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My Many Girlfriends (thedailywtf.com)
419 points by BerislavLopac 4 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 416 comments

Reminds me of a Sten I hired many years ago. He requested (and of course got) an hilariously exotic work setup and spent a ridiculous amount of time on its configuration. Right from the start he expressed his unhappiness with seemingly random office stuff: Every day, sometimes multiple times per day, he would would come to my desk and tell me what was wrong, implying I should fix it right now even though it wasn’t obvious that there was a problem in the first place. He also heavily criticized the code base while the same time wasn’t able to produce anything meaningful. For a couple of weeks we hoped his genius to appear and that we just have to give him more support and time to adjust.

Eventually, a group of female coworkers came forward and complained that he would make them feel uneasy. He would stand behind them watching silently what they were doing.

I don’t remember whether we gave him feedback for this or room to adapt, we’ve let him go the next day.

> He also heavily criticized the code base while the same time wasn’t able to produce anything meaningful.

This is more a rite of passage for everyone to do at least once in their career rather than an immediate red flag. But yea...

Kind of sad that he was let go for the one thing he likely had the least ability to control: Other people's feelings. You might have eventually been able to put together training or guide rails to correct his work habits, code review style, and productivity, but how do you coach someone to change someone else's impression of him?

EDIT: Hmm..had no idea this of all things would be such a deeply offensive comment. Live and learn. As a manager, how do you tell someone to "stop standing near people and/or looking at people" when they presumably have to work with those people as part of their job? If there's harassment going on, that's definitely something you have to correct and/or terminate for, but did OP's scenario rise to that level?

> Kind of sad that he was let go for the one thing he likely had the least ability to control: Other people's feelings

> how do you coach someone to change someone else's impression of him?

Assuming he was standing behind women in the office watching them he's an outright creep. This reads like you're blaming other people for a creep's behavior.

Many places are at-will employment and that can be terminated on either side of the relationship as long as it doesn't fall in the realm of discrimination. As far as I'm concerned, the employer and management operated 100% responsibly to ensure a safe and comfortable working environment for everyone.

Counter point: I've had people who exerted towards me weird behaviors that freaked me out, and instead of escalating that and make it someone else problem, when I took the time to explain them privately, they told me they were autistic and didn't know how to read people and had no idea it was inappropriate, thanked me for giving them the feedback, and then adjusted their behavior!!

OMG imagine that: people adjust to feedback!!

Maybe we should take the time to TALK and try to resolve problems, before pointing fingers or firing them?

Most people are good and want to be nice. I don't like the "modern" way of calling out people, as it's not a good default heuristic, and not just that: it's ultimately counter-productive, as it hurts people who don't understand what happened, then switch to dangerous ideologies, become more and more polarized and double-down on inappropriate behaviors instead of adapting. And it makes the problem worse, as now they can rationalize their behavior given their new bizarre ideology

That's the right approach. I wish it were the top comment. You should turn it into a blog post.

I'm not much into blogging, but maybe I'll start blogging in 2022. There're many interesting technical things I'd wish to share, like converting 512 NTFS volune to a 4k, which is very valuable on new 4kn NVMe drives: using 512e has a negative performance impact that's easy to measure with CrystalDisk or other tools.

However, for more controversial stuff, like whatever could be used as cannon fodder for the culture wars, I think I'd rather opt out.

I don't think your comment ventures into the culture wars. It's just about good communication skills.

That was commendable of you to take time to explain to them in 1:1, but my suspicion is that it does not scale.

Suppose this wasn't the last time it happened - how much of your time are you willing to put into explaining to person after person after person how their behavior is freaking you out? If it happens in different places, several times a month (or week), it can get pretty old quickly, and that may shorten your patience.

You're right that's it's not scalable and that my patience is finite.

But, surprisingly enough, people SHARE information, and the person that has learned that I'm creeped might even volunteer to tell the other person in their own words why it's a problem, and how to solve it.

Also, an office is not hundreds of people in the same root. So I solved my problem quickly and efficiently using the old-way of "speaking about it" to the concerned party instead of escalating to HR/managers who may be tempted to use their giant banhammer simply because they don't know how to peacefully solve the issue using ... words!

Simple problems call for simple solutions.

> Also, an office is not hundreds of people in the same root.

It's really hard to special-case the office when you're creeped grabbing lunch at Panera, in the street, while shopping groceries, at the movies, in the subway, at the laundromat, while hiking, at the nightclub, while walking the dog... you get the idea. Women endure ridiculous amount of harassment/creeps- the office is the last place they should have to endure more of it and having to resolve it on top of it.

I have no qualms having such issues escalated to HR -perhaps they have gaps in their training that have to be addressed to prevent recurrence with another non-neurotypical person in the future. I do not think it's always advisable to engage 1:1 with someone who was being creepy from a distance: what if they are still creepy/erratic/become agitated, (and not understanding) in close quarters?

> Women endure ridiculous amount of harassment/creeps- the office is the last place they should have to endure more of it and having to resolve it on top of it.

Yes, but escalating comes with the risk of a false positive / getting ostracized.

So I acted following my own best interests.

> what if they are still creepy/erratic/become agitated, (and not understanding) in close quarters?

Our diversity policy doesn't extend to people having severe and obvious mental issues :)

As for outside the office, it's a judgement call. I may act differently if harassed by a drunk homeless person.

>>As a manager, how do you tell someone to "stop standing near people and/or looking at people"

"Hey, I've gotten some complaints about people feeling uncomfortable around you. Specifically that you have a tendency to stand too close, and stare too long at people's screens."

There are two ways I can see this going right off the bat. The Sten is either confused about the nature of the problem (maybe does not recall a time that sounds like this, or does not understand that it is a problem) OR the Sten understands that the behavior is problematic but sees it as not his problem (starts to justify it or otherwise excuse it). The first case is easier, presuming the Sten does not wish to make others uncomfortable. You can explain some etiquette or tips to address the situation (its polite to verbally introduce yourself when getting into some ones personal space, its polite to express curiosity and ask to read or know more about another's work), you can simply ask them to be conscious of the feedback. The second case is more difficult but still involves telling the Sten what the social expectations are.

Thanks! After hours of downvoting, yours is the first response to actually answer my question with a thoughtful, actionable way to address the feedback about Sten in OP's scenario. Given the number of, shall we say, socially awkward people in tech, it's entirely believable that Sten had no idea that silently watching someone work could make them uncomfortable. We've all worked with people who were a little "off" socially but without ill intent. Social/etiquette rules are messy and inconsistent, and they don't come naturally to everyone. I know I'd have a hard time articulating feedback like: This kind of looking is good, this kind is bad. You can make eye contact with people at work, but don't hold it more than N seconds. You can stand near people but no less than N meters, and not directly facing them. You don't often see that level of detail in HR training literature.

Maybe in OP's example there actually was ill intent, and maybe there wasn't. Hard to tell given the text. I think it's a marvelous skill to be able to delicately address someone else's "creepy behavior" when you aren't sure of the intent behind it.

> You have a tendency to stand too close, and stare too long at people's screens

This behavior describes perfectly a myopic person

He… doesn’t have the ability to control whether he stands silently behind other people while they work?

You can't control how other people feel, but you can control what information you choose to give them to inform those feelings. From this you can observe patterns and shape what future information you choose to give them.

You can't control how other people feel, but you sure can do a lot to shape it.

High level software engineering jobs are paying enough money that you should be a net positive for the company or you get cut. It is silly to coddle someone who is getting paid >200k a year while most of the population struggles to make ends meet.

">It is silly to coddle someone who is getting paid >200k a year while most of the population struggles to make ends meet.*

That's (unfortunately) not how the job market works. Some Dev positions are so we'll paid and coddled exactly because people who can fill them are rare and not easily found so a lot of nasty people with bad habits are tolerated because there's a shortage of better candidates and hiring is expensive. And it's exactly the positions where there's a surplus (minimum wage gigs) where people are more easily replaceable and more often let go despite being good people.

