No Brakes!

A Software Engineer, a Hardware Engineer and a Departmental Manager were on their way to a meeting in Switzerland. They were driving down a steep mountain road when suddenly the brakes on their car failed. The car careened almost out of control down the road, bouncing off the crash barriers, until it miraculously ground to a halt, scraping along the mountainside. The car’s occupants, shaken but unhurt, now had a problem: they were stuck halfway down a mountain in a car with no brakes. What were they to do?

“I know”, said the Departmental Manager, “Let’s have a meeting, propose a Vision, formulate a Mission Statement, define some Goals, and by a process of Continuous Improvement find a solution to the Critical Problems, and we can be on our way.”

“No, no”, said the Hardware Engineer, “That will take far too long, and besides, that method has never worked before. I’ve got my Swiss Army knife with me, and in no time at all I can strip down the car’s braking system, isolate the fault, fix it, and we can be on our way.”

“Well”, said the Software Engineer, “Before we do anything, I think we should push the car back up the road and see if it happens again.”

Gilb’s Laws of Unreliability

  • Computers are unreliable. Humans are worse.
  • Any system which depends on human reliability is unreliable.
  • The only difference between the fool and the criminal who attacks a system is that the fool attacks unpredictably and on a broader front.
  • Undetectable errors are infinite in variety. Detectable errors do not exist, unless deadline is less than three hours away.
  • Investment in reliability will increase until it exceeds the probable cost of errors, or until someone insists on getting some real work done.
  • At the source of every error which is blamed on the computer you will find at least two human errors, including the error of blaming it on the computer.
  • A system tends to grow in terms of complexity rather than of simplification, until the resulting unreliability becomes intolerable.
  • Self-checking systems tend to have a complexity in proportion to the inherent unreliability of the system in which they are used.
  • The error-detection and correction capabilities of any system will serve as the key to understanding the type of errors which they cannot handle.
  • All real programs contain errors until proved otherwise — which is impossible.

Roberts’ Rules of Computer Order

  • You will never have an extra blank disk.
  • If you do bring along a blank disk, you won’t need it.
  • If you don’t bring along a blank disk, it will be the only available opportunity to obtain a copy of a hitherto unattainable, and uniquely appropriate program.
  • If someone else is watching while you are doing anything on the computer, anything at all, it will screw up (that’s a technical term).
  • The percentage chances of screwing up increase in direct proportion to the size of your audience.
  • No matter how simple it seems to you, your explanation will be more than they want to know.
  • You will amaze yourself at how much you know.
  • You will amaze your mother at how much you know about computers.
  • You will always have one disk envelope too few. Or too many.
  • The only pieces of data you will ever lose are the ones you were going to save just as soon as you finished typing a couple more lines.
  • The update of your program will use the keys for something entirely different in this version than it did when you first learned it.
  • You will not understand it the first time you read it in the manual.
  • You will understand it better the next time you read the manual.
  • For no discernible reason, when you are late for an interview and need a last minute copy of your resume your printer will go down. It will always go down. It doesn’t care.
  • Nowhere in your repair manual will it ever tell you what you really need to do–which is to turn the darn thing off and get yourself a cup of tea.
  • You will never know what a user file is.
  • The price of anything you buy will stay the same until the actual impact of your money on the bottom of the cash drawer, at which time it will automatically re-list itself in next Thursday’s paper at 30% less.
  • Staring at the screen for 97 continuous minutes will not necessarily reveal to you the secret location of any colon that should have been typed in as a semi. Or vice versa.
  • It will always seem like your friend got a better deal.
  • The 800 number will be busy.

