there was a backpack mounted shovel that powered my digging I'd never use a shovel again.

People still drink water even though Brawndo exists

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