It's why even so many terrible CEOs get paid so obscene despite doing an obvious bad job and driving companies further down, because finding another replacement CEO is very difficult.

Can it be true though, except in very extreme/niche circumstances, that there are really people who are $200K+ better than other devs? I can't really imagine what that level of dev can do much more than those I have worked with who are only paid $50-100K

I wonder if the perception is distorted by FANNG companies who can afford to simply pay whatever i.e. another 100K for perhaps 10% better candidate just to make sure they get the best? In most of the companies I have worked for, even though a dev can add a lot of content that gets sold to customers, the company still have to pay for all the non-production staff and infrastructure.

There are people with very specialized skills and experiences that it would cost half a million and years more to replicate. With that in mind, there are certainly devs $200k/yr more valuable than others.

This becomes even more important when a company is set up to be able to strongly leverage developer quality. When a developer being 10% better means millions more in revenue (or a similar decrease in costs), paying $100k more might make a lot of sense. How much would such an org be willing to pay for someone 30% better, do you think?

I know a developer who upon joining a company picked up a problem that had been considered intractable. Another developer had spent months on it before giving it up as impossible. My friend solved the issue, permanently, in three days. That's at least a 10x, and possibly a 30x, difference in productivity for a narrow set of tasks.

Having worked from small consulting shops up to big tech, there’s a pretty wide range in skill sets for devs.

Even big tech has shit engineers but it seems to have a higher percentage of good ones. They get paid more because of the impact of their work and how much the company values them.

A group of good engineers can make miracles happen. A team with one rockstar and some mediocre people are going to struggle to make the same impact. That’s why you pay to attract groups of good talent. It’s not about individual contribution but the work of the whole team.

> that there are really people who are $200K+ better than other devs? I can't really imagine what that level of dev can do much more than those I have worked with who are only paid $50-100K

The 10x myth is real. And having someone with 10x the productivity of another dev isn't a 10x increase in comp, more like 4-5x. So that's an incredible bargain for whoever is smart enough to see it.

I recall a story someone told me a while ago. Software business that did local CoL/prevailing wages. Hired an intern one summer that was just running around in circles around the other, more senior devs. Next summer they tried to get him back but he was already at a large search engine company down in the Bay. Of course, he wouldn't return. That's when they realized a whole class of engineers were completely invisible to them; they lucked out hiring him that summer but there was no chance they could attract someone like him full time.

> I wonder if the perception is distorted by FANNG companies who can afford to simply pay whatever i.e. another 100K for perhaps 10% better candidate just to make sure they get the best?

This has compounding effects. One overachiever stuck with mediocre devs won't be able to do much. But a team of overachievers will ship products like the iPhone. Paying extra for the later make sense if your business model is to ship innovation.

Well he obviously wasn't coding well either. I imagine a 10X engineer who is crucial to the product continuing to run can behave pretty strangely and not get fired, but if you are an average/below average dev you should probably be pleasant to work with.

There is no need to. Society has a contract. We accept those that fit in and reject those that don’t. And that’s a good thing. Just like birds reject sick birds to preserve the health of the group. It’s the best thing from an evolutionary perspective. There is an envelope within which which diversity is accepted. Outside of the envelope you get rejected. It sounds like this particular individual was outside the envelope. So he goes.

Needed a break from work and figured I'd take a shot at a random comment. Pardon the rant...nothing personal...here goes.

So, I'm not saying that firing the guy in this particular case was a mistake, but how do you arrive at the broad conclusion that rejecting people based on social norms (many of which are arbitrary or based on fear/ignorance/etc) is necessarily the best thing? The boundaries of the "envelope" change all the time, and arguably for the better sometimes.

Example: Was it a "good thing" when people could be fired (or not even considered) because of their race/religion/sex? Are we not better off when we overcome our differences and work together?

I think the situation how to handle the creep has less to do with evolution and more to do with what's good for business. If the guy had been valuable enough to the company, I think they probably would have made more of an effort to help him fit in. Thus the "need" to reconcile. Absent that, the only thing that can really save his job is the person who does the hiring/firing. Maybe they have a soft spot for creeps. And that would be where the boundary might get pushed a tiny bit. Or, maybe morale plummets and the company goes bankrupt.

But if someone discovers a way for alleged creeps to work in harmony alongside non-creeps, then your talent pool to choose from will expand, less people will be fired for just being who they are, and barring any unforeseen consequences, you will have made the world a little better.

Bonus: Did you know in Spain, its totally acceptable to stare? At least that's what I've been told. Imagine if the dude had just spent too much time in Spain and got used to staring at people. And they fired him without even taking the time to figure that out!

> Society has a contract.

Correction: Society has a lot of conflicting contracts.

Would you leave your own children in the wilderness to die in case they were born sick or deformed?

Until verified, a rumor is just something that needs to be examined. People can lie also about their coworkers if there is a possible advantage on doing it.

There's a difference between a rumor, and eye witness accounts from multiple people you trust.

Edit in response to parent's edits: yes people can obviously lie. But in this case it seems the main benefit these accusers would have gotten out of it was... ditching an incompetent coworker?

Yes, but people teaming against the weirdo in the room or against perceived threats to their career is not uncommon behavior. A sensible manager would want to verify it personally.

Touching can deserve instant firing, looking at can deserve asking for an explanation first

I agree... looking is something that deserves investigating.

For example, I had a coworker who had a habit of reading people's screens from behind - what news website article you were reading, or email, or whatever. He was just a nosy person with no sense of other people's personal space. It was definitely offputting and annoying, and felt like an invasion of my privacy. Still, I wouldn't consider this something he should be fired over - more like something a superior should have raised & discouraged. Reading the comment felt more like that, rather than a hostile workplace thing that warrants immediate firing without an investigation.

> in this case it seems the main benefit these accusers would have gotten out of it was... ditching an incompetent coworker?

The tribal feeling of belonging to a closed group that punish an outsider can be rewarding enough for many people.

Is unclear if he was incompetent. Willing to work with exotic tools or acting bold makes him easy to be hated, but not incompetent necessarily.

My definition of a competent employee for the first 14 days of work is somebody that manages to go and exit to the workplace each day at the expected time, does not set fire to the code and don't bite other coworkers for the possession of a sandwich. Is just a too narrow period of time to conclude anything.

That is some world-class victim blaming right there. I've taken a screenshot of it and put it in one of my presos as an example.

I successfully coach 'impression' with my employees all the time. It's usually something like "you say 'um' a lot when you speak and it can distract from an otherwise great presentation; lets work on that" or "let's see what we can do to improve your business writing so your message is clearer". Sometimes it's "you need to practice better hygiene", "lets find a better way of expressing your opinions than calling your coworker a 'fucking idiot' in front of the team" or "your behavior is objectively creepy/offensive". Usually, when made aware, an adult will make an effort at least to improve; but there's always someone like you who says "everyone else in the world is the problem, not me...I should be able to do anything I want". And then you start managing them out the door.

It's unclear who you're holding responsible here for the victim blaming - the parent you're responding to, or the GP? In the subthread OP's story, some people came forward to say they felt uneasy with him standing behind them while they worked - and he was let go the next day. In your own comment, you said that most reasonable adults try to adjust their behavior when given feedback. At no point in the story was the offending person ever given feedback of any kind in the intervening weeks. In this particular case, he was let go the very next day after the reports, and OP's not sure if they even gave him any feedback about this. How does this make sense? Does his behavior rise to the level of creating a hostile work environment for most reasonable people? Was an investigation conducted to understand what the exact behavior was? Perhaps he used to silently watch all his coworkers, male and female, and only the women complained? Its definitely unsettling and annoying, but does rise to a fireable offense the very next day after being reported?

