Does this analogy about computers work?

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

  1. NomDeGuerre

    NomDeGuerre Member

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    Okay, I'm just gonna open it up. How can I use the words, "silicon chip" or "hardware" or "etched circuits" or any other computer-ese and still make sense??? "Programmed to lose" is about as non-computer and generic as they come.
     
  2. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll Wrting is never clean. :) Contributor

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    Defective. :p
     
  3. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor Community Volunteer

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    "Programmed"? Programming? How is that non-computer? What I do on my computer, at work, is usually programming.

    Edited to add:

    pro·gram·ming
    ˈprōˌɡramiNG/
    noun
    noun: programming
    1 1.
    the action or process of writing computer programs.

    Edited again, because my brain can't get over its confusion. You want a line of code, but programming--which is the act of writing lines of code--is non-computer? Arrrr?

    Edited one last time: Buh?
     
  4. christinacantwrite

    christinacantwrite Member

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    Saying someone is 'programmed' to do something is a figure of speech which is used colloquially so it might not conjure up the same image as silicon chips and the like (which are only mentioned in computer-related conversations). To a non-programmer reader it might not come across as a specifically computer-related analogy.

    Honestly, the original analogy read okay to me. I'm not a programmer so I wasn't sure if it technically worked but I understood the meaning.

    But how about: "he was programmed to lose like a calculator was programmed to divide and multiply numbers". Or something more accurate but along those lines.
     
  5. Lew

    Lew Contributor Contributor

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    Relax, am I the only one that found this a good metaphor?

    FUNCTION REAL ADD (REAL A, B)
    BEGIN
    ADD=A+B
    RETURN ADD
    END

    OK, so this is more pseudo code than C or PASCAL but I am a bit rusty. But it is pretty irrefutable... all it does is return the sum of the two arguments A and B.

    I like the metaphor, and @NomDeGuerre, write for yourself, not for us.
     
  6. NomDeGuerre

    NomDeGuerre Member

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    Okay, last try -- what about THIS? :brb:
    It was a substrate reality, deeper than appearance, as a silicon chip is to a computer.
     
  7. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor Community Volunteer

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    I fear that I'm not following it.
     
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  8. big soft moose

    big soft moose All killer, no filler. Contributor Community Volunteer

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    I think your bigger problem here is the show don't tell thing - don't tell us thast hes one of MITs brightest students , show us him being intelligent , don't tell us that he's a loser , show us him being a loser

    if you really want to keep the telling you don't need the metaphor. "I might be one of MIT's brightest students, but i'm still a loser" doesnt need a metaphor to explain it , we all know what a loser is , so adding some computer stuff doesnt actually add anything to our understanding of the character.

    That aside you're also over thinking the issue, adding something like ' he felt that being a loser was part of his operating system, that there was nothing he could do to change it' would serve your purpose (of course a user can change the operating system but the computer itself on which it isntalled cannot) , but i'd really advise not bothering
     
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  9. EnginEsq

    EnginEsq Member

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    Being a loser seems to be something your MC considers hard-coded into his firmware, as immutable as Godwin's Law, and as inevitable as a page fault.

    "Godwin's Law" is an Internet law. If you want to use a good CS/CSEE law instead, Amdahl's Law is a good alternative of something considered immutable.

    Page faults are inevitable in any modern OS, and appropriately enough, they aren't usually a fault at all, just an efficient method of signaling to the processor that a virtual memory operation is needed. Sometimes a page fault might actually be indicating a fault, but usually a page fault is considered a feature, and that might be how the character feels about being a loser.

    "Irrefutable" means "you can't prove it isn't true," which didn't seem to be what you were looking for.

    Note that I'm an old computer geek, 3 decades in CS R&D, so I might not be up on what the "1337 haxors" think is cool stuff.
     
  10. Neural

    Neural Member

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    Gotta disagree there. It's amazing what a single line of code can do when you do something like...forget to put it in (that would be me and do_while loops that need to increment x at the end of the set of statements in the loop).

