• Bogolese (unregistered)

    Look up the story of the developer in CA who chose the vanity plate "NULL" I think null handling may occupy a close second place to date handing. :(

  • Registered (unregistered)

    Growing up, we had a building which had functioned as an outbuilding of a 1-room schoolhouse since the early 1900's. When preparing for a new paint job, we observed a name carved into the building - Henry Null. This code was undoubtedly written by someone searching for relatives to see if anyone could be charged for the ancient vandalism.

  • TheCPUWizard (unregistered)

    Hey, when a dictionary adds a definition to the word "literally" of "figuratively". But the definition of "figuratively" remains "not literally"...we are not at the point where literally literally means not literally... so lets rank things by priority....

  • (nodebb)

    LOL WHERE ISNULL(last_name, 'NULL') = 'NULL'

  • (nodebb)

    Fun bit: The gallery app of my mothers rather Old Galaxy A-series phone sorts all photos received by WhatsApp to Jan 1st, 1970.

  • (nodebb) in reply to TheCPUWizard

    Ref: Wiktionary (https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/literally) which says:

    1. (degree, figuratively, proscribed, contranym) Used non-literally as an intensifier for figurative statements: virtually, so to speak (often considered incorrect; see usage notes)

    The usage notes say:

    Literally is the opposite of figuratively and many authorities object to the use of literally as an intensifier for figurative statements. For example “you literally become the ball”, without any figurative sense, means actually transforming into a spherical object, which is clearly impossible. Rather, the speaker is using literally as an intensifier, to indicate that the metaphor is to be understood in the strongest possible sense. This type of usage is common in informal speech (“she was literally in floods of tears”).

  • NULL (unregistered)


  • (nodebb) in reply to TheCPUWizard

    Have you every heard about a concept called irony? :-)

  • Ross Thompson (unregistered)

    Words that mean "literally" have been used as intensifiers (or, if you prefer, to mean "figuratively") literally forever. No-one gets mad, though, if you say "he really has his head in the clouds". Even the word "very" is derived from "veritably". This is an ancient trend and I don't understand why people have decided to get mad at one tiny aspect of it now.

    And obviously, "literally" doesn't mean "figuratively". Can you imagine someone saying "she's figuratively beside herself with anger"? It adds nothing to the sentence. The use of "literally" there would only make sense if it doesn't mean "figuratively.

  • (author) in reply to Ross Thompson

    Honestly, it sticks in my craw the same way as those who get upset about singular "they", which goes back to the very beginnings of modern English. Yes, it does mean it's sometimes unclear what plurarlity you're discussing- this is usually communicated from context clues, in the same way that pretty much any pronoun requires context clues to convey meaning.

    Languages are always going to evolve and change. "The street finds its own uses for things," and that definitely includes words. Honestly, one of the things that's great about English, IMO, is that unlike a lot of other western languages, there is no standards body that says "this is what correct English is", at least none that anyone listens to. Spare us the Académie Française.

  • Deeseearr (unregistered)

    "The problem with defending the purity of the English language is that the English language is as pure as a crib-house whore. It not only borrows words from other languages; it has on occasion chased other languages down dark alley-ways, clubbed them unconscious and rifled their pockets for new vocabulary."

    -- James Nicoll, in rec.arts.sf-lovers, May 1990

  • Duston (unregistered)

    I once had to work on a system where the IT manager banned the use of NULLs ("we've had problems with them in the past".) There was a payment field (2 decimals) which could be positive (payment), negative (refund) or zero (no payment required.) Then the issue came up, what do we do if they haven't paid at all? I suggested NULL. I think we wound up with -9999 or something. Ah, good times.

  • Randal L. Schwartz (github)

    I recall someone who had a last name of Root had trouble with mail filters that would trigger on the unix root account for filtering.

  • richarson (unregistered) in reply to Randal L. Schwartz

    Stephen Root maybe? It'd be be funny to hear THAT story :)


  • Wayne (unregistered)

    I've worked with databases since the '80s, mainly in government. I've seen LOTS of last names float across my screen. It wasn't until I worked for a school developing a special database project around 2015 that I found a family with the last name of Null. Now, I know better than to try an evaluation like the code sample shown, and I've known better for a very long time. It still kinda blew my mind.

  • kb-techsupport (unregistered)

    In the past, I was responsible each month for preparing a mailing list that included a contact whose surname was indeed "Null". The ancient software we used to combine various files into the final list treated the string "Null" as a null value, so the contact's mailing label would end up having only his first name on it.

  • John (unregistered)

    On genealogy forums I am often replying "leave it blank if you don't know" to people who invent dates and names. For some reason it is popular to use the surname "Unk" if you don't know the name.

    Apparently people dislike empty fields.

  • Argle (unregistered) in reply to Deeseearr

    I think he was quoting that from Bill Bryson's "Mother Tongue."

  • Some Random Dude (unregistered)

    When I was in the military I actually met someone with a last name of Nul. I instantly thought of "bad" data in databases and string terminators in C.

  • Deeseearr (unregistered) in reply to Argle

    That's an impressive feat, quoting from a book which hadn't been published yet.

  • Gordon (unregistered)

    I once encountered a database application which was core to the entire operation of an educational institution. The day I arrived I was beseiged by complaints about the slowness. After much time and money being spent the contract developers admitted that they had no real idea of how to delete a person record, and all its associated data - sometimes 100s of items.

    So they changed the surname of people who were deleted to 'Kill'. And every SQL statement had a 'WHERE <table.surbamefield> <> 'Kill'. Then in another stroke of genius they executed everything on clients not servers, so huge databases were pumped around to dozens of client stations every minute.

    It took ten months for me to get management to admit they were wasting money, brains and time and get rid of the application in favour of an off-the-shelf solution.

    I found 3 families surnamed 'Kill' in local directories - thank goodness none of them tried to enrol.

  • (nodebb) in reply to MaxiTB

    Have you every heard about a concept called irony? :-) As in "iron-like", or as in "made (largely) out of iron"?

    Addendum 2024-03-07 01:53: Bloody layout is not working properly again.

  • (nodebb) in reply to Remy Porter

    The Académie Française is the best thing ever we have in French. Literally. It only further highlights how we mistreat the language, and yet doesn't prevent anyone from doing so. C'est l'exception qui confirme la règle.

  • King (unregistered)

    I wonder if Mr. Pascal Nil are experiencing any problems?

  • Conradus (unregistered)

    "They could just store a NULL, but due to data sanitization issues, they stored 'NULL' instead- a string. "

    Apparently their data sanitization issue was that they didn't want to have any.

  • Neveranull (unregistered)

    So, literally there is no word in the English language we can use to express the concept of something being literally true?

  • (nodebb) in reply to Neveranull

    Do you mean that literally figuratively or literally literally?

  • (nodebb) in reply to Neveranull

    Yes, that's a fair analysis. Exceptional claims require exceptional evidence, so if you're going to say that you were literally glued to your seat, or literally at the head of the class, or literally on top of the world, then you'll need either to tell the story of how you came to be in that situation or to accept that people will understand you as speaking figuratively despite your choice of words.

    For less exceptional claims ("I was literally the first customer at the store that day"), people are more likely to take you at your word. Of course, in those cases, the word "literally" doesn't actually add any meaning.

  • (nodebb) in reply to jkshapiro

    One form I've seen often, including before the widespread redefinition of how "literally" is used, is "quite literally". I think that phrase is still understood to quite literally mean "literally".

  • airdrummer (unregistered) in reply to Bogolese
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