I hate to bitch but bitch I must

PJ af.gourmet at videotron.ca
Sat Oct 17 20:17:09 UTC 2009

Mark wrote:
> -----Original Message-----
> From: owner-freebsd-questions at freebsd.org [mailto:owner-freebsd-questions at freebsd.org] On Behalf Of PJ
> Sent: zaterdag 17 oktober 2009 3:50
> To: Steve Bertrand
> Cc: Polytropon; freebsd-questions at freebsd.org
> Subject: Re: I hate to bitch but bitch I must
>>>>> but from man tunefs:
>>>>> BUGS
>>>>> This utility should work on active file systems.
>>>>> What in hades does this mean--just above it says cannot be run on
>>>>> active file systems. ???
>>>> It "should". This means: Don't try that. :-)
>>>> My printer isn't printing!
>>>> But it should.
>>>> No, it is not printing!
>>>> Yes, but it should.
>>>> :-)
> Actually, this has got very little to do with being a native English
> speaker or not. It's ere a matter of intonation (which, in writing, can
> only be conveyed to a certain degree, of course). 'Should' can certainly
> mean "Don't try that." As in:
> Will the ice hold me?
> Well, technically it should.
> (Meaning: it probably will, but I'm not overly confident.)
>>> Aha! Gotcha! Whoever wrote that has made an unintentionnal booboo. It
>>> is a subtle difference and is indicative that whoever wrote it is not
>>> a native english user... the meaning is clearly "should be executed,
>>> done, carried out, performed"
> The meaning of 'should' is not nearly as narrow as you suggest. Often it
> also denotes reservation (as in the above example). To illustrate once
> more:
> Can I run dump on an active file system?
> It *should* run on an active file system, provided (enumerations of
> conditions which would need to be met; like preferably no disk-activity
> when making the backup).
> (Meaning: it can be done, but it's ill-advised, really.) And clearly it
> does not mean "should be executed, done, carried out, performed."
> Another one:
> Will he run for President?
> Well, he should be able to get enough votes.
> (Meaning: if everything goes as planned, he might succeed, but it's by no
> means guaranteed he'll actually get enough votes).
> So, given the right intonation and context, "This utility should work on
> active file systems." can certainly be understood to mean one could
> technically do so, but that it's not recommended.
> - Mark
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I think you're trying to take the meaning of "should" a little too
far... to keep it simple, and without trying to intellectualize it, it
simply means (and this can change within certain contexts) "normally, it
should work" (in our context, here) but there is no implication of any
warnings or dangers ... the "normally" is implied, the rest you can do
with it as you wish, obviously at your rist... but even then the
interpretation goes too far. As I suggested to Polytropon, in this
particular case the instructions for the implementation of the procedure
are very clear: use on an inactive system or SUM... so where's the
bug... to suggest that it "should work" on an active system is confusing
- if the author thought it important that it wouldl not work on an
active system, perhaps he should have merely said "do not use on an
active system"... that would be consistent and very clear. ;-)

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