12/05/87: Battleline! by Delphi, | Category: Delphi - General Information | 41 comments - (Comments are closed)

Battleline!

35716 5DEC87-2139 General Information
Battleline!
From: GREGMILLER To: ALL

BattleLine!
———–

Our October/November Battleline topic turned out to be a wonderful
success!

For our December topic, we’re going to turn a closer into the aspect
of programming –

“If you are incapable of writing a program, you are incapable of
successfully modifying it.”

Like the last Battleline topic, we will discuss this topic in FORUM
for 2 or 3 weeks, and then hold a Battleline COnference (to be announced
roughly one week before the CO), and then wrap things up in FORUM
in a last week or so of ‘debating’.

I’ll present ONE side of the argument following …

41 comments to Battleline!

  • pucc_unknown

    35819 9DEC87-1242 General Information
    RE: Battleline! (Re: Msg 35716)
    From: EDELLERS To: GREGMILLER

    I definitely agree with that, and I’d add that, even if you ARE capable of
    writing a program, you might not be able to make changes to a program written
    by someone else — simply because you might not be able to determine exactly
    how that program works. An awful lot of work has been wasted in businesses
    by programmers trying to “maintain” (i.e. fix and modify) programs written by
    people who were no longer with the company and who hadn’t left documentation
    behind describing their code. There’s a tale circulating about how MicroPro
    had a bad time trying to update WordStar, since its author was no longer there
    and the people who were couldn’t decipher the code.

    Of course, well-documented and easy-to-modify programs can have their
    disadvantages;
    one would be the possibility of undesirable parties obtaining the documentation
    and using a program’s techniques to compete against that program. Another is
    that many of the techniques used to make some programs work better tend to make
    them look like coded diplomatic telegrams. I suspect that this arguement will
    be raging for a long time to come.

  • pucc_unknown

    35896 11DEC87-1919 General Information
    RE: Battleline! (Re: Msg 35716)
    From: REINDEER To: GREGMILLER

    Greg,

    You touch my heart with this BattleLine topic. Fixing other people’s trash
    programs is how I earn my daily bread. I have many times repaired programs
    and exterminated bugs when I didn’t know the language (C in particular) or
    all I had was object code with no source available. Debugging object code
    is my particular specialty and has caused me to become a rather versatile
    assembly language hacker. I still can’t write an integrated database
    program suite in C but I can still fix ’em when they don’t work.

    (Gawd! that sounds conceited! Well we all gots ta have one thing we do well)
    My comment on this topic: No, you don’t have to be able to write the
    program to be able to modify it, but you better know how to read the docs
    and manuals and be creative and thorough when you do it.

    Jim Johnson

  • pucc_unknown

    36116 16DEC87-0225 General Information
    RE: Battleline! (Re: Msg 35716)
    From: MINSTREL To: GREGMILLER

    Opened a real can ‘o worms with this Battleline
    topic, didn’ja? From your Forum combats to date
    (12/16/87) I gather: 1)No one is “qualified” to
    hack code ‘less they understand the WHOLE thang in
    some omnipotent sense; 2)Most of the programmers
    in the world are fairly incompetent ’cause they
    obviously ain’t qualified to do what they been
    doin’ with large and small success since there
    became programmin’ to be done.

    Now I can’t recall ‘xactly how many times I’ve
    stared at a chunk of code (a program, if you will)
    without havin’ the slightest notion as to an
    overview or such of the entirety, ’cause I didn’t
    write it. Nevertheless it’s written in a language
    I know like the proverbial back of my hand (C or
    BASIC for instance) for a class of machine (CPU) I first learned ML on and slips
    in and out of the
    high level control code to ML level device driver
    mode as if one always knew exactly where the stack
    pointer was. Or maybe I is truly unlucky to be
    meandering through a raw disassembly. Now your
    theory is that I’m not to chop these bytes ’cause Iain’t got some big picture in
    mind? NONSENSE!

    Some twit can always come up with sumpthin’ weird
    like reading PC offset instructions as “data” for
    some sort of copy protection scheme, whatever;
    hackin’ that’s surely a disaster for ANYBODY…it’sgot nothin’ to do with the
    quality or capability ofany real human programmer nor is it the way things
    is done with any reasonable expectation. And
    perhaps I argue from a lofty vantage point since I
    could just as well have designed the hardware the
    prog executes upon, and I’m likely to pull out a
    real logic analyzer if’n I gets miffed.

    Your hypothesis is still reduced to “you didn’t
    write it (probably couldn’t have, oweing to
    incompetence), didn’t memorize the source code
    (always available, yuk), and weren’t smart ‘nough
    to trace all the calling routines, so you don’t
    dare touch”.

