(j3.2006) [Re: One of the proposals in 12-195 that didn't get out of subgroup]

Van Snyder Van.Snyder
Wed Oct 31 22:30:19 EDT 2012

Wed Oct 31 19:00:13 MDT 2012, Malcolm Cohen wrote

> and he doesn't have 
> to wait 10 years for compilers to support a new feature.

This is a frequent excuse advanced for doing nothing.  Ten years from
now, this same colleague, or one of his descendants (genetic or
intellectual) will wonder "So, where is it now?  If it had been started
when grandpa asked for it ten years ago, I would have it now?"  How does
not starting make it available sooner?

There are things that my colleagues observed more than 35 years ago
would reduce their machine and labor costs and increase their product
reliability, that we still don't have.  At least in some cases, the same
excuse was used for not providing them.

Some things have been requested by many colleagues, for different
reasons.  One work-around for one of them usually doesn't work for all
of them.  Do I need to trot out the reason each one has, and explain the
problem each one has, and the work-arounds each one has tried and found

Of the things they asked for, that have been added to the standard, they
have not complained that some are not yet widely implemented.  They look
forward eagerly to being able to use them, and appreciate knowing
exactly what they will be when they are available.  They are happy to
wait patiently, or sometimes to try to influence their favorite vendor's
priorities.  They appreciate that they don't need to ask again, and be
told "why should we do it if you can't use it for ten years."

They don't complain when I tell them "I'm not going to ask for that
because it's infeasible, or inconsistent with the standard," or when I
come back to them and tell them "I overlooked a reason for it to be
infeasible, or inconsistent with the standard."  They understand when I
tell them "your idea was sympathetically received, but others were given
higher priority."

I guarantee that idiots don't get machines to work on Mars for eight
years, after offering NASA a 90-day warranty, or to pass in 1986 within
a 150-kilometer target ellipse 2.6 billion kilometers away, guided by
software for which development began in 1959, and then keep the machine
(built in 1975, using 1972 technology) working, many more billions of
kilometers away, for another 26 years.  They understand long time
horizons, but do not appreciate forever-receding ones.  They understand
work-arounds, and the expenses and risks associated with them, and
develop and evaluate some that are far more imaginative than many that
have been suggested as excuses for not providing additional facilities
they hope for.  They do not appreciate having their efforts subverted by
a contractor, when a processor could and should have caught or corrected
the error, if the concerns they expressed decades ago had been addressed
decades ago.

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