Do any of your users bark at hot food?



  • Reading over at techtales (used to be a good site, but not updates probably twice a year), this story really jumped out at me as a really summing up the mentality of a lot of users. I'm sure you've all ran into those ones who sacrifice a chicken by the full moon each time they run the expense report, because that's what they did the first time they ran the report, so it's obviously critical to the process.

    <font face="Comic Sans MS" size="2">Scene: a teenager "pre-geek" who is feeding the pet dog some
    nice hot food (early in the morning).
    Me: Just put down the hot dish of food for the wonderful pooch.
    Dog: Sniffs at food and discovers that it is too hot to eat, but is of course hungry.
    Dog: Barks at
    food. (Why not? he isn't happy, and wants to express his anger).
    Dog: Again sniffs food and discovers that it is
    a bit cooler.
    Me: Isn't that interesting. Barking at food does cool it down (of course, waiting patiently does
    as well!).

    This is very interesting to me, as every time I set out the food for the nice pooch to eat, and
    it is hotter than what is confortable to eat, he continues to BARK AT THE FOOD to cool it down. It continued for
    quite some time (years?). 
    (the first person to suggest that there's a non-trivial amount of cooling from the air movement caused by barking gets a slap)
    </font>

    Since there's already a common dogs/food phrase in IT "eating your own dog food", I've decided the follow suit here. All of those dumb users that have their weird rituals to perform I will now refer to as "barking at their dog food".

    So anyway... what users have you experienced that "bark at their dog food"? 



  • you blow on your food.   I'm not sure Dogs have the ability to simply blow air out of their mouth, perhaps it was a well conceived attempt to cool it off.

     

    PS.  I know they could pant at it.  But that is hot air and they are trying to cool it down. 



  • Barking at something has about the same effect as shouting at it. I would sincerely doubt that barking at it was a well concieved idea.


    Put your hand 6 inches from your face and alternate between blowing and talking to it. There's orders of magnitude difference in amount of air movement. Yes, I really did just try that.



  • In my experience, the most common "bark at dog food" behaviour is when users found a cumbersome workaround for a bug, and do it like that even when the bug has been fixed long ago.



  • A lot of people developers included bark at their dog food.

    For example on windows : who here always presses 'apply' before pressing ok even though ok automatically applies changes?

    I'd say quite a bit. The interesting thing is that some people who think 'I don't do that' actually do that all the time but it's such an habit that they don't realize.



  • In their defense they need to "see" the changes before closing the dialog box, that's why "Apply" exists in the first place.



  • Probably a lot of the barking at dog food is because of some weird bug
    workaround as you say, for example I knew someone who would move the
    mouse about while the PC booted up. One day I asked him why he did
    this, and by the sound of it he had either a faulty mouse or
    motherboard at home, leading to a system that thought there was no
    mouse during startup unless it was spitting out data. Of course, his
    assumed from this sample size of one that all PCs did it.

    As for apply/ok, I guess there are a lot of people, like myself, who'll apply, check if any changes are good or not, and then either amend and try again, or click ok. That's fine, that's what it was made for. I know what he means though - I see a lot of people who just automatically go APPLY>OK, almost as an automatic action.

    A common one I see is people who sit all day reading something from one screen and typing it into another, so it's not as if they have problems reading text from a computer monitor. E-mails however get printed before being read, even single-line ones. The normal answer to this is "that's how I do it"



  • ROFL, taking the "e" out of "email"!



  • @CapitalT said:

    In their defense they need to "see" the changes before closing the dialog box, that's why "Apply" exists in the first place.

    There's also quite a number of programs that DON'T apply the changes when you hit OK. Also programs that drop you changes when you switch to another tab. I hate those programs. Yeah, I always try to remember to hit apply because I don't like doing things twice. I'd rather spend an extra click instead of wondering why my changes didn't work only to discover the bloody dialog box didn't save them when I hit OK. Some developers should be smacked upside the head.



  • OK, I've got one.  But first you have to get past what you'll probably think is a WTF on its own.  So just be patient for a while.

    I wrote a web application for internal use.  It's written in Java.  It is very memory-intensive -- intentionally so, trading off memory for speed.  It would get the best possible performance if it had unlimited memory, but the available hardware has a hard limit on the size of the virtual address space for a process.  (It would be really nice if Java had a system that worked like virtual memory, only with a 100 GB address space, even on a 32-bit processor.  A 40GB address space would be just about right for this system.  If I could get a 64-bit processor ... but I can't.  I tried.)

    I had to have a way of finding out how much memory was actually being used so that I could determine how much information could be kept in memory.  Also I needed to monitor this over time to look for evidence of memory leaks.  The best I could come up with was to use Runtime.freeMemory() and Runtime.totalMemory().  Runtime.totalMemory() returns the amount of memory the runtime system has allocated from the operating system.  It is limited to a single process space so it cannot be more than 2GB or 3GB.  Runtime.freeMemory() returns the amount of that memory which is available for "new" objects.  This does not take into account how much would be freed by garbage collection.

    I made a special "Tweaks" web page that displayed free memory and total memory.  This was only partially useful.  Free memory could show as 10K out of 2GB total memory even though there was plenty of available garbage.  So I added a button labeled "Run Garbage Collector".  This causes the server to execute "System.gc()".  Then free memory would show a more realistic value, like 500K.  (If anyone has a better way of doing this in a production system, let me know.)  This may be a WTF but it has been helpful.

    That's the background.  Now for the barking.

    Every once in a while I get a message from the system manager:  "Free memory was getting low so I ran the garbage collector and it's better now."

     



  • I sort of have my own little "barking at my dog food".  I hate putting spaces in file names, i know it hasn't mattered since about 1996 but it's one of those habits that has stuck with me.  It's funny though, i find it is a surprisingly common habit amongst people who used DOS and windows 3.11 a lot back in the day.



  • @element[0] said:

    I sort of have my own little "barking at my dog food".  I hate putting spaces in file names, i know it hasn't mattered since about 1996 but it's one of those habits that has stuck with me.  It's funny though, i find it is a surprisingly common habit amongst people who used DOS and windows 3.11 a lot back in the day.

    Spaces in filenames make things harder on the command line, in scripts etc. and they might even break some stupidly written apps. I don't like them, too, but for a reason. 



  • Looks like a synonym for Cargo cult, which leads to Cargo cult science and indeed Cargo cult programming.

    For those who've never read those Wikipedia articles, you can have a great moment by reading the Antipatterns section. Some kind of theoretical version of this site ;-) Mapping all WTF articles to their corresponding antipatterns is left as an exercise to the reader.



  • Subtle difference, but cargo culting is about seeing someone else do something, and blindly copying them, assuming that those actions will get the desired results. Of course, most people will probably use the term flexibly.

     

    Talking about cargo cults though, apparently one of the original cargo cults had some big anniversary recently and expected something big to happen. I can't remember where I read that though. Anyone have a reference?



  • I habitually press Ctrl-S while editing files, even if I'm sure I haven't made any changes since the last time I saved.



  • @RayS said:

    Barking at something has about the same effect as shouting at it. I would sincerely doubt that barking at it was a well concieved idea.


    Put your hand 6 inches from your face and alternate between blowing and talking to it. There's orders of magnitude difference in amount of air movement. Yes, I really did just try that.

     You have committed several logical errors in your experiment.  Amongst them:

    1. The dog was approximately 6 inches from the food
    2. Talking to your food does not cool it off
    3. Talking to your food is the same as barking at it
    4. Your hand can detect the orders of magnitude difference you claim to have observed
    5. Shouting at your hand is equivalent to talking to it

    I'll leave the rest as an exercise for our readers.  I'm afraid the dog still has a fighting chance here



  • So a dog barking at hot food is like when your spacebar is broken and you use your mouse to copy-paste the space character.

    Except you can't buy a new keyboard to your dog. Oh well, let's ask the complicator's gloves inventors. 

     

    edit: and for the obligatory reference, it's like having no scanner but a nice wooden table and a digital camera. 



  • Its a matter of observed-effect reasoning vs logical reasoning. 



    Some observed-effect reasoning is the result of taking incidental
    actions and noticing a desireable result, then replicating those
    actions to achieve that result in the future, without understanding the
    basis.  Otherwise, you can also observe (or hear from) other
    people taking actions that give a desireable result, to the same
    effect.  Hiccup "cures" are a lot like this.



    The vast majority of computer users do fall into this category: 
    They know a series of steps to achieve a result, but have no idea why
    the steps achieve it. 

    It can be argued almost all human
    knowledge breaks down to being "observed-effect" at some point because
    we just can't understand in-depth how everything works, and then we use
    a logical framework on top of those assumptions.   You know sleep
    lets you focus better, but who really knows why?  Who knows what
    being "tired" really is - why can't more nutrients keep us going?



    But naturally you have a far greater command of a topic if you know why
    it works as it does, than a handful of reproduceable cause-effect
    cases, and in the case of software engineering, it can be down-right
    hazardous to have programmers plug in code with no idea why, other than
    its "needed to work."  Heck, it still suprises me to see how many
    programmers don't quite get the basics of memory allocation in C++
    (regarding new/delete) and simply know that "the syntax requires you
    to..." - as if its a fault of the language that you can't dynamically
    increase an array's size without penalty.



  • I remember a friend of mine way back when he had win98 on his pc. The first thing he did after starting up the pc was to

    1. open up task manager
    2. kill "explorer" (the desktop/taskbar process)
    3. wait until it got restarted (this was win98)
    4. kill it AGAIN
    5. repeat steps 3 and 4 two or three more times until he was sure the system was running "stable"...


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