02 April 2011

World's Greatest Cook

One of my favorite authors is Rick Cook. Rick wrote a series of fantasy books that gave me inspiration during my early days as a programmer.

Let me say that again... Rick wrote a fantasy series that gave me inspiration during my early days as a programmer.


Anyway, the first book begins with "Wiz" Zumwalt, a Silicone Valley programmer, being summoned to a universe where science as we know it doesn't work, and magic rules. Wiz has no talent for magic, so he must learn to use his programming skills to survive.

Neat, huh? One of the things I love about the books is the various sayings, both borrowed and original, that proceed the various chapters. Here's a sample:

You can always tell a good idea by the enemies it makes.
- programmer's axiom

Everything always takes twice as long and costs four times as much as you planned.
- programmer's axiom

It's never the technical stuff that gets you in trouble. It's the personalities and the politics.
- programmer's sayings

Those who can't do, teach.
- article of faith among students

And vice-versa.
- programmer's addendum to students' article of faith

Living with a programmer is easy. All you need is the patience of a saint.
- programmer's wives' saying

Applications programming is a race between software engineers, who strive to produce idiot-proof programs, and the Universe which strives to produce bigger idiots.
- software engineers' saying

So far, the Universe is winning.
- applications programmers' saying

The three most dangerous things in the world are a programmer with a soldering iron, a hardware type with a program patch and a user with an idea.
- computer saying

You can't do just one thing.
- Campbell's Law of everything

Friends come an go, but enemies accumulate.
- Murphy's Law #1024

and sometimes the the real trick is telling the difference.
- Murphy's Law #1024a

Whenever you use a jump, be sure of your destination address.
- programmer's saying

Always secure your files. You never know who's lurking about.
- programmer's saying

Never argue with a redhaired witch. It wastes your breath and only delays the inevitable.
- the collected sayings of Wiz Zumwalt

If you eat a live toad first thing in the morning, nothing worse will happen all day long.
- California saying

To you or the toad.
- Niven's restatement of California saying

--well, most of the time, anyway...
- programmer's caveat to Niven's restatement of California saying

You never find out the whole story until after you've signed the contract.
- programmer's saying

A jump gone awry is one of the hardest bugs to locate.
- programmer's saying

You can't unscramble an egg.
- old saying

You can if you're powerful enough.
- the collected sayings of Wiz Zumwalt

Magic is real, unless declared integer.
- the collected sayings of Wiz Zumwalt

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
- Clarke's law

Any sufficiently advanced magic is indistinguishable from technology.
- Murphy's reformulation of Clarke's law

Any sufficiently advanced magic is indistinguishable from a rigged demostration.
- programmer's restatement of Murphy's reformulation of Clarke's law

Putting twice as many programmers on a project that is late will make it twice as late.
- Brooks' law of programming projects

Never give a sucker an even break.
- W. C. Fields

Especially not if he's a big mean sucker.
- the collected sayings of Wiz Zumwalt

Sleep? Isn't that a completely inadequate substitute for caffine?
- programmer's saying

Good client relations are the key to a successful project.
- consultants' saying

At some time in the project you're going to have to break down and finally define the problem.
- programmer's saying

Customer support is an art, not a science.
- marketing saying

So are most other forms of torture.
- programmers' response

Programming is like pinball. The reward for doing it is the opportunity of doing it again.
- programmers' saying

Now, I won't clam that Rick is an Arthur Clarke or Ted Sturgeon, but he's definitely better than a lot of authors I've read. More importantly, his books are both full of adventure and laced with actual plot, not to mention quite funny. And it's all stuff I could even let my child read.

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