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Re: Hackers, Writers, and Productivity

by merlyn (Sage)
on Mar 17, 2001 at 04:23 UTC ( #65081=note: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

in reply to Hackers, Writers, and Productivity

And I'm sure that even merlyn spends occasional hours on ridiculously simple bugs, that were so annoying to find just BECAUSE they were so simple!
I recall a experience where we had a field engineer from a vendor installing some Unix software on our Unix-over-VMS system, back when I was stuck in a VMS world.

He fretted for hours (way past 6pm), trying to get everything in (it was fixed-bid), and was getting very frustrated (I could tell by the muffled occasional "crap" and "damn" coming from his general direction). So was I, since everyone else had gone home, and as the sysadm, it was my job to get it installed and to babysit him until he left.

So, on a whim, I wandered into his cube area, hoping that maybe I could coax him to come back in the morning, and looked over his shoulder at just the opportune moment to see the code trying at the end of an apparently very long process to create, and failing. I pointed at the filename, and said "That's not a legal filename for this Unix emulator, because it exposes native VMS names, and they can't have two dots".

It's a good thing I was out of his backhand range, because he erupted with "WHAT! That's what's been holding me up for the past FOUR HOURS!" and started cursing in a way that even a sailor would be embarassed.

Moral of the story—sometimes, it's the little things. Second moral—ask when you get an error you don't understand. Third moral—never be within backhand range when you have to point out the obvious.

-- Randal L. Schwartz, Perl hacker

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