Friday, July 27, 2012

Technical Speak (some thoughts and advice)

This post is not going to be technical so much as I really want to write about some tech things people say that are either completely wrong or just down right annoying. So take this how you will, but this is an opinion piece.

Something I once did before I knew much about computers but now that drives me crazy when I hear it, is when people talk about Java and call it Javascript or visa versa. Let us get a few things straight. Java is not related to Javascript nor the other way around. Javascript is a scripting language based on ECMAScript whereas Java is an interpreted language developed by Sun Microsystems. While Java can be used as a web technology, it is not the same as Javascript and while they have some similar naming conventions, any real depth into some code would reveal they are very dissimilar. So stop mixing them up, it is frustrating.

Another irritating point for me was created by the media, "Mac vs PC." The real goal of this is Mac OS vs Windows. Mac computers are PC's, as PC stands for personal computer. Furthermore, Mac computers can run Windows and if you're crafty, you can run a Mac OS on another PC, virtual machines being the easiest to get things going. Also some people throw Linux into the list. Well, OS X is Unix based as well. So they have some similar things to them. As to which is better, all three of them suck. It is just a matter of picking which one sucks less at what you personally need to accomplish. None of them are good at everything no matter what they claim.

Overuse of acronyms. In the technical world, many acronyms exist. Many acronyms overlap and it depends on what you are talking about. Overuse of acronyms in situations where it is not necessary is annoying and even a tech geek can get lost in such conversations. Granted there are exceptions where some technologies are explicitly referred to their acronym based name because some of the names are long and annoying. Some examples are XML (eXtensible Markup Language), HTML (HyperText Markup Language), or even php (Personal Home Page/Hypertext Preprocessor [it has changed over time]). Choosing to use all those acronyms in an environment outside of a situation that deals directly with such things is annoying, confusing and not many people can follow clearly. Use words.

Being able to navigate a website does not make you tech savvy, same goes for navigating software. I am relatively tech savvy and I get lost on so many websites and various user interfaces. One annoying example is of Microsoft Office. They keep changing the interface, and while I know what I want to do, I can spend a lot of time looking for various options. These things are esoteric and not standardized. While many try to keep similar conventions in an attempt to create better ease of use, they do not have to. Reliance on people trying to make similar and familiar interfaces is not possible.

Do not use tech terms you do not understand. If the media is to teach us anything, let it be this. For example the famous CIS line, "I'll make a GUI interface in visual basic, see if I can track an IP address" (GUI pronounced "gooey"). Taking this I would have to respond, okay, I will make an OS in Piet, see if I can make a super computer. Despite the lack of need to sum up why this is dumb, I am going to do it anyway. A GUI is not necessary for any of this. A good deal of tools for sniffing are done in command line interfaces because there is no point in the extra computational time and effort going to making a pretty window. Visual Basic is a dumb choice. I don't even know if you could make a sniffer from VB. If you can, it is probably some random .NET feature that is a waste of time. Now you do not "track" an ip, you can trace a route. Tracing would be following something along its path. That is a small thing to pick at, but tracking an ip would be like sniffing just that ip. Tracing would be finding the origin.

Using tech terms from one thing for a separate case.When drawing a comparison it is fine. However, using that comparison like the cases are equal is usually not fine.

Comparing things on levels that they are not comparable. I am sure at some point you have come across things like Perl vs Python, where they argue about dumb things like which is easier to read or application. Seeing as how Perl was more so made for text processing and Python is more of a general purpose language, they are obviously not going to be good at the same things. Benchmarking comparisons are one thing, but arguing about readability or which way of doing things is better is dumb because it depends on the application and the person.

Skids. Script kiddies. People that claim to hack when they are using premade tools without knowledge of the underlying innerworks of how or why things work they way they do. Downloading things like custom firmware to break a game system or opening up a tool to do some network scanning. Some of these can be dangerous if you do not have some understanding of how they work. In this light, the use is not that of a tool but a black box effect. Someone puts something in and gets the desired result out without understanding what just happened. So not everyone that uses these tools are skids or something to that effect, some actually understand in general how they work and use a premade tool to build something else faster.

So those are just some thoughts and opinions based off of things I have heard people said that just really catch me the wrong way and I have seen them criticized for saying such things as well. An easy way to keep yourself from saying something that will annoy others, whether you are right or wrong, is to remember you do not need to prove anything to anyone what you know, because you already know you know it.


  1. Anonymous28/7/12 17:54

    Eh, I understand you're a little miffed with skids and such, even people that try to do shit that they don't really understand how it works... But everybody had to start somewhere. I don't really know how you got into all the shit you're into today, but you probably got your start the same way that a lot of these skids today did, seeing somebody do something cool and want to know how to do it yourself. It turned out to be harder to learn how to do it than to download something that would do it for you, so downloading the tool was what transpired, instead of learning and applying the skill necessary to do the cool thing. Eventually, skids evolve into pros, but some just don't. And like you said, sometimes it is just easier to use a tool, even when you know what it does, which has something to say about the laziness of some people, but eh. The Mac vs. PC thing probably came out of some thought of Mac superiority or even self superiority, you know, that snobbish thought that most rich people that own macs have. Or maybe just marketing playing on stupidity. I thought that the architecture of the mac processor made it impossible to run windows on mac, and vice versa, but recently, they've been using more intel-based (or just intel processors, not sure) allowing for this, which kinda threw me for a loop. Eh, I still don't understand why anybody would wanna pay the ungodly price for an apple anything, when they could get something cheaper and that works just as well, or better. They're way out of my price range, either way.

    1. Well, I actually started after flunking out of biotechnology because General Chemistry is hard and I was lazy just out of highschool. When I did start out in computers I was a good deal of the things I was mentioning, which is why I wanted to make the post, so people don't do the dumber things I've done, a bit of self hate.

      As far as the Mac/PC thing, Mac makes good stuff but charge way to much and issue crap terms of service with their stuff. They used to use a special CPU, forget what the brand was. They switched to Intel because people are more familiar with it and they do make good stuff. I personally like AMD and they used to be good, but have gone downhill quite a bit so now Intel really is the way to go. I'm hoping AMD step their game up and get back to some real competition, because the consumers are the ones that win those battles.


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