The Boston Diaries

The ongoing saga of a programmer who doesn't live in Boston, nor does he even like Boston, but yet named his weblog/journal “The Boston Diaries.”

Go figure.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

I didn't realize comic books had story boards

As a kid, I loved reading comics, and wanted to be a comic strip artist much like Charles Schulz or Jim Davis. I had even attempted once to draw a comic book. What I don't recall is how I wrote the comic book.

I had seen how comic books are written, thanks to an oversized (nearly poster sized) Superman special comic book, and it looked more like a screenplay than a comic book (oddly enough, most movies, or at least those made by Messrs. Lucas and Spielberg, go through a storyboard phase which looks more like a comic book than a screenplay). So all these years, I kind of assumed that's how comic books are written.

Not really (link via news from me).

Or rather, it's really up to the writer, as this Porky Pig comic script written by Chase Craig, shows.

Gee, another Lisp written in Lisp

It looks like Paul Graham's new language Arc has been released (link via lemonodor). I was reading over the announcement when I saw this:

In exploratory programming, the fact that it's unclear what a list represents is an advantage, because you yourself are unclear about what type of program you're trying to write. The most important thing is not to constrain the evolution of your ideas. So the less you commit yourself in writing to what your data structures represent, the better.

Arc's Out

What is it with programmers?

Did I not get the memo?

Are programmers incapable of thinking when writing code? Or is thinking a form of premature optimization?

I'm beginning to think mainstream programmers must think that thinking is a form of premature optimization, because they sure as hell go out of their way to keep from thinking when writing code.

I then read:

Arc embodies a similarly unPC attitude to HTML. The predefined libraries just do everything with tables. Why? Because Arc is tuned for exploratory programming, and the W3C-approved way of doing things represents the opposite spirit.

Tables are the lists of html [sic]. The W3C doesn't like you to use tables to do more than display tabular data because then it's unclear what a table cell means. But this sort of ambiguity is not always an error. It might be an accurate reflection of the programmer's state of mind. In exploratory programming, the programmer is by definition unsure what the program represents.

Arc's Out

And any interest I might have had in looking at Arc goes sailing out the window.

I'm currently working on a PHP application (we're pretty much taking it over since it's no longer being supported by anyone) and I've been ripping out all the <TABLE> based layout and replacing it with much simpler HTML, with CSS for layouts. It's making the PHP code much easier to deal with.

Hmm … perhaps I don't understand what “exploratory programming” means. Perhaps it's randomly typing on the keyboard when you have a vaugue idea that you want a program, never mind what it does, just that you want one? Or perhaps it's doing the work of a compiler and checking data types at run time by hand? Or perhaps they like micromanaging code?

I don't know.

Even worse—Arc only supports ASCII. In the 70s? Okay. 80s? Sure. 90s? Maybe for legacy code. But today?

Supporting just ASCII

Yup. To me, that says Paul Graham is a muddleheaded thinker.

Update a few minutes later

Yup, seems like some other people find HTML plus CSS easier to deal with than a <TABLE> based layout.

Obligatory Picture

[The future's so bright, I gotta wear shades]

Obligatory Contact Info

Obligatory Feeds

Obligatory Links

Obligatory Miscellaneous

You have my permission to link freely to any entry here. Go ahead, I won't bite. I promise.

The dates are the permanent links to that day's entries (or entry, if there is only one entry). The titles are the permanent links to that entry only. The format for the links are simple: Start with the base link for this site:, then add the date you are interested in, say 2000/08/01, so that would make the final URL:

You can also specify the entire month by leaving off the day portion. You can even select an arbitrary portion of time.

You may also note subtle shading of the links and that's intentional: the “closer” the link is (relative to the page) the “brighter” it appears. It's an experiment in using color shading to denote the distance a link is from here. If you don't notice it, don't worry; it's not all that important.

It is assumed that every brand name, slogan, corporate name, symbol, design element, et cetera mentioned in these pages is a protected and/or trademarked entity, the sole property of its owner(s), and acknowledgement of this status is implied.

Copyright © 1999-2024 by Sean Conner. All Rights Reserved.