It's unclear if you actually read what you're replying to. I'm obviously responding to the parent I responded to, not the GP. And you apparently missed where the GP referenced a litany of reasons why the guy fired was an undesirable employee, and then "eventually" the women came forward and apparently that was the last straw. Focusing on the women, and completely ignoring everything else, is pretty telling.

Let the downmods begin...

Well, to be fair, you made a point about how the parent was "victim blaming" and that their comment was worthy of teaching others. I failed to see what was so wrong in the point they were raising, that the apparent reason he was let go was based on the seemingly weakest argument against him. Indeed, you have chosen the least charitable interpretation of mine & the parent's comment, that we completely ignored everything else, and assumed that is pretty telling of our character.

It felt like the complaints from the women was simply the excuse needed to fire an employee that he wanted to get rid of anyway - which doesn't sit right with me or many people here. Your comment also suggests that by raising the point, the parent was making a classic case of "victim blaming", which is where you and I diverge. Perhaps his action of watching people working silently rises to the level of a hostile work environment, but that should have been established by a review, which didn't happen here. As others in the thread have pointed out, touching is perhaps a fireable offense, but looking at people work by itself(some women brought it up, but was the behavior restricted to women?) deserves at least some questioning. Was he looking at peoples' screens or them? You are content to handwave the allegations since it affected an employee you felt deserved to be fired over other shortcomings anyway.

Once again, focusing on 'the women', making them the problem and not the guy being a creep, and dismissing everything else related, is pretty telling. Gaslighting, I think, is what they call it these days. But we're clearly not going to agree on this.

One of the things that every job has is "prereqs". They often include the ability to code, have good (enough) communication skills, etc.

Some of the unstated ones are - wear clothes to work, not whip your dick out, not lick people, not piss on your desk, etc. As a manager you can easily just say "stop standing near people and/or looking at people more than three seconds if they are not interacting with you".

The issue is that I'm paying you $$ so I don't have to train you. For tech skills, this is what college/etc is for. For human behavior, this is what parents/etc are for.

That you don't see this makes one think you may have these same issues. This isn't a "feelings" thing.

Feelings thing: during a political discussion, I say I voted for Trump (and now you're triggered) This: I am standing closer to you than anyone else and staring at you without you interacting with me. This means you have no cause to be in my space or staring.

Zero need to coach. Have you ever had to be coached on how to not make child porn? Did you demand guide rails and exact spelled-out definitions of constitutes porn when taking pictures of young children? I hope not.

There are lots of things where recognition is far easier than definition. If you lack this skill, you are unfit for the task at hand. This includes many things related to interacting with others, especially regarding children and the opposite sex. Inappropriate hugs/touching, physical proximity, commenting on some attribute, talking to them too much, talking to them at all, standing in such a way as to impede their movement, asking questions, etc.

I spent 12 years in pre-college education, and every teacher I had considered it entirely acceptable to intrude on my personal space and silently monitor me, often literally standing behind me to watch me. I've had managers do similar, usually as part of an explicit QA exercise but occasionally simply because they felt I wasn't paying attention (I'm ADHD and doodle to help me focus)

Do you really want to accuse every single teacher I had of pedophilia?

Not everyone has the same cultural background you do, and some of us are capable of understanding that sometimes someone needs a gentle nudge to get on the same page. You can rant about acceptable skills AFTER you spend 30 minutes trying to actually fix the problem. Until then, you're just a bigot.

I think you are being downvoted rather harshly.

There are places were randoms, but related, names make sense, but not as random variables. Naming machine comes to mind: you may want to group machines on a same LAN with names from one constellation, then machines on another LAN with names from another constellation. Or have a little network cluster which is "neptune" and name your few machines after Neptune's moons. Stuff like that.

One of the craziest "naming frenzy" though was revealed during the Enron scandal, where they had created countless shell companies to hide their crimes. They'd name the companies using names from the Star Wars universe: "Chewco investment" after Chewbacca, etc. Hundreds of them.

This is classic "pets" vs "cattle". At small scale, it's "Frank the frontend is down, let's get him working again because otherwise our users can't do anything", up to "front017.xxy is down, take it out back and shoot it".

I wonder if the notion of machines naming conventions being just about where to locate it on the rack, or which AWS data center it lives in, require further levels of abstraction about "pet" and "cattle".

Only sorta. Software devs can and should treat their machines as cattle, yes. But the guys actually maintaining the racks shouldn't. They have finite space, definite machines, and when one is down they have to identify it and go fix it.

(Meanwhile moving further down, if the hardware guys are having to name ethernet or power ports on the wall due to their various temperaments, something is wrong. And moving up, it's reasonable for devs to name their services, but a signal of an issue if the VP has to know them)

There's a level of abstraction underneath which you should not be aware of to do your job...but someone likely has to (it's not quite turtles all the way down, but it probably ends with physicists and theory rather than cold hard fact).

It is still better to have a clearly descriptive name policy than pet names. Maybe if you only have a half dozen machines. But with physical machines its better to have something like Region-Datacenter-Row-Rack-shelf-vendor-OS or something like that, so you are looking for EPNYA13CDL and not Dionysus. So that location and attributes of the machines are readily apparent. That way you immediately know its an External Facing, Production server, in New York, Row A, Rack 13, Shelf C, Dell Machine, running Linux.

So I'd view "descriptive names" as a separate discussion.

The point with the analogy is not how you name them, but whether you identify them at all. I really don't care about the name of the machine that died while running my distributed service; I shouldn't ever have to know it. It should automatically be culled and replaced.

The person working in a datacenter really does care about the name of the rack that is faulty; they have to find and replace it. That rack can be named "RM22-R3-5", a super descriptive identifier, or "Tennyson", because the whole room is Elizabethan authors and poets; point is, he DOES need to identify it.

The whole cattle vs pets is about identification and uniqueness, not about whether the identity is self-descriptive or not.

I think that would be 'cattle' for these purposes, and you sort of glossed over the 'pet' example.

I wish people would stop talking about cattle and pets. If you have or know someone who has worked in animal husbandry, you know it's a fragile metaphor.

My uncle owns a dairy farm with ~50 or so head of cattle.He gave each of them names and when one gets sick, he takes care of it.

Of course this is not a big industrial farm, but even so... not even actual cattle are as "cattle" as we're expected to treat computer-cattle -- and thanks to virtualization, computer-cattle are largely pretend anyway.

It's not only a shaky metaphor from the sentimental aspect, it's a downright bad one from the economic point of view. Individual cattle are expensive, and as a result, it makes economic sense to invest in their care. Even a ruthless person would not let a sick cow go without having a professional take a look to see if there was a way to restore it to good condition, but heartless or broke people often do decline to pay for veterinary care for a pet.

My relations own a pig farm with 10k pigs, they don't have names.

Fun story, my employer once had a contract with a huge pig farm like that and whenever we went on site we had to strip nude and shower off and then dress in clothes they provided, so we didn't contaminate the pigs with anything.

Yup, having to kill and discard all your product by hog cholera is not a joke.

Dairy cows are not usually referred to as cattle.

Of course they are, at least in my experience working at a dairy feedlot with thousands of head of dairy cattle.

Huh, I guess you're right. My context was family farms in the northeast/mid-Atlantic, where cattle always meant beef.

IIRC this was litigated by k8s years ago, hence we don’t have pet sets. But the metaphor is still in use because it’s so vivid and memorable. Is there a recommended replacement metaphor?

Garden vs Farm

Restaurant vs Cafeteria

Espresso vs Drip

Cafe vs Starbucks

Backyard BBQ vs McDonalds

I actually think that garden vs farm is a good choice. The others are a bit funny to me :)

Another thing to consider is international cultures. There’s been concern around calling servers cattle and saying to just shoot them in the head during work meetings. Some cultures may have issues with that.

