[TUHS] Make love

scj at yaccman.com scj at yaccman.com
Sat Aug 1 12:42:30 AEST 2015

Early Unix had a lot of cryptic messages -- the infamous "eh?", and "very
funny!" were two that I got several times.  The make love message in the
earliest make I remember was "Don't know how to make love."

When working on PCC, I had the unenviable job of producing a C compiler
that would accept all of  *077532 = 13, 077532->ack = 13, and device->ack
= 13.  As we were trying to get the kernel and applications to declare
addresses more "honestly", we adopted a rule that if you actually used a
structure reference that was type safe, we would require it everywhere in
the file.  Since structure members used to be in a single namespace, this
led to some horribly complicated code.  In an effort to get it to work, I
festooned it with consistency checks nearly every other line, getting more
and more punchy as I tried to come up with short, unique messages.

I'll never forget the look on Ken's face when he came to me and asked
"what is a 'gummy structure'?"

Nowadays, while I'm happy to have some fun with them, I think throwing
humor at people who have just screwed up is playing to a tough audience. 
Today, I might have suggested that 'make love' produce something more like
"Don't know how to make love.  Can you introduce me to a hot makefile?"

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