1. NomDeGuerre
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    NomDeGuerre Member

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    Does this analogy about computers work?

    Discussion in 'Science Fiction' started by NomDeGuerre, Oct 10, 2016.

    Hey all, figured this was the subforum to post a question about using a computer analogy to describe someone.
    I know NOTHING about computers! :( But my character is a computer genius and he equates his life dilemma to a "line of code." I don't know if it's correct or even makes sense. Any input appreciated. THANK YOU, YOU AMAZING COMPUTER PEOPLE!!!:supersmile:

    Here's the brief section:
    He was one of MIT’s brightest students. And also a complete loser. “Loser” was not, in his mind, a subjective term. It was as irrefutable as a line of code that corresponded to a very specific function.
     
  2. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm a programmer and it's not working for me. Can you explain what he means without the metaphor, so that I might be able to think of a better metaphor?
     
  3. Simpson17866
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    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Not a computer person either, but I've read enough XKCD to know that a "line of code" is basically the same thing for them that a "line of text" is for us, and "a line of code that corresponded to a very specific function" might as well be "a line of text that corresponded to a very specific scene."

    Just a basic building block of a larger work, not anything that fundamentally connotes "I'm having a problem."

    Maybe an analogy like "a missing close parenthesis" (I also got that from XKCD)?
     
  4. NomDeGuerre
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    NomDeGuerre Member

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    Well, basically, I'm looking for computer analogy where something is "irrefutable." If a line of code connotes a certain function then isn't that irrefutable? Something that is solidly one thing and not something else.
     
  5. izzybot
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    izzybot Human Disaster Contributor

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    Not to be That Guy, but I'm not sure how good of an idea it is in the first place to write an mc who's a "computer genius" when you don't know anything about computers yourself. For starters, a lot of my friends work in IT and I know just enough to know that most people aren't going to just be an all-purpose computer guy - my brother's a programmer, another couple are in networking, and their working skillsets barely overlap (my brother considered going into networking for a couple semesters so he can keep up with them, but he pretty much completely loses them when he talks about his job).

    If this character's plot hinges on him being a tech guy, it seems like you'd want to do quite a bit of research to make it believable. If it's not, it's less of an issue, but you're still using analogies like this that need to be rigorously fact-checked and still might not come across as genuine.

    I don't intend to sound discouraging, I've just watched and read a lot of badly-handled programmer and 'hacker' characters with frustrated nerds ;)
     
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  6. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    But I'm not clear on the what he considers irrefutable. The definition of a loser? The fact that he is a loser? The fact that he isn't a loser?
     
  7. NomDeGuerre
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    NomDeGuerre Member

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    The fact that he is a loser is the "irrefutable" part. It's actually the only "tech" line I'm using in a section that introduces him. I just wanted to add a touch of computer-ese. I mean doesn't a line of code designate a particular function? That's not plain and straightforward?
     
  8. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Unfortunately, I'm not sure what you mean by a line of code designating a particular function. A line of code tells the computer what to do. We may be tangled up in the everyday-language versus computer-programming definition of the word "function." Can you restate what you mean without using the word function?

    Now, I'm also having a little trouble with the idea that he would think of himself as a "loser." Why does he think that? What's his definition of a loser? Are you saying that he doesn't value the skills that are essentially his life's work?
     
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  9. NomDeGuerre
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    NomDeGuerre Member

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    It's just a super-short excerpt from a much longer passage about this guy. I go into the whole "loser" thing much more later. But right now I'm just concerned with the analogy. Yeah, basically he feels like a "loser" and equates it to being as irrefutable as a line of code. You write a line of code and it does a particular thing. In the same way, he feels himself designed or programmed to be a "loser" and he can't change it. I suppose I could just write the plain ole': "He felt himself to be programmed like a computer to be a loser." I just didn't like that and wanted some "techy" speech in it. Oh! I'm just gonna quit writing! It's TOO FRUSTRATING. Just pick up Tic-Tac-Toe. Oh no! That's too hard too! ha! ;)
     
  10. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I find myself playing with an object-oriented programming metaphor. A parent class of Loser, from which he inherits, and he's trying to override enough methods to be fundamentally different...or something...

    I'm concerned that whatever metaphor you use is going to age very quickly.

    But I'm still wondering why he thinks he's a loser. I feel the need for details. Are you assuming that he regards himself as a loser because he's a programmer? I'm feeling the urge to point you to Paul Graham's essay Why Nerds Are Unpopular:

    http://www.paulgraham.com/nerds.html

    The main takeaway, for me, is that nerds are unpopular because they don't want to pay the price of popularity. They value the things that make them unpopular.
     
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  11. NomDeGuerre
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    NomDeGuerre Member

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    So the metaphor is just plain confusing? That's all I really want to know. I don't want to go into all the "nerd" stuff. I do that all later. And it's not the purpose of this post to get into it all. It would take volumes. Suffice to say: the metaphor doesn't work? WHY? That's all I want to know. Because I assumed a line of code is irrefutable, designed only for a specific function. I mean you can't argue it's designed for another function altogether, so it's irrefutable, right? That's all I want to know. I"m not talking about in-depth programming artistry or tech-stuff. Just the basic metaphor. THANKS!
     
