Holy cow, I wrote a book!
In writing, one of the steps you need to perform is
motivating the discussion.
Now, technically, you don't have to do that, but if you just
dive into the guts of a topic right off the bat,
people are going to say,
"What the heck is going on and why should I care?"
Consider, for example, an article I wrote a while back on
how to use WMI to obtain computer configuration information.
To motivate the discussion, I considered a customer who wanted
to collect computer manufacturer information programmatically
(presumably for asset inventory purposes).
But really, the reason wasn't important.
It was just something for the script to do.
If it weren't printing the computer manufacturer, it could
have been getting the number of processors,
or querying, I dunno, the
thermal state of the motherboard.
Actually, the computer manufacturer was what I was after because
of the bonus commentary regarding how computer manufacturer
information is one of the things computer manufacturers often
skimp on providing when they manufacture their computers.
Often it's not even the set-up but the placeholder itself that
people fixate on.
Consider, for example, my complaint about
Most people understood that the question itself was just a placeholder
(and some people even
but you can always count on someone
complaining about the placeholder.
Another common problem is people who take
an analysis of a specific case
and extrapolate it to all cases.
There are places where you want to use bitfields, and places where you don't.
It so happens that the example I chose was one of the ones where it wasn't.
Some people interpreted this to mean that there were no cases where you
would want to use bitfields.
good advice comes with a rationale so you can tell when it becomes
These people skipped the rationale and just applied the advice blindly.
As an experiment, I've deleted the motivating preliminary discussion
from tomorrow's article.
It would have
involved a little game of one-upsmanship between two Czech colleagues.
(Update: Who, according to one commenter,
have no self-respect.)
[Raymond is currently away; this message was pre-recorded.]