Don't get me started on that subject

“Reaction time is a factor in this test, so please pay attention. Now, answer as quickly as you can.”


“Nine two six five three –”

“Those are digits of Pi.”


“I memorized that when I was a kid.”

“Did you have fun doing that?”

“Yeah, I guess. Is this part of the test?”

“No, just warming you up, that’s all.”

“Oh, it’s not hard or anything?”

“You’re in a cube farm, going for coffee in the kitchenette, when you hear someone cursing.”

“Is this the test now?”

“Yes. You look into a cube, and you see someone staring at their program –”

“What one?”


“What language are they using?”

“It doesn’t make any difference. You look down and –”

“But what am I doing at that company?”

“Maybe you’re hacking C++, maybe it’s Visual Basic or Perl, who knows? You look at the screen and their IDE is full of syntax errors…

“IDE, what’s that?”

“Know what Visual Studio is?”


“Same thing. You just stand there and stare at all the errors –”

“Do you make these questions up, or do they write them down for you?”

“– the person is trying to fix them, but they just don’t get the syntax, they keep making things worse and worse and now they have thousands of errors, filling the screen. But you’re just standing there, not helping, they’re utterly lost but you’re not offering any advice –”

“What do you mean, I just stand there?”

“I mean, you don’t do anything. Why is that?”


“They’re just questions. In answer to your query, no, these are written down on the interview sheet. It’s a test, designed to provoke a response. Shall we continue? Describe in single words, only the good things that come in to your mind about … installers.”

“Let me tell you about installers…”

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11 Responses to Don't get me started on that subject

  1. Eric TF Bat says:

    I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Hard disk drives walking across the floor in the cool rooms of the university. I’ve watched chad buckets filling with dropped bits near the Fortran IV card stacks. All those … moments will be lost in time, like tears…in rain. Time to retire.

  2. bbot says:

    It’s a shame this spec won’t last forever, but then again, what does?

  3. DGentry says:

    “Would you… like to be upgraded?”

    “Had in mind something a little more radical.”

    “What… what seems to be the problem?”

    “Soft errors.”

    “Soft errors! Ah. Well that’s a little out of my jurisdiction. You…”

    “I want more ECC, @#%$!”

  4. le_mous says:

    “Did you get your precious code?”

    (shaking his head) … “Someone was there.”


    (hesitates, then nods)


  5. landon says:

    @le_mous: I am laughing and my cow-orkers are staring at me.

  6. TheElkMechanic says:

    “You remember the coder that lived in her cubicle outside your office: orange hair, great legs. Watched her build an installer all summer. Then one day there was a new CD for you. You put it in…”

    “I put it in, and a hundred processes launched. And it bluescreened.”

    “Scripting errors! Those aren’t your bugs. They’re somebody else’s. They’re Wozniak’s niece’s. (pause) Okay, bad joke. I made a bad joke. You’re not a bad lead dev. Go home, okay? No really, I’m sorry. Go
    home. (pause) Want a Mountain Dew? I’ll get you a Mountain Dew…”

  7. Cuprohastes says:

    From the movie “Blade Admin”, based on the book “We can compile it for you, wholesale” by PDP Dick

  8. geo says:

    Installer dialog that says: “Estimated time remaining… 1 minute” for over two hours.

  9. Oisín says:

    One of the .NET installers… After 10 minutes of downloading and activity, a message roughly as verbose as “Install failed”. Turns out some log file in %TEMP% has the answer, which is a 32-bit constant. Turns out the constant indicates the case where an installer depends on .NET already being installed. But – … ok.

  10. Nice homage to Blade Runner! Great interview.

  11. Vicki says:

    Is that what it was?
    It was… interesting. Surreal. Well done. And frightening possible as an interview.
    (I’ve never seen Blade Runner.)

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