Can confirm, when you have a small number of cattle at least some of them end up with names.

It's an effective and well-understood term.

A name generator makes the cattle herdable. Humans may remember zombie-wombat-kitten but not 3991. You might not ever interact with the machine directly but if you are hunting down an issue from log files it reduces cognitive load.

The important thing is cognitive load is the key thing, as is the possibility of confusion. Zombie-Wombat-Kitten is going to get shortened to ZWK, and hopefully there's no Zombie-Wombat-Keeper (or Zebra-Wagon-Kelp or Zombie-Wombat-Cat for those that just remember zombie-something-small-furry-animal). There's also little/no semantic meaning from that name. api-box-3-991 lets you know what type it is, and the relative vintage, so at a glance, it's not a version 2 box (which would be named api-box-2-991), and it's fairly late in the series, #991 vs #100.

Personally I like the second since we're having cattle not pets, but it's your fleet and this is rather bike-shed-y. :)

I mean, naming machines is cute on the one hand, but on the other, once you scale up / out, who will remember that Neptune is from finance and the Pleiades is management? Like with microservices, it's probably better to name things for what they do or where they are instead of coming up with aliases, else you have to maintain a translation table.

When scaling up - hard- or software - it's better to be clear than clever.

I've seen this multiple times, and there seems to be a pattern emerging.

At first, people name the machines after the software they install on it. Then, when you get to about 4-5 machines, you start finding a "cute" naming convention (Constellations, Star Trek ships, mythological figures). As long as there is only a handful of machines, it's easier to remember which machine does what.

Then, as you start to scale up, between a few tens to a hundred, finding names gets harder, so you switch to a more standard naming conventions. Something that communicates the physical/logical location and the organizational unit, as well as an index for duplicates / replicas / redundant machines.

So I think it's fine to be clever as long as it's manageable. The moment it's going to start getting out of hand you can switch to a more scalable approach.

"Pets" vs "cattle" is the classic metaphor. When your pet is sick, you take care of it, when "mp-32h-12b" is down you take it out and shoot it.

yes, of course, we had a small legacy cluster where I named our 36-odd machines after star trek ships. Knowing full well that when we went to a "real datacenter with real racks", the names would be rack-number/slot-number. My big mistake was zero indexing the slots. Never again.

What? How can zero indexing be a mistake?

We had a guy zero index a stack of shared Colo racks in one of our DCs a decade ago.

I sent remote hands to pull a server for a customer that was done with their contract and another for failure not pay.

Got the wrong boxes, disconnected two customers, put the servers on the shelf and left for the weekend.

So I cut a ticket to the next remote hands guy and tell home to get the boxes back up and running and we'll deal with it Monday.

Cut another ticket to a third text Monday to pull the boxes. Yeah, you guessed it wrong boxes again. Same customers, what the fuck.

Have the boxes reracked and drive out there to do it myself. Count the servers, wrong label, do some digging around, 'OH'. Pull the right server. Loose two customers. Cut tickets for all racks to be relabeled starting from one.

People don't expect 0 index in the physical world. It's just too clever by half.

If you're the only person who works in the rack, no problem. I worked as a tech and wired up machines once upon a time, ran fiber to core infrastructure, was boots on the ground for any physical access to the rack that was required, etc. I would not be surprised to hear a story of someone counting from 1 from the back of the rack and unplugging machine "7" or something.

> If you're the only person who works in the rack, no problem.

It's still likely bad. Your brain is simply not wired to zero index physical objects.

Which makes sense, as there can't be "negative" objects, mostly.

Building floors are more ambiguous - there can be basement, ie "negative" floors. So, floors in continental Europe are generally indexed 0-based (basements ..., -2, -1, ground floor = 0, upper floors 1, 2, ...). A German friend of mine caused some confusion when she checked into her student dorm at a US college, and having being told that her room was on the first floor, asked whether there was an elevator, as she had heavy suitcases.

In French, the first floor is called "Rez-de-chaussée" and the uppers are what called "Etage". So it's actually 1 based.

But the etage above the Rez-de-chaussée is 1, correct? The Rez-de-chaussée then is 0. That is 0-based indexing.

  US  D  F
   3  2  2
   2  1  1
  B1 -1  je ne sais pas

There is no Etage 0. People will just confusingly look at you if you ever said that. And the "Je ne sais pas' is called "Sous-sol"

In a lot of elevators rez-de-chaussée is labelled 0. We just don't use that when communicating

You can have multiple basement levels, which get numbered again. 1er Sousl-sol, 2eme Sous-sol etc. The ground floor might not be explicitly labeled as zero but the number between "one up" and "one down" is still zero.

The racks I've worked with have the slots labelled already, starting from 1.

Confirmed. Cute doesn’t scale. At google, a building I was in had conference rooms named after craters on Mars. This didn’t work as well in practice as it sounded on paper.

Talk of naming conventions puts me in mind of https://youtu.be/y8OnoxKotPQ

we named our prototype chips after British nuclear test codenames and all machines used to be terminator characters :).

Best scheme I've seen for a small fleet of development boxes (hardware, not VMs) was naming them after elements. Very easy to determine the IP address on that subnet.

I like it but you still have to memorize the periodical table for this to work. And you waste more than half the address space?

I'll assume it's a feature to learn periodical table this way :)

How many computers do you think we had??

But then people go from the memorable “Ebola” cluster to asynccompletionloggernodeweb where even with names that supposedly explain the function all the name parts are utterly generic and related to implementation not purpose. Not that people should keep Ebola. It should name services with a little skill and based on purpose not implementation. “Log4JarScanner” not “goAsyncFilerTreeScanner”. Tho the repo name is go-tree-jar cause I suck at names. Another cost of rushing is names it becomes hard to refactor out. At least we have hierarchical dns and longer names now, so it can have he data center/as and not be 8 chars. God bless the people that have name rules like Us1aesas02 - ProcessPostEventNodeDaemonServ-0322.Dallas.internal.example.com is more legible.

At the last job I had, there were a dozen or so microservices named after Greek/Roman mythology. The names were all quite clever if you knew the stories behind them... Eurybates handled inter-service communication, Stentor yelled at Hermes to send out emails, Hephaestus handled our cloud infrastructure, Janus handles some frontend pieces. The problem was that not everybody knew the stories behind them so it got really confusing.

At some point we got tired of it and made a very firm "all services going forward must have normal, descriptive names" rule and ended up with such shocking names as "Metrics" and "Authentication".

Switching jobs to other startups, it seems like "cute" microservice names are going out of style. Thankfully.

I prefer to name them using related hotel room numbers. Machines in one lan get numbers from one floor, machines in another get numbers from a different floor. It’s not as romantic but when we trade places for a day you’ll at least be able to make some sense of the network structure, meanwhile I’ll still be trying to read the almanac.

Getting "Being John Malkovich" vibes from this comment.

That type of naming drives me crazy. A server name should be descriptive and easily understood without context or documentation. For example, "api_1" makes a lot more sense than "proteus".

A person who refers to themselves in the third-person is called, in English, an illeist.


Elmo, Julius Caesar, and Salvador Dali have been identified as illeists.


Whilst I don't typically talk about myself in the third person. I do occasionally refer to my past and future self in the third person.

Basically, Future Ben is a top bloke. When I'm too busy, I just leave the housework for him. On the other hand, Past Ben is an enormous jerk. He's always leaving me shit to do.

In France, the most famous illeist is the actor Alain Delon (still alive): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alain_Delon

It has become a traditional joke in itself for a few generations!

> A person who refers to themselves in the third-person is called, in English, an illeist.

In Japanese, he or she is called バッチリ日本人. (^_^)

Dali, BTW? So the literal translation of the original quote would have read something like, "Dali doesn't do drugs; Dali is drugs?"

