1. “Is there any reading of the third panel that doesn’t qualify this for an Arlo Award?”

    Yes. Software developers will sometimes “fork” projects if they want the project to go off in a different direction, while most of the other developers involved want it to go the original way.

    This is difficult to explain if you’re not a software developer, so here’s an example in a different domain:

    Imagine if you were collaborating with several authors on writing a book. Things are going pretty well, but when you write half the book, some of the authors (including you) have a different vision of how the story should play out, compared to the majority of the authors.

    Instead of carrying out a holy war, the authors that side with you “fork” the book project — that is, you take your progress on the book and you simply split off a new team of authors that is now independent from the original team. Now each team develops their own story.

    In the end, it could be that the team with the best story wins out. Or perhaps both stories are so good that they are both kept, and published as different books. Or maybe the best parts of each story fork will eventually merge back into the final published story.

    Here’s the link to the Wikipedia page, but be warned it may be difficult for the layman to follow:


  2. Whoops, I was futzing around with my password utility and unable to post, but Winter took care of the main point. I was going to say there are two extremely common uses of “fork” in programming / development, and the one intended here is (as WW points up) the version control one. Think of it as “branch”.

  3. It’s especially common in the open-source world, where anyone can take the current codebase and do something else with it. Sometimes that fork continues on and becomes its own project going forward, like some of the Open Office forks, sometimes it will be integrated back into the main.

    Back when I was a productive member of society, we would do that sort of thing within the source-control system, although it was called “branch” rather than “fork”. You’d do that for investigation purposes, so you could check in changes and not risk losing the progress, without affecting the main development.

  4. Actually the Arlo interpretation would raise questions? Why software? Why not anything else? Why would “fork” akin “f**k” but the best answer, not a butter knife to butter up the judges or …. And shouldn’t it be “fork up”? And wouldn’t he *not* want to do it? Or is the some pervert with a fetish who wants to literally….

    Frankly, a terminology one might not have heard of (and all software engineers, whom Amend *loves* appealing to *has* heard of “fork”) is really the only way to interpret it and an Arlo interpretation not make any sense.

  5. Software developers have no problem with Arlo-ish terms. If you are a Unix user and want to get detailed information about another user, you use the “finger” command:

    finger cidubill

    You will get Bill’s login name, real name, email address, login directory and time of most recent login. Also his Project and his Plan if he has set them.

    It is most likely based on the slang definition of “finger” as in “inform on (someone) for the police” or “identify (someone) for a particular purpose.” Any resemblance to flipping the bird or to what Freddy Got in the Tom Green movie is purely intentional.

  6. I recall just one person — a HS librarian — reacting with a bit of startle and displeasure when I said something about the SCSI connector we had to use on her device, which I pronounced the usual way, “scuzzy”. I hardly thought of that as a provocative word.

  7. And yet… electricians and plumbers have been referring to male and female parts for nearly a century.

  8. Woozy — only a century? I’m surprised that terminology doesn’t go back farther.

  9. The two pronunciations of SCSI are “scuzzy” (far more common) and “sexy” (I’ve never heard it, only read it in lists).

  10. The term fork as used in software development most likely comes from the Unix system call fork(). Fork() spawns a new instance of the running program, so you have two running copies of the program.

    Warning, geekness ahead!

    What’s fork() good for? It’s how Unix starts a new program. For example, if you type ls (directory listing) at a shell prompt, the shell forks itself (I don’t think this gives the shell any particular pleasure), and then the second copy of the shell calls exec() to replace itself with the ls binary. It sounds awkward, but it’s actually kind of elegant.

    What else is fork() good for? Well, a quick way to crash a Unix system is to have your program do nothing but fork itself until the system runs out of resources. Come to that, this would also a fine way to demolish a software project.

  11. Agreeing with everyone, but to make a trivial point, this usage of “fork” is metaphoric for “fork in the road,” not “fork, the thing you eat linguini with.” It’s actually a very good analogy for alternate timelines. Robert Frost in the woods and such.

  12. Arthur, we still call parts of a braking system the ‘master cylinder’ and the ‘slave cylinder’.

  13. This comic needs a COVID-19 tag as it was a shoutout (or Easter egg hunt) to people who are still working during the pandemic shutdown.

  14. I would agree that scrubbing those bits of master/slave terminology is a good idea.

    “Master” on its own probably doesn’t need to be regarded that way. A “master key” does to some extent suggest ruling over all the locks .. but probably not in a way that would genuinely matter. And, speaking as a Master of Science, I don’t expect to hear from the granting institution that it has retroactively been changed. [Though such can happen! When my father went to law school, the basic degree was Ll.B., “Bachelor of Laws”. Later, law schools started awarding “J.D.” (“Juris Doctor”) as the basic degree. And my father got a letter from his school offering to change it and send a new diploma.]

    But the Yale College residential colleges system disagrees. A couple years ago, along with founding two new colleges, they renamed two existing ones (whose namesakes were seen as bad guys in retrospect), and modified some other aspects of the residential colleges system — in particular the title of “Master” was changed to “Head of College”.

    (Fans of the history of computer programming may enjoy hearing that one of the new names is Grace Hopper College.)

  15. “The two pronunciations of SCSI are “scuzzy” (far more common) and “sexy” (I’ve never heard it, only read it in lists).”

    Somewhere back in the elder times I was taught to remember http:www as “hippetty hop woo woo woo” — yes, I know it doesn’t map accurately, but I found it very memorable anyway.

  16. @MerylA, my mom’s degree was also switched from LLB to JD, but my father wouldn’t let her order the replacement diploma. Dad had an LLB that didn’t get upgraded and he was very threatened by the idea of his wife having a “better” law degree.

  17. Carl Fink – Such was/is life.

    Dad never used the term doctor though, except with some non-US clients who expected their lawyer to have a doctorate. When he was teaching taxation at night at a local college he went with “professor”.

    Mom had gone back to college for a masters in taxation – one semester she had to take a course and dad was the only teaching it. She used her maiden name in the class so it would not be obvious to the other students and they came and went separately. She told me she was concerned about passing the course – I pointed out to her that if she failed not only would he be concerned that she would upset with him – but he would have to pay for her to take the course again. (This was mom’s second master’s degree – her other one is in Library Science and predates the taxation masters – her bachelors degree is also in accounting.)

    That’s my family – accounting and library, though baby sister was a renegade and got her degree in management.

  18. “Some years back, California wanted SCSI to rename their master and slave devices.”

    I’m very late to this party, but nobody else has yet pointed out that SCSI doesn’t HAVE master or slave devices. SCSI has SCSI ID’s which are numbers between 0 and 8 (or 0 and 16, for some forms of SCSI).

    Master and slave devices are ATA devices, originally IDE (integrated drive electronics), which replaced the old system, in which a hard drive was connected to a hard drive controller card (typically provided by different manufacturers). In ATA a single 40-pin connector connected the mainboard to either one or two drives. The drives had the controllers “built-in” to the drive, and thus did not require a separate controller card to operate. If you wanted to use two drives, you had to disable the controller on one of them, so the two drives didn’t BOTH try to control the data channel. The controller on one then controlled both drives. As time went on, the 40-pin connector became an 80-pin connector, and got shorter, so that the data could be sent faster down the cable. The next change was huge: the parallel connection became a serial one and ATA became SATA, which is still used today.

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