Hi David .. I came across a web page
(http://regex.info/blog/2006-09-15/247) investigating the source of the
"Whenever faced with a problem, some people say `Lets use _____.'
Now, they have two problems."
The author of the site seems to have gone through a lot of trouble to
hunt down the original author of the quote. The best he was able to do
was discover a Usenet sig from 1988 attributed to "D. Tilbrook."
I was wondering if this was you -- if so, I think you should contact the
author to set the record straight. His post was recently linked from the
news aggregator site Reddit, at
http://programming.reddit.com/info/xlov/comments and quite a few people
have been reading the story and discussing the quote.
I can lay claim to being the author, but I cannot remember when or where
I first used it.
Zalman Stern worked for me at CMU so may have quoted me, hence the
attribution to him.
Actually one of the funnier incidents regarding my "famous" quotes was:
"Software is the only business in which adding extra lanes to the
Golden Gate bridge would be called maintenance" -- David Tilbrook -
I was at a meeting when the speaker used this quote and attributed it to
David Parnas -- I was appropriately indignant.
P.S.: Do we know each other?
And he later replied again to add:
By the way, I think I coined the phrase at a European conference in
Dublin circa 1985.
I was talking about the difficulty maintaining portable software when
supposedly "standard" tools (e.g., awk(1)) differed from system to
Then later someone pointed out to me that it was appearing in various
signature lines which I suppose led to its being spread.
To start off with, usenet is ancient, much older than the web. Second, archives have never been ubiquitous, expecially in earlier eras. The storage media, e.g. tape, were troublesome and expensive, so most people didn't care. The records we do have back then are from a small number of individual archives (e.g. Henry Spencer's). It wasn't until much later that deja news starting archiving usenet routinely, and even then there can be gaps due to failed delivery. Also, it's possible for individuals to opt out of archiving by setting the x-noarchive header or by contacting google. The result is a swiss cheese record that won't get better unless we magically find new archives and/or decide to violate people's privacy.
Personally I suspect that the only reason they haven't just taken down the old Deja archive entirely is that they know the press and tech community would give them hell for doing it. So they let it linger on in this sort of compromised state.
Today's Google seems to be a product company that wants to imitate other major tech companies and beat them at their own game (Google Apps -> Microsoft, Android -> Apple, Google+ -> Facebook).
Sure, "Perl compatible" is a pretty common moniker (as in e.g. the "PCRE" library), as the POSIX (or original grep/sed) implementations are a bit anemic.
And I don't think any of them deserves to be compared with astrology, but don't particularly care to get into that argument again. About as worthless as vim/emacs/IDE discussions.
The relationship with Perl was a point made in the linked article. I personally don't use Perl any more, but I certainly use regular expressions.
> And I don't think any of them deserves to be compared with astrology ...
No, that wasn't meant as an analogy, just an example of contrasting entities that are sometimes confused.
> About as worthless as vim/emacs/IDE discussions.
Hmm... which is which?
Third: obviously I got Kelly’s joke about “streams of
bytes”, uh, that’s why I quoted it. It’s funny, and it
makes the point (which I fully agree with) that the
decades-old Unix “pipe” model is just plain dumb,
because it forces you to think of everything as
serializable text, even things that are fundamentally
not text, or that are not sensibly serializable.
Could really apply to everything. “Php; It's not as bad as Perl” (maybe). “Java; It's not as bad as C++”, etc.
Thinkgeek, are you listening? Would make an awesome geek coffeecup/T-shirt set.
PHP is not as bad as Perl, it's worse.
Both have their strong points, both have their weak points.
It's translations of Roman graffiti found in Pompeii. If you're surprised human nature hasn't changed in 16 years, prepare to be flabbergasted. :)
I guess Twitter was pretty much the same back then, too.
 - http://xkcd.com/1171/
Attributed to Mark Pilgrim in a comment at http://shreevatsa.wordpress.com/2009/06/23/who-said-that/