> In Japanese, he or she is called バッチリ日本人. (^_^)

I'm only a beginner in Japanese so I might be wrong, but I don't think that's correct. (Or am I missing a joke?)

バッチリ means "perfect" or "fully prepared" and it's an adverb; 日本人 means "a Japanese person". I can't find anywhere stating this phrase means an illeist.

One way to say that is just 一人称を名前で呼ぶ人, which means "a person who uses their name as their first person pronoun."

バッチリ日本人 means "100% Japanese person", "typical Japanese", "nothing but Japanese", "totally Japanese", ...

Search for it, in quotes.

The joke is that everyone Japanese refers to themselves using grammar that is identical referring to a third party, sometimes even by using their actual name.

(Though it's not a grammatical third person, since there is no such thing, and semantically it is understood as a self-reference.0

There is at least one spot in the Gallic Wars where Caesar refers to himself with the first person pronoun. It really caught my attention.

Out of curiosity, is the first person pronoun used in the original translation?

I never read the Latin, but that's a good question. Explicitly using pronouns at all is unusual in Latin, so if he did it was almost certainly for effect.

All 3 of them earned it. Especially Elmo.

I’m picturing Richmond from The IT Crowd and it really makes me wonder what happened to Sten.

Sten has been through the dotcom bust. And 2008. And the crypto mess. And a pandemic.

Sten’s blog would be mesmerizing.

I've cracked the code: (S)a(T)osh[E] (N)akamoto

But this answer just leads to more questions.

What if he died and nobody knows it. Half the Bitcoins are in his wallet and nobody can get them out without the password, named after several of his girlfriends no doubt.

Hal Finney died in 2014.

Has anyone tried the password 1,2,3,4?

Since Sten speaks in third, are you Sten? :)

headmelted tried to think of how headmelted would even phrase an answer to this question either way and quickly got very confused.

"headmelted injured itself in its confusion" -3 hp.

headmelted headmelted headmelted

Headmelted's head melted.

I bet he went heavy on early bitcoin and is now a billionaire

Nah, probably sold when it got to a dollar.

An ill wind is blowing.

Some years ago I joined a small company, replacing a guy who was their only developer. He was pretty disorganised, and one of the first tasks I gave myself was to get the source code for the company's main product into a revision control system (Visual SourceSafe, I think). This turned out to be far from easy because his idea of versioning was to have multiple copies of the full source tree with the root directory named with a woman's name.

Its been a while, but I remember it took me weeks to satisfy myself that I'd identified the correct sources for the builds that were then in production.

A place I interviewed at 2-3 years ago 'what source control do you use' 'oh sometimes we check things into sourcesafe, but usually just share the folders'.

Surprisingly it is a good way to filter companies still!

Last year, I worked on a PHP application. Getting it to a CVS trimmed down the folder from 3 GB to 100 MB with essential assets. They just dumped things in there and backup the whole server instead.

At one point I worked on a project where for source control the previous people would just copy/paste all the code in the file into a block comment at the bottom of the file. Some files were three hundred lines of code followed by several thousand lines of block comments containing near-identical code. To be fair, these were non-CS students who had never been taught any different.

The first company I worked for in the 90s used a floppy disk for each version, double floppies if it was a release version sent to the customer. A section of a drawer in a filing cabinet was allocated for each product. Versions were stored and retrieved using SneakerNet.

I had one of those experiences as well, but in my case, "version control is for the weak". he had multiple copies of the code deployed for different customers, and could never reconcile. unfortunately, the tech scene here is very well connected and I learned way too much about his personal life.

in my case, I ended up just rewriting to be multi-tenant with a fully different stack, and let him disappear; it was really what ended up being the best for the company and my sanity.

Since I have nothing to add: yikes.

The gift basket story reminds me of something that happened a few years ago. I got a call from a friend who's a manager at another company in the local metro area.

"HeyLaughingBoy, $CANDIDATE applied for a job here and said that he worked with you at $COMPANY and you actually interviewed him. He listed you as a reference."

"Yeah, I remember him pretty well."

"So, what can you tell me about him? Good hire?"

"Would you like the Official Corporate Reply or my opinion?"

"Thanks!! That's all I needed to hear."

Moral of the story, boys & girls? Make sure the people you list as references actually have something good to say about you.

True. The etiquette I was taught re: references is to discuss and clear it with them first, both to be sure that they're willing to be a reference, and to confirm that they'll actually say something nice.

I've never met anyone that speaks about themselves exclusively in third person in any walk of life. It seems like something that could get semantically challenging fairly quickly. I also wonder if eccentricities are independently distributed. Is a person hosting one eccentricity more likely to acquire another? I wouldn't have thought so personally. To wit, finding a guy that seems to have at least 4 -- at least by my count -- strikes me as very likely fictional.

> Is a person hosting one eccentricity more likely to acquire another?

Absolutely. In life, most people are "normal", almost by the definition of normal, but there's a big penumbra of people who don't habitually and reflexively conform to normal. If you're a little bit odd, you spend effort suppressing it and actively conforming. In autistic circles, this is called "masking" for behaviors deemed autistic; in LGBT circles, this is called "passing", and so on. But once someone has fallen sufficiently far from the middle of the normal distribution that they can't pass, or can't be bothered to pass (it can be a lot of work), they stop trying to pass and you can spot all their non-normal behaviors.

(What is "normal" is of course culturally determined and varies by your local culture, social class, etc, and covers all sorts of things. Americans and Brits are told to hold forks differently, for example)

> (What is "normal" is of course culturally determined and varies by your local culture, social class, etc, and covers all sorts of things. (...))

-I've heard the quip -'Being considered normal just means you are as weird as the national average.'

Most people want to be considered normal, but few people want to be considered average. But the two words really denote the same thing, though the connotations are very different.

The masking thing has a subtile but real cost. It works great, I have (apparently) high natural charisma, it allows me to mask my peculiarities somewhat easier - but at some point when I'm tired enough, or hungry enough, or stressed enough, or some combination of those thought enough, I lose that ability to mask - then all hell breaks loose.

it's not traditional masking for me when i do this, i find it to be more of a limit to my ability to control the abuse responses I have. i'm not trying to 'pass' as a normal person, i'm trying to prevent myself from being the monster that raised me.

when i get exhausted by it, i too can crack! luckily it's gotten better, and i now just kinda sit in my abuse response. knowing that keeping my cool is the only thing that can prevent my parents generational trauma being passed on.

it's exhausting, and you're doing a great job to be able to recognize it! i too started my journey with a list of situations in which i got shitty like you have, and ended it realizing i just need those in my life to give me the same pass i give them if i regress. good luck to you on finding a solution that helps!

That hit a little closer to home than I wanted it to. Yeah, its partially the same thing for me.

I can't tell if the abuse was was made worse by my peculiar brain malfunctions, or gave me better skills for coping. I think it it might be both.

Maybe a silly question, but does this:

> all hell breaks loose

mean that you get angry?

Hrm, yes, but not always, sometimes I just turn into a.. emotional mess, or I get so overwhelmed I cannot decide anything, and need help to even meet my basic needs.

It means the mask drops, and people see me getting angry, being less than composed, not being polished.. whatever it is I don't want them to see.

Those examples are the opposite of an increasing probability of "acquiring" eccentricities-- they are examples of expressing or masking behaviors.

And that's not a truism-- people of all ages make the mistake of coupling the potential expression of some behavior X with an entire group of behaviors they are afraid they will catch like "cooties." Then they decide not to publicly express behavior X for fear of that.

Perhaps that's not what OP meant by "acquiring," but there's a high probability some HN'er read it that way. Hence, my comment here.

Is there a difference between "acquiring" and "expressing" an eccentricity, from the point of view of an independent observer? Either way, if a person has an eccentricity, it's an indication that they're less likely to understand or care about conforming with "normal" ranges of human behaviour than average (unless the average person has an eccentricity, I guess...) in which case it seems reasonable to assume they're more likely than the average person to be eccentric in other behaviours.

