Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Twiddling While Rome Burns

Sound Engineers have a switch on their consoles that does absolutely nothing at all. They call it a DFW (Doesn't [Flipping] Work).

It comes into its own when the "talent" decide they know all about sound engineering (they don't) and insist on changes being made to the mix.

The sound engineer will then make a big show of making complex adjustments of the DFW until the band decide that the quality of the sound is much better thanks to their intervention. The performers will then go away happy and leave him in peace.

IT Developers have a similar process. Project Managers often decide they know all about IT Development (they don't) and insist on changes being made.

The IT developer will then take about ten minutes to increment the version number, change the colours and fonts used in the Login Screen and do a global replace of variable names.

They will then play "Quake" for the rest of the day before recompiling the code and passing it back to the Project Manager in the early hours of the next morning. I'll guarantee that the result will a smug PM who will have no further comment.

This IT developer also admits that in the past he has declared impressive-looking variables that are never actually used in the rest of the script. My favourite is "DATA_INTEGRITY := 'TRUE', which was enough to convince my Project Manager of the time that I was taking great pains over data integrity.

I have a growing suspicion that Interest Rates are the economists' equivalent of the DFW switch. It looks to the uninitiated as though strenuous efforts are being made to rebalance the economy, but in fact they are stalling for time hoping the economy will come round by itself and they can take the credit for it.

Does anyone see any evidence that it actually matters what the Interest Rate is ? The economy seems to me to be just as pear-shaped now as it was when rates were 400% higher.

Placebo Economics ? I think we should be told.


Kenny said...

LIke it. In an economic use, I have no idea whether we are dealing with a DFW switch.

But I like the fact that you fessed up to outlandish variable naming.

I must confess I have applied similar practices when "performance-tuning" code. That bloody great loop that serves no purpose? /* bloody great loop */

Sit back and await the kudos.

drummerdave said...

One of my earliest programming mentors was a (you guessed it) cryptic crossword fan..

His (IBM 360 assembler) programs were liberally documented with stuff such as

/* PAM IN LOO (4,4)

Kenny said...

Love it. I'm in the middle of writing a Perl script -- I may well leave a few clues as to what I was thinking in there.

Stan said...

Heavens, you don't document a Perl script - if you're not careful, someone else might be able to understand it. Perl scripts should look as though they have been encrypted.