One of my pet peeves
is NAK systems "Negative AcKnowledgement" systems. Whenever I try to create a
system or a policy, I like to use PAK "Positive AcKnowledgement"
Some examples of NAK
systems that exist in real life:
Street walk light button - How many times DO you have to hit the Red button
anyway ? And how hard? Do you keep hitting it until it eventually turns to Walk
you hit it once and then patiently wait to see if turns to Walk when
the cars go and, if it doesn't, you just walk on the "don't walk" light? When I
was in elementary school (grade 3 I believe) we had a guest who made a big deal
about "only hit the button once" - something about wearing the buttons out. At
that time I thought it was a stupid design (I still think it is a stupid design) - especially since the cross
walk button near my place DIDN'T work reliably and I had already learned to hit
the button 3 times hard. Fortunately by that age I had learned to not
blindly trust adults so I ignored that adult - I still hit them hard (to make sure
they register) and often
hit them twice, just to make sure. Enough times in my life
when I only hit it once, it didn't register.
Closing the door in an elevator - Why do the have a door close button anyway?
I've NEVER come across an elevator that closes the door when I press the
button. I think some psychopathic maniac put the buttons in just so they could
watch people fruitlessly pushing it. And yes, when I get in almost
any elevator I haven't been in before, I hit the close button just to see if this one has a close button
that does something.
Like choosing a floor in an elevator - If the light doesn't come on - should
you hit it harder or just hit it repeatedly until it stops on the floor you wanted?
Most people pick to hit it hard and repeatedly. If you don't believe me - look at the buttons on elevators that do
light up, then look at the ones that don't light up. If they are about the same
age, you will see that the ones that don't light up have been much more
agressively hit, scraped and beaten than the ones that light up to say "Yes, I
It almost seems that we don't even care if it takes us to the correct floor
- as long as it appears to be paying attention!
Like saying "I'll call if I get lost" then after hanging up realizing you
that they called you, and you forgot to ask them for their phone number. If you
said you'd call when you got there, maybe they would phone back to see if you had
Or "Meet me at (some location an hour from their house) unless I call you back"
- then, when you can't make it, you don't call them because (as above) you forgot
to ask for their phone number.
Or like the important email I received that actually said "Please inform me
immediately if you do not receive this message." The proper thing to say would
be: reply when you receive this" and then resend to anyone that doesn't reply
- and if they still don't reply, contact them through some other medium.
For developers only:
Of course, the whole Internet, including email, is predicated along a NAK
design. Files (packets) are sent out but the receiver doesn't acknowledge
OK, now here is a funny joke: If you don't understand it, read everything above,
then read the line below out loud.
Do you have the NAK? Did you get the NAK?