Humorous Tidbits #6:
From The Enforcer & friends
Babbage - The Language of the Future
Babbage is based on language elements that were discovered after the design
of ADA was completed. For instance, C. A. R. Hare, in his 1980 Turing Award
lecture, told of two ways of constructing a software design
"One way is to make it so simple that there are obviously no deficiencies
and the other way is to make it so complicated that there are no obvious
The designers of Babbage have chosen a third alternative - a language
that has only obvious deficiencies. Babbage programs are so unreliable
that maintenance can begin before system integration is completed. This
guarantees a steady increase in the DP job marketplace.
Structured languages banned GOTOs and multiway conditional branches by
replacing them with the simpler IF-THEN-ELSE structure. Babbage has a
number of new conditional statements that act like termites in the
structure of your program.
WhatIf - Used in simulation. Branches before evaluating test
OrElse - Conditional threat as in : "Add these two numbers
______ OR ELSE !"
WhyNot - Executes the code that follows in a devil-may-care
WhoElse - Used for polling during I/O operations.
Elsewhere - This is where your program really is when you think
_______ its here.
GoingGoingGone - For writing unstructured programs. Takes a random
______________ branch to another part of your program.
Does the work of 10 GOTOs.
For years, programming languages have used "For", "Do Until",
"Do While", etc. to mean "loop". Continuing with this trend,
Babbage offers the following loop statements :
Don't Do While Not - This loop is not executed if the test condition
__________________ is not false (or if it's Friday afternoon) .
Didn't Do - The loop executes once and hides all traces.
Can't Do - The looped is pooped.
Won't Do - The CPU halts because it doesn't like the code inside
________ the loop. Execution can be resumed by typing "May I"
at the console.
Might Do - Depends on how the CPU is feeling. Executed if the CPU is
________ "up", not executed if the CPU is "down", or if it feelings
Do Unto Others - Used to write the main loop for timesharing systems
______________ so that they will antagonize all users in a uniform
DOWAH - Used to write timing loops for computer-generated music.
Every self-respecting structured language has a case statement to
implement multiway branching.Algol offers an indexed case statement
and Pascal has a labelled case statement. Not much of a choice.
Babbage offer a variety of case statements :
Just-In-Case STMT - For handling afterthoughts and fudge factors.
_________________ Allows you to multiply by zero to correct for
accidentally dividing by zero.
The Brief Case STMT - To encourage portable software.
The Open & Shut Case STMT - No proof of correctness is necessary
The In Any Case STMT - This one always works.
The Hopeless Case STMT - This one never works.
The Basket Case STMT - A really hopeless case.
The Babbage Language Design Group is continuously evaluating
new features that will keep it users from reaching any level of
effectiveness. For instance, Babbage's designers are now considering the
Almost Equals Sign used for comparing two floating point numbers. This new
feature "takes the worry out of even being close".
NEW LANGUAGES COMPETE WITH APL
A Usually Reliable Source
Digital Equipment Corporation
Somewhere in New England
APL, BASIC, FORTRAN, COBOL,... these programming languages are well
known and (more or less) well loved throughout the computer industry.
There are numerous other languages, however, that are less well known
yet still have ardent devotees. In fact, these little-known languages
generally have the most fanatic admirers. For those who wish to know
more about these obscure languages -- and why they are obscure -- I
present the following catalog.
SIMPLE is an acronym for Sheer Idiot's Monopurpose Programming
Linguistic Environment. This language, developed at Hanover College
for Technological Misfits, was designed to make it impossible to write
code with errors in it. The statements are, therefore, confined to
BEGIN, END, and STOP. No matter how you arrange the statements, you
can't make a syntax error.
Programs written in SIMPLE do nothing useful. They thus achieve the
results of programs written in other languages without the tedious,
frustrating process of testing and debugging.
SLOBOL is best known for the speed, or lack of it, of its compiler.
Although many compilers allow you to take a coffee break while they
compile, SLOBOL compilers allow you to travel to Bolivia to pick the
coffee. Forty-three programmers are known to have died of boredom
sitting at their terminals while waiting for a SLOBOL program to
From its modest beginnings in Southern California's San Fernando
Valley, VALGOL is enjoying a dramatic surge of popularity across the
VALGOL commands include REALLY, LIKE, WELL, and Y*KNOW. Variables
are assigned with the =LIKE and =TOTALLY operators. Other operators
include the California Booleans, FERSURE and NOWAY. Repetitions of
code are handled in FOR - SURE loops. Here is a sample VALGOL program:
LIKE Y*KNOW (I MEAN) START
IF PIZZA =LIKE BITCHEN AND
B =LIKE TUBULAR AND
C =LIKE GRODY**MAX
FOR I =LIKE 1 TO OH MAYBE 100
DO WAH - (DITTY**2)
BARF(I) =TOTALLY GROSS(OUT)
LIKE BAG THIS PROBLEM
VALGOL is characterized by its unfriendly error messages. For example,
when the user makes a syntax error, the interpreter displays the
GAG ME WITH A SPOON!
