--- Amanda Babcock <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> Somehow it seems like every time I sit down to do
> some useful conlanging or
> Athabaskan-studying I spend two hours fighting with
> my tools instead.  I need
> better tools.  It's not just Windows; Kura was much
> the same experience.
> Sigh.

I very much know how you feel. This is the same for
me, both in my job and at home. For ex, I have loaded
25 (TWENTY-FIVE) 'critical updates' for Windows XP
Home, and I still have problems every time I connect
to the list with Explorer. I just gave up and decided
to use only Netscape. But, as you, say, it's not only
Microsoft, it's the general situation about the
so-called "computer science". It is simply incredible:
in the year 2004, we are still working like in stone
age. We should have lots of beautiful, handy,
reliables, easy-to-use, communicating tools at hand.
In fact, we're cursing every day the inventor
of 'vi' (Unix) and hundreds of other
tools of the same sort.

It's really Murphy's laws, every day, at every minute:
- if there is the slightest possibility that something
won't work, then it won't work
- if there is absolutely no reason that something
won't work, then it won't work neither, and dozens of
new problems will arise you never dreamt of.

I think there are people whose job is to ensure that
the user will never have the needed information at
hand (this is a science called "ergonomy"). If you
ever tried to find something in Word or Excel Help,
you know what I mean: if you don't know exactly where
to look, you will never get the information, except in
case you view every help page one by one. The
information is there, only they will do everything
possible so that it can't be retrieved by a normal

Language conceptors do the same: they feel an
irrepressible need that their syntax, even for the
most basic functions, will be just a little be
different from the already existing languages (I
recently discovered that some language, can't remember
which one, uses a dot to mean "concatenate" !) So
everything is done to make you lose as much time as
possible on stupid details, when you are supposed to
concentrate on functions and algorithms.

And the problem is that earlier, you could specialize
in one environment and be able to use it to write
complete, well-working applications, with hardly any
need to look at the doc from time to time. Now, to get
a message "Hello, world !" on your screen, you have to
master three dozens of different environments and
languages, all interfering together, all of them more
or less severely bugged; you never have the right
version, you spend hours on the Web, getting viruses,
spam, ads pop ups and various crap, to get some trick
from some other unhappy user who might have had the
same problem.

So: 80% of your time is spoiled trying to master the
tools and dealing with the bugs, 5% are left for
creativity and production. That makes 85%. What about
the remaining 15% ? Oh, just go running naked in the
rain and yelling mad, in order to try to recover your
mental balance.

Philippe Caquant

"High thoughts must have high language." (Aristophanes, Frogs)

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