I'm an open source fanatic. I'll put up with a lesser product if it means the difference between being open source or not. For instance, I think Apple has a better desktop experience than Ubuntu does, and I also think they have slicker laptops than Dell has. However, I refuse to buy a Macbook because it's not open source, despite the fact that all the people around me have Macbooks--even my heros Guido van Rossum and Bram Moolenaar.
My buddy Mike C. hates OOP. Mike's a wicked sharp guy from MIT, so he's earned the right to his opinion. (As an aside, it's strange how vehement many Lisp hackers hate OOP, despite the fact that OO systems exist for Common Lisp.) It'd be one thing if he were simply a fan of Scheme over Java, but Mike often codes in Python and refuses to use OOP.
My co-worker Alex J. has many strange technical hangups. He's also been coding in Haskell for nine years, which I think qualifies him for "smart and interesting". Alex hates RDBMSs because of the way they use disks. Clearly in the 70s, RDBMSs were an important way to abstract disk usage, but he argues that memory is plentiful enough these days that we should no longer optimize for disk usage. The thing that irritates him most is that when you query a database, you don't know whether it's going to be able to answer the query from memory or have to incur several 9ms seek time penalties in order to answer the query. He calls this a "leaky abstraction". Sounds somewhat reasonable right? Except Alex takes it to the point where it literally pains him to work in any company that uses an RDBMS.
I have a previous co-worker named Jesse M. who hates the Web. He's a senior architect at IronPort Systems; he's the type of guy who can get big things done. Jesse's a user interface purist and he argues that the Web is a fundamentally broken user interface. The fact that every Web site looks and behaves slightly differently is horrible from a user interface perspective. His pet peeve is that text areas have scroll bars while the page itself also has a scroll bar. Personally, I had never thought to be irritated by that. It's reasonable for a user interface purist to gripe about the Web, but Jesse takes it to what might be considered unreasonable levels. He almost entirely refuses to use the Web. He occasionally has to write scripts to scrape data from Web pages so that he can avoid using a Web browser. In fact, he refused the adoption of a company wiki because that would require a Web browser.
My buddy Sam R. loves asynchronous networking, but hates writing asynchronous code. These days Erlang is popular enough that people are beginning to see that you can write asynchronous code without breaking everything into callbacks. However, Sam figured this stuff out years ago. He was the inspiration behind Stackless Python and wrote the mail server for eGroups (i.e. Yahoo Groups). There are cases where the performance benefits of asynchronous networking are simply unnecessary; cases where it'd be nice to simply use the built in server libraries. However, Sam would rather write everything from scratch--hacking at the innermost bits of Python--that put up with synchronous networking APIs or having to write Twisted code. By the way, I'm a convert to Sam's religion. I think Twisted is awful ;)
Guido van Rossum has an interesting hangup. He built restrictions into the very syntax of Python in order to force programmers to write more readable code. Did you ever edit a piece of C where the indentation didn't match the braces? Guido's response was to write a language where it's not possible to indent the code in a way that conflicts with the meaning of the code.
Similarly, in many functional languages, you can write code like
a = if winner:The "if" statement is itself an expression that returns a value. You can do this in all of the functional languages and in Ruby too. However, Guido feels that the following is more readable:
if winner:Guido's response: Python makes a distinction between expressions and statements that prevents you from writing the code in a way that Guido feels is less readable.
a = 1
a = 2
Well, since it's my blog, I can confess to one more over-the-top hangup. I love style guides. I think following style guides improves code readability. In fact, I have the style guides for C (BSD), Java, Python, and Perl mostly memorized. Sounds like a good idea, right? The problem is that I'm so obsessed with style guides that I have a hard time reading code that doesn't follow the style guide. During code reviews, if a chunk of code doesn't follow the smallest requirement in the Python style guide, I'm so distracted that I can barely focus at all on what the code does or whether it has any bugs.
It's interesting to see how smart, interesting people can often take reasonable ideas and take them to their logical conclusions in such a way that it dominates their lives. Sometimes, it's in a way that is not only disproportional to the subject at hand, but is even occasionally harmful to them overall.