Murphy’s Technology Laws

  • Murphy’s Technology Law #1:
    You can never tell which way the train went by looking at the track.
  • Murphy’s Technology Law #2:
    Logic is a systematic method of coming to the wrong conclusion with confidence.
  • Murphy’s Technology Law #3:
    Technology is dominated by those who manage what they do not understand.
  • Murphy’s Technology Law #4:
    If builders built buildings the way programmers wrote programs, then the first woodpecker that came along would destroy civilization.
  • Murphy’s Technology Law #5:
    An expert is one who knows more and more about less and less until he/she knows absolutely everything about nothing.
  • Murphy’s Technology Law #6:
    Tell a man there are 300 billion stars in the universe, and he’ll believe you. Tell him a bench has wet paint on it, and he’ll have to touch to be sure.
  • Murphy’s Technology Law #7:
    All great discoveries are made by mistake.
  • Murphy’s Technology Law #8:
    Nothing ever gets built on schedule or within budget.
  • Murphy’s Technology Law #9:
    All’s well that ends… period.
  • Murphy’s Technology Law #10:
    A meeting is an event at which minutes are kept and hours are lost.
  • Murphy’s Technology Law #11:
    The first myth of management is that it exists.
  • Murphy’s Technology Law #12:
    A failure will not appear until a unit has passed final inspection.
  • Murphy’s Technology Law #13:
    New systems generate new problems.
  • Murphy’s Technology Law #14:
    To err is human, but to really foul things up requires a computer.
  • Murphy’s Technology Law #15:
    We don’t know one-millionth of one percent about anything.
  • Murphy’s Technology Law #16:
    Any given program, when running, is obsolete.
  • Murphy’s Technology Law #17:
    A computer makes as many mistakes in two seconds as 20 men working 20 years make.

Murphy’s Laws of Computing

  • When computing, whatever happens, behave as though you meant it to happen.
  • When you get to the point where you really understand your computer, it’s probably obsolete.
  • The first place to look for information is in the section of the manual where you least expect to find it.
  • When the going gets tough, upgrade.
  • For every action, there is an equal and opposite malfunction.
  • To err is human … to blame your computer for your mistakes is even more human, it is downright natural.
  • He who laughs last probably made a back-up.
  • If at first you do not succeed, blame your computer.
  • A complex system that does not work is invariably found to have evolved from a simpler system that worked just fine.
  • The number one cause of computer problems is computer solutions.
  • A computer program will always do what you tell it to do, but rarely what you want to do.

Redneck Computing

You know you’re a good ol’ boy computer operator if…

  • Most of the e-mail you receive comes from people who want to borrow your truck.
  • You’re right proud of that Jack Daniels mouse pad that you keep on your desk.
  • When your Mac is running a little slow, you try to fix it by squirtin’ it real good with some WD-40.
  • You can’t understand why the spell checker on your word processing software doesn’t recognize the words “col’beer”, “hon”, and “frog-strangler”.
  • One thing that bothers you is how hardly anyone who sends out e-mail has a handle. You get the itch to start a message with the words, “Hey, good buddy, you got your ears on?”
  • You can’t figure out why Microsoft doesn’t have its own NASCAR team. I mean, if it’s good enough for Cheerios, Valvoline, and the Cartoon Network, it ought to be good enough for Bill Gates, right?
  • Instead of “bytes”, you think of it as “horsepower”.
  • You finally decided to buy a computer after the Gun and Knife Show went online.
  • You have been thrown out of several chat rooms for cussing and trying to start an online fistfight.
  • Your keyboard looks a little different than everyone else’s. Instead of an apple, your command button has an okra on it.
  • Congratufreakin’lations – you hold the world record for most number of hits – on the World Wrestling Federation web page.
  • The reason your printer is jammed is that you dropped your tobacco chew spit cup into the paper holder.
  • Most of the e-mail you send starts with “I’ll tell you what,” “This ain’t no bull,” or “It’s got to where you cain’t…”
  • Some guy asked you about your floppy, so naturally you decked him.
  • You’re pretty sure computers would work better if Briggs & Stratton began marketing a model that cranks up with a pull rope.
  • You think that every child should be linked up to the Internet for educational purposes. But you with there was more information about how to dynamite fish or build your own still.
  • Your favorite search engine is Yahoo, because you run around screaming it during football games and wrestling matches anyway.
  • The only reason you had your computer equipped with a CD-ROM was so you could listen to Merle Haggard.
  • You figure computer science will have peaked when you can buy a 12-pack of Old Milwaukee online without leaving your doublewide.

Object Oriented Bohemian Rhapsody

Is this the real world?
Is this just fantasy?
Caught in a LAN-slide
No ESC to reality.
open(2) your files,
Look after your while()s in C;
Its just a cheap toy, but dearer than Symphony(tm)
With it’s wheezy cough, noisy beep
Address clash, little sleep
Anything but Windows(tm),
Nothing beats class lib’ries to me,
To me.

Just killed a RAM
Got some static on its pins,
Now I don’t see the dust bin,
‘Write’ had just been run,
But now I’ve got to throw it all away
Mama, ooooooh, Didn’t mean to make it fry
If I’ve no stack to overflow tomorrow,
Carry one, carry one,
‘Cause there’s nothing like class lib’ries.

