Quarter Life Crisis

The world according to Sven-S. Porst

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Unnatural Order

226 words

Screenshot of sorted list in the Finder I bumped into yet another quirkyness of the OSX Finder today. Apparently, it tries to be clever, using an algoritm like that of Natural Order in classic MacOS. The main idea behind this is the assumption that you'll like object with the names File 8, File 9, File 10 sorted in that way rather than with File 10 coming first, as normal computer sorting would do.

While this is definitely done with only the bests intentions, I am not sure it is a good idea for a number of reasons: Generally, software shouldn't try to be smart. It should rather be predictable. Software trying to be smart invariably leads to the smartness making it look stupid. Which it did, as the screenshot shows. Writing smart software seems to require high precision in the definition of the scope of that feature. Apple's algorithm is very sloppy there, using any number for it's smart sorting even if there is no good reason for it.

To make things more interesting, the algorithm seems to treat numbers overflowing a 4 byte range as smaller than all other numbers. Well done, Apple.

I just want you to know how sorry we are about how fucked up things got between us and Mr. Wallace. When we entered into this thing, we only had the best intentions.

Pulp Fiction

June 7, 2003, 23:00

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