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    The issue I have with the 10000 xkcd is that it kind of implies that knowledge (learning) is a uniform and random distribution. Like a spontaneous mutation; yesterday you didn’t know floating point had rounding errors and today you do. There’s no consideration for the channel or medium by which knowledge is imparted. Like how did you arrive here, today, without knowing this?

    An expression of surprise is not necessarily because you don’t know something (lots of people don’t know things), but that this ignorance surfaced in this particular context. I think surprise is a helpful signal that there are a great many more unknown unknowns.

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      I had a rant typed out but deleted it. I could be better in this area. I’m a big believer in being nice to everyone if they are acting with good intentions.

      I guess what’s really hard for me is that sometimes when someone has like 10 years of experience in an area and they haven’t learned some basic ground rule (If your website makes billions/year testing in multiple browsers might be a good idea) then I struggle to view their ignorance with charity.

      Not being an asshole is hard work sometimes.

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        I do it mainly if they are acting arrogant or overconfident while not knowing basic knowledge. Especially people who promote themselves as experts or authorities in a field that are peddling misinformation. I tend to slam them while linking to hard evidence. Others I’m either nice or just straight-forward with. They’re at least trying and being civil. Gotta reward that.

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          No snark intended here, I’m genuinely curious: Do you find / believe that “slamming” someone provides an additional benefit beyond what hard evidence alone would provide, or is more about personal gratification?

          It seems a little odd to me to take the position that being nice or just straight-forward to someone qualifies as a reward.

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            “Do you find / believe that “slamming” someone provides an additional benefit”

            They’re usually acting on emotion. That is, some combo of emotions that makes them satisfied pushing bullshit proudly. I add emotional impact to my response since reason rarely counters that. It’s a punishment with deterrent effect that works on occasion as a sort of positive, chilling effect. It’s also part of my nature since fighting bullshitters and bullies was part of my daily life for a long time. I still do it daily in my current job. I’m good enough at it that I’m sometimes a shield between bad managers and other workers. If anything, I have to be careful to not go to far in terms of what I counter or how hard. I certainly do on occasion since my mind is overly geared toward it. l plan to attempt a reduction of that in near future if possible.

            “It seems a little odd to me to take the position that being nice or just straight-forward to someone qualifies as a reward.”

            Straight-forward maybe not on an emotional level. Intellectually, people should expect others to give them honest answers to their questions or statements. Also, expect reward to go up along with the perception of the value of one’s actions. If I care like personally or at work, I’m more likely to be blunt on the positive stuff but say nothing of the negative stuff. Unless life/career threatening, I risk them learning hard way on their own as I’m simply not good at doing that without someone getting pissed or changing the subject. I can deliver it with the tone, patience, and understanding plus same words as someone who does it well but it always gets more negative reaction. There’s a few factors that cloud the why, too.

            I just let other people handle those moments with me keeping everyone entertained, informed, eye rolling at twisted humor, sighing at necessary reality checks on plans that will go wrong, or grateful I have their back when it counts. They also love to either eye roll or laugh at how I slam any bad situation, person, etc. It’s also part of my heritage from a black school where a white guy had to be able to improvise “checks” (insults) on 3 - (classroom size) aggressors at once to increase respect and reduce odds of physical attack except by 1-4 sore losers. Years of old habits die hard so I limit them to where they’re useful against the kinds of haughty and bullying assholes that have always deserved them. Also, delivered in moderation constructively. ;)

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          If your website makes billions/year testing in multiple browsers might be a good idea

          I would argue that it is okay to call out bad practices. I was having this discussion recently, and if you’re getting paid for something, you have a responsibility to do that thing as professionally as possible. You don’t have to be mean about it, but, “Hey, you really shouldn’t be doing this the way you are,” is not unreasonable.

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          I think it’s a nice sentiment, but something about this really rubs me the wrong way.

          Like, feigning surprise when you’re not actually surprised is a shitty thing to do (barring one or two little cases where you can use it to help build somebody up)–but the author here is advocating never showing surprise:

          A key trick here is to not act surprised even if you’re actually surprised.