Too late,
My time(2) has come
Send lightning down my line
Stop my make(1) before it’s time
Goodbye, everybody, I’ve got to go,
Gotta leave you all behind and read Knuth.

Mama, ooooooh, (Anything but Windows(tm))
I don’t want to *sigh*
I sometimes wish I’d never known Bourne at all.

I see a little silhouetto of a man(1),
Scarramouche, Scarramouche,
Did you run the test script yet?
Thunderbolt and lightning,
Blowing up my modem, me.
Gone away now,
Gone away now,
Gone away now, Windows(tm) froze.
Its worse than crap (oh oh oh oh)

It’s just a cheap toy, ev’rybody has three
It’s just a cheap toy from a cheap company
Spare us our lifes from this monstrosity!
Wheezy cough, noisy beep, will you let us sleep?
Drink Miller! GNU! We will not let you sleep!
(let us sleep!)
Drink Miller! GNU! We will not let you sleep!
(let us sleep!)
Drink Miller! Will not let you sleep
(let us sleep!)
Will not let you sleep (let us sleep!)
Will not let you sleep (let us sleep!)
Oh Mama mia, mama mia,
Mama mia, let us sleep!
Be-el-ze-Gates has a widget put beside my tree,
my tree,
my tree!

So you think you can force me to use XP?
So you think you can love me and leave me no drives?
Oh, baby,
Can’t do this to me baby,
Just gotta c-out, just gotta get write(2) out of here.

Nothing beats class lib’ries,
Anything in C,
Nothing beats class lib’ries,
Nothing beats class lib’ries to me.

The Online Poem

You just awake… your eyes are still shut
Still cant quite focus…..still draggin your butt
You know you need coffee……can taste that first sip
You wait for the maker…..and put the mug to your lip.

The feeling is warm…. just what you need
But you know you need more….and its something to read
The paper you say??? no…dont think so.. not it…
Its much more exciting… you cant wait to “click”…

You boot up your ‘puter…….you click that icon…
Can’t keep from grinning…. you’re really turned on!
When the voice says “Welcome”…your heart skips a beat!!
You know your addicted….all the friends that you’ll meet.

And then you see it…….you wait with a stare….
The mail box lights up!! “you’ve got mail” waiting there!!
OH.. what a feeling!!…. you look with delight!
You hoped you’d have mail…. and you knew you were right!!

So you go thru the mail….. knowing this is the “Best”.
Reading this reading that….as you go thru the rest.
Some you give the “delete” key….others get your first click
You know you must hurry……you gotta be quick!

It is then that you hear it…. You can’t wait to see
Your heart gets a flutter… who’s name will it be?
And then there it is….. covering part of the screen
The sweet little sound… know what that means!!!

“Quick mail check” you promised….you said in your mind.
But you just got an IM…. and your pressing for time!
You know that you want to…. and respond you will
So you stop what your doing.. and go for the thrill!

You “LOL” and “BRB”, give kisses and Hugs…
You type and send words… refilling your mug
You give your good friend your attention and time
So that quick little mail check… turns to hours online!

My Wife

So here I sit, in all my glory…
Lend me an ear, and I’ll tell ya a story…
I once had a wife–she was such a dear,
Then came the Net, and it all disappeared!

Now there she sits, for hours on end…
don’t care where I’m goin’, don’t care where I’ve been.
It could be three, or it could be nine…
she really doesn’t care, long as she’s online.

She gets outta work and rushes home,
She comes in yelling at me, “Get off the phone!”
Where is the hug? Where is my kiss?
But she’s at the computer–that’s all she missed!

Talking to cyber friends, checking the mail
I might as well be in a Cyber Jail!
My stomach’s growling–it’s so unfair!
No clean dishes and no clean underwear!

Drink me a beer, stare at the walls
I’ll pick at my teeth and roam the halls,
Farting and burping what a sight to see…
Can you believe she’s there?? When she could be with ME!!

Cyber Nursery Rhymes

Mother McGee went to drive C:
to find her poor Windows a byte
But, when she enquired, all drive space expired
And not even Stacker would put it right.

Little Miss Muffet opened her notebook
and called on WordPerfect to write
Along came a spider, who sat down beside her,
and explained how the function keys worked.

Jack and Jill are married still
but things look kinda scary
He loves a PC; she’s fond of a Mac
and RISC makes both of them wary.

Mary had a little Lan
Then, she wanted more
First she bought a lot of RAM
Then part interest in a computer store.