April 24, 2009

The Electromagnetic Sphere

I propose a hypothesis that IT workers are surrounded by an electro-magnetic sphere of influence that changes the behaviour in computers. It seems to me that somewhere between 25% and 50% of the time that someone calls me to their desk to help them with their computer, the problem is irreproducable. The business worker will step through the motions of what they did, not a moment before, and then say something along the lines of "And then an error popped up, but it's not doing it now. It must be you. The computer only likes you."
While I'm not superstitious (I don't believe in ghosts or spirits or ESP), perhaps there is some quantum universal force that IT workers have become attuned to that follows them around, much like an aura. If we could just have some way of bottling this force, we could perhaps sell little pieces of it in the form of trouble-tickets. You would buy them in small packets from Best Buy or NewEgg. Each packet would contain just enough aura to be used for one trouble call. And with a 25% - 50% success rate (I need to keep better track), I think the packets would do even better than some junior IT personnel.
Of course, the real mechanism behind the aura is almost definitely related to the same force that works in Rubber Duck Debugging. Rubber Duck Debugging as defined by Network Dictionary:

As found at http://lists.ethernal.org/oldarchives/cantlug-0211/msg00174.html

We called it the Rubber Duck method of debugging. It goes like this:

1) Beg, borrow, steal, buy, fabricate or otherwise obtain a rubber duck (bathtub variety)
2) Place rubber duck on desk and inform it you are just going to go over some code with it, if that's all right.
3) Explain to the duck what you code is supposed to do, and then go into detail and explain things line by line
4) At some point you will tell the duck what you are doing next and then realise that that is not in fact what you are actually doing. The duck will sit there serenely, happy in the knowledge that it has helped you on your way.

Works every time. Actually, if you don't have a rubber duck you could at a pinch ask a fellow programmer or engineer to sit in.

And don't you feel foolish......
when, after hours or days of banging away and being completely stumped by something. Then you walk someone else through a problem, and you facepalm and realise EXACTLY WHERE the freaking problem was.

You blush, you mutter and say, thanks for the help. They look at you like you are an idiot and walk away grumbling.



You see, we humans are stubborn believers in the infallibility of our own minds, and it isn't until we share our thoughts with others that we see how rife they are with innacuracies and false memories. But this is what makes things like magnet medical therapy devices and ear candles sell so well. It's time for us IT workers to get our share of that pie. I'm off to design some product packaging....and think up some ways to sell 'New, Improved' versions of IT Aura.

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