Queueing Theory In Action, plus, frogs

Well that was a lovely vacation. It got off to a poor start but then it improved dramatically. Suppose you’ve got an “entrance” that is producing some largish number of “customers” on some schedule. You’ve got a bunch of “servers” who are handling the customer requests. Once a customer request is satisfied, the customer leaves…


Making it easier

I read an article in a technology column on MSNBC a while back, the upshot of which was “I have umpteen-dozen passwords I’ve got to have memorized these days; I thought technology was supposed to make my life easier!” Really? First of all, let’s leave aside the obvious fact that our column writer has a…


Bug Psychology

Fixing bugs is hard. For the purposes of this posting, I’m talking about those really “crisp” bugs — those flaws which are entirely due to a failure on the developer’s part to correctly implement some mechanistic calculation or ensure some postcondition is met. I’m not talking about oops, we just found out that the product…


Arrays considered somewhat harmful

I got a moral question from an author of programming language textbooks the other day requesting my opinions on whether or not beginner programmers should be taught how to use arrays. Rather than actually answer that question, I gave him a long list of my opinions about arrays, how I use arrays, how we expect arrays to be…


High maintenance

The other day I went to buy some snack from the snack machine in the kitchen. The snack I wanted was in slot B-10, so I put in my coins, press B – one – zero, hey wait a minute there’s no zero button! And why is it serving me up the snack on the…


Tasty Beverages

“Diet Dr. Pepper tastes more like regular Dr. Pepper.” That was a previous advertising slogan for Diet Dr. Pepper, my personal favourite source of both caffeine and phenylalanine; I’m drinking it right now as I write this. The present slogan is the brain-achingly oxymoronic “Diet Dr. Pepper: There’s Nothing Diet About It” – really?  Seems…


Customer Service Is Not Rocket Science, Part Two

I find it irritating, but not surprising, when I get absurdly bad customer service from a business whose business model is based on volume and high margins. But I find it quite surprising, and indeed, greatly amusing, to get absurdly bad customer service from a business whose business model is entirely based on quality of service. This…


How to not get a question answered

Raymond has had lots of great posts over the years on how to not get a question answered. Some of the ways he points out that help ensure that a question goes unanswered are: Use a difficult or meaningless subject line. Ask a grammatically unclear question. Forget to actually ask a question (this is a personal…


Packet Gnomes

The other morning I got the following question from a reader:      I have created a client-server application in C# using asynchronous socket methods [… blah blah blah, a long description of a scenario in which the socket misses packets under certain conditions] My reply was that I believe networks are run by tiny “packet…


Writing Code Isn’t Rocket Science (It’s Worse Than That)

Today, an old joke: Q: What do rocket scientists say when they want to describe a portion of their work as easy?A: “This bit isn’t exactly brain surgery.” I think that pretty much everyone would agree that rocket science and brain surgery are both intellectually demanding pursuits. But it seems to me that there’s a…