Converting time from GMT to another timezone

Alex Martelli aleax at
Sat Mar 22 09:59:45 CET 2003

William Park wrote:

> Peter Hansen <peter at> wrote:
>> Really, it's unclear what you are trying to do.
> Yet, you gave an answer.  God, it's amazing that Python can even raise
> one's telepathetic powers.

Haven't followed the rest of the thread, but, in my experience,
your quip IS actually related to one way Python can help you
make better analysis.  It's a fact of life that people who are
trying to specify a program for you to write DO inevitably
express their wishes unclearly, over and over again, particularly
but not exclusively if they're not programmers.  With Python, it's
often fast and easy for you to show them several possible ways to
interpret what they've just asked for -- you throw together small
pieces of code and run them, so they can focus more accurately and
clarify their meaning.  This works better interactively and face
to face, of course -- and not at all for "waterfall" approaches
where all specs must get etched in stone before a single line of
code is written (yecch!) -- but the point is that, through this
easy exercise often repeated, you DO gradually develop your sense
for guessing the likely meaning of ambiguous requests -- AND you
stay focused on "in face of ambiguity resist the temptation to
guess", i.e., you don't blindly guess, you try at least one
sensible interpretation and SHOW it for disambiguation -- but you
NEVER omit to point out the possible misguess, so the guy who's
giving you the specs get a chance to correct himself.

Eventually you learn to use similar approaches with other languages,
too, but that may take 10 or 20 years of practice while with Python
one or two years may suffice, because it lends itself SO well to
this "interactive clarification of specifications' intentions".

So, yes, in this sense Python does "raise your telepathic powers":
you become a far more effective guesser of specifiers' intentions
in face of ambiguity, without thereby failing to point out that
there IS ambiguity and unclearness -- in part because it's so easy
to redo the code once you find out what the darn the guy DID mean.


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