    Gee, I must’ve been in deep defecation on those
    systems I DIDN’T fully understand, all along and
    didn’t know it. Or perhaps you would dismiss all
    of this simply by stating I obviously could have
    written the stuff I’m cuttin’ on, but I say that
    calls into question the definition of “can do”;
    intellectually I know I could, but since I have
    neither the inclination or man-hours to devote to
    much of that, then I equally well could not have.
    Most of us can, do, and will continue to muck the
    hell out of them programs that need it, as we see
    fit.
    Suggested next Battleline scenario: If we can’t
    cut on each other’s programs, what’s to keep
    StarWars from comin’ down on OUR heads? Just WHO
    has the grand overview of nuclear missiles and
    laser cannons in ADA?

    I agree with most of GREGL’s & JimJohnson’s replies. /* Stan */

  • pucc_unknown

    36176 17DEC87-1831 General Information
    RE: Battleline! (Re: Msg 35716)
    From: HARBIE To: GREGMILLER

    SORRY BUT I THINK YOU ARE DEAD WRONG HERE .

    YOU DO NOT HAVE TO BE ABLE TO WRITE THE >>ENTIRE< < PROGRAM TO BE ABLE TO PATCH
    IT . ALL YOU NEED IS TO UNDERSTAND HOW THE ROUTINE WORKS AND HOW IT RELATES TO
    THE
    REST OF THE PROGRAM .

    AS AN EXAMPLE , I AM CERTAINLY NOT ABLE TO WRITE A PROGRAM OF THE MAGNITUDE OF
    COCOMAX 1 , 2 OR COLORMAX 3 BUT I HAD NO PROBLEM (WELL ALMOST) PATCHING THEM TO
    WORK WITH THE XPAD . ALL I HAD TO DO WAS TO FIND THE JOYSTICK AND BUTTON
    ROUTINES AND REPLACE THEM WITH EQUIVALENT ROUTINES .

    YOU KNOW WHAT I THINK ? I THINK YOU ARE GRINDING A PERSONNAL AXE HERE . AS THE
    AUTHOR OF A VERY POPULAR SHAREWARE PROGRAM , I’M SURE YOU’VE HAD TO DEAL WITH
    ALL KIND OF BUGS INTRODUCED BY VARIOUS PATCHES AND THAT GOT YOU AGGRAVATED
    AGAINST THE ‘HACKER TYPE’ .

    EVEN THEN , YOUR COMMENT ABOUT THOSE WAS UNFAIR , A LOT OF THE TIME , THE PATCH
    IS GIVEN TO FRIENDS WHO PASS IT ALONG WITHOUT GIVING CREDIT TO IT’S AUTHOR .
    EVEN IN THE CASE WHERE THE AUTHOR IS CLEARLY VISIBLE (LIKE THAT PATCH TO A
    POPULAR

    PROGRAM (ITSELF A PATCH) I UPLOADED) PEOPLES CALLED THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR GETTING
    HIM PRETTY UPSET AT THE PATCH , ME AND A WHOLE LOT OF PEOPLES AROUND . I
    PERSONNALLY AND I’M SURE MOST HACKERS WOULD TAKE RESPONSABILITY FOR THE
    PROBLEMS CAUSED .

    I AM CONSIDERING IF I EVER GIVE OUT A PATCH AGAIN TO INCLUDE IN IT A TITLE
    SCREEN THAT WOULD CLEARLY STATE WHO TO CALL IN CASE OF TROUBLE .

    ALSO , LOOK AT IT THIS WAY , IF A LOT OF PEOPLE PATCH THEIR COMMUNICATION
    PROGRAM TO WORK AT 40 TRACK , SHOULDN’T THE AUTHOR GET A HINT AND ADD THAT
    OPTION TO THE CUSTOMISER ?

    SO IN A WAY , THIS IS FEEDBACK FROM THE USERS TO TELL YOU THE AUTHORS WHAT
    THEY’D LIKE TO SEE . IF A LOT OF PEOPLE AGREE ON IT THEN MAY BE THEY SHOULD
    HAVE IT ? DESPITE ALL THE THOUGH YOU AUTHORS PUT INTO A PROGRAM IF THE USER
    DON’T
    LIKE IT , IT’S LITTLE SATISFACTION TO KNOW THAT ‘THAT’S THE RIGHT WAY TO DO IT
    ‘ NO ?

  • pucc_unknown

    36179 17DEC87-2048 General Information
    RE: Battleline! (Re: Msg 36176)
    From: GREGMILLER To: HARBIE

    Roger,
    Oho! You’ve a somewhat valid point.. I think I’ve gtotta give in to
    the point that understanding a SUBROUTINE, and EXACTLY how it associates
    with it’s calling program…
    As for patchers taking resposibility ..
    Well… They might WISH to, but things never work out that way. The
    original author WILL get blamed. You’d be suprised at how some people
    can get NASTY when a FREEWARE program doesn’t meet up to their expectations..
    I guess my point is that the author, whether he wants it or not, holds
    a measure of responsibility for his programs – responsibility that, in the
    eyes of the users, covers the WHOLE program (even if it’s a patched-up
    mess), whether or not he wrote it.
    (it=the program, as it stands)
    – Greg