Which doesn't mean the example isn't fictional, it just means I would expect someone who's entirely comfortable with referring to themself in the third person to be considerably less likely than the average software developer to worry that a variable-naming scheme that amuses them might be seen as a bit odd by the rest of the team.

I will make sure to conform in some low cost ways to preserve my ability to bring out my eccentricities when I find hem particularly valuable. So I make sure not to leave the people I talk to feeling weirded out by hints, and to ask questions about how they are doing and so on, but I won’t use a chair with a back or stop coding in order to have a better on time record for meetings.

I think that not normal mostly doesn’t imply eccentric.

antonyms for eccentric


Having cancer is the opposite of being healthy, but the opposite of healthy is being sick rather than just having cancer.

Aka, someone that’s homicidal is abnormal but not necessarily eccentric.

having cancer is not the opposite of healthy, several aquatic creatures live just fine / "healthy" with cancer

BS. Cancer is different than a simple tumor. It is by definition unhealthy.

Ok you’re right after further researching, I had mixed up a part which led to the incorrect notion.

Having cancer is being sick...

But being sick doesn’t always mean having cancer.

"When I was young, I was called a rugged individualist. When I was in my 50s I was considered eccentric. Here I am, doing and saying the same thing that I did then, and I'm labeled senile."



Fun fact: in Japan, from what little I've seen, quite a few young kids (think till lower elementary school) tend to speak in third person, and is generally seen as "cute". However, it sounds just as much unnatural (or even annoying unless the person is known to have some sort of issue) to speak in the third person for other age groups, especially working adults.

This is, I think, a quirk of the Japanese language. It famously has many of what we would consider first person pronouns, which have a feeling to me of kinda being third person themselves. Or maybe it would be more accurate to say they don't have such a strict delineation. Occasionally one can even hear someone use, for example, 'boku' as a second person pronoun. It's maybe kinda like in a casino a dealer might say that "the house" wins, or a judge might say "this court" regarding a decision. Only many such 'role' pronouns exist in Japanese.

One can imagine growing up as a child and hearing Japanese with its variety of first-person pronouns, which also are not used as much as we use them in English, and choosing to use your name as it is consistently associated with you.

That said, I've had only a smattering of Japanese study, so definitely take all of that with a grain of salt.

My Japanese knowledge is even more limited, but Japanese seems to use a persons name in conversation far more often than English. Like in English we would say "it's nice to see you" but Japanese seems to say "it's nice to see Anidiot."

When you're regularly calling everybody else by their name, calling yourself by your name makes sense.

Ah! Thanks for this comment. It reminded me of another case where someone speaks in third person: in business settings. For example, I have seen this in code reviews when someone is disagreeing with a change in a pull request in a company: " Since <<reason>>, ABC thinks this change is unnecessary."

However, do keep in mind this is anecdotal so I don't know how much it applies to more broad settings.

> seems to use a persons name in conversation far more often than English

Actually, calling the other one by their name + san/chan/kun is the most common way. Using "anata" (= you) can even be considered rude under certain circumstances. My wife never calls me "anata". Also, pronouns are often omitted if it is clear who is being meant (a bit like in Italian).

well hold on. In italian you have at least the verb endings to help you infer the pronoun. You don't have that in japanese, it's fully contextual.

I'm currently formally learning Mexican Spanish in Mexico. In day to day life here it's very uncommon to hear the pronoun. The only exceptions I can think of are 'Usted/Ustedes' or 'Nos'.

Using or not using the pronoun has the same emphasis as saying to someone:

'You're drunk.' versus pointedly saying 'You, are drunk'.


Soy Latte, por favor! (In Spanish this translates literally as 'I'm a latte. please.')

You're right, of course.

Maybe that is why Terry from Brooklyn Nine-Nine constantly speaks of himself in the third person. (The character spent a lot of time in Japan)

Whoa, how on earth could boku be a _second person_ pronoun? Admittedly I don’t speak any Japanese, but referring to myself, when I actually say “you” sounds confusing.

I usually use boku and my girlfriend sometimes calls me boku, whether she's talking to me or about me to someone else. There's no confusion because she couldn't be using boku to mean herself.

I'm not a linguist, but it seems like there's no grammatical difference between first/second/third person in Japanese - you can consider all the sentences to be in third person.

Thinking of it as 'I' or 'you' is misleading. That's kinda what I'm trying to say in my post: it's more like these are all third-person roles. If you think of 'boku' as more like 'this boy' than 'I' or 'me' it becomes easier to understand I think.

There's some good info about Japanese 1st- and 2nd-person pronouns here, including a brief mention of boku in a 2nd person position, but unfortunately doesn't go into any depth. https://legendsoflocalization.com/personal-pronouns-in-japan...

That’s funny, the same is the case with small children in China. Instead of “我饿了” (I’m hungry) they could say “人家饿了” which is something like “people are hungry”. This is also seen as cute and naturally goes away as they get older.

Same here in Indonesia.

If not their first name, then their title "younger brother/sister" (adik), "older brother sister" (kakak). Interestingly, when the second child is born, the "adik" becomes the "kakak", which you would think would be confusing but the switch happens pretty naturally.

Kids talk in third person about themselves in slavic languages too. It is normal as they are learning to talk. They switch to first person by themselves later.

Interesting. Does speaking in the third person sound “childish” to people in Japan? (That would explain Pokémon quite a bit at least.)

It depends on how you define childish, and also the age of the person in question, but in general: Yes.

Also, in case of adult women, if they speak in third person, to me it sounds あざとい(azatoi). I am sorry, I don't know how to phrase it in English without ruining the nuance. It's a mix of calculating, cunning, and a bit flirtatious? Either way, you also need to consider the tone of their voice, body language, and the contents itself. (Maybe if they want you to carry the shopping bag because it's a bit heavy for them, they might use this way of speaking.)

That being said, I do not have any real-life examples to back this up so take it with a grain of salt.

> I am sorry, I don't know how to phrase it in English without ruining the nuance. It's a mix of calculating, cunning, and a bit flirtatious?

The closest word I can think for what you describe is insincere. See also: almost every influencer on TikTok.

I see where you are coming from with that one. However, this acting doesn't often have that strong of a negative connotation as insincere seems to have. To me, it's a more light thing, a bit of playful acting, atleast for the scenario I mentioned in the previous comment.

Going between languages is hard. :)

Well, I'm not so sure that insincere has negative connotations in English anymore, given how ubiquitous this behavior is. But point taken.

"Disingenuous" in the sense of "pretending to be unaware or unsophisticated; faux-naïf"?

It does sound childish, but I know women in their 30s who still speak like that. For a man it would be very strange / unusual though.

Yes, but I'd say that women in their 30s who speak like that purposefully try to be childish.

Kids at young age are more a thing than a person, so it kind of fits.

This is not uncommon in the West either. A lot of parents talk to themselves by title in the third person to their children, e.g. "Daddy doesn't want to play right now, daddy is working". It's even worse if they refer to each other by a 'parental' name. Just makes me wince.

To people that actually do this, do not erase yourself; you are a person, you have needs and an identity of your own. You can express your needs, not a mythical 3rd person parental figure.

When my wife calls me 'dad' or 'daddy' I know she might be talking as well to one of our kids instead of to me. It gives it context, and it also does something with me by increasing my responsibility instead of slacking. After all, if you are once a dad or mom, you're always one.

Honestly, I think its a great way to get some perspective (but I am on the spectrum). I also find it plain fun, and -sometimes- cute. Doesn't mean I always do it in family circle. Its just that, in a work environment, there's an etiquette, and this one isn't part of it. If you're too different (e.g. weird in this context), they don't want you, and one way or another you'll get cast out. Goes for weird people too.

