A World of Analogies

A hand of seven playing cards Recently, a few people have been coming up with some new analogies to describe various internet related technologies. I’m a big fan of analogies - anything that helps implant information in my brain is alright by me!

Over at stuffandnonsense.co.uk, Malarkey has been talking about a web standards trifle with the layers of sponge, jelly, custard etc being replaced by things like the HTML, CSS and DOM scripting that’s used to get things done. He then goes on to contrast the nice “healthy” trifle with the old stodgy fruitcake of yesteryear’s HTML. My favourite bit of the entry though has to be down in the comments:

<!BOWLTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD TRIFLE 1.0 Transitional//EN" "http://stuffandnonsense.co.uk/TR/xhtml1/DTD/trifle1-transitional.dtd">

Well, it made me chuckle.

Across the pond in Seattle, D. Keith Robinson has been relating the fact that he couldn’t find a place to get his car tyre fixed to the poor state of the web. In “Web Users Are Beggars” he looks at the old adage that “beggars can’t be choosers”, and comes to the conclusion that when since it’s so hard for web users to find a place that actually does what they want, that when they find somewhere that pretty much fills their requirements they’ll use it and keep coming back - even if it isn’t the cheapest or best. Oftentimes mediocre is good enough, and that just isn’t good enough.

My personal all-time favourite analogy to do with computers is the one that I’ve been using for many years now - my way of describing hard-drive fragmentation. I like to look at a hard drive as a pack of cards. The pack has four suits in it, and I like to think of these as four files on a hard-drive. Now, when you first open your pack of cards the suits are all in order, so it’s nice and easy to pick out an entire suit all in one go. Now shuffle the cards, and find the Ace of Spades. Next find the Two of Spades, Three of Spades, etc. all the way up to the King of Spades. See how much longer it to pick out all the cards of the suit, compared to when the pack of cards was first opened? The same thing happens on a computer. Over time, as files get added and deleted, the blocks which make up particular files will become spread across the entire hard-drive, making it much harder for the computer to find all of its pieces. Defragmenting your hard-drive tells your computer to find all the pieces of all the files on your computer and put them back together into suits, making it so much easier to for your computer to find its files which in turn means that things will run faster Which is always a good thing.

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workingwith.me.uk is a resource for web developers created by Neil Crosby, a web developer who lives and works in London, England. More about the site.

Neil Crosby now blogs at The Code Train and also runs NeilCrosby.com, The Ten Word Review and Everything is Rubbish.