Historically, VALGOL is a derivative of LAIDBACK, which was developed
at the (now defunct) Marin County Center for T'ai Chi, Mellowness, and
Computer Programming, as an alternative to the intense atmosphere in
nearby Silicon Valley.
The center was ideal for programmers who liked to soak in hot tubs
while they worked. Unfortunately, few programmers could survive there
for long, since the center outlawed pizza and RC Cola in favor of bean
curd and Perrier.
Many mourn the demise of LAIDBACK because of its reputation as a
gentle and nonthreatening language. For example, LAIDBACK responded to
syntax errors with the message:
SORRY MAN, I CAN'T DEAL BEHIND THAT.
Named after the late existential philosopher, SARTRE is an extremely
unstructured language. Statements in SARTRE have no purpose; they just
are. Thus SARTRE programs are left to define their own functions.
SARTRE programmers tend to be boring and depressed and are no fun at
FIFTH is a precision mathematical language in which the data types
refer to quantity. The data types range from CC, OUNCE, SHOT, and
JIGGER to FIFTH (hence the name of the language), LITER, MAGNUM, and
BLOTTO. Commands refer to ingredients such as CHABLIS, CHARDONNAY,
CABERNET, GIN, VERMOUTH, VODKA, SCOTCH, BOURBON, CANADIAN, and
The many versions of the FIFTH language reflect the sophistication
and financial status of its users. Commands in the ELITE dialect
include VSOP, LAFITE, and WAITER'S(RECOMMENDATION). The GUTTER
dialect instead has commands for THUNDERBIRD, RIPPLE, and HOUSE(RED).
The GUTTER dialect is a particular favorite of frustrated FORTH
programmers who end up using this language.
This language was named for the grade received by its creator when he
submitted it as a project in a graduate programming class. C- is best
described as a "low-level" programming language. In general, the
langauge requires more C- statements than machine-code instructions
to execute a given task. In this respect it is very similar to COBOL.
This otherwise unremarkable language is distinguished by the absence
of an "S" in its character set. Programmers must substitute "TH".
LITHP is said to be useful in prothething lithtth.
Developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Obedience Training, DOGO
heralds a new era of computer-literate pets. DOGO commands include
SIT, STAY, HEEL, and ROLL OVER. An innovative feature of DOGO is
"puppy graphics", a small cocker spaniel that occasionally leaves
deposits as he travels across the screen.
Here are some thoughts from Dijkstra article "How Do We Tell Truths that
Might Hurt?" in his book "Selected Writings on Computing" (Springer
FORTRAN, "the infantile disorder", by now nearly 20 years old, is
hopelessly inadequate for whatever computer application you have in mind
today: it is now too clumsy, too risky, and too expensive to use.
PL/I --"the fatal disease"--belongs more to the problem set than to the
It is practically impossible to teach good programming to students that
have had a prior exposure to BASIC: as potential programmers they are
mentally mutilated beyond hope or regeneration.
The use of COBOL cripples the mind; its teaching should, therefore, be
regarded as a criminal offense.
APL is a mistake, carried through to perfection. It is the language of
the future for the programming techniques of the past:it creates a new
generation of coding bums.
The problems of business administration in general and database
management in particular are much too difficult for people that think in
IBMerese, compounded with sloppy English.
About the use of language: it is impossible to sharpen a pencil with a
blunt axe. It is equally vain to try to do it with ten blunt axes
We can found no scientific discipline, nor a healthy profession, on the
technical mistakes of the Department of Defense and, mainly, one
The use of anthropomorphic terminology when dealing with computing
systems is a symptom of professional immaturity.
In the good old days physicists repeated each other's experiments, just
to be sure. Today they stick to FORTRAN, so that they can share each
other's programs, bugs included.
3 Biggest Software Lies:
- The program's fully tested and bugfree.
- We're working on the documentation.
- Of course we can modify it.
3 Biggest Computer Room Lies:
- As long as you remember to 'SAVE' your input, you'll never lose
- We run the stuff through as fast as it comes in the door.
- The new machines on order.
3 Biggest Large Company Lies:
- We have an entrepreneurial spirit here.
- People are our greatest resource.
- We say 'let the marketplace decide'.
3 Biggest Small Company Lies:
- We have an entrepreneurial spirit here.
- The boss is just one of the guys.
- Staying small is a conscious decision.
3 Biggest Marketing Lies:
- Immediate delivery?...No problem.
- We treat every customer as if they were our most important.
- We're going out to lunch to talk business.
3 Biggest Engineering Professor's Lies:
- Some day this course will come in handy.
- These tests are more trouble for me than they are for you.
- This is the way they do it in industry.
3 Biggest Executive Lies:
- Money...it's just a score card.
- If it were up to me, there'd be no assigned parking spaces.
- You have to twist my arm to get me to go on a business trip.
3 Biggest Hardware Lies:
- We always design for testablilty.
- It worked fine on the proto board.
- That would be much easier to implement in software.
1. Software engineering is like looking for a black cat in a dark room.
2. Systems engineering is like looking for a black cat in a dark
room in which there is no cat.
3. Knowledge engineering is like looking for a black cat in a dark
room where there is no cat and someone yells, "I got it!".