First. Really nothing else to say.
On the subject of ‘Dates’; some of us are not in the US.
Yep, I know it is heresy, but there are some non-American geeks. So that would be 4Feb13 – right?
As another non-USian geek, I agree.
I’ve always preferred what I know as a ‘George 3 date’ as a compact, unambiguous format, which would show your book’s release date as 04Feb13. I call it that because I first saw it used by ICL’s George 3 mainframe OS around 1970, so the term has good geekish credentials as well as historic roots.
I dunno, as a DBA I much prefer 2013-02-04 – it sorts much nicer
You can still sort dd-mmm-yyyy format dates by setting up strings to be compared using a polymorphic object which in the default base version compares the data lexicographically; but where dates inherit from the object and override the compare function to put ‘jan’ before ‘feb’ and so on. It can even compare dd-mmm-yy (or the silly mm-dd-yy) format by making 60 (for 1960) less than 20 (for 2020). Thanks Norway!
No lack of ideas for the ultimate Date sorting WebService. Have you submitted your patent application already?
Ah, George 3.. memories… and the ICL 1904a (with one of five 2Mb drums in the world)!
But yes, Year/Month/Day is the only date format that makes sense. The ISO and all the national standards bodies even say so.
And as for Magnum.. stop making our brains hurt.
Computer sense or common sense?
Arguing over the date format? You guys will LOVE the book. You might have a chapter.
I read the original and really looking forward to the reboot.
And, yes, I’m a US guy and was in Europe last winter and found the date thing “interesting”. While we’re at it, let’s just jump on the fact that the US and two tiny island nations are the only ones not on metric. Done.
If you want to be REALLY geeky, Bob, put up a bunch of dates including the UNIX datetime and …others.
When I was in college, having taken a few chemistry and electrical engineering courses, I sometimes used metric terms in Mechanical Engineering class. The ME professor was quite upset. It’s considered something like translating “thank you very much” into Spanish as “mucho thanko”. So I love my old 5.6 L 350 cu in V-8 and I have two sets of sockets and wrenches. It’s the American way. And 1+1=10.
Metric is now called SI (still French), btw, and is also official in the USA. The acre, for example, can also be related mathematically to a SI unit so that makes it even more SI. There is a super podcast over at “stuff you should know” and “Why isn’t the U.S. on the metric system”. Historical political science stuff. Really great
I looks like the SI system is the same “MKS” system we learned in college in the 60s. The phrase “You can lead a horse to water…” comes to mind. I think its very telling that when it came to the “S” part they kept the eminently practical divisibility of “60″ instead of trying to force an hour to be a hundred minutes.
Actually Myanmar (Burma) is also still on the imperial system.
Nice Well, 04Feb13 is most reasonable as it is clear and direct. No wasted cycles and less margin for error.
I think Burma is also non-metric. Which reinforces the point, but still.
Last I checked, Burma and Liberia are not tiny island nations.
I normally prefer my systems to show the date as ISO 2013-02-04 format, if only because it makes sorting dates in text systems (ala ls) put the dates in the correct order.
I agree 100%
For USian geeks it will arrive Feb 04, 2013; however, for non-USian geeks you must wait until 02 Apr, 2013.
Too soon. Foreign release must be at least six months later.
Date format? YYYY/MM/DD. It’s sortable the others aren’t.
the military agrees with Francis. Well, at least one of the militaries…
The US Military agrees with Martin on this – e.g. 04 FEB 13 … although for precision I usually extend the year: 04 FEB 2013 – to be sure we’re not talking about 04 FEB 1913, which is interestingly the birthday of civil rights activist Rosa Parks, among other interesting things.
The title bar says “Coming Monday!”, so I’m gathering yes, tomorrow sometime.
It’s already afternoon on the 4th of February 2013 in Australia (mid morning in Perth).
WHERE’S MY BOOK!!!
Arguing over date format is another example of why nerds don’t get dates.
Look again: there’s no arguing, they all said the same thing.
Of course, the compulsive need to answer quickly and without seeing if others are speaking might also be a reason they aren’t getting dates…
How did you get a picture of my copy of AE?
Your boys aren’t old enough yet, but in a couple of years you’ll realize that no one “dates” any more.
