On Fri, Feb 02, 2001 at 12:25:09PM -0000, Jonathan Peterson wrote:

> No, I disagree. This is like a mechanic saying "You really oughtn't to
> change your own oili ...

If the user doesn't know how to check their oil levels, what grade of oil
is needed and so on, then yes, they shouldn't be doing it themselves.
Any good mechanic probably would tell people not to do it themselves if
the user lacked that basic knowledge, cos they could really screw up their
car.  People who lack basic programming knowledge should be told not to
do anything dangerous either.

> Programming should be made accessible to the general public and the amateur.

Agreed.  And it is.

> The various "Programming Perl for Dummies" books are ultimately a GOOD
> THING, because for every crap free perl script on the web there is a good
> script that would never have been written if its author had not found it
> possible to get into programming.

Agreed.  However, if "Programming Perl for Dummies" tells you things that
are Just Plain Wrong - like there's no need for strict, -w or -T - then
the book does more harm than good.

> There is nothing wrong with bad programming. Sure, don't pay for it, sure
> don't use it for anything important or anything that will affect other
> people's lives.

If they keep their bad programming to their own boxes, and their bad
programming doesn't open their boxes up for script kiddies to mount DDoS
attacks on me, then I don't have a problem with it.  Oh, and if they don't
come whining and expecting me to fix their fuckups.

>                 But lots of people get satisfaction and reward from making
> bad programs, just like they get satisfaction from singing badly in the
> shower, doing some bad gardening on a Sunday, and putting up a set of wonky
> shelves. Let's have more people programming badly!
> Expertism is a dangerous trend. A little knowledge is _not_ a dangerous
> thing. The only dangerous thing is not knowing the _extent_ of your (little)
> knowledge.

And there lies the problem.  Why do people who know enough to change their
oil still consult an expert for anything serious, whereas all it takes is
reading "Teach Yourself Programming In 10 Days" to make someone think they
know enough to go doing stuff they *really* shouldn't?

Programming is not easy.  Authors who make people think it is easy should
be hurt.  A lot.  Because the ignoramus pseudo-programmers for which they
are responsible cause me a lot of trouble.

David Cantrell | [EMAIL PROTECTED] | http://www.cantrell.org.uk/david/

   Any technology distinguishable from magic is insufficiently advanced

** I read encrypted mail first, so encrypt if your message is important **

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