          My problem with this is that there is valuable OOB communication that gets lost if you never show surprise. Perhaps speaking only for myself, when I get a surprised reaction I often learn that:

          • I may be in possession of novel information…maybe I know something others apparently don’t, so I need to check to make sure I’m spreading that knowledge.
          • I may be underinformed about something (“Wait, you haven’t used a linter?”) and I need to catch up…and the degree of surprise gives a hint about how important the thing is.
          • The person I’m talking to has different mental model of me.
          • The person I’m talking to is an asshole and my mental model of them should change.

          All of those are things that are extremely useful to know if you’re paying attention.

          Like, it’s a useful signal.

          I don’t think that the author is wrong here, but I do disagree with her.

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            The thing you’re missing (which is OOB for you, and for the particular set of behaviours and abilities that goes with a particular character of person, I hate to do it, but we could stereotypically label those people ‘geeks’) is that this surprise response when coupled with the fragile ego-state of another set of people (of which you may not be a member) creates a negative emotional state which is unhealthy and completely clouds what would otherwise be objectively useful information.

            In the absence of this ego / emotional problem, then surprise is fine - it’s just extra information as you say, but taking into account when interacting with emotional humans, there’s a whole much bigger layer which has negative consequence.

            (There’s a third scenario where the receiver is emotional and much more stable than your average person and able to transcend the standard emotional BS, this is uncommon)

            EDIT: I changed “emotional (normal) human” to “emotional humans” - I didn’t mean to judge who is ‘normal’.

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              I don’t believe that those people are relevant enough to bother optimizing for at the expense of general communication performance.

              They’re a vocal minority (especially on the internet!), sure, but in the day-to-day most people you’ll meet aren’t in a fragile ego-state. As an individual I support being respectful of that potential pitfall, but I cannot in good conscience suggest that society as a whole should take that large a performance hit merely because a minority of people are unable to take things in stride.

              And again, I’ll make clear that feigned surprise is tacky–but honest surprise is what I’m defending here.

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            Point of fact: I have no idea what a PCI bus is.

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              PCI is the bus that personal computers and servers use to communicate with peripherals. Your USB host adapter (the thing that connects to your USB peripherals), network card (ethernet or WiFi), or GPU are often connected to the processor via this bus.

              If I recall, much of the PCI peripherals appear as memory-mapped I/O to the processor. So in the OS/driver software, you can trigger the interactions with the device by reading/writing to a buffer in memory and then setting control bits on the device to go read/write from that buffer. The device can trigger interrupts on the processor to notify it that an operation is starting/completing.

              … lots of other details missing depending on how shallow/deep you want to go …

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                Did you ever own a desktop computer or see inside them? Notice you plugged the network, graphics, USB, etc cards into slots? Those slots are connectors for PCI that let your devices talk to the CPU and memory. One important thing about it is it’s ridiculously fast and low latency compared to other buses. It’s so fast that I once thought about using it directly as a network switch for high-performance computing (i.e. clusters). Turned out companies already did with lovely numbers:


                Dolphin’s stuff I Googled real quick claims up to 64Gbps per port. High-speed PCI’s are awesome. :)

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                “What?! You’ve never heard of ‘no feigning surprise’?!”

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                  I never understood this. Who feigns surprise?

                  A: I don’t know who RMS is

                  B: (Unsurprised that A doesn’t know who RMS is but feigns) I’m so suprised about that! How can you not know?

                  This makes no sense. There’s a good point here about not making people feel embarrassed to say they don’t know something but this is so confusing I can hardly say the point is well made …

                  Am I missing something?

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                    You’re missing the fact that lots of people feign surprise.

                    Like all simple rules, gracefully applying this one requires some skill and practice, but the motivation in promulgating it is to encourage resilient and nurturing environments not dominated by ego displays and contests.

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                      Maybe you can help me out. I’m really struggling with this! Can you explain what’s going through someone’s mind when they feign surprise. I just can’t imagine any set of circumstances where that would occur.

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                        It’s a way to broadcast a social hierarchy statement without being straightforward: “This person is not as informed/smart/cool as I/we are, because they don’t know a piece of ‘crucial’ tribal knowledge.” If that sounds kinda jerk-y, it’s because it is.

                        If your question is, “Why would anyone be kinda mean?” then I probably can’t give a comprehensive answer. My go-to explanation is that they are insecure or otherwise frightened about their own status in some way.