That Shakespeare Loved His Code
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That Shakespeare Loved His Code

I don't think anyone ever quite understood the inherant difficulty of software maintenance quite so well as old William Shakespeare.

After all, it was crazy Will who once wrote:

"Striving to better oft we mar what's well"
--King Lear

So true. He compresses whole volumes into that one sweet line. Years of practice poured into a paragraph.

Maybe it's this which explains Shakespeare's fondness for test-driven development. But the more I read his works, the more confused a picture I get of old Will.

Tell me, can the following be interpreted as an endorsement for "Big Design Up Front?"

"What is decreed must be"
---Twelfth N, Act i, Sc.5

And anyone who worked with Will, recalled his Draconian attitude on matters of software estimation:

"Better three hours too soon than a minute too late"
---M W of W, Act ii, Sc.2

...and his quirksome way of expressing Postel's Law

"Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none"
---All's Well, Act i, Sc.2

Alas, he set the cubicles in a roar. Filled, was Shakespeare, with a jubilant optimism about the role of lockless threading in the Multi Core era:

"O, two such silver currents, when they join, do glorify the banks that bound them in"
---King John, Act ii, Sc.2

Though he was a little trite in favouring WS-Security as the be-all of soa:

"Safe may'st thou wander, safe return again!"
---Cymbeline, Act iii, Sc.5

But most of all, old Will loved to chat on about Microsoft's strategy concerning 'Windows Vista'.

Initially he didn't care how long Vista took to arrive:

"How poor are they that have not patience"
---Othello, Act ii, Sc.3

... though he was visibly upset when WinFS was dropped:

"This was the unkindest cut of all."
---Julius Caesar (III, ii, 187)

and he was clearly aggravated by UAC:

"The lady doth protest too much, methinks."
---Hamlet (III, ii, 239)

He turned it off, as soon as possible:

"I like your silence; it the more shows off your wonder"
---Win Tale, Act v, Sc.2

Around this time he drifted away from Microsoft. And though he dabbled with Apple, he refused to use parallels to run Microsoft software on Apple hardware:

"'Tis time to fear when tyrants seem to kiss"
---Pericles, Act i, Sc.2

Amd finally turned his back on both Microsoft and Apple, reverting to the *nix systems of his youth:

"Farewell! thou art too dear for my possessing"
---Sonnet 87

Perhaps, wisest of all, he was never fooled by google's "Do no evil" mantra:

"The prince of darkness is a gentleman."
---King Lear, 3.4

But right until the end, he regretted nothing so much as Mike Gunderloy's decision to take up with that wily strumpet Ruby:

"Let us sit upon the ground and tell sad stories of the death of kings" --Richard II, 3.2

and his most cutting line of all...

"He hath given his empire
Up to a whore."


(ps -- while, for my own amusement, I poke fun at MikeG, I always mean it in a spirit of admiration. Mike's much clever than me. He's probably right in his choices. I wish he wasn't. But reality isn't determined by the wishes of its constituent parts, dagnamit. And no, i don't consider Ruby to be a strumpet. [Though the name sure sounds like a strumpet's name])

(Bring on the languages, I say! Innovation as part of my dayjob isn't always welcome. But as fuel for my intellectual hobbies: that's more than welcome.)





'WaterBreath' on Fri, 06 Jul 2007 14:23:36 GMT, sez:

He also appreciated elegant and concise expression of an algorithm:

"Brevity is the soul of wit."
---Hamlet (II, 2, 97)



'Ryan Smith' on Fri, 06 Jul 2007 15:08:43 GMT, sez:

"take up with that wily strumpet Ruby"
Leon, you just keep the zingers flying.



'Nick Hebb' on Fri, 06 Jul 2007 16:22:16 GMT, sez:

"Striving to better oft we mar what's well"
--King Lear

My week is going so bad I'm tempted to make this an Accept/Decline prompt in my installer.



'Mike Gunderloy' on Sat, 07 Jul 2007 13:48:23 GMT, sez:

"There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy."

-- Hamlet (I, v, 166-167)



'lb' on Sat, 07 Jul 2007 21:31:09 GMT, sez:

nice reply mike.



'Boxy' on Mon, 09 Jul 2007 01:40:55 GMT, sez:

You're a funny man LB!



'David Archer' on Mon, 09 Jul 2007 02:51:02 GMT, sez:

LB, you forgot to mention Will's comment on Y2K, and the DotCom boom (stage 1) ...

Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more:
-- Macbeth

Quickly followed by his cutting assesment of most government tender requests and the odd scoping document ...

it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.
-- Macbeth




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