Counterexample - When my wife calls me daddy she’s definitely not referring to my role as a father.

Are you sure she is not subtly convincing you to take the role? Presumably she is temping you into the manner in which it happens.

A perfect example of the importance of context.

You are not just ”a person” when you are a parent. You are a person with a very special role and you spend a lot of time acting in that role. As I see it, the border is fuzzy and the overlap large, but the role and the person are not the same.

It’s easy with kids. “Now daddy needs to make an important phone call so do not disturb him and be quiet.”

Hmm, I can definitely do it when talking to my child, where I mostly refer to myself as papa. To be honest, I’m not sure why I do this.

It’s papa that is tired, not me.

> To be honest, I’m not sure why I do this.

We're in the same boat. And for a few month I've found it pretty annoying and I've tried to stop, but I haven't manage to do so. What's wrong with our brains?!

The error with your brain is that it thinks that a behavior which has been genetically engineered over millenia to be the most effective way to interact with your children should be consistent with/follow the same rules as you use in adult conversation.

Other than that, you're fine.

I think parents do this as a (subconscious?) way to help frame things from the child's perspective, knowing that the kid is terrible at taking on anyone else's perspective.

I refer to myself as 'Daddy' when talking to my cats. I don't there's any hope for me.

Since I've tried consciously not to do that, now the kid thinks "myself" is my name. I.e. says "myself" did this when the kid means "Dad did this"

> I've never met anyone that speaks about themselves exclusively in third person in any walk of life.

My 2.5 year old daughter does this. I suspect she'll grow out of it at some point before she gets a job, though.

Indeed, pronouns are a pretty challenging skill for toddlers. Similarly, for their sake, you will often refer to yourself in third person as well, saying Daddy or Mommy rather than I or me.

Friend of a friend knew someone. The person in question went on Apprentice in the UK, and spoke like this (Felipe for those unfortunate souls like me who watch it).

My friend confirmed that Felipe speaks like this.

The funny thing is, apparently until the Apprentice, and this being pointed out, he didn’t even realise (???), and then found it impossible to keep up.

I do have a friend who often replaces "I" with "the <lastname>". Peculiar thing. Sometimes slightly cool, most often just annoying.

I'm pretty sure if you use "the" to refer to yourself, you're also obligated by law to wear shades at all times, do finger guns at least once a day and use the term "rad" at least once every hour.

I strangely acquired this habit at home shortly after my first son was born for some conversations...

"I need to do this now" became "Daddy needs to do this now"... It is weird, and entirely unnecessary, kids acquire understanding of "I" and "you" quite fast. It just came and never went. I think I was trying to be less ambiguous when conversations did not involve only me and the kids, but also Mum and others, or when I somehow want to emphasize the context and my role (?) I have no idea and it is fading, only a lot of company present might trigger it - or recounting stories to others.

But maybe I just never realized how weird it is - I would raise both eyebrows if a colleague at work would talk like that in a "normal" context.

Based on comments here, daddy doing it (unconciously) seems fairly normal.

Ditto here. A friend's girlfriend uses her first name instead of "I" in every instance. She's even got the friend to start doing it for her too. eg firstname instead of "you"

No major concerns about it though, it doesn't negatively affect things.

Is her name Ai?

The Dude abides. :)

The Chad is sinking.

George is getting UPSET!

I have online. I think they are still around one of the groups I’m in. It’s rather confusing.

As far as quirks go… it depends why someone has a quirk. If someone isn’t neurotyoical, they can seem like they have a lot of weird behaviors. Once you know the underlying cause, it makes sense and you stop thinking about it. (Or at least I do.)

Nope. I know somebody who mostly refers to herself in the 3rd person and has a ton of other quirks.

If anything, people with underlying oddities might develop several quirks on top of them. Or they realise that one can get away with strange behaviour and don’t even try to suppress ever new and interesting patterns.

FWIW, some languages like Vietnamese don't really use pronouns in a Western sense, and it's common to refer even to yourself by name.


Zlatan ibrahimovic does it sometimes. Although I have not met him. I can't translate it to English however, I don't know what that type of third person grammar is called. I think the closest translation would be something like "one feels very determined to win this match"

Have fun reading Babel-17. An entire language there is built on the idea of removing the self.

Edit: Corrected book title.

Do you mean Babel-17?

Yes, thanks for the correction.

  - What do you think of the homeless people?
  - Rock doesn't mind them for as long as they keep off his lawn.
Dwayne Johnson, the early years.

My friend does something similar for majority of online communication, every time he refers to something potentially illegal/ immoral/ shares some weird experience he uses "my friend" instead of "I"

IRC does this for you, if you put "/me" into an utterance.

[Edit] Several other chat services copy that behaviour.

The assassin in GoT spoke of himself as "a man", and of Arya as "a girl". That's the only thing I can think of that's similar.

[Edit] The autistic kid in Mercury Rising referred to himself by firstname (can't remember his name).

I often use my name instead of I in e-mails just in case the context who wrote it will be lost. I also often CC everyone I mention in the @-mail for transparency.

I did - assuming that brief moment when he was a substitute lecturer on a course I attended in college extrapolated into the rest of his life.

Should have met Jim. Jim spoke about himself in the third person exclusively. I hated working with Jim.

Don't anthropomorphize your variables, they hate that. And it makes it awkward when you have to ruthlessly eliminate them.

At least he wasn't "objectifying" them.

(for the sensitive, this is a joke about class naming convention, which didn't seem subject to female variable names in the article).

They're not fat, just overloaded!

For all its political correctness, Rust still has Fat Pointers. Which might be put to good use when doing Response Body Shaming?


I don't know. Is it worse to objectify them or to treat them functionally?

How would you feel to be locked up and separated into discrete units, only to be used up and thrown away?

It's also a bit hard to find good methods that are seriously into polymorphism.

tuples and thruples are my thing but they aren't the norm in my language :(

there's even a language called Linda that makes extensive use of tuples. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linda_(coordination_language)

Eschew variables altogether. It's the constants that make for a good life.

I use template metaprogramming to do all the computation at compile time.

hm I regularly massacre processes in my laptop...

"how to terminate forked children"

What I love about Unix is that you can talk about pipes blocked by dead children spawned by daemons, and it actually makes sense.

"Out of memory: Kill process X or sacrifice child"

The "Feed me a stray cat" of kernel error messages.

What's the 'feed me a stray cat' kernel error message? I thought that was just part of the American Psycho lore.

Well, a panic arose on Twitter when conservatives discovered their crashed smart TVs started demanding the sacrifice of children... must have been all the daemons possessing our computers:


Just be careful to reap the results lest you get zombies. Yes, that's the standard Unix terminology.

"purging orphans"

Just think of variables as you would Larry Ellison.

One of my first jobs was at a company where the dev team was a mix of 40/50/60 year olds. Nearly all had been at the company for 20+ years. When they disagreed, they'd shout profanities & insults like a bunch of children. One day, the CFO walks in to complain about the noise. One of the older devs turns around, and says to the CFO, "I've told you before, go and get some f**ing headphones!"

Another dev used to take his cup of coffee into the bathroom, and had a pair of nail clippers at his desk and yes, would use them.

One day I walked in with a pair of pants with "M" on the back of them. This 50-something-year-old dev, didn't speak great English, pokes me right on the ass, and says "the girls will love your jeans because they say mmmmmm!" Totally totally inappropriate but I luckily wasn't bothered by it.

They were a very interesting bunch and an endless source of amusement. Despite all of this the team was very close-nit and managed to cooperate effectively for 20+ years.

"If we seem nutty to you, and if we seem like an oddball to you, just remember one thing: the mighty oak tree was once a nut like me." (Shout out to all the Death Cab fans)

I'll always have a bit of a soft spot for the oddballs to be honest. I'm usually one of them!

