May 2015

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The weekend after I posted this article about the pitfalls hiding in a simple shell command-line, I had some free time and decided it might be fun to see what the same functionality would look like in Haskell.

My Haskell experience is limited to tutorials, book exercises, and reading other people’s code, so I wanted to go a little bit off the paved road for once.

So I grabbed System.FilePath.Find and hsexif off Hackage because they seemed to be what I needed, and set about making the type checker happy enough to run my program.

I didn't expect to just knock out a working program in an unfamiliar language in minutes, and I didn't. Nonetheless I was pretty impressed by how, once I had muddled through understanding the pieces I was working with, they joined together in a pleasingly logical way. (Although looking at the code a month later I can get what the various bits do—the types are informative enough for that—but it would take some unravelling for me to remember how.)

Then I ran my resulting program on a real directory full of photos and it instantly died, because the exif parser was built on lazy I/O, and my script was running out of available file-handles before it was getting around to closing them.

Leaky abstractions 1, Charles 0.

This is the kind of post that has a small but annoyingly non-zero chance of setting off somebody's "wrong on the Internet" buzzer. Please don't. It's an anecdote of how I encountered an unshaven yak on a lazy Sunday afternoon, as developers are wont to do, nothing more.

Update: December 6, 2015, the author of the hsexif package, Emmanuel Touzery, emailed me to say that after finding this post via Google, he updated the library (v0.6.0.7) to close files eagerly instead of lazily, so future Charles’s won’t encounter the same problem. Present Charles is left feeling mildly guilty he didn’t file the bug through more official channels.

Twitter is a crowded bar. Most of the people who are there, are there to relax, hang out and chat with the friends or colleagues they showed up with.

Twitter is a crowded bar. You're having conversations in a public place. You are surrounded by people having conversations within your earshot. But none of that makes what you are doing or what they are doing "public debate" by any reasonable definition.

Twitter is a crowded bar, not an alternate universe, so try not to say anything that would get you in trouble if it was repeated outside the bar.

Twitter is a crowded bar. Sometimes you run into people you know. And if they're cool with the friends you went to the bar with, everything will be cool.

Twitter is a crowded bar. Some of the people there are being paid to promote a product. Some are there to network. Some are there because they're famous and it's a "place to be seen". You can hang around them if that's your thing, but they're at the bar because everybody else makes it worth them being there, not the other way around.

Twitter is a crowded bar. People can go to bars to meet strangers, to meet new people in a new town, or because they know it's where other people "like them" hang out. But it's never anyone else's responsibility to make sure a stranger feels welcome with them personally, or with their social circle.

Twitter is a crowded bar. If you hear something interesting from a nearby conversation there's nothing stopping you introducing yourself and joining in. But again, it's your job to make sure you're not an unwelcome interruption.

Twitter is a crowded bar. If you're that person who always ends up cornering a stranger who doesn't particularly want to talk to you in a one-on-one conversation, you're not fooling anyone.

Twitter is a crowded bar. If someone says "I didn't come here to argue with you about that", even if it's something they brought up in the first place, you should probably find another conversation. There's plenty of them around.

Twitter is a crowded bar. If you go there to pick fights with strangers, you're an asshole.

Twitter is a crowded bar, but they've kind of skimped on hiring bouncers.