[LINK] Sloshed [was: If Sir Tim Berners-Lee had his time again he'd probably leave // out]

Stephen Wilson swilson at lockstep.com.au
Tue Oct 20 11:34:42 AEDT 2009

In this, my pet hate is the awkward and redundant expression "forward 
slash". Because Unix came first, in my book a forward slash is the 
default slash and is therefore simply a "slash". The *special* slash is 
the back slash which only became important, as Craig says, after 
Microsoft chose to use it in contrast to the regular slash.

When speaking slashes I reckon you only need to qualify the back slash.

Or as we used to call it, the "slosh".



Stephen Wilson
Managing Director
Lockstep Group

Phone +61 (0)414 488 851

www.lockstep.com.au <http://www.lockstep.com.au>
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Craig Sanders wrote:
> On Tue, Oct 20, 2009 at 10:01:12AM +1100, Marghanita da Cruz wrote:
>> The reverse slashes on Windows used to drive me mad when I tried to
>> test updates for the ramin communications website on an Unix/Apache
>> server. Now with Linux on the desktop and on the server the world is a
>> wonderful place.
> Microsoft copied the idea of hierarchical directory trees from unix for
> MS-DOS 2.0, and deliberately chose to use back-slashes(*) in order to be
> different. they also retained the idiotic drive-letter thing that MS-DOS
> 1.0 had copied from CP/M.
> back-slashes have mostly just been annoying since then, they've created
> a few extra hassles for users switching between unix and MS-DOS/Win, as
> well as for programmers porting software between the two environments.
> neither forward- nor back- slashes are inherently the "right choice",
> either works as well as the other.  (IMO, forward-slashes have
> a slight intuitiveness/flow/naturalness advantage, and a huge
> "first-mover" standard-setting advantage. even back then MS were into
> embracing-and-extending-and-buggering-up existing standards).
> the drive-letters, however, were a fundamentally stupid design decision
> that crippled MS/Win/NT's ability to use disk drives.  On a unix box, if
> you're running out of disk space, just add a new disk and mount it as
> the directory where you need it (e.g. "/home", or "/export" or whatever)
> - everything just keeps on working because nothing except the kernel
> cares or even notices whether a subdirectory is just a subdirectory or a
> mount-point for a different disk/partition.
> on MS-DOS etc, you can add a new drive but it can't just be added in to
> the direcory tree at any point, because directory trees aren't global to
> the system, they are local to each drive/partition...so the new drive
> will get a new drive letter.  Worse, programs typically expect to be on
> the C: drive and to find all their configuration and data files there.
> Reconfiguring software so that it can exist on another drive can be
> anything from no-hassle to impossible, but is typically a major PITA.
> even worse than that, there is a serious risk that adding a drive to the
> system will cause the drive letters of existing drives in the system to
> change, breaking software that is no longer on the drive letter it used
> to be on, or that can no longer find its data on E: because E: has been
> renamed to G:
> (*) could be worse....Apple used ":" as the path separator in the
> original Lisa and Mac and kept it until they switched to unix with Mac
> OS X.
> OK, that digression was a lot longer than i expected it to be. i'll get
> back to the topic now.
>> The // is preceded by a http: and the subsequent structure www.domain
>> relates to sub-domains not directories.
> it's a fair bit more involved than that. the basic format of a URI is:
> <scheme name> : <hierarchical part> [ ? <query> ] [ # <fragment> ]
> "scheme name" can mostly be thought of as the application protocol. e.g.
> http, ftp, mailto, ldap, and many others.
> "hierarchical part" is the location of the resource.  most protocols
> start with a "//" (e.g. http://, ftp://), but some don't (e.g. mailto:).
> see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/URI_scheme for more details.
>> Today, browsers, and apparently thunderbird, assume www is a synonym
>> for the "http://www" and has become a defacto standard, which is
>> naturally called evolution.
> actually, most browsers just use http as the default protocol,
> regardless of whether it begins with "www" or not. if you don't specify
> one in the URL, it will assume http and prefix "http://" to your URL.
> many browsers will also try adding ".com" to the end of the URL if a DNS
> search can't resolve the domain, and some will subsequently try adding
> "www." to the front. e.g. type in "example" into a browser's window and
> it will try, in sequence, "http://example", "http://example.com", and
> "http://www.example.com"
> some browsers will treat whatever you type as a search string for your
> default search engine. either as a last resort after the above DNS-based
> attempts, or instead of them.
> none of this is set in stone - it's entirely up to the browser what they
> do with incorrectly-formed user input.
>> The www rather than the http:// has become an indicator of a website.
> that's because the internet and computers and pretty much every other
> object or concept related to technology are magic black boxes that you
> don't need to understand.
> on a semi-related note, it really used to bug me how the ABC (and
> others, but the ABC in particular) used to pronounce their domain.
> they'd say "abc-dot net-dot au", rather than "abc dot-net dot-au". i
> guess someone told them how stupid they were making themselves sound
> because they stopped doing that a few years ago.
>> From a parallel discussion on SLUG I just learnt about file:///home/
> file:// URLs are useful, and they also provide ample evidence that
> most people see technology as magic black boxes and don't even try to
> understand it.
> they'll create a web page in Front Page or Dreamweaver or some similar
> piece of crap, upload it to their server, and then be completely
> incapable of understanding that the site is broken for everyone else but
> them because all of the IMG SRC urls and many of the A HREF links
> refer to something like "file:///C|/Documents%20and%20Settings/User%20Name/Desktop/Images/picture.gif"
> - it works OK when they look at it on their desktop, so there can't possibly
> be anything wrong with it.
> this is related to the typical end-users' complete inability to
> understand the difference between relative and absolute paths, or even
> that they exist as concepts that need to be understood.
> craig

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