Cover page by Russ Olsen

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Chapter 6. Use Symbols to Stand for Something

I have to admit that I tend to be a bit anthropomorphic about the technologies I work with. I just can’t help but think of all those complex piles of software as somehow alive, each with its own personality—sometimes friendly, sometimes not. Early in my career I imagined FORTRAN as a grouchy old camel—capable of carrying a huge load, but fairly ugly and not a creature you would want to turn your back on. Later on I had this mental image of the -> operator in the C programming language (it dereferences pointers) as an arrow in flight: also very powerful, also nothing to mess with. These days, the colon that precedes every Ruby symbol always makes me think of the eyes peering out from the tilted head ...

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