> Sten's watched beeped on the hour

I have a bone to pick with whoever came up with this and thought it would be a good idea.

Could be worse. See the short story "Chronopolis" by J.G. Ballard.

It is set in a future where people's lives became so dominated by having to constantly use their watches and clocks to coordinate every aspect of their day that their health, sanity, and productivity were being serious harmed.

As a result clocks and watches were outlawed. Having one became a serious offense that would earn you a long jail sentence.

Instead of clocks and watches to coordinate people were assigned to groups, and there were public chimes or bells or something (I forget which) that would signal when it was time for your group to do various things. So for example if you are in the red group and want to go grocery shopping, you just wait until you hear the bell that signals red shopping time is starting.

And yet, reality is following along. Plenty of shops started to have special opening times for e.g. the elderly and disabled during the pandemic - annoyingly, it was often in the early morning, if you're in those categories you may need more time or help to get up in the morning so you'd miss the boat. There was also one where they reduce sensory input during certain times (dim lights, turn off music, etc), but similar thing of a 'block of time' for people in a certain category to go grocery shopping.

And of course there's working hours / clocking in and out.

> reduce sensory input during certain times (dim lights, turn off music, etc)

I intensely hate music at supermarkets, especially just before Christmas. They would also need to ban children during “spectrum hour”: I avoid shopping just after school is out to avoid screaming kids or kids on the loose.

Wouldn’t it feel like you were participating in a movie genre if everybody was on the autism spectrum at a particular time in the supermarket?

Church bells chime on the hour for most of the day.

They’re rather more melodious and smooth-toned, and typically quieter at the point they’re heard. Not harsh and jarring like those awful beeping watches.

I once imagined a nightmare: a classroom full of children who all had watches that beeped on the hour, not synchronised, with slightly varied pitches and patterns.

> I once imagined a nightmare: a classroom full of children who all had watches that beeped on the hour, not synchronised, with slightly varied pitches and patterns.

That was my classroom throughout the 80s and 90s.

I don’t think I ever experienced more than two or three, and that was bad enough. Say you’ve got thirty children, thirty watches, spread over five minutes, that’s an average of one every ten seconds.

It was most pupils in my classes. Kids got kudos for having fancier/louder chimes than others. Then came the rush of calculator watches, so everyone started getting watches confiscated before exams, and that other teacher's favourite: the TV Remote watch. Our school admistered masking tape and/or TipEx over the IR receivers to tackle this.

Same here, I think (but then this was quite a while ago) even the early mobile phones had such features.

The Elizabeth Tower in Westminster chimes a song every 15 minutes, progressively adding a new verse for each quarter, until on the hour you get the full song followed by a bong for each hour that it is.

As a child it fascinated me, but as an adult (who had a job in the area) it got tedious really quickly. 15 minutes is not that long.

The place I recently stayed at in Umbria, Italy for New Year helpfully tolled bells 1-to-4 times each 15 minutes to describe whereabouts in the hour we were. All night long.

Pretty common for church bells in Austria too. 1-4 times for 15 min intervals, and then on the full hour, after the four chimes, the number of the hour.

When would it chime 4 times?

Sorry, I didn't make this quite clear. At the full hour it first chimes four times, to denote that it's a full hour, and then, after a small pause, the number of the hour.

But not during the night...

They used to at least. Since I live in the city now I can't tell personally but I just called my mother and she says the clock tower in her town also rings during the night.

Edit: From what I could gather in a couple of minutes it still seems to be pretty widespread. There have been some court cases about it, to get specific churches to silence the bells, but not in general.

From various anecdotes, I'd expect that the locals slept soundly. But if the bell mechanism somehow broke during the night - a fair number of them would wake up, wondering at the odd silence.

It’s the same here (our 2km² city center has 5 churches, so you are never far from one), and I can confirm. You sleep easily through those, and I only hear them subconsciously. When someone is visiting and complains about how loud it is, I sometimes have to ask what they are talking about.

And then in Ireland, the bells occasionally toll eleventy billion starting at 10 to the hour.

If you're lucky. I used to live very near to a cathedral that started practicing change ringing Christmas carols in about October, generally with more enthusiasm than skill.

Is noise pollution. Nobody needs that anymore, but nobody knows how to stop it.

My dad, end 80s, had a watch which, if he would press a button, it would mention the time (in British English, him being native Dutch speaker). It would also beep every hour and mention the time (or just short beep depending on settings). He'd set it ahead of time a few minutes, so he could quickly go for a toilet break, for example. He'd use this information for all kind of things: to remember him to press the button for the time, to wake up, to go to toilet, to watch the news, to watch his favorite TV program. Oh, and I almost forgot to mention: he was legally (but not completely) blind, and had MS. At one point he couldn't get the watch around his wrist anymore, so he hung it around his neck. Also, this watch taught me some British English and it taught me about AM/PM as a kid (we use 24H here). It probably helped me with 'clock reading'.

That’s one thing i am willing to defend to death lol.

I have a cheap casio watch that has this feature, and i love it. It doesn’t beep like an alarm continuously, it just does a singular beep at the top of the hour. It isn’t obnoxiously loud, and it helps me being mindful of time, as it is too easy for me to get engrossed in something and lose track of time.

No one has expressed a concern so far at work (back when we were in the office), and it has imo been even appreciated. Meetings started running over much less, and no one takes offense, as people by now know it is an automated beep and not me trying to push them “please end this meeting soon, it is running too long for my liking.” It isn’t super loud, and is easy to ignore (as it sounds like a random singular faint beep somewhere, cannot even pinpoint the direction it came from, but by now I have told everyone already what it was).

Note: years after I started using that feature, Apple introduced a similar feature for Apple Watch, except instead of a beep it does a single vibration on your wrist that only you could feel/perceive. That only vindicated my belief in usefulness of such a feature lol.

*One* person with an hourly beep is almost tolerable. More than one in an office? Completely intolerable.

I have had a quiet word with colleagues who set their watches to beep, then a slightly louder word with their manager when they persisted. The Apple Watch vibrate is different -- it's not going to disturb anyone else. It also wouldn't be quite so bad were it noisy, because at least smart watches should have accurate (and matching) time.

I'm glad for you that you have understanding colleagues :).

I think I missed an important point in my original comment, my situation wasn't an open-office setup. It was private offices + conference rooms. If it was in an open office where everyone is constantly subjected to that, that would absolutely be an annoying situation.

And fully agreed with your point about that feature on Apple Watch being all-around better due to only notifying you and not bothering anyone else around.

That feature (complication in mechanical watch parlance) is older than digital watches. Some of the fanciest mechanical watches in the world will play a chime on the hour/quarter/minute. It’s called a repeater complication. They were useful for the visually impaired or when the time was needed before artificial lighting was readily available.

I like it. Time is fleeting, time is money, etc. Being reminded of some of these is cool, for the inclined.

On a more everyday note, it's very useful if you know you're approaching top of the hour and you've got a task or a meeting due precisely at :00.

I used to wait for minutes for my grandfather’s German cuckoo clock to chime the hour. Noon was of course the best because it did a song and the dancers in lederhosen came out and danced while the wise cuckoo bird nodded. But even one o’clock with a single cuckoo was special.

I have something that blips on the hour. Not every hour though.


Ouch! For many years I had my watch do this. It's very handy. It's not loud like an alarm - just a quick beep and that's it. No one complained to me, although I stopped it long before I entered the workforce.

At one point I had my laptop reading the time every 15 minutes, because I can be absent minded. It didn’t make me focus. But I always muted my laptop when I wasn’t wear headphones so it didn’t annoy anyone.

I remember using this during hikes as a reminder to take a break and get some food and water into me.

In a way, its no different than having colleagues with audible push notifications pings..

Digital watches in general are a good sign that humans are amazingly primitive.

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