A baud-y tale | Computerworld


Pilot fish with a great memory takes us back, if not to the Stone Age, then pretty close: the time of 300-baud modems and floppy disks that were truly floppy and measured a whopping 8 inches. He’s working for a company that troubleshoots clients’ computer problems, and one mid-afternoon a customer from the other side of the state calls. Send me the data so I can investigate, fish tells them, but at 300 baud, copying it over takes most of what remains of the workday. Fish expects to be working late on this problem. 

But the new office manager wants it solved same-day, and then proceeds to pretty well sabotage her own desires. First, she interrupts every couple of minutes for updates. Fish patiently explains that the only way to expose the data and find the bug is to insert “Print” statements into the code, recompile it, and then run it to see the results. The compile process takes many minutes, as does the test run. Each full test cycle takes about 15-20 minutes — pretty much an eternity in the office manager’s eyes. 

Pacing back and forth behind fish’s chair, she’s the picture of impatience — with sound:  

Office manager: “It’s almost quitting time and they don’t want to stay late. We need to send them something now.” 

Fish: “There’s nothing to send yet. I’m still debugging the program.” 

OM: “But you’re just sitting there.” 

Fish: “I’m waiting for it to finish compiling.” 

About that time, she sees the compile-end message come up on fish’s monitor, reaches over his shoulder, pops the disk out of the computer and runs down the hall to the only computer that has a modem.  



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