  12. NomDeGuerre
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    NomDeGuerre Member

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    If anyone can throw out any alternatives. Just any top-of-your-head stuff I'M ALL EARS! :)
     
  13. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    You're suggesting that a line of code is descriptive--an adjective. But a line of code is an action--a verb.

    And a line of code doesn't always do the same thing. Let's analogize to real-world actions. If I say to you:

    Get the cardboard box that's in the south corner of the lobby.
    Take out everything that's in it.
    For everything that's in it,
    -- If it's a book, note its title and then run it through the shredder
    -- If it's a candy bar, feed it to the pigs
    -- If neither of those are true, but it's made of wood, paint it blue.


    That's a little bit like code, except code that directs a human and not a computer. But there's really nothing "irrefutable" about it, right?
     
  14. NomDeGuerre
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    NomDeGuerre Member

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    But isn't that irrefutable? If it's a candy bar you always feed it to the pigs. No way to counter or deny that. Right?
    It's like my character -- he feels he's "programmed" to lose.
     
  15. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hmm. But 'programmed' wouldn't be a single line of code or a single function. It would be a large body of code. And "irrefutable" sounds like something that would refer to a single specific fact, while you're talking about a group of behaviors.

    Hmm.
     
  16. SethLoki
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    SethLoki Unemployed Autodidact Contributor

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    Would it be better with immutable? Are you meaning the notion that the code's fixed in place and called on often?

    'It was in his programming, immutable lines repeating routines'
     
  17. NomDeGuerre
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    NomDeGuerre Member

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    I'm talking about a single specific fact. He's a "loser." So we're back to "a line of code"?
    What about "as irrefutable as a line of code created for one specific task"?
     
  18. izzybot
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    izzybot Human Disaster Contributor

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    Obviously I'm no help. Is he a programmer? "Irrefutable as a compilation error" came to mind.
     
  19. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    No.


    What's wrong with your simile is that it's nonsense; there is nothing inherently irrefutable about an INSTRUCTION to a computer. I could instruct the computer to self-destruct; it's not irrefutable. And an instruction is all that a line of code is.


    All men are mortals.
    Socrates is a man.
    Therefore Socrates is mortal.

    Now, that's irrefutable.



    An IF-THEN statement, like IF it's a candy bar THEN feed it to the pigs is not irrefutable; because there is an implied IF it's not a candy bar THEN eat it yourself.
     
  20. SethLoki
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    SethLoki Unemployed Autodidact Contributor

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    I think when you were explaining in 'casual mode' you expressed yourself with more clarity—much prefer your line up there ^ .

    Irrefutable doesn't come across as the right fit for me at all—feels a bit 'wag the dog' if you try to shoehorn it in in the way you're proposing.
     
  21. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    No. A single line of code does very little, and it often does it in many different ways, depending on the variables it's working with.

    I agree with the previous post--what's wrong with "programmed to lose"?

    I also really struggle with "loser" being a single specific fact. I think that it would be a conclusion drawn from dozens, hundreds, possibly millions of facts that are assembled and analyzed to form a conclusion. And I think that's how a programmer would tend to think of it.
     
  22. matwoolf
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    matwoolf Contributing Member Contributor

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    He was one of MIT’s brightest students. And also a complete loser. “Loser” was not, in his mind, a subjective term. It was as irrefutable as a line of code that corresponded to a very specific function.

    Something like (in draft):

    He was one of MIT’s brightest students, and also he was a complete loser.

    Loser - not, in his mind, a subjective term: loser status was irrefutable as code etched upon the pate of Steve Jobs' bald cranium, irrefutable as IBM - the evil incarnate on every planet Earth ever imagined; irrefutable as a Turing bicycle clip, Hawking's breath at the window pane; irrefutable as a man wrapped with cartoon woman - on-line, in his world. He was a loser.

    (draft on)
     
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2016
  23. NomDeGuerre
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    NomDeGuerre Member

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    What about this instead? --
    "Loser” was not, in his mind, a subjective term. It was a cold, bland fact like the etched circuits on a silicon chip.
    Or perhaps -- It was as quantifiable as the hardware of a computer
    Or -- It was as quantifiable as the etched circuits on a silicon chip.
    Are they "quantifiable" though? haha.
     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2016
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  24. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Sorry, no. :(

    "Programmed to lose" is the best so far.
     
  25. Cave Troll
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    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

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    How about this:

    He is a fine tuned machine with software bugs. :D
    He has a glitch in the programming.
    Hardwired to succeed, yet enable to execute order.

    IDK, this is almost as hard as the James Joyce thing.
    CompSex.gif Operator Malfunction I guess. :supergrin:
     

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