Powers of Ten (so to speak)


I am not sure if you are old enough to remember the 1977 IBM movie Powers of Ten (trippy version, without narration) [also at the IMDB and wikipedia], but that’s a movie that sure put things in perspective. Thinking in terms of powers of ten helps me sort things out when I am considering a design problem. Thinking of the scale of a problem in terms of physical scale is a good way to assess its true importance for a project. Sometimes the problem is the one to solve, sometimes, it is not. It’s not because a problem is fun, enticing, or challenging, that it has to be solved optimally right away because, in the correct context, considering its true scale, it may not be as important as first thought.


Maybe comparing problems’ scales to powers of ten in the physical realm helps understanding where to put your efforts. So here are the different scales and what I think they should contain:

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Honni soit le Hongrois


The original Hungarian notation is due to Charles Simonyi who invented it sometimes while he was working at Xerox Palo Alto Research Center—the Xerox PARC that gave us the mouse and the first graphical user interfaces. The basic principle of Hungarian naming convention is to prefix the variables with one or many particles, encoding alternatively its type or its intend. This lets programmer write prgszNames as a variable name, which is perfectly legible to one well versed in Hungarian; however, but looks mostly like gibberish to just anyone else.

I recently changed my mind about the Hungarian naming convention. I don’t think it’s that stupid anymore.

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