The World According to Nick
My take on Software, Technology, Politics, and anything else I feel like talking about.
Monday, April 19, 2004

Null as a Way of Being 

I have this little issues at work from time to time. One of the members of my group is a hardcore database developer. In fact, he's on the board of PASS (Professional Assocation of SQL Server). He lives and breathes databases. I on the other hand live and breathe programming languages. Right now, I live and breathe C#/.NET. Before that, I lived and breathed C++. As it turns out, one of the major differences between the databases and languages is how you handle Null.

Null is an interesting beast in the computer world. For my database programming afficianodos, Null is beautiful. You can pass around Null, and even operate on Null as if it were any other value. For us in the C# world, its a little different. You can check for Null (as you often should)... and in fact I often times use it as a special flag. But if you try to operate on Null... you are greated with an ugly little surprise... the Null Reference Exception. We often times have issues when the database returns Null. We beg and plead to please return something... anything else. Null can be a harbinger of doom.

What does any of this have to do with life? Matt Warren has an interesting post on Being Null.

Null is the absence of actuality, the state before you make up your mind, the moment before you peek inside the box to see if the cat is still alive. When you are null you are free; free to choose and free to be. The future is laid bare with all its paths before you stretching out toward the horizon emblazoned with the orange and gold of sunrise.

I try to reach a state of null as quickly and as often as I can. Null is completion, when you cross off all the items from your list and are left with the satisfaction of a job well done. It’s like standing on a mountain top looking down over all that you’ve ever done and seen and known.

Null is Zen.

Maybe I should rethink my attitudes on Null.

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Name: Nick
Home: Wauwatosa, WI, United States

I'm a Software Consultant in the Milwaukee area. Among various geeky pursuits, I'm also an amateur triathlete, and enjoy rock climbing. I also like to think I'm a political pundit.


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