    The closest thing to something being "irrefutable" in programming would be constants. For instance, the constant PI. Pi is simply part of the core of the programming language, and is equal to
    3.141592653589793238462643383 (32bit). It simply IS. It cannot be changed, it can only be referenced, but as mentioned above, that falls more into the "immutable" category.

    So you could say: "loser" in his mind, was no more subjective than any given constant such as PI or SQRT2.

    Again, regarding the term "immutable". Irrefutable is not going to work. Something that is irrefutable is a fact that has no evidence against it (i.e. gravity will make you fall if you jump off a roof (please do not try this at home, or anywhere else)). Programming doesn't quite work that way. At least not in a short and sweet method that could be inserted into a single sentence without requiring an entire page or so to explain to the readers (whom you've lost at this point) how the code works.

    I would suggest going with something like:
    He was one of MIT's brightest students. And also a complete loser. "Loser" was not, in his mind, a subjective term. It was no different than a constant such as Pi, as it was simply immutable.

    Definitely leave functions out of it. You're going to lose a number of your readers there. Only a small number are going to know what a funciton is. A larger number of them *might* know what a variable is, but using "constant" is a more general term that works outside of programming, but also within it. Thus it should be received by a wider audience.

    *edit*: for the other programmers that might read this, my constants, if odd, are pulled from the Linden Scripting Language, which is specific to the virtual world Second Life.
     
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  11. tonguetied

    tonguetied Contributor Contributor

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    "He was one of MIT's brightest students. And also a complete loser like a program that always resulted with division by zero. He was an irrefutable zero."
     
  12. Rosacrvx

    Rosacrvx Senior Member

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    This conversation has become too nerd-y for me, (no offense), so I'll go back to the first sentence:

    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.

    I think that the word you want here is "executed".

    as a line of code that executed a very specific function.

    (Isn't that what a line of code does, execute something? If it's not, my apologies, and please correct me.)
    I think I get @NomDeGuerre 's idea. Being a loser was irrefutable as a line of code that executed a specific function in his life, which was to be a loser no matter what he did, a never ending cycle of being a loser. He didn't even try to fight it anymore, he was utterly used/resigned to the self-notion that he was a loser. At least that's what I got from the sentence. (Hoping that the character will think differently of himself later, perhaps.)

    But @NomDeGuerre , @izzybot 's right:

    Right on. You'll have this problem each time you want to make a computer metaphor. Maybe you can keep it to just this one analogy. Bearing in mind that most people don't understand geek language either, maybe it's for the best. I started reading this thread and gave up around the second page when people started writing code. :D
     
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2016
  13. amerrigan

    amerrigan Active Member

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    Well, considering that the original sentence is about 'either you are a loser or you are not a loser'... I thought the obvious computer reference would be 'binary'

    Whether or not he was a loser wasn't subjective, it was binary. 1 = loser. 0 = not a loser. He was 1.
     
  14. texshelters

    texshelters Active Member

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    One can write about a computer hacker and not be one, but you have to be careful to be specific enough to sound real but vague enough to not be wrong. I think I did well with a tech savvy character, but I also read a lot about the subject so as to be, I hope, realistic. And, it's futuristic, so I followed certain trends in computing and expanded on them.

    I don't have to be a murderer to write about them any more than I need to be a hacker to write about one. However, my tech is NOT my MC. She's a teenage girl at the beginning of the book, and I am neither.
     
  15. texshelters

    texshelters Active Member

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    The metaphor doesn't work for me either. How about something simple like, "he was a loser, never having been on a date."

    On a humorous note, "He was a loser, like Google Glasses." or "He was a loser, like pets.com."
     
  16. Pinkymcfiddle

    Pinkymcfiddle Banned

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    If I was the world's greatest computer programmer, or heart surgeon or brick layer... I would still say as irrefutable as 1+1=2. Why? Because it is simple and understandable.
     

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