I never read the book but accidently discovered Triumph of the Nerds one night while flipping by my local PBS station way back when. I loved that documentary and it was what led me to think I wanted to go into programming in college. I tried and couldn’t hack the Discrete Mathmatics so I ended up an accountant instead. Love your work, Bob.
Damn, that’s unfair. Most programmers know about as much discrete maths as an accountant.
“Programming in college” may be more advanced than “programming”.
Nice. Can’t wait to start reading.
love the date format debate. aren’t you the ones who nearly screwed up the millennium?
somebody told you guys to get good at dating and you thought
You’re awesome, Ed. Saving bits and cycles for a better return was a problem it seems.
As far as I can tell the computer millennium bug is a hang-over from punched card days when every column counted so all dates were held in 6 digits. This got, by osmosis, small memories and low tape speeds and capacities, into the early mainframes and thence into the original COBOL specification, which stated that the “ACCEPT DATE INTO …” statement had to accept the date into a 6 digit variable. This created a blind spot: if the system can only accept today’s date with only two digits for the year then thats how all dates should be stored. I only remember two systems with more: one was a payroll for a company that had a few employees who were born before 1900 and the other was a music database that had to track the birthdates of composers and when compositions were written – it could handle dates before Christ (Euripides was born in 55BC) and IIRC The Song Of Roland was written in 980AD or thereabouts.
The Millennium bug was really only a problem for IBM mainframes and PCs: these used the 6 digit format, thus causing the problem when the century rolled over from 19 to 20.
Almost every other type of computer stored dates as days or seconds since a base date because its much easier to handle date calculations with this type of date – and still easy to convert these to human-readable dates using whatever calendar you prefer. The ICL 1900 mainframes stored dates as days since 13Dec1899 in a 24 bit word , so 01Jan1900 was day 1 and it wouldn’t run out of days for 22966 years. All UNIX-alike systems (which includes Linux and OS X) store dates and times as seconds since 01Jan70. Systems that use a 32 bit word will stumble in 2038, but those using a 64 bit word should see the universe out.
sorry I mentioned it
Punched cards were one source of limits on dates. When disks came along, their limited size often meant that date sizes could not be increased. Another limitation was program size. I worked on systems that had disks with 1MB of storage and program sizes that were limited to 8KB. This often led to programming ‘tricks’ to minimize the amount of memory used. For example, instead of having a separate variable for the month, day, and year, programs simply referenced them as offsets from the beginning of the date. As disk capacity and program size limits grew, companies couldn’t justify the expense of modifying the data files and applications to use 4 digit years until the problem became critical around the turn of the century. “What do you mean you want to spend ‘x’ man years modifying all our systems to handle 4 digit years? It’s only 1976!” Yes, this was short-sighted. But then, as now, many companies viewed I.T. as a cost to be minimized.
We always thought that ‘dating’ meant ‘get the date right.’ Right?
How else can you get ‘on a date’?
Given the amount of time that has passed since the mid-90s, perhaps a whole new book would make sense. Also, a “Nerds 3.0″ documentary would be great, reflecting on how Larry Ellison’s predictions became largely true – he foretold that Microsoft, while having established an immense fortress in the traditional PC OS market, would not be the dominant power to capitalize on the Internet revolution (enter Google…), and as well had been predicting a post-PC-era (be it good or bad) where traditional ways of circulating data would give way to Internet distribution. Obviously, other things not to be missed would be the rise of ‘social media’ with Facebook on the forefront, as well as yet another transformation of the industry on Apple’s part with its iDevice revolution.
Looking forward to the update. A lot has happened since the original edition.
Two digit years are a simple space saving measure. When porting some old Fortran code (anyone remember Philco computers) I found a common block that had been equivalanced as real, integer and logical, the better to create well packed ad-hoc structures of various types in one memory block. God help anyone who messed up counting in the associated array indicies. Compared to that, dealing with y2k was simple. Fun times.
Did you happen to go to Stanford?
FORTRAN equivalence statements…. and Computed Goto to write efficient algorithms: those were the days. These kids nowadays can only call WebServices.
Is there a story here or just a picture of tattered book?
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