Fortune Cookie Compiler Diagnostics (Martin H. Booda)
Wed, 23 Nov 1994 23:38:23 GMT

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Newsgroups: alt.folklore.computers,comp.compilers
From: (Martin H. Booda)
Keywords: design, comment
Organization: Naval Oceanographic Office
Date: Wed, 23 Nov 1994 23:38:23 GMT

          Maybe it's because I ate Chinese last night, but I got a couple of cc/ldr
diagnostics today that sounded a LOT like what you'd read on fortune cookie

cc-172 cc: WARNING file = /u/xb/aagp/new_aagp/aagp_setup.c, Line = 185
    No code is generated for a superfluous expression.
ldr-133 cc: WARNING
        Unsatisfied external references have been encountered.

          Doesn't it seem that the folks who write compiler diagnostic messages
moonlight as writers in Fortune Cookie factories? The same terseness, the same
mystical obscurity, the same vaguely threatening equivocation. I almost expect
the diagnostics to be followed by winning lottery numbers.
          I began to consider the confusion if diagnostics were somehow mixed up
with the fortunes. Imagine the reaction of a diner opening up a cookie and

        "Variable "buf" is used before it is assigned."

          ...especially if that is, indeed, the problem in the program he's debug-
ging at work! (Rod Serling, are you listening?) And imagine the popularity
of a compiler which provided _really_ useful information, like:

        "The inflexible man forgets that the rice is harvested by bending."

          every time it encounters a syntax error. The best idea, I think, is to
come up with phrases which could be used equally well either as fortunes _or_

        "It is most unwise to build upon an undefined structure."
        "The sow mates not with the bull; nor the int * with the char."
        "Correct previous errors before persevering to gather objects."
        "Ambiguous references presage Bus Errors; pause and reflect."
        "The wise nightingale contains its new nest entirely within the old."
        "Help! I'm a prisoner in an ADA factory!"

          (hehe, just kidding with that last one) The sum effect of such an effort
would be to both improve the computer literacy and programming ability of the
general (well, at least those who frequent Chinese restaurants) public, and to
cultivate wisdom and aesthetic tranquility amongst programmers, who sorely
need it.
[And a happy Thanksgiving to you all. -John]

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