It must be something I did



  • A long time ago at a government contractor far far away, I wrote FORTRAN IV software to control a rather complex station designed to test avionic electronics for fighter jets. We would carry the 24 inch disk enclosure to the station, install it, hit a few dip switches to get to the boot prompt and hit Enter. The disk would wind up (it sounded like a turbine spinning up). Pretty lights would go blinky blinky, and in a minute or so, you could proceed.

    Every now and then, during booting it would spin for a couple seconds, then go silent, and all the lights would come on in a pattern we lovingly refferred to as the death knell. At that point, we'd call the hardware support folks over to fix it. This went on for a few years until the support manager died (literally) and someone from within the support team took over.

    The next time the station wouldn't boot, we called for support and they insisted that we changed the os incorrectly; it's my problem. But we didn't change the os - at all! No sale. Then your app must be the problem. Can't be as it's not running before the machine finishes booting. Then you're setting the wrong dip switches. I'd buy that once, but not repeatedly.

    This went back and forth for a while until all the upper managers on both teams wound up in the room with me at the test station. They watched me load the os from the master tape - unmodified. They watched me compile the app from the official master source - without our current modifications. They watched me load the disk. They watched me hit all the correct dip switches. I hit the boot sequence, the disk started to spin, then shut down and we got to see the death knell.

    They insisted that I was doing something wrong - they didn't know what - because they hadn't changed the station. Then I heard a loud pop, so I opened the station door and found the problem - charred silicon and capacitor bits everywhere.

    But it must be something I did...



  • @snoofle said:

    But it must be something I did...
     

    It was something you did, you turned it on didn't you? If you hadn't done that it wouldn't have broken.



  •  Must have been something in your code. Did you try to divide by zero?



  • @DOA said:

     Must have been something in your code. Did you try to divide by zero?

    Based on the end result, I'd say he successfully divided by zero.



  • @Justice said:

    @DOA said:

     Must have been something in your code. Did you try to divide by zero?

    Based on the end result, I'd say he successfully divided by zero.

     

    That's roughly the premise of the movie Pi.



  • You must have done something to that capacitor.



  • @savar said:

     

    That's roughly the premise of the movie Pi.

    You say that as if that movie had any premise at all.



  • @bstorer said:

    @savar said:

     

    That's roughly the premise of the movie Pi.

    You say that as if that movie had any premise at all.

    People who don't understand math love that movie.



  •  

    But it must be something I did...

    Back in the late 1960's IBM had a reference manual. Whenever something went wrong, the 360 computer gave you an error code and you had to look it up in the manual. The manual gave the code, a description of the symptom, and the cause.  After a while you noticed that nearly every single cause starrted with "Probable user error". Smoke coming out of the disk CPU cabminet? Probable user error. Can not boot? Probable user error.



  • @snoofle said:

    But it must be something I did...
     

     

    Yeah, you're not supposed to use WRITE OUTPUT SMOKE on hardware that doesn't support it.



  • @morbiuswilters said:

    @bstorer said:

    @savar said:

     

    That's roughly the premise of the movie Pi.

    You say that as if that movie had any premise at all.

    People who don't understand math love that movie.

     

    Also people who do understand math and love moody films.



  • @dhromed said:

    @morbiuswilters said:

    @bstorer said:

    @savar said:

    That's roughly the premise of the movie Pi.

    You say that as if that movie had any premise at all.

    People who don't understand math love that movie.

     

    Also people who do understand math and love moody films.

    Also people who love to get high while watching films.  God, the bit with the brain?  GAAAHHHHH!  Never doing that again.



  • Nice story. Thanks


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