Rare Insight Into the IPy Team

An email conversation between two members of the IPy team that you, dear reader, might find amusing.

From:Srivatsn Narayanan
Sent: Friday, May 02, 2008 4:00 PM
Subject: You dont need pinky fingers? 😄


From:Dino Viehland
Sent: Friday, May 02, 2008 11:30 PM

Wow, am I really that loud? 😄

This is a response to the idea that no design is complete until you can’t remove anything else without sacrificing the overall goals of the end result.  Is the pinky really necessary?  We can “cut that feature”, right? 😄

From: Srivatsn Narayanan
Sent: Friday, May 02, 2008 11:49 PM

If you cut off the pinkie, then the ring finger becomes the pinkie and so iteratively you will have to lose all of them 😃. If I remember right in Europe, you hold up the pinkie to order beer. So it’s quite important 😄

From: Dino Viehland
Sent: Friday, May 02, 2008 11:59 PM

Well I find it hard to argue with ordering beer, but I doubt the pinkie’s original use was to order beer.  Therefore I’d describe this as an abuse of an existing API that might be better served by a new API specifically designed for this purpose.  But I question even if a new API is necessary.

Drinking beer by definition involves a container in which the beer is consumed from.  Therefore the container it’s self (or the lack thereof) might be able to serve the dual role for both consuming the beer and indicating the need for a refill.  For example when drinking sake I’ve been told it is customary to tip the bottle on its side to indicate the desire for a refill.  Are we really to expect that the Human API exposes every need in a direct fashion?  For example should I have another appendage for “I need more bread sticks” and yet another for “Can I get a refill or on the water?”.  I’d propose the “2 creams no sugar” appendage because that’s the way I take my coffee.

On the other hand the iterative problem does seem to be more relevant – but it presupposes a purpose for the pinky in the first place!  But alas, I admit I’ve just returned from drinking beer, so this may not be the best argument 😃.

From: Srivatsn Narayanan
Sent: Saturday, May 03, 2008 12:21 AM

The pinkie is like a reserved field/custom field in a API. Every user community can come up with its own use for it but they have to devise the protocol themselves. Apparently different civilizations have. Wikipedia as usual has a list of those. So do you get your “2 creams no sugar” appendage – sure if u can agree on the semantics with the waiter. Seems like a PM call to me 😄

PS: What beer did u have? I should try that – seems effective 😄

From: Dino Viehland
Sent: Saturday, May 03, 2008 12:26 AM

I hadn’t quite considered it like this but I’d propose an alternate encoding – binary.  With 4 fingers one can communicate up to 16 different which seems to cover most of the listed issues.  Yes 5 gives you up to 32 messages but 16 should be enough for everyone 😃.

And they were various Hale’s Ales fresh from the brewery.

From: Srivatsn Narayanan
Sent: Saturday, May 03, 2008 12:31 AM

I wouldn’t want to hold up 0010 really (although it won’t be the middle finger anymore) 😄

From: Dino Viehland
Sent: Saturday, May 03, 2008 12:40 AM

Ahh, but let’s just call that one reserved – that leaves the end-user with 15 other messages!  Personally I’d suggest we reserve the entire bit – that way we could use other codes like 1010 for future expansion of various standard messages.  Urination seems popular on the pinky list so maybe we’d want to standardize that in the future – we of course need to look at uses of the other fingers before we come to this conclusion.  Users are now left with 8 user-defined messages but that seems plenty.  Also they can then use 1000 or 0001 (depending their endianness, a.k.a. left-handed or right-handed) for the now deprecated pinky-messages.

From: Srivatsn Narayanan
Sent: Saturday, May 03, 2008 12:55 AM

1000, 1100, 1110 and 1111 are actually used for counting numbers 1,2,3,4 😄 They are too obvious to be non-standardized. So they are out as well.

That cuts the user messages to 5 (third bit is reserved anyway). Some of the ones left are hard to make as well – try 0101 😄


How did Sri and Dino get on this topic? And where the hell was I?
Ahh but to continue the conversation. just reducing the middle finger would be a cultural thing. (while it is mostly known world wide what it means) In the Ukraine maybe Russia also?? the thumb between the index and middle finger has the same meaning. in the Middle East for us UT fans would be rude to display the hook em horns as it has that meaning there. Of course there are also the other Gestures you would have to account for, in England (I believe) the thumb to the nose has simuliar(sp) connotations. Oh well;) more food for thought. don't hate